Last year I pushed myself beyond all comfort zones and wrote my first Novella. Cold As Hell is about Adie, a young woman who lives in OpenFields. But OpenFields is not your ordinary town. Magic exists here, and while Adie is the odd one out, things are all about to change.
In a previous post I mention the awesome WLW author Jae and the Sapphic Reading Challenge 2021 she is running. It’s the most amazing challenge, and the work Jae has done for this is incredible. It shows her generosity not only to her own readers, but for other authors as well.
I recently received an email from Jae advising that my first novella ‘Cold as Hell’ was added to her upcoming recommended reads for the butch/butch category of the Sapphic Reading Challenge. It suits a few other categories as well, but so touched and humbled that she has added it, seeing as it’s not yet released until April.
It’s going to be a crazy wild ride for both reading and writing this year, but I’m looking forward to each book I get to experience, both sapphic and non-sapphic, as well as my own books stepping out into the big wide world.
I have the great pleasure of knowing Aiki Flinthart, who has been kind enough to agree to an interview about her upcoming anthology Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins.
Aiki is an incredibly talented writer and editor. She has published 14 sci-fi/fantasy novels, 2 non-fiction books, a collection of fantasy and sci-fi short stories, and a collection (with Pamela Jeffs) of sci-fi short stories not to mention the plethora of short stories she has published in Anthologies through a multitude of Publishers. She has also edited several anthologies with her writing group The Springfield Writer’s Group.
So on to the questions:
How did you first come up with the idea to do Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins? Funnily enough, I was sitting around with a couple of writer friends chatting about our upcoming projects. I really wanted to do the sequel to Blackbirds Sing: which is meant to be Blackbirds Return. But the painkillers and anti-cancer drugs make it really difficult to concentrate and a mosaic novel like that is hugely complex to plot and write. So I jokingly said I should do a ‘last hurrah’ anthology and reach out to the biggest possible of my favourite authors who would answer my emails. The others encouraged me and I went ‘what the heck’ and sent emails out that night – starting with the hugest names on my favourite authors list that I could find contact information for. One of the marks of a great writer is their willingness to help lift up other writers. They remember what it was like. So many, if they possibly can, will help someone who asks politely. A lot of writers didn’t answer, a few regretfully and politely declined due to time and work constraints – which is understandable. But so many agreed that I actually got a bit worried I’d end up with a brick-sized book in the end.
Can you tell us a little about some of the stories readers can expect to find in Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins? I deliberately left the theme fairly open to interpretation (Relics, Wrecks and Ruins – things left behind, or rediscovered etc). And requested stories from sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers. It was fascinating to see the differences and the similarities in the stories that came back. I didn’t want the book to be too dark, so I’d asked for mostly hopeful endings. There are a smattering of darker ones, but generally the tone is hopeful rather than depressing. So many resilient heroes/heroines. Many stories about people and relationships, too – which was wonderful and perfect.
You’ve edited a few anthologies now, can you talk about the differences and/or similarities in this experience? My first few anthologies were mostly working with newer and emerging authors. So they involved a lot more story development – where you’re working closely with the author on bigger structural issues and plot and character development. Every one of those authors was extremely professional in accepting editorial input, too. And I must say that the end results of most of those stories are works that each author can be extremely proud of. Those stories are strong and well-written. Relics was great because most of the stories didn’t require much beyond pointing out a few continuity errors or typos. Which is not surprising, given the excellence of the authors involved. They, too were (unsurprisingly) wonderfully professional to work with. And the resulting stories are fabulous, interesting, fresh, and highly varied in tone and content.
The profits for this anthology are going toward The Flinthart, can you tell us a little about this? The Flinthart is a writer residency and mentoring program set up by the Qld Writers Centre. Each year, applicants will be assessed and a writer will be chosen for the Flinthart program. They will be funded to help them focus on writing for a short amount of time. They’ll go into the Qld Writers Centre regularly, sit down, and just write. No distractions, no work, no phone ringing, no kids complaining. Just time to write and a mentor to help them through. I’m thrilled that the How to get a Blackbelt in Writing online workshop will also help to fund this program. Hopefully, between these, we can keep enough funding coming in to keep the residency going for years.
You are both a writer and an editor. Where’s the best place people can find your work? All my novels, and short story collections and anthologies are available at the usual places online. You can start at www.aikiflinthart.com – browse through the Books menus, read the blurbs, see what you fancy. Click the Buy ebook link (and maybe refresh it because it can be a bit dodgy). Then choose the retailer you prefer to buy from and grab a copy. If you’d prefer a paperback, just either send an email through the website, or order one through your online bookstore or local bookstore. And don’t forget to leave reviews on Goodreads etc if you enjoy the stories. Good reviews help other readers find good stories – and help authors not die of starvation.
Very exciting news, there is also a LIVE Pictionary event with the amazing Annie Bucknall as she has special guests Aiki Flinthart, Garth Nix, Juliet Marillier, and Alison Goodman, just a few of the exceptional authors from Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins joining her on the 28th January 2021. To sign up for reminders of the event, just click here
A huge thank you to Aiki Flinthart for taking the time to do this. To pre-order your very own copy of Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins you can go here https://books2read.com/Relics and help support The Flinthart.
A lot later with this post then I meant, but these things happen, regularly. I’m working on my November Reviews post now but just a little update about life and writing. Since finishing NaNoWriMo, the publisher of my Novella Series Fang Ripper Chronicles has picked a date for Book 1, The Void and advertised it.
In between working on this series, I’ve been preparing for my first Novella being released on April 23rd, Cold as Hell, which I should hopefully be able to reveal the cover and pre-order link in the next few weeks. As well as working on some other stories, including a dystopian tale to push me right outside of my comfort zone. It’s been very interesting and educational … about both my writing method and the frustrations I am getting with my own writing method.
In life news, we are looking forward to a small family Christmas with just our little trio (well there is five of us when you include the fur babies). We even got the lights and tree up.
Hope you are all staying safe, and looking forward to some season joy or downtime.
When I had my son, I got scared. I ended up with post natal depression and social anxiety. Two years after my sons birth I began doing things that terrified me.
The first step was joining a local writers group. The Springfield Writers Group is made up of the most incredibly supportive and wonderfully talented human beings. I feel very privileged, two years on, to be able to call many of them friends. With their friendship and support I have continued to push myself into being scared.
I submitted writing out in to the world. My mum blog quickly became filled with writing posts. That blog has now been taken down but I can see myself revisiting the same topics, or reposting many of them here in the future.
Even after a year, and half a dozen anthologies with my by line … I was still treading along the line toward staying safe.
There are definitely times in our life where being safe is necessary and vital. Grabbing your dreams and turning them into life goals is definitely not that time.
But 2020 lulled me into a false sense of it’s ok to not push yourself. And for a while it was true. I got pneumonia and was tested several times for COVID-19. It took me six months to recover and then another month to realise that my comfort zone had shrunk once more and the mere idea of heading out in the car would send a cold shiver over my skin.
It wasn’t just one thing that finally pushed me to start scaring myself again. It was many little steps, many little wins, a few loses, and the constant and wonderful support of my partner, son, and incredible family, both blood and not.
The fear has pushed me to places I never thought I would be, to do things I never thought myself capable, able, or smart enough to do. When I get scared about something to do with promoting myself or getting my writing out in to the world I know I’m on the right track. The scariest thing I’ve done is to take myself seriously, as a writer.
So with the fear of discovering that maybe I’m not that smart or talented, I began researching writing: reading about it, learning what I could from books, people, and podcasts. And what has surprised me is the confidence I am gaining (regaining?) in myself, not just as a writer but as a human.
I’m working on a series of novellas for an overseas publisher, and am in the final editing stages with another publisher who is putting my first novella, Cold As Hell, out in to the world. I have also created the Les Fiction Book Club and been bravely contacting authors. I’ve put what money I can into pushing my writing career into gear, including self publishing a poetry collaboration, Forgiving Reflections.
I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and what I still aim to achieve. I’ve rarely said proud about myself, and never before without a warm cheeked shudder.
So fear is not always bad. Instead of shaking my head at steps that others suggest, I’m moving forward, at my own pace, and in a direction that while it might scare me, also feels right for me. Because you don’t have to move fast, or in someone else’s footsteps, you just have to move forward.