Tag Archives: urban mythic

Urban Mythic: Zen Cho Interviewed

zen cho Self-portraitToday my darlings, we at Urban Mythic towers bring you the fabulous Zen Cho!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I’m a lawyer and writer living in London. The two main things I write are Malaysian fantasy (i.e. speculative fiction featuring Malaysian characters or settings or both), and a made-up subgenre I like to call “fluff for postcolonial booknerds”.

What was the idea behind “Fish Bowl”?

I had a maths tuition teacher once who had a fish pool inside her house in which she reared koi — quite an extraordinary thing to find in your standard suburban house. The idea for the story grew out of that. It also ended up being about the pressure on kids, especially girls, in a certain kind of middle-class, high-achieving household to be perfect. (That’s obviously a stereotype associated with Asian families, but I think it has as much, if not more, to do with socio-economic background as culture.) When I wrote the story I was thinking about how it is possible to be very, very sheltered as a teenager, but very, very unhappy.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I’m more into suburban fantasy than urban fantasy — I’m quite interested in what happens inside people’s houses, and like speculative fiction with a fairly intimate, domestic scope. Edith Nesbit and Diana Wynne Jones spring to mind.

You’ve curated a list of Malaysian SFF writers on your website – do you have any particular favourite stories or authors?

I’m a bit hesitant to play favourites – there’s a lot of interesting stuff on my list and everybody should go check it out for themselves! So I’m going to cheat and name someone I haven’t even mentioned in the list yet, Zedeck Siew. As far as I know Zedeck hasn’t had any speculative fiction published, but he’s active in the Malaysian arts scene and has put out a lot of work of various kinds over the years. Currently he’s working on a compilation of short speculative stories which I’m really looking forward to. In the meantime you can check out his Tumblr (http://zedecksiew.tumblr.com/) for examples of his “small fictions”.

What are you up to next?

Besides “Fish Bowl”, I’ve got short stories in three other publications coming out this year: LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction from Singaporean publisher Math Paper Press, The End of the Road from UK press Solaris Books, and Love in Penang from Malaysian indie press Fixi Novo.

I’m also working on revisions to what might be my first novel (if my agent can persuade someone to publish it!). It’s a Regency-set fantasy of manners about England’s first black Sorcerer Royal. It’s basically a mishmash of everything I like from Georgette Heyer and P. G. Wodehouse, plus magic, written with a postcolonial sensibility.

[Zen Cho is a Malaysian writer living in London and a 2013 finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her short fiction has appeared most recently in Esquire Malaysia, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and Prime Books anthology Bloody Fabulous. Find out more about her work at http://zencho.org ]

Urban Mythic: Mike Resnick Interviewed

resnick1Urban Mythic author Mike Resnick is not at WFC, alas, but he is right here instead!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I’m been a full-time freelancer since 1969, with 74 novels, 25 collections, 275 stories and 3 screenplays to my credit. I’ve also edited 41 anthologies, and am currently the editor of Galaxy’s Edge magazine and the Stellar Guild line of books. I am the winner of 5 Hugos from a record 36 nominations, and according to Locus I’m the all-time leading award winner for short science fiction. I love writing science fiction, and I’ve recently sold some well-received mystery novels as well.

What was the idea behind “The Wizard of West 34th Street”?

I like urban fantasy, and I’ve always liked the notion that being at the top of one’s field isn’t quite the cakewalk that it may appear from the outside.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

“Good” is far more important to me than “urban” or “fantasy”.

As both a writer of short and long fiction, and editor of many publications, do you find yourself drawn to one of those things more than the others, and are there any fiction forms you want to try your hand at but haven’t yet?

I prefer writing short fiction. My creditors, who have expensive tastes, prefer that I write novels. So I split my time between them. At one time or another, I’ve done just about every fiction form. If I had to chose one I’ve never tried, it’s be as a lyricist for a musical play.

What are you up to next?

The Trojan Colt (a mystery novel) just came out;. The Worlds Of Edgar Rice Burroughs, an original anthology I co-edited with Bob Garcia, and The Doctor And The Dinosaurs, a science fiction novel, are due out in October and December of 2013. Next year will see the publication of Cat On A Cold Tin Roof, a mystery novel; The Fortress In Orion, a science fiction novel; and about a dozen stories that I have in press. Eric Flint and I have signed to write The Gods Of Saggitarius, a collaborative novel, and I’ll be doing two Stellar Guild team-up books, one with Tina Gower, one with Lezli Robyn. And of course I’ll keep editing the magazine and the book line.

[Mike Resnick is, according to Locus, the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short fiction. He is the winner of 5 Hugos, a Nebula, plus other major awards in the USA, France, Spain, Poland, Croatia, Catalonia and Japan.  Mike is the author of 71 novels, over 250 short stories, and 3 screenplays, and is the editor of 41 anthologies.  He is currently editing the Stellar Guild line of books and Galaxy’s Edge magazine, and was the Guest of Honor at the 2012 Worldcon. Find him at mikeresnick.com]

Urban Mythic: Alison Littlewood Interviewed

alilittlewoodFor those of you at WFC, you can find Urban Mythic author Alison Littlewood in multiple places such as:  Noon-1:00 pm – Panel – When the Fairies Come Out to Play (Cambridge); 3:00-4:00 pm – Launch – Constable & Robinson (Hall 8/Signing Alley) and 11:00 pm-12:30 am – (mysterious unknown funky thing) (Chartwell)  We don’t know exactly what the midnight mysterious funky thing is but we’re sure it’ll be a bit spooky and well worth popping into!  For those of you not at WFC, here’s a wee interview with Alison instead!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I’ve been around in the indie presses for some time writing horror and dark fantasy, with publications in magazines like Black Static, Dark Horizons and Shadows and Tall Trees. I had my first novel, A Cold Season, published with Jo Fletcher Books back in January 2012, and that got picked for the Richard and Judy Book Club, which was a terrific experience. Path of Needles, a twisted fairy tale meets crime novel, came out in June.

What was the idea behind “The Song of the City”?

I researched various mythical figures when I was thinking about the theme for the anthology. Once I’d come across banshees I had an immediate image in my mind of an eerie cry drifting across a Brutalist city-scape, and I knew that was what I wanted to write about. Once that connected with another image, of a woman alone walking through a deserted multi-storey car park, I had the makings of the story.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I like fantasy and horror with a strong sense of place, whether it be in a rural or urban environment. Having said that, one of my favourite books is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, which is set in a fantastical world under London. Another excellent read is Un Lun Dun by China Miéville, which again takes the capital and turns it upside down. I really enjoy books by Dan Simmons, and he uses settings as diverse as Calcutta and the Arctic. My must-read authors would also include Stephen King and Joe Hill.

You’ve written stories in the crime and horror genres so far, are there any other genres you want to explore?

I think exploring the ones I’m fascinated with already will probably keep my hands full! I do have ideas for the next novels and they tend to be in my usual territory of dark fantasy and horror. I think I’ll always return to those areas – I like stories that have a little bit of magic hidden away in them somewhere, whether light or dark.   

What are you up to next? 

A Cold Season has its launch in the US this month, so that’s really exciting. I’m also busy working on book three, which is a ghost story looking at the fates of different generations of a family living in a rather dour house in the Yorkshire countryside. I’ll be taking a break for the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton around Halloween, so really looking forward to that. No doubt there’ll be the odd walk on the beach and trip to the Haunted Hotel on the pier in between the panels and readings!

[Alison Littlewood’s latest novel, Path of Needles, is published by Jo Fletcher Books. Her first novel, A Cold Season, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, where it was described as “perfect reading for a dark winter’s night.” Alison’s short stories have been picked for the Best Horror of the Year and Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies, as well as The Best British Fantasy 2013 and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 10. Her work has also featured in genre magazines Black Static, Crimewave and Dark Horizons. Visit her at www.alisonlittlewood.co.uk ]

Urban Mythic Launch Day!

Woohoo! Brighton, we have launch!

UM cover A 008 dIf you’re at WFC, drop by to the Signing Alley (between the reading rooms and the art show) because we will be there today at Noon! Noon, people!   With Jaine Fenn, Christopher Golden, Alison Littlewood, Anne Nicholls, Gaie Sebold, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jonathan Oliver, Ben Baldwin & Ian Whates (in spirit, as he’s off on a panel at the same time, but drop by the Dealer Room later and he’ll sign anything for you. Annnnnything!)

There will also be authors from Alchemy Press’ Pulp Heroes 2 & Astrologica: Tales of the Zodiac.  And Publisher Pete.  And yer ‘umble editors of course!

Come see us, do!

x

Urban Mythic: Christopher Golden Interviewed

Happy Halloween!  For those of you at WFC today, hello! And if you’re not there, here’s Urban Mythic author Christopher Golden for you!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I’ve been a full time writer for twenty years.  I had the best job in the world, working at Billboard magazine in New York, but when I sold my first novel back in 1992–at the age of twenty-five–I jumped ship and never looked back.  I write horror, fantasy, mystery and thrillers for adults and teens, as well as comics and graphic novels.  I’ve also edited more than half a dozen anthologies.  My latest novel, Snowblind, will be out in January.

What was the idea behind “Under Cover of Night”?

I have an abiding love of folklore.  When the story was originally written, my task was to write three unrelated pieces all of which revolved around folklore in some way.  I’ve also always been…fascinated is the wrong word…let’s say concerned by the way the United States conducts its relationship with Mexico.  The situation at our southern border is not healthy for either nation’s people.  Finally, I just loved the idea of El Chupacabra preying on those who prey on those desperate enough to cross illegally into the U.S.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

There are two definitions of urban fantasy to me.  One is the more common modern definition, and of that class I love Charlaine Harris, Stacia Kane, Kelley Armstrong, and many others.  But the older version of urban fantasy is where I find myself going when I think about writing anything fantasy-related.  Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, Tim Powers…that’s a whole different corner of urban fantasy.  De Lint has been a huge influence for me and is one of my favorite writers.

You’ve collaborated with Amber Benson, Tim Lebbon and Mike Mignola among others – what’s the appeal of joint authored projects and is there anybody you’d like to work with (living, dead or totally fictional!)

I always say writing is a solitary business and I’m not a solitary person.  I find myself chatting with friends and a lot of those friends are writers.  Invariably, some crazy-ass idea will come up and one of us will say, y’know, we should write that!  If it’s an idea we like enough, then we do.  As for anyone else I’d like to write with, living or dead?  Larry McMurtry.  It’ll never happen, but boy, I could learn a lot from that guy.

What are you up to next?

This January, my latest novel, Snowblind, will be out in the US and UK, as will Cemetery Girl, the first in a trilogy of graphic novels I’m writing with Charlaine Harris.  My anthology Dark Duets also hits that month.  It’s weird when everything you’ve worked on for 18 months all comes out at the same time.  This November I’ll be at World Fantasy in Brighton, UK, and I can’t wait!

[Christopher Golden is the New York Times bestselling, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of such novels as Of Saints and Shadows, The Myth Hunters, The Boys Are Back in Town, and Strangewood.  He has co-written three illustrated novels with Mike Mignola, the first of which, Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, was the launching pad for the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series, Baltimore.  As an editor, he has worked on the short story anthologies The New Dead, The Monster’s Corner, and 21st Century Dead, among others, and has also written and co-written comic books, video games, and screenplays.  His novel Snowblind will be published in January, 2014.  Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family.  His original novels have been published in more than fourteen languages in countries around the world.  Please visit him at www.christophergolden.com ]

Urban Mythic: Jaine Fenn Interviewed

jainefennGood morning groovers!  And what delights do we have for you today?  Why, it’s Urban Mythic author Jaine Fenn in da house! 🙂

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I mainly write Science Fiction, of the far future character-driven kind. My Hidden Empire novels are published by Gollancz, and for the last few years I’ve been focusing on them, but I also love writing short stories, and with these I range across the genre, having fun with everything from alt. history to, well, urban fantasy.

What was the idea behind “Not the Territory”?

It’s a story I’ve been meaning to write for years. I’ve never lived in London, but I have commuted into both the City and the West End on a regular basis and to me, London has always been a fascinating other world, crowded with history, full of possibility. And if the bits you can see are intriguing, what about the stuff you don’t get to see? Or at least, don’t usually get to see … I also love maps, possibly to an unhealthy extent; personally I’m not a fan of maps that don’t tell you what you’re getting into, but Phil and Astral (two characters I’ve written about before) are just the blokes to follow a map and see where it leads them. I also wanted to use the basement of the Guildhall as a setting; not many civic buildings have a Roman amphitheatre under them. That’s the essence of this story: all those compacted layers of history and possibility, and how they interact.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I have to confess that these days I don’t read much urban fantasy. This isn’t because I don’t like it, just because I have limited reading time and so have to be extra picky about what books to add to my teetering ‘to read’ pile (OK, piles). I’ve enjoyed reading Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman and more recently Paul Cornell’s London Falling, a book I highly recommend.

How important is music when you’re writing and did “Not the Territory” have a particular backing track?

I always write to music, though I find anything with a clear vocal distracting. By default I use ambient and dub for the quiet sections and trance and rock for action sequences. Not every story has a particular backing track but this one does: the album Dead Cities by Future Sound of London.

What are you up to next?

The most recent Hidden Empire book, Queen of Nowhere, came out this autumn, and I’ve just started work on the next one. I’ve also got a YA space mystery which I describe as ‘Lord of the Flies meets Silent Running meets the Midwich Cuckoos‘ but I don’t have a publication date for that yet. Convention-wise, after World Fantasy I’ll be at Novacon, then – having been to loads of cons this autumn – I’ll have a bit of a rest. But I’m looking forward to Worldcon next year, in London.

[ Jaine Fenn is the author of the Hidden Empire series, far future SF published by Gollancz, which began with Principles of Angels. She also writes short stories in other genres, a number of which have been published professionally. Back when she had a proper day-job she spent too much time travelling on the Tube and London remains one of her favourite alien worlds. Her website can be found at www.jainefenn.com ]

Urban Mythic: Adrian Tchaikovsky Interviewed

adriantchaiAnd today’s Urban Mythic author dragged kicking and screaming into the light… The one, the only, Adrian Tchaikovsky!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I’m mostly an author of epic fantasy, as far as long form fiction goes. So far that’s manifested in the story of the Insect-kinden, the Shadows of the Apt series, the 9th and penultimate book of which has just come out as War Master’s Gate. The world of the kinden is some way from a traditional fantasy setting – the kinden themselves are humans who take their powers and natures from various types of insect, and the series charts their rise into a sort of 20th century of technology and realpolitik. I put a lot of work into my worlds, the variety and the originality, and it seems to be something that my readers really respond to.

What was it that inspired “Family Business”?

Um, well. This is one of those questions writers get all the time – “where do your ideas come from?” – and normally it’s essentially impossible to point at any given thing and say “This! This was what made the story happen.” Except in this case, when it was absolutely the Scissor Sisters’ Return to Oz. I’m quite serious. I heard the song the first time while coming back from a wedding, I think it was, and was absolutely inspired by the weird imagery and emotional tone of it. And from that came “Family Business,” I kid you not. Of course that song is actually telling another completely different story, but when I hear songs full of odd metaphor and meaning I tend to translate them literally first, and get some very bizarre images.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

My favourite fantasy is secondary-world fantasy, and as most urban fantasy is real-world set, I’m fairly selective with what I pick up. I love Paul Cornell’s London Falling, though, and Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London and its sequels. And I’ve just discovered Emma Newman’s Split World series, which is excellent. And, lord, there’s Gaiman, who kind of invented the whole business about ten years too early with Neverwhere, and then retook it with American Gods. Beyond that, there is a whole neighbourhood of what was also called urban fantasy at one time, because it is generally city-based, but also usually in a secondary world. This is stuff like The Lies of Locke Lamora (one of the best fantasy books every written, IMHO) and there’s Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, Hulick’s Among Thieves and Hardinge’s Mosca books like Twilight Robbery.

Has your enthusiasm for larping and other gaming influenced what you write?

I suppose it’s given me an expanded toolkit. Pen and paper RPGs are very good for the creative side – making worlds and making characters, both. You often need to work at a level of detail a book might not demand, which then lends you a comfortable familiarity with the world that hopefully comes over on the page. Larp itself is a source of new experience, especially massed battles. And fun, of course.

What are you up to next? 

My convention calendar is very full this year and next. I’ve been to Nine Worlds, which is a new convention of astonishing scope and variety that I enjoyed immensely, and then I had Andromeda One in Birmingham, then the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. And of course there’s Worldcon coming to London next year … and as Nine Worlds 2014 is the weekend before I think there will be a whole “week of geek” in the London area strung between the two.

As for writing, I’m about to get the last Shadows of the Apt book back for edits, while tinkering with my standalone novel Guns of the Dawn which comes next, and I’m also finishing off the first book of a new series as well. It’s all go, basically.

[Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Lincolnshire, studied and trained in Reading and now lives in Leeds. He is known for the Shadows of the Apt fantasy series starting with Empire in Black and Gold, and currently up to book nine, The War Master’s Gate. His hobbies include stage-fighting, and tabletop, live and online role-playing.]