Guest Review: "Lyranel's Song" by Leslie Carmichael

Lyranel's Song by Leslie Carmichael is a book that thoughtful children can relax into and enjoy. The action is steady without being relentless, leaving room for characters to lead lives that young girls, in particular, could imagine themselves living. The two young readers (age 11) that I field-tested the book on often interrupted to supplement the commentary or make suggestions for what characters might do, which I always consider a good sign.   [Read more...]

Snipe Hunting for Stewed Tomatoes: An Interview with Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett, or Terryho Pratchetta as they say in the Czech Republic, needs no introduction. If you haven't heard of him, then good God where've you been? Terry's sold millions of books over the years and I won't bore you to tears with the numbers here but the sales statistics at least for the UK market are staggering. He's even made the best sellers list on Pluto so saying you've never heard of him because you're an alien who's just arrived on Earth won't cut the mustard or the cheese any longer.   [Read more...]

The Rebel With A Clue: An Interview With Richard Calder

Roger Cardinal originally coined the term "outsider art" in 1972 to describe Jean Dubuffet's eccentric but excellent work, but it should have been coined for Richard Calder. Richard has made a career of providing us with a super-surging, neuron burning, paradigm shift when it comes to ground-breaking genre fiction. Legendary genre writers like Michael Moorcock and Norman Spinrad have sung his praises on the public record and with good reason. Calder is a literary maverick. He started off normal and boring enough as an English Literature professor at the University of Sussex. But being born in the same place as the Ratcliffe Highway murders and the infamous Jack the Ripper murders, Whitechapel, London, something dark and loathe like the ghost of Egyptian outcast god Setesh or Johnny Rotten crept into his psyche at an impressionable age. Something began calling to him, moving him to paint previously unexposed wordscapes of unparalleled diversity and peculiarity.

Puddle jumping around from London to Nongkhai, Thailand to the Philippines he absorbed many influences from around the world. From his debut novel Dead Girls, to the sequel Dead Boys, to such astonishing novels as Cythera, Frenzetta, Impakto and Lord Soho, Richard always seems to grasp the sense of the alien. He finds a way to expose the remote and uncomfortable. He forces us to stare into the sun until the penumbra of predictable culture and bland behaviour is forevermore burned away.   [Read more...]

Conjuring Omens in Autumn Twilight: An Interview with Storm Constantine

Storm Constantine is an imaginative and prolific writer. But don't just take my word for it. Michael Moorcock hails her as a "goth rock and roll queen and a writer of fine literary fantasy" and Neil Gaiman stated that he "wouldn't swap her for a dozen Anne Rices." You can also keep Terry Pratchett as well, for my money no one can beat either Nalo Hopkinson or Storm Constantine for creative genius in the speculative fiction world.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss at length all things myth and reality, life and death, ice cream and sherbet, Coke or Virgin cola with Storm. By the way, Storm prefers Coke over Virgin Cola, and we both agree that Virgin Cola tastes a lot like RC (Royal Crown) Cola.   [Read more...]

Snipe Hunting With City Slickers on the Appalachian Trail: An Interview with Scott Nicholson

Every so often a genre writer comes along whose work just jumps out at me. Greg Bear is one, Neil Gaiman is one. Scott Nicholson is another. I was born in Appalachia and lived a decent amount of my life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, so Scott's work is near and dear to my heart. Growing up there, ghost stories were an almost nightly entertainment. My grandmother loved to spin a good yarn. Living in the mountains of North Carolina, Scott too, is a product of that environment. He's the author of the Appalachian Gothic thrillers The Harvest, The Red Church, The Manor, The Home and his latest thriller, The Farm. Proceed onward for a vivid snapshot into the life of a unique talent.   [Read more...]