Monday, December 11, 2017

Story Notes: "The Big So-So"

I write relatively few stories in first person. (Regular-sized stories, that is. I write a lot of flash in first person but writing flash is in my opinion completely different from writing a regular-sized story, so of course the techniques are going to change.) I can think of some reasons why that might be, but I think the main one is that most of my stories don't need a first person narrator. Besides, at any length much above a thousand words my own internal voice is going to kick in, and I don't want all of my stories to sound the same.

But hey, I can have one story like that. One story where I get to indulge a goofy internal narrative style. One story that's more about the way the story is being told than plot or conflict, one story that needs to be in first person because that's the only way it can be written. And that story is this story, "The Big So-So," which is out in the current issue of Interzone (November/December 2017).

I look over at Dorky. She looks over at me. She mouths the words "play along."

And I mouth the word "what?" because for the life of me I can't figure out what the hell the point of this little stunt is.

The seed of this story came out of my novel Stay Crazy, specifically the fact that while I share many demographic particulars with Em-the-protagonist, I don't have schizophrenia, though am "neuro-atypical" (a term I grudgingly use) in other ways. This led to a lot of waffling about whether I could really consider the book "ownvoices," and I decided that as a kind of balancing tactic I'd write a story about a character with my own strain of "neurodiversity": attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

One of the quirks of ADHD is that chemicals (especially stimulants, but others too) don't affect us in the same way as non-ADHD people. So for "The Big So-So," I came up with the idea of an alien love drug that has a drastic effect on everyone except Sylvia, the attention-deficient narrator. But being spared from the high also means Syl is saved from the crash that happens when the aliens withdraw the drug, which means she's in an excellent position to help society rebuild.

In addition to neurodiversity, I wanted to write a story where restoration of the world after social collapse happened slowly and organically, and not as the result of any sudden heroics on Syl's part or anyone else's. Small actions making a positive change in the world one at a time. This may just be the most positive story I've ever written. (If you're curious, the band in the story sounds a lot like Brokencyde. Also, you should probably not listen to that video.)

And the story is set in Pittsburgh, because what city better exemplifies a slow recovery from a death spiral, and is also a place I lived for five years?

If you want to read the story, you can buy the issue here from TTA Press, or email me at satifka at gmail dot com. By the way, the title comes from the opening line of the song below. Sleater-Kinney is a much better band than the one in the story.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Trying to Try: My 2017 Award Eligibility Post!

It's award season, the most stressful time of a writer's year, or so I've been told. As winning the British Fantasy Award was one of the best things that has ever happened to me, I figured that it would be a not-terrible idea to list the fiction I've had published this year, in case it happens again? But it probably won't. But it might??

While I didn't write as much this year as I'd hoped to (for reasons possibly to be enumerated in a non-writing-related yearly roundup post I may write but probably won't), I had five stories out: two flashes, two regular size dealies, and one novelette (!). I'll go through them from longest to shortest.

The novelette is "The Goddess of the Highway" at Interzone, which is a new market for me. At approximately 12,600 words it is the longest thing I've ever had published that isn't Stay Crazy (please buy now), and one of my longest stories period. So if you like reading my stuff, well, here's a big old chunk of it. I wrote a post about it here, but the keywords are: prosthetic brains, road trip, socialism, pancakes. It's not available online since Interzone is a print magazine, but you can get the digital issue here or email me at satifka at gmail dot com and I'll just send you the damn thing.

The next-longest short story is "The Big So-So," which is also in Interzone! Just like "Goddess" the print copy features some amazing interior art by Vincent Sammy. This story came out so recently that I'm still behind on writing a "story notes" post about it, but basically it's about a bunch of slackers living in Pittsburgh after aliens hooked the whole planet on happy juice (and then took it away). One of my quirks as a writer is that I write very few stories in the first person, and this was my attempt to write a short story that could only be told in first person, because the way the story is told is just as important as the plot itself. Just like above, you can get the digital issue at TTA Press or email me. This story is around 5200 words long.

Story number three is "Lucky Girl" at The Dark, again a new market, and this one is online! I call it an ontological horror story, and it's pretty damn terrifying to me, although it could also be read as just a straight non-genre piece (but where's the fun in that?). The story notes are here, although they mostly wound up being about Sliders. 3900 words.

We also got this cat in 2017, so as you can see, not a complete loss.
Taking up the rear are my two flash pieces, which were both published in Daily Science Fiction"Attending Your Own Funeral: An Etiquette Guide" is a quiet piece about alternate universes and taking it easy, and "Bitter Medicine" is about humans being human (that's bad). I don't usually have much to say about flash, even when it's my own, but if you've only got a few minutes and you really want to read a Satifka story, well there you go.

So, that was my year in publications. Not quite as prolific as 2014 and 2015, but better than last year, because let's face it anything was better than last year. If you like any of these stories, feel free to recommend them or (if you're a SFWA member) put them on the Nebula Suggested Reading List ("Goddess" is already on there, which makes me incredibly happy). And here's to hopefully a 2018 with even more published work, which means I have to write more stuff, because except for solicited pieces I'm fresh out. Maybe I shouldn't admit that. Well, can't erase it now.

(Oh, and if you're wondering whether these stories are fantasy, science fiction, or horror? Yes, they are!)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It's the Apex Black Friday 2017 Sale!

Capitalism ahoy! For the next five days (all the way through "Cyber Monday") you can get all books in the Apex catalog for 30% off with the code CHEER17. This includes my British Fantasy Award-winning novel Stay Crazy, which you probably already have if you read this blog, but on the off chance you don't well now you can.

In addition, year-themed packs of Apex novels are on sale, with the 2016 one (which includes my book and seven others) a mere $80 for print and $18 for digital. You can get it here. It's a good chance to stock up a lot of books for your home, school, library, place of business, or just to build a cool fort.

Starts before whenever you read this, ends November 27!

Monday, November 13, 2017

My OryCon 39 Schedule!

OryCon 39 is this weekend! Specifically, November 17th - 19th at the Red Lion Hotel in Jantzen Beach. Here's where I'll be:


Friday, November 17

Literary Techniques: Awesome or Snobby? (7:00 pm - 8:00 pm) - Literary fiction and genre fiction has been at odds for a long time, but they don't have to be enemies. Learn some literary techniques that will help improve your writing and take you deeper into your story. You may even end up with a great reading list of 'literary' genre fiction that will challenge your preconceptions about literary fiction and literary devices. Jeff Soesbe, Erica L. Satifka, Laurel Anne Hill (M), Leigh Goodison


Saturday, November 18

Spaceships, Colonists, and Castaways (11:00 am - 12:00 pm) - How small communities function in isolated conditions with minimal resources. Bart Kemper, Erica L. Satifka (M), Blaze Ward, John M. Lovett

Political Economy for World Builders (12:00 pm - 1:00 pm) - Learn the basics of political philosophy, forms of government and economic systems to inspire your story, game or more informed voting habits. Erica L. Satifka, A.M. Brosius

Autograph Session 4 (3:00 pm - 4:00 pm) - Get your books (or whatever) signed by your favorite writers! Erica L. Satifka, EM Prazeman, Amy DuBoff, Sheila Finch

Escape With Us! (5:00 pm - 6:00 pm) - While film is often used to explore complex social themes and situations, the movie theater also functions as a refuge from reality. The nature of the escape changes depending on the larger social landscape. Does the current proliferation of films about super heroes and live-action fairy tales reflect a cultural desire to be rescued, or is it something else? Erica L. Satifka (M), Judith R. Conly, Marshall Ryan Maresca, John M. Lovett

Crime and Fantasy (8:00 pm - 9:00 pm) - From vampire assassins to wizard private eyes to undead thugs, crime has been mixing it up with fantasy for years. What is it about crime, noir, and the paranormal that's so appealing? Also - what are some really good titles? Erica L. Satifka, Fonda Lee, Diana Pharaoh Francis (M), Marshall Ryan Maresca, Rory Miller


Sunday, November 19

Erica L. Satifka Reading (10:00 am - 10:30 am) - Erica L. Satifka reads from her works.


I'll be selling copies of my British Fantasy Award-winning novel Stay Crazy for $10 (the "get these excess book copies out of my house so I can fill that space with candy" price) at the autograph session, and reading from my newest short fiction publication "The Goddess of the Highway" at the reading. And... that's it! See you there!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Video Interviews!

This weekend I did two video interviews for the SFWA Fantasy Storybundle! In the first one I interview Sally Wiener Grotta, author of The Winter Boy, one of the twelve books in the Storybundle. And in the second I'm interviewed by Cat Rambo about Stay Crazy and short story writing. Features a special appearance by Rue the cat, who honestly waited as long as she could before trying to sit on my neck. Take a look, and make sure to check out the Storybundle! Twelve books, fifteen bucks, ends November 2nd.