Greetings from December, and a very snarly world full of work and wrath. It’s been a year of it, and there are more to come. Still, the writing continues, and if it didn’t, I’d be less useful in any fight. I’ve been working on all kinds of things – from a queer superhero/supervillain young adult novel for HarperCollins, to a bunch of stories for 2017, including one about daguerreotypes and Edgar Allan Poe’s soul.
But in 2016, I published lots of things of various kinds! A novel, a couple novelettes, 3 short stories. (I think I got them all. But I’m not sure!! I hope so. Hmm. )
This is a things-I-published post, for awards-eligibility reasons, or just for your reading pleasure. I
October 2016, YA Fantasy Novel, HarperCollins.
The stunning sequel to Maria Dahvana Headley’s critically acclaimed Magonia tells the story of one girl who must make an impossible choice between two families, two homes—and two versions of herself.
Aza Ray is back on earth. Her boyfriend, Jason, is overjoyed. Her family is healed. She’s living a normal life, or as normal as it can be if you’ve spent the past year dying, waking up on a sky ship, and discovering that your song can change the world.
As in, not normal. Part of Aza still yearns for the clouds, no matter how much she loves the people on the ground.
When Jason’s paranoia over Aza’s safety causes him to make a terrible mistake, Aza finds herself a fugitive in Magonia, tasked with opposing her radical, bloodthirsty, recently escaped mother, Zal Quel, and her singing partner, Dai. She must travel to the edge of the world in search of a legendary weapon, the Flock, in a journey through fire and identity that will transform her forever.
Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2016, 8694 Words
This one’s a riff on the Musicians of Bremen, sort of mashed together with my feelings about war zones, fascism, Bulgakov and Bruno Schulz. It’s crazy and dark, and sexy, and if you like fairy tales, you might like this one. It has a giant talking cat in it, as well as an accordion player.
The Pet was one life into nine when I met him, more as we went along. Somewhere along the line he’d begun to believe himself to be some kind of embodiment of the real deal, and now he felt impervious to danger.
“Where are we going?” I asked the Pet.
“Brementown,” he said. “Bremen’s where we’re always going, until there’s no Bremen to go to. If we ever get to Bremen, you’ll know we’ve touched the end of things.”
I didn’t know where Bremen was, but it seemed as good a destination as any. I wanted something other than death. I wanted life and a wife. I wanted to play music in rooms with fireplaces. I didn’t want to be killed at Christmas.
I followed the white cat in his stolen green, and we made our way down the road.
The first time I resurrected was a few months later. I died for a while, then concluded I hadn’t died, and thought I must not have been shot at all. When I looked beneath my vest I found a bullet wound, and inside it a bullet, still hot from the gun. The police had found me with a lot of money from one of the taverns we’d just left, and decided I should be dead. I wasn’t.
Soon thereafter, the wound was gone, and I wasn’t bleeding from anything. I wiped the blood away and looked at the new pink skin. The Pet, whose fault the whole thing was, green–gazed at me, shrugged, threw back another drink, and ordered a platter of sausages.
“Eight lives left, fuckface,” he said, as I touched my own chest in bewilderment and awe. “Now you’re part of my band.”
co-written with China Miéville
March, 2016/ 7739 words
The Dead Letters anthology (edited by Conrad Williams) involves a piece of purportedly lost mail being sent to each contributor. China and I decided to merge our mail, and make a modern-day Arthurian myth about the problematic adventures of Merlin and Nimue, the London Crossrail, and stoats. Comment here if you need me to email you this story. It’s not online.
I chant a single powerful word, and my body shrinks. I wriggle up from a heap of jacket and trousers, flipping myself through the cloth. I rather can’t breathe, and my skin hurts, and my eyes are bulging, to my alarm. I look out from my man clothes, and discover Adam staring at me, his stoat teeth bared.
‘Fishie?’ croons Adam, with savage longing.
I can feel my scales. Errors! I shout another word, before he leaps. Panic subsides: I’m ermined.
Children of Lovecraft Anth, September, 2016, 6085 Words
Edited by Ellen Datlow. This horror story is a riff on Garcia Lorca’s House of Bernarda Alba, except that it also contains a tentacled monster. Comment here if you need me to email you this story for awards consideration – it’s not online.
Bernardine, the newly widowed mistress of the house, wafted over the polished floors, vibrating with triumph. Oh, she was delighted. The servants knew it. Everyone knew it.
No marriage of forty-three years was without its revulsions, but particularly not a marriage in which one party had sold a piece of the other without the other’s permission. Sharing a house with a man whose heart you’ve fed to a monster was nothing nice.
It was only a small ritual, the theft of the heart, taken one night with a sharp knife and a spell made of wax and twine, the heart wrapped in cotton and bundled into a copper pot, boiled with saffron and delivered to Mr. Doornail. Unfortunately, the old man roused partway through it and in half sleep, bespelled and bemused, he told Bernardine that he’d never forgive her, and that this was the end of their marital conversation.
Those were the last words she heard him speak, but he stayed alive out of perversity.
What the #@&% Is That?, October 2016, 6810 words
This story is from the What the #@&% Is That, anth, edited by Douglas Cohen and John Joseph Adams – concurrent with Nightmare Magazine. It’s a tale of teenage girls who survive a cult suicide, and it’s weird and funny, no matter how that sounds to you. There are dinosaurs in it too.
I was fourteen and at a sleepover when the cult drank poison. The sleepover mom turned on the TV and said “Oh my lord, Mary, would you look at this? It’s the feds is what, and a bomb, right out there where you come from.”
But it wasn’t the feds, and it wasn’t a bomb. It was us. We were destined to die. I watched it burn, and listened to the news call us a cult, which was not what we called ourselves. We called ourselves Heaven’s Avengers. I watched it for a while, and then I threw up hamburger casserole.
Lightspeed Magazine, September 2016/ 4995 words
A sort of Bradbury + le Guin + Denis Johnson story about a circus, a woman on the run, and a cat named Susurrus.
No one on Earth wants to know the unknowable anymore. There are plenty of things to know already. The world is too full and brains can only hold so much. Headlines flash across foreheads. Sometimes the guilt of information is too much to bear, and people hide inside their houses, burrowing under the covers, trying not to listen to the news. Whole countries are dying out there. The sky is falling. Some of the birds have stopped singing, and no one knows whether that’s been true for years, or has only just happened. There is too much noise, and it’s hard to tell who hasn’t been heard from in a while.