Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘André Norton

Right Under the Wire, Barb Does the #SinCBlogHop!

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Folks, lately I’ve been getting tagged — informally or otherwise — by a number of wonderful writers in the hopes that people who otherwise have never heard of me, or my writing, might be interested enough to take a gander at my comic YA urban fantasy/mystery/romance novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE.

In this case, I was informally tagged by author Dora Machado, author of THE CURSE GIVER (a great fantasy/mystery in its own right). She told me about the Sisters in Crime Blog Hop (which is abbreviated as it’s shown above: #SinCBlogHop, presumably for Twitter purposes), and that she planned to do it if she could find the time . . . but that whether she did it or not, she felt I definitely should.

After our discussion, I went to the Sisters in Crime page that explains the blog hop, and decided for extra grins and giggles that I’d answer all of the questions — not just some.

So ready or not, here we go!

Question One: Which authors have inspired you?

Oh, that’s easy. The ones who have actively helped and inspired my work include Michael B. Caffrey, my late husband, my mentors Rosemary Edghill, Stephanie Osborn, and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, and friend and writing buddy Jason Cordova.

Or do you mean the writers I loved to read when I was growing up, who inspired me to tell my own stories? Those include Andre Norton, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Elizabeth Moon, and Lois McMaster Bujold.

Those are just some of the many wonderful writers who’ve inspired me in one form or another along the way.

Question Two: Which male authors write great female characters? Which female authors write great male characters?

The female author question is easier for me to answer, because it contains most of the same people I listed above: Andre Norton. Lois McMaster Bujold. Rosemary Edghill. Katharine Eliska Kimbriel. Stephanie Osborn. And Elizabeth Moon. All of them have written outstanding male characters as well as wonderful female characters.

Male authors writing female characters. Hm. Well, in military science fiction, the biggest example of that is David Weber, who has sold a boatload of books in his Honor Harrington series. (So he must be doing something right.)

However, another of my writer-friends, Christopher Nuttall, is also very, very good at writing female characters. His fantasy novels, in particular, are centered around strong, talented young women with heart and spirit, and are a joy to read. (Check out SCHOOLED IN MAGIC or BOOKWORM if you don’t believe me.)

Finally, Michael Z. Williamson has written a number of novels from a female perspective, and he gets the issues right. (For example, in FREEHOLD, his female character Kendra must find a brassiere with excellent support once she goes to the Freehold of Grainne, as Grainne has higher gravity than Earth and thus poses more of a challenge for a busty woman. Not every male author would think about that, much less understand what the problem was; kudos to “Mad Mike” for getting it right.)

Question Three: If someone said “Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?

Oh, boy.

First, I’d bite back an expletive of some sort. (I’m sure of this.)

Then I’d say, “Wow. You’re really missing out on a lot, then.” And I’d point to Rosemary Edghill’s work (again), this time to her three novels included in the BELL, BOOK, AND MURDER omnibus. Or maybe to her short-story collection FAILURE OF MOONLIGHT.

Or perhaps I’d ask this person if he’s read any of Sarah A. Hoyt’s work, as I’m definitely a SF&F genre writer. Most of her stories have some elements of mystery in there, and there’s a ton of action — guys who love shoot ’em up thrill-rides should be ecstatic with A FEW GOOD MEN or DARKSHIP THIEVES.

I mean, seriously. There are so many wonderful writers, why must anyone stay with only male authors? Must gender always win out? Can’t we see words for what they are, irrespective of the author’s gender?

Question Four: What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?

The best part of the writing process is actually writing. When I have a story and am fully involved in it, the world is a better place — or at least it seems that way while I’m writing.

The most challenging part is coming up with ways to market my writing after the book is done and out. (No, this isn’t part of the writing process, and it’s just as well it’s not. But it’s still so very difficult that I felt I’d mention it anyway. I can see why big-name authors hire publicists.)

Question Five: Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your playlist?

Yes, I listen to music while writing. It helps me attain “alpha state,” or whatever/wherever it is that I go when I’m writing.

What’s on my playlist? Usually a little Alice in Chains, a little Nirvana, a little Soundgarden . . . and a whole lot of Stabbing Westward. (What can I say? I like 1990s rock. A lot.)

Question Six: What books are on your nightstand right now?

(Note that this doesn’t count all the half-finished e-books on the figurative pile, or we’d be here all night.)

Question Seven: If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

I’d tell her that publishing is a very difficult and frustrating business, but not to give up. She needs to believe in herself and what she’s doing, and keep doing it as long as it takes . . . push until it gives, and then some.

Because the name of the game in publishing — and in life itself — is persistence. So do not give up.

Don’t ever give up.

This concludes my first-ever Sisters in Crime Blog Hop! And I do hope you enjoyed it! (Normally, I’d tag someone else — as that’s what a blog hop is all about — but as it’s the 30th already, please go check out some of the work of the fine authors I’ve mentioned above instead!)


Just Reviewed Kowal’s Alternate Regencies; Fun Stuff

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Folks, as it’s July 5, 2012, and I’d promised the Shiny Book Review faithful a new review or two, I just reviewed both of Mary Robinette Kowal’s alternate Regencies, SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY and GLAMOUR IN GLASS.  Check out my review of both books here.

Now, what is it about the Regency period that makes for such great fantasy material?  In addition to Kowal’s two novels, I’ve seen several other really fine writers do some interesting things with either the Austen canon (not merely PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, which I viewed as kitsch, but Sarah A. Hoyt and Sofie Skapski’s excellent A TOUCH OF NIGHT, which incorporates Weres — shapechanging into animals — into PRIDE AND PREJUDICE without a hitch) or with the milieu itself (the two books by André Norton and Rosemary Edghill that comprise CAROLUS REX, THE SHADOW OF ALBION and LEOPARD IN EXILE, are both excellent).

I think the main reason novelists in and out of the romance genre have returned to this milieu is because of how unusual it seems to us in modern-day society.  The Regency era was much more formal in its speech than present-day English-speaking society, at least when it comes to middle class people and above.  The fashions people wore were much different.  The way people thought then has diverged just enough from today that it makes for fascinating reading . . . yet it’s not so far in the past that we have no referents whatsoever.

So my guess is, there’s a mixture of familiarity in what we see in the Regency period — comfort, if you will — and unfamiliarity, and that’s what these excellent novelists see in it.  Because if you’re writing fantasy, and you can come up with a great way to incorporate a fantasy element into this interesting, turbulent time, why not do it?

At any rate, if you love Jane Austen, love Austen pastiches, love Austen-inspired works, or simply love the Regency Era with fantasy idea as a whole, you’ll get a kick out of Kowal’s two alternate Regencies as they’re fun, fast, faithful reads that don’t cheat the reader.  But do yourself a favor, please:  read these other great books I’ve referenced, too, even if you have to go to the library to read the Norton-Edghill collaborations.  (You’ll be glad you did.)

Just Reviewed Candace Camp’s “An Affair Without End” at SBR

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Tonight’s SBR review was for Candace Camp’s AN AFFAIR WITHOUT END.  This was one of the most fun Regency romances I’ve read in quite some time, a romance that reminded me in some ways of Rosemary Edghill’s excellent TWO OF A KIND (now lamentably out of print), possibly because the dialogue was outstanding, the detailing was very fine, and the art and craftsmanship of Ms. Camp was fully on display.

So without further ado, here’s the link:



** P.S. I am hoping that Ms. Edghill will be able to put all four of her fine Regencies back out there soon, though I’ve heard nothing about it.  I will keep you posted if I hear anything, however; those novels are so much fun, and are so well done, that they deserve to be widely read as often as possible.  (Aside from this book by Ms. Camp, I’ve read nothing by any contemporary author that comes close to Ms. Edghill’s art, craftsmanship, dialogue, and knowledge of the Regency time period.)  Ms. Edghill also has two collaborations with the late SF grandmaster André Norton, that are best described as “alternate Regency/fantasy.”  The first of these was THE SHADOW OF ALBION with the second being CAROLUS REX; these two, too, are well worth seeking out.

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 10, 2011 at 10:53 pm