Cover to Cover #253: Catherynne M. Valente

The Orphan's TalesMichael and Michael open things up this week by responding to an email from Will about online writing groups. The guys talk about some things to be aware of and beware of from writing groups, and a little on how to behave in your writing group.

If you have a favorite writing or critique group, let us know in the comments section!

Interview: Michael, Summer and Michael talk with Catherynne M. Valente about her latest book, The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden, a collection of fairy tales told in a unique narrative inspired by The Arabian Nights. No one can ever say that Cat writes "typical" fantasy novels, and this book has lush prose and wondrous imagery.

The conclusion, The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice, is due out in October 2007.

Cat also talks to us about different story-telling modes, of combining poetry and prose, and about using stories to rediscover the magic of language when creating new tales from old. We also talk about how the tales told in Night Garden are perfectly suited for being read aloud, and the folk songs that have been created to go along with them.

The Library: New entries to the Library this week are From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain by Minister Faust, Fantasms by Len Bailey, Fifty Degrees Below by Kim Stanley Robinson, The Sam Gunn Omnibus by Ben Bova, True Talents by David Lubar, Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson.

Submitting Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

Link: Catherynne M. Valente
Link: The Orphan's Tales
Link: SJ Tucker: For The Girl in the Garden: Songs and Readings in Celebration of The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente


  1. Thanks so much for linking me, folks! You've made my day! I'm really enjoying listening online.

  2. You're welcome, SJ!

    I gave a listen to some of the clips for Girl in the Garden, and I immediately ordered a copy of the CD... that was more amazing than I'd imagined, given what Cat told us in the interview.

    I can't wait to hear the rest of it!

  3. Hi, all. I want to recommend the Online Writers Workshop at

    It has been extremely helpful in developing stories and even getting me published for the first time. It costs $50 a year and you have to do crits to receive them, but the quality of crits and size of the community is excellent. Also, this workshop is focused on genre fiction, so you get an audience that knows what you are shooting for.

    Great work on the new Dragon Page podcast. Thanks for everything.

    Bryan in Sacramento

  4. Brandon Campbell says

    Great job on this podcasts and the others that you do. You asked for books that changed my life. Lion, the Witch. and the wardrobe. I found this book in my elementary school. This was my first taste of fantasy, and I have never looked back. Ender's Game is also one of these books. In fact this book helped me get my younger brother reading. He was never a reader.

    I went into a bookstore and to my surprise Orson Scott Card was doing a book signng. I bought and had OSC sign Ender's Game for my brother. It took him a couple of years to get back to the book, but he finally read it. I believe it became the first book he read all the way through. He ended up reading the entire series, and continues to read to this day.

    Of course Lord of the Rings tops the list. My mother had a set from her college days. I was about 15 when I picked them up. I read them at least once every 18 months or so.

    Right now I am reading the Dune Series. I have seen the Dune movie, the one with the Patrick Stewart and Sting, several times. This is my first time through them. I am currently on Children of Dune.

    You Guys, and Summer, do a great job. Keep it up

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this show and I will definitely be seeking out Catherynne's books.

    On writer's workshops, like Bryan, I recommend the Online Writer's workshop. It helped me polish a couple of stories which saw publication - one of which got an honourable mention in Year's Best Fantasy and Horror.

    Interestly on that aforementioned story, in the workshop I got very mixed reactions - from "I literally couldn't stop reading" to "don't like Victorian pastiches....language a bit overblown". So, like you pointed up on the show, you don't have to take on board everything anyone says, but look out for the messages that are coming through strongly from a group (individuals may have axes to grind, or they may just not like your style). Oh, and that story, Dr North's Wound, is still free online, but also in the Breaking Windows anthology with people like Michael Moorcock, China Meiville and others (I'm so proud!)

    Dr North's Wound online:


    Oh, and your show is costing me money - you've switched be on to a bunch of writers, including Michael (whose maps series I've just bought and saving for my holiday read). Thanks for keeping me poor, guys.

  6. Is True Talents a kids book? I keep a list of this sort of thing, sounds interesting.

  7. "Hidden Talents" and "True Talents" by David Lubar are listed as young adult. I know "True Talents" is in our Library, but I think "Hidden Talents" came out in 2003.