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Rine Karr: Exclusive Sirens Interview

We’re getting to know some members of the Sirens community! In this attendee interview series, we talk to scholars, creators, professionals, readers, and more: about their love of fantasy literature, their current work and passions, why they chose to attend Sirens, and what keeps them coming back. We think you’ll find that the Sirens community is full of fascinating, accomplished individuals with much to share—and we hope you’ll join us someday!

Today, Sirens co-chair Manda Lewis interviews Rine Karr, a reader, writer, copy editor, and tea-lover who first attended Sirens just last year!


MANDA LEWIS: When did you fall in love with fantasy literature? What do you love about it?

Rine Karr

RINE KARR: Oh my gosh, I don’t really know exactly when I fell in love with fantasy literature. I was lucky to be raised by bookworms. My parents met playing D&D, which says a lot about how imaginative my family can be. As a child, I remember poring over my mum’s unicorn coffee table books, reading lots of fairy tales, Greek and Roman myths, and fantasy books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I also watched a lot of fantasy films like The Princess Bride, Willow, and The Last Unicorn. I somehow missed out on the Song of the Lioness series, but I read other fantasy books like A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Prydain, The Worlds of Chrestomanci, Redwall, lots of Point Fantasy books, as well as my parents’ Science Fiction Book Club books. I was close to the target age for Harry Potter when it came out, so I read those, of course (although I don’t really want to acknowledge J. K. Rowling right now). I was also obsessed with the His Dark Materials trilogy. Strangely, I didn’t read any Tolkien until after the Lord of the Rings movies were released, although, at the time, I think I got into those mostly because of Legolas!

Regarding what I love about fantasy literature, I could probably write an entire thesis on this topic. I think that back when I was a kid, although now too, I loved fantasy stories because they were a means of escape. There are times—like now—when life can be very difficult. Fantasy stories can transport us away from our problems, even if for only a little while. Fantasy stories are exciting. They often portray better worlds. But even if they don’t portray better worlds, fantasy stories show us how to be better in the face of injustices and truly frightening things. There have been many times when I’ve found solace and strength in the actions of a character in a fantasy story. Ella in Ella Enchanted, for instance, was an important heroine for me when I was a child.


MANDA: Close your eyes and imagine: You are in your ideal reading space, the aroma of your favorite beverage is wafting toward you, and you are holding a favorite book. Where are you? What elements are important to creating this space for you? And how much does creating this space affect your reading experience?

RINE: If I were to close my eyes and imagine the perfect reading space, it would be a private library with a big comfy chair to read in and a forest or a lake or the ocean outside the window. There would be tea—and lots of it—and probably a thick fantasy book in my lap. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a space like that right now. I live in a city in a one-bedroom apartment that is a bit of a mess currently because of the pandemic and having to find space for both myself and my partner to work from home. Most of the time, I read on the couch or in bed before bedtime. Reading is not really a ritual practice for me—it’s just something I always do! I read during quiet moments at work. I read on my lunch hour. I read while my food is cooking. I read whenever I can. Before the pandemic, I read a lot on my commute, both e-books and audiobooks on my phone. I think that I’ve learned how to make both space and time for reading, and that I hardly think about the atmosphere within which I read anymore out of necessity. Still, I’d love to have a devoted reading space in my home someday.


MANDA: I’m curious if your background in anthropology affects how you approach reading. Do you enjoy stories where there is a strong depth to the societies and the history of the world? Is it irksome when it’s not believable—and what makes it not believable for you?

RINE: My background in anthropology probably does affect how I approach reading, although it has been a long time since I’ve studied anthropology. It was one of my majors in undergrad, the other being religious studies. Also, my anthropology coursework focused more on archaeology, especially the science of it—lots of digging in the ground, learning how to use plumb bobs and such. So, when I see stories about archaeologists, I do often find it irksome when they’re portrayed like Indiana Jones, even though I do like Indy. I can be pretty critical of stories portraying archaeologists having wild adventures and basically stealing from other cultures. Archaeologists in the past did sometimes do these things, but good archaeologists now don’t.

But anyway, I think that I do enjoy stories that have a strong depth to the societies and the history of the world. I’ve always been imaginative and can suspend my disbelief, but I do find myself lauding books that have strong worldbuilding. When the world in a story is believable, when it feels more concrete, it makes it easier for me to fall into that story. Of course, believability is a difficult quality to describe because it can be subjective and different for everyone. But for me, I think it’s a sense of logic. I think that’s why, as an adult, I don’t really enjoy fairy tales or fairy-tale retellings as much as I did as a child. I want concrete answers about why something is happening in a story, and fairy tales don’t often explain why something is happening.

For example, I know a lot of people loved This Is How You Lose the Time War, but I struggled with it. I know the purpose of this story is the love story and the beautiful prose—which is thoughtfully written—but I couldn’t help but wonder about the future, the war, and the mechanics of time travel as I read this story. I wanted to know all of the things, which is why perhaps a book like Ancillary Justice is more my style. There’s a lot in Ancillary Justice that Ann Leckie doesn’t tell us—after all I don’t want all the answers—but there is so much about Radch culture—the tea, the deities, the gloves, Radch views on purity and impurity, their views regarding gender, the list goes on and on—that she does give. I really do enjoy that kind of worldbuilding!


MANDA: You recently created a wonderful dragon-themed reading list for Sirens. Have you come across a depiction of a dragon that you would befriend and wish to have in your daily life? If so, who and from what book? If not, what dragon qualities make you glad they are on the page and not in your living room?

RINE: I’m going to cheat a little with this question because one of my favorite dragons comes from a film and not a book, but…I can’t help it! I think my favorite dragon is Haku from Spirited Away. His love for Chihiro makes my heart melt. Also, I’ve always liked how Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki weaved Japanese Shinto and Buddhist folklore into the worldbuilding for Spirited Away, especially Haku’s true identity, which I won’t reveal here to avoid spoilers, but which is reminiscent of my own feelings regarding nature and how humans, no matter what we do, will always be part of the natural world.


MANDA: Why did you first decide to come to Sirens? And then why did you decide to come back to Sirens the next year?

RINE: If I recall correctly, I first heard about Sirens from V. E. Schwab’s Twitter. I think it was 2017, the year Schwab attended as a guest. At the time, I was still just getting into science fiction and fantasy writing, although I was of course reading voraciously as I always have. So, I wasn’t sure if Sirens was for me. I was definitely intrigued by the con, especially because of how Sirens focuses on women and nonbinary people in SFF. I’d thought about attending a local SFF writing convention before, but I’d decided against it because I didn’t feel comfortable going alone into what felt like a highly male-centered space. In the end, when Sirens moved down from the mountains and into Denver, I knew I wanted to attend because that made it much easier and more affordable for me to get there. I decided to return because although I only dipped my toe in last year, I had a wonderful time. I’d like to continue meeting more fellow SFF lovers, and I’d like to contribute more to the Sirens community in the future. I really want to support Sirens’s mission.


MANDA: Sirens is about discussing and deconstructing both gender and fantasy literature. Would you please tell us about a woman or nonbinary person—a family member, a friend, a reader, an author, an editor, a character, anyone—who has changed your life?

RINE: This is such a difficult question because there have been so many wonderful women who have changed my life—my mum, my sister, my grandmothers, my maternal great-aunt, my mother-in-law, one of my partner’s aunts, a boss I had in the past, and a few Dharma friends that I have. All of these people, and more, have for one reason or another shaped who I am today. The ways in which they’ve changed my life are largely personal, but I think each of them has taught me in their own way how to find and kindle my inner strength, and many of them have taught me how to move with confidence in a world that so often pressures women and nonbinary people to conform to certain social conventions, many conventions of which I’ve learned to no longer accept. Basically, many of these people have taught me how to keep up the good fight against the patriarchy!

If I were to pick a fantasy author specifically who has changed my life recently, I think I’d pick someone I mentioned earlier: V. E. Schwab. When I was beginning to get back into reading fantasy again after a long break from it (grad school can unfortunately do this to people) and I was starting to work on writing my own fantasy stories too, a friend—one who has also changed my life—introduced me to the Shades of Magic series, and from that time on, I’ve primarily read fantasy stories written by women and nonbinary authors. I had finally realized with Schwab’s series that these are the types of stories that I wanted and needed—stories by and about women and nonbinary protagonists who are allowed to be who they are no matter what. Stories that remind me of the stories I read as a child. Stories like those of Gail Carson Levine, Diane Duane, Ursula K. Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, Diana Wynne Jones, Susan Cooper, and K. A. Applegate, but ones written by my own generation of women and nonbinary writers.


Rine Karr is a writer and aspiring novelist by moonlight and a copy editor by daylight, with a background in anthropology/archaeology, international human rights, and Buddhist studies/art history. When Rine is not writing or otherwise working, she can be most often found reading books and drinking tea. She also loves to travel, and her heart is located somewhere between Hong Kong and London, although Rine currently lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains with her partner. She’s also currently—and almost always—in the midst of writing a novel.

Manda Lewis served as an engineer in the Air Force for seven years. She currently works for a children’s museum in Raleigh, North Carolina, hosting after-hours special events. She is also the caretaker of two small bundles of chaos. Manda has always made it a habit to draw, color, and doodle on just about everything within reach and loves themes far more than anyone really should. She has been a volunteer for Narrate Conferences since 2007.

Sirens Newsletter—Volume 12, Issue 7 (July 2020)

This month:

Wasn’t cabin fever supposed to be a winter malady? With pandemic protections and unpleasant weather combining forces to keep people from venturing outdoors, we know many in our Sirens community may be weary of pinging against familiar walls. We hope that we can give your mind a respite and a bit of escape through this month’s interviews, essays, and book recommendations!

2020 Postponement

We hope you’ve seen our email or website announcement about the postponement of Sirens to October 2021. While we will miss the Sirens community so very much, given the continued presence of COVID-19, we prioritized the health and well-being of our attendees, presenters, guests, staff, and everyone whom their lives touch.

If you had already registered for Sirens and/or been accepted for programming, please check your email for information about how to proceed.

We hope that everyone will stay safe and well, wear your masks, and be ready to reconvene next year!


Sirens Chats

Fortunately, modern technology does afford us ways to keep in touch, even when we can’t congregate in Denver as planned. Our next Sirens Zoom chat will be on Tuesday, August 4, 8 p.m. EDT. We’d love to see your face! These chats have been a wonderful way to keep in touch, take a few minutes to relax, and discuss what we’re loving in fantasy fiction right now. If you haven’t joined us before and you’d like to, please email help at, and we’ll add you to the list to receive reminders and the Zoom link.

We also have a text-only chat option! On Thursday, August 6, 9 p.m. EDT, we’ll have August’s Twitter chat on the topic of weather and climate in speculative fiction. Simply follow #SirensChat and answer questions with the hashtag to join in!


Sirens Essays

We released three more genius essays interrogating some weighty issues this month. The summer round of Sirens Essays will wrap up in August, so be on the lookout for the final installment.

  • Bestselling author V. S. Holmes unpacks the harmful implications that attend the assignation of disability and disfigurement to villainous characters in “Moral Disability: How Villainy Looks When You’re the Monster”. Holmes asks readers and creators alike to consider the message sent when a character becomes evil because of illness or injury and the further implications of redemption arcs and magical or technological “cures” for their conditions.

  • In “A Room of Her Own: The Post-Modern Haunted Houses of Nova Ren Suma,” editor and freelance writer Meg Belviso explores “the haunted house as a transitional space” in modern speculative fiction. She focuses on Nova Ren Suma’s YA novels The Walls Around Us and A Room Away from the Wolves, which center the two-pronged liminality of teenaged heroines experiencing hauntings while living in temporary housing.

  • S. M. Mack, scholar and author of short fiction, examines the necessity of sitting with painful realities in “On Bearing Witness in Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, connecting a book that re-centers the Iliad on Briseis, enslaved and abused by Achilles and Agamemnon, to present-day injustices and crises.


In July, we continued featuring the amazing people who will be running workshops during Sirens Studio. We’re delighted that they’ll all be joining us in 2021! We hope these interviews will serve as good introductions and help you look forward to meeting them in safer times.

  • Author, former anthropologist and folklorist, and former Sirens Guest of Honor Marie Brennan discusses crafting character voices, fuzzy boundaries between academic and non-academic writing, and her Sirens workshop, “Faith in Fantasy: Building Believable Religions.”
  • In her interview, Ren Iwamoto, a scholar focusing on twentieth-century East Asian literature, Japanese colonialism, and post-colonial discourse, expresses her view that “speculative fiction should destabilize” and prepares us for her Studio workshop, “Seasoned with Soy Sauce: Asianization in Western Speculative Media and What It Means to Be ‘Asian-Inspired’.”

This month, we also began featuring members of our Sirens community! In the coming months, you’ll hear from a variety of attendees representing the wide spectrum of professions and backgrounds which makes Sirens so vibrant.

  • Nicole Brinkley, manager of Oblong Books & Music, tells us what she loves about hand-selling books, how she fits a book to a reader, and her hopes for the future of speculative fiction.
  • Teacher Traci-Anne Canada tells us about building a classroom library and helping students find books they enjoy and that will speak to them.
  • Voracious reader Danielle Cicchetti shares the books she’s been loving recently, her secrets to finishing 150+ books a year, and how Sirens has contributed to her reading habit.




Whether you’re reading in the bright sunshine or huddling beneath the sweet shelter of the air conditioner, we hope we can introduce you to your new best book friend! This month’s book recommendations feature a dazzling array of new releases and old favorites, guaranteed to invite you into other worlds and to prompt you to think critically about the one we live in.

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • Faye Bi recommends Bethany C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water as a crucial component of a reader’s journey to anti-racism. “[Morrow] seamlessly and ambitiously unpacks intersectionality, racism, sexism, police brutality, protesting, affirmative action, gentrification, education, beauty standards, and more.”
  • Casey Blair provides a list of books featuring “Women in SFF Who Dream Big Dreams and Don’t Let Anyone Stop Them”.
  • Chelsea Cleveland reviews The Power by Naomi Alderman: “While this isn’t the first title I’ve come across where supernatural abilities were attributed to one gender, I have never seen it done with such gut-punching impact or specificity.”
  • Whether high summer has you yearning for the adventure of a road trip, the solitude of camping in the woods, or the sweet scent of the ocean breeze, Amanda Hudson’s Summer Nights rec list has something sure to delight.
  • If those recommendations aren’t enough to get you through the dog days of summer, be sure to look at our compilation of July 2020 new releases!

And here are a few staff picks for this month:

Erynn’s Pick: Wonderland by Zoje Stage


At the age of 41, Orla Bennet is reluctantly retiring from the dance stages of New York City and relocating with her family to a farmhouse in the Adirondack mountains. Quiet and privacy are the charms of their new expansive home with the closest neighbor a mile away. The space is intended to afford her partner, Shaw, inspiration for his new-found calling as an artist, their anxious preteen daughter her own bedroom, and their exuberant son freedom for his curiosity.

But, of course, strange things start to happen once they settle in. An enigmatic presence calls to the family through the trees and earth, seeping into their minds, and securing their isolation. Part suspense, part horror, Stage’s story is one of maternal strength told with exquisite prose.

Cass’s Pick: Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott

Unconquerable Sun

If “genderflipped Alexander the Great in space” doesn’t grab you, then perhaps “genetically engineered human-aliens, cutthroat galaxy-spanning politics, queernorm worldbuilding, and imaginative future tech” will. Unconquerable Sun is an ambitious and exciting opening to a new series, inspired by but not directly imitative of its historical sources. There are plenty of Easter eggs for the classical studies geeks, but nothing in the book relies on that knowledge. Elliott builds a whole new galaxy with deep roots and evocative details.

Sun is an astonishing hero: charismatic, decisive, brilliant, sharp. The cast that surrounds her is equally grand, from the wily Persephone to the handsome Alika and all the rest of Sun’s Companions. The writing is as bold as Sun herself. Elliott has taken some risks in the way she handles the various point-of-view characters, changing person and tense in a way that helps the reader feel, deeply, the soul-deep shifts between each character, rather than merely placing the camera behind another person’s head. It pays off: the book is an enthralling adventure from start to finish.


Keep cool, keep safe, and keep reading!

This newsletter is brought to you by:

Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter – Volume 12, Issue 6 (June 2020)

This month:

June has been a lot, hasn’t it? We know our Sirens community is full of caring, conscientious people who want to make a difference, whether your activism happens on the streets, on the page, in the houses of legislature and justice, or in your own living room. Your voice and your heart are important, so we hope that you’re taking care of yourself, too!

Black Lives Matter

One of the goals of Sirens is to make space for, and then actively amplify, marginalized voices. Our society is premised on structures and systems that relentlessly amalgamate power in the hands of white, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied men. We are committed to dismantling those structures and systems.

Always, but especially now as we decry yet more murders of Black people at the hands of police, we strongly recommend that you put speculative works by Black women, nonbinary, and trans folks at the top of your reading list—and this month we offered you 50 brilliant speculative works to get you started.

These 50 works are about Black people, Black communities, about Black people seeking the stars, accomplishing six impossible things before breakfast, and changing the world. They are about Black heartbreak, Black defiance, Black resoluteness, and Black hope. And we hope you’ll buy these—and other works—from bookstores owned by Black people.


Pride Month

It’s Pride Month! And we are celebrating with 150 queer speculative works by amazing women, nonbinary, and trans authors! The first 100 we’ve read and enthusiastically recommend; the last 50 we’re excited to add to our TBR lists. And so, so many of these works don’t just feature queer representation, but are unabashedly, wonderfully, gloriously queer af.

Some of these works speak of discovering yourself and all your magnificent facets. Some speak of finding your place in an unwelcoming world. Some are all swashbuckling pirates and furious dragons and defiant witches, who just happen to be gay or bi or demi or ace.

These 150 books are just a drop in the proverbial bucket of LGBTQIAP+ representation in speculative works. May one new TBR book lead you to another and then another. Keep reading, writing, and going. Happy Pride from all of us!


Registration and Programming

Our vetting board was hard at work this past month, selecting a slate of programming sure to dazzle, challenge, and delight! This year’s panels, papers, workshops, and roundtables will celebrate so much of what we love about fantasy fiction, gender dynamics, and this year’s theme of villains. We can’t wait to explore these topics with you in October and see what conversations the programming generates.

Remember that if you’ve been accepted for programming, you must be registered by July 10! And that’s super-convenient, because…

On July 11, the registration for Sirens 2020 will increase to $275! If you haven’t registered yet, this is an excellent time to do so. Your registration gets you access to all programming, all keynotes, and a special T-Shirt featuring the Sirens 2020 logo. Visit our website to register!


Faculty Interviews

This month, we began introducing the incredibly talented people who will be running workshops during Sirens Studio. Each interview will help you get to know your Studio faculty a bit better, as well as previewing the material they’ll present in their workshops.

Jae Young
Jae Young, a nonprofit lawyer who will be teaching the career development workshop “Working for Change: Can We Wear Capes in Real Life?”, answers questions about advocating for immigrants and victims of domestic violence, avoiding burnout, escaping into fantasy fiction, and finding hope in adversity.
Anna-Marie McLemore
Anna-Marie McLemore will be teaching “Finding Magic: Enchanting Characters and Their Worlds,” a writing workshop on magical realism. In their interview, they discuss writing re-imagined fairy tales, coming out as nonbinary, and living louder and braver in real life and on the page.
Casey Blair
Casey Blair, author and bookseller, talks about the books she loves to recommend, gives us some tea-pairings for her Tea Princess Chronicles, and previews her workshop which will help attendees “Yeet the Patriarchy.”

Don’t those workshops sound fantastic? There’s still time to register for Studio, but spaces are going fast, so nab yours now!


Sirens Essays

Summertime means another round of amazing Sirens essays! We are delighted to share these brilliant minds exploring the fantasy genre in all its fabulousness and foibles.

  • In “Have You Seen Her? Looking for Shuri on the Pages of Her Comics Series”, comedy and fiction writer Kaia Alderson examines the frequent absence of the title character in the Marvel trade paperback written by Reginald Hudlin and the 10-issue run of the standalone Shuri comic written by Nnedi Okorafor and Vita Ayala. “With a woman of African descent as the main writer penning the story, I expected a storyline that centered a heroine of African descent. Instead, it soon veered off into adventures where Shuri teamed up with other (mostly male) people and non-human lifeforms.”

  • Author Ausma Zehanat Khan offers a deep dive into in Pakistani Pashtun culture and its influence on her writing in “Feminism, Patriarchy and Faith in The Khorasan Archives”. “I decided that I would write a series that put women at the front and center of the Islamic tradition, a tradition they would then use to liberate themselves from oppression and to reclaim their personhood and dignity. In writing the series, I began with the minute and personal—my own background—then expanded to encompass the astonishing sweep of the Islamic civilization.”


Sirens Chats

Connection is so important in trying times, and we have loved seeing your faces through virtual means when we can’t be together in reality! Our next Sirens Zoom chat will be Friday, July 10 at 8 p.m. Join us to talk about what you’ve been reading, release some tension, and take some time away from the stresses of daily life to hang out with your amazing fellow Sirens. To receive emails about these online events so you always know when to click that camera on, send us a message at help at, and we’ll add you to the list.

For a video-free option for interaction, you can join us on Twitter! Our June hashtag chat got rescheduled for Thursday, July 2 at 8 p.m. Follow the hashtag #SirensChat to participate in a discussion about fashion in SFF, mundane and magical, ridiculous and sublime.


Books & Breakfast

Many of you are familiar with our Books and Breakfast program, but in case you aren’t: Each year at Sirens, we select a number of brilliant, controversial, and just plain popular books relevant to the theme and then invite attendees to bring their breakfast and discuss them during Sirens. This is a tremendous way to showcase the breadth of each year’s theme—and a great excuse to gather to discuss great books.

Here are this year’s selections, on a theme of villains! And check out our mini-reviews of the first two, Monstress: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson; we’ll review the rest later this summer.

  • A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
  • Monstress: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  • Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender
  • Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
  • The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley
  • Wilder Girls by Rory Power


Yet More Books!

June has been an amazing month for readers! Let us help you find your new favorite read!

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

And here are a few staff picks for this month:

Erynn’s Pick: Emblem Island: Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster

Curse of the Night Witch

A mix of delightful and dark, this middle-grade quest book by debut author, Alex Aster, takes place in a world built from memories of the Latin American folktales she heard as child. The people of Emblem Island are born with their talents and destinies marked upon their skin. Not happy with his fate to follow in his Chieftess mother’s footsteps, twelve-year-old Tor Luna uses the New Year’s festival as an opportunity to make a forbidden wish – for a less mundane lot in life – only to wake up with an extremely short life line and the Night Witch’s mark.

Journeying across the island with two friends, he must conquer the trials from The Book of Cuentos, a collection of tales of strange enchantments of Emblem Island. Each tale is told separately between the main story chapters as a book-within-a-book that young readers can follow along and decipher clues to help Tor regain his old life and come to appreciate its value.

Cass’s Pick: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

This book is just screamingly good. I like my fantasy politically complex and absolutely drenched in mythos, and A Song of Wraiths and Ruin delivers so magnificently that I found myself annoyed at all the things in my life that took my attention away from it. (Why hasn’t someone invented a way to read books in the shower yet?)

Inspired by West African folklore, this YA novel twines the stories of two determined people with mutually exclusive goals: Malik, who must kill the Crown Princess of Ziran in order to free his sister from an evil spirit and who enters the Solstasia competition for the chance to get close enough to do it–and Karina, the Crown Princess, who needs the heart of a king for a ritual to resurrect a murdered loved one and decides that offering her hand in marriage to the winner of the Solstasia competition is the quickest way to obtain one. But neither challenge is as simple as it seems, particularly when Malik and Karina start falling for each other. The tale that unfolds is exciting, original, and utterly magical.


And that wraps up June! Next month, we’ll be bringing you more faculty interviews, more Sirens essays, more Books & Breakfast previews, and more exciting news from the world of Sirens. Keep yourselves and your loved ones safe and well!

This newsletter is brought to you by:

Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter – Volume 12, Issue 5 (May 2020)

This month:

The days here in the Northern Hemisphere are growing longer, stretching toward summer, and we hope that your world is growing a little brighter as they do. Our thoughts have been reaching out to all our friends, and we hope that we can all share some joy, even at a distance, through our love of fantasy fiction and the amazing people creating it.

Sirens Chats

And speaking of reaching out – we’re utterly delighted with how many of you have taken part in our Sirens Zoom Chats over the past month! It’s been wonderful to touch base, hear how you’re holding up, share some cheer, and trade new reading recommendations. Our next Zoom chat will be 8:00-9:30 p.m. Eastern Time (5:00-6:30 p.m. Pacific Time) on Saturday, June 6, and we’ll share news about more regional chats as they are arranged. If you haven’t been receiving our emails about these online events, send us a message at help at, and we’ll make sure you’re added to the list!

We also have another Twitter chat coming up on Wednesday, June 3 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Follow the hashtag #SirensChat to participate, answer questions, and just generally geek out! This month’s theme celebrates fashion in fantasy and science fiction, so whether your preferred style is apocalypse chic or ethereal opulence, come share your sartorial opinions.


Guest of Honor Weeks: Dr. Kinitra Brooks and Sarah Gailey

Our celebration of our 2020 Guests of Honor continued this month with spotlights on Dr. Kinitra Brooks and Sarah Gailey! Dr. Kinitra Brooks is a lauded scholar of popular culture, specializing in black feminist theory and genre fiction, and Sarah Gailey is a Hugo Award winner and bestselling author of fiction and nonfiction. We’re tremendously excited to welcome them both to Sirens and introduce them to you!

Dr. Kinitra Brooks:

  • Kinitra’s Sirens interview discusses her work in black feminist theory and her celebration of black women writing genre fiction as a way of challenging societal assumptions.
  • Begin your exploration of Searching for Sycorax with Alyssa Collins’s review.
  • Kinitra supplies a list of novels, short stories, and nonfiction by marginalized authors to augment your TBR pile.
  • Dive deeper into Kinitra’s rigorous and insightful scholarship with her articles, essays, lectures, and interviews available online.

Sarah Gailey:

And with that, we have introduced all of this year’s Guests of Honor! We cannot wait to hear their keynote speeches and share their brilliance with the whole Sirens community.



It’s about to be summer reading season! On beach or in cabin, on the reopening roads or still safe at home, we offer tales of wonder and wandering to keep your imagination immersed and engaged.

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

And here are a few staff picks from May’s new releases:

The Thirty Names of Night

Erynn’s Pick: The Thirty Names of Night, Zeyn Joukhadar

Nadir is a closeted trans boy who has spent the last five years since the mysterious death of his ornithologist mother cloistered in his apartment caretaking for his grandmother. Shame and grief have cut off his ties to everyone he cares about. He finds freedom at night painting murals in Little Syria. Strange occurrences with birds bring back ghosts real and personal. When he discovers the journal of another Syrian artist who died 60 years before, the magic and secrets of his community, family, and self start to come out to the light. Written in the same beautiful prose as The Map of Salt and Stars, this is a story of art, the power of naming, and rediscovering magic after loss.


Cass’s Pick: Rule, by Rowenna Miller

I’ve loved this series since the start. It had me at “magical seamstress,” and it captivated me further with “sociopolitical upheaval in the fashion of eighteenth-century France and England.” Though set in an imagined secondary world, Miller’s Unraveled Kingdom series examines issues all too relevant to our own reality. Sophie begins her story as a woman leveraging her magical talents for economic gain, trying to beat a system that’s stacked against her. Falling in love with crown prince Theodor, however, places her at the epicenter of a rapidly changing world. In Rule, the civil war that she and her love have been trying to avert will break into open conflict. I can’t wait to find out how Sophie uses her charms and her wits to aid the Reformist cause and, hopefully, find some kind of victory for herself and all the people she cares about.


Onward into June!

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 12, Issue 4 (April 2020)

This month:

There comes a time in every story when things look bleak: the princess is locked in the tower, the witch has lost her power, the rebel leader has been imprisoned in the dungeon, the questing hero has lost their way. When the shadows and doubt creep in, what well of inner strength can we draw from? What faith, what hope can we rely on?

At Sirens, we like to think that strength can be found in community. If April’s been a tough month for you, you’re not alone. We hope that, both through the lens of fiction and the Zoom windows of reality, we can offer you some entertainment and some hope for better days.

Guest of Honor Weeks: Fonda Lee and Rin Chupeco

Our celebration of our 2020 Guests of Honor continued this month with spotlights on Fonda Lee and Rin Chupeco! Fonda and Rin are both authors who will be delivering keynote addresses at Sirens this year. Here’s where you can learn a little more about them and their works:

Fonda Lee:

Rin Chupeco:

We have our last two Guest of Honor weeks, for Dr. Kinitra D. Brooks and Sarah Gailey, coming up in May, so keep your eye out!



Have some thoughts about gendered villainy that you’re eager to discuss with a diverse group of brilliant people? Been doing some research on fantasy literature that you’d love to share with someone besides the other denizens of your quarantine house? Want to teach us all how to design a map, swing a sword, or dress for a masquerade ball? It’s time to get those Sirens programming proposals shined up and submitted! You still have a few weeks, but the deadline of May 15 is fast approaching, so be sure to get yours in soon!

Remember that there are no required qualifications for presenters. Every conference features readers, scholars, librarians, teachers, publishing professionals, authors, and more as part of our programming schedule. You have ideas, and we want to hear them! Our vetting board is looking for thoughtful, inclusive, relevant programming on gender and fantasy literature, potentially but not necessarily focused on this year’s theme of villainy. You can check out the Sirens archives for examples of past programming, and peruse our annual programming series for details on what format proposals take, what our vetting board looks for, and how to submit.

Need some starter ideas to help your proposal grow? Think of the #SirensBrainstorm tag on Twitter like that sourdough yeast everyone seems to have these days! Dozens of potential topics are there, waiting for you to bake them into proposals. You can also join us for the next programming chat on Monday, May 4, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific) if you’ve got questions or some potential ideas you’d like to talk out.


Sirens Chats

We had grand plans this year to organize a whole slew of in-person Sirens meet-ups, from coast to coast – but, well, that’s been slightly derailed. Instead, we’re taking the conversations into virtual space! We held one Sirens chat on Zoom in April, and we have another scheduled for 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, and we look forward to holding more, both general and region-specific, in the coming months. Keep an eye on your email for more information and Zoom links!

We’ll also be holding another Twitter chat on May 6 at 8 p.m. All you have to do is follow #SirensChat to participate. This month’s theme celebrates space fantasy, science fiction, and the places in-between!



We know how comforting a trip to another world is even at the best of times. Right now, a trip anywhere probably sounds good to most of us! Let these books help your mind escape into some flights of fancy:

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

And here are a few staff picks from April’s new releases:

The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper

Erynn’s Pick: The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper, by A.J. Fitzwater

This collection of seven short stories is centered around Cinrak, a lesbian, capybara pirate and her enormous house-ship crew of found family: trans boy chinchilla, genderqueer rat mentor, fairy, and whale, and drag queen mer. Contains colorful storytelling in an anthropomorphic world, magical tales of swashbuckling animals with input from the moons, winds, and stars. Does not contain as much blood, murder, and conflict as you might expect from a pirate ship, but if you are wanting a light-hearted escape to a socialist, seafaring, LGBTQIA, utopian vessel then look no further.

Race the Sands

Cass’s Pick: Race the Sands, by Sarah Beth Durst

I cannot shut up about this book. I got to read the ARC earlier this spring, and it was genuinely the first thing in ages to take me away from the real world and fully invest me in a world of imagination for a few hours. I’ve come to realize that I can count on Sarah Beth Durst for truly innovative worldbuilding. Race the Sands features a world where reincarnation is an acknowledged and critical component of society and politics. The mythos is absolutely fascinating.

And then there are the monsters. Which people ride. Imagine if the Kentucky Derby featured a dozen chimeras that had to be telepathically controlled so they didn’t maim or eat their jockeys. It’s wild and spectacular. The main characters are a pair of amazing women who team up to ride one strange beast in pursuit of their own goals–but with consequences none of them could have imagined at the start of their journey.


Happy May, friends! May it bring you many flowers of the heart and mind.

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 12, Issue 3 (March 2020)

This month:

We hope the end of March finds you and yours well, healthy, and safe! In these tumultuous times, know that we are thinking of our whole Sirens community and holding you in our hearts.

We also hope we can bring some reading content to lift your spirits! At a time when the whole world is finding solace in fictional worlds, we’re proud to contribute to ongoing conversations about those worlds and their creators.

Guest of Honor Week: Joamette Gil

Last week, we celebrated Guest of Honor Joamette Gil with a series of posts! Joamette is a cartoonist and the head of P&M Press, an independent comics micro-press specializing in speculative fiction by creators of color, LGBTQIA creators, and creators at the intersections. We’re delighted to be welcoming her as the Guest of Honor for the 2020 Sirens Studio.

Don’t miss her Sirens interview, recommended reading list, and the roundup of her appearances elsewhere on the internet. Get to know Joamette’s work as an editor with Andrea Horbinski’s review of Heartwood: Non-Binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy, a collection of woodland-themed comics from non-binary creators.

Since Joamette is our Studio Guest of Honor, we also wanted to remind you that registration for Studio is still open! We’re more than half sold out, so if you want to guarantee your space, register now.

Look for more Guest of Honor weeks as the spring progresses!



Submissions are now open!

If your recent binge-reading, Zoom chats, and inner contemplations have you eager to share your thoughts, we encourage you to submit a programming proposal before the deadline of May 15. We’re looking for a wide variety of topics and perspectives exploring gender and fantasy literature—maybe even on this year’s theme of villains!

If you want to present but have questions, concerns, or hesitations, the Sirens team is here to help! For more information about the types of programming at Sirens, what our vetting board is looking for, and how to submit, see our annual programming series Check out the #SirensBrainstorm tag on Twitter to get those brain juices flowing, or join us for the next programming chat on Monday, May 4, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific).


Sirens Essays

Sirens Essay Series

Our essay series continued this month with contributions that examine issues of representation, power dynamics, and audience reception of narratives:

In A Wife Should Have No Secrets: Unthinking Privilege and Privacy in Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch”, Faye Bi explores the transformation of folklore into a nuanced narrative of “social horrors.”

Witch, Please: An Apologia for and Indictment of Mean-Girls Stories in Young Adult Fantasy Literature, by Amy Tenbrink, examines common tropes of female social dynamics and their relationship to heteropatriarchal power structures.



One thing bringing the whole world together right now, it seems, is the opportunity to make a real dent in our TBR piles—or to grow them ever larger as new books and graphic novels keep coming out! If you can’t decide what to read next or are looking for things to order from your local indie bookstore, the Sirens team has some ideas to help you choose:

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

We’re delighted to share a few staff picks from March’s new releases:

Breath of Gods

Erynn’s Pick: Breath of Gods, by Tina LeCount Myers

As it is the third volume, preceded by The Song of All and Dreams of the Dark Sky, my recommendation is the Legacy of the Heavens Series, which this book concludes. This slow-building epic fantasy, set in a premodern arctic world, is based on folktales from the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia and draws from the Sámi languages. The conflicts center around a few key characters on the edge of a world divided into the Olmmoš, or humans, and the fey-like Jápmemeahttun, immortals who possess a natural power to obscure themselves and experience gender in a unique way.

The prose is beautiful and clean with a steady, informative pace. There’s subtle magic, excellent world building, and stories of found family. But above all, I really wanted to find a book with the right blend of escape and inspiration to fit this somber month, and the subtext of consciousness and compassion in the face of crisis is what makes this series exactly that.

The City We Became

Faye’s Pick: The City We Became, by N.K. Jemisin

As New York has become a new epicenter of COVID-19, it has made me realize just how amazing and devastating living here can be. These days, the high population density means that interaction with neighbors ranges from silent cohabitation to unspoken acts of kindness that can make the difference between life and death. Where small businesses and big dreams hang by a thread, just one rent check away from opportunity or ruin, and a place where daily acts of heroism meet anonymous beneficiaries.

A continuation of Jemisin’s award-winning short story, The City We Became is considered a love letter to New York City, where five souls—one from each borough—need to protect the city from an ancient evil. And it’s just what I need right now, an astute, even funny, reminder that my home holds a multitude of diversity, ambition, complexity, and poetry in this extraordinary time, plus a little side-eye “screw you” to H.P. Lovecraft.

A Pale Light in the Black

Cass’s Pick: A Pale Light in the Black, by K.B. Wagers
Disclaimer: K.B. Wagers is a member of the Sirens staff.

I recommended this book on Twitter as “absolutely both buck-wild and queer af,” and I stand by that description. A Pale Light in the Black follows a crew of the Near-Earth Orbital Guard, or the NeoG, who are basically space Coast Guard. They’re just doing their jobs and training for a sort of pan-armed-forces Olympics when a discovery on a derelict ship and the arrival of a new member of the team entangle them with a nefarious, deep-rooted scheme.

If you’ve read Wagers’s prior Indranan War and Farian War series, the NeoG is somewhat lighter fare. The overall tone made me think of a slightly rougher-around-the-edges Star Trek with some of the ethical concerns of Gattaca shading it. The adventure clips along at a good pace, and as always, Wagers shines in creating imperfect characters for a reader to cheer on and adore. The NeoG team is definitely one I look forward to spending more time within the future!


As a final note, if you need some real-time but socially-distanced interaction, join us April 1 at 8 p.m. on Twitter for #SirensChat. This month’s theme is something we all need right now: humor!

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 12, Issue 2 (February 2020)

This month:

Whether you’ve been deep in winter coze, enjoyed an unexpected early spring, or battled a weather system that’s playing hopscotch with its seasonal choices, we hope you’ve had a great, story-filled month!

We hope, too, that some of those stories may have planted the seeds for conversations you’d like to have at Sirens this year, because the time of programming submissions is nearly at hand! Sirens needs you to make the conference’s many hours of presentations possible. It truly does take everyone: not only scholars and authors, but readers, librarians, lawyers, educators, retail workers, publishing professionals, booksellers, farriers, and other attendees from all walks of life. Sirens knows you have something important to share, and we hope you’ll submit a proposal to join this year’s sure-to-be-amazing slate of presenters!

Programming Series

On March 16, we will be opening the proposals system for submissions. We know that some of you have been champing at the bit with ideas—and that some of you might need help with inspiration and guidance. Sirens is here to assist!

In Unsex Me Here: Power, Gender, and Villainy, we answered the question: “Why Villains?” as the theme for Sirens 2020. It’s not only a natural counterpart to 2019’s theme of heroes; it also provides us with much fertile territory to explore in the realm of gender and power dynamics, revenge fantasies, and redemption. We can’t wait to see what our fabulous attendees will bring us this year.

But that said, all topics relevant to gender and fantasy literature are possible proposal topics. While proposals might address this year’s theme, they do not need do. Want to discuss monsters or witches or hauntings, as Sirens has in past years? Great! Or family structures or queerness or adventure—or all three? That’s great, too! How about race and portal fantasy and magic systems? Yes, please!

Have some nebulous ideas and want to talk them out? Join us for a Sirens programming chat on Sunday, March 22, 2-4pm Eastern (11am-1pm Pacific) or Monday, May 4, 9-11pm Eastern (6-8pm Pacific) to discuss your thoughts with Sirens staff and other attendees! Or maybe you know you’d like to participate in programming but are having trouble coming up with an idea? Check out the #SirensBrainstorm tag on Twitter to get those brain-juices flowing.

Be sure to follow our annual programming series for guidance on all the technical aspects of submitting to our system. The overview and tips and tricks posted earlier this month will give you a general sense of how submissions work. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing posts delving deeper into papers/lectures, panels, roundtables, and workshops/afternoon classes.


Registration Price Increase

On March 1, the registration price for Sirens 2020 will increase from the current price of $225 to $250. If you want to lock in your attendance at the current rate, be sure to register by Saturday!

Tickets are also still available for the Sirens Studio. This price ($100) will not increase on March 1, but these tickets are limited. In fact, we’re already half-sold-out, so guarantee your seat by registering soon!

Also, while you’re thinking about getting your attendance ducks in a row, we wanted to remind Sirens attendees from the U.S. that the REAL ID act takes full effect on October 1st. What does that mean? You’ll need a REAL ID-compliant form of identification to board a plane to get to Sirens! Check out the government’s info page for more information on how to make sure your ID will get you through the airport.



Thanks to the amazing generosity of the Sirens community, this year we are able to fund sixteen scholarships! Four will be allocated to people of color, four for exemplary programming proposals, four to those with financial hardships, and four to librarians, educators, and publishing professionals such as editors, agents, publicists, production personnel, and booksellers.

We also have three 2020 Sabrina Chin “Braver Than You Think” Memorial Scholarships. All first-time Sirens attendees are eligible for these scholarships, as are first-time presenters who receive one of our programming scholarships. Sabrina Chin co-chaired Sirens for a number of years before her passing in 2019, and her family has funded these scholarships to help us continue to welcome new voices to the vibrant Sirens community.

For more information on all these scholarships, as well as information on how to apply, visit our scholarships page. Please note that the deadline to apply for most of these scholarships is February 29th; the deadline for the exceptional programming scholarship and the Sabrina Chin scholarship for first-time presenters will be May 15th.


Sirens Essays

Sirens Essay Series

Our essay series continued this month with contributions that examine issues of representation, power dynamics, and audience reception of narratives:

In Autism in Seven of Nine, Mette Ivie Harrison explores the character from Star Trek: Voyager, nuances of Jeri Ryan’s performance, and the importance for women diagnosed with autism, particularly later in life, of seeing themselves represented in fiction.

In What Is It with Us and “Good Royalty”?, Emma Whitney interrogates the continued prevalence of savior-monarchs in fantasy fiction and asks why this trope endures rather than ceding ground to more egalitarian narratives.



Book Recommendations and Reviews:

  • On Twitter, Amy Tenbrink shared 150 speculative fiction books by female and nonbinary authors of color! Check out this list and be prepared for your TBR pile to swell.
  • Amy also discusses the drowning weight of Erin Morgenstern’s new portal fantasy, The Starless Sea.
  • Katie Passerotti raves about Tara Sim’s Scavenge the Stars, a genderbent, queer take on The Count of Monte Cristo.

We’re delighted to share a few staff picks from February’s list of new releases:

The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow

Erynn’s Pick: The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow, by Emily Ilett

One morning, Gail wakes up to see her shadow slipping away under the door. It’s expected as she has been barely keeping it together over the last two months since her father left and with him went her elder sister’s health and shadow. Realizing that she must be the one to bring the shadows back, she sets off on an adventure facing elements of magic mixed with light and grief, for her sister’s sake if not her own.

Emily Ilett’s debut novel is a middle grade, otherworld quest tale set on a remote island in Scotland. I immersed immediately into the place and the plight of the protagonist. Her prose is lyrical and full of all the passion Gail is trying to recover. She elegantly blends folktale allegory with real challenges of depression and mental illness. It is a well-told, heartwarming story of inner strength and sisterly love.

We Unleash the Merciless Storm

Cass’s Pick: We Unleash the Merciless Storm, by Tehlor Kay Mejia

If you came to Book Speed-Dating at Sirens in 2019, you know that We Set the Dark on Fire was one of my top picks, so I am of course incredibly excited for the sequel! We Set the Dark on Fire introduced us to a world where young women of high social class—or those aspiring to it—train to be wives for powerful men: either a primera, responsible for her husband’s business and social world, or a segunda, responsible for home and children. This society is cracking at the seams, and Dani, a lower-class girl whose whole life has been a con, gets swept up in the winds of rebellion.

Mejia is switching the POV for We Unleash the Merciless Storm, to Dani’s segunda, Carmen. I’m looking forward to seeing inside Carmen’s head and the way she operates. Given where things left off, she’s got a rough road ahead of her. I’m hoping Mejia will give us even more of the nuanced social commentary, rich interiority, and nail-biting suspense that I so enjoyed in the first book. Book One also turned the stereotype of the YA love triangle utterly on its head, and I’m eager to see where that goes.


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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 12, Issue 1 (January 2020)

This month:

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2020! With January comes a new year of Sirens—and we’re already busy, busy, busy! If you’re just now surfacing from post-holiday mania (and look, if the decorations are still up, we’re not judging), we hope this newsletter will help get you back into the swing of thinking about Sirens.


Scholarship Fundraising

January 31—today—is the last day to donate to our fundraising campaign for 2020 Sirens scholarships! Whether you can kick in a $5 boost or fund a full scholarship of $325, we hope you’ll get out those proverbial checkbooks. (It’s not too soon to call checkbooks proverbial, right?) Our scholarships help people of color, those submitting exemplary programming proposals, those with financial hardships, and educators, librarians, and publishing professionals not only attend Sirens, but share their work and their thoughts. This in turn helps Sirens remain a place for the vibrant conversations and warm community that attendees so cherish!

If you’d like to donate, please check out our scholarships page. We’ll announce next week how many scholarships we have available for 2020—and start taking applications as well!


Sirens Studio Workshops

Are you coming to the Studio this year? Are you thinking about coming to the Studio this year? Can we help you turn thoughts into action? Because in 2020 we have eight brilliant faculty members lined up to lead eight fantastic workshops—and this month, we shared what those workshops will be.

Whether you want to yeet the patriarchy or dissect Asianization, talk superheroes or villains, write about magical realism or religion, or pick up something valuable for your career-planning, we’ve got it. And you know you want in on this, so what are you waiting for? Check out this year’s Studio topics and buy that ticket today!


Sirens Essays

Sirens Essay Series

We had so much fun with—and learned so much from—our first Sirens essay series last summer that we invited six more people to discuss, analyze, dissect, and deconstruct something about fantasy literature. And we published our next two essays this month! So if you missed them, check this out:

In Lost Girls and Open Doors: Susan Pevensie and the Complex Legacy of the Portal Fantasy, Gillian Chisom explores what we always knew—that C.S. Lewis’s dismissive “nylons and lipstick and invitations” is only the beginning of the complications of Susan—and then dives deep into grief, faith, and portal fantasy.

If you’re into monstrousness—and you are all into monstrousness—Ren Iwamoto’s A Mirror Distorted: A Brief Meditation on When Real-Life Events Inspire Speculative Fiction is your jam. Ren tackles monsters born of real-life inspiration—and how they morph when viewed through different lenses.


So Many Books

Let’s start 2020 right! We have book recommendations, book reviews, and a look at some staff picks for January’s new releases.

Book Recommendations and Reviews:

And due to our late 2019 hiatus, our January round-up of new releases by women and nonbinary authors covered three whole months! Here, some of our staff share their picks:

Woven in Moonlight

Erynn’s Pick: Woven in Moonlight, by Isabel Ibañez
For a generation, her people have been decimated and displaced from their lush country of jungles and mountains. Those that remain lay their grief and fury at Ximena’s feet, looking to her to lead them to restoration. But they don’t understand. Ximena is not the real Condesa – she’s a decoy set to protect the last true Illustrian royal. When the usurper, Atoc, demands the Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s the revenge opportunity Ximena has been waiting for.

This debut novel is set in a world inspired by the author’s Bolivian heritage and uses rich descriptions food and fabric to fill the reader’s cultural apperception. What draws me to the story is the promise of power not just in obvious might and magics but, as the title suggests, textile arts! As Ximenia discovers the truths of her world are vastly more complex than she was raised to understand, this domestic craft magic has the subtly required to take on nuanced dilemmas.

The Iron Will of Genie Lo

Faye’s Pick: The Iron Will of Genie Lo, by F. C. Yee
If you spoke to me last year, you know I loved F.C. Yee’s The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, a modern-day interpretation of the Chinese novel Journey to the West set in California, in which a girl gets reincarnated as the Monkey King’s… battle stick… and is super cranky about it. In this second and final book, Genie is now officially a Heaven-appointed guardian—so she no longer slays demons but also has to care for them, and they’re multiplying. I hear there’s also a quest for the crown and a venture in-between worlds, but what I’m most excited about Genie coming into her powers—and coming into her own as a leader—just in time for graduation.

Come Tumbling Down

Cass’s Pick: Come Tumbling Down, by Seanan McGuire
I ran through the audio versions of all of McGuire’s Wayward Children series in rapid succession last year, so I’m excited to get my hands (or ears) on the next installment. Her multiverse is a fascinating exploration of what happens to kids when Narnia or Neverland spits them back out for some transgression or other. Eleanor West, once lost and found herself, rescues these teenagers from reality, giving them a safe space either to re-adjust to life here on our earth–or to find a way back to the world of their preference. Through her protagonists (many of whom are queer and/or neuroatypical), McGuire has taken all the tangled problems of puberty, coming-of-age, and self-determination and spun them into poignant tales of the search for belonging. Come Tumbling Down looks like it’ll be revisiting one of the horror-themed worlds from a previous book (think of a playground for Doctor Frankenstein and Dracula, set on moody moors), and it may give some insight into Eleanor, the woman who set up the sanctuary-school for all those Wayward Children in the first place.


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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 11, Issue 1 (January 2019)

This month:

Welcome back, Sirens! We have brilliant 2019 Guests of Honor to introduce you to, Sirens Studio summaries and faculty bios are up on the website (get your tickets!), we’re busy reading fantasy books.

Just a reminder: Sirens Studio is October 22–23, 2019; Sirens is October 24–27, 2019, and we’ll be at the Hilton Inverness Hotel in Denver, CO.



And let us reintroduce you to our 2019 Guests of Honor: Mishell Baker (Borderline), Ausma Zehanat Khan (The Bloodprint), Rebecca Roanhorse (Trail of Lightning), and for the first time at Sirens, a scholar, Dr. Suzanne Scott (Fake Geek Girls), and a Sirens Studio guest of honor, Roshani Chokshi (Aru Shah and the End of Time). We’ll be speaking to each of them in the coming months about their work, fantasy literature, and heroes, but get a head start reading their work here.

Register for Sirens



Pencils ready? Sirens Studio summaries are live! Here is the list of faculty with their topics for reading, writing, and career intensives:




You’ll want to nab Studio tickets soon, since we’re limiting the attendance to 70. Read the full summaries and faculty bios over on the Sirens Studio page!

Read About Sirens Studio



Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble

Amy generally reads upwards of 150 books a year, and through the monthly Sirens book club, she shares her insights, opinions, and a teeny bit of her personal reading history. This month, she was smitten with Anna Meriano’s chapter book, Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble: “Please, fantasy authors… Give me more women with big business dreams and big family dreams and big dreams that they’ll achieve through hard work and smart business and just a bit of magic.” Read her full review on the blog and on Goodreads.



In February, we’ll have information on how you can apply for Sirens scholarships, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink’s thoughts on our 2019 “heroes” theme, preliminary information about Sirens’s programming (which is presented by attendees!), and more.

Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 11 (October 2018)

In this issue:



Sirens is only days away, and if you’re attending the Studio, you’re possibly already en route! Before you arrive in Beaver Creek, you might want to check off a few housekeeping items to ensure you have a great conference!



We’re still looking to fill our volunteer shifts for this year’s programming. We have 5 spots remaining, and could use your help! Please check out our Volunteer page for more information, and thank you!



This past week, we sent out detailed instruction emails for the Sirens Shuttle, the Sirens Studio, the Sirens Supper, and registration check-in. Presenters should have also received an email with information and tips. If you emailed us about dietary concerns and haven’t received a response, and for any other missing emails, please contact us at (help at



Many staff members have already arrived in Colorado and are in the thick of Sirens preparations. While we’re unpacking materials and setting up for the conference, we won’t be able to monitor our emails as closely as we normally would. If you have an urgent question prior to arriving on-site, please email (help at and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Once the conference starts, the easiest way to reach us is in person! If you have any questions or simply want to chat, our information desk in Grouse Mountain Room will be open starting at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 25.



Starting tomorrow, October 23, we’ll be tweeting up a storm at our @sirens_con handle as Sirens will begin in earnest! We’ll be sharing programming schedule reminders, snippets from each session, and other goings-on at the conference. If you prefer not to receive these notifications, you can mute us and check back on Monday, October 29.



Guest of Honor Interviews:

Books and Breakfast Spotlights:

Where Are They Now: Past Sirens Guests of Honor:

Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


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December, November, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

December, November, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

December, November, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
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