Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Mary Turzillo, Author of Mars Girls

Join me in welcoming Mary Turzillo to the blog! Apex Magazine has put together this lovely blog tour to celebrate Mary’s newest book, Mars Girls. Learn about science fiction poetry and Mary’s involvement in fencing! Make sure you check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post to see how to win an ebook copy of this science fiction novel.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

I’m going to be very unoriginal here. I wish Darth could change back into Anakin, through time travel, I suppose, to be reunited and reconciled with Padme, then rejoice in the birth of Luke and Leia. But the Star Wars universe so far has not included time-reversal, so I guess that’s out. Oh well.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

All the old pulps. All the Ace Doubles. Oh, wait! It ALREADY exists: The Judith Merril Collection, in Toronto! It’s a great institution, run by fabulous librarians. If you are ever in Toronto, don’t miss it. And there’s a great poutine restaurant nearby.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Oh, that’s an easy one. Star Wars. It was so fresh when it first came to the screen, so epic. And I’d like to see it without knowing what happened to all the actors later on, because some of that is so sad. I really felt there were more imaginative leaps in the first Star Wars movies than in any previous science fiction movie. The vehicles, the aliens, the bots — any single one of them you could find models for in previous movies, or at least some original thinking. But Star Wars just piled on the neat stuff, scene after scene. And the other thing was a beautiful, very young woman acting as a warrior and a hero. Then more of the same as the series developed.

I also would like to see Scanners and the original The Thing and maybe the original (?) Invasion of the Body Snatchers. A little dark, I know. I do love Donald Sutherland’s work.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I hated and loved teaching at Trumbull campus of Kent State. A few of my students were difficult; one class of nursing students tried unrelentingly to drive me from the classroom. They left a preserved pig’s ear on my lectern. They hazed the best student in the class. They shoved a cake in my face. I had a student who wrote themes that were thinly disguised death threats — meaning, my death.

But I was heavily involved with art and theatre students, and they were so inventive and so eager to learn and create, that I am still friends with many of them years later. Some of them have become published authors. Some are college profs, following in my footsteps. I created costumes for Shakespeare shows that they were in. I coached them on lines. I was even in shows with them, playing a witch in Macbeth and Richard III’s mother.

One of my favorite memories: In my office one afternoon, suddenly a human body with an elephant head appeared in the open door. It was one of my Shakespeare I students, just finished with his prosthetics project from his Theatrical makeup class. A few minutes later, the victim of a horrible accident appeared. Blood all over, broken nose, black eye, missing teeth. Another of my student’s prosthetic makeup projects. Later, a green alien, with huge bulging eyes and tentacles sprouting from his bald head. Same deal. A Cthulhu head. An ancient old lady. They each challenged me to identify them, and I could only match my students’ names to about half of them. That was before I had an iPhone, or I’d share pictures. If only!

Those were the kids I loved, the best students in the whole world. The best people.

I loved the non-theatre students, too. They were original, creative, full of spirit and hope. I still know many of them as friends.

You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

My husband, Geoff Landis, for obvious reasons. But then I’d choose an additional crewmate with an engineering background, like Arlan Andrews, Vernor Vinge, or Arthur C. Clarke. Of Course I’d want a physician, and so I’d choose F. Paul Wilson and Janet Asimov, with Robin Cook for second and third opinions, in case I had a space-related injury. Octavia Butler, because she could think her way out of anything. I wish she was still with us! Joan Slonczewski in case we needed a little genetic engineering done.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in Science Fiction & Fantasy poetry, what works would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Wow, if only! It would need to contain be an enormous number of poems, so let me just sketch out my brainstorming for this fantasy course.

First Unit: Roots: I’d want poems from Shakespeare (selected passages from The Tempest) and maybe some passages from Dante and Milton, for perspective. Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, of course. A smattering of Poe. These would be early in the course, as teasers, because they would be beautiful and draw students in.

Second Unit: Theory: I’d direct students to follow sfpoetry.com. Essay readings would be assigned, particularly Suzette Haden Elgin’s The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook. I think there exists an essay called “Why Speculative Poetry Matters,” but I can’t find it right now.

Third Unit: An Explosion of New Masters Mid Twentieth Century: The next part of the course would be devoted to landmark spec poetry: I’d assign several anthologies, especially Edward Lucie-Smith’s Holding Your Eight Hands: an Anthology of Science Fiction Verse (1969) and Robert Frazier’s Burning with a Vision: Poetry of Science and the Fantastic (1984).

Fourth Unit: Twentieth Century Master: Contemporary Masters: Here I’d pile on Ray Bradbury’s When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, with special attention to “If We Had Only Taller Been.” Then there would be slim volumes by Roger Zelazny, parts of Creatures of Light and Darkness, plus To Spin is Miracle Cat and “When Pussywillows Last in the Catyard Bloomed.” Next, Ursula Le Guin, not sure which volume, maybe New and Selected Poems.

Fifth Unit: Masters of the Last Thirty Years: I’d create an anthology of all the Rhysling winners. This would be quite a task, because I’d a) have to locate the authors or their literary estates and b) wrangle permission to reprint. So I might just do a Samizdat printing, or have students read the poems from the SFPpoetry website. (I won a 2nd one time, but it’s not up there, because they started listing them after my winning.) I’d also include Bruce Boston’s retrospective, Dark Roads; at least one collection by Jane Yolen; David Kopaska-Merkel’s The Memory of Persistence, Geoff Landis’s Iron Angels, F.J. Bergmann’s Constellation of the Dragonfly, David Cowen’s The Madness of Empty Spaces, one of Mary Soon Lee’s extraordinary Crowned series, and Marge Simon’s Unearthly Delights.

Plus poems by Ann Schwader, Kendall Evans, Suzette Haden Elgin, Bryan Thao Worra, Mike Allen, Deborah P. Kolodji, Sandra Lindow, Gary William Crawford, Josh Gage, Mari Ness, Rachel Pollack, John Amen, Lucy Snyder, J.E. Stanley, G.O.Clark, Tim Esaias, Scott Green, Robert Borsky, Denise Dumars, Bryan D. Dietrich, Linda D. Addison, Sandra Kasturi, David Clink, Stephanie Wytovich, Herb Kauderer, and Alessandro Manzetti.

Out of pure egotism, I would offer free copies of my own books, Lovers & Killers (Dark Regions, 2012) and Your Cat & Other Space Aliens (Van Zeno, 2007) as prizes for the best essays about some other poet.

I’d have a few words about SciFaiku, plus poets outside the spec fic community who write speculative and may not even know it: Billy Collins, Lola Haskins.

I’d alas not be able to do much with non-English-speaking poets —

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I told Roger Zelazny I wanted to BE him. Roger was fundamentally very reserved, and just kind of froze in horror.

I also fed Algis Budrys an absolutely inedible meal at my house — burned to charcoal. And suggested he should watch his diet and stress level.

Another awkward moment was when I was at a Writer of the Future event and my boyfriend asked Larry Niven what he did for a living. This boyfriend soon became my ex-boyfriend. (Of course that was also because I took him to a Warren Zevon concert and he made fun of the drummer’s hairdo.)

Competitive fencing has been a part of your life. How did you get into it? How long have you been fencing?

I always wanted to fence. Swords, don’t all geeks love them? My departed son collected historical replica swords, so I feel a connection with him when I fence. My husband and I have been fencing for over five years and by pure luck I represented the US in Veteran’s (meaning over 40) Women’s Foil in Germany last year.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

The whole debate about “mainstream” (meaning literary realism) versus speculative fiction. I hope we’ve finally put that puppy in the grave.

Of course now the big debate is that some factions (white hetero males) think there’s too much emphasis on social justic themes in fiction by women and minorities. It makes my head ache.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Margaret Wise Brown’s The Golden Egg Book. The illustrations are so very Miyasaki-like, so pretty, in my memory. The second book I read was Clare Turlay Newberry’s April’s Kittens, a story about a girl who loves her cats, but has to choose between the mother cat and her kitten.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’ll be at Worldcon in Finland (if we ever make our plane rez). I’m trying to arrange some signings for Mars Girls. I’m in the process of arranging some bookstore signings. Check Facebook (I make all my posts public, so you don’t have to go through the whole “friend” chore.) and I have an Amazon Author Page.

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Book Blurb for Mars Girls:

Nanoannie is bored. She wants to go to clubs, wear the latest Earth fashions, and dance with nuke guys. But her life is not exciting. She lives on her family’s Pharm with her parents, little sister, and a holo-cat named Fuzzbutt. The closest she gets to clubs are on the Marsnet. And her parents are pressuring her to sign her contract over to Utopia Limited Corp before she’s even had a chance to live a litte. When Kapera—a friend from online school—shows up at her Pharm asking for help, Nanoannie is quick to jump in the roer and take off. Finally an adventure!

What Nanoannie and Kapera find at the Smythe’s Pharm is more than the girls bargained for. The hab has been trashed and there are dead bodies buried in the backyard! If that wasn’t bad enough, the girls crash the rover and Kapera gets kidnapped by Facers who claim her parents are murderers! Between Renegade Nuns, Facers, and corp geeks, Nanoannie and Kapera don’t know who to trust or where to go. Kapera only wants to find her parents so they can get to Earth Orbitals and she can be treated for her leukemia. Nanoannie wants to help her friend and experience a little bit of Mars before selling her contract to the first corp that offers to buy it.

Life isn’t easy when you’re just a couple of Mars Girls.

Author Bio

Mary Turzillo’s 1999 Nebula-winner,”Mars Is no Place for Children” and her Analog novel, AN OLD-FASHIONED MARTIAN GIRL, are read on the International Space Station. Her poetry collection, LOVERS & KILLERS, won the 2013 Elgin Award.  She has been a finalist on the British Science Fiction Association, Pushcart, Stoker, Dwarf Stars and Rhysling ballots.   SWEET POISON, her Dark Renaissance collaboration with Marge Simon, was a Stoker finalist and won the 2015 Elgin Award.   She’s working on a novel, A MARS CAT & HIS BOY, and another collaboration with Marge Simon, SATAN’S SWEETHEARTS. Her novel MARS GIRLS is forthcoming from Apex.   She lives in Ohio, with her scientist-writer husband, Geoffrey Landis, both of whom fence internationally.

Geoff and Mary ponder the question: what would it be like to fence in zero-G? and: What about if we were cats fencing in zero-G?

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GIVEAWAY!!!

Apex is giving away 1 ebook copy of Mars Girls, open world wide. Just do the Rafflecopter thing below. Ends June 17, 2017, midnight.

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Beyond the Pale, edited by Henry Herz

HerzBeyondThePaleWhy I Read It: Yolen, Ahmed, Butcher – How the hell could I turn down this book?

Where I Got It: A review copy courtesy of the blog tour (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: For those who enjoy mystery and creepy and fantasy in their short stories.

Publisher: Birch Tree Publishing (2014)

Length: 200 pages

Editor’s Page

When Henry Herz emailed me and asked if I would like to read & review a collection of stories he edited, I couldn’t turn him down for two reasons: 1) I loved his book Nimpentoad and knew that if he put the same care and delightful whimsy into Beyond the Pale as he did Nimpentoad, then I was in for some great reading; & 2) There’s stories by Saladin Ahmed (loved his Throne of the Crescent Moon), Jim Butcher (a Dresden Files short story!), Jane Yolen, and Peter S. Beagle, plus many more. I was not disappointed. This is a great collection of works, not only for the known-to-me authors that I enjoy so much, but also for introducing me to several new-to-me authors that I will be seeking out there work and devouring (yes, I am pointing at you, Ms. Heather Brewer).

Each story in this book has the wonder or mystery built in to it, and some stories end in such a way that the reader can make of it what they will (or need). Our heroes often found themselves questioning reality as they knew it, having to act on what their senses where telling them, and sort it all out later (or forget about it to stay sane). While several of the stories have a touch of the creepy and/or horror, it never goes so far as to be a true horror collection – which suits me just fine. There is awe (The Shark God by Peter S. Beagle), wonder, and hope (Misery by Heather Brewer and Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela by Saladin Ahmed). And, of course, I have to mention Jim Butcher’s Even Hand, a Dresden Files story told from the viewpoint of Johnny Marcone, crime boss of Chicago and Harry Dresden’s constant nemesis. For Dresden fans, this is a real treat. If you haven’t read any Dresden Files, don’t worry, it works great as a stand alone, and may even entice you to dive into Harry Dresden’s world.

This book gets full marks for entertainment. I enjoyed the cover (awesome art!) and the story line up. If you find you need a short story anthology for that commute or those 20 minutes before you nod off at night, this is worthy.

What I Liked: Great authors come together to entertain me!; awesome cover art; I now want to be a Shark God for Halloween; I have a slightly different view of Johnny Marcone thanks to this short story; Heather Brewer’s story, Misery, will stay with me for a while (in a good way).

What I Disliked: No dislikes here, though I am hoping that Henry Herz creates more anthologies.

What Others Think:

My Bookish Ways

Fiction State of Mind

Interview: Melinda Moore, Author of A Sunset Finish

MooreASunsetFinish_200Please welcome Melinda Moore to the blog. I quite enjoyed her novella, A Sunset Finish, and asked her for an interview. Today, we chat about Katharine Hepburn, the Pueblo Revolt, The Hobbit movies, Star Wars, faeries, and bassist Edgar Meyer. Please sit back and enjoy!

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I wish I could read The House with the Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs for the first time again. It’s a great childhood introduction to spooky books. I still go back to his stories now and then, but I can’t recapture that goose bumpy feel I had the first time.

BellairsHouseWithClockInWallsWhat biographies of the creators of your favorite genres do you want to read? Are there lesser known creators that still need a biography?

I’m actually not a fan of biographies. When I was in my twenties and very idealistic, I found biographies to diminish the subject. I had a favorite author whose ideals in his books were right along with mine, and then I read about his real life and found he didn’t follow those ideals at all. His was the first to be disappointing but not the last.

The highlight of my biography reads was Me, which is the autobiography of Katharine Hepburn. I found it to be exactly as I imagined her real life being. She was a leader in feminism in all her characters, and her real life was the same way.

Probably the low was not one I read myself. I had recommended Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to a friend of mine. She read Lewis Carroll’s biography and said, “Did you know he liked to paint and photograph nude little girls?” I have never recommended his stories to my children.

I still find myself wondering enough about an author to consider checking out what the Internet has to say about them. Of course with blogs you can watch living autobiographies. One of my favorite authors started to blog a few years ago, and while reading it didn’t ruin her books for me, I don’t follow it because her day to day life does not interest me.

But a writer who I do wish had a biography or autobiography out, and who I find to be very approachable (I emailed her how much I enjoyed a book she wrote and she replied in under an hour) is Jane Yolen. The breadth of her work is amazing.

YolenDragon'sBloodGiven the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

Well depending on the type, I think a dragon qualifies as the answer to both 🙂 I love to write about dragons and would want to encounter the friendly type, or hot erotic shapeshifting type, but not the type that would burn me to a crisp on sight.

What book(s) should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

It seems like the Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher would make a good CCG because there are so many different factions. It would also be great as an MMO. It has a huge fan base, and I think players could make it a very dynamic game. It looks like it’s already an RPG, but I haven’t had the pleasure of playing it yet.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

For A Sunset Finish I used Dancing Gods by Erna Fergusson and several historical books about the Pueblo Revolt. Although other stories I’ve written aren’t so directly tied to an area in the real world, I still research a lot about the folklore of whatever mythical creature I’m using. I use fairies frequently and have found The Erotic World of Faery by Maureen Duffy to be very helpful—it’s not as racy as it sounds 🙂

ZahnHeirToTheEmpireWho are some of your favorite book villains?

Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy for Star Wars is by far my favorite villain. I think that series is officially the Heir to the Empire series, but because Thrawn is so awesome, people just call it the Thrawn Trilogy. In fact, he is so cool all other villains have escaped my head at the moment.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I really like the Pride and Prejudice production with Colin Firth. The new movies for the Narnia series have been great and added new depth to the books. I think the second Hobbit movie was terrible. I loved The Lord of the Rings movies, and the first Hobbit movie was good, but I don’t know what happened with the second part.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I really enjoy interviews like this, but it’s hard for me to go out and seek them along with seeking reviews. I also just spent what I considered a large sum for advertising and really didn’t get much in the way of sales from it. I’ve found the balance between promoting current publications and working on new stories to be difficult. In the long run, I think concentrating on improving my writing and getting new stuff out there will be what pays off.

MeyerViolinConcertoCare to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Actually, my awkward fan girl moment occurred in my musician life, but I wasn’t gushing. I played the bass from middle school until my early thirties. Bass is just not that glamorous. But when I was in high school, a man who was both a hot bass player and cute was burning up the music scene. He was giving a master class in Colorado, I live in NM, and I auditioned and received a spot to play for him along with a few other girls from here (strangely Albuquerque had mostly female bass players when I was going through high school even though it’s a male dominated instrument). So we drove up there, the whole time talking about how cute Edgar Meyer was and not focused on our music at all. By, the time I played for him, he was pretty much a god in my mind. I managed to get through my song; he gave me comments. His last comment was, “It would really be great if you played it by memory.” He whisked the music off my stand and stood there waiting for me to play it by memory. There was just no way. I was now humiliated in front of the bass god and all his worshipers!

A little addendum to the story: he just performed with Taylor Swift on one of the country music awards this year. I was flipping through channels, saw him and jumped up yelling that I knew him. My kids thought I was crazy 🙂

MorgensternNightCircusCover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I really like both covers that I’ve seen for The Night Circus. I’d love to have artwork like that for a series I hope to publish one day.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

My short story “The Virgin and the Dragon” has just been released in the Spring 2014 volume of The Colored Lens. My novella A Sunset Finish will have been out a year this summer, and I’ll probably do a special giveaway at my blog enchantedspark.com.

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