Saturday, December 31, 2011

Islands I Have Known

Carolyn Ives Gilman is the author of Isles of the Forsaken and its sequel Ison of the Isles. Below, she describes what inspired her in writing about island cultures, including islands "so haunted by the spirits of cannibalized children that they had to be abandoned."

The Forsaken Isles could be any islands, really—the Marshall Islands, or the Azores, or the Andaman Islands. Having said this, though, I have to admit some particular island landscapes did inspire the story. I first got the idea for Isles of the Forsaken in the Scottish Hebrides. I did my university year abroad in Scotland, soaking in a lot of Scottish folk songs, with their sweet, mournful tunes and their evocations of gallant lost causes of the past. Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson would recognize things about the Forsakens.

Once I realized that an island nation would require a lot of boats, I did my research on sailing in the islands off the coast of British Columbia, which I toured in a two-masted ketch that became the model for the Ripplewill. But the islands I grew up on, and which kept creeping into the story, are the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. You find them by going as far north as you can in Wisconsin, then stepping off the edge. They have been a borderland for quite some time. The Ojibway Indians told about a time when the islands were so haunted by the spirits of cannibalized children that they had to be abandoned. Though the child-haunted lagoon is now a marina for million-dollar yachts, I can testify from personal experience that not all the ghosts are gone.

Modern fantasies often forget the fact that, in traditional societies, magic emanated from the landscape. This is particularly true of islands. There is something different about a place that can’t be reached without crossing the water. The half-hour ferry ride to Madeline Island, which I have made every summer since turning five years old, is a transition. Crossing that cold, windy strait, you can feel all the tensions of modernity washing away, as if the lake were a barrier. Once you’re there, there is no high-speed internet, and cell phone coverage is spotty. The community is full of quirky, self-reliant people who can make an artwork or an electric generator from salvaged junk, for which reason they keep collections of derelict boats and washing machines in their yards. The every-other-month newspaper has ads for riprap and reports on the annual ice golf championship. Playing golf on the frozen lake isn’t the wackiest thing they do in winter, either.

There is a lot more to know about the Forsaken Islands than I was able to fit in two books. The story never even gets to the Outer Chain—but if you want to know about it, there is a novelette called “The Wild Ships of Fairny,” which appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1994. And, of course, there is the sequel, Ison of the Isles, coming out in April. In it, you will find lots more enchantment, lots more boats, and even some ballad-worthy causes.

Isles of the Forsaken is available in tradepaperback. Ison of the Isles is available for a limited time in author-signed, numbered hardcover.

Every Shallow Cut gets some year-end love

The year may be ending, but the praise for Tom Piccirilli and Every Shallow Cut sure isn't.

Mike Dennis writes: "[T]his is not the first of his books that I’ve read. It is, however, the best. I’ve wondered why he’s not better known, why his books don’t sell in such numbers as to propel him into permanent status on bestseller lists. It might be because the American reading public is not ready for Every Shallow Cut. It’s a masterpiece far ahead of its time."

Read his review here.

And Jedediah Ayres at Barnes and Noble calls Every Shallow Cut "The most startlingly complete and complex character study I read this year".

Read his mini-review.

Visit CZP's page on Every Shallow Cut.

Briarpatch is "Urban Fantasy as you've not seen it before"

"Emotionally fueled, Briarpatch explores what it means to live and love. ...This is Urban Fantasy as you've not seen it before. Recommended." - Mad Hatter Reviews

Read the mini-review. (second review on the page)

Order Tim Pratt's Briarpatch.

Eutopia now available on Audible!

ChiZine is proud to announce that we will be making our books available as audiobooks on Our first available book is David Nickle's Eutopia. We hope to greatly expand our audio catalogue throughout 2012.

Check out the Audible page!

Or buy the print edition!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Isles of the Forsaken among the best books of 2011

"[T]he book is so nuanced it catches you up. One moment you are struggling with exotic names and complex politics and the next you are swept away in what proves to be an utterly compelling creation. It was both maddening and a relief to discover that this is only the first of a series." - Sienna Powers, in January magazine's Best Books of 2011 - SF & Fantasy feature

Read the review here.

Buy Isles of the Forsaken here.

And pre-order Ison of the Isles.

Door to Lost Pages makes Cate Gardner's top ten

Author Cate Gardner gave a quick shout out to Claude Lalumière's The Door to Lost Pages, naming it as one of her top ten novels for 2011.

See the post here.

Buy Lost Pages here.

Enter, Night named as one of the best vampire releases of 2011

Paul Goat Allen of Barnes and Noble calls Enter, Night one of the best new vampire stories for 2011, writing: "Rowe’s Enter, Night was a 'vampire novel for the ages' ... powered by a darkly lyrical – and decidedly creepy – narrative."

Read his article here.

Buy Enter, Night here.

Sci Fi Fan Letter interviews Michael Rowe

"> What’s the best/worst thing about writing?

The best thing is the finished product. The feeling of holding a book with your name on it is extraordinarily satisfying. The next best thing is when writing is flowing naturally and you love what you're doing. The worst part is everything else that it takes to get to the finished product."

Sci Fi Fan Letter grills Enter, Night author Michael Rowe about his writing process and tips for the trade.

The interview can be found here.

More information about Enter, Night can be found here.

ESC one of the "Best Damn Books of 2011"

Ed Kurtz lists Every Shallow Cut among his "Best Damn Books of 2011". He writes: "I won’t sugarcoat it: this is a depressing read. But it’s a damn excellent one, too, and worth the open-mouthed, knee-hugging keening you’ll probably be doing after you’ve finished it."

Read the review! (scroll to number 7)

Buy Every Shallow Cut!

Fangoria reviews Enter, Night

"Rowe's years as a matter-of-fact genre journo and social commentator have served him well here, as there's not an ounce of flab in Enter, Night. It buzzes with the energy of pure, brisk storytelling, which is not to say it's a base or dumbed-down affair. In fact its finely detailed character detours (including a richly told vignette about the various cycles of abuse that is stunning drama in and of itself) are concise and profound, poetic but never pretentious. Like every great writer toiling within terror, Rowe pays attention to people first, making sure we care about them, known them inside and out and understand their pasts and motivations. The horror of Enter, Night may be familiar and far from groundbreaking (think Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot with a dash of Steve Niles' 30 Days of Night) , but Rowe is a master teller of tales, and his strength lies in the practical beauty of his words. Hugely recommended." - Fangoria

This review can be found in the current print issue of Fangoria, on newsstands now.

Order Enter, Night!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Short but sweet review of Every Shallow Cut

"Tom Piccirilli writes like a man on fire. His sentences bob and weave like classic pugilists. His characters are desperate in all the right ways. Every Shallow Cut demonstrates a master of gritty poetics at the top of his game." - Cameron Pierce

Read the review here. (scroll down to number 9)

Buy Every Shallow Cut here.

Isles "beautifully written and rich with meaning"

Tahlia Newland has reviewed Isles of the Forsaken. She gave the book five stars out of five, writing: "‘Isles of the Forsaken’ is an excellent book, beautifully written and rich with meaning. It’s a unique and unpredictable story full of surprises, interesting characters and mysterious forays into the world of the spirit that lingered long after I put the book down."

Read the review!

Order Isles of the Forsaken!

And pre-order Ison of the Isles!

Great, in-depth review of Isles of the Forsaken

Sneaky Burrito has a rather large review up for Carolyn Ives Gilman's Isles of the Forsaken, diving deep into character details and plot analysis.
"I like Gilman's writing style; she's good at sneaking in a lot of little details that make the world more believable and the reading experience much more pleasurable. ...All-in-all, I thought this was a great book and I'd recommend it to most fantasy readers out there."

You can read the whole thing here.

Order Isles of the Forsaken here.

And you can pre-order its sequel, Ison of the Isles.

Locus likes Tim Pratt

"Introducing foul-mouthed, cynical modern humans into mind-bending alternate realms (some too peculiar to last for long), and then taking them back to the Bay Area, creates a fascinating background for their private quests. ...Final section ‘‘Everybody Gets What’s Coming to Them’’ defies both genre and general morality with a sly zest that takes Briarpatch well beyond the darkness of the opening. It showcases Pratt’s ability to interweave the most fantastic places and concepts with scenes that any Bay Area resident might know." - Faren Miller, Locus Online

Read the full review.

Find out more about Briarpatch.

Backlisted has reviewed Michael Rowe's Enter, Night, calling it "a welcome shot in the arm for the vampire genre—because, apparently, it is a genre unto itself these days. Considering the glut of limp-wristed horror titles that want to address vampirism through forbidden love or unfortunate farce... Enter, Night has the potential to capitalize on aspects of the genre that have been forgotten as of late."

The full review is here.

Our page on Enter, Night is here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The World More Full of Weeping has "incredibly powerful impact"

"This is an exceptionally slim novella, with an incredibly powerful impact. ...The ending really got me, because it contains a display of emotion so raw and yet unexaggerated it broke your little loving heart." - The Book Smugglers

Read the review here. (scroll down)

Buy The World More Full of Weeping.

Gemma Files interview on Locus

‘‘I have always had an urge towards the horrific. Often I say that horror is a ghetto inside a ghetto inside a ghetto, in terms of genre. There are science fiction people who like fantasy, and fantasy people who like science fiction, but there are not a lot of fantasy or science fiction people who like horror. On the other hand, there are horror people who like both science fiction and fantasy, and I’m one of them. (I don’t love all of it.) But horror is the place where people won’t go, the place where suddenly things aren’t good any more." - Gemma Files

Read this and more on Locus!

Gemma Files is the author of the Hexslinger books, which currently include A Book of Tongues and A Rope of Thorns.

Audio interview with Tone Milazzo!

Tone Milazzo sat down with Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing for a podcast interview about his latest, Picking Up the Ghost. It is a must-hear for anyone interested in magic, ghosts, and writing.

You can listen to it here.

And you can find out more about Picking Up the Ghost here.

The Pattern Scars has "soul and heft and weight"

"Sweet writes beautifully cadenced, hypnotic prose –- prose that has soul and heft and weight –- and paints a world rich in both emotional impression and exacting detail... [The Pattern Scars] is grim and bloody and soft and speckled with beauty." - Leah Bobet, Ideomancer

Read the full review here.

Order The Pattern Scars here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Advantages to Driving a School Bus

John Mantooth is the author of Shoebox Train Wreck. Below, he shares a little insight into his writing process.

I probably shouldn't admit this: most of my stories were dreamed up behind the wheel of a school bus. See, on a school bus—at least in my state—drivers aren't allowed to listen to music or audio books, or really anything unless you count the incessant noise swelling from kids who have somehow mistaken the bus for an amusement park ride. The afternoons are the worst. It doesn't take long to realize there are a couple of ways to deal with the noise. One, you get angry. Stopping doesn't help. Tried it. The kids get quiet the first time, surprised that the ride can halt at this unexpected place on the side of the road. But as soon as the bus gets going again, so do they. Even louder this time, as if to challenge you, as if to say, what will you do now, Mr. Bus Driver. Stop? Go ahead. Try it. We can do this all day. The other option is to ignore them, to drive the bus doggedly toward each drop, knowing that every time you open that door some of them will get off, and the clatter of noise will dissipate incrementally, and incrementally is better than nothing at all.

The second option works better than the first, and soon the noises from the back become part of the aural landscape, sounds that are heard but don’t register. So, the mind wanders. What is there to look at, to see? Plenty, if you’re paying attention. My route traversed the back roads, the forgotten places, where three-legged dogs limped down to trash heaps sniffing for their next meal, where old women sat in front of highway fruit stands digging through purses for pinches of snuff, where half-naked children appeared in the doorways of burned out shacks, hoping to glimpse their older brothers and sisters as they climbed off the bus. Where life burns a little brighter, a little closer to the bone, even if that bone is splintered and sharp and painful to behold.

I probably make it sound worse than it really is, but isn’t that what writers do? Take reality—the very best and worst parts—and knead it like dough until it morphs into something else, be it soft or coarse, palatable or bittersweet. In the end, the exterior noise became secondary to the noise inside my head, as I blended these back roads with older places remembered from a childhood visiting my grandmother in the north Georgia mountains. The stories started to take shape inside my head. Soon, my favorite time of the day was climbing aboard the bus, hearing the familiar blast of sound from the back, seeing the landscape drift past, and letting my imagination work. The stories—many of them—reached a kind of critical mass inside my head, and I had to write them down. Yet, some are still there, tucked away in the recesses of my imagination, a cluster of moving images, real, remembered, and imagined, shuffling and reshuffling themselves into a cycle of flurry that won’t hold still. But that’s okay. Some of them, I’ll keep that way, for myself. The rest of them are yours.

Shoebox Train Wreck is now available for pre-order in limited edition, author-signed hardcovers.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Interview with Carolyn Ives Gilman

Carolyn Ives Gilman, author of Isles of the Forsaken and its upcoming sequel Ison of the Isles, spoke with Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine about her recent novella, "The Ice Owl".

"This is also a story about the moment when you first realize that life is a series of deliberate choices for which you are going to be responsible. ... I am frustrated by how many stories indulge in the wish-fulfillment fantasy of a life that is guided by outside forces. Think of all the stories where the protagonist is fated to become king, or to save the world, or is thrust into a situation where there is only one right course of action. It’s all about the author’s longing for a return to an infantile existence. But life is not like that. We aren’t just acted upon by events; we have to create our own futures through our own decisions, for better or worse."

Read the interview!

Buy Isles of the Forsaken!

Pre-order Ison of the Isles!

Another glowing review of Enter, Night!

Paul Bens at Haole Reads has posted a deep review of Enter, Night, writing: "Rowe manages to do what so many others writing “vampire fiction” fail to...he creates an astoundingly creepy, violent, atmospheric and frightening novel that not only pays homage to the literary and cinematic past, but also manages to restore the vampire to his former and deserving glory. Highly, highly recommended."

Read the full review.

Buy a copy of Enter, Night.

High praise for Bearded Women

"I'm not even sure how to categorize this book. It's beautiful and touching with just a touch of sarcasm and wit. This collection of short stories has to be the best I have ever read." - Sara Thompson, Reading All Year Long

Read the review!

Order Bearded Women!

Shout-out to Eutopia on SF Signal

A recent post on SF Signal had regular contributors rounding up their favourite SF offerings for 2011. David Nickle's Eutopia made the cut on Jessica Strider's list.

Click here to read the article.

Click here to read about Eutopia.

Profile of Michael Rowe in Fab

Fab magazine has published a short, illuminating profile of Michael Rowe, author of Enter, Night.

"We share a love for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. 'It’s about this evil entity that comes to England to fuck with the virtue of British women. I think it has tremendous appeal for gay people because we are perceived as the same. It’s a wonderful commentary on both xenophobia and Victorian prudery,' he says."

Read the article here.

Find out more about Enter, Night here.

Enter, Night is 'the vampire fiction release of the year'

"Enter, Night will seduce you with its dark lyricism and richly tapestried storyline and then it will gut you with its unrelenting horror. Michael Rowe has written a vampire novel for the ages, one that readers will not soon forget. Remember when you first read Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot? Prepare for a similar experience.

There are still a few months left to 2011, but I’ll say it right now – Enter, Night is the vampire fiction release of the year." - Paul Goat Allen, Barnes & Noble

Read the review!

Order Enter, Night!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Pattern Scars a "beautiful nightmare"

"Caitlin Sweet's shimmering prose, already apparent in her debut novel A Telling of Stars, reaches new heights in The Pattern Scars, which is so replete with luminous images and an evocative atmosphere that even now, a week later, these sensations still haunt my memory as if they had been real, a country I visited and would return to again." - Ilana Teitelbaum, The Huffington Post

Click to read the review.

Click to order The Pattern Scars.

Gemma Files to read at Fantastic Fiction

Fantastic Fiction at KGB is a monthly reading series held at the KGB Bar in Manhattan, showcasing the best writers in speculative fiction. This month, they'll be hosting Gemma Files, author of the Hexslinger books. Admission is free, so if you're in the area, be sure to drop by!

Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, Manhattan, NYC
When: Wednesday December 21, 7pm

More info can be found here.

And info about the Hexslinger books can be found here and here.

Double review of Major Karnage and Nexus: Ascension by Alex Good!

Alex Good has reviewed both Nexus: Ascension and Major Karnage in a single post. He calls the former "Well-punctuated with dramatic set pieces and thrills that are often sharp and bloody, the whole thing culminates in a spectacularly messy, and thoroughly satisfying, finale", and the latter "shows how it doesn't take much of a twist to turn tried-and-true conventions to parodic effect."

Read the review.

Click here to buy Major Karnage.

And here to buy Nexus: Ascension.

Great review of Bearded Women

" Bearded Women is one of the best debut short story collections I've read over the past few years and Teresa Milbrodt will be a writer whose future I shall follow with keenness, as she already displays more command over her stories than several veteran story writers. Highly recommended." - The OF Blog

Read the in-depth review!

Order Bearded Women!

Shouts out to In the Mean Time and Objects of Worship

Spec-fic blog Bibliophile Stalker mentioned two ChiZine books in a recent post recommending short story collections. In the Mean Time and Objects of Worship are among the works suggested for people who want to get into writing short fiction.

"There's always room for subtlety and elegance, even in genres like horror, and Paul Tremblay understands this. What makes his fiction remarkable is that it creeps up on you, instead of being transparent and overt. "

"Claude Lalumière has the ability to combine two (or more) unrelated genres and craft this potent story that's greater than the sum of its parts. "

See the mention. (scroll down)

Find out more about Objects of Worship.

Or about In the Mean Time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Words from James Marshall, Author of Ninja Versus Pirate Featuring Zombies

I've had it with the world. That's why I wrote Ninja Versus Pirate Featuring Zombies. Poverty, pollution, war, unfair competition. It's never going to get better. Environmentalism? Occupy Wall Street? They're mild regrets the morning after. The dirty misdeed is done. Ninja Versus Pirate Featuring Zombies is an immodest bomb-proof clinic where the future is exposed, torn out, and stuffed in a bio-hazard garbage bag.

[Ninja Versus Pirate Featuring Zombies is available for pre-order in limited edition, author-signed hardcovers.]