‘Zeraquesh in Absentia’ on PodCastle.

‘And the Burned Moths Remain’ on

‘Comet’s Call’ in Start a Revolution, edited by Michael Matheson (Exile Editions).

‘Chrysalises’ in Dangerous Games, edited by Jonathan Oliver (Solaris Books).

‘The Governess and We’ in Steampunk World, edited by Sarah Hans.


Scale-Bright, a novella from Immersion Press.

‘Synecdoche Oracles’ in Upgraded, edited by Neil Clarke. Laithirat is best known for its oracles: algorithms which generate perfect prophecies at the moment of their death. A hunted soldier comes to bargain for these seers. 4,600 words.

‘Ningyo’ in Phantasm Japan, edited by Nick Mamatas (Haikasoru). In a post-apocalyptic world, a woman hunts a mermaid for her flesh.

‘Five Hundred and Ninety-Nine’ in The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures, edited by Sean Wallace (Running Press). 9,600 words.

‘When We Harvested the Nacre-Rice’ in Solaris Rising 3, edited by Ian Whates (Solaris Books). On a planet engaged in secret war, everyone is a combatant. 5,000 words.

‘Paya-Nak’ on PodCastle (audio), read by Nina Shaharrudin. Love after death and snake women. Originally in Scigentasy.

‘Sixty Years in the Women’s Province’ in GigaNotoSaurus. Sixty years in the life of a girl born into the women’s country and the demon who drifts in and out of her life. Family, old age, mortality, and the compromises we make toward the end. 9,200 words.

‘Elision’ in La Femme, edited by Ian Whates (NewCon Press). A private detective is engaged to investigate mysterious footage where a woman dies again and again. 3,800 words.

‘Golden Daughter, Stone Wife’ in Beneath Ceaseless Skies (April 2014). An immigrant sorcerer, her lost golem, and a compromise of winter. Podcast read by Folly Blaine. 7,500 words. Subscriptions.

‘Autodidact’ in Clarkesworld Magazine (April 2014). A sentient starship, a psychologist, a soldier, and the battlefield they make of one another: on brutal psychology, survival, and parenthood. Podcast read by Kate Baker. 5,800 words. Subscriptions | Patreon.

‘Zeraquesh in Absentia’ in The Dark (Feb 2014). Weightless Books. A police officer and a private eye seek a missing person in the haunted city. 2,800 words.

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Daily skincare and makeup routine

I was starting to describe my routine to a friend who doesn’t wear makeup, and it, errrrm, came across as scarier than I expected. It sounds like *entire metric tons* of stuff to pile on your face, but really it is quicker to do than it sounds. Honest! (And may I say, it’s important to use sunscreen and moisturize?) I thought I’d lay it out a bit, mostly for myself. From cleansing to skincare to lipstick.

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Guest posts, and further reviews of Scale-Bright

There have been a fair number of new reviews for Scale-Bright. I was especially delighted that Charlie Stross enjoyed it and that he took the time to say so. *_* One is so blessed to be surrounded by gems of kindness.

But first, guest posts! I have been popping up all over the place (an exaggeration – I actually wrote no more than 6-7 guest posts?), writing on these topics. Folks have been very kind to give me a spot on their websites!

But ask me to imagine a society without conflict, humanity without war, and I’d be hard-pressed to come up with anything outside of cartoons, and I wouldn’t be able to write something like that without it achieving a cartoonish caricature quality. That’s not to say it is impossible; I’m sure that with extensive consideration this can be done – Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire includes a pacifistic culture (though I understand they end up facing war anyway) – but I would have a beast of a time creating something like that myself, though I hugely look forward to how a pacifistic people adjusts and adapts to the prospect of impending, large-scaled armed conflict where their enemies have no qualms about crushing them, pacifism or not. (I also found the thoughts that went into this culture, the Dhai, fascinating; they have a history of enslavement, and once free of that, they went on to build social mores where ‘every individual had absolute control of their own humanity’ and the worst punishment available is exile, being severed from community).

And, oh, the reviews! My words fail to suffice. It is impossible to express the joy I’ve felt that folks have read a thing I made (at this length!) and that it worked for them, or that it touched them. And then, that they took the time to say so! For me it is normal to take delight in other writers’ work and express so, but to have the other way around happen has stunned me, in the best of ways.

Striking a delicate balance between gorgeous worldbuilding and graceful and deep characterization, it’s hard to decide which to spend my words on, the characters or the world.  And oh wow did I love these characters.

There’s Julienne, with her quiet reserve, fighting anxiety and depression, desperate to finally be done with all this coming-of-age crap. There’s the hunter Houyi, statuesque and unapproachable, comfortable in her men’s clothing and confused as to why or how anyone could possibly confuse her for a man. There’s Chang’e, who is mostly off stage in this story, but pivotal to Julienne’s relationship with the supernatural. And then then there is Olivia,  a viper demon, who will do anything to reach the end of her story even though she knows her love will not be returned. – Little Red Reviewer

What’s remarkable about these characters in concert, though, is that despite having very different personalities, whether demigod or human or demon, they all possess the same steel-spined tenacity. And thus despite their goals often conflicting with one another, it’s impossible not to root for all of them. Some are even mortal enemies, the background of which is revealed in predecessors within The Archer Who Shot Down Suns. So while it’s not necessary to read all the shorts in order to enjoy this one, doing so provides greater depth. The stories aren’t exactly self-contained or continuous either, but rather coil around each other, like snakes.

Scale-Bright is recommended for anyone who enjoys fantasy with complex female characters, and is on a very tiny list of books that made me both snort with laughter and cry a little. – Manic Pixie Dream Worlds

I enjoyed Scale-Bright because it brings something different to the table: different sexualities, different ways of constructing gender and a different perspective from which to view the world.

However, when all is said and done, I am excited to see a new author being given a chance to bring different, diverse stories to readers. Everyone has been talking about how we need diverse books and Benjanun Sriduangkaew delivers. Recommended. – Bibliophilic Monologues

I first discovered Benjanun Sriduangkaew earlier this year when reading one of her short stories on Clarkesworld. Her prose is mesmerizing and quickly drew me into her short tale of gender politics, genocide, and AIs forged from the corpses of stars. I immediately placed her on my watch list of authors and, as seldom happens, within months I learned she had a new novella forthcoming, her first piece of longer fiction.

Scale-Bright is a fully encompassing world full of danger and awe, family and love, ancient feuds and divine machinations. Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s gift for exquisite prose and deft characterization remains as strong as ever. Highly recommended. – Antonio Urias

Few writers in their career ever manage to so perfectly evoke the feeling of myth in their fiction, the poetry of it; let alone the gentleness of love, the burning of lust, the ache of regret, and more. Sridungkaew evokes those without telling us she is doing so, her style meaning they are shot through the narrative, giving not just the characters those emotions but the story itself; her writing is evocative and beautiful, but more, it is like a caress of the ear, a coming home to prose that intimately knows what it is doing, not in a workmanlike sense, but with artistry. The way Turner put paint to paper, Sridungkaew uses words, creating impressions rather than exact replicas, but somehow impressions that are more real than any “realistic” representation could ever be.

Scale-Bright, if it wasn’t obvious, not only impressed me, it blew me away. This is a truly incredible, beautiful work, and I urge you all to read Benjanun Sridungkaew’s novella, and to do so right now. You won’t regret it. – Intellectus Speculativus

All this has put me in intense ‘eeeeeek’ flail mode (accompanied by ‘I am not worthy!’) and I worry that putting them all together like this will make me look vain? But I hope not! I do so wish to express my appreciation and gratitude for all this outpouring of joy, it makes my *year*, totally.


The brave new world… of ebook publishing!

(Yes only brave and new to me, I know).

The publication of my novella Scale-Bright is slightly interesting in that Immersion Press is in charge of the limited hardback edition (which I, as always, recommend! physical books are nice and we should support small independent presses!), but the digital edition is mine alone to work with (or badly mess up!). Since it is frequently a thing to discuss your ebook publishing process, I thought I’d give it a try. I do think having a hardback available is a huge advantage, as plenty of folks – like me – enjoy having a physical object, and reading lengthy things on the screen can cause some eye strain.

Formatting, cover art, and things

Scale-Bright (1)Possibly the most difficult part is the cover art, generally, but Immersion Press kindly put me in touch with the artist for the cover for the hardback – so both editions have the same cover! The artist, Richard Wagner, was incredibly helpful and prompt when I contacted him asking to license the cover design. Hooray! We have a cover, and what a lovely, elegant one it is too. (´▽`ʃƪ)

The next step is formatting the manuscript into an ebook – there are lots of guides for it around the Web, so I won’t go into that, suffice to say that I didn’t find it very hard despite being completely inept with technology! I was aiming first for a serviceable ebook but realized that if I was going to ask people to *pay money* for it, serviceable wasn’t going to be enough. Sigil is good, easy to use, and fairly foolproof. I may have spent days on formatting where most would have spent, um, hours. Or minutes. ‘Fairly’ foolproof, as I said.

Picking genre categories for the book is interesting. It’s currently filed under urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and new adult on Amazon: all categories that I think fit it fairly well. It was filed under ‘gay and lesbian’ at one point, but I’m not sure that best describes what it is – SFF categories work much better for my fiction than others. ‘Folklore, legends and myths’ was also a category I considered, but that seems to be mostly non-fiction. Altogether I have no idea how categories affect anything, but filing them under what fits best can hardly hurt!

Retailers and uploading process

I think it needs to be said that, for all its flaws, from my end Amazon is the easiest to work with. It’s prompt, and once you can whip your book into a nice shape uploading is quick. It also offers two features that can’t be found elsewhere – preorder and Kindle Matchbook, where Matchbook lets you set up discounts for your digital edition when a reader has purchased the physical edition. In my case, I made that free! It just seems a nice thing to do if someone has already shelled out for the lovely hardback, and for readers who both like physical objects *and* ebooks there’s no need to choose between the two or pay twice. Extra: the ebook contains related short stories (available online freely, but put together here for convenience), so I hope this is attractive for hardback purchasers in that they pay for one thing and then get all the extra things. Matchbook has the advantage of being a thing that ‘just works’, though some readers *have* contacted me to get their free ebook copies, so that’s nice!

Smashwords is nice in that it also distributes to Apple iBooks, B&N Nook, Kobo, and a bunch of other options I’m not sure anyone actually uses. Importantly, iBooks, Nook and Kobo also let you put up a preorder… if they actually distribute your book at some point. And only after you’ve qualified for Smashwords ‘premium catalog’.

This was unnecessarily infuriating. I’ll break it down step by step.

  1. Smashwords has arcane formatting requirements. There’s the whole autovetter process that is unfathomable. They recommend that you upload as a Word file that they then convert to other formats. The result from this looks – and is – *appalling*. My well-formatted ebook uploaded to Amazon didn’t pass autovetter many, many times; it took a lot of fiddling with this and that, and that other thing… and those other things….
  2. Hooray! It passes autovetter! It will now be reviewed by humans. This takes several days. I get an error about different font sizes. Hm. I corrected that, or thought I did, and submitted again. Got the same error back. Augh!
  3. It takes several more days before Scale-Bright is approved for premium catalog. Now it will ship to places that do preorders! Yay! Victory?

At this point in time I have no idea whether uploading a new version of the novella might cause the book to go through the entire autovetter and premium catalog review process again and then I break into hives. Not beehives, people-hives. Erm. Skin hives. Those. I am more than the bees of my parts.

I started checking iBooks, Nook and Kobo to see if my novella is available. It turned up on iBooks very promptly! Nook and Kobo mysteriously refused to stock it, even though The Archer Who Shot Down Suns is up both places. I waited a week, Scale-Bright is still not up. I fiddled with Smashwords channel manager, and a day later it’s up on Nook. Kobo took several tries of fiddling and poking; it only went up just a day or two ago. Ah well. Part of this was my fault – I didn’t realize preorder was a thing you could do through Smashwords, so I was late in getting it set up.

Amazon took an aggravating amount of time to link the hardback and Kindle editions, but this was resolved before release date, so that was helpful! (•̀ᴗ•́)و ̑̑

The first few days, Amazon stuffed ‘customers who viewed this also viewed…’ with self-published things that have, erm, unfortunate covers. A while after though, it began filling this up with very great things, in whose company I am entirely unworthy! It’s also ‘who bought this also bought’ instead of ‘viewed’. Hooray! Science! Algorithms! Not shown here: Ancillary Sword, We Have Always Fought and The Mirror Empire. 


And lots more! Books books books! I’m skimming from the first page of ‘also bought’ off Amazon and Amazon UK (I spotted The Rabbit Back Literature Society in there somewhere, to my eeee and exclamation marks). I realize this doesn’t *necessarily* mean much, but it makes me feel like a real writer. A real writer! Some of these look super compatible with my interests, so I’m using this partly as a recommendation engine. Books books books. One must make room for a multitude of books in one’s life.

I’m not going to discuss the numbers, since that feels really weird! However it’s been slightly terrifying in that the numbers exceed my expectations by a lot: it’s a small project, I’m unknown. However number two: my expectations were ‘sell 20 copies’. Community support, as I’ve said before, has been mind-bendingly glee-inducingly joyously staggering. If anyone is interested, Amazon (obviously) pulls in the bulk of sales, followed by Smashwords, Nook, and iBooks.

Would I do this again?

If I have something to do it with, sure! I’ve learned a lot and it’d be fun to apply them again, more effectively next time; there’s a specific type of glee in getting to freely tweak all the things related to your book-shape. Do you know how many times I changed the book categories? No? You don’t want to! Being able to watch your sale graph in nearly real time is entertaining (I do mean it – I’m doing this stress-free, so it’s entertaining rather than horrifying). I have a space opera novella on the backburner centered around allegiance, brutal subjugation, combat trauma, and this intense dysfunctional relationship between a soldier and the demagogue-provocateur who comes to liberate her people by main force – but that is another story, and I won’t necessarily look to digital self-publishing as my first option.

But having it as *an* option and having learned how to go about and manage it is a fantastic thing to arm oneself with! As it turns out? Chuck Wendig was totally right.

Scale-Bright is a Chinese urban-mythic fantasy of interstitial cities, mortality, and demon ladies. Now available as a limited hardback from Immersion Press and as an ebook. Buy from Amazon, B&N, Amazon UKBook Depository or Smashwords.

Accessing the Future, a conversation between Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad part 1

Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad are co-editing a forthcoming anthology, Accessing the Future, that will explore disability—and the intersectionality of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, and class—in both the imagined physical and virtual spaces of the future. They want people of all abilities to see themselves, as they are now and as they want to be, in our collective human future(s). The campaign passed the minimum target this week, and is now closing on the pro-paying goal! Please pre-order the anthology and help the editors pay a professional rate to all authors:


For fun and extra work, she says, Kathryn asked co-editor Djibril al-Ayad a few questions about his thoughts on Accessing the Future. “What unfolded was, in my opinion, an insightful look into the rewards of editing on the margins of genre when you have a love of science fiction and an open mind. The interview ended up being longer than we intended (this is a good thing!), so we decided to break it up into three parts. Today we share with you Part I.”

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The Mirror Empire

Zezili frowned. She heard something drip onto the page, and saw a spot of blood. She looked up. Someone had tossed a bloody severed arm onto the top of the tent. Blood had soaked through the thin hide.
She grimaced and moved to the other side of the table.

Saolyndara’s done, she wrote. Eight hundred and forty-seven dajians dispatched at the main camp, at your order. We begin our march to our next camp tomorrow. I will update you at its end. I do hope you will give me a more challenging campaign. My women make better fighters than butchers.

She sealed the letter.

Outside, she heard someone keening.

The cry was cut short.

She scratched out “forty-seven” and wrote “forty-eight.”

Just a few chapters into The Mirror Empire, I could tell right away Zezili would be one of my favorite characters. She reminds me a little of Nyx, but if possible she feels more complicated (and in just one book, as opposed to three of Nyx!). In a way her actual objectives and wants and approach to life are simple enough – she’s oriented toward goal and survival, toward carrying out her orders, and harbors a difficult relationship with her society. While she is in a position of power, the fact of her heritage also hampers her, and that forms a backbone of how she navigates that same society – and how she treats her slave-spouse, Anavha. It’s incredibly compelling, and like this passage there’s effortless, admirable brutality to the writing. Even if the events being described, say a massacre, might make one flinch (though that may be *me* being squeamish).

(The hints at the relationship between Monshara and the dead version of Zezili are so intriguing, too).

Two green-robed orderlies were helping Luna dress. They pulled Luna’s soiled robe off, revealing his small breasts. Roh was used to Dhai, where everyone chose what gender they went by. He wondered, for the first time, who had decided Luna was not “he” or “she” but “ze.” Was it the first person who owned Luna, or Maralah, or someone else? But that, it turned out, was a terrible train of thought, because then he had to acknowledge that every single person he’d meant in Saiduan had had a gender decided for them. They had no choice in it at all.

Much has been said of the genders and the pronouns, and I truly, truly appreciate this even though I don’t think I have anything articulate to add to it. It’s a comfort to see this – that might seem odd considering (and considering the rest of the book!) but there’s much in The Mirror Empire that speaks to our reality, in what it chooses to do, where it chooses to focus. Even something as small as ‘Elder women commanded more respect’ contributes to this, and that’s before one gets to how Anavha is treated and how he’s been raised. And that there are multiple ways of life shown in the book, multiple ways of being and forming family (and other relationships), suggests a breadth of imagination and consideration that are altogether stunning.

It’s such a *huge* book, in scope and ambition and accomplishment, in a way that has nothing to do with its actual page count. And also my introduction to epic fantasy, which I usually don’t read – so while it took some acclimating at first to get used to the multiple points of view and many, many different cultures, the end result was thoroughly rewarding.

Recent reading from Shimmer,, and more

Anna steps into the sleep chamber sidelong, eyes peeled, skin prickling, hands half-curled, ready to bolt. It’s a rush, an undeniable addiction. She loves to be about-to-fight.

The alien, frozen in glass.

No legs. Most of its body a long lash of tail, muscular, serpentine, a naga shape jacketed in scales firm and dark as stone arrowheads. Humanoid torso, slim, kinda ripped, arms shading down from sable to silver-white like long elegant gloves. Four fingers. Two opposed thumbs.

(It’s so—)

Where it should have a neck, a head, it flowers into snakes. Eight coiled snakes, bundled up, knotted tight. Sleeping. Anna imagines them at full extension, a committee of swan-necked vipers, a serpent coronet.

‘Anna Saves them All’ by Seth Dickinson (Shimmer, 2014). First contact, monstrosity, and brutally hard choices. It’s difficult to name my favorite story by Seth in any given year and this will have to fight ‘Sekhmet’ and ‘Our Fire’ at the end of the year for that spot, I think. Stunning precise prose, as always; I think this is his second piece this year that touches on monstrosity.

‘Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land’ by Ruthanna Emrys (, 2014). This is quiet, pretty, and very charming portal fantasy – brief but full of wonder, and such a comforting joy to read.

‘Little Faces’ by Vonda N. McIntyre (Strange Horizons) is a reprint – the story was originally published in 2005. I think I asked for stories with sentient spaceships, and I got one! This is a universe of far-future posthumans where everyone has a spaceship of their own, sentient but not very talkative spaceships which converse with humans in limited binary language – true or false – though they have other ways of communication. I find this story interesting in the sense that its image of what far-future society is so different from my own; there’s a community but there’s no longer any sense of… cultural identity? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of them, so everyone knows everyone else and meets periodically for parties. I find the take on memory and inheritance interesting, and how it ties into reproduction and love.

‘Moths of the New World’ by Audrey Niffenegger. Yay! Books! Anthropomorphic books! Delightful, adorable humor. This is the most charming thing I’ve read anywhere.

Moths of the New World smiled. “What’s your title?”

He gave her an apologetic grimace. “Workers, Arise! I’m a pamphlet for union organisers to leave with the folks they’re trying to organise. I’ve got pretty snazzy artwork, though. Lots of red and black.”

The idea of getting to write things like ‘Workers, Arise! shook his head’ delights me very much.

Scale-Bright! Reviews, availableness, eee

Scale-Bright (1)The limited hardback of Scale-Bright (Immersion Press) is now available through Book Depository, Amazon (UK | ES) and B&N. It’s very handsome *and* reasonably priced. If you are like me and prefer physical objects to have and to hold, this is also the only way to get the novella in paper.

The ebook can be preordered on Amazon (UK | ES), iBooks, Nook and Smashwords. Here’s a Goodreads listing and you can read the first chapter here.

I’ve been humbled by the community support, with special thanks for Mihai Dark Wolf’s Reviews, The Speculative Scotsman, The Book Smugglers, Aliette de Bodard, Maria Dahvana Headley and Cecily Kane. I remain deeply thankful to Ann Leckie for publishing ‘Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon’ on GigaNotoSaurus back in 2012, one of my very first stories written and later the seed for the novella.

‘Julienne’s bravest decisions aren’t made to prove herself worthy or her aunts, or to prove her love for Olivia, but to prove her worth to herself. Scale-Bright is a fabulous story and it’s only confirmed Benjanun Sriduangkaew as an author to watch.’ – Mieneke, A Fantastical Librarian

‘It’s going to be difficult to contain my excitement over this novella and in any case, why should I? It has everything going for it—prose that beautifully encapsulates both the fantastic and the mundane; deft storytelling that folds and combines three different stories into one; and a strong focus on relationships between lovers, friends and families. In addition: ladies kissing and fighting and finding themselves.’ – Ana Grilo, Kirkus Reviews

‘It’s clear, in any case, that Sriduangkaew’s craft translates to longer form fiction without losing any of its impact. Scale-Bright’s wonderful world boasts delicately drawn characters and an affecting narrative, bolstered on the sentence level by exquisite exposition and deft description. “A laptop tossed into the fountain [...] lies parted and silver, an oyster of silicon and circuitry,” and later, relatedly:

Houyi stands on the first letter of HSBC, ancient myth-feet resting on logo black on red, under which throbs a mad rush of numbers and commerce and machines: trades riding cellular waves and fiber optic, fortunes made and shattered in minutes. She does not shade her eyes.

Nor does the author.’ – Niall Alexander,

‘La historia ante la que nos encontramos es una modernización de un mito chino desconocido para mí, con lo que el punto de la originalidad ya lo había conseguido. ¿Conseguiría mantener el interés en un formato menos condensado? La respuesta, afortunadamente, es sí.’ – Leticia Lara, Fantastica Ficcion

These delight me so much, not just because they are incandescently generous but also because they tell me I was able to communicate what I wanted. This is super happy-making! Writing is about communication and sometimes it’s hard to tell if I’m being clear, or if what I’ve to say is worthwhile rather than frivolous; the discovery that I have been able to get things across makes me giddy, and to find that there are readers who value and want to hear what I’ve got to say is joy beyond words.

What to expect

(That worked well, to my alarmed joy. I sparkled. ✧✲゚*。*☆ Was it the warrior god auntie?)

If you purchase the hardback, I’ll try to make sure you can have the ebook for free: no need to choose between the two! This can happen via Amazon Matchbook if you purchased your hardback through Amazon. Otherwise, get in touch with me with proof of purchase (in receipt or Tweet me a snap of the hard copy) and I’ll get you the digital copy, in any format you prefer!

The ebook edition has additional content: 3 short stories related to Scale-Bright, which I also collected in this (free!) sampler, The Archer Who Shot Down Suns. Please enjoy! Niall Alexander reviewed ‘The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate’ on Cecily Kane reviewed ‘Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon’. Dan Libris reviewed the same a while back, as part of their Queering the Genre project.

Why I hope you’ll give Scale-Bright a try

  1. To support Immersion Press (by getting the hardback). They’re a small, specialized press that produces lovely unusual things, most notably Aliette’s On a Red Station, Drifting.
  2. If my SF doesn’t work for you, Scale-Bright (or related stories) might! The novella doesn’t have even one stoic military commander. It does have cooking, lots of pretty visual details, and it’s my love letter to the magic of cities.
  3. Because Julienne, the lead of the novella, is a young woman with mood disorders and I wanted to write stories where people like her can have adventures and be happy too. All without becoming a prophesied savior or developing superpowers!
  4. Because I drew some inspiration from Spirited Away. Except with interstitial urban fantasy, family, and more grown-up troubles.

I’ll be guest posting here and there over the coming weeks about (but not limited to) the following topics – interconnected short stories, the weight of beauty in fictional women, gender norms in contemporary versus far future settings. If anyone would like a guest post from me or an interview, I’m always available!