Thursday, September 21, 2017

My Fantasycon 2017 Schedule!

In light of being nominated for the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer (!!! <--this is still deserving of multiple exclamation points), and it being my first award nomination, and having the ability to splurge on a major trip for which I am extremely grateful, I'm going to England! Rob and I will be in London for a week, followed by a few days in Peterborough for Fantasycon 2017. If you want to actually see pictures of and commentary on the trip I'll be dropping them on Twitter and Facebook. I'm also going to be on two panels at the con, and here they are! Both of them are on Saturday, September 30.

New Author Experiences (1:00 PM): Every writer has a different path towards getting their work published and finding an audience. Join a selection of new writers on this panel who are experiencing different parts of the process and listen as they compare their journeys. Phil Lunt (mod), Jeanette Ng, Anthony Laken, Erica L. Satifka, Kevin Elliott, Joseph E. Cole

Being BFA Nominees (4:00 PM): An award nomination can be a great confidence booster for a writer. It can also lead to all sorts of new opportunities. Our panel of BFA nominees will discuss what got them to this stage and what they hope their nominations will bring in the future. Ian Hunter (mod), Erica L. Satifka, Pete Sutton, Neil Williamson, Phil Sloman

I will also have copies of Stay Crazy for sale in the dealers' room and would like to make space in my luggage for books and touristy things, hint hint.

And finally, in short fiction news, my novelette "The Goddess of the Highway" is out in the current issue of Interzone (272), along with stories by Paul Jessup, T.R. Napper, and Aliya Whiteley. I'm waiting to talk about the story until people have gotten copies of the magazine and read it, but in the meantime check out the gorgeous story art below by Vincent Sammy, which pretty much nailed my own mental picture of the titular character.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Story Notes: "Lucky Girl"

It's a new story day! (Actually, a double-new story day, but I'm saving the other announcement for later.) This month in The Dark is "Lucky Girl," a little bit of parallel-dimension existential horror. A clip:

Mike’s sister Natalie had attempted suicide on eleven separate occasions, each time using a different method. Cutting her wrists, knocking back three family-size bottles of Tylenol, hanging herself with a hospital bed sheet, jumping into the Columbia River with a bag of stones around her waist. She’d even gone into the woods smeared with bacon fat and gotten herself mauled by a cougar, which only seemed ridiculous because Natalie had survived with barely a scratch. If she hadn’t, it would have been tragic.

The background: In the nineties, there was this really bad show called Sliders that I thought was very good, because I was a teenager. It was about a group of people who traveled to parallel worlds where a minor change in the past caused reality to branch out, and it blew my mind. Were parallel worlds real? What caused them to splinter off? Could my everyday actions cause a parallel world? If I were smart, I'd have gone into physics, but instead I became a science fiction writer.

A few years after I stopped paying attention to Sliders (the show having gotten too bad even for me), I discovered a band called The Eels, which happens to be fronted by the son of the man who created the many-worlds theory, Hugh Everett III. In case you don't want to click through that Wiki link, just know that the Everetts' story is interesting as fuck. The Eels' best album, 1998's Electro-Shock Blues, is about the frontman's sister Elizabeth, and this is the part where I start relating all this background information to the actual story.

Elizabeth Everett, like Natalie in "Lucky Girl," committed suicide in order to travel to a different parallel world. Hugh himself neglected his health after coming up with the many-worlds theorem, and died at the age of fifty-one from preventable causes. These things are tragedies, but it made me think about how thoroughly an idea can shatter someone's world... and this being science fiction, about what happens if that idea turns out to be true.

The thing about quantum immortality that makes it horrific is that it's deeply solipsistic. If you're the only constant in your universe, you can die over and over again without ever reaching what Natalie in the story (yes, most of these story notes are only tangentially about the story, I realize that now) calls the "zero point zero zero zero zero one universe," the one where you're least likely to be alive. After a time, it would wear on you, to have a "life track" where you're the only real inhabitant. Far from being something desirable, quantum immortality would kill your soul, and once you'd shunted yourself into more than a handful of "split-offs," it makes sense that you'd keep dying over and over again. Because what else is there to do? Might as well keep traveling now that you've gone this far. And if you die when you're old from natural causes? Then expect an infinity of parallel worlds, where your mind keeps flipping into a succession of nearly identical hospital rooms, trying to survive. Better hope you're not in any pain!

Basically, what I'm saying is that I desperately hope Hugh Everett III was full of shit.

So anyway, that's "Lucky Girl," or at least some rambling about things kinda relating to the story but not really. Physics are wacky, guys. Oh, and listen to The Eels. Here's the opener from the album, "Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor."

Monday, July 17, 2017

In Which I Am Nominated for an Award!

You know how it goes: You're sitting in a neurologist's waiting room running on a medically-mandated two hours of sleep. You're reading Twitter, because you're always reading Twitter, and you see that you've been nominated for a British Fantasy Award. And then the EEG tech comes and gets you, and you can't play with your phone anymore, and you mumble something like "I think I've just been nominated for an award" but the tech is all "oh dear, you are tired, aren't you?" You lay in a quiet room for an hour trying to take a medically-mandated nap but you can't because you're wondering: did it happen?


I am so thrilled and honored that my debut novel Stay Crazy has been nominated for a British Fantasy Award in the Best Newcomer category. My first shortlist! So incredibly stoked! This book is pretty important to me, and it means the world that some other folks liked it too. Thank you judges and readers, from the bottom of my heart.

Assuming we can get passports and a hotel, I'll be attending Fantasycon 2017, as well as spending a week in the UK because why not. My first trip overseas! Exciting! See you there!

Friday, December 30, 2016

More STAY CRAZY Reviews!

Response to Stay Crazy has been trickling in slowly but surely. Over on LiveJournal (still!) Nick Mamatas lists it as one of his best five books of the year, saying "I blurbed this one! 'Had Philip K. Dick lived through riot grrrl and the collapse of America's industrial economy, Stay Crazy would be his memoir. Erica Satifka is a prophet.' I think this book was hilarious, telling, and raw. It definitely worked hard to avoid crazy-person-is-magic cliches at the same time. Plus, after the largely unexpected election result, the United States will become more and more like the town in Stay Crazy. I'd said that Satifka was a prophet before Trump won the election—I hate to be a prophet myself, but..."

Meanwhile, at Bogi Reads the World, Bogi Tak√°cs also puts it on eir year-end list, with this blurb: "On the surface a snarky, cynical romp with a mentally ill woman battling aliens in a big-box store, then a semi-autobiographic examination of class issues in rural America, and then sheer Dickian existential vertigo. At one point I had to stop reading this and wait for the sun to come up, just to make sure all was right with the world. Then Trump got elected. (To make it clear, I am not blaming the book.)"

(Maybe I did cause Trump! Uh, sorry about that? Like, really really sorry?)

Jason Sanford calls Stay Crazy the best SF debut of the year, remarking "Stay Crazy mixes a fast-paced science fiction plot with deft social criticism, characters you'll love, and laugh-out-loud humor. The novel is also an excellent exploration of neurodiversity and how there are multiple ways to see both your own life and the world around us." (And if you haven't read it, check out his easy fix for the execrable film Passengers.)

And last but not least, James Nicoll (one of my fave reviewers) posted a review saying in part: "Mentally unstable protagonists offer authors an easy way to keep the audience unsure as to whether what seems to be going on is what’s actually going on. Also, they offer an even easier way to for authors to treat their protagonists in a shallow, exploitative way. Satifka avoids that trap: Em is a rounded character. She may be an unreliable observer but she’s not a caricature."

Not doing a 2016 wrap-up post because I wrote very little this year what with the election and all. Next year's output will depend on whether we're fighting Civil War II or World War III or both (the smart money is on both), but hopefully I will squeeze in some fiction. After all, who doesn't want to escape reality by reading a book? Oh wait, what do I write again.... aw, crap.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Banana-Cream Pie Dropped from a Stepladder: My 2016 Award Eligibility Post

So we seem to have entered the time of year when I have to look away from the trainwreck of American democracy and list the works I've had published this year! Between the election and -- okay, it's all election -- I haven't been doing much writing or submitting. I only had four things published this year, which is half of what I had published in 2015 and and also 2014. As a certain President-elect would say, sad!

However, one of them is a novel! Stay Crazy is 65,000 words of paranoid Walmart alien fighting action, and it's already gotten some amazing reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. As a debut novel, it's eligible for all first-novel awards as well as the standard ones, and while I'm not convinced a little book like this has a hope of being nominated for a big-time award, I'd be honored if folks would consider it. (And for the rest of today, November 28, it's available for 40% off directly through Apex.)

I am also equally proud of my short story "After We Walked Away," which was published last week by Apex Magazine. It's an answer to Le Guin's story, but a million times more dark and desperate and gory. It's so new that I haven't really gotten many reviews of it yet, but people who've read it seem to be digging it, and at 3700 words it's also a bit on the short side. If you know Ursula, feel free to send her a copy, I'm too scared.

The other stories I had published this year are "Human Resources" in Fireside and "The Panoptimom" in Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things. They are also good stories that don't take much time to read!

If you like my story or book, or any others, you can list it/them on the SFWA Reading List if you're a member, or on your own site if you're not. Trust me when I say that no matter how dire things in the world are right now, every writer still feels a little lift when someone says they like our stories, and it lasts until the next time we check Twitter.