Author Archive

71% Funded, So Let’s Add New Backer Rewards and an Add-On

It’s been an exciting first week with the Uncanny Magazine Kickstarter. With 24 days to go, we’ve reached 71% funded and 506 backers. Thank you so much. We couldn’t make this dream come true without your support.

To celebrate, we’re adding some groovy new backer levels and an add-on.

Space Unicorn Rangers Corps Patches Add-On:

Would you like a Space Unicorn Rangers Corp patch (think scouting merit badge)? If you add $10 to your pledge and let us know in your survey after the Kickstarter finishes, you will get a snazzy patch with our awesome Space Unicorn logo (as designed by the phenomenal Katy Shuttleworth).

New Backer Levels:

$100 (10 available) AUTOGRAPH HUNTERS’ DREAM: Normandyes postcard autographed by 8 different writers currently there on a French retreat: Elizabeth Bear, Greer Gilman, Ellen Klages, David D. Levine, Scott Lynch, Pat Murphy, Madeline Robins, and Rachel Swirsky. Includes everything from the SUSTAINER level.

$100 (10 available) SWIRSKY STORY FOR YOU: Personalized, autographed unpublished short story manuscript from Rachel Swirsky. Includes everything from the SUSTAINER level.

$250 (1 available) SCARY HAM FUNERAL KIT: As heard at this year’s Nebula Awards: the story of the scary ham: Ellen Klages will put together a unique package including an autographed print of the Scary Ham Story and a canned ham. (Please follow local laws when dealing with your ham). Includes everything from the SUSTAINER level, and larger prints of art from Julie Dillon and Galen Dara. US backers only; we won’t ship ham internationally, alas.

$500 (1 available) SHOP WITH Maria Dahvana Headley: Take a vintage shopping trip in NYC with Maria styling you (you are responsible for purchasing stuff if you like it), or Maria will create a virtual redecoration of your home into her signature cabinet of curiousities style – as in, you tell her your favorite things, and she make a virtual fantastical room for you. Travel to NYC and lodging NOT INCLUDED. If you follow Maria, you know this is going to be an epic shopping experience. Includes everything from the SUSTAINER level, and larger prints of art from Julie Dillon and Galen Dara.

We’ve also adjusted the retreat:

$1500 (2 available): POCONOS RETREAT Support at this level gets you a writer/editor retreat in the Poconos, with Lynne M. Thomas, Deborah Stanish, and possibly additional area writers (Fran Wilde, Sarah Pinsker, A.C. Wise, Michael R. Underwood) based on availability. You are responsible for getting to Philadelphia, but we will cover transportation to the house, housing and food and wine for the weekend. Includes everything from the SUSTAINER level, but yours is a lifetime subscription to Uncanny, and larger prints of art from Julie Dillon and Galen Dara.


If you would like to know more about Uncanny Magazine, Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas have been interviewed on The Outer Alliance Podcast, The Little Red Reviewer, and A.C. Wise’s blog.


Lynne & Michael

New Uncanny Mini Interview with Tansy Rayner Roberts!

Large Greyscale TRR

Interview by Deborah Stanish

1. You’ve won awards for both your fiction and non-fiction and have used these different platforms to communicate important ideas. If you were told, today, that you could only write one form for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

Fiction, of course. I didn’t even have to think about it. Having said that, what a horrible question, Deb! Why would you make me choose? I don’t always think of fiction and non-fiction being separate – and I can move from one to the other very comfortably. I recently wrote a superhero short story (for the crowdfunded anthology Kaleidoscope) which built on ideas I had been blogging about for years. I don’t think the story would have turned out as well (or as concise) as it did without all the prior work I’d done, honing my opinons on girls and superheroes down to a few key thoughts. More recently I’m deliberately tying my blogging in with the big fiction project I’m writing, which I love – it gets my head in the right space completely. Also non fiction comes easier to me so if I was only allowed to write fiction I’d feel a lot more stressed in the mornings! And I wouldn’t be able to write the essay that I promised Lynne and Michael for Uncanny.


2. Your fiction runs the gamut from historical to crime to space opera. Despite the different genres, is there a core philosophy that runs through all of your work?

I think so. There are certain types of characters and ideas that pop up across my various works – though I’m probably not as aware of my own patterns as other people are. Humour is a big one – even in my darkest and angstiest books (The Creature Court trilogy is the closest I’ve ever got to epic fantasy and it’s full of broken people) there is banter and snark. My feminism is both an active and subconscious part of my writing, and even when I was a baby barely-there feminist in my late teens, my novels were in conversation with some of the best and worst gender issues in genre fiction. I had an epiphany the other day that my stories are mostly full of wounded, emotionally damaged men and pragmatic, capable women – I don’t know what this says about me and I’d rather not think too hard about that one! Ancient Rome slides in everywhere, because once you accept a PhD topic it’s with you for life. My characters often refuse to admit they are in love, even inside their own heads, but I’m pretty shameless when it comes to sex scenes. If there’s a core philosophy that I come back to as a writer, though, it’s probably – ‘you think stories work like this, but I’ve read enough of them to know – maybe THIS instead.’ I write like a reader, I always have, and that makes me uncomfortably aware of what I’m doing. I can’t use a fairy tale or a trope or a tradition without bending it at least once, and questioning it, and tying it in knots.

3. How do you use your work to challenge yourself or your readers?

My focus is usually on challenging myself. My current project, Musketeer Space, came about not just because I had a killer idea (gender-flipped Musketeers in space, seriously, every time I tell people their eyes go wide and they get excited, I’ve never had an idea so audience-friendly in my life before) but because I could feel myself holding back too much as a writer. I’d had a novel that I believed in fail to find a publisher or an agent which hit my confidence hard, and the next one I wrote was my big unfinished goal of the year two years running. So Musketeer Space was about kicking myself into gear again. By making it a sponsored web serial, and forcing myself to post a chapter every week, I found my terror-adrenalin gland, the one that usually only fires up when I have a publishing contract and a hard deadline. I’ve also been using the project to work on some aspects that I want to get better at in my writing. Gender-flipping an 18th century novel set in the 19th century is fascinating, because it digs away at all the uncomfortable gender programming that apparently I still have in my head despite calling myself a feminist for my whole adult life. It’s amazing how often I tell myself ‘too many women in this scene, need to balance it, aaargh no, that’s not the point.’ My biggest current challenge is to get better at writing racial diversity, because I think that’s something that most white writers need to be aware of, and work on without making grand statements or demanding cookies. I’ve been doing this for some times in small, probably unadventurous ways, but when it came to Musketeer Space – my first big space opera – I knew it was important to have a cast that wasn’t mostly white. That’s the science fiction that I want to see, and read, because I think it’s far more credible apart from anything, so I’m trying hard to put my money where my mouth is.

4. What is the “uncanniest” thing that has ever happened to you?

I was raised with a strong sense of spirituality and pretty much ditched it as I became an adult. But I do get quite intense and detailed deja vu that knocks me around at times. I don’t know if it’s my memory playing tricks, but it always feels like – oh that very specific feeling about the future I had once with these 5-6 apparently random key details, that was about today, RIGHT THEN. I also used to have a very elaborate stress dream the night before school started every year which involved getting lost in architecture – pretty much every school plus every other complicated building I’d ever seen got amalgamated into this one crazy structure that I couldn’t find my way through. And I returned to the same dream on that same night EVERY YEAR, only the building itself developed and changed to factor in new experiences with different architecture. I had that dream since university ended, but I still feel stressed whenever those damned Hogwarts staircases start moving in Harry Potter films.

Tansy Rayner Roberts is an Australian fantasy author, blogger and podcaster. She won the 2013 Hugo for Best Fan Writer. Tansy has a PhD in Classics, which she drew upon for her short story collection Love and Romanpunk. Her latest fiction project is Musketeer Space, a gender-swapped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers, published weekly as a web serial. She also writes a regular column for in which she is rereading the Empire trilogy by Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts. Come and find her on Twitter!

Uncanny Mini Interview with Year One Contributor Mari Ness!



Interview by Deborah Stanish

1. As a writer who has embraced various storytelling formats, is it immediately apparent that an idea should be a poem, etc. or does that happen during the writing process?

Not at all – indeed, some story fragments have turned into poems, and some poem fragments have turned into stories. Two lines from an upcoming poem in Goblin Fruit that really didn’t work at all in that poem had to get pulled, and then insisted on turning themselves into a series of three stories for Daily Science Fiction, for instance, and I’ve had the opposite happen frequently. In some cases I’ve had to write a poem to get the story out, or write the story to get the poem out. It’s a very interconnected process.

2. Your bio states you’ve spent much of your life wandering and reading. Can you tell us one place and one book that has had significant impact on your work?

When it comes to places, I don’t think so. I stopped counting after Costa Rica, but I’ve wandered in more than 30 countries by now, not always or often on purpose or design, and lived in several different places and countries. So I don’t feel particularly inspired by or rooted in any one place, although I’ve occasionally used real geographies or settings here and there. When it comes to books – oh, that’s even worse. I could easily list a couple of thousand. If I can only pick one…hmm. Maybe Dr. Seuss’s ABC: I Can Read It All By Myself, because I could, and it was the first book that I could read all by myself. I was so proud. I insisted on reading it out loud to my bored parents – they made me stop at I – and then I went hunting for the next book because this meant I could find stories ALL BY MYSELF and didn’t have to wait to hear them or, worse, be good to hear them. (I only got Story Time when I was good, which I’m sorry to say was not a frequent occurrence.) And after that, the world of stories was MINE.

3. How do you use your work to challenge yourself or your readers?

I rarely consciously choose to challenge readers, although I did write a novelette featuring a wheelchair user as a hero since I thought more of that was needed, and I will occasionally try to challenge reader expectations. But for the most part, I’m trying to challenge myself, to force myself to become a better writer. I’m nowhere near where I want to be with that, so that’s my constant challenge: write better. Write a lot better. And after that, write better.

4. What is the “uncanniest” thing that has ever happened to you?

Oooh. Ghost story time! So. I’m twelve. I’m in a basement with my brother and our dog, because the sump pump had broken and the basement was flooding, and we were supposed to keep an eye on it while our mother was out getting the repair stuff. We heard the garage door open. We heard her car leave. We heard the garage door shut. Time passed. And we heard footsteps on the floor above us – although the garage door hadn’t opened again and we hadn’t heard the car. Or, for that matter, the opening of a door. Our dog’s ears perked up. (That doesn’t mean much. He was not exactly the world’s most intelligent dog, though he always meant well.) From where we were, we could hear the footsteps moving deliberately across the kitchen, then the dinette, then turning, moving towards the basement door — Where they stopped. Our dog watched the stairs intently. (I may have mentioned that he was not exactly the world’s most intelligent dog.) We didn’t move. The dog didn’t move. Until we did hear the garage door open and my mother’s car return and heard her walk through the kitchen and the dinette… …and she hadn’t seen anyone. Ok, so, as ghost stories go it’s not nearly up to the ones where the ghosts of the Donner Party leap out and EAT YOUR HEARTS AND LIVER WHILE YOU WATCH which was a campfire favorite, but it’s the story I’ve got.

Mini Interview with Maria Dahvana Headley!

Maria Dahvana Headley 
Maria Dahvana Headley

Mini-Interview by Deborah Stanish

1. Last year in Apex Magazine you talked about a “hoarded file of secrets”, we’re not going to ask you to share what’s in the file but can you tell us some of the things that have come out of that file and where you found them?

Sure! The story The Psammophile, which I published last year in Unlikely Story: The Journal of Unlikely Entomology – is full of things from that secret file. It’s a riff on Thomas Browne’s Musaem Clausum, itself a thing from the secret file, though that’s a little more well known. The apocryphal notion of sweetening tea with a scorpion came from an old natural history book that got things quite wrong. A variety of other things in that story were presents for the secret file from my main collaborator, and I wrote the story itself as a present for him. The story The Krakatoan which I published in the anthology The Lowest Heaven and at Nightmare Magazine, has a little section about the eruption of Krakatoa, and the way that rafts made of pumice and containing skeletons drifted up on beaches for years after. That’s a fact I read in some old book about volcanoes, and that came from the secret file. It inspired the story, in many ways. The Tallest Doll in New York City, a Damon Runyon Valentine’s Day riff I published at a few months ago was inspired by something from the secret file, The Cloud Club, a private men’s club which used to be on the 66-68th floors of the Chrysler Building. That came from an article I read years ago about the demise of the club – someone went to visit it and took a lot of photos of the broken-down bizarre glory up there. It was only a few steps from that to me making up a love story between the Chrysler and the Empire State Building seen from the windows of the Cloud Club.

2. There has been a considerable amount of discussion in the media about adults reading YA novels – both positive and negative. As the writer of a soon-to-be released young adult novel what attracted you to write YA and why do you think so many adults are reading this genre?

Because it is awesome? I had a pretty wonderful time writing MAGONIA, which will be out in June, 2015 – and it’s YA mainly because it has a protagonist who is 16. So far, almost all of its readers have been adults, actually. I love the old YA classics, and this story was me playing with some of those notions – that idea of transiting to a completely different world, one that parallels our own – in Peter Pan, Wendy and her brothers fly out the window to Neverland, and in Alice in Wonderland, Alice drops through the rabbithole. So, this is a riff on that tradition of worlds so close to one another that they touch. In Magonia there is a sky kingdom full of ships, all above our heads, there all the time, and we just don’t see them from Earth. I think we all grew up with a hope that that kind of thing might be possible, and so it makes perfect sense to me that adults as well as teenagers would enjoy reading stories in that vein.

3. How do you use your work to challenge yourself or your readers?

One of the most frequent google searches arriving at my blog is “Maria Dahvana Headley story what I don’t understand help” – so it seems I’m challenging readers more than I think I do! Sometimes my stories – The Krakatoan comes to mind – have subtleties in terms of what actually occurs, plot wise. Other times – The Traditional – our heroes dive down the throats of giant world-destroying worms. Both things are fun to write – but I think my readers are sometimes asked to learn a new stylistic vocabulary with each one. I challenge myself by writing in a lot of different genre traditions, sometimes all at once. In Such & Such Said to So & So, which was published in Glitter & Mayhem and edited by Lynne, Michael & John Klima, for example, I got to play in the noir tradition, with a cop, a dame, a few femme fatales in cocktail form, and a cat at the door of a nightclub, who actually happened to be a real cat. It was a total genre mashup – wild fantasy combined with mid-century style cop noir. I had unspeakable amounts of fun writing it.

4. What is the “uncanniest” thing that has ever happened to you?

Someday I’ll do an anthology of real ghost stories told by speculative fiction writers. Uncanny things happen to me often actually, but there are a couple of ghost moments in my past. A long time ago, when I was very small, my entire family had just moved into our house far out in rural Idaho. We didn’t have bedrooms yet. We were all sleeping in one of the gymnasiums – the house was a former schoolhouse, long since abandoned, and it had two asbestos tile & cinderblock gymnasiums, as well as drinking fountains and shower stalls. Not in a glam way. In a condemned 1930’s-1950’s ghost building way. In the middle of the night, my parents sat bolt upright, because they heard and felt a threshing machine moving over and around us, all over the land. They were certain that something was landing on us, but when they looked out, nothing. So, a ghost thresher, or an alien ship? No one was ever sure.