Blog Tour: The Arrival of Missives By Aliya Whiteley

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Synopsis

The Arrival of Missives is a genre-defying story of fate, free-will and the choices we make in life. In the aftermath of the Great War, Shirley Fearn dreams of challenging the conventions of rural England, where life is as predictable as the changing of the seasons.

The scarred veteran Mr. Tiller, left disfigured by an impossible accident on the battlefields of France, brings with him a message: part prophecy, part warning. Will it prevent her mastering her own destiny?

As the village prepares for the annual May Day celebrations, where a new queen will be crowned and the future will be reborn again, Shirley must choose: change or renewal?

How to Enjoy Writing Historical Fiction

By Aliya Whiteley

I always start writing in the same way. I take up a pen and a sheet of paper, and write until a voice emerges. Then I place that voice in a setting, and start finding out what that new character cares about.

When I found out that the main voice in my novella The Arrival of Missives belonged to a teenage girl who wanted to change the world for the better I liked her straight away, but I was also terrified of the challenge she represented. I usually write contemporary fiction, and she definitely came from a different time. She belonged to a small village in the UK countryside in 1920. It was a time I knew very little about.

Historical fiction can be scary to write. There’s the need to represent the past accurately, in a way that feels truthful and also reflective upon the way we live now. That need to be accurate began to affect my enjoyment in writing the story, until I worked out a few techniques to help me concentrate on the voice and not the setting:

  • Use research to work out what your character knows

There’s no way of getting around research; it has to be done to bring the period you’re writing about to life. But find your character first (this applies particularly to writing in the first person) and then concentrate on how they’ll view the time they live in rather than in trying to formulate every aspect of life back then. People often live in small bubbles of experience; trying to place you reader within that bubble is more rewarding.

  • Don’t stop every time you come across something you don’t know

At first I’d put down the pen and turn to the laptop to search for answers every time I came across a detail that I didn’t know. I’d look for how long sheep slept for, or what version of the Bible would be in the village church. Then I realised that I really didn’t have to know straight away. I started to put a row of crosses whenever I came across a small issue, and that meant the flow of words was no longer broken. At the end of writing my first draft, the crosses were easy to pick out, and it was fun to go back through finding my answers without feeling pulled out of the story.

  • Don’t feel constrained by what others have done

When I decided to write about life in a rural setting in 1920s Britain, I wanted to see how other modern authors had tackled the period. The more I read, the more disheartened I became. How could I ever hope to capture the time in the same way? Then I realised my task wasn’t to capture it in the same way. I needed to portray it in my own way, using my own skills as a writer. Remember your own strengths, and create the setting using those rather than attempting to follow somebody else’s strategy.

There is never only one way to write about the past. It’s filled with so many different voices. I only had to remember what I love about writing to drown out the fears I felt. When I’m caught up in the moment, writing fast to get all my thoughts down, swept up in my character’s voice, I really enjoy my job as a novelist, and through this experience I discovered that there’s no reason why historical fiction can’t be just as exhilarating to write as those stories set in the here and now.

Author Biography

What can I tell you?

WhiteleyI write about all sorts of things but it would be fair to say I’m drawn to the darker side of life.

My favourite writers are a diverse bunch. Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch and George Eliot. Rupert Thomson and Christopher Priest. Octavia Butler, John Wyndham, Ursula Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Dylan Thomas, TS Eliot. My favourite Shakespeare play is King Lear. No, Much Ado About Nothing. It depends if it’s a tragic or a comic day.

I like those moments in stories where you have no idea what’s going to happen next. The moments when genre can’t save you.

 

Next Stop on The Arrival of Missives Blog Tour

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Love for Slaughter by Sara Tantlinger

I didn’t really start reading poetry until this year. The darker the better. Sometimes it spoke to me like Amanda Lovelace’s poetry other times it didn’t. But when something you read absolutely wrecks you it s the best feeling ever. That you read the words and they truly mean something to you. It maybe about murder and blood but the emotion behind the murder and blood is something that you feel deeply. When I was in school if this was the type of poetry that we were introduced to I may have continued to read it. But what ever you do pick up Love for Slaughter by Sara Tantlinger.

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Summary: Wonderful dark and devilish poems about love and lust. With some murder and stuff thrown in.

What I liked: I picked this up when my friend Emily reviewed it and gave it 5 stars,  I now know why!  Tantlinger’s prose is beautiful and horrific at the same time. This is a poetess who can turn murder and bondage into a beautiful act of love or hate. There is so much to love about this poetry collection. The mixture of the horrific and the beautiful   I don’t think that many people would be able to pull off successfully but Tantlinger does exquisitely time and again in each poem. I really wish that poetry teachers would be able to teach poetry like this as I believe it would keep kids engaged and wanting to know more about the sentiments behind the words.

What I didn’t like: Not a damn thing!!

Star Rating: As many stars as you can give it

My thoughts: I never know what to say about poetry. I don’t have a degree in literature so I never know what to say to accurately convey the way poetry can make you feel. There are so many feelings behind the words that Tantlinger writes I just want to hug them all. I needed this poetry collection when angsty goth kid Toni was trying to bumble her way through Keats, unsuccessfully I might add, but I would have totally understood this and loved this collection. Sara please write more and more!!!

Doorbells at Dusk edited by Evans Light

In the words of the immortal Misfits “Bonfires burning bright. Pumpkin faces in the night. I remember Halloween.” Yes, it the holiday that all Horror lovers and children wait all year for. I finished Doorbells at Dusk a couple of weeks ago but I wanted to review it on Halloween. Many of the stories in this anthology capture the wonder and mysteries that Halloween night holds for kids. I am not by any means saying that this is a anthology  is for children but rather the emotions that you feel as you are reading it.

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Summary: A spooky anthology of horror stories centered around Halloween.

What I liked: The stories for this anthology were well chosen and fit well together. With this anthology I felt the mystery and the spookiness that Halloween held for me as a child. As a Halloween centered anthology that is what I was looking for from this anthology and it delivered. The cover art is beautiful and really portrays the vibe of the stories in the book.  The stories ranged between a 3 and 5 for me.

What I didn’t like: There were only a couple of stories that fell a bit flat for me.

Star Rating: 4.0

My thoughts: I love books that feature Halloween as their main setting. Sometimes as an adult you lose that wonder about Halloween. The magic and the mystery of the entire holiday is slightly lost between the running around for candy and making sure that the kids have their costumes. But when you slow down and read this anthology some of that magic comes back and in your mind you can see yourself as a kid in a costume trick or treating. Walking along sidewalks which for that one night seemed to be magically transformed from the mundane to the creepy.

Big thanks to Corpus Press and A Hook of a Book for sending me a review copy.

Book Blast: New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color

I feel very honored to have been asked to take part in the Book Blast for New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nishi Shawl and published by Rebellion Publishing.

New Suns Cover-2‘THERE’S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, BUT THERE ARE NEW SUNS,’
PROCLAIMED OCTAVIA E. BUTLER.

            New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange.

Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichéd expectations, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.

Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page.

TABLE OF CONTENTS – NEW SUNS, ed. Nisi Shawl.

  • Foreword, LeVar Burton
  • The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex, Tobias Buckell
  • Deer Dancer, Kathleen Alcalá
  • The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations, Minsoo Kang
  • Come Home to Atropos, Steven Barnes
  • The Fine Print, Chinelo Onwualu
  • unkind of mercy, Alex Jennings
  • Burn the Ships, Alberto Yáñez
  • The Freedom of the Shifting Sea, Jaymee Goh
  • Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire, E. Lily Yu
  • Blood and Bells, Karin Lowachee
  • Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • The Shadow We Cast Through Time, Indrapramit Das
  • The Robots of Eden, Anil Menon
  • Dumb House, Andrea Hairston
  • One Easy Trick, Hiromi Goto
  • Harvest, Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Kelsey and the Burdened Breath, Darcie Little Badger
  • Afterword, Nisi Shawl

The beautiful cover was created by Yoshi Yoshitani (http://www.yoshiyoshitani.com/)

 

Her Smile will Untether the Universe By Gwendolyn Kiste

Sometimes you read something that resonates with you so deeply that there aren’t even words that you can put together that will do it justice. You can’t describe the depths that a story or a book can speak to your soul. Her Smile will Untether the Universe will defiantly do that.

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Summary: A collection of stories that will rip your heart out.

What I liked: Kiste’s writing is beautiful. Her use of imagery is exquiste and horrific at the same time. Kiste’s stories are multilayered and speak to you at different levels. There are horrors that Kiste uncovers within yourself with her writing and that is what makes the horror of the short stories so effective. The pacing of each story is perfect and there are no lulls between the stories. This is not a collection that you want to put down. The stories flow seamlessly between each other, complimenting each other perfectly. Kiste, is a magic story teller. World creation in short stories is difficult put Kiste does it so beautifully.

What I didn’t like: There is absolutely nothing about this collection that I did not like.

Star Rating: All the stars

My Thoughts: I’ve read a lot of horror. The most effective horror plays on your fears and your experiences in life. Kiste is able to take these fears and twist them into beautiful stories. As you read them you are pulled by her words into these little universes that she creates. This was a hard review to write. I loved the stories so much but I didn’t want to reveal too much. I want other readers to be pulled into Kiste’s worlds by her words and be moved. This was a time when the words won’t accurately convey the amount of feelings you have while reading. This is one of those times. This review can’t even come close to how much I loved this collection.

Twin Lakes: The Autumn Fires By Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason (Sisters of Slaughter)

I’ve only read one book by two different authors before. Needless to say I didn’t like it. You could see where one author ended and the other began. It wasn’t seamless and it was hard to get through as you could see two different writing styles. However, in our wonderful horror community we have the Sister’s of Slaughter. A twin sister horror writing team who where able to meld two separate voices into one in Twin Lakes: The Autumn Fires.

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Summary:A hitch hiker lands in a bunch of trouble in a small town with secrets.

What I liked: I really enjoyed the story. It almost felt like two stories wrapped in one. The hitch hiker story and the ancestors story. But the sisters writing really draws the two stories together seamlessly. The characters where very well written and three dimensional. As a reader the motivations of each character was clear and crisp. The setting was well written and draws the reader in. The pacing was spot on. There were no parts of the story that dragged at any point or where I felt the pacing was slipping.

What I didn’t like: I would have liked more of a backstory to the ancestors. We got to glimpse into the past but I feel it was like a snack sized bite in a whole world that can be built on.

Star Rating:4 Stars

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. There were supernatural elements, beasties and demons. There were no real love type relationships in the book but the friendships that are peppered throughout the story are heart warming and don’t feel forced. As a reader you want to meet some of the people that are players in this drama that is unfolding before your eyes. This is a story when you start reading it you don’t have a full idea as too the talents of each character. But by the end you are rooting for the good guys and hoping the bad guy losses. I can’t wait to read more from the Sisters’ of slaughter!!!

Black Magic Women: Terrifying Tales by Scary Sisters Edited by Sumiko Saulson

Before working with the Ladies of Horror Fiction I never really thought too deeply about my book shelves. Yes, I have international authors and I wrote a blog post about it. I lumped American writers together. Once we started planning and discussing the Ladies of Horror Fiction some things really came to light for me. I did not have many diverse horror authors. To say I was disappointed with myself is a understatement. LOHF received an author spotlight request from R.J. Joesph. Which lead me to Black Magic Women and a whole new set of writers to read.

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Summary: Anthology of terrifying tales that range from steampunk to zombies

What I liked: If you have read my blog at all you will know that I read a lot of collections and anthologies. I love the mixture of stories. Vampires, werewolves and even a queen bee 🙂 People are neither completely good or completely bad and I think that this collection explores all sides of a woman. The dark side with good intentions. The good side with bad intentions. The duality of people is explored in depth in this anthology. Different subgenera of horror is held in-between the cover and the back..From steampunk to scary pharmacology and even zombies!! I truly enjoyed the ride between the different worlds that these amazing authors have weaved.

What I didn’t like: This is not a reflection on the star rating but the ending of Trisha and Peter WTH!!! I would love to read a full length novel exploring that world and their relationship.

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this anthology. It has opened up a whole new set of authors for me. I love that. What bothers me is that it took me so long to find it. I want to scream how great this was from the roof tops and shove it into people’s hands. I can’t wait to read more from these authors and explore the Mocha Memoirs catalog more!