Submission Call! Interfictions

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Have a New Weird cross-genre rotting on your hard drive? You have until 8/31 to submit it to Interfictions Magazine. Up to 5,000 words, paying .10 cents/word.

Rather than defining “interstitial” for you, we’d like you to show us what genre-bending fiction looks like. Surprise us; make us see that literature holds possibilities we haven’t yet imagined. We’re invested in helping to foster a diverse and inclusive literary culture, so work from writers of traditionally underrepresented backgrounds is welcome. Previously unpublished stories only, please. We prefer stories under 5,000 words, but are open to submissions of up to 10,000 words long. Pay rate is 10 cents/word USD. We accept simultaneous submissions. Please submit only one story during this window.

A little froufrou, yes, so I recommend checking out archived issues before submitting. But 10 cents/word is not bad, fam! Good luck!

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Jonathan Strage & Mr. Norrell

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Catch Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on Saturdays on BBC!

I am not an anglophile like Damsel Bruja. I find most popular British television marketed to American audiences incomprehensible, but Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is refreshing, compelling, and dare I say, exciting? The first two episodes aired on BBCAmerica so you can catch up if you start now. I think English viewers are already on episode six?

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is an alternate historical story set during the Napoleonic Wars. The main characters, Jonathan and Norrell are two very different magicians destined to make magic respectable in England again. No longer the stuff of parlor tricks, magic can be applied to aid the war effort. Norrell is nervous, introverted, and socially awkward where Jonathan is a likable idiot whose failed attempts to win over his lady friend are used for comic relief. I’ve never seen anything like this! (No, it’s nothing like Harry Potter–thank god) There’s necromancy, supernatural deities, prophecies, and an unusual wit about the whole thing.

Not a fan of BBC? That’s OK. Apparently Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is based on the bestselling book of the same title by British fantasy/specfic author, Susanna Clark. I’ve only watched the first episode, but my fondness for female sf/f/h/specfic authors will probably lead me to the library this week. Fun fact: it took Susaana Clark TEN YEARS to finish the novel and several failed attempts to get it published. She was told her book was “unmarketable.” Ha. Showed them, right? I love author success stories like these and I can’t wait to read the book.

It’s rare I come across a series with original, refreshing material, but THIS is it. And I’m excited to sink my teeth into Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Set your DVRs, run to your library and watch/read with me. Trailer below.

Odessa (Short Film Review)

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Odessa (2015) won Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at the Gaspirilla International Film Awards.

Odessa (2015) won Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at the Gasparilla International Film Awards.

This taut, gripping, short film horrified me more for its relevant, real-word authenticity than its well-written suspense. Odessa (2015) won Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at the Gasparilla International Film Awards in Tampa. It’s only 13min long but packs a powerful punch. The submission came rather mysteriously, but I’m hopeful for everyone involved that a possible TV series comes from this.

Directed by: Sean Michael Turrell of Toronto Canada (www.SeanMichaelTurrell.com)

Written by: Doug Johnson of New York (www.DoJoWrite.com)

Starring: Ricky Wayne (The Walking Dead), Grace Santos (Dhoom 3),Will Haze (Banshee), and Anthony Escobar (Prison Break).

Trailer:

Odessa (2015) will also be showing at Cannes’ Short Film Corner this May 2015, along with two other of Grace Santos’ productions: A Tricky Treat (directed by Patricia Chica) and Election Night (directed by Tessa Blake).

The story is about a desperate young mother’s harrowing escape across the Texas border after the Texas Secession. There’s not a lot of dialogue, which adds to the film’s suspense and nail-biting claustrophobia. We watch her sneak onto an army base and steal gasoline. We don’t know why she’s doing this, but her leg is bleeding and her eyes are sharp with fear. By the time we see the Texas border fence, the situation becomes clear and we fear even more for the woman as she crawls on her hands and knees as Texas Republic border patrol officers shoot guns at her, killing her companion. In the final minutes of the film, the audience is shown what the perilous border crossing and gasoline was all for. I won’t spoil it for you, but my god, it’s heartbreaking.

Once the credits rolled by I found myself stewing in contemplative silence for several long minutes. I live in Texas. I realized it could happen here. That it does happen here. And I appreciated Odessa’s exquisite speculative slant on border town issues.

More information about the film/series:

Official Website:

http://www.odessa-theseries.com

Social Media:

http://www.Facebook.com/Odessa-TheSeries

I’ll definitely keep my eye out for these filmmakers. If and when the series is greenlit, I’ll be back again with another review. A+++

Billy and the Cloneasaurus

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Steve Kozeniewski, Published by Severed Press (2014)

Published by Severed Press (2014)

Buy the book HERE and connect with the author

Amazon – http://amazon.com/author/kozeniewski
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KozAuthor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/outfortune
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7183355.Stephen_Kozeniewski
Blog – http://manuscriptsburn.blogspot.com
Mailing List – http://kozauthor.campayn.com/contact_list_form/signup/10334

The Damsels love when authors submit their books for us to review, especially when it’s well-written speculative fiction. Stephen Kozeniewski’s “Billy and the Cloneasaurus” is biting, thoughtful dystopian fiction from Severed Press. Clones, dinosaurs, and a corrupted “Williamerica” paint a frightening alternate reality where the idea of individuality and capitalism are distorted to the nth degree. It’s a call-to-arms, if you will, and a well-timed one at that. Critics of dystopian fiction always bemoan the genre’s inherent “preachiness” and bitch far too much about the potential for pretentiousness on the authors’ part. Be assured, dear readers, that “Billy and the Clonesaurus” doesn’t fall prey to preachiness or pretentiousness. I would happily say so if it did. Mean-spirited zingers are fun to write but funnier to read. And I do try to please.

The novel’s satirical undertone is entertaining and relevant. HOWEVER (and there must be a capitalized however in any review, right?) given the author’s unsubtle disdain for clichés, I couldn’t help but be irritated by his approach to one of the minor (but which should have been major) characters, which is, perhaps, the novel’s biggest flaw.

SYNOPSIS

Six billion identical clones make up the entire population of Earth, and William 790-6 (57th Iteration) is exactly like everybody else. In his one year of life he will toil in suburban mediocrity and spend as much cash as possible in order to please his corporate masters. When 790’s first birthday (and scheduled execution) finally rolls around, a freak accident spares his life.

Living past his expiration date changes 790 profoundly. Unlike other clones he becomes capable of questioning the futility of his own existence. Seeking answers in the wilderness, he discovers a windmill with some very strange occupants, including a freakish, dinosaur-like monstrosity. Which is especially strange since every animal on earth is supposed to be extinct…

Without giving away spoilers, one of the “occupants” in the mysterious windmill happens to be a woman. And like most dystopian stories (written by men) women are treated as an afterthought to the Grand Political Message or as mere accessories to the Crippling Male Angst that drives the subversive action to its conclusion. Willa suffers from the same fate, unfortunately, which knocked the five-star rating I had going in down to a four.

It seems Willa’s only function is to literally have sex with the male hero. Odd. Because she would be in a better position than any of the other Williams to Save The World (or at least play SOME part in it) due to her radical upbringing and fondness for politics. But no. Willa is just the well-read virgin who waits in her room while her father and Billy make all the important decisions. I’m ignoring the weird incest/clone, uncomfortable age difference here for propriety.

The ending wasn’t surprising or satisfying, but happily-ever-afters and dystopian horror don’t play well together. This book entertained and I would recommend it to lovers of bizarro and speculative fiction. Four stars out of five for “Billy and the Cloneasaurus.”

You should be reading Sumiko Saulson

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Every now and then I stumble across an indie author who writes such an incredible (and underrated) book, I have to shout their name from the rooftops. I present Sumiko Saulson and her bizarre horror anthology, “Things That Go Bump In My Head.” I took a chance on this anthology after reading positive reviews on Goodreads, and after reading the first short story, I knew this was one of those rare books that deserved the hype.

“Things That Go Bump In My Head” is an unusual horror anthology–it’s not quite literary fiction, not quite science-fiction, not quite fantasy, not quite horror…it’s a mishmash of all these genres. The author steered clear from conventional  slashers, and created a new kind of horror story. In that way, the anthology’s undefinable “weirdness” lends itself well to speculative fiction.  I don’t like the term, quiet horror, since there was nothing at all “quiet” about the morality lessons in her tales.

A Life Of Her Own | The anthology opens with a heartbreaking story about a 15yr old girl who is wooed by a smooth talking thief on a bus. Smitten by the encounter, she unwittingly returns home with empty pockets and is beaten to death by her father as a result. I was horrified by this story most of all, not because the events were frightening, but because I know things like this happen in real life. The author subtly reminds the reader that children are most vulnerable, thus forcing us to confront the monsters of everyday life. Sumiko Saulson’s narrative voice is reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor’s, “Good Country People.” I enjoyed this unusual ghost story almost as much as Agrippa.

Agrippa |Hands down, my favorite story in the anthology. This short story takes a sharp left turn from A Life Of Her Own and dumps the reader into a suspenseful, sci-fi dystopian romp. We meet Agrippa, a feisty 80-something year old woman who is forced into experimentation labs during the aftermath of the Dulcetta Reforms. Scientists swap old peoples’ bodies with organic and inorganic hosts to find the source for everlasting life. Agrippa has all the makings of a new classic, and should be read alongside H.P. Lovecraft’s, “Whisperer in Darkness” or any of Neil Gaiman’s short stories. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but definitely read this story if you don’t read anything else by Sumiko Saulson! The author reads a short sample of Agrippa aloud HERE.

The Best Book You Never Read | This story is a weird one. A depressed writer busts his typewriter open, freeing two genies, Brownshit and Greenshit. The writer asks the genies to help him finish his novel, however the genies’ intentions are as ugly as their appearances. It’s a cautionary tale about drugs, but I like that the narrative reads like an acid trip. The surprise ending is definitely a surprise. I think I like this story for its bizarre premise and original writing.

Company | A gothic ghost story that will make you think. Despair saturates each sentence, oppressive, and inescapable to the reader as it is for the characters. A doomed waitress lives in a haunted town that sticks to melancholy like roaches on flypaper. She struggles to free herself, but finds herself hopelessly bound to the lost souls around her. When they die, they stay. No one leaves. Ever. It’s an interesting story about life and death and moving past it. Again, Sumiko Saulson shows sensitivity towards her characters, painting even the most pathetic bum in a sympathetic light. Whether or not the town deserves it, the reader can’t help but feel sorry for its undead residents.

As with most anthology collections, the short stories in “Things That Go Bump In My Head” range from brilliant to just so-so. I enjoyed most of the poems and original artwork. All in all, this is a great introduction to Sumiko Saulson and quiet horror and speculative fiction in general. She’s a fantastic writer and more people should read books like hers. It’s different. But different doesn’t always mean “bad.” I’m giving this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Hell yes all the way!