IT'S BEEN A BUSY WEEK. TOMORROW, THE DEADLINE for voting for the Aurora awards looms. If you are a member of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, I hope you've already voted. If you haven't, please consider voting for my debut novel, The Tattooed Witch and also for this blog, Suzenyms. I don't expect to win - the competition is really stiff. For Best Novel, I am up against both Guy Kaye and Robert J. Sawyer, two of the most seasoned SF/Fantasy authors here in Canada. As for Suzenyms, I am competing against On Spec! (Wish I wasn't, but the blog was moved to Best English Related Work from a different category than to what it was originally nominated.) No matter how it turns out, I wish all the nominees the best of luck. As for me, I hope I place well.
ALL OF THAT ASIDE, I AM HAPPY TO INTRODUCE one of our latest new editors to our On Spec team, Laurie Penner. As with Eileen, Constantine, and Brent, I put the following questions to her:
1). What kinds of stories appeal to you most? Do you lean towards a particular type of story or style? So many genre stories feel like carbon copies of each other. I like it when a writer shows me something I've never seen before, which is pretty rare these days, or an old trope done up in a way that feels fresh and new, from an angle the writer might not have originally approached. If you can't do that, at least populate your cookie-cutter world with well-developed and fascinating characters who will make me not care if the setting feels like it's been done in a million other books.
2). What types of stories don't appeal to you? What are your pet peeves, writing-wise? I'm pretty over the generic Dragonlance-type sword and sorcery style - "Five ragtag heroes must band together to find the Dark Crystal and stop the evil Dragon Lord from taking over blah blah blah...." . And any story where some random guy is transported to a fantasy world and becomes inexplicably awesome - no Mary Sues, please. That being said, I don't believe there is any genre of story that can't be awesome when done in the right way by the right author.
3). What advice would you give to a writer submitting to us? Be original! We get a ton of submissions, so give us a reason to read your story past the first page. Great characters, fascinating settings, snappy dialogue. And here's the biggest secret - I'm not even sure my editors will allow me to tell you this, but here goes nothing: We love to get stories from authors all over the world, but at heart we are Canadian and proud of it. (I guess there may be a little something called 'minimum Canadian content requirements' too....) Does your story have a hockey team of vampires in it? Do aliens take over a Tim Horton's and demand to be allowed to 'roll up the rim'? Or do you just have something profound to say about life in Newfoundland or small-town Manitoba as reflected through a science fiction, horror, or fantasy lens? Send it over, and our editors might just give it a second look. You'll definitely have the edge over the 100th guy who sent in a 'stand-in for the author who is transported to a fantasy world, and becomes inexplicably awesome' story.
4). Please list any credits you'd like mentioned (ie. book pubs, editing/publishing involvement), followed by a small bio: I've been (and still am) a proofreader for On Spec and a former copyeditor for Company's Coming Publishing, currently paying the bills with government administrative work and the odd freelance editing job.
(Thanks, Laurie. It's great to have you with us in a more editorial capacity. I'm looking forward to working with you. - Susan.)