Tag Archives: Susan Pieters

Buddha in a Bottle by Susan Pieters

Susan Pieters is a founding editor at Pulp Literature Press. Her stories range from high-end literary to the weirdly fantastical, and this story is a lovely alchemy of both. Enjoy this excerpt of ‘Buddha in a Bottle’ as it escapes the pages of Pulp Literature Issue 25, Winter 2020

Buddha in a Bottle

The genie looked up at me, then looked at the bottle. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said. 

I wasn’t kidding. “You’re supposed to fit. Shrink or something.”

She pulled up at the corner of her silk pyjama pants. “Laws of physics say you can’t make something smaller than it is. Conservation of matter or something. Unless it’s a black hole.”

“Is it?” I lifted up the glass bottle. It was heavy purple glass, possibly leaded, but surely not heavy enough to be condensed matter. 

“What I suggest,” the genie said, stroking a finger along my shoulder, “Is that I come live with you.” 

I remembered the day I’d found the bottle on the edge of the sea, partly covered by kelp, shining in the sun. I’d pulled the cork, thinking there would be wine inside, not a woman. How had she come out of there? There had been smoke. I’d been shocked, dropped the bottle. It had all been so sudden. 

She moved her finger to touch my earlobe. “And who knows? Sometime in the future, you may relent and take me up on my offer.”

“Three wishes? Never.” I’d read all the stories. I knew better. “You’ve had a week of modern life. Isn’t that enough?”

To find out what happens next, pick up your copy of Issue 25, Winter 2020 here!


Susan Pieters, one of the founding forces at Pulp Literature, is now an actual Vancouver resident instead of just a virtually-in-Vancouver-but-really-in-Burnaby-where-it’s-cheaper resident. Yep, now she’s squeezed herself into a smaller square footage, hence the inspiration for this story. She’s still unpacking boxes, but Sue promises that she’ll get her website up by the time you read this, really she will! Try her at susanpieters.com.

Throwback Thursday: Madame Sylvie’s Three Rules on Speaking for the Dead

Each week we are taking a look back at the authors, stories, and poems that captivated us in 2019. Today we offer you an excerpt from ‘Madame Sylvie’s Three Rules on How to Speak for the Dead’ by Susan Pieters, from Issue 21, Winter 2019

Madame Sylvie’s Three Rules on How to Speak for the Dead

My trailer door opens, letting in a burst of carnival noise. The ride next door must be dropping; the screams of teenagers sound like they’re inside my living room. Next year I’ve got ask for a spot farther from Hell’s Gate; as symbolic as the juxtaposition is, I get tired of listening to Dire Straits on the loudspeakers.

A new customer stands at the door. At least I hope she’s going to be a customer. She’s backlit by a setting sun. I get a good look at her before her eyes adjust to the trailer’s dim interior. Her skin is very dark and her close-cropped hair is greying at the temples. Her shoulders slump like life has defeated her. The baggy jeans bind at the waist.

She decides to step inside. The metal door closes, but the smell of popcorn now mingles with my bergamot incense.

I rise to greet her. My gold-plated necklaces hang forward as I bow. “Welcome to the House of Fortune. I’m Madame Sylvie.”

Her posture straightens. It’s funny how Canadians always stand taller when you bow to them. You’d think they’d tilt forward. 

“Hello, I’m Mary.” She reaches out for a handshake. Her grip is firm, her hands toughened; she must work hard. Her left hand stays tight around her purse, holding it protected at her side. She wears a plain gold wedding band.

I glance down as I release her hand. Her shoes have seen better days. I adjust my usual price even further downwards. “Would you like your fortune told, Mary? Please have a seat, and I’ll lay out the cards.” I gesture to the stack of tarot on the table, although I generally use them for giggling young ladies inquiring about love and marriage. The conclusions the girls draw from the pictures are highly amusing.

She shakes her head no, and looks at the bookshelf and my rows of old paperbacks. Most people never notice them. “I was told that you can talk to ghosts.”

I finger my gold bangles. “Of course Madame Sylvie can talk to ghosts.” I pause. “Are you being haunted?”

“Haunted?” Mary looks surprised.

“By a ghost?”

“No. I mean, not by a ghost. I mean, I wanted to talk to a ghost.” 

“Talk to a ghost, or to someone who has passed on to the other side? They’re not the same.” 

Mary looks at me like the difference has never occurred to her. “Oh, no, I just want to talk to someone who’s dead.”


To find out what happens next, pick up your copy of Issue 21, Winter  2019 here!

Susan Pieters is a founding editor at Pulp Literature Press. Her stories range from high-end literary to the weirdly fantastical; this story tries to put a foot in both camps, much as this magazine endeavours to cross genres. Sue swears she’s never visited to a fortune-teller herself but has always wanted to have a go. Hasn’t everyone? For more of Sue’s stories, find Tesseracts 20: Compostela, pick up any issue of Pulp Literature, or check out her forthcoming story in Analog.

2019 Year of Authors: Sept 2nd – Sept 6th

It’s not every year you get to celebrate publishing 20 issues of genre-busting literature. We want our readers to reap the rewards, and our contributors to shine in the spotlight, so every week we are offering up a selection of deeply discounted past issues, based on one of the authors, poets, or artists whose work fills the magazine’s pages. Welcome to week 34 of Pulp Literature’s Year of Authors!

2nd – 6th September 2019

Monday: Susan Alexander, Issue 18
Susan Alexander is the author of The Dance Floor Tilts
(Thistledown Press, 2017). Her work has received poetry prizes from the Vancouver Writers Festival (2015), Grain magazine (2016), and the township of Whistler (2017). Susan’s poems appear or are upcoming in several literary journals and chapbooks across Canada.
 

Tuesday: Susan Pieters, Pulp Literature

Sue is a short story and novel writer who was part of the founding team for Pulp Literature, and one of her stories can be found in every issue. Sue has an MA in English Literature, but considers her experience as editor for the magazine to have been worth far more than any diploma. She invites (nay, challenges!) other writers to join the party and get their feet wet by volunteering for the magazine.

Wednesday: Susanna KearsleyIssue 4
Susanna Kearsley is a former museum curator, avid amateur genealogist, and writer of modern gothic novels that interweave contemporary suspense and romance with historical adventure, meaning they don’t fit neatly into any category and are therefore a marketer’s nightmare.
 

Thursday: Susie TaylorIssue 13

Susie Taylor lives and writes in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. She won the 2015 NLCU Fresh Fish Award for her novel Dispelling the Myths. Her work has appeared in Riddle Fence.

Issue 13 cover by Zoran Pekovic  

Friday: Sylvia Stopforth, Issue  3, 19
Sylvia Stopforth is a university archivist. Her stories, essays,
and poems have appeared in Room, The New Quarterly,
[spaces], and Shy (University of Alberta Press). For more
than ten years she has served as a regular column editor for BC History magazine. Her short fable ‘Dragon Rock’ was turned into a sequential art story by Mel Anastasiou for the Summer 2014 issue of Pulp Literature and has since been published as a colouring book.
 

Issue 13 cover art by Tais Teng

Issue 8 available at VCON

Hot off the presses!  Issue 8 will be available at VCON, the Vancouver Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention, this weekend October 2-4.

Come and pick your copy up from Jen or Sue in the Vendor Hall … and get it signed by at least three of the authors.  You’ll also be able to hear dvsduncan read from his steampunk story set in New Westminster, ‘Cropper’s Ball’ on the Friday evening multi-book launch.

While you’re at it track down Issue 1 and 5 cover artist Melissa Mary Duncan in the Artists’ Hall, hear Issue 5 feature author Eileen Kernaghan read from her captivating books, and listen to Issue 1 feature author CC Humphreys talk about writing the past.Autumn harvest

We haven’t heard whether feature author JJ Lee will be able to attend, but keep your eyes out in case you spot him … or perhaps the Man in the Long Black Coat!

See you there!

VCON #40
Friday – Sunday, October 2-4
Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel
7551 Westminster Highway, Richmond

 

Creative Ink Festival

There’s an exciting new literary festival in town, and Pulp Literature is thrilled to be a part of it!

The Creative Ink Festival for Writers, Readers, and Artists is the brainchild of writer, fitness guru, and all around ball of energy Sandra Wickham.  This one day event on Saturday April 25th is a fabulous chance to see presentations, panels, and readings by dozens of authors, editors, artists and other creative folk, get your work-in-progress blue-pencilled for FREE, and get inspired for that next project, all for the WOW price of only $25.

This is a great way for new writers to get their toes wet at a fun and friendly conference.  It’s a chance to network, learn more about the business of writing, and come blinking out of the solitary writers’ caves in which so many of us tend to spend our working days.

What will the Pulp Lit team be up to?

Laura Kostur

Kimberleigh Roseblade

Visit us: Come by our booth where you will find Sue and Jen, as well as authors Laura Kostur, Kimberleigh Roseblade and Kris Sayer floating between our booth and Academie Duello’s.  We have free ebook issues for Creative Ink attendees only, as well as 20% off all subscriptions, print or ebook!

Kris Sayer

Blue Pencils: Free blue pencil sessions by a host of authors and editors are on offer.  Sue will have sessions between 10am – 11am, and Jen will be available 11am – noon.  Email Sandra to book a session now.

Susan PietersPanels: Sue will be chatting with Patrick Swenson, Silvia Garcia-Moreno, and Ian Alexander Martin in What Agents, Editors and Publishers are Looking For at 11am, and Jen will have her yea or nay thumb at the ready for Live Action Slush with Claude Lalumière, Patrick Swenson, Mark Teppo, and Alex C Renwick.

JM LandelsReadings: Join us at 4:30 for Pulp Lit readings by Sue, Jen, and special guest authors.

Workshop: Jen will present David vs Goliath: Writing the Mismatched Fight Scene at 6pm.  Come and learn how to write fight scenes that thrill and satisfy, in this interactive workshop involving swords, knives and office furniture.

There’s a full day of programming on offer for writers, readers, artists and publishing professionals, and member bags full of free books and other giveaways.  All for amazingly low price of $25.  Prices go up to $30 at the door, so register online this week.  Come out and support this fledgling festival and help it grow to a full three day weekend next year.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Moliere Likes Your Page One

Small treeEvery first page is a challenge, often happily so.  We have to establish time and place, hint at the central character and establish tone and authority that lets the reader know she is in good hands.

But Moliere said, The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.

As I leaf through Issue 4 of Pulp Literature, I am struck by the excellent craft of the opening lines throughout. Here’s a challenge for you:  match these wonderful first sentences with author and story title.

  1. I’m baking myself a boyfriend, kneading him out with my hands, my elbows, my shoulders.
  2. The boy fell last.
  3. If my mother had insisted it be above the knee, I would have said something.
  4. My name is Chouko (‘butterfly gGirl’) Takeda, and I was born on August 29th, 1967, in a little town called Slocan, BC, just outside of where the old Japanese internment camp used to be.
  5. Standing on her front porch, her eyes crinkle up in that way I love, the laugh lines flowing up from her cheeks, the shadows, as the moon rises overhead, lacing her cheeks.
  6. I was taking a piss and I fell over.
  7. The fight with Carollus was the end of my formal training as a magician.
  8. There is a particular and odious smell that permeates the underworld.
  1. Soldier, Wake by Susanna Kearsley
  2. Victory Girl by Ace Baker
  3. Doughboy Lovers and the Appetites of Desire by Karlo Yeager
  4. Things to Live For by Richard Gropp
  5. Blackthorne & Rose: Agents of DIRE by KG McAbee
  6. Below the Knee by Susan Pieters
  7. The Death of Me by KL Mabbs
  8. Allaigna’s Song: Overture by JM Landels

We will send a free ebook issue of your choice if you are the first person to correctly match these first lines with their titles.  Put your answers in the comment section below.

First pages and opening lines… say, what was Moliere’s first line? I checked out the start of his most famous oeuvreTartuffe….

“Mme. Pernelle: Let’s go, Flipote, let’s go. I hate this place.”

Not bad at all, sir. Well played.

Bowen Island Writing Retreat

Old Dorm
The Lodge at the Old Dorm. Photo by Rosie Perera

The Muse showed up. That’s all you really need to know.  If you’re a writer, you’ll know how that tastes, feel the warmth it creates, know how time stands still as you see the path forward, see the world laid out at your feet…

At the Tuscany Restaurant. Photo by Rosie Perera
At the Tuscany Restaurant. Photo by Rosie Perera

Our weekend on Bowen Island consisted of six participants and four teachers, and using the Hour Stories cards, we shared over 30,000 words of productivity together.  Those words were read aloud in every available space over the weekend, before meals and before ferries.  And that doesn’t even include the time we spent opening our eyes to beauty with Sandra Vander Schaaf, taking walks in the forest, enjoying fabulous food and good company, and winding down over drinks late into the night.

We’d like to thank all our participants for sharing their words and love of stories with us all, Rosie Perera for capturing the memories with lovely photos, and Karen Cowper for opening her beautiful home to us for our first evening meal.

Reading together. Photo by Rosie Perera
Reading in the lounge. Photo by Rosie Perera

photo by Rosie Perera
Photo by Rosie Perera

To give yourself the gift of a retreat is to devote time with the Muse, and protect that time from the distractions of this life.  Our collective writing momentum built during our days together, and it was hard to part with these storytellers, knowing that the words would continue to flow beyond each others’ hearing.

The feedback has been so positive that we plan to have another retreat soon, and not only at Bowen, but in France.  Keep your eyes on our retreats page for details.  Yes, we’re listening to the Muse this year.  She’s calling from far away, and together, we’re going to find her!

 

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!

Interview with the Muse

musefinalbwWouldn’t you love to pin your Muse down and ask her a few pointed questions?  Susan Pieters managed it with Capture of the Muse in Issue 2 … and then got a few more out of her for this questionnaire.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A day in the Louvre.
  2. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Diligence and devotion to the mundane.  Dutiful people who never take time to smile or dream or appreciate beauty, and call their dullness a virtue.
  3. On what occasion do you lie?  Isn’t all art a lie? Otherwise we’d call it reality.  And wouldn’t that be a pity, if we had to stick with reality?
  4. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  The fact it keeps changing upon my mood. This morning I woke up in a diaphanous gown, with waltz music playing in my head.  Now that I’ve had to do this interview, my dress has turned a dismal navy blue.
  5. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  “Beautiful! Lovely! Gorgeous!”
  6. When and where were you happiest?  When I was a child, before my parents separated.  I dream of helping them re-unite, but that seems unlikely.
  7. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  I’m very fond of Michelangelo’s David, but I really can’t take credit myself.  All my work must come through human hands.
  8. What is your most marked characteristic?   Cat-like unpredictability.
  9. Who are your favourite writers?  I’ve known so many, but I had the most fun back in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  I’d go anywhere with Jules Verne, and he knew it.  Stories started slowing down around the time of James Joyce, but now things are picking up again.
  10. What is your greatest regret?  That I must use others to create something beautiful.  I’ve been invoked, thanked, and blamed.  But never do I get to sign my own name to anything.
  11. What is your motto?  Art for art’s sake.

Susan Pieters
Susan Pieters

Susan is the author of many short stories, several of which have won prizes.  Aside from ‘Capture of the Muse‘, you can find ‘Glass Curtain‘, ‘Invisible‘ and ‘Below the Knee‘ in past issues of Pulp Literature.  Look for ‘A Discussion of Keats’s Negative Capability‘ in issue 5.

All of the above issues are available on our Kickstarter page.  Subscribe so you don’t miss any.  And if all this talk of Muses has yours nagging you, why not treat her to our Year of the Muse Retreat in January, where you can meet Sue … and her Muse … in person!

Canvention Congratulations!

Issue 5
Issue 5

Congratulations to next issue’s feature author, Eileen Kernaghan, who netted an Aurora Award for her poem “Night Journey: West Coast” published in Tesseracts Seventeen by EDGE Publishing!

The Aurora’s were presented last weekend at VCon 39 / Canvention 34 in Surrey, and it was a great weekend for Pulp Lit.   Not only did we launch issue 4 with authors KL Mabbs and Ace Baker, our issue 1 and 5 cover artist, the supremely talented Melissa Mary Duncan was an Artist Guest of Honour and an Aurora nominee.   The fact that another Pulp Lit author, David Clink (‘The Lady in White’, ‘Death Smile’, Pulp Literature Issue 2) took second place in the poem category was icing on the cake.  And to top it all off, issue 7 feature author Robert J Sawyer was one of the eight inaugural inductees into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.  Congratulations all!

Beer Fairie by Melissa Mary Duncan
Beer Fairie by Melissa Mary Duncan

It wasn’t all books and writing of course.  If you dropped into the Academie Duello demo on Saturday afternoon you would have seen the authors of ‘The Wolf’, Kimberleigh Roseblade and JM Landels, in a friendly sword and buckler match, while Susan Pieters (‘Glass Curtain’, ‘Capture of the Muse’, ‘Invisible’, ‘Below the Knee’) chatted with Stormtroopers, angels and inquisitors at the Pulp Lit table.

Rapier with JM Landels & Gareth Antle
Rapiers at noon with JM Landels & Gareth Antle

 

We had a fabulous time at VCon, and we hope to see you again their next year.  Be sure to subscribe, either here on the website or through our Kickstarter campaign, so as not to miss Eileen Kernaghan’s and Robert J Sawyer’s stories in upcoming issues!