Secrets All the Way Down

13 Jun

My book Death by Silver is available now as part of the (awesome) LGBT+ Storybundle, and Melissa already did a thoughtful post about why so many of us ended up writing books about the Victorian era. My own thoughts (other than that the clothes are spiffy, and the society interestingly grotesque):

The Victorian era is great for murder mystery writers, because everybody has a secret. Usually more than one secret. There’s so much social pressure to conform to a set of rules that become increasingly impossible as the period wears on, both because the rules become more frenetically rigid, and because under the surface, actual reality has increasingly diverged from the Victorian ideal. Almost everyone did things that they weren’t supposed to, or didn’t live up to their society’s image of who they were supposed to be. And that makes it easy to have a book full of suspects who all have plausible reasons to kill.

There are other secrets in Death by Silver, too – there’s Ned and Julian’s relationship, which is criminal under the laws of the era and would destroy Ned’s professional life if it became public knowledge. There are the secrets of their shared school years, in which the bullying they suffered left its mark on them, however much they might not want to admit that as adults. And there are the secrets of their own emotions, which they struggle to share despite having few available models for how to negotiate a functional relationship.

Which is not to say they don’t have any models. One of the things I enjoyed about working on Death by Silver and its sequel, A Death at the Dionysus Club was the opportunity to talk about queer community – Julian has friends who help him navigate the world as a gay man. Ned finds it harder to fit into Julian’s social scene as a man with more conventionally masculine interests, but does eventually find his niche. And Ned has his straight friends at the Mercury Club as well – friends whose friendship is contingent on Ned lying to them, at least by omission, about his sexuality.

In a world so full of secrets, there’s something very refreshing about the ability of detective work – or magic – to penetrate beneath the surface and reveal what’s really true. I think one big thing that Death by Silver is about is revealing, and facing, the truth, and I hope it’s satisfying when that happens, in all kinds of ways. It may not end quite as neatly as Victorian popular novels – I’m reminded of one particularly fabulous period piece that neatly removes an inadvertently bigamous spouse by having the poor lady die in a sudden railway accident three pages before the end of the book – but it ends with the mystery solved and at least a large measure of justice served.

And then there’s the sequel, A Death at the Dionysus Club, in which it becomes clear early in the book that solving the mystery may mean endangering everyone who depends on the queer community to keep their personal secrets safe, which is a different kind of problem. The Victorian era, ladies, gentlemen, and other gentlepersons: it’s secrets all the way down. And a great source of plot because of it.

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Storybundle!

7 Jun

Hi folks,

I’m excited to announce that Death by Silver by me and Melissa Scott is now available as part of an awesome LGBT+ Storybundle!

Curated by Melissa, this ebook Storybundle features historical fantasy, contemporary werewolves, superhero adventures, Victorian adventure, a YA ghost story, secondary world fantasies, a noir-inflected war between Heaven and Hell, books by six Spectrum and Lambda Literary Award finalists and winners, and assorted stories celebrating queerness that will hold you entranced until the very last word.

The initial titles in the LGBT+ Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:
  • The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles
  • Wonder City Stories by Jude McLaughlin
  • The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones
  • Riley Parra Season One by Geonn Cannon
  • Out of This World by Catherine Lundoff

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus seven more!

  • The Marshal’s Lover by Jo Graham
  • Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
  • Point of Hopes by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett
  • Death by Silver by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold
  • The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories by A.C. Wise
  • Trafalgar and Boone in the Drowned Necropolis by Geonn Cannon
  • Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff
This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books! You’ll also have the option to donate part of your payment to the Rainbow Railroad, an organization helping gay men in Chechnya (and helping LGBT people escape persecution around the world).

In short: a fabulous book bundle for an unbeatable price. Get it now!

Game Review: Zubmariner DLC for Sunless Sea

13 Oct

I’ve only spent a couple of hours playing Zubmariner so far, but I’m really enjoying the expansion. The number of new ports and amount of new content seems generous for $10.99, and the content is satisfyingly eerie. The underwater ports mainly seem to play on themes of transformation — no one living below the water is entirely, normally human — but in a variety of interesting ways.

Exploring under the water is fascinating, sometimes oddly peaceful, and often quickly lethal (I would recommend extreme caution if you’re in the starting ship or any ship that can’t take a beating.) I’m also finding that it helps make long sea voyages less tedious — I know, I know, they’re supposed to be atmospheric, but I admit to sometimes reading a book while my ship treks across open water and absolutely nothing happens. While submerged, that’s not an option — you’ll quickly run into rocks, ships disguised as wrecks, seaweed that tears your ship apart, or giant carnivorous sea creatures. The sheer difficulty of avoiding obstacles forces me to stop abusing Full Speed and watch where I’m going, and I find that a more satisfying experience.

And it’s just really, deeply cool. Getting to explore the inside of the [redacted] without being digested! Transforming parts of yourself into [redacted]! Luring ships to [redacted] for the uncertain promise of an uncertain reward! Trying to remember to watch your oxygen gauge so that you don’t die a ridiculously preventable death! Attending underwater church services! And the disconcerting experience of returning to the surface of a vast, lightless underground sea filled with horrific creatures and drawing a breath of relief, because now you’re safe. Safer. Safer than you were down there.

Highly recommended.

Jo Graham on Patreon

22 Aug

So, I live with Jo Graham, which means I get to have her tell me stories.

I know what happens to Lydias after Stealing Fire, and how he winds up on a peculiar and personally awkward mission for Ptolemy. I know what Mitch and Alma and Jerry and Lewis do during World War II, and how Stasi survives life on the home front. I’ve seen drafts of Elza’s adventures in Russia and her intrigues in Paris. I have listened to the stories of entire unwritten novels, including the one about Thaïs and Berenice that I am absolutely dying to see make it onto the page, while making dinner in our kitchen.

Jo isn’t in your kitchen. (I’m sorry.) But you want to hear these stories, too, and pledging to her Patreon will help her spend more time writing them down, and less time on freelance work that isn’t telling stories. Art is long, life is short, but bills are eternal, and must be paid. More bills being paid without freelance work = more time to write things that aren’t sources of immediate income. Plus, you’ll get access to patron-only writing, and some nice additional rewards for pledging $5/month or more.

(Selfishly speaking, it will also mean the two of us can work on more joint projects, like the story of the Mysterium — Constantine Cavafy and Aphra Behn as immortal demon hunters, anyone? Go. Pledge.)

https://www.patreon.com/jograham

Inhuman Condition

17 Aug

I stumbled across the web series Inhuman Condition entirely accidentally, and am really enjoying it. Tori Higginson stars as Dr. Michelle Kessler, a therapist who treats supernatural patients, and the show is being aired on YouTube as a series of five-to-eight-minute episodes.

It’s an interesting format, and the series handles it well — there’s essentially one scene per episode, mostly therapy sessions, but also glimpses of Michelle’s life and the lives of her patients. I’ve been a fan of Tori Higginson since her Stargate Atlantis days, and she does a good job here with a character who’s well-meaning but not always perfect at handling her feelings about her patients and her position of power as a therapist.

It’s also nice to see a series with multiple queer characters (both Michelle and her werewolf patient Linc are bisexual, and we’ve briefly seen Michelle’s ex-wife Rachel). I appreciated the writers letting Michelle explicitly identify herself as bisexual to fend off any “she experimented with being a lesbian, but she’s really straight” assumptions that viewers might make about a character who has an ex-wife but is now dating a man.

I’m finding the characters likeable, even when we only see tiny snippets of their lives — I’m particularly charmed by Linc’s blend of bravado and vulnerability, but I also like Tamar, who’s struggling to live outside an institution for the first time despite powers that could unleash unspeakable destruction, and Clara, who’s suffering from a disease that will eventually turn her into a mindless killer, and wants to end her life on her own terms.

But I’m mainly intrigued by the format, and how the series plays with its length limitations (and a limited budget — most scenes are shot in a single room with minimal effects) in interesting ways. New episodes are going up Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on YouTube’s KindaTV channel, with 33 eps planned for the first season, and I think it’s well worth checking out.

Moving House

2 Aug

I’ve been blogging over at amygriswold.livejournal.com, but I’m planning to shift my pro blog over to WordPress. For now, kindly imagine metaphorical cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling as I make the move.