Tuesday 24 February 2009

Blonde Roots - Bernardine Evaristo

This amazing story is an alternative history asking the question "What if Afrikans had conquered and enslaved Europans?" Told mostly from the point of view of the whyte slave Doris Scagglethorpe (renamed Omorenomwara by her first mistress, Panyin Ige Ghika) you're completely immersed in this wholely believable culture. The novel begins with Omo receiving a notice from the Underground Railway telling her that, if she has the courage, her means of escape is at hand. Tattooed with the initials of one owner on one shoulder and her current owner (Kaga Konata Katamba I) on the other, she grasps this chance with both hands.

The book is a brutally honest look at slavery - black humour intended. But since it is fiction, it allows you to look closely at the issues it deals with without the habitual barrier of "it wasn't MY fault so why should I feel bad about it", or "the conditions weren't really THAT terrible", or even "some slaves were treated well". The story is clear; it doesn't matter how you are treated, slavery is slavery, and human nature is to fight for freedom, regardless of the penalties for failure. The novel also shows how arbitrary racism is, by pointing out (through reversal) the idiocy of all the 'proofs' of superiority used by the slavers.

One of those novels everyone should read.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Kreativ Blogger Meme

Well, better late than never. I got tagged with this meme in December, and have been meaning to do it for months.

Kreativ Blogger Award

I was nominated for the Kreativ Blogger award by Melluane at: www.oldbatsbelfry.blogspot.com
Thanks a lot!!!

Here are the rules and my responses:

1. Mention the blog that gave you the award.
2. Comment on their blog to let them know you posted the award.
3. Share 6 values that are important to you.
4. Share 6 things you don't support.
5. Share the love with 6 blogging friends.

Six values important to me:
1. Honesty
2. Trust
3. Respect
4. Friendship
5. Patience
6. Compassion

Six things I don't support:
1. Drugs
2. Stupidity
3. Abuse (of any kind)
4. Racism
5. Intollerance
6. Snobbery

Six blogs I enjoy reading (in no particular order):
1. Jim Hines's Live Journal (blogs about writing fantasy and anything else he can come up with)
2. Between the Lines - Patty Froese Ntihemuka (not sci-fi, but fun to read about writing and life)
3. Brillig - Joshua Bilmes, literary agent (blogs about everything)
4. The Antick Musings of G.B.H Hornswoggler, Gent. (a great insider view into the publishing industry, reviews and other posts)
5. Pat's Fantasy Hotlist (always has book giveaways, reviews and insightful posts)
6. PYR SF (blogs specifically about the PYR Science Fiction imprint, but also has interesting posts about the industry)

Monday 9 February 2009

Bernardine Evaristo - Author Interview


website: http://www.bevaristo.net/

> Pitch your novel.

BLONDE ROOTS is a slavery story with a difference. In the world I've created Africans enslave Europeans. Why? You might ask. Well, I wanted to find a fresh way of approaching a very important period in world history - the 400 yrs of the transatlantic slave trade. I asked myself what would happen if the tables were turned and Africans are considered superior/civilised and Europeans inferior/savages. In playing with this idea I found that the novel became a real interrogation of not just the ridiculousness of racism, but also the atrociousness of the slave trade. That said, the novel uses satire to this effect - the comedy has bite - it stings.
My main character is a blonde woman called Doris who is taken as a slave from Europa and transported to the New World.The novel is about her need to escape - and attempt to do so.

> What are your favourite three books?

It changes. Right now I'm enthralled by THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy. Another favourite is PERFUME by Patrick Suskund and MIDSUMMER by the St. Lucian poet Derek Walcott.

> In the books you've written, who is you favourite character and why? OR What character is most like you?

The character most like me is based on me - Lara - in my semi-autobiographical verse novel called, wait for it, LARA (1997). It's being republished with a third new material this year by Bloodaxe Books, UK.
The character I like the most is Zuleika, the black slave girl who grows up in Roman London 1800 years ago in my verse novel THE EMPEROR'S BABE (2001). I admire her feistiness, her passion, her sarcasm.

> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

Zuleika. Can you imagine being transported back to Roman London nearly 2000 years ago. It would be simply amaaazzing!

> If you could live in your fantasy/sf world, would you? Would you live in somebody else's?

No, very happy here, thanks!

> What was the first novel that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

LARA. It took five frickin years! 3 years of that it was a prose novel, then I spent two years turning it into verse. I was also learning the discipline of being a writer and learning how to believe in myself and be confident about my work.

> What was the hardest scene for you to write?

My parents wedding night sex scene. My mother said to me when she read it, 'What do YOU know!' I think she was a bit annoyed, but not overly so.

> What was the most fun book signing, convention, etc. you've attended and why?

University of Texas at Austin. A packed room full of retired English professors. I read from THE EMPERORS BABE and they just cracked up. They were so responsive and I was so surprised. I even read some of the saucy stuff and they loved that too.

>If you still have one, what's your day job?

No day job. I write books, do book reviews, write literary criticism, get paid to tour as a writer (I've done a lot of international touring for the British Council and others) I'm offered other commissions, occasionally teach creative writing, have had several international writing residencies at universities in the USA, as well as in the UK, and elsewhere - it all adds up. I left the day job in 1999. My motto was 'Leap and Angels will Appear'. And they did. I had no safety net but I was determined to give my writing 100%. Within six months I had a two-book deal with my publisher Penguin. Prior to that I was an arts manager for many years, and before that, a very long time ago deep in the mist of time, an actress.

> What is your university degree in?

I spent three years at drama school training to be an actress.

> When and where do you write?

Morning, afternoon, evening, in my sleep.

> What's the best/worst thing about writing?

Not very sociable, is it. Thank God for Facebook!
The best thing is to have complete artistic freedom and expression. I get to play God. It's magic and I live to write.

> What is something you didn't know about the publishing industry before you had your fist book published?

Oh, heaps of stuff. Okay, just one - that if you're with a tiny (fiction) publisher in the UK the chances are that the major newspapers and press won't be interested in you and that distribution will probably be ineffective. When I was first published by Penguin in 2001 I couldn't believe the attention I received from the media. It made all the difference.

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Learn about writing through reading, and if that's not enough attend workshops/courses. Be 100% committed to developing your craft. Don't be impatient, but be hard-working, resourceful, tenacious and get connected to other writers and people in the industry. It's hard to break through without any connections.

> Any tips against writers block?

I don't believe in it. It's a dirty word to me. Never have it. I have periods where 'ideas percolate'.

Sunday 1 February 2009

Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in March 2009


Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Outcast - Aaron Allston
Forgotten Realms: Corsair - Richard Barker
Genesis - Bernard Beckett
The Shadow Queen - Anne Bishop
The Warded Man - Peter Brett
Conspirator - C.J. Cherryh
The Mystery of Grace - Charles De Lint
The Temporal Void - Peter Hamilton
Act of Will - A.J. Hartley
The Rise of the Iron Moon - Stephen Hunt
The Unincorporated Man - Eytan Kollin
Imager - L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Coyote Horizon - Allen Steele
Storm From the Shadows - David Weber
The Best of Gene Wolfe - Gene Wolfe

Trade Paperback:

Swords Against the Shadow land - Robin Wayne Bailey
Star Trek: Mere Anarchy - Margaret Wander Bonanno
The Sword of Rhiannon - Leigh Brackett
The Swordbearer - Glen Cook
The Alchemist Pursuit - Dave Duncan
Whiff - David Edwards
Belisarius II: Storm at Noontide - Eric Flint
Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne - David Gaider
Strange Toys - Patricia Geary
A Drop of Red - Chris Green
The Rolling Stone - Robert Heinlein
The Kingmaking - Helen Hollick
Sword Destiny - Robert Leader
Revamped - J.F. Lewis
Duke Elric - Michael Moorcock
Dreams of the Compass Rose - Vera Nazarian
Yellow Blue Tibia - Adam Roberts
Looking for Mr. Piggy-Wig - Andy Secombe
TOC: A New Media Novel - Steve Tomasula

Mass Market Paperback:

Great Sky Woman - Steven Barnes
Tangled Webs - Anne Bishop
A Small Favor - Jim Butcher
Ages of Wonder - Julie Czerneda, Ed.
Escapement - Jay Lake
Sword of the Demon - Richard Lupoff
What-the-Dickens - Gregory Maguire
Deluge - Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Mage-guard of Hamor - L.E. Modesitt Jr.
The Betrayal - Pati Nagle
The Hidden World - Paul Park
The Thirteenth Immortal - Robert Silverberg
Angels Blood - Nalini Singh
Dragon Lance: Renegade Wizards - Lucien Soulban
Living With Ghosts - Kari Sperring
Prophets - S. Andrew Swann
Dragonfly Falling - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Deathwish - Rob Thurman
Kitty Raises Hell - Carrie Vaughn
The Hidden City - Michelle West
Lord of Lies - David Zindell