Category Archives: Interview

Freedom

To celebrate and raise awareness of Equus‘ release, some of the anthology contributors participated in a group interview. I sent them all several interview questions and they sent their responses. Instead of sharing one person’s interview each day, however, I’m going to share one question and everyone’s responses 🙂

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered going with a Braveheart-type graphic for this one, but I resisted* 😉

Today’s question is…

Once the anthology was done and I was re-reading it for copyedits it occurred to me that though the stories were tied together by the equine theme, of course, they also had one other theme in common–freedom. Is that something you were consciously thinking about as you wrote your story?

“Hennessy and Peregrine’s battle for their freedom was always part of the plot, but certainly not the foundation of the concept! We both think it’s really cool that they all have a freedom theme though!”

V.F. LeSann

author of, "Riders in the Sky"

“I’m a total pantser, so I don’t tend to think about theme until after I have a draft of a story I want to tell, but once I had that draft, freedom was something I considered in my rewrites. Michelle’s theme song while I was writing was Van Halen’s “Unchained.””

Chadwick Ginther

author of, "Scatter the Foals to the Wind"

“Although it wasn’t what I was consciously thinking about when I wrote it, I find a lot of my stories are about freedom. The search for freedom to be is an intrinsic part of what it means to be alive. Well, it is for me.”

Angela Rega

author of, "The Horse Witch"

“Huh! I wasn’t consciously thinking about freedom, no. Which is sort of sad since one of my characters is a slave…”

K.T. Ivanrest

author of, "Lightless"

“I’m not surprised. I think a lot of people see horses as symbols of freedom.

As for me, freedom’s all I think about.”

Cat McDonald

author of, "The Last Ride of Hettie Richter"

“Yep! I actually have a passage where Demy’s thinking of the freedom she felt when she was on Foxy’s back, and how her motorcycle gives her some of that freedom back. Demy’s definitely still in pursuit of freedom in a lot of ways–freedom from her past, freedom from her sorrows, freedom from magic. Of course, we see how that works out for her. :D”

Stephanie A. Cain

author of, "To Ride a Steel Horse"

“Sort of. It was in the DNA at the time. I wrote this story in October 2016, literally the same week a certain American presidential candidate was caught on tape confessing to molesting women. The horror and nausea of that time period (that still hasn’t ended) is in Eli. I was also watching 70s films about fast cars and escaping from prison, too (specifically “Jackson County Jail”) and reading Bruce Springsteen’s biography, and being impressed by this overwhelming feeling — that the only thing that matters, politically or otherwise, is freedom. And I think every election cycle feels like that is on the line, no matter where you fall politically. All of that is in Eli.”

Michael Leonberger

author of, "Eli the Hideous Horse Boy"

“In an odd way, yes. The last book in my Tattooed Witch trilogy was published in December, 2016. In tone, the trilogy tends to be passionate and dark, exploring themes of love and death, in particular. I wanted to free myself from that – to write something much lighter – Ladies Day was the result. As writers, we all write what we are. I have a dark, passionate side, but I also adore the ridiculous. I had fun coming up with what I thought were silly ideas and scenes. I had been doing a lot of research on the Edwardian period for my upcoming novel. The Edwardians were all about having a good time, if we take King Edward VII, who was quite the playboy, as an example. Throw horses and the Edwardians together, and you have the Ascot. Mix in outrageous hats, snobbery, the marriage market, and cheating duchesses for fun. Add a dollop of magic. Why not?”

Susan MacGregor

author of, "Ladies Day"

*by ‘resisted’ I mean I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out how to add Braveheart face paint to the horse in the graphic at the top of the page before surrendering and just getting on with things 😉

If you haven’t done so already, be sure and pick up your copy of Equus today, maybe if it sells enough I’ll make enough money to buy some graphic design lessons 😉

…just kidding, that’s totally not what I’d spend the money on, but buy the book anyway LOL

Equine Experience

To celebrate and raise awareness of Equus’ release, some of the anthology contributors participated in a group interview. I sent them all several interview questions and they sent their responses. Instead of sharing one person’s interview each day, however, I’m going to share one question and everyone’s responses 🙂

Today’s question is…

Do you have any real-life experience with equines? Tell us about that.

“I’ve only ever ridden a horse once, up in some trails around Masanutten. And I was honestly struck by how often they defecate (and how often my horse would put his face in whatever the horse in front of us left behind). I bring that up all the time whenever I talk about horses in real life, both because I am immature, but also because that trip has some kind of magical significance for me: I read Annie Proulx’s “Close Range” on that trip, while listening to the Rob Zombie album “Educated Horses”. I think Rob Zombie is so cool, and that book was so gut-punchingly sad, and the horses were both so startlingly beautiful, while simultaneously hilariously indifferent to whatever emotions I might have been feeling — they basically called me on my crap. And somewhere in those swirling ingredients, I get a very specific nostalgic feeling unique to that trip. And I guess I associate it with horses. That is both the silliest and most honest answer I’ve got.”

Michael Leonberger

author of, "Eli the Hideous Horse Boy"

“Leslie – In my youth I rode a lot of horses and got bucked off a lot… I always rode the horses that other people didn’t want to ride, and there was a reason they didn’t want to ride them. I don’t get along well with equines. But I did perfect my landing!

Megan – Absolutely none. Considering my Albertan status, I think that’s kind of an accomplishment.”

V.F. LeSann

author of, "Riders in the Sky"

“Actually, I’m very very allergic to horses. I went to the Musical Ride once and was absolutely heartbroken when my eyes swelled shut. We always used to think it was the hay making me sneeze on hay rides, but nope.”

Cat McDonald

author of, "The Last Ride of Hettie Richter"

“My parents wouldn’t let me have a horse, but I took riding lessons (and went to horse camp) in junior high and early high school—got my first scar (and tetanus shot) when I was stabbed with a pitchfork while cleaning a stall. Since then I’ve only been trailing riding on and off, mostly on friends’ and relatives’ horses.”

K.T. Ivanrest

author of, "Lightless"

“My grandparents had some horses, but I’ve only ridden on a horse a couple times in my life. I did get it in my head that one pony would’ve looked better blue (my favourite colour at the time) but was thankfully stopped before I got the paint (or ended up bitten or stomped).”

Chadwick Ginther

author of, "Scatter the Foals to the Wind"

“Does asking my dad for a pony for every birthday and Christmas over the past forty years count? 😀

I came by my horse-craziness honestly. My mom had a pony named Foxy who was the basis for Demy’s beloved horse Foxy. As a kid, I traded cleaning tack and mucking stalls for riding lessons at our local stable. In high school I worked with someone who had horses, and I went riding with her a couple of times. After I graduated from college, I dated a guy whose parents had horses; I spent a lot of time with his parents and their horses, which I suppose he probably resented. I learned how to lunge a horse and clean hooves, did a lot more stall mucking and grooming, put up hay for the winter, and helped them build an addition to their stable. “My” horse was Glory, a beautiful gray half-Arabian mare. To be honest, I don’t miss the guy, but I still miss Glory.”

Stephanie A. Cain

author of, "To Ride a Steel Horse"

And, if you’ve been following this interview all week you know what I’m going to say next, but I’m going to say it anyway, because it’s my job LOL

If you haven’t done so already, be sure and pick up your copy of Equus today!

Equine Favourites

To celebrate and raise awareness of Equus’ release, some of the anthology contributors participated in a group interview. I sent them all several interview questions and they sent their responses. Instead of sharing one person’s interview each day, however, I’m going to share one question and everyone’s responses 🙂

Today’s question is…

Aside from Equus, what are your favourite equine-related books or short stories?

“When I was a kid, I devoured anything about horses. My early favorites were the books by Maguerite Henry, of course. I also liked the Black Stallion books, but my favorite of Walter Farley’s books was Man O’War. Tamora Pierce, while she doesn’t write specifically about horses, always has great horses in her books–Moonlight in the Alanna books and Peachblossom in the Protector of the Small series. In high school I loved the Mercedes Lackey Arrows of the Queen trilogy.

A few years ago I fell desperately in love with The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, which I still think contains the scariest scene I’ve ever read. I have the audiobook, which is lovely, and also have the paperback–which last year I had signed when I finally got to meet Maggie!

Other horse books I loved so much I still own: Swampfire by Patricia Cecil Hass, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, and The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (despite the problematic elements).”

Stephanie A. Cain

author of, "To Ride a Steel Horse"

“One of my favourite books of all time is one I acquired in my early twenties called The Unicornis Manuscripts: On the History and Truth of the Unicorn. I absolutely love the blur between reality and myth in this book.”

Angela Rega

author of, "The Horse Witch"

“Sleepy Hollow. The Headless Horseman’s Horse. I’m really thinking the movie here, because THERE’S a horse: black steed, snorting hellfire,literally galloping out of a tree. And the guy who rides him is a headless Christopher Walken? Perfect.” Michael Leonberger

author of, "Eli the Hideous Horse Boy"

“I read Black Beauty until it fell apart when I was a little girl!” Cat McDonald

author of, "The Last Ride of Hettie Richter"

“In junior high I read pretty much every Saddle Club book in existence and made it my life goal to eat ice cream like Stevie Lake; apart from those and Black Beauty, I haven’t actually read too many equine stories. But I did recently read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races—not at all the sort of horses I was expecting! *Backs away slowly*”

K.T. Ivanrest

author of, "Lightless"

Megan: Bahahaha! Oh no, you don’t have any!

Leslie: [Censored!!] I haven’t even read The Last Unicorn yet because you haven’t given it to me!

Megan: I lent it to my mom first! (Side note: Welcome to the gritty world of co-authoring. It’s basically just this, all the time.) For my part – absolutely, yes, The Last Unicorn is a must-read. The Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville was a childhood favourite. Oh, oh, oh! And The Transfigured Hart, by Jane Yolen! Another elementary school fave!

V.F. LeSann

author of, "Riders in the Sky"

“Oh, the reading list of a horse girl! It’s a long one. Classics such as King of the Wind, my personal favorite Marguerite Henry, are obvious choices, but I’m also a fan of horse-heavy fantasy such as Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce, The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman, Bruce Coville’s Unicorn Chronicles, and Horsemaster by Marilyn Singer, with Audrey Coulthurst’s Of Fire and Stars being a recent new favorite. In nonfiction, there’s no better introduction to the Sport of Kings than Joe Palmer (look for his collection This Was Racing), and The Greatest Horse Stories Ever Told, edited by Steven Price, is a great round-up of tales about racehorses, warhorses, cowhorses, and more.” Diana Hurlburt

author of, "Eel and Bloom"

What are your favourite equine books? Leave a comment to share them, and, if you haven’t done so already, be sure and pick up your copy of Equus today. It might be a new addition to your list! 🙂

Equine Attraction

To celebrate and raise awareness of Equus‘ release, some of the anthology contributors participated in a group interview. I sent them all several interview questions and they sent their responses. Instead of sharing one person’s interview each day, however, I’m going to share one question and everyone’s responses 🙂

Today’s question is…

What drew you to write about the type of equine that features most prominently in your story? If you were suddenly turned into an equine is that the type you’d choose to be?

“Flying horses came about because one of the inspirations for my story was the myth of Phaethon driving the chariot of the sun. The starfire rose out of the setting and needs of the plot, and ended up being my way of connecting the horses more closely to the people than just “we need them for transportation and status symbols.” If I were turned into an equine, I could definitely go for glowing space Pegasus!”

K.T. Ivanrest

author of, "Lightless"

“I guess I wanted to write about a demon because of the combination of emotional and physical power they represent. Although I’d like to say “sure, becoming a demon would be neato!”, I think maybe I and most other people already kind of are.”

Cat McDonald

author of, "The Last Ride of Hettie Richter"

“I’m a huge fan of Irish mythology, probably because my genealogy is mostly Irish-German, but also because there are some awesome critters in Irish mythology. I particularly love the combination of flesh-eating and horse, because I’m a bloodthirsty little monster. I’m drawn to predators in the natural world–wolves, orca, birds of prey, snakes–and I love how the mythology of the each uisca turns an herbivore into a predator. In addition, one of my favorite books is The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, which is basically the same mythology I’m using, even if she calls them capaill uisce.

So yes, all things considered, I think I’d like being an each uisce–especially since they have shapeshifting abilities, so whenever I started missing opposable thumbs, I could take human form. :D”

Stephanie A. Cain

author of, "To Ride a Steel Horse"

“I’ve mostly avoided featuring horses in my work so far–until I saw the open call for Equus which really got the creative juices percolating. As cool as it would be to capable of running on air or water, I think I’d want to avoid any kind of personal connection to Loki. I’m not sure I need my life to be that interesting.”

Chadwick Ginther

author of, "Scatter the Foals to the Wind"

“Growing up in Florida gave me a great love of water, fresh and salt alike. Nixies, kelpies, and capaill uisce popped up in fantasy stories and books of mythology I read as a kid, and caught my horse girl’s imagination. The stories I loved best as a young reader naturally feed my work as an adult creator, and I decided to play around with the idea of water horses local to my own landscapes: thus the limerunner, a water horse found in the marshes and limestone-rich springs of central Florida, was born. Though I enjoyed sketching out their relative trainability, vicious teeth, and cloven hooves, if I could be any equine I’d have to go with a beautiful Lipizzan (who can also be found in Florida!).”

Diana Hurlburt

author of, "Eel and Bloom"

“I have always been obsessed with the Elephant Man, and I think that obsession sort of led me to write about a deformed young man who believed himself to be the son of a pegasus — that that might help explain some of his deformities. Imagination makes the mundane or tragic possibly magical. I love stories about people who imagine themselves into places better than where they are, whose souls burst out of their bodies. The story of Eli asks if that backstory is real or not, but more importantly: does it matter?”

Michael Leonberger

author of, "Eli the Hideous Horse Boy"

“The Australian Brumby is a very special horse. They live in the wild without human interference but their population growth has become an issue and there has been much debate and conflict in their management and population control. On one hand they are a symbol of the wild and form part of the Australian identity; many of them were used as war horses in World Wars 1 and 2 on the other hand they are seen as feral creatures that damage the environment and require culling. It is a very sensitive issue and I found this dichotomy in their representation what I wanted to write about.

If I was suddenly turned into an equine in the real world, I think I might be a stockhorse with a heavy load in need of a shoe change, if I was turned into an equine in my dream world I would be a Pegasus that roamed the night skies and gathered stardust in my mane.”

Angela Rega

author of, "The Horse Witch"

Leslie: I wanted to do something against the grain for Equus, something less frilly and majestic, more fire and rock music. We debated Horsemen of the Apocalypse for a while, but then I remember the Nightmares from D&D and remembered that they were my favourite! Then we found a song – Ghostriders in the Sky – and we had our fire and our rock music.

Megan: That sounds very glamorous and triumphant. She’s leaving out the part where she was flopped over a pint moaning about having no equine inspiration.

V.F. LeSann

author of, "Riders in the Sky"

Honestly, if I were transformed into some kind of equine I think I’d want to go for one of the shapeshifting varieties on account of the fact I’m pretty fond of having opposable thumbs. Aside from that, though, I’ve gotta say sparkly space Pegasus kinda sounds sweet…

If you haven’t done so already, be sure and pick up your copy of Equus today so that you, too, can discover the awesomeness of the equines these authors are talking about!

Younicorn?

To celebrate and raise awareness of Equus‘ release, some of the anthology contributors participated in a group interview. I sent them all several interview questions and they sent their responses. Instead of sharing one person’s interview each day, however, I’m going to share one question and everyone’s responses 🙂

When I was a kid I used to play a game with my best friend, Linda, where we were both unicorns galloping around the school yard. Every day she described her unicorn self differently but I was always one of two things — a black unicorn with a gleaming silver horn, or a white unicorn with a shiny gold horn. I often imagined roses spiraling around those horns, and sometimes the colours of the blooms would change… but not often.

If you were to imagine yourself as a unicorn, what would you look like?

“My elementary school friend Amber and I used to play that we were unicorns galloping around the school yard, too! I wonder if this a product of growing up in the Lisa Frank era of unicorns.

When we played, I was usually a black unicorn with a white mane and tale and a white horn. I can’t remember what Amber’s unicorn usually looked like, or if she switched every day.”

Stephanie A. Cain

author of, "To Ride a Steel Horse"

” I want to have a candy-red horn! Like a twizzler, but maybe chipped a bit at the end. I love the original “Alien vs Predator” comic from Dark Horse, where the main Predator is called the “Broken Tusked Warrior” because one of his tusks is chipped off? So I want to be the “Broken Horned Unicorn”. But again, I want that thing red as blood – and not real blood, but Dario Argento “Suspiria” paint-blood red. And I want wings! Natch.

(And also maybe an eye patch, like David Bowie, because it would forever beg the question: “Where did you get that eye patch from? You clearly didn’t make it yourself, because you are a unicorn…who gave it to you?” And I would never answer it).”

Michael Leonberger

author of, "Eli the Hideous Horse Boy"

“I definitely played that game as well, with my friends “The Neigh-Neigh Club” (yes, really :P). My unicorn was always the very traditional gleaming white, but she had a purple horn that could make music.”

K.T. Ivanrest

author of, "Lightless"

“I used to play that game a lot! Back then it was an alicorn, because I also wanted wings, but these days I think I’d be something in a kirin style. Something just a little scaly and alien. Either that or just a big old thick-legged draught horse with a horn, like my favorite Magic card (Ronom Unicorn).”

Cat McDonald

author of, "The Last Ride of Hettie Richter"

Leslie: Unicorns aren’t my thing! I didn’t have a sibling close to my age. I would play Power Rangers sometimes…. Ninja Turtles…

Megan: Lucky for you, I used to play unicorns most days at recess in elementary school! I’d read the poem ‘The Lion & the Unicorn’ in a picturebook and thought of unicorns as ferocious, potentially militant critters. So on the playground, it was girls versus boys in a battle of unicorns versus lions. Looks didn’t matter as much as ferocity. So I’d be a battle unicorn; a fully-armoured lion-killer!

V.F. LeSann

author of, "Riders in the Sky"

What about you? How would you look if you were a unicorn? Leave a comment to share your answer–I’m sincerely curious 🙂

And, if you haven’t done so already, be sure and pick up your copy of Equus today!

Chimeric Contributor: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

It’s kind of become a tradition that I interview the contributors to my anthologies and share those interviews on my blog. It’s also kind of become a tradition that it takes me a very long time to get them all posted. I plan to continue the first tradition but I’m hoping to avoid the second. Just to be different.

We’re continuing the Chimeric contributor interviews with a familiar name on my blog–Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Laura is a talented writer who I’ve had the pleasure of working with on three of my Magical Menageries titles. This was her first foray into the Alphabet Anthologies but with a little luck she’ll stick around for a good, long time 🙂

 

C is for Chimera-Interview

What letter were you assigned?

N.

Did you struggle with the letter you were given?

Not really, but….

I was a late addition to the anthology, and I had to come up with an idea on short notice. I kept thinking, Chimera, N, what word starts with an N and goes with chimera? And I remembered Nina, from the manga and anime Fullmetal Alchemist.

If you’re not familiar with this story, you can find a fairly dry and unemotional spoiler here (http://fma.wikia.com/wiki/Nina_Tucker), but trust me, much like a certain pivotal gut-wrenching scene in the Firefly ‘verse (“too soon!”), this is an incident which still draws cries and wails from fans over a decade later. It’s made quite a few Top Ten lists of most heart-wrenching anime moments.
I posted on social media that I needed a chimera association with the letter N and linked an image of Nina, and then I sat back to enjoy the flood of emotional-devastation reaction gifs. Because writers are basically sadists.

I did have to work a bit to clear my mind for a new idea, and I had a false start involving genetically-modified bees and GMO crops, but I really like what eventually came.

What was your favourite idea for the ‘word’ to use in your title that you didn’t use?

I didn’t have any other ideas than what I submitted. I wrote the entire story without the title word, and thank God the final scene suggested a word to me. (As I said, I was a late addition and wrote the story in a week. There was more panic than leisurely mulling in my process.)

What kind of chimera is your story about?

I took a fairly literal approach, using the Khaimara of Greek mythology.

What, other than the letter you were assigned, helped inspire your story?

I’d been researching geologic phenomena for another story, earthquakes and tsunami, and I’d found some new reports on a massive crevice opening far more rapidly than science had ever thought possible, and I thought – well, what I thought would be a spoiler. But that was the germ of this story.

Lion, goat or snake–which are you more like?

A Harry-Potter fan friend insists I am the Gryffindor, so I suppose that makes me the lion. Though I think I can have serpentine aspects at times. Don’t tread on me.

If you were going to be magically transformed into a chimera composed of three different creatures, what would you want them to be?

Oh, man. I suppose horse, hawk, and hound, but I think I’d prefer to be able to shift as necessary than to share aspects of all at all times. Or a sea mammal might be nice, too, to explore the oceans….

What if it wasn’t limited to creatures? What three things would you want to be composed of?

I can’t help but start to think of this in superhero terms. Adamantium? Diamond? Elastic?

But I think I would get in my own way, if I were composed of three different materials. A watery torso couldn’t slip through a tight space if held back by inflexible metal legs. Dazzling golden skin would look incongruent next to silken skin, even if both were gorgeous. And if I were made of dark chocolate I would really struggle wi—nom nom nom nom.

Unrealizable dreams have been called chimeras. Taking the ‘unrealizable’ part out of the equation, what is one of your fondest dreams/goals?

I’ve achieved a number of my goals already! But of course there are always new dreams. I’d love to be an author guest of honor at a major convention; I have several in mind. We’ll see.

Can you share a short excerpt from your story?

“This is the way,” Casta said, her voice low in the dark. “A labyrinth to enlightenment.”

Anastasios lifted the lamp, showing the rough stone wall’s curve darkly golden in the lamplight. Concentric circles, again. “Do you know the way?”

“I know there is a way. That is not quite the same.” But she took the lamp, pressing past him in the narrow corridor, and started down the passage.

There were no branching paths, for which Anastasios was grateful. This was a labyrinth, then, and not a maze. Troughs ran along the floor, deep and narrow grooves parallel to the curving walls, and Anastasios could not guess their purpose.

The path doubled back on itself, working back and forth but ever inward. He kept close to Casta, and she stayed near him, as if they somehow needed each other’s warmth in this warm dark.
The curves became tighter and tighter. And then the passage opened into a wider space and Casta stopped so abruptly that Anastasios bumped into her from behind and jostled the lamp. She did not look back at him or speak.

Beyond her, something was in the dark. He could feel it, sense it, a disturbance in the air and a presence against his skin. Casta lifted the lamp, and eyes shone green back at them.
They leapt backward, Casta stumbling against Anastasios, and he caught and steadied her.

Anastasios steeled himself. “Who’s there?” he called, and his voice wavered only a little. “Your prince asks.”

There was a rustling sound, as of leather or scales brushing stone, and a soft laugh. “Not my prince,” came a low voice, resting just a bit longer than usual on the final consonant.

Anastasios swallowed and took the lamp from Casta. Be confident and assertive, the queen had admonished him, and demand their respect. They cannot refuse you. He put a hand on Casta’s shoulder and stepped past her, raising the lamp high. “Who are you, then, if not my subject?”

Light spread forward, and a lion’s face stared steadily back at him from the shadow.

Anastasios flinched backward, but Casta’s hand caught him between the shoulder blades. “Stand still,” she whispered, her mouth close to his ear. “Quick movements enrage or entice. Be still, and offer no threat.”

She would know how to face dangerous animals. He froze, his knees nearly trembling with their rigidity, and waited.

The lion’s lips curled in a cat’s smile. “Your female is clever,” it said, its mouth forming about the words as no lion’s mouth could do. “But you live by my forbearance, not by her wisdom. I have something to say to you, prince.”

Anastasios swallowed. “How can a lion speak to me?”

“A lion.” The cat sounded disdainful. The big head turned, showing a thin mane which did not conceal the ears. The mouth opened, and the beast spat forth a stream of fire.

Casta and Anastasios screamed together. Fire lit the passage, making them shield their eyes, but Casta against Anastasios’ back kept him in place despite his fear.

When they looked again, the floor trough was full of fire, burning invisible fuel in a long line about the outer edge of the round chamber. In the center stood a creature, a beast beyond comprehension. It was a lion, or at least the front part of it was. A goat’s head rose from the withers and watched them over the lion’s thin mane. A long tail moved restlessly behind the lion body, but it was not a tail, it was a serpent with its own head for the tail’s end, eying them.

Trikephalos,” breathed Casta.

 

Laura VanArendonk Baugh was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame her childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth and unable to walk, and by the time she matured into a recognizable adult she had become a behavior analyst, an internationally-recognized animal trainer, a costumer/cosplayer, a chocolate addict, and of course a writer.

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish

Find C is for Chimera online:

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Chimeric Contributor: Samantha Kymmell-Harvey

It’s kind of become a tradition that I interview the contributors to my anthologies and share those interviews on my blog. It’s also kind of become a tradition that it takes me a very long time to get them all posted. I plan to continue the first tradition but I’m hoping to avoid the second. Just to be different.

Samantha Kymmell-Harvey was one of the best slush readers I ever had at Niteblade, and she’s been with the Alphabet Anthology series from the very beginning 🙂 Her contribution to C is for Chimera was described by Stephanie Cain as, “…another marvelously crafted post-apocalyptic story, focusing on genetic experimentation and the unintended side effects. Beautifully written, this futuristic story resounds with the echoes of a time when women could be locked in institutions for being ‘hysterical’, and yet the story also carries the reader forward into a new world.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Truly.

C is for Chimera-Interview

What letter were you assigned?

U

Did you struggle with the letter you were given?

Yes, a little bit. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do.

What was your favourite idea for the ‘word’ to use in your title that you didn’t use?

I was in an adjectives sort of mood while choosing, so words like “unstoppable” or “unchangeable” but I’m glad I didn’t’ choose these!

What kind of chimera is your story about?

The genetic kind, though I was tempted to incorporate the classic Greek monster kind.

What, other than the letter you were assigned, helped inspire your story?

I am such a sucker for “undying love” stories in the Gothic genre, so the idea that love can persevere through time and even within DNA was one that inspired me.

Lion, goat or snake–which are you more like?

I’d say lion because I’m totally a cat lady! But also, I ‘ve been known to fiercely defend my opinion.

If you were going to be magically transformed into a chimera composed of three different creatures, what would you want them to be?

Probably a cat-unicorn-pegasus! Because then I could be a cat, I could fly, and I could have a magical unicorn horn. Who doesn’t like flying cat unicorns??

What if it wasn’t limited to creatures? What three things would you want to be composed of?

Maybe a paper-glitter pen- desk creature? Because I seem to always be writing, whether it’s creatively or simply grading papers.

Unrealizable dreams have been called chimeras. Taking the ‘unrealizable’ part out of the equation, what is one of your fondest dreams/goals?

I’d really love to own a little cottage on Orkney island where I could go to unplug and just write and be inspired by the gorgeous Scottish countryside.

Can you share an excerpt from your story?

“The crisp May wind brought goosebumps to Claire’s exposed arms as she stepped awkwardly onto the path. She hadn’t gone on a hike since her diagnosis. She inhaled and closed her eyes. Smelled like dirt and dankness.

Look for the circle of oaks, said the woman.

With each step, Claire went further into the forest, never questioning the path she walked. A stinging sensation of panic teased her stomach. A branch broke beneath her feet.

They’ll never find us here. We’ll be safe if we just stay. Claire saw a tent, a little brook trickling by. Angry voices echoed in the distance. The tent vanished as Claire spun around. There were nothing but trees. It had all been a distant memory.

Am I crazy?

You’re finally waking up, said the other woman’s voice.”

 

Samantha Kymmell-Harvey is thrilled to once again be a part of the Alphabet Anthologies. Her stories can be found in Bete Noire, Flash Fiction Online, and Spark: A Creative Anthology just to name a few. She is also a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish

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Chimeric Contributor: Michael M. Jones

It’s kind of become a tradition that I interview the contributors to my anthologies and share those interviews on my blog. It’s also kind of become a tradition that it takes me a very long time to get them all posted. I plan to continue the first tradition but I’m hoping to avoid the second. Just to be different.

I met today’s interviewee, Michael M. Jones, when yesterday’s featured contributor, C.S. MacCath, introduced us at the World Fantasy convention in Washington, DC. I loved Michael’s contribution to B is for Broken and his C is for Chimera story just blew me away even further. You’re gonna love it 🙂

C is for Chimera-Interview

 

What letter were you assigned?

I was assigned the enigmatic letter “E” which has always been one of my favorite vowels.

Did you struggle with the letter you were given?

Not really. As with my story in B is for Broken, I happened to have a story already in the works which, with a title change, was perfect for my needs.  It helps to have a good vocabulary and an esoteric grasp of weird words.

What was your favourite idea for the ‘word’ to use in your title that you didn’t use?

I have so many ideas. I never throw any of them away.  In this case, the story came first and the title came in a flash of brilliance. I never really considered anything else seriously, save for a few vague concepts I’ve filed away until they can be of use.

What kind of chimera is your story about?

It’s about two different things which combine to form something different. But it’s not how you’d expect.

What, other than the letter you were assigned, helped inspire your story?

This story was originally written as a class exercise. We were supposed to write from a non-human perspective, and after I stopped laughing because honestly, most of my stories are written from the viewpoint of nonhumans, I started thinking about a shadow that was alive and wanted to be a person.

Lion, goat or snake–which are you more like?

Lion. To differentiate me from all the other Michaels we know (5 or 6, including editor Mike Allen and brother-in-law and fellow author Michael Shean) I often respond to the nickname Leo. Because in the Chinese zodiac, I’m a Leo. And by the Chinese yearly cycle, I’m a Tiger. I’m just a cat any way you look at it.

If you were going to be magically transformed into a chimera composed of three different creatures, what would you want them to be?

I would be part coyote, part raccoon, part cat. This is already established. Ask my wife. It’s weird, okay?

What if it wasn’t limited to creatures? What three things would you want to be composed of?

A book, lightning, and the color blue. And if you figure out what that creates, tell me.

Unrealizable dreams have been called chimeras. Taking the ‘unrealizable’ part out of the equation, what is one of your fondest dreams/goals?

I’ll give you a hint: it’s shiny and rhymes with Yugo. Please vote for this anthology next year.

Can you share a short excerpt from your story?

I am a shadow who once was a girl.

I flit through the hallways, darting from one dark place to another, leaping from person to person as they talk and laugh in the brief moments between classes. Every now and again, someone detects my presence, shivering despite the late spring heat and ineffectual air conditioning. Even rarer, one of them stops and turns, trying to figure out what they’ve seen out of the corner of an eye.

A bubbly gaggle of girls comes out of the bathroom, giggling over some shared joke. I linger on the nearby lockers and borrow one brunette’s laugh, trying it on for size.  My attempt to join in comes just as the group quiets; they look around, baffled and just a little uncomfortable.

The laugh doesn’t feel right to me and I leave it behind as I continue my journey. The girls’  group disbands as they move along to their various classes, their shadows following obediently, nothing more than patches of darkness.

 

Michael M. Jones lives in Southwest Virginia, with too many books, just enough cats, a plaster penguin, and a wife who knows where all the bodies are buried. His fiction has appeared in anthologies such as B is for Broken, Clockwork Phoenix 3, and A Chimerical World. He also edited Scheherazade’s Facade and the forthcoming Schoolbooks & Sorcery. Visit him at www.michaelmjones.com.

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish

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Chimeric Contributor: C.S. MacCath

It’s kind of become a tradition that I interview the contributors to my anthologies and share those interviews on my blog. It’s also kind of become a tradition that it takes me a very long time to get them all posted. I plan to continue the first tradition but I’m hoping to avoid the second. Just to be different.

Today’s interviewee is C.S. MacCath. Her story for B is for Broken was the longest piece in the anthology and I think her contribution to C is for Chimera was the shortest–and length is only one of the ways her work shows her huge range. C.S. MacCath is a master storyteller with a poetic style that I freaking love. Love!

C is for Chimera-Interview

What letter were you assigned?

T

Did you struggle with the letter you were given?

I rather like to think of it as processing the letter and theme against a story idea. I’ve written three stories for the Alphabet Anthologies now, and I’m developing a pattern. I receive my letter and theme, and then I think about whether or not an existing story idea might be developed using them (I have a personal wiki page full of story ideas I hope to develop someday) . If so, then I start writing. If not, I do a bit of research/worldbuilding and let the story shape itself. In this case, it was a bit of both.

What was your favourite idea for the ‘word’ to use in your title that you didn’t use?

I didn’t have a favourite, unused word. The title popped into my head right about the time the story took shape. Convenient, that!

What kind of chimera is your story about?

My story is about three sentient supermassive black holes at the end of the universe who take the shapes of things they’ve swallowed throughout time.

What, other than the letter you were assigned, helped inspire your story?

Suns themselves; forges of the elements, great-grandmothers of life, death-bringers.

Lion, goat or snake–which are you more like?

I am all goat; capable, adventurous, and stubborn as hell.

If you were going to be magically transformed into a chimera composed of three different creatures, what would you want them to be?

I’d want the head and curving horns of a goat (for reasons mentioned above), the wings of a raven (for cleverness), and the body of a garter snake (for transformation). You might call me a Govenke.

What if it wasn’t limited to creatures? What three things would you want to be composed of?

I’m already composed of star stuff, coffee, and half-told stories. I don’t want for any other shape.

Unrealizable dreams have been called chimeras. Taking the ‘unrealizable’ part out of the equation, what is one of your fondest dreams/goals?

To write all of the stories I want in the time I have.

Can you share a short excerpt from your story?

Before the ancient stars coalesced into brightness, in the vault of the foregoing universe, there were sorrows too great for any being to bear, and the greatest of these was the sorrow of ending. Not the end of a day, with its sundown promise of another sunrise, and not the end of a life, while memories of the dead remain and there is hope in some hearts for the soul’s journey onward. No, this sorrow was vast, cold and complete, and it spanned the void of space among the last rough fragments of matter strewn in terminus.

Who was there to grieve in that heat death?  Scripture tells of three; supermassive singularities at the end of their gathering in, brooding upon the cacophony before and the quiet ahead, sacrificing radiation to become chimeras of the wonders they once devoured. There was Face-of-Time, in whose mouth a trillion tongues cried out in languages long extinct. There was Skin-of-Suns, fat with the orbits of planets given to memory. And there was Feet-of-Entropy, fevered with a dance of creation fallen to stillness.

 

C.S. MacCath is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry whose work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, Mythic Delirium, A is for Apocalypse, B is for Broken, Murky Depths and other publications. Her poetry has been nominated twice for the Rhysling Award, while her fiction has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and shortlisted for the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award.

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish

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Chimeric Contributor: Alexandra Seidel

It’s kind of become a tradition that I interview the contributors to my anthologies and share those interviews on my blog. It’s also kind of become a tradition that it takes me a very long time to get them all posted. I plan to continue the first tradition but I’m hoping to avoid the second. Just to be different.

We’re continuing the Chimeric contributor interviews with a familiar name on my blog–Alexandra Seidel. Alexa and I have worked together in tons of different capacities for several years now. It started when I accepted one of her poems for Niteblade, then she was a slush reader, then Niteblade’s poetry editor… She’s also contributed to every single one of the Alphabet Anthologies so far 🙂

C is for Chimera-Interview

What letter were you assigned?

A

Did you struggle with the letter you were given?

Not at all. The story started forming in my head right away.

What was your favourite idea for the ‘word’ to use in your title that you didn’t use?

Mmh, my title is actually exactly as I wanted it to be!

What kind of chimera is your story about?

The one with two heads. It’s pretty close to the Greek creature, but also it’s something else entirely.

What, other than the letter you were assigned, helped inspire your story?

My story is actually set in a world that I’ve explored before (in The Marriage of Ocean and Dust, which appeared in Postscripts to Darkness) so that was part of the inspiration. I don’t want to give away too much, but one of Poe’s stories also helped inspire me.

Lion, goat or snake–which are you more like?

Well, I really want to say lioness, and some people would agree. But I do have some snake-like qualities as well. I’m not much like a goat, at least the last time I checked I wasn’t growing horns.

If you were going to be magically transformed into a chimera composed of three different creatures, what would you want them to be?

Let me think; I’d want to be one third dragon, one third tiger, and one third crane.

What if it wasn’t limited to creatures? What three things would you want to be composed of?

That one’s easy: one third wormhole, one third Mimir’s Well, and one third a witch’s cauldron.

Unrealizable dreams have been called chimeras. Taking the ‘unrealizable’ part out of the equation, what is one of your fondest dreams/goals?

Oh, I’d just want to have more time to write things, it’s as simple as that.

Can you share a short excerpt from your story?

When her daughter left to become an alchemist, the mother did not understand. Had her youngest child not always loved the harp, played songs as if the ghost of muses lived inside her hands? But the girl said she wanted nothing more to do with string, and ever since that moment, her harp would not speak another sound.

 

Alexandra Seidel is a writer, poet, and editor. Her writing has appeared in Strange Horizons, Lackington’s, Stone Telling, and elsewhere. If you are so inclined you can follow Alexa on Twitter (@Alexa_Seidel) or read her blog: www.tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com.

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish

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Chimeric Contributor: Suzanne van Rooyen

It’s kind of become a tradition that I interview the contributors to my anthologies and share those interviews on my blog. It’s also kind of become a tradition that it takes me a very long time to get them all posted. I plan to continue the first tradition but I’m hoping to avoid the second. Just to be different.

Today’s interviewee is Suzanne van Rooyen. I met Suzanne through Niteblade and was exceptionally happy when she agreed to contribute to this series. Her C is for Chimera story was described by one reviewer as being “full of gorgeous sentences“, which I think is something that can actually be said for most of Suzanne’s work.

C is for Chimera-Interview

What letter were you assigned?

W

Did you struggle with the letter you were given?

Not really. There are tons of great words that start with W – I actually had a harder time narrowing down what I wanted to use in the story rather than struggling to come up with ideas.

What was your favourite idea for the ‘word’ to use in your title that you didn’t use?

Gosh, so many. I had quite a few ‘war’ related ideas that I might still use sometime or try to incorporate into a novel perhaps.

What kind of chimera is your story about?

I’m not really sure I can talk about that without giving away spoiler, but suffice it to say my chimera is more man than beast 😉

What, other than the letter you were assigned, helped inspire your story?

My daily life in Stockholm and the gypsies who routinely busk on the commuter trains.

Lion, goat or snake–which are you more like?

Um – I have no idea. Maybe a goat considering I like to climb.

If you were going to be magically transformed into a chimera composed of three different creatures, what would you want them to be?

Ooh, this is hard. Maybe a panther for the body and head, condor for the massive wings and let’s go with dragon for a lethal tail and talons.

What if it wasn’t limited to creatures? What three things would you want to be composed of?

Adamantium, whatever Mystique is made of that allows her to shapeshift, and Tesseract energy.

Unrealizable dreams have been called chimeras. Taking the ‘unrealizable’ part out of the equation, what is one of your fondest dreams/goals?

I really really want to do a roadtrip across the States in a VW Type II. But if that fails – which it probably will considering the reliability of VW Type IIs, then my next more realistic dream is to travel to the Galapagos islands.

Can you share a short excerpt from your story?

Tucked safe in the corner at the back of the carriage, I count the seconds between stations.

At Slussen, the doors open and she wafts into the train, skirts rustling and long plaits swinging. She sees me and inclines her head, her smile shy but spilling into her fathomless eyes. Others shift uncomfortably in her presence, wary of the jangling coins in her paper cup. The train leaves the station and she starts to sing.

Her voice weaves a tapestry of color, sound eddies rippling in neon to splash against the windows. Her music spatters me with red and yellow, a hundred shades of blue I cannot name, dousing my clothes if only it could douse my skin and extinguish the searing presence of everything left unsaid. She paints her memories through melody, her hopes and dreams for those willing to see.

 

Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa, and the author of the novels The Other Me, I Heart Robot, and Scardust. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

Cover art and design by Jonathan C. Parrish

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