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Erzebet YellowBoy, author of A Spell for Twelve Brothers

Erzebet YellowBoy was born in Philadelphia, but was moved around quite a bit from state to state by her family. She continued this tradition as an adult until she finally relocated to England in 2006. She now lives in West Yorkshire with her partner and many lively houseplants including an African violet who is slowly taking over the world. All of her time is free. She spends it binding books, editing, writing and creating mixed media assemblages with a focus on the use of bones. She gardens and reads and concocts strange potions in the kitchen when she gets bored with the rest of it.


Tell me a little about “A Spell for Twelve Brothers.” What was the first image or phrase or impetus that made you sit down and spin it out?

It was really the birds in the tale of The Six Swans that inspired this story, but as I have a fondness for corvids I chose to turn the princes into ravens. While I don’t necessarily believe in it, I am often compelled to write stories about redemption, and this (for me) falls into that category.

If you don’t necessarily believe in redemption, does that mean your characters don’t usually find it?

Most of them do, but they are just as likely to achieve it by means of their own strengths as they are through some external force. In “At the Core,” the main character finds a sort of redemption in her dead grandmother’s letters, while “Following Double-Face Woman” is a tale in which there is no redemption to be had.

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Jeannette Westwood, author of “The Banyan Tree”

Jeannette Westwood was born in Boston, but moved to San Jose when she was ten days old. She’s lived in the Bay Area for most of her life since then, and still finds herself there now despite attempts to go to college somewhere far away. She’s a student, undeclared, and her possible major changes every week or so.

If she had copious free time, she’d learn how to make paper, paint and silkscreen t-shirts, and build a 5’4″ multi-colored giraffe out of papier-mache. In reality, she steals time when she can, and relaxes, reads, writes, and attempts to be artistic in smaller, doable amounts.


Where do you get your ideas?

It’s a lot of what ifs and following thoughts and situations to see where they go. I get ideas while showering, while trying to go to sleep (very inconvenient, then I have to get out of bed, turn on the light, write it down, and crawl back into bed knowing in a minute I’ll have a new thought). I get ideas from pictures, from images I think are beautiful. From moments when life seems funny and more than a bit strange.

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The Jeremiads: Welcome to the Minority

If you are reading this, you are in a very small minority of people who read genre short fiction (I assume you read short fiction if you are reading this column on a genre short fiction website). You are probably in a slightly smaller minority of people who write short fiction, if the rumors about who reads short fiction are true and I suspect they’re more true than not. And what’s more, you’re in the tiniest of tiny minorities, people who read genre short fiction online.

I don’t know what the reader count is for a magazine like Fantasy, and anyway it’s hard to measure online statistics in any concrete manner, but we can make some guesses about the size of the current active short fiction audience by looking at a few things. At Worldcon, Sheila Williams of Asimov’s said something along the lines of advertisers count every magazine subscription as 2.5 readers for the purpose of estimating reader count. Analog has roughly 22,000 subscribers and a couple thousand newsstand sales. So let’s be generous and say 3 people for each copy of the magazine. Why not? That’s 72,000 readers for the largest of the SF/F magazines. Escape Pod, the internet’s largest genre short fiction podcast, has according to the last figures I can find, 18,000 downloads an episode. Let’s be generous and say that there are 3 listeners to each download say that’s another 54,000 reader-listeners. That brings us to a generous estimate of 126,000 readers a month–mostly just U.S. readers probably, and the number is certainly larger in the whole English-speaking world. The math is highly suspect, but let pretend it’s accurate for a bit.

Let’s compare those numbers to a few popular blog RSS feed subscribers. Yes, blogs are free, etc, but I just want to make a point here about the number of people involved in doing what you’re doing. Techcrunch has around 986,000 feed subscribers. BoingBoing has 536,000 or so subscribers. Let’s be generous and triple those numbers too, because not everyone reads websites by RSS feed, right? Some of the biggest websites on the internet have ten times as many readers as there people reading short fiction in total.

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Why the Twilight Series Bugs Me

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try Stephanie Meyer’s NYT-bestselling young adult series, Twilight. I ran through the first two books fast enough that I went to get the other two in order to find out what happened. In many ways, they are well-constructed books of their type. (Lest anyone think that my […]

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Blog for a Beer: Unpopular Opinions

Today we thought it would be fun to allow you all a little therapy. To give you space to say things you can’t normally say. Fandom is a pretty accepting place, for the most part, but there are a few sacred cows that will get you in trouble if you try and poke at them. For instance, I don’t think Firefly is all that damn great. I am not particularly enamored of Joss Whedon in general, though I did enjoy Buffy. But still, Whedonites make me roll my eyes.

I can say that from the safety of my computer where I have my security system trained to alert me when the fen come with pitchforks. But try saying that in the middle of a con. Or a Buffy panel. *shudder* You’re just asking for it.

What unpopular opinions do you hold? Do you think the latest three Star Wars movies were better than the originals? Do you secretly hate Harry Potter and all he stands for? Are you of the opinion that Twilight is an awesome series? Let it all out here! No one will judge you (much). And you can even say so anonymously. (But you still need to leave your real email address in case you win. No one but the editors can see it, and we won’t hold a grudge.)

Some rules: Your opinions can be as unpopular as you like, but let’s not get personal and start attacking people. You can say “Buffy was bad” but not “Joss Whedon is a baby killer.” It is okay to say “Joss Whedon is overrated” (for example). Keep it to SF/F stuff. Don’t get angry if someone is harsh on your sacred cow, get even! By posting your own unpopular opinion.

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Favorite Characters From Genre Literature?

Ask any geek who their all-time favorite characters are and they can rattle off at least 5 within seconds. But how many of the characters they mention are from books? Sure, TV and movie characters tend to be sticky — they have an attractive actor or actress attached to them, they utter catch phrases with a quirky smile, they grace billboards and magazines and show up on talk shows. When was the last time Valentine Michael Smith verbally sparred with John Stewart?

Still, there are plenty of great characters who captured our hearts, imagination, and admiration who’ve never set foot outside the pages they were born in. Off the top of my head, I have a deep affection for Uther Doul from Mieville’s The Scar, Tommy, Captain of the Maidenhead from Valente’s Orphan’s Tales, Katherine Campion from Kushner’s Privilege of the Sword, and Miles Vorkosigan from numerous Bujold books.

Top ten lists are such the rage these days, but let’s see if we can go even further. Name 5 – 10 of the most memorable, awesome characters from genre literature. Characters you loved or hated or wanted to be or, most importantly, would want by your side in a fight (even if they’re only there to figure out a clever way to escape from said fight). We’re looking for the top 30 most amazing genre characters of all time. But are there even 30? Only you can say.

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Lit and Blog News: WisCon Founder Interviewed, Horror Circa 1987, “Genius” Comic

And More

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Guest Column: Saaaay… Why AREN’T there brown elves?

A few weeks ago during Fantasy’s Blog For A Beer on racism in the genre, we talked about using fantastic or SFnal elements as allegories to explore prejudice and -isms. My initial reaction to this is noted in the thread–mainly that I don’t think allegory is sufficient for exploring these issues anymore. But my secondary reaction is kind of tangential: why are we using elves as an allegory for skin color issues? Why the heck don’t elves have varied colors themselves?

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Literature News: Top 10 Obscure Works, Mythopoeic Winners, SF History

And More

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Around the Blogosphere: Worldcon Reports, Death of Print SF, Author Religions and Racism

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