Some boys

Some boys are lucky.

Some boys are not. 
Some boys are made to pare the kindness
from their bones,
smoke the sweetness
from their skin,
fillet themselves, inspect the flesh for weakness
excise all waste, all softness,
because these things are parasites
to be evicted.

Some boys are unlucky,
are remade in the image of their father,
their father's father
a whole line of men, butchered
and amputated of soft.

If you see these boys, be kind.
Be wary too.
Some boys will devour you.
But if you meet one of the gentler ones,
consider compassion,
tell them to be better for themselves
and more importantly still, their sons.
 

Five Ambient Noise Generators For When You Don't Want To Leave Home

 

So, after finishing off a few interviews today, I decided to check out ambient noises for a project I’m contemplating. This, of course, led me to Rainy Cafe, which has been my go-to for years now. But because I inevitably get curious about these days, I started meandering through the Internet to see what other options are available.


Holy shit. There are a lot of them.

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Violent Passions: Muay Thai and Writing

Whenever someone asks me what I think about Muay Thai, I invariably say the same thing: “It makes me angry.”

It made angry the night I crawled out of my first session, and it makes me angry today, which leaves many baffled as to why I keep subjecting myself to repeated brutalisation. Is it a case of Stockholm Syndrome? I hope not. The truth is that I don’t really have an answer, but I do have my suspicions. I go back to Muay Thai because I leave every session knowing that I could have done better, and knowing exactly how I can be better the next time.

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Stories Full of Teeth

I think a lot about Delilah S. Dawson’s “Catcall.” It is angry, vicious, seething with so much venom that I choke on the words each time. It is her story, my story, the story of every woman who’d ever squeezed their fists around a ring of keys as they stalked down a dark alley. It is a snarl, a snapping of teeth, a warning against every Hey baby and Smile for me honey. It doesn’t go pretty places. It doesn’t need to.

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On death and reasons to write

There are few things in life that are true constants. For all that we talk about best friends or soulmates, we’ve always known a time when they did not exist, a space in our lives that they did not fill. 

But family is something else.

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You should be reading ... Kelly Sandoval!

I arrived at Kelly Sandoval’s stories later than I should have, really. The first time I read a piece from her — Mirror-Skinned — I remember thinking to myself, “I should probably read more.” But I ended up being distracted by life, which was probably a good thing because when I came back, I’d a veritable cornucopia of words to savor.

But where do you start with your Sandoval experience? The Right Sort of Monsters, I’d argue, is a great place. Haunting and lyrical, it beautifully showcases her world building expertise, her depth of description. It begins very strongly:

"Anabeth’s new baby had the teeth of a crocodile."

And it does not stop. From that first evocative sentence, the tale slowly unspools, assembling itself into an unsettling conversation between the crocodile-toothed child’s mother and Viette, our protagonist. We learn that Anabeth isn’t happy about the child’s dentition; we learn about Viette’s “latest” stillbirth, about wings on a little girl, about a curse that lives in the blood. And then: 

"Anabeth wasn't the only one who needed a child. I, too, was willing to take what the gods refused me.
The priests would say that was the problem. We had dared to cross the boundaries of Godswalk. We had eaten crystal fruit and bathed in rivers of liquid sapphire. But we'd been children. We had known nothing of the Godswalk. Except that it was new. That it was beautiful."

Nothing is ever overtly explained. Sandoval tantalises with more and more descriptions of a rich, disconcerting universe, where children grow in trees of "shining copper and burnished silver,” trees that rumored to feed on flesh, who will grow a child for you if you give it blood from your body and your lover’s vein. 

And then it gets more stranger, more beautiful yet. I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but I will say this: it explores the hypocrisy of our occasional desires, how we say we can love the things we care for impartially, and how we can still have selfish preferences. There’s death here, off-camera but still agonisingly poignant. But “The Right Sort of Monsters” ends on a hopeful note, full of a measured grief but hopeful, always hopeful.

That sense of wistfulness, of sorrow that has been internalised and accepted, permeates much of Sandoval’s writing. The Stories She Tells Herself is a quiet agony, inspiring tears the first time I read it. If you’ve ever been caged in an abusive relationship, ever known someone who has suffered from one, it’s likely to do the same for you. Sandoval does an absolutely masterful job blending the fantastical with the achingly real, creating a fable for the modern ages. And that ending, god. That ending. It’s very quintessentially Sandoval for me, at this point. Full of teeth and dignity, full of power.


Read her. You should have been doing it already.

 

You should be reading ... Sunil Patel!

You should be reading Sunil Patel.

That’s it. Full stop. Not a specific, not a specific subset of stories, not even a transcript of his plays (which are both unfailingly funny yet incisive.) Just read Sunil Patel. Start with his Twitter account, actually. Ghostwritingcow. Look at that name. Drink it down like the milk such a supernatural bovine would produce.

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Agents and me

I’ve had surprisingly good luck with agents, for someone who doesn’t actually have (a) debut novel(s) primed and waiting in the wings, and who has only ever written a query letter once.

Despite all of this obstacles, however, I’ve managed to gain some attention. As some of you already know, I was briefly tied with Red Sofa Literary, who I'll forever love for giving a chance to an unproven writer. Unfortunately, through no fault of the parties involved, that didn’t quite work out the way we’d all hoped and we parted ways.

Which brings me to the next bit. You know how I said “agents” at the very beginning of this post? That wasn’t a typo. Following my departure from Red Sofa Literary, I had the good fortune of meeting Michael Curry from Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Yes. Those people. The ones who rep Elizabeth Bear and Saladin Ahmed and Jim Butcher and other important people like that. OH GOD.) Several rounds of emails followed. Long, detailed rounds of email. One thing led to another, and I’m happy to announce I've officially signed on with Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Holy crap, I’m signed with Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Is that the term? I don’t even know what the correct term is.)

Holy crap, I'm sharing an agent with THE Brooke Bolander, who wrote my favorite cyberpunk thing of 2015.

Holy crap.

PS: I’m also excited about a sale that I can’t announce for at least a few weeks yet, a round table with some people who I respect massively, and and --


 

Bearly a Lady: Chapter 1

It happened again. Gucci, Versace, Juicy Couture - nothing ever holds together during that time of month. I’m almost desperate enough to do Sports Direct next. I mean, it’s not exactly high fashion, but they do have that line of pretty lycra sportswear. And sales. Loads of sales, pretty much every week. It’d be a cost-effective experiment.

“I told you. Granny undies.”

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