Live from NYC

Friends! Hello!

A more organised person less accustomed to doing things by the seat of her pants and more skilled at keeping her friends apprised of her plans and movements would have written this post weeks ago. That person, however, would not have been me, so probably you would not be reading that post in this space, unless there were a Body Swap scenario in play, and I hate those with the hate of hell, but I love your beauty passing well, O the Earl was fair to see, etc, etc, I ramble, this is how you know it is me and not my alien double, it is a CODE.

AS IT IS, I write from Hamilton Heights in NYC! Here I am! With Stu! This evening I am going to set up shop at Cafe Select for a few hours so that anyone so inclined can come visit with us! Here is more info. Please do come! It would be great to see you! I will never be able to see all the people I love in NYC in the same trip, so am trying to at least see the people I haven’t seen the last two trips, and go on from there.

“But Amal,” you’d be within your rights to ask, “what brings you to NYC this winter?”

“Well, friend,” I would reply, “A bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by Providence–”

“Amal can you please stop quoting Hamilton long enough to answer a simple question”

But that is the answer, friend.

I am in town to see Hamilton.

On my birthday.

Which is tomorrow.

It’s a dream and it’s a bit of a dance.

But we’re here, and I just can’t wait.


I need to run around the neighbourhood now but more on this miracle later!

And I do hope you can make it to Cafe Select!

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People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy!

It’s December. This is my birthday month, and many things beside: end of term, with all the work that entails; earnestly gearing up for the holidays, with all the travel that entails; letting myself get mesmerised by slow-falling snow to the detriment of all.

But meantime, there is new fiction!

fantasy_issue_60_december_2016I was reprints editor for Lightspeed‘s People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy issue, and am so excited to share the stories I picked; each of them plays with narrative in fantastic, destabilizing ways that I think are important. I’m especially excited to bring Leanne Betasamosake Simpson‘s “gezhizhwazh,” from her gorgeous collection Islands of Decolonial Love, to a genre readership; I was introduced to her work in the context of a CanLit course focused on settler-colonialism, and it cracked me open and let the light in. And while you’re discovering her work, check out this stop-motion video by Amanda Strong illustrating Simpson’s “How to Steal a Canoe” from her new album of story-songs called f(l)ight.

Today, the editorial round-table I took part in with Daniel José Older and Tobias Buckell went live online. “I wanted to start with the idea of the origin story,” says Daniel, and we all go on to talk about our origins as readers and writers of colour. I loved talking with them, having this opportunity to articulate things I’ve long felt but not put into the words. I hope you’ll read it, and enjoy the issue.


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When I Think of Winter

It’s been unseasonably warm this autumn; on Saturday I was still wearing light jackets over summer dresses in the balmy 14 degree days, surreal when there’s so little daylight left to go around.

This is not, typically, what November looks like.

But winter arrived Sunday morning, and the dogs stood sentinel to greet it.

I love the first proper snow of the season, the one that sticks, that muffles the shape of the world.

Look closely and you can almost see writing in the understory, a letter the season’s scripting even as it covers the world in the quiet of a blank page.

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“Seasons of Glass and Iron” reprinted in UNCANNY Issue 13

issue13coverv2_large-340x510I’m back from the World Fantasy Convention, and have loads I want to say about it, but first — it’s a new month, so there’s new Uncanny!

Issue 13 is wholly available in ebook form, and the first half of it is live online today, including “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” my story in The Starlit Wood anthology. It’s a fairy tale mash-up written at the request of my niece (to whom the story is dedicated): she asked for a fairy tale, and I wanted to give her one that didn’t sour my tongue where girls and women were concerned. Obviously there are tons of those — but on a long stretch of country road between The Scottish Owl Centre and Glasgow, this is (mostly) what came out. So thanks are due to Lara and her keen, questioning eyes that made it impossible for me to countenance telling her a story where women don’t rescue each other.

Here’s a taste of it:

Tabitha walks, and thinks of shoes.

She has been thinking about shoes for a very long time: the length of three and a half pairs, to be precise, though it’s hard to reckon in iron. Easier to reckon how many pairs are left: of the seven she set out with, three remain, strapped securely against the outside of the pack she carries, weighing it down. The seasons won’t keep still, slip past her with the landscape, so she can’t say for certain whether a year of walking wears out a sole, but it seems about right. She always means to count the steps, starting with the next pair, but it’s easy to get distracted.

She thinks about shoes because she cannot move forward otherwise: each iron strap cuts, rubs, bruises, blisters, and her pain fuels their ability to cross rivers, mountains, airy breaches between cliffs. She must move forward, or the shoes will never be worn down. The shoes must be worn down.

It’s always hard to strap on a new pair.

The Starlit Wood coverRead the rest here — and if you enjoy it, consider picking up the anthology! I’m halfway through reading it myself, and it’s amazing, with stories that run the gamut from funny and whimsical to harrowing and fulfilling. I’m so honoured to be in it, and so happy that Uncanny has chosen to reprint it in this issue that is — so far as I have read — full of fierce love between women.


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the-djinn-falls-in-loveLast week, on, Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin revealed the cover and Table of Contents for the anthology they’re editing for Solaris, due out in March 2017. It looks AMAZING, and I’m profoundly happy to have a story in it. From

Editors Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin have teamed up for The Djinn Falls in Love, and Other Stories, bringing together over 20 new and classic tales of Djinn from amazing authors from all around the world. The anthology publishes in March 2017 with Solaris, and we’re excited to share the full table of contents—including works from K.J. Parker, Nnedi Okorafor, and Neil Gaiman—below!

Do check out the full ToC, which also includes Kamila Shamsie — of whom I’ve been in awe since I read this article — Claire North, Maria Dahvahna Headley, Usman T. Malik, J. Y. Yang, and many more fantastic authors.

My own story is called “A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds,” and it’s part fable, part slantwise recollection of the wizard-djinn battle from  The Thousand and One Nights, and all anger about things I can only speak of sideways.


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World Fantasy Convention Schedule

come-fly-with-meI’ll be at the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio this coming weekend, arriving Thursday afternoon and leaving Monday morning. Below is my schedule! Very much looking forward to conversations with splendid people.

A note on my reading: it’s possible the pocket program may say something different, as there have been a lot of last-minute changes to the schedule. So far as I know it’s Sunday at 10:00 AM, but I’ll update here and on Twitter as possible.

A note on signing stuff: there’s a mass autographing session from 8:00-11:oo PM on Friday, but feel free to bring stuff to my reading as well, if you’re so moved!

I’m considering a few possibilities reading-wise — something from “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” since there should be copies of The Starlit Wood in the dealers’ room?  “A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds,” forthcoming from The Djinn Falls in Love, because it’s very short and I could read the whole thing? Or… Something secret and SUPER COMPLETELY NEW and possibly involving another person? Hmm.

At any rate, here’s the schedule!

Long Tail of the Tall Tale
Tall tales, like their fairy tale cousins, are reinvented in every culture around the world. These tales, handed down through generations, provide an amazing context for how humans relate to one another and to story. How have these oral traditions influenced today’s fiction? Is there such a thing as a modern tall tale?
Max Gladstone, Anatoly Belilovsky, Mimi Mondal, Amal El-Mohtar, Kit Reed, Andy Duncan (m)

A Golden Age of Contemporary Asian Fantasy
This panel explores the growing body of work by writers from Asia and the diaspora, who interrogate, reinterpret, and develop the literary traditions of their countries and cultures of origin (among other literary traditions and cultures, including the “West”) in a globalized context.
Brenda Clough, Mary Soon Lee, Rajan Khanna, Amal El-Mohtar, Don Pizarro, Mimi Mondal

Old Stories, New Twists

In YA literature, retellings of fairy tales, myths, and literary works by authors including Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and CS Lewis are increasingly popular. What pleasure is there for readers and authors in these retellings and what do they tell us about changes within the genre? The panel will discuss the work of Robin McKinley, Shannon Hale, Julie Kagawa, Malindo Lo, Gregory Maguire, and other authors working this fruitful vein of fantasy.
Navah Wolfe, Jane Yolen, Cinda Williams Chima (m), Amal El-Mohtar, Juliet Marillier, Rani Graff

UNION C: Reading

Hope to see you there!

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NPR Reviews: CROSSTALK by Connie Willis and WALL OF STORMS by Ken Liu

A couple of reviews of mine went up at NPR recently! Here are tastes of them.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis

If Crosstalk were a farce, I might be able to excuse the exhaustingly irritating representations of Irishness, throwaway lines about Moroccan sheikhs and their wives, and pummelling overwhelm of incident. If I were seeing Crosstalk as a staged pantomime I might, possibly, forgive the fact that Briddey has no agency, that her personality and motivations consist entirely of making up excuses to avoid annoying conversations. But Crosstalk is trying to be something different, to have its farce-cake and eat it too, and the result is a half-baked mess.

Wall of Storms by Ken Liu


The Wall of Storms is an 852 page sequel to a 640 page book, so let me cut to the chase: It surpasses The Grace of Kings in every way, by every conceivable metric, and is — astonishingly — perfectly readable as a standalone. I loved it so much that I’d go so far as to say if you were intimidated by the size and scope of The Grace of Kings, you needn’t wait on reading it to dive into this one. Beginning several years after The Grace of Kings concludes, the focus is chiefly on a new generation of characters and how they deal with a fierce invading force from across the ocean, beyond the fabled Wall of Storms.

I just learned that there’s a possibility that Ken Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty may become a film franchise, which is super exciting! Fingers crossed not only that these films will happen, but that they’ll do justice do the brilliant diversity of the characters.


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October Appearances

If playing catch-up were a sport I’d be a star in the big leagues.

So much has been going on — in the last several weeks I’ve moved from the countryside to the city, picked up my husband and cats from Montreal, settled them in the new place, all while working several new jobs. It’s been a bit of a season, and now that I’m no longer straddling two households while trying to get it all done, I’m gradually finding the wherewithal to do things like blog.

Without further ado, here are some places you can find me in October:


October 18, Patty Boland’s, 7:00-9:00 PM
I’m really excited to be reading at Ottawa’s upcoming ChiSeries event alongside Kate Heartfield and Tanya Huff! This is also the day that The Starlit Wood is released into the world, so I’ll be reading from “Seasons of Glass and Iron.” I have it on good authority you’ll be able to find copies at Perfect Books on Elgin if you’d like to bring something for me to sign.

come-fly-with-meOctober 27-30, World Fantasy Convention, Columbus
I’ve never been to Columbus! I’m really looking forward to seeing far-flung friends and meeting new people there. Most exciting, to me: Saga Press is holding a launch party for The Starlit Wood on Friday night starting at 8:00 PM, which I hope you’ll attend!

Other than that I’m on two panels: “Old Stories, New Twists” and “The Golden Age of Contemporary Asian Fantasy.” Not sure when they’re happening yet, but more info as I have it.
And that’s it for October! Presently November is looking like a hunkered down bear of a month in which I expect to be working to build the next semester’s bones — and more of December anon.

Next up in catch-up posts: reviews!


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NPR Review: EVERFAIR by Nisi Shawl

everfair-shawl-ngaiMy review of Nisi Shawl’s much-anticipated steampunk alt-history novel Everfair is now up at NPR Books! Behold its stunning cover by Victo Ngai! Rejoice if you, like me, have been excited about this book’s creation for at least the last six years!

Here’s a bit of the review:

The scope and ambition of this book is immense. Shawl has marshalled a wealth of research in imagining, not only an alternate history for the Congo, but a cascading sequence of consequences for global politics in its wake. The cast of characters is beautifully diverse in terms of faith, ability, ethnicities, sexual orientation and nationalities, making the web of relationships intricate and fraught; Shawl is brilliant at showing where the various ideals, motivations and desires for Everfair as a utopian experiment bump up against each other. From wealthy white families whose free attitudes towards sexuality and plural marriage compromise their return to England, to light-skinned characters deciding not to pass, to queer characters struggling to understand each other across racial lines, to indigenous characters coming to terms with their new prosthetics, the depth and breadth of experience represented in a richly imagined setting is a huge achievement.

It’s thrilling to take stock of how many fantasies are really digging into what makes nations and empires work or fail, earning the term epic through more than Arms & the Man, as it were. My next review is of Ken Liu’s Wall of Storms, and between it, Everfair, N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series, Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence and Seth Dickinson’s Traitor Baru Cormorant, I’m just dazzled by the scope of stories I get to read.

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Uncanny Magazine Podcast Wins a Parsec Award!

What it says on the tin! Last night at DragonCon it was announced that Uncanny‘s podcast — where I read stories and poems! — won a Parsec Award. I’m thrilled to have contributed to this, and super excited to have one of these trophies! THEY’RE SHAPED LIKE STARS.


Among the things I’m grateful to Uncanny for is introducing me to Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky, the podcast’s producers, who are basically wizards. I’m always amazed by how cool they make me sound, how kind and patient they are with my absurd schedule, and just how great they are to work with generally. And as a podcast listener (and a one-time interviewee, for “Pockets“!) I’m always delighted to hear Deborah Stanish’s fantastic conversations with the magazine’s contributors; she’s such an insightful interviewer, and her voice is so soothing and smooth!

Big shout-outs, too, to CSE Cooney, Heath Miller, and Max Gladstone, who’ve all contributed their reading voices to the podcast over the past year and a half. And many thanks, of course, to Lynne, Michael, Michi and Julia, whose editorial work ensures that I always have gorgeous things to read!

In other news, tomorrow’s ostensibly the day I return from social media hiatus. I can’t believe it’s been almost three weeks! But I’m not yet finished the work I intended to have finished! So … I may delay slightly longer. I’m so close to done! So close. Advancing by halves as only Zeno intended. And this weekend is Can-Con here in Ottawa, and I would quite like to have restored tweeting privileges to myself before then.

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