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Interview with an Aunty

Today we reach into the cosmic handbag and pull out an interview with Deborah Walker’s ‘Aunty Merkel’ from Issue 3.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  When you get to my age, my dear, the greatest happiness is in watching your family do well.
  2. On what occasion do you lie?  I never lie. Sometimes the world lies, but there are ways of getting around that.
  3. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  I wouldn’t say I overused any expression.  But  ‘least said, soonest mended’ is a phrase I might mention, from time to time.
  4. What is your most treasured possession?  Mr Tegmark, my darling Sphynx cat. I’ve had him forever.
  5. What is your most marked characteristic?  Fortitude in the face of entropy.
  6. How would you like to die?  I don’t really think that question’s applicable to me, my dear.
  7. What is your motto?  To know the future is to change it.finalmerkelpurse

Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in the country, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children. Find Deborah in the British Museum trawling the past for future inspiration or on her blog. Her stories have appeared in Nature Magazine’s Futures, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction and The Year’s Best SF 18.

‘Aunty Merkel’ can be found in Pulp Literature Issue 3, Summer 2014, available on our Kickstarter page.

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Swords at the Ready

Take a wander over to the blog of swordfighting guru Guy Windsor who is writing a book on … well, Swordfighting … and you’ll catch a sneak peak of some upcoming Pulp Lit fight scenes.  There’s part of an upcoming chapter of Allaigna’s Song (in which she meets her heart’s desire) plus some rough panel sketches of “The Ambush”, a graphic short story scheduled for issue 8.

http://guywindsor.net/blog/2014/10/writing-swordfights-and-a-great-offer/#sthash.hE6vuL82.dpbs

And if you write historical fiction, fantasy or games and want to get those sword fights right,  you’ll definitely want to check out Swordfighting when it comes out!

polycarpendfish

Interview with a Saint

Next up in Proust Questionnaire lineup is St Polycarp, of Stephen Case‘s ‘Polycarp on the Sea’.  This surreal mash-up of the life of St Polycarp and an episode from the Aenied will be out in Issue 5 of Pulp Literature.  In the meantime St Polycarp’s strange and haunting responses will whet your appetite for the full story.polycarp

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  A fair sea with a brisk wind at my back. Being alone in the sail’s shadow, watching the slow swing of the stars.
  2. What is your greatest fear?  To be lost on that same sea. The waves that roll up like mountains, the water grey as stone.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  The selfishness that sits in the bottom of my soul like a weight.
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  I grind the palm of my hand against my eye, trying to dislodge the plank.  Through the pain, I can see nothing.
  5. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  Once I was vain about the angles of my face.
  6. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  The liturgy is still rough and new. I stumble on many of the words.
  7. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  We pushed the boats into the surf, and I heard the scratch of the sand on the wooden planks.  We left the land.
  8. What is your greatest regret?  To see the sea only once, for all the lifetime I have sailed upon it.
  9. How would you like to die?  I have answered this once before. I told them that my body was wheat to be ground on the teeth of the beasts or the breakers of the sea so that I might become true bread.
  10. What is your motto?  Soli Deo gloria.
  11. What is something we’d never glean about you from ‘Polycarp on the Sea?’ I never existed.

Stephen CaseStephen Case gets paid for teaching people about space, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever. He also occasionally gets paid for writing stories about space (and other things), which have appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show and several other publications. His first anthology, Trees and Other Wonders, is available on Kindle. His novel, First Fleet, is being serialized by Retrofit Publishing. Stephen holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Notre Dame and will talk for inordinate amounts of time about nineteenth-century British astronomy.  He lives with his wife, four children, and three chickens in an undisclosed suburb of Chicago that has not yet legalized backyard chickens.

Pulp Literature Issue 5, Wintere 2015 will be out in December.  You can pre-order it through our Kickstarter campaign.

Meet Sidnye (Queen of the Universe)

Sidnye Dupree was going on thirteen years old when she broke the Bishop’s nose with a dodgeball and dreamed the dream of the shooting star. But even if she’d known then what was happening to her, it would have been far too late to stop it.Sidnye

Scott Fitzgerald Gray has created scores of memorable characters in his novels and short fiction, but Sidnye (Queen of the Universe) is undeniably my favourite.  I fell in love with Sidnye and years ago when I had the privilege of reading an early draft of the novel.  The spot-on characterization of this rebellious and compassionate thirteen-year-old and her equally outcast best friend Emmett, both stuck at boarding school in Moose Jaw, would be wonderful enough on its own.  But then things go all SF on the pair, the story blooms and expands, and the reader follows them out of this world  on a cosmic ride.  I can’t really tell you more without spoilers, but I can tell you I was entranced.

Imagine my delight last year when I learned Scott was finally releasing this gem of a novel and following up with the sequel.  I am even more delighted to be able to share it with you.  For free!

That’s right, free.  Scott will generously donate an ebook of Sidnye (Queen of Universe) to all of our first-month Kickstarter backers if we reach our mid-point goal of $13,000 by November 1st.  You can find out more about the offer here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/899865359/pulp-literature-year-2/posts

Share the link, and tell all your friends you want your ebook. You don’t want to miss this one!

Babbage & Co

Interview with an Agent of DIRE

Our next Proust Questionnaire is with the loquacious Jonathan Blackthorne, Esquire, Member in good standing of the Damocles Institute of Research and Exploration, Celebrated Illusionist, Master of Legerdemain and Sleight-of-Hand, and narrator of KG McAbee’s novella ‘Blackthorne & Rose: Agent’s of DIRE’, currently appearing in Pulp Literature Issue 4.

What is my greatest fear? As a not-unknown magician and illusionist — appearing nightly at the Egyptian Palace, with a matinee on Saturdays — I could perhaps suggest that failing in front of an audience would be the answer to this.  However, I am forced to admit it:  I have failed in front of more audiences than Her Majesty has had hot dinners.  No, the vast and faceless crowd spread before me — I did mention my nightly appearances, did I not? — is far from my worst fear.  Recall, pray, that I am also a member in good standing — well, relatively good — of the Damocles Institute of Research and Exploration.  The things I have seen would boggle the most un-boggleable mind, I do assure you.  DIRE members, other than my humble self, tend towards the adventurous, the investigative, the shall-we-poke-it-with-something-sharp-and-see-what-happens type.  I am not this type.  I prefer a  well-attended performance, followed by a cold bottle and a hot meal, ending with a long, restful sleep in my own bed.  Sadly, these things — other than the first, six evenings a week, in case I neglected to mention — seldom come my way. Blackthorne&Dire

The trait I most deplore in others is, without doubt, conceit.  After all, a fellow should be modest, unassuming, humble, even if he is lucky enough to possess rather impressive talents and abilities, don’t you think?  But some gentlemen tend to boast and brag a bit, simply because they’ve been off to other lands, done the odd bit of exploring, visited
forbidden cities at risk of imminent impalement, speak a dozen languages or so
and dealt with the odd wound and bouts with raging fever.  I mean to say, one
should not continually mention such things, should one?  It’s just not done,
even if your name is Captain R F Burton.  And pray, let us not bring up Mr Poe
or Monsieur Verne!  Poseurs, the pair of them!  Oh, certainly, they come up with
the odd notion or two, but really, some of the drivel they turn out is quite
out of bounds.

I have, upon occasion, been forced to lie. There; I have admitted it.  Can lying ever be the correct, the gentlemanly, the British thing to do?  Never!  However, sometimes it is the kind, the thoughtful and, in many ways and the merest physical sense, the safest thing to do.  For one example, one should never, at any time, point out to Lady Rose Blakeney-Barrington, my darling and frighteningly intelligent beloved, that perhaps she might be safer if she did not leap into the middle of anything and everything which interests her. And for Rose, that is, quite literally:  everything.  I recall with a shudder that she once threw herself, with every sign of delight and enjoyment, into the very center of a pile of pulsing, heaving matter only recently ejected by a many-tentacled creature.  Not to mention, we had only just run the thing to ground after an exhausting chase through the sewers of London. I mean, what can one do in such a situation, other than a series of hot baths and the burning of one’s attire, including boots and a favorite waistcoat? Rose, sadly, had other
ideas.  It is a constant burden to me to keep quiet in such situations, I do assure you.  But keep silent I do, in self-defense.

My greatest achievement is, without any shadow of a doubt, landing Rose as my fiancée.  Dear me, that does sound a bit, well, as if I caught her while salmon fishing in the Highlands, does it not?  Let me rephrase that at once, on the off chance that Rose herself might one day read these words.  My Rose, let me assure you, while the dearest girl in so many ways, is not one who suffers fools gladly.  Or, indeed, at all.  That is why I am
still quite astonishingly amazed that she has accepted my proposal of marriage.  I am not a fool, other opinions to the contrary.  But I would be the first to admit that I am as far below Rose in knowledge of such things as chemistry, biology and astronomy as it is possible to be, even were I at the bottom of a deep hole while she stood atop the Matterhorn.  And yet she has promised to be mine!  Though setting a date still appears to be quite beyond her ability … but hope springs eternal! KG McAbee

KG McAbee has had several quite readable books and short stories published. She writes  steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, pulp and such. She belongs to Horror Writers Association, International Thriller Writers and recently got honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. 

You can read the adventures of Jonathan and his fiancée Rose in ‘Blackthorne and Rose: Agents of Dire’, in the Autumn issue of Pulp Literature, available in ebook or print through our Kickstarter campaign.

"This Double" by Mel Anastasiou

Readers Adore a Vacuum

Nature abhors a vacuum.  Truly empty space is an aberration, something not to be tolerated.  Nature compensates by thrusting matter towards the vacuum.  That is how empty space, instead of being a powerless void, becomes a powerful force that attracts and draws in matter.  Vacuums suck.  Literally.

The application for writers?  Leave some blank spaces in your writing and storytelling. Remember that law of physics for writers, “Show don’t tell.”  Writers who explain too much fill up a scene with details, facts, or interior narration that clutters up the story.  It prevents readers from using their imagination because everything is spelled out for them, every possibility explored and catalogued.  It leaves readers bored and repulsed.  Let the readers have fun creating their own interpretation.  There’s no fun in playing in somebody else’s sandbox when all the toys have been grabbed and labelled (usually with adverbs).

A beautiful example of the power of the unwritten word is Conor Powers-Smith’s ‘Love for Sale’ in Pulp Literature Issue 3.    Read it again, and notice how the author piques your curiosity, leaving most of the technical explanation and the intentions of the main character unsaid.  Even the ending is defined by what’s not there, rather than what is.

The best writers use blank space to draw in the reader, and the best readers can’t resist filling in the gaps of a story.  Don’t put off readers with too much information.  Welcome readers to your door, open it wide, and stand back.  Let them enter the room and explore your world for themselves.  Let their curiosity pull them inside because … (wait for it)…
a good story sucks.

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Interview with a Daughter

The protagonist from KM Vaghela’s beautifully haunting ‘Poor Thing’ in issue 2 doesn’t have a name.  We know her only as ‘girl’.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t live, breath, and feel with her long after the story is finished.poorthingnogrey

  1. What is your greatest fear?   My mother’s stare.
  2. On what occasion do you lie?  When my mother has the stare in her eyes.
  3. Which talent would you most like to have?   Rock climbing, or better yet, tree climbing.
  4. What is your greatest regret?  Never telling Nirav that he’s my one and only crush.
  5. How would you like to die?  Old age, in my sleep.

KM Vaghela, who holds a MFA in Fiction, and teaches writing at the university of Maryland, tells us this about the story:  ‘Poor Thing’ originated from a phone call. I was thirteen and my mother was habitually twirling the curly, long cord connected to the head piece while watching something on the stove. It was her voice that made me lift my head from my work and listen. There were too many exclamation marks in her breath. When she hung up, we children gathered around curiously. The story she told clung to us for weeks. It was a story we could not understand, living in America where 911 was the answer for all trouble. How could there be no 911 solution in our mother country of India? I wrote the first draft at fifteen, and it has evolved slowly into a piece which I hope will touch any who read it.

You can find ‘Poor Thing’ in the Spring 2014 issue of Pulp Literature, available as ebook or in print on our Kickstarter page:


 

The Art of Seeing

Today all three Pulp Literature editors were treated to an advance presentation by local author and photographer, Sandra Vander Schaaf. “The Art of Seeing” ties together Sandra’s love of tango, stories and visual arts. Some topical teasers:Sandra_Vander_Schaff

  • Why an invitation to dance is like an invitation to story.
  • How the composition of a photo is like the details of your       setting, and why you notice what you do.
  • How the unexpected is the key to story.
  • How to capture and describe emotions in the flesh.
  • How to become invisible as an author, and why that’s important.

Sandra packed a lot into 90 minutes, and we encourage     everyone to attend Sandra’s workshop next weekend at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.  You won’t want to miss is it!

In related fabulous news Sandra will also be giving her workshop at  our Bowen Island Writer’s Retreat in January 2015, available through our Kickstarter rewards!

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Interview with a Father

This next Proust Questionnaire is a bit of a teaser, since Rob Taylor’s Hummingbird Prize-winning story “Here I Lay Down my Heart” will not be published until Issue 5.   We’re sorry to leave you in anticipation, but believe us, it’s worth the wait!

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? The past.
  2. What is your greatest fear? He pulled Mima tight and brought in only air. He reached and reached.”
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? “My child, he wanted to say, but the word wouldn’t come.”
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cruelty.
  5. On what occasion do you lie? Whenever necessary. Too often.
  6. What do you most dislike about your appearance? How little I can change it.
  7. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Bo’ee elay.
  8. When and where were you happiest? Those few weeks when Mima had gone to preschool and life had felt normal and the word normal had plumped with meaning.”
  9. Which talent would you most like to have? Invisibility.
  10. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Getting here.
  11. What is your most treasured possession? My dove.
  12. What is your most marked characteristic? Fear.
  13. Who are your favourite writers? Italo Calvino. Yehuda Amichai. Michael Chabon. Ernest Hemingway. Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
  14. What is your greatest regret? Oh to choose only one!
  15. How would you like to die? How matters less than that it is a long time from now.
  16. What is your motto? “Samaki, kuku, mbuzi!”
  17. What is something we’d never glean about you from Here I Lay Down My Heart? Almost everything.Rob Taylor

Rob Taylor’s  first book of poetry, The Other Side of Ourselves, won the 2010 Alfred G. Bailey Prize.  He has also published four chapbooks of poems: splattered earth (2006), Child of Saturday (2008), Lyric (2010)and Smoothing the Holy Surfaces (2012).

“Here I Lay down my Heart was the first place winner in our inaugural Hummingbird Prize for Flash Fiction, and the story will appear in Pulp Literature Issue 5, Winter 2015.  You can purchase a copy or subscribe on our Kickstarter page:

raven with branch

Contest Alert!

Pesky Summer Jobs by Tais Teng

Pesky Summer Jobs by Tais Teng

Only a fortnight until the Ravens come home to roost! Our story challenge is to write a piece to link with this painting by Tais Teng. In addition to the $500 prize, the winner will be our Issue 6 featured author, an honour shared with award winning authors CC Humphreys, JJ Lee, Joan MacLeod, Susanna Kearsley, and Eileen Kernaghan. If this sounds like good company, send us your story soon! We have a limit of 100 entrants. Your story needn’t capture all the elements in this fantastical painting, but should tie in to at least one of the visual or symbolic references.  Final judge will be CC Humphreys, so sharpen your quills and write!