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North Pole Blue

A Story by Bob Thurber

This Christmas tale comes with a bite, as all Bob Thurber stories do.  For more, go to bobthurber.net, and look for some of his short sharp stories in Pulp Literature issue 6.

The first time I saw Santa’s eyes they were the same pale green as the plastic holly my mother hung on the door on a hook she left up all year, and the rawness of the flesh around them was the same blood-shot red as actual holly berries, which are technically ‘drupes’ and contain the plant’s seeds.  The second time I saw his eyes (a year later, same store, after waiting in a line for nearly an hour) they seemed larger, but less round, and their color had cooled to the crystal blue you find in glacier ice — which, at the time, I called North Pole Blue — and this made sense, even though I was only six, still too young to understand the density and compactness of anything so old as a glacier.  That was the year Santa asked my name, and, when I stammered Bobby, he said, “Ah. Bobby. Of course.”  As though we were old friends.

The third time I sat on Santa’s lap and looked up into the old man’s eyes they had changed dramatically, become far less wrinkly and slightly almond-shaped, with pupils the burnt brown of old acorns.  I got a good long view because Santa was focused on the camera the whole time, fidgeting like he had someplace better to be, and he repeatedly scratched the same spot of his beard; in a faint and tired voice he asked what ‘big gift’ I wanted for Christmas, and though I don’t remember what I said, I do recall that he didn’t acknowledge the request, or in any way signal that he had heard, so when I climbed off his lap I felt less sure of everything.  Oddly, my mother always liked that picture the best because of the shy, inquisitive, almost contemplative expression on my face, plus the camera’s flash put a dot of sparkle in my left eye, so there is, I will admit, a dreamy magical quality, but it’s purely an illusion, a trick of light, because my absorption at that moment was really my gut-wrenching disturbance at the weariness I saw on the man’s face, and my utter confusion at his not remembering me.

Years and Christmases and more photos went by.  Santa took to wearing glasses with wire frames made of gold or silver, which I liked.  Though, whether I looked through their lenses or above them, I’d be lying if I said I glimpsed anything other than vagueness.

The last time I had an up-close, personal view of Santa’s face I avoided his eyes entirely, focusing on his nose, which had not only widened and flattened but now contained tiny broken veins like intersecting highways on a roadmap.  He asked how old I was and I said ten.  He asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said, “A pocket knife.”

He shifted me slightly on his lap.  “You a Boy Scout?”

I wasn’t, though I wanted to be.  But I felt he didn’t need to know that.

His breath rolled out the smell of coffee and cigarette smoke.  I turned my head, found my mother behind the elfish-looking girl working the camera.  Mom was waving, trying to get me to smile.  She’d painted her nails a garish Christmas green, and I didn’t like the color.

Right before the flash went off Santa pulled me closer and I felt his beard brush against the top of my ear.  “You know,” he said, “you’re a little too old for this crap.”

And that man, I’m certain, was the real deal.

Nothing but troubleBob Thurber’s latest short story collection Nothing But Trouble is now available at bookstores everywhere.

Pulp & Prosecco

The Not a Launch Party Party

Wow, it’s been less than a week since we hit our funding goal, and in that time the print copies of issue 5 have arrived, the ebook proof has come in, and we’ve been busy organizing our mailing list to get your rewards out to you … while working on issue 6 content!  All of which means we’ve been too busy to put together a big bash like we did for last year’s launch.

But that’s not going to stop us from celebrating! Mel will be arriving back in town on Wednesday and we three editors invite you to join us at the Irish Heather in Gastown.

time: Wednesday December 10th, 7pm till ??
location: The Irish Heather Gastropub, 212 Carrall St, Vancouver
facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1511283392492168/

The food’s great, the beer, wine and whiskey list impressive, and the company’s fantastic, since it will consist of all you people who love good books … and beer!

It’s not often you catch all three of us at the same event, and we’d love to meet as many of you as we can.

See you there!

Jen, Sue & Mel

Pulp & Prosecco

Funded!

Thanks to all our amazing backers our Kickstarter campaign was fully funded on Monday night!

We are amazed and humbled by the generousity of our backers, who have supported us  financially and with their valuable time.  There were so many people in our corner this time, tweeting, re-sharing, and pounding the virtual pavement on our behalf, that it would be impossible to post all their names without forgetting some.  You know who you are though, and please know that we thank you from the depth of our hearts!Issue 5 box

As icing on the wonderful cake that was yesterday, our boxes of Issue 5 arrived from First Choice Books.  Even after five issues it’s still a thrill to slice open the packing tape and reveal a stack of freshly printed books.  We can hardly wait to share them with you!

We’ll be mailing these out to subscribers on Friday or Monday, along with the packs of note cards some of you ordered.

If you missed the Kickstarter and still want to renew your subscription in time to have Issue 5 mailed to you please contact us right away!

You can subscribe or renew here, or email us at subscribe@pulpliterature.com and we will send you an invoice.Mel Summer

Once more, thank you to all of you who contributed to the Kickstarter and subscribed by conventional means.  You have helped ensure the continuation of a paying market for multi-genre fiction and great reads for the price of a beer.

Please join us as we raise our glasses to you, our supporters, and to Pulp Literature Year 2!

Jen, Mel & Sue

 

raven with branch

And the Raven Contest Winner Is…

Pesky Summer Jobs by Tais Teng

Pesky Summer Jobs by Tais Teng

Our third contest was a tough one: write a story to go with the intriguing and detailed cover painting, ‘Pesky Summer Jobs’ by Dutch artist Taïs Teng.  Some of the stories submitted merely touched peripherally on the theme of ravens or the ancient artifacts, while others made full use of the visual images, but all of the finalists had something, whether in the theme, the writing, or cleverness of the plot, that caught our eye.

We congratulate once more our finalists:

  • ‘The Hemisphere Stone’ by Mike Glyde
  • ‘Dear Louis’ by Sara Cedeno
  • ‘Claws In’ by Ace Baker
  • ‘Odd Jobs’ by KL Mabbs
  • ‘Family Relics’ by Katherine Wagner
  • ‘The Ravens’ by Anna Belkine
  • ‘The Inner Light’  by Krista Wallace
  • ‘The Jealous Valley’ by Kiril Lavarevski

From this list the editors would like to make special mention of ‘Odd Jobs’ by KL Mabbs, which was a witty encounter with Babylonian mythology, and ‘Family Relics’ by Katherine Wagner, which managed to encorporate almost all the elements of the painting in an excellent story.

The winner and runner up were both so good that we have decided we will publish both stories in Issue 6, with the runner up receiving our regular per word rate.  We would love to be able to award first prize to both of these, but a favourite must be chosen.  The Runner up in the 2014 Raven Cover Story Contest is

  • ‘The Ravens’ by Anna Belkine.

And the winner is …

  • ‘The Inner Light’ by Krista Wallace!

Actor, author and swordsman CC Humphreys took time out of his busy speaking and writing schedule to choose our winner, and he had this to say:

“The subtlety of Inner Light won me over.  I loved the total immersion in a clearly realized world.  Of course I am an actor and I get the references.  But the story works on many levels other than the theatrical. The writing is clear, precise from the beginning. The unease is there, but subtly, making me want to read on. In such a short piece, the several characters are distinct.  Matilda is nicely nuanced, the arrogance of an award winning director, the fear of someone dealing with forces beyond control.  There’s a distinct sense that the characters will go on – except perhaps for one who won’t!  Sacrifices must be made for art. For success.  As Macbeth discovers. Bravo!”

Our congratulations to Krista Wallace for writing the winning story — and even more for garnering such praise from the brilliant CC Humphreys!

Krista Wallace will be the featured author for Issue 6 of Pulp Literature.  Along with publication and her name in large font on the cover she will receive a prize of $500.00. We are so pleased!

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who took the time to write such wonderful stories for our contest.

From Jen, Sue and Mel

Irdaign 3 cropped

Interview with the Future

Today’s Proust answers come from Irdaign, midwife, gipsy, princess, seer, and grandmother to the heroine of Allaigna’s Song by JM Landels, which appears in each issue of Pulp Literature.

  1. IrdaignWhat is your idea of perfect happiness? I look forward to the day when all the puzzle pieces I’ve seen fall into place.
  2. What is your greatest fear?  That meddling with Fate for the sake of peace will cost the lives of those I hold dear.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  My inability to live in the present.
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Cowardice.
  5. On what occasion do you lie?  My life is wrapped in lies.  Easier to ask, when do I tell the truth?
  6. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  My appearance suits my needs, depending on my current role in life.  Other than that, it is irrelevant.
  7. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “It is beyond my control.”  That too, is often a lie.
  8. When and where were you happiest?  When my daughter was young and my husband’s soul unbroken by the deaths of his father, brother and sister.
  9. Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to close my inner eye.
  10. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  My family.
  11. What is your most treasured possession?   Peace.
  12. What is your most marked characteristic?  My voice.
  13. What is your greatest regret?  Leaving my daughter at court when I was set aside.  I should have taken her with me and Fate be damned.
  14. How would you like to die?  If not with the knowledge, then at least with the illusion that my grandchildren will live happily ever after.
  15. What is your motto?  Fate be damned.
  16. What is something we’d never glean about you from Allaigna’s SongWhen I was young I could pick a lock with a breath of air, and pick your pocket with a smile.

J Green Spur croppedJM Landels wears nearly as many hats as Bartholomew Cubbins: writer, editor, artist, equestrian, and swordswoman are just a few.  After acquiring her degree in Mediaeval English Lit she went to London to get a PhD in English, but instead dyed her hair pink and joined a rock band.  She currently splits her time between working on Pulp Literature, managing Red Colt Equestrian Farm Co-op, and teaching Mounted Combat for Academie Duello.

Allaigna’s Song: Overture is currently being serialized in Pulp Literature.  To read the installments in order, begin at Issue 1, Winter 2014, currently available on our Kickstarter page.

snow

Christmas Made Easy!

pulp year 1We’ve all seen the ads telling us not to buy junk.  We know from experience that cheap toys and breakable plastic just wind up in the recycling at best, and the garbage at worst.  So this year, buy a gift with the highest credentials:  locally sourced and produced, supportive of the arts, and built to last for multiple users.  Tastefully produced and beautiful to look at,  our magazine appeals to every reader because we provide a spectrum of genre fiction, and all of it fresh and appealing.

Make your Christmas shopping easy.  For $40, you can have four issues of Pulp Literature delivered to the door of your friends or relatives.   For an additional $10 we’ll include a beautiful gift announcement card by Mel Anastasiou, handwritten and personalized with your message.

Notecards by Mel Anastasiou

Notecards by Mel Anastasiou

No fuss, no muss.  No braving the weather, no cruising the mall.  No gift wrapping.  No delivery charge.  And you can contribute to the intellectual growth and creative stimulation of someone you love.   Mailed four times a year, eagerly anticipated, and guaranteed to bring a smile.  It’s a year-round gift that brings gratitude in every season.

There are just a few days left in our Kickstarter campaign.  Back the campaign now, and we’ll play Santa while you enjoy the holidays!

Michael1Oct

Award Season!

We are pleased as punch to announce our nominations for the Pushcart Prize.  How did we pick them?  It was hard.  Have you even looked at a fantastic menu and couldn’t decide what to order?  Twice Sue’s had the pleasure of dining at renowned Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver.  Both times she asked the owner which dish he’d recommend, and his reply was the same:  how can a parent choose his favourite child?  As publishers, we find ourselves in a similarly impossible position trying to pick favourites, but by studying the inclinations of each prize, we recommend the stories we think stand the best chance of winning each competition.  The Pushcarts are geared to literary fiction, which we have in each issue, but we proved our cross-genre dedication by nominating a literary vampire story. (Think they’ll notice?) The competition is fierce for these awards, but we know these stories are gems. And win or lose, we trust the authors of these stories will feel how much we value them in our magazine.

Nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2015:Victorygirlbutterfly

We have also have suggested the following stories for Imaginarium 4, an anthology of Canadian Spec Fic by Chizine.

In addition, ‘Blackthorne & Rose: Agents of DIRE’ by KG McAbee has been submitted for a Bram Stoker Award.

Stay tuned for the announcement of our Journey Prize nominations.  And hey, all you members of the SFWA, now’s your chance to be a hero and nominate a favourite fantasy or science fiction story for a Nebula Award!  If you’d like a complete list of our stories in that genre, just let us know.  We’d also like to hear from you if there is one or more of our stories you think ought to be submitted for other prizes.

Finally, the estimable CC Humphreys has finished judging our very own Raven Cover Story Contest  and we’ll be announcing the winners on Monday.  To whet your appetite, here, in no particular order, is the list of finalists:

  • ‘The Hemisphere Stone’ by Mike Glyde
  • ‘Dear Louis’ by Sara Cedeno
  • ‘Claws In’ by Ace Baker
  • ‘Odd Jobs’ by KL Mabbs
  • ‘Family Relics’ by Katherine Wagner
  • ‘The Ravens’ by Anna Belkine
  • ‘The Inner Light’  by Krista Wallace
  • ‘The Jealous Valley’ by Kiril Lavarevski

Congratulations to all these authors and best of luck in the final judgment!

hummingbird5

Interview with a Pianist

This interview is a teaser for the flash fiction piece ‘Waiting for Twilight’, the 2014 Hummingbird Prize runner-up by Daniela Elza.  Savour this glimpse into the protagonist’s mind while you wait for the story to come out in issue 5.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  Getting lost in the moment.  Or under a tree.  Or by the sea.  Where I am less aware of myself.
  2. What is your greatest fear?  Existentially?  That I have misread my life.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  To attempt to solve other’s problems when they do not want solutions.
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Gossip. Judging other people. Small mindedness. Jealousy.  Is that too many?  Perhaps group them under “stop being boring and pathetic.”  There are much better things to waste your breath on.  Like, sing, for a change.
  5. On what occasion do you lie?  I do not lie since I cannot remember what I said. But if it saves a life … maybe then.
  6. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  I was wondering …
  7. When and where were you happiest?  You mean am happiest?  When I create music.  Or write.  When I flirt with life.
  8. What is your most treasured possession? My piano, of course.
  9. What is your most marked characteristic?  It is hard to not pay attention.  It is hard for me to ignore people.
  10. What is your motto?  Do onto others as twilight will do onto you.  By which I mean ‘dusk’, not the book.
  11. What is something we’d never glean about you from ‘Waiting for Twilight’?  I love swimming.

elza.daniela.cropped with handDaniela Elza has won prizes in both the Hummingbird and Magpie Awards.  Her work has appeared nationally and internationally in close to 100 publications.  Daniela’s poetry collections are: the weight of dew, the book of It,  and, most recently, milk tooth bane bone, of which David Abram says: “Out of the ache of the present moment, Daniela Elza has crafted something spare and irresistible, an open armature for wonder.”  Daniela was the 2014 Writer-In-Residence at the University of the Fraser Valley and the 2014 guest editor of emerge anthology.

You can find ‘Waiting for Twilight’ in the upcoming Winter 2015 issue of Pulp Literature, available for another week only on our Kickstarter page

There’s just a week left to go in our Year 2 Kickstarter campaign.  If you haven’t already renewed your subscription please visit the campaign page.  Ebook subscriptions are cheaper, and print subscriptions come with a free ebook sub through the kickstarter only.  Great rewards like portraits, critiques, workshops, and our luxurious writing retreat make the KS campaign a great place for one-stop gift shopping as well!  See you there!

thlushalumsept15

Interview with an Adolescent

Teenagerhood is an awkward time of strange sensations and metamorphoses.  For some it’s worse than others.  Meet Markella, the protagonist of Rebecca Gomez Farrell’s ‘Thlush-a-lum’, coming up in Pulp Literature issue 5.

  1. What is your greatest fear?  The unknown, especially when I’m trying to sleep and there are sounds coming from outside that I cannot place. It happens all the time. Some mornings I wake up and feel more worn out than when I went to bed.
  2. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  That I don’t satisfy my parents. That must be why they don’t hug and kiss me like other families do.
  3. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  I have four birthmarks on my back: patches of dimpled flesh on my shoulders and on my lower back. I press my fingers into them sometimes, looking in the mirror, and expect it to hurt, but I guess I don’t press hard enough. Can you press too hard? I don’t want to know.
  4. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  Sizzle, snap, flutter, pulse.
  5. When and where were you happiest?  When Mother gave me wine and a smile for my seventeenth birthday.
  6. How would you like to die?  I’ve never thought about that before, though I overheard Mother and Father discussing it once.  They always think I can’t hear them when they speak in hushed tones, but I can.  All they said was that they hoped it happened “anywhere but here.”  I’ve never lived anywhere but home, but I think I’d want that too.
  7. What is your motto?  Don’t listen to what you don’t know.
  8. What is something we’d never glean about you from ‘Thlush-a-Lum’?  I wish I had a sibling. I think — I think I wouldn’t feel so alone if I did.  We could learn about everything together, maybe even investigate the sounds outside the window together.  I think, with someone else around, I’d feel brave.becca gomez farrell

In all but one career aptitude test Rebecca Gomez Farrell has taken, writer has been the #1 result.  But when she tastes the salty air and hears the sea lions bark, she wonders if maybe, maybe, sea captain was the right choice after all.  Becca’s speculative fiction and food and drink blogging can be found at rebeccagomezfarrell.com

Find out what those sounds outside Markella’s window are in the Winter 2015 issue of Pulp Literature, which can be purchased through our Kickstarter page.