Equine Battle Royal

Equine Battle Royal

Equally inspired by a conversation with Cat McDonald about which equine from the Equus anthology I thought could beat up all the other equines, and Hal Friesen‘s character Death Match events from a couple years ago, I present to you:

Equine Battle Royal

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine from their story against the equines from all the other stories and fight it out until only one remains standing!

Dun dun dun!

This is going to be a whole lot of fun 🙂

Here is what the tournament looks like:

(Thank you PrintYourBrackets.com!)

Since those titles are abbreviated allow me to elaborate–the competitors are:

  • Lightless by K.T. Ivanrest
  • Rue the Day by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
  • To Ride a Steel Horse by Stephanie A. Cain
  • Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray by M.L.D Curelas
  • Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things by J.G. Formato
  • Eel and Bloom by Diana Hurlburt
  • Above the Silver Sky by Daniel Koboldt
  • The Boys from Witless Bay by Pat Flewwelling
  • Different by Sandra Wickham
  • Riders in the Sky by VF LeSann
  • A Glory of Unicorns by Jane Yolen
  • The Last Ride of Hettie Richter by Cat McDonald
  • A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter by J.J. Roth
  • A Complete Mare by Tamsin Showbrook

The battle begins on May 2nd when I will post the character stats for the first two competitors and we will open up voting. Because guess what? You get to help choose the winner. You’ll be able to vote by leaving a comment on the blog post.

We didn’t want this to just turn into a straight-up popularity contest though, so our competitors won’t just be sitting quietly and watching votes come in, they will also be stealing those votes.

Each Tuesday I’ll post that week’s competitors. Then on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday each of the competitors will roll a d20 (that’s a twenty-sided die for those of you who don’t speak that particular geek dialect) either in 3 dimensions or using Roll Dice Online. They will then steal that number of votes from their opponent and add it to their own total.

I will update those totals as a comment on the blog post as well as on social media.

Votes will close each Sunday at midnight MST, and the winner of that round will be announced the next day (Monday). Just in time for the next set of opponents to be announced on Tuesday.

If all goes well, and I counted correctly, the victor should be crowned the week before Equus comes out 🙂

Combat Schedule
May 2nd
To Ride a Steel Horse vs. Different
Rue the Day vs. Eel and Bloom
May 9th
A Glory of Unicorns vs. Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray
Lightless vs. The Boys from Witless Bay
May 16th
Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things vs. Riders in the Sky
Above the Silver Sky vs. The Last Ride of Hettie Richter
The schedule after this becomes a bit more complicated because we need to know the results of the earlier rounds to determine who will be competing.
I am excited about this and can’t wait to get started. I mean, I will wait because I said we’d start Tuesday, but I’m anxious for Tuesday to arrive LOL
In the meantime, check out this slideshow of some of the competing character’s portraits!
Cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Equus Cover Reveal

Cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Is it a horse? A unicorn? A pegasus? One of the best things about this cover for Equus is that you can’t tell — but you know it is equine. The cover was done by Jonathan C. Parrish and I love it. I think the sparkles add the perfect fantastical element, the equine is beautiful and the white will stand out among the other covers of the series while still fitting in with them. It’s an awesome collection and I’m super happy that it has an equally amazing cover to go with the stories!

There’s always something magical about horses, isn’t there? Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through these pages span the fantasy spectrum. In one story a woman knits her way up to the stars and in another Loki’s descendant grapples with bizarre transformations while fighting for their life. A woman races on a unique horse to save herself from servitude, while a man rides a chariot through the stars to reclaim his self-worth. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom.

Featuring nineteen fantastic stories of equines both real and imagined by J.G. Formato, Diana Hurlburt, Tamsin Showbrook, M.L.D Curelas, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, VF LeSann, Dan Koboldt, J.J. Roth, Susan MacGregor, Pat Flewwelling, Angela Rega, Michael Leonberger, Sandra Wickham, Stephanie A. Cain, Cat McDonald, Andrew Bourelle, Chadwick Ginther, K.T. Ivanrest, and Jane Yolen.

Pre-order your copy now:

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Add Equus to your Goodreads To-Read shelf now!

 

Equus Cover Wrap

 

Equus Table of Contents

Equus

It’s time, it’s time, it’s time!

I was telling the contributors to this anthology that I look at the TOC reveal a bit like the part of a show where the house lights go down and the curtain begins to open. Not wide open, just a peek — enough to whet your appetite and make you excited for what’s about to come next. This is me introducing you to the anthology… the cover reveal is, I dunno, the handshake perhaps? And the release is when you really get to know one another.

I love Equus. I think it’s the strongest anthology I’ve ever put together and I can barely wait for you to meet and fall in love with it like I have, but for now the introduction. The lights are going down… here’s your peek behind the curtain:

Equus Table of Contents

 

Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things by J.G. Formato

Eel and Bloom by Diana Hurlburt

A Complete Mare by Tamsin Showbrook

Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray by M.L.D Curelas

Rue the Day by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Riders in the Sky by VF LeSann

Above the Silver Sky by Dan Koboldt

A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter by J.J. Roth

Ladies Day by Susan MacGregor

The Boys from Witless Bay by Pat Flewwelling

The Horse Witch by Angela Rega

Eli the Hideous Horse Boy by Michael Leonberger

Different by Sandra Wickham

To Ride a Steel Horse by Stephanie A. Cain

The Last Ride of Hettie Richter by Cat McDonald

We Us You by Andrew Bourelle

Scatter the Foals to the Wind by Chadwick Ginther

Lightless by K.T. Ivanrest

A Glory of Unicorns by Jane Yolen

Release date: July 2017

Be sure and add it to your shelves on Goodreads in the meantime 🙂

Writers Learn Everything

Writers Learn Everything

by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

I write fantasy, so I have to do more research than those who write real life.

“Wait,” some protest, “there’s a lot of research required for historical, or military thrillers, or other real stories. But in fantasy, you can just make everything up!”

Well, I could, but you wouldn’t enjoy it as much. My job in speculative fiction is to make you believe something could be real, even when it clearly isn’t. That you know of. Yet.

If so much is real, and what is new fits so closely with what we know is real, then maybe, just maybe….? And thus, speculative fiction.

This is why my story about mermaids required research into fox genetics and amazing corpuscles in elephant trunks. And for my D is for Dinosaur entry, I plunged into the following diverse topics:

  • the extremely rare Devils Hole Pupfish, found in a single geothermal pool
  • the history of Chinese bronze casting
  • the natural history of Kazahkstan
  • cassowary attacks
  • the horrifically destructive “Cultural Revolution” in China

Many of these were reduced in final editing so that the submitted story contains now only a reference or a quirky fact, but they are still the foundation for a more cohesive, structurally sound piece of totally-made-up fiction.

When the apocalypse comes and libraries are burning and you have to choose your team for survival, make sure to include a writer. Their brains are full of hidden and potentially useful information!

That+glorious+feeling+walking+into+the+exam+_f10fbb9f021258e27f46104cc668b8f8

Laura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star ratings (the highest possible) on Tangent‘s “Recommended Reading” list. Her latest novel The Songweaver’s Vow releases February 21 and taught her about ninth century clothing dyes and building construction in Northern Europe. Find her at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com .


D IS FOR DINOSAUR is available now!

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We’ve Got Loki All Wrong

We’re going to take a short break from dinosaurs today to help celebrate a different book. The Songweaver’s Vow is by Laura VanArendonk Baugh. You should recognise her name by now (and not just because it stands out LoL) because I’m a pretty big fan of hers and have been lucky enough to work with her on several occasions. On this occasion she wants to talk about Loki. I’ve been reading a lot about Loki (in particular because I just finished putting together Equus and Loki has that whole ‘turned into a horse’ thing goin’ on), but also because c’mon! It’s Loki!

 

We’ve Got Loki All Wrong

by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Loki is kind of a big deal.

From Diana Wynne Jones’ Eight Days of Luke to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to Marvel’s Avengers films and comic Agent of Asgard, Loki has captured the modern imagination like no other Norse figure. And yes, Thor, sorry, but I’m including you in that. You may be Marvel’s nominal hero, but do you have your own imagine-pr0n Tumblrs? (Okay, you know what, you probably do, because Tumblr. Let’s just move on.)

Because Loki has been so popularly reimagined, however, it can be hard to get an authentic take on him. Even when he is the villain, he usually ends up something of an anti-hero, or at least a sympathetic and attractive villain. (See the Marvel cinematic universe for Exhibit A.)

A playwright friend who adapted Treasure Island for the stage commented to me on how difficult it was to “translate,” because the original audience viewed the pirates as villains while today’s audience (influenced by Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.) views the pirates as the heroes. That’s much the same thing here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Tom Hiddleston too! but this is not that Loki.

In the source material, Loki is not an anti-hero. He is a – what’s this blog rated? – he’s a turdblossom.

A Force of Destruction

1280px-Loki_taunts_BragiThough Loki is often canonically found in Asgard, he’s not a god. The word Jötunn is often translated “giant,” but that’s not terribly accurate; Loki and his kind are actually “devourers.” They are destroyers. They are the chaos to counter the order of Asgard.

And so all the crazy antics for which we know Loki best are not merely amusing tales – turning into a female horse and getting pregnant by a stallion, tethering a goat to his testicles, insulting all the gods and their guests in order – but a deliberate overturning of everything the original audience would have held as honorable and just and comprehensible. And Loki isn’t doing it to make a point, not seeking social justice or questioning social norms, he’s doing it because it’s his nature to tear down and it is fun – even when it has dire personal consequences.

I never planned for this book to give Loki a major role, because so many Norse-based stories are Loki-centric. But in the end, he had more to do with it all than I’d intended, because the one thing you can count on from Loki is that he will do whatever is least intended and most inconvenient.

When Euthalia’s father trades her to Viking raiders, her best hope is to be made a wife instead of a slave. She gets her wish – sort of – when she is sacrificed as a bride to a god.

Her inhuman husband seems kind, but he visits only in the dark of night and will not allow her to look upon him. By day Euthalia becomes known as a storyteller, spinning ancient Greek tales to entertain Asgard’s gods and monsters.

When one of her stories precipitates a god’s murder and horrific retribution, Euthalia discovers there is a monster in her bed as well. Alone in a hostile Asgard, Euthalia must ally with a spiteful goddess to sway Odin himself before bloody tragedy opens Ragnarok, the prophesied end of the world.

The Songweaver’s Vow released Tuesday, February 21, and is available at Amazon and wherever books are sold.

 

Elemental-5252-webLaura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star ratings (the highest possible) on Tangent’s “Recommended Reading” list. Laura speaks professionally on a variety of topics throughout the year, including writing, fan costuming, and her day job as a professional animal trainer and behavior consultant. Find her at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com .

 

Laura VanArendonk Baugh Reading

We’re going to be launching D is for Dinosaur here in Edmonton this March:

D is for Dinosaur

(Details here)

But because the D is for Dinosaur contributors are spread so far out across the globe (and there are twenty-six of them!) we couldn’t possibly include everyone. So I asked the other contributors if they’d like to record themselves doing a reading from their story and I’d share it on my blog.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh responded with a video reading… and she got a little bit more help with it than she’d anticipated. Check it out:

 

Laura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star (the highest possible) ratings on Tangent’s “Recommended Reading” list. Laura speaks professionally on a variety of topics throughout the year, including writing, fan costuming, and her day job as a professional animal trainer and behavior consultant. Find her at www.LauraVAB.com.

Pre-order D IS FOR DINOSAUR for only $0.99!

(prices go up when it’s released tomorrow!)

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E is for Evil

I’m excited to announce the theme for the next volume in my Alphabet Anthologies series will be:

E is for Evil

Oh man, I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about this one. The contributors to this anthology series never cease to amaze me with their clever and diverse interpretations of a theme and this one… well, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a doozie!

Speaking of those contributors. For this volume the contributing authors, in random order, are Michael Fosburg, Lynn Hardaker, KV Taylor, Andrew Bourelle, Suzanne J. Willis, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, Hal J. Friesen, C.S. MacCath, Michael B. Tager, Jonathan C. Parrish, Amanda C. Davis, Lilah Wild, Sara Cleto, Alexandra Seidel, Mary Alexandra Agner, Cory Cone, Jeanne Kramer-Smyth, Beth Cato, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Megan Engelhardt, Gary B. Phillips, Brittany Warman, BD Wilson, L.S. Johnson, Pete Aldin and Michael M. Jones.

E is for Evil will be hitting shelves spring of next year, so we’ll all need to be patient while we wait for it, but people had been asking what the next letter was going to be and I was getting tired of saying it was a secret 🙂

Previous volumes in this series include A is for Apocalypse, B is for Broken, C is for Chimera and — coming out in less than three weeks! — D is for DInosaur.

D is for Dinosaur cover reveal

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For the fourth installment of Rhonda Parrish’s Alphabet Anthologies, contributors were challenged to write about dinosaurs. The resulting twenty-six stories contain widely different interpretations of the dinosaur theme and span the spectrum from literal to metaphoric.

Within these pages stories set in alternate histories, far-flung futures and times just around the corner, dinosaurs whimper and waste away, or roar and rage. People can be dinosaurs, as can ideas, fictions and flesh. Knitted dinosaurs share space with ghostly, genetically engineered and even narcotic ones.

Teenagers must embrace their inner dinosaurs in order to find peace and belonging, a dying woman duels a God in a far future city that echoes aspects of our past, an abused wife accompanies her husband on a hunt for an ancient power and finds more than she could ever have imagined and a girl with wonderful magical powers stumbles across the bones of a giant long-dead lizard. And so much more!

Features stories by Alexandra Seidel, Pete Aldin, Beth Cato, Michael Kellar, Cory Cone, Simon Kewin, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, C.S. MacCath, KV Taylor, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Michael B. Tager, Gary B. Phillips, Michael M. Jones, L.S. Johnson, Brittany Warman, Hal J. Friesen, Megan Engelhardt, BD Wilson, Michael Fosburg, Jonathan C. Parrish, Suzanne J. Willis, Lynn Hardaker, Amanda C. Davis, Andrew Bourelle, Sara Cleto and Jeanne Kramer-Smyth.

This cover was designed by Jonathan C. Parrish using original artwork by Janice Blaine.

D is for Dinosaur will be available in February 2017. In the meantime, don’t forget to add it to your ‘Want to read’ shelf on Goodreads and LibraryThing!

 

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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Corvidae Contributor Interview: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

CORVIDAE blog tour banner

Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that Magnus and I conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Laura VanArendonk Baugh. I really probably should have combined this with Laura’s interview for Scarecrow but, uh, well I didn’t. So there you go 😉

Interview with Laura VanArendonk Baugh

What is it about corvids that inspired you to write about them? Corvids are kind of underappreciated. That is, lots of people like them, but they like them for their gothic reputation and associations, like Poe’s poem. Don’t get me wrong, I like gothic associations! but corvids are more than that. (I’m also a big fan of bats and all their vampiric trappings, but bats are also cool for more than just their Transylvanian relatives. Build a bat house!)

Was there one corvid characteristic you wanted to highlight more than others? So here’s the thing – my story features a corvid cognition researcher and a trainer, and yet nothing in it remotely stretches the truth of corvid capability. As far as cognition and behavior goes, the story is pretty boring. So when truth is more impressive than fiction, they must be pretty clever birds.

My day job is in animal behavior, so it was fun to get to write a nerdy behavior story where that stuff was actually plot-relevant. And in fact this story was directly inspired by a friend’s impressive research in counting (in dogs), so I enjoyed that!

Do you think you were successful? I hope so. In the sequel story, in Scarecrow, a character mentions that humans only respect and conserve those bits of nature which fascinate or impress them. As a professional I can tell you that all animals are much more clever than you think – you just don’t generally get a chance to see them in action. If we thought of them as sentient and smart, it would change how we do a lot of things, from industrial farming to environmental conservation.

As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂 Laura’s answers may sound familiar on account of that Scarecrow contributor interview thing, but it’s too late for me to change that 😉

Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?At a training and behavior conference, a training friend (the always-amazing Ken Ramirez) shared some of his research on what I’ll describe simply as counting in dogs. As we sat at the faculty table for dinner the next night, I told him he’d given me an idea for a story. This story ended up being only partly related to that first idea, but that’s how ideas work, right?

Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?Okay, after all my guff about people liking corvids only for their gothic associations…. I confess to liking ravens in particular just because of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem. I mean, come on. Vincent Price, enormous black birds, despair, what’s not to love?

But magpies can be very striking, visually. I wish we had magpies locally to admire.

I guessed, but I had to Google to confirm – a Rogers bill is for wireless and internet, so Mr. Yegpie uses a smart phone for all his tweeting! Clever bird. 🙂

 

Laura was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills, 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 dark chocolate addict, and a Pushcart Prize-nominated author with a following for her folklore-based stories and speculative fiction. Find her at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com.

Cover for CORVIDAE. Design by Eileen Wiedbrauk

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Scarecrow Contributor Interview: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Scarecrow Blog Tour

Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I (and Magnus) conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Laura is one of my favourite short story writers and I’ve been honoured to include her work in Fae, Corvidae and Scarecrow.

Interview with Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

“He’s right,” said Frank. “It’s all over, but you’re worse now than during the trial. What’s wrong with you?”

Everett wasn’t looking at them. “Those birds,” he said. “They’re watching me.”

The others turned to a wire drooping beneath the weight of a dozen crows. Most wore university ID tags. None were looking at the table. “Really, man? Come on, Everett.”

He shook his head. “They’re watching me. All the time. My apartment, out here, everywhere. And there’s more of them all the time.” He swallowed, his eyes still on the birds. “They’re gathering.”

Frank turned to look at them. “Not much of a gathering. Or a murder, I guess it is.”

“Flock,” snapped Everett. “Only poets call them a murder.”

Still, thought Jun, the term had to come from somewhere.

“But they’re flocking around me, more and more.”

Jeremy snorted. “If this is a joke, dude, you can drop it. We get it. You do a good crazy act.”

“I’m not joking, man!” Everett’s eyes looked as if he’d had his espresso as a tall. “They’ve started to bring things.”

“What do you mean, bring things?”

“Scissors, needles, clips.” Everett dropped his voice, embarrassed to speak but needing to confide. “Weapons.”

Jeremy looked as if he wanted to laugh but was afraid to. “Weapons, man? Seriously?”

“They use tools!” Everett jabbed a finger toward the crows. “You know what they can do, how they think — they use effin’ tools!” He slammed his hand down on the table, making a spoon jump to the ground, and screamed.

Even Jun jerked back from the table as Everett leapt up, clutching his hand to his chest. Jeremy and Frank looked at each other and then at Everett, inexplicably cradling his hand and swearing. But then Everett turned on them and shoved his hand at them. “See? See what I mean?”

A tiny drop of red blood marked the exit point of the fishhook, barbed and glistening and snaked neatly through the flesh of Everett’s palm.

Frank boggled. “Why was there a fishhook on the table? How does that even happen?”

“The crows put it there!” Everett snatched up the flatware from the table and hurled it, piece by piece, at the birds on the wire. They exploded into the air, screeching annoyance. “Get away from me! You freaking monsters! Keep away!”

If you were a scarecrow, what would you look like? What would you be stuffed with? I can tell you I’d definitely not look like those “country kitsch” hyper-trite things with big eyes and dopey grins that are so popular in the faux-country crowd. Those are some of the most annoying inanimate objects…!

...like this

…like this

Nor would I be a gruesome over-the-top Arkham escapee. Hm. I’d probably have a fairly classic silhouette, all denim and flannel, and I’d really like a pumpkin head, and I’d look very appropriate in the slanting autumn sun, and then you’d notice that the pumpkin eyes seemed to follow you as you passed, just a little….

What is it about scarecrows that inspired you to write about them? My scarecrow story grew directly out of the backstory of my corvid story. It seemed plausible that a crow cognition lab would have a scarecrow mascot – why not? – and that provided not only an interesting visual for an important bit of history but a bookended resolution, full of vengeance and fury and righteous comeuppance.

As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂

Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?At a training and behavior conference, a training friend (the always-amazing Ken Ramirez) shared some of his research on what I’ll describe simply as counting in dogs. As we sat at the faculty table for dinner the next night, I told him he’d given me an idea for a story. This story ended up being only partly related to that first idea, but that’s how ideas work, right?

Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?Okay, after all my guff about people liking corvids only for their gothic associations…. I confess to liking ravens in particular just because of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem. I mean, come on. Vincent Price, enormous black birds, despair, what’s not to love?

But magpies can be very striking, visually. I wish we had magpies locally to admire.

I guessed, but I had to Google to confirm – a Rogers bill is for wireless and internet, so Mr. Yegpie uses a smart phone for all his tweeting! Clever bird. 🙂

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Laura was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills, 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 dark chocolate addict, and a Pushcart Prize-nominated author with a following for her folklore-based stories and speculative fiction. Find her at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com.

 

Scarecrow edited by Rhonda Parrish

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Direct From the Publisher: World Weaver Press