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This absolutely contains some spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you haven’t seen it, you probably want to abandon ship.

In things that will surprise no one, I really loved Rey.

Based on early trailers and still photos, I suspected I would, but yes, I super-adore her.

What may surprise you is this: I don’t give a fuck whose kid she is. It will be fascinating, I have no doubt, but beyond her genes, Rey is her own person. She doesn’t have to be Someone Special’s Daughter for her to be interesting. She doesn’t need a last name to be smart, quick, and capable.

I love that our first glimpse of her is when she’s wearing a mask. Masks have a long and storied history in Star Wars, concealing identity as well as physical condition. Vader wore one to hide himself away — and then in order to live. Kylo Ren wears a mask because he longs to follow in Vader’s footsteps. Boba Fett was masked. Of course stormtroopers are masked — no sense in your army having faces or humanity! And even Leia was masked, when she donned the disguise of Boushh. And now, so too Rey. Rey wears hers for exceedingly practical reasons, given she lives in a desert.

Even with her mask on — and her last name unknown — we are shown who she is. She is a scavenger who seems to go where others dare not, into the bowels of the great ships that long ago crashed on Jakku. She eats in the shadows of fallen AT-ATs (was she living inside an old frame? I don’t remember.) , and rescues droids from annoying traders.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Ph: David James..© 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

Having only seen the film once as of this writing (gasp!), I am unclear on whether she was left with someone when she came to Jakku as a kidlet. I am presuming yes, but when we meet her, she’s living on her own. She isn’t making an ideal living, turning metal and parts into the local dealers for hydratable bread (how cool was that), but even when presented with a wealth of food in exchange for the random droid that’s befriended her, she refuses. You don’t need to know her last name to learn something about her from these actions.

We see her envisioning her life to come, watching an older scavenger work through the same tasks Rey herself does. And just as she wonders is this all there will be, will I always be waiting, she is given cause to not wait. When the opportunity to Do Something arises, she goes, without question.


She has spent her life scavenging, learning what is valuable, and how to make what is broken into what may be valuable. I want to know how she learned to fly, I want to know what it felt like to go into the fallen ships for the first time; I want to know if she built her speeder. I don’t immediately care whose kid she is.

She befriends a panicked Finn and a lost BB-8, offering Finn her hand when she was vexed by him taking her own. I wonder if she’s ever had friends — and I suspect not, based on her wonder when Finn et al, come looking for her. She was only ever left — no one came back — until now.

And that’s when we get to see some of that desert mask fall away.

We get to see Rey be Rey. And Rey? Is pretty damn wonderful.




No Fairy Tales


Fair warning: this contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you haven’t seen the film, you read at your own risk.

She was a princess, but this was never a fairy tale.

She was a princess, but she was always something more than that.

A rebel, a revolutionary, a senator who dared to step outside the box the world would paint her into. Many Bothans died to acquire the secret plans to the Death Star and she always knew that plan was bigger than any one person — even herself. She put herself in harm’s way to see that the Rebel Alliance had the information they needed to succeed.

Thirty-eight years later, she’s still doing it. Call it the Alliance, call it the Resistance, it doesn’t exactly matter. Leia Organa has given a lot for this cause. Her family on Alderaan, her lover, her brother. Her child.

It’s funny. Going into the film, I said to myself “just let them all survive,” because part of me — that wide-eyed girl who fell in love with Leia and came to love Han — needed that fairy tale. But we grow up and this is a universe of war, a universe where the Dark wants to swallow the Light entire and will not cease until it has. This is a universe that says sorry, no happily ever afters. We burn the dead, but it’s not enough to light the night.


We probably knew, deep down, when we saw the trailer. It wasn’t a hug that was comfortable. It was heartfelt, but also heartachy, because something was amiss. Despite the hug, there was something missing — something lost. A life lived in peace, with family, and a new hope (sorry not sorry).

But we never seem to learn from the past. And Star Wars is a universe tangled up in the sins of fathers and their children. Vader was the father of Luke and Leia, and so Kylo Ren is the son of Leia and Han — a child they named Ben, a child they had all the hope in the world for. With Luke’s guidance, surely he wouldn’t become another Vader. But wasn’t part of Vader always inside Luke? Inside Leia? Was that piece handed down?

The Dark Side is tricky, ever seductive, and when you are pushed away from a thing, of course you grow curious. You wonder why people won’t show you exactly what it is. You want to look at the thing they won’t show you. You want to hold it and touch it and understand it. Eventually, you want to be it. You admire the thing they feared; the thing they tried to kill. And it doesn’t matter that the people trying to shut you out are your parents, does it?


So I can’t decide if it’s good or if it’s crap. I feel too close to it — Leia’s story has been important to me for so long. Is it a solid story, when your heroine loses nearly everything? No fairy tales, okay, and I know the story is not yet over. But to find Leia here, after all these years — standing where she did so long ago, watching distant battles, commanding people, but unable to go and do and claim — to see her waiting. To watch her know when the light in her universe is extinguished. To know that she knows why, and by who — and she cannot go, does not go. She has other responsibilities. Suns are being swallowed and planets destroyed. What does her heart matter? She has seen this happen. She has watched Alderaan turn to dust under the fist of the Dark. She knows.

She has become a general for the cause, but she is also a mother who has lost her child to the Dark. Her brother remains, though distant. You can see when she hugs Rey, the exhaustion, but in her farewell you can hear that thread of hope even after all that she has lost. Because she knows it’s all bigger than her.

But! She still matters and her heart still matters. To this fan, to the young girl I was when I first saw that princess on a fleeing starship — she matters. Leia has accomplished a lot — and has given much. Her story isn’t happily ever after — and she probably knew it never would be. She was a princess, but it was never a world of fairy tales.


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December Books

8495173It was not a specific resolution to write about the books I was reading throughout the year — but I kept up with it the entire year, so hooray me!

In December, I’ve been a little attention-challenged when it comes to books — no fault of the books. Just me trying to do too much as the year winds down — making the January Shimmer, prepping for The Honey Mummy publication,putting a tree in the living room, tending to a mom with unexpected flu, baking all the things, wrapping the rest of the things — Oi! I picked up The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato, but was  promptly diverted by Hild, by Nicola Griffith, and then found myself opening The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Each book is still on my bedside table — and each is enchanting in its own way. When I want to escape the real world (and that’s pretty much always these days, given the news), these books take me straight away.

I’ve read some really good things this year. My goal was to read seventy books, since I read sixty-five last year. Always do more, right? Apparently I read eighty-one books this year, because why not?

I read more books by women than by men, which seems to be my normal pattern. I still have a lot of work when it comes to reading books by authors who are not white, so I’ll try to focus on that as 2016 arrives.

What did I love best? That’s so hard to say, because I read so many damn good books. Here’s what I got to this year!

  1. Eleanor, Jason Gurley
  2. Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
  3. Shimmer 23
  4. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Chris Hadfield
  5. Good Omens, Gaiman and Pratchett
  6. If on a winter’s night a traveler, Italio Calvino
  7. Labrynthian, Sunny Moraine
  8. Girl on a Wire, Gwenda Bond
  9. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
  10. The Lumberfox, Ava Lovelace
  11. The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Alice Hoffman
  12. Trading Rosemary, Octavia Cade
  13. Under the Skin, Michel Faber
  14. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
  15. The Dream Lover, Elizabeth Berg
  16. Well Fed, cookbook
  17. Midsummer Moon, Laura Kinsale
  18. Uncertain Magic, Laura Kinsale
  19. Sing Me Your Scars, Damien A. Walters
  20. The Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka
  21. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm
  22. Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead
  23. Parable of the Talents, Octavia Butler
  24. Shimmer 24
  25. The City & The City, China Mieville
  26. The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
  27. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
  28. Collected Stories, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  29. Mr. Fox, Helen Oyeyemi
  30. The Stress of Her Regard, Tim Powers
  31. Vermilion, Molly Tanzer
  32. Justice Calling, Annie Bellet
  33. The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson
  34. Shimmer 25
  35. Rat Queens Vol 1
  36. No Proper Lady, Isabel Cooper
  37. Inksucker, Aidan Doyle (in draft)
  38. Alien, Alan Dean Foster
  39. Sextrap Dungeon, Kurt Knox
  40. Ammonite, Nicola Griffith
  41. The Gate to Women’s Country, Sherri S. Tepper
  42. Giallo Fantastique, ed. Ross Lockhart
  43. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
  44. The Magician’s Mistake, Katherine Sparrow
  45. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland & Led the Revels There, Cat Valente
  46. Heat Rises, Richard Castle
  47. Letters to Zell, Camille Greip
  48. Rat Queens, Vol 2
  49. Magonia, Maria Dahvana Headley
  50. Updraft, Fran Wilde
  51. Shimmer 26
  52. The House of Shattered Wings, Aliette De Bodard
  53. Nunslinger, Stark Holborn
  54. The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
  55. Archivist Wasp, Nicole Korner-Stace
  56. The Shadow Revolution, Clay and Susan Griffin
  57. The Undying Legion, Clay and Susan Griffin
  58. Gutshot, Amelia Gray
  59. The Conquering Dark, Clay and Susan Griffin
  60. Wylding Hall, Elizabeth Hand
  61. Last Summer at Mars Hill, Elizabeth Hand
  62. Delia’s Shadow, Jaime Lee Moyer
  63. The River of No Return, Bee Ridgway
  64. The Time Tutor, Bee Ridgway
  65. Shimmer 27
  66. Lost Angeles, Lisa Mantchev
  67. Walk on Earth a Stranger, Rae Carson
  68. Vengeance Road, Erin Bowman
  69. Binti, Nnedi Okorafor
  70. Life and Death, Stephenie Meyer
  71. The Pleasure Merchant, Molly Tanzer
  72. Nancy Drew, The Clue of the Black Keys
  73. Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
  74. The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter
  75. Cocaine Blues, Kerry Greenwood
  76. The Pleasure Merchant, Molly Tanzer
  77. Shimmer 28
  78. Waking the Moon, Elizabeth Hand
  79. Carry On, Rainbow Rowell
  80. Hild, Nicola Griffith
  81. The Winter Sea, Susanna Kearsley



Dear Mr. Abrams


Princess Leia in Hoth gear

Dear Mr. Abrams,

I’ve followed your work for a long time now — Alias most especially, but I even remember Forever Young (and my mom loved Felicity) — but am not sure I know you well enough to call you J.J.

In any case, I was excited when I heard you’d be heading up the new Star Wars film, because I genuinely love the Star Trek reboot and all you’ve done there. And I could probably talk about Super 8 at length, but that’s just a detour toward the thing I actually want to tell you about.

Star Wars is one of the first films I can remember seeing, and it was certainly one of the first films to impact me and the way I viewed the world. Specifically, it was Princess Leia who opened my eyes to so many things, we’d probably be here a week as I listed them all.

The idea that a woman could be powerful. The idea that a princess in a pretty white dress could be a hero for the revolution. The idea that she could carry a gun just like the boys did — the notion that she was stronger than some of those very boys, willing to stalk after her beliefs, no matter what dark corridor (or trash compactor) they took her into.

Star Wars was the first franchise that stole my heart. It was the first franchise I cosplayed and the first franchise I bought toys from. My neighbor friend Patrick and I wished for huge winter snows, and when we got huge winter snows, we built a maze of tunnels to run our action figures through, because Hoth. We spent countless days buried in the snow, oblivious of the cold, because the AT-ATs were attacking our base and Princess Leia had negotiated a treaty with the wampa so we were about to win for always.

When I see you saying “Star Wars was always a boy’s thing,” I find it beyond ridiculous. You can’t erase half of a fandom. I was as invested as any boy — and I was and am very much a girl. A girl who grew into a woman, shaped by what Star Wars and a princess showed her was possible. Star Wars is a people-thing, see. It’s not, and never was, a boys-only playground. Don’t make that into a thing.


November Books

17332243I kind of hit a wall at the end of October, where I wanted to slow down — so much writing! So much reading!

I wanted a big, slow (for me) read, something I could sink into and stay with for a while. Turns out, Hild by Nicola Griffith is that book.

It’s beautifully written, and set in 7th century Britain, takes me juuust far enough outside anything I know, turning it into a true adventure. Lots has been written about this book, and I’m not sure how much I have to add to any conversation — especially given that I’m still reading it — but it’s a treat.

Hild is based on the life of Hilda of Whitby. It’s often a novel of politics, but the things I like best are seeing women in every day life. The making of butter, the weaving of cloth. The book has a very real quality to it, that the clothing worn and the food eaten have histories and costs attached them, neither of which we, as modern readers, probably consider enough.

Hild is something of a darling, but she’s finally taking steps to be something more than that, and I’m encouraged I will like her quite a lot as this part of her adventure closes (it’s the first in a trilogy).

And look at that cover. The trees, the sky, the birds, and she’s kind of part of the trees, or they’re running into her…ah, it’s lovely.


The second story I’ve been wrapped up in this month is…erm, Fallout 4. I know what you’re thinking. Elise, that’s a video game, and you are not wrong! But Fallout 4 contains a pretty interesting story, too. Minor spoilers follow.

Once upon a time, you were happy and married and living in the burbs, see; spouse, baby, a really great house and a really snarky robot. Then, as happens, the world blew itself up. You invested in a slot in the fallout shelter, of course you did — but from there, things go even further downhill, as you later witness the apparent death of your spouse and the abduction of your child. (I say apparent because I don’t know; the story is still playing out. Who knows what I saw when I came out of cryosleep!) You emerge into a world that’s completely changed — seemingly two hundred years later. Oh your swell house is still there, but it’s a wreck, and the neighborhood has really gone to hell.

There’s a learning curve here, how to survive in this new landscape, how to interact with people and animals you encounter. How to find clean water and safe food, and rebuild — or not. I’m also taking this story slow, enjoying the exploration of a nearly empty world. It’s waking up the writerly part of my mind, too, as the best books do.

I’ve also got a bookmark in The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato, but proper words on that adventure will have to wait until next month!


Just One


It’s the time of the season, when we’re supposed to shout to the rooftops about the splendid fictions we have published this past year. When we’re supposed to vault ourselves into your hearts and into the ballot box for Major Awards (yes, I would love a leg lamp, thank you), be they fragile or otherwise.

I’ve published fourteen stories so far this year, but I’m only going to tell you about one. It’s a novelette set in my traveling circus universe. It’s called “Blow the Moon Out,” and was published by Giganotosaurus in August 2015.

Lois Tilton says it’s “a girls’ coming-of-age dark fantasy that reminds me a bit of Stephen King, except rather more weird.”

Rather more weird than Stephen King? Awesome.

It’s about girls and women discovering their freedom. Discovering the world of men seems to have but one use for them. It’s about freedom of choice, and freedom of doing. It’s about fear of Russians, of men, of bodies, of life. It’s about jumping off cliffs and finding yourself in the stars.

And I hope if you haven’t read it, you will do so now.




You Probably Haven’t Read: Patricia Anthony

557477The first book of Patricia Anthony’s I came across was Eating Memories — a collection of her short speculative fiction. I found it when I was just getting serious about this “writing thing,” as my dad called it, and was reading short stories by the ton.

From the first story to the last, I was captivated. So captivated that “Dear Froggy” inspired one of my earliest stories. I thought “I’ve got more to add to this conversation,” so arrogantly did. (Now that I think on it, Anthony is responsible for inspiring two stories from me.)

From there, I sought out her novels. They’re each deliciously different — and I say that even as I haven’t even read them all. I was pacing myself, because they’re such treats.

And then in 2013, Patricia Anthony died.

Her stack of books on my shelf will not grow — though in the writing of this piece, I was delighted to see that Wildside Press is publishing her last book next year, eeeep! I’d heard talk about a found manuscript, so perhaps this is it.

Still, pace is important, when one’s supply is finite. (I’ve done the same thing with other authors who are less prolific, like Laura Kinsale, whom we should also probably discuss sometime.)

Anthony’s Brother Termite has been optioned for a movie — but nothing’s ever come of it. An alien in the White House. A literal alien, I mean, as the president’s chief of staff. It is glorious. It talks about men and women and the roles each play, and mashes Washington politics with alien politics, love what you kill!, and I want to read it all over again.

Cold Allies ponders climate change — that’s right, you heard me, climate change is a thing. In this novel, nations fight for land where food may yet be grown, only to have aliens show up and complicate an already complicated situation.

557468And the heartbreaking Flanders. My heart clenches up even as I start to type about it. It’s a story of war, and of the places between war — the places between life and death; what we find there, what we don’t.

Happy Policeman calls to mind Ray Bradbury (and would make a super film, too!) — whereas Anthony’s work on a whole also makes me think of the work of Connie Willis. There is something inherently charming, even as Anthony is taking you down dark and darker paths.

I was so saddened by her death, yet heartened by the idea, as I always am with writers, that the work remains, and is there for people yet to discover. Go discover it. Go on.



Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914), The Weary Moon

Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914), The Weary Moon

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year. The reasons are many.

  • I’m finishing up Folley & Mallory #4, which is turning out so great;
  • I’m starting work on a new project, which is either Folley #1 (ahahaa whoops things I never planned on) or Fates, or some combination thereof;
  • I’ve, dare I say it, outgrown NaNoWriMo.

I think NaNo can be great for beginning writers. I took part in it for many years — in fact, I first drafted Rings of Anubis during a NaNo November. Watermark also came from a NaNo November! I think what the month does best for writers is get them accustomed to sitting down and doing the work.

Eventually, you learn this. It becomes a part of you. You learn the best way you work — I don’t write every day but when I am writing, I am consistently putting down 1500-2000 words in a session. Did NaNo teach me this? I don’t know.

If you write long enough — and are lucky enough to sell some books — your life is basically novel-writing month. You’re always working on something, even if you’re researching/building the foundation. My brain is never not making something, so there’s no need to set aside an entire month.

If you are taking part in NaNo, I hope you write your ass off. Don’t worry about hitting 50k — I’m serious. Have fun, make some words, learn something about your process. Don’t stress if you don’t write every day.

dividerThis weekend, I finished reading Waking the Moon (Elizabeth Hand). It was glorious, but Beth and I both had some questions about the ending. And something Beth said made me remember a book I wrote way back when I was a brand new writer.

It started as a short story, the one I workshopped at Con Jose, where everyone basically said “this is a novel.” I felt like a failure — I meant to write a short story, damn it! But. I wrote that novel, didn’t I. I wrote it, and didn’t do much with it. I slid it away, and then yesterday I thought about it, and and and

It’s absolutely me. It’s weird and creepy; four generations of women come into their own, working to rid their family of a long-present evil, and omg. I didn’t know what I was writing back then. I might have a better idea now. And it’s exciting.

I almost can’t even.

But I’m going to.


Octobler Books

Octobler is coming to a close, gracious sakes. It’s probably tied with July for my favorite month, really. November is also pretty great, and I’ve got some spooky things yet to read in that month — but let’s see what I conquered in Octobler:

23719270Picking up where I ended in September, I stayed with westerns, and dug into Vengeance Road, by Erin Bowman. Very related to Rae Carson’s To Walk the Earth a Stranger, but VR is not speculative fiction — it’s a straight up western, which was a fun change of pace. As a kid, I loved Louis L’Amour books and this took me back. Heroine Kate disguises herself as a boy (I will never tire of this trope, I think), to right some serious wrongs; a revenge story, a love story, a story that ties into actual history, with the Lost Dutchman mine. Great stuff. I really loved everything about this book, including the wonderful Liluye. I wish Kate and her bunch had been kinder to her, but recognize that’s a tricky point, because whites of that time were probably not half so gracious to Native Americans. We always want our heroines to be perfect and I can allow that Kate is not and it makes for a great book. And that cover–did we mention that cover? Holy cats.

25667918The next book I grabbed was Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor. This is an entry in the Tor novella program, and it’s an excessively short novella indeed. That’s my main complaint with it; I like my novellas to feel a bit deeper than this, so even though Binti was an amazing character, and this world equally so, I wanted more. (Gluttony is probably my favorite sin, yes.) In Binti, we get a school set in outer space, and Our Heroine is the first of her people to attend this school. I want to call it Harry Potter in Space, but this world feels somehow bigger than even that, despite its short length. Binti has an amazing adventure that will change her life — and pretty much the lives of everyone she comes in contact with.

Speaking of amazing adventures…

26874617I heard about the gender-flipped version of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, and thought hey, maybe that’s how I’ll finally read Twilight — because I tried when it first came out and nope, couldn’t do. When I peeked at Life and Death, I had the same initial reaction, and then Beth sent me a copy of it, and well. WELL.

Reading this book was like time travel. It was like kissing PW for the first time in the falling snow outside school and feeling like my spine had been struck by lightning because whoa do French people really kiss like this let’s be French forever. Meyer has the ability to perfectly capture what first love is; what teen love is; what it’s like when you can’t omg be with that person every second. And in that way, this book is a huge success. It’s packaged with the original, which I may yet visit. I can’t speak to how well the gender flip works, or doesn’t — but on its own, Life and Death is a great vehicle in which to remember being young and in love. It’s no wonder teens love it so.

Thanks to my library, I got a copy of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This was a strange reading experience for me, because I used to be that girl; fanfic is where I got my start, I know what it’s like to have readers demanding more of a well-beloved piece of fiction when your heart starts to go out of it. In some ways, this book was a little too meta for me — too on the nose, maybe, especially with the excerpts of books and fanfics included. (When I learned about Carry On, I absolutely groaned and probably won’t read it — it’s the novelization of the fandom that Cath writes about in Fangirl. And if that’s not too meta…I’m not sure what is.) As with Twilight, it’s no wonder Rowell has a solid audience; I think in my 20s (when I was still That Girl), I would have been over the moon for this.

23281612There are strange gaps in my reading knowledge and history — as is the case with Angela Carter. If you had asked me two months ago if I’d read her, I would have said yes without hesitation. But upon actually reading her, I realized nope, Angela Carter was always confused in my head with Shirley Jackson. The Bloody Chamber serves as my introduction to Ms. Carter, and I’m as shocked about it as you are!

The volume is a collection of retold fairy tales and I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite because they’re all fairly wonderful. Carter has an amazing way with words — it’s so lush it feels like poetry at times, which means it’s terribly inspiring for me, since poetry helps unlock a certain part of my writerly brain. I’m mad for this edition, too — it has French flaps and a deckled edge and oh my god, it’s gorgeous.

Molly Tanzer’s The Pleasure Merchant is out in November, have you pre-ordered it yet? Tanzer continually impresses me with her work, because it doesn’t seem to matter WHAT genre the girl is writing in, she gets it done. She has this way of a pulling a reader in and not letting them go. Everything, no matter how fantastic, is believable, because she crafts her worlds so perfectly. Wild West? No problem. 18th century London? ON IT.

26811562The Pleasure Merchant involves Tom, who wants only to make some beautiful wigs. It’s his calling! He wants his own shop and wants to be married, so of course his life takes a tragic turn. His most amazing creation to date is used against him and Tom finds himself outcast and unemployed, and has no good idea what to do. Thank goodness for libertines, am I right? Tom isn’t very likable, but the prose sure is, so the story carries you surely along, because that’s what Tanzer does. She won’t let you go, even if you aren’t feeling very warm to the main character; you probably love the narrator and it’s their voice that carries you along and then bam it’s over and you’re weeping and laughing and well. You should buy this book, like right now. Wait — one more review here, then go.

17309937Last month, we sank back into our Elizabeth Hand addiction; this month, we tackled Waking the Moon. Holy shit, people! This book.

“The reign of men has ended!” the description proclaims, and well, it’s not entirely wrong, but it’s a little purple for my liking. This certainly is, however, a book about women coming into their own power. It’s witchy, it’s Gothic, it’s haunting. If you wished Wylding Hall was a little more blood-soaked, this is the book for you. As it also involves archaeology, I am uh — over the moon for Waking the Moon.

Hand’s writing has a kind of poetry to it. I take it in small chunks, like it’s loose tea — a pot at a time, to get warm, and comforted (by blood?! Well, yeah.), and inspired. I’m about 75% through this one — I bet I finish it this weekend (Halloween weekend — as is only proper).

My contributor copies of She Walks in Shadows also arrived, and they’re beautiful. Would you like to win a copy of the ebook (epub or mobi)? Leave a comment here. I’ll pick a winner next week, as a thank you for you coming by and reading this far. Thank you, thank you.



You Probably Haven’t Read: Kerry Greenwood


Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012-2015) are presently a super hot property, thank you Australian television! I am absolutely and utterly addicted, so much so that after finishing all the episodes I could get my hands on (three seasons, there must be more, though there is talk of a film!), I turned to the books. Did you know there were books?

Kerry Greenwood started publishing them in 1987. When I think of 1980s mysteries, I don’t exactly think “forward-looking, feminist, revolutionary,” especially for books about 1920s Australia. BUT that is exactly what you get.

83927The first novel, Cocaine Blues, was a curious journey for me. I only knew Miss Phryne Fisher from the screen, so meeting her on the page was an entirely different experience. I thought she was obnoxious.


Which is crazy, because I love her on-screen. So I wondered, which character did I love, Phryne or Essie Davis’s portrayal of Phryne? By the time I finished the novel, it turns out I liked both of them quite fine, but in meeting Our Heroine on the page, she’s annoying, because she doesn’t fail at anything. Perhaps that’s part of the on-screen charm; Phryne does fail, she gets in trouble, and she’s scared of something Very Mundane (which Jack never lets her forget).

Still, I’m impressed with how the show runners have translated the book into a series. It’s rather amazing, given that much of what happens on the show doesn’t happen on the screen. Take for instance our description of Detective-Inspector Jack Robinson from Cocaine Blues:

“Your names, please,” he said in a carefully unmodulated voice. The man was colorless, with mid-brown hair, mid-brown eyes, and nothing noticeable about him at all.

JACK? I thought as I read. That cannot be, because — well. Look:


Nothing noticeable?!

Look at his face.


Look again.

In the first novel, our Detective-Inspector is fairly absent, and certainly has no fireworks with Miss Fisher (which I understand is an ongoing lack). So I applaud the show’s writers and Nathan Page and Essie Davis for the actual FIRE that jumps out of my television screen every time Jack occupies it, and every time Jack and Phryne try to deny the lust that is rampaging between them. It’s a wonderful addition and startling, because it’s not in the first book at all.

The other thing that translates well is Phryne’s wardrobe. The book places a focus there, and the show carries it splendidly forward. If you’ve watched the show, you’ll recognize her clothing as you read about it. The time period is all lovingly rendered, and Phryne becomes less obnoxious as the book goes on — or maybe I just got used to her paper self…

If you’re a fan of the show, pick up the first book at the very least, to see how Miss Fisher began. Dot’s in there, Bert and Cec too, but there’s no sign of Hugh as of yet. (There’s also a policewoman! Extraordinary.)