Sunday, July 30, 2006

Coming Soon

August is going to be a great month here at SpecMusicMuse. Coming in the next few weeks will be a CD review of Epica's Consign to Oblivion, a review of Epica's DVD, We Will Take You With Us, plus interviews with Epica guitarist Ad Sluijter, and Six With Flinteye author Sean T. M. Stiennon. And possibly, a "better late than never" Eclypsis interview.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Interview With E. Sedia

I first encountered E. Sedia's work while reviewing Aeon Speculative Fiction #3, and I've been a fan of her writing ever since. In addition to being a great writer, she is also a fellow reviewer for Tangent Online. I am honored to give you the following interview:

*How does it feel to have a first published novel?

It feels good; of course, publishing a novel creates its own host of concerns - sales, reviews, promotion. But According to Crow got some good press, and I'm happy with it. So it is time to start obsessing about the next one. Unfortunately, it is always about your next trick.

*I noticed that family and ancestry are major themes in According to Crow. Josiah's need to learn where he came from is something many people can relate to. What first sparked your idea for the character, Josiah?

The Book of Judith, actually. You know the story - Judith, a virtuous Jewish woman, saves her city from the Assyrian attack by getting Holofernes, their general, drunk and cutting off his head. Holofernes planned to seduce her, but she outsmarted him. In According to Crow, the heroine does not achieve her purpose quite so easily, and Josiah is the result of her compromise. Both Josiah and his mother are ambivalent about his origins, and this is the driving force behind his attempt to find his place in the world. His mother's and father's people are at war with each other; is it even possible to come to terms with that? His skin color marks him as an outsider in one culture, and his background doesn't suit the other. And as a kid, he grew up knowing that his mother cut off his father's head. Hello, traumatic childhood.

*What were the hurdles you needed to overcome to get According to Crow published?

Obstacles? Just the normal work of writing the thing and sending it out until Five Star bought it. I don't know if these qualify as obstacles; they are more of a normal publishing process. I feel like I should be angsting about it more.

*How important are the short fiction markets for writers starting out?

I don't think they are essential, but they have been helpful to me. I like writing short stories - there's much to be said for instant gratification of finishing a story in a couple of sittings. Also, it is useful to learn brevity. I know people who started with novels and never strayed from them, so it can go either way.

However, if one decides to go the short fiction route, I would suggest being very selective regarding where one sends one's work. Some people rake up pages of bibliographies in 4theluv markets; these certainly don't help to get publisher's or agent's attention, and don't particularly increase writer's visibility or reputation. Markets that pay actual money might. There are exceptions, of course - a few small press zines pay very little but have a high profile.

*The publishing industry being what it is today, do you think that "small press" publishers have an advantage over the bigger publishing houses?

I'm not sure what do you mean by an 'advantage'. The big houses publish the vast majority of books, and small presses (at least most of them) can afford less promotion and distribution, so their share of the market is quite small. In terms of quality of content, smaller houses tend to take bigger risks and often make better books - look at Night Shade Books, Prime, Wheatland, Small Beer Press and Raw Dog Screaming Press in the US and PS Publishing, Pendragon, Sarob Press, Elastic Press and Telos Publishing in the UK. They publish excellent books, and receive plenty of critical attention and publicity. There's also Five Star, my publisher, which targets library market. There are many niche audiences that are not served by the big houses, and successful independent presses take advantage of these markets. So, I don't know whether it translates into a marketplace advantage, but I think it allows for greater diversity in books published today.

*What kinds of music do you listen to, and how much of it influences your writing?

While writing I usually listen to Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet, the Pogues, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Tool, stuff like that. Whatever suits the mood, but I prefer dark and melodious. I wouldn't say it influences the writing as much as helps to establish the atmosphere.

*How helpful do you find music in establishing the atmosphere? A little, a lot?

It's a difficult question. I would say it varies; it is more helpful when I write emotionally wrenching scenes, when I need to meld with the character. Music can facilitate this process to a great degree, and I usually select the songs that match the emotion I'm trying to portray.

*Any more novels in the works?

I finished another novel, and am currently looking for a publisher for it. It is quite different from According to Crow - even though it is fantasy, it is set in the real world. I'm also working on the next book, an urban fantasy novel, in between writing short stories.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

According to Crow - E. Sedia

According to Crow is one of those rare novels that will stay with you long after you finish reading. Josiah is a boy born to a Sium mother, Ruth, and a Meran father. His father, the general Sephar, was killed by his mother to protect her village in a classical Book of Judith manner. When a Meran named Caleb arrives, he discovers that he and Josiah are related and invites him to visit the rest of the family in Mer. Crow and Mireille - Crow's Guardian - travel with them, for they're on the run from a plot to eliminate the Sium Archivists. A plot that may soon re-start an old war, for Mer and Sium have been bitter enemies for years. And Josiah will have to decide where his loyalties lie.

E. Sedia makes you care for the characters, and her fluid writing leaves you reading almost nonstop (almost, because I had to stop and eat at some point). There is much you can find thematically - family and friendship, the clash of cultures, the horrors of war, a coming of age, etc. - but outside of all that, it is quite simply an excellent story.

Best to read while listening to: Sarah Brightman, Enya, Epica, Loreena McKennit, Nightwish, Within Temptation

Publisher: Five Star Press
Price: $25.95
ISBN: 1-59414-308-0
Genre: Fantasy

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Interview With Eclypsis?

It seems the interview might be a little late...or not at all. I blame myself for giving them such a short deadline. But I promise to have it up as soon as I get it.

On the bright side, however, both the According to Crow review and the interview with its author, E. Sedia, are ready and will be posted on their scheduled dates.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Karmacode - Lacuna Coil

Lacuna Coil's newest CD, Karmacode, is their best yet. Their symphonic metal sound has reached a point of maturity where, if they continue to let it grow, they will likely be a band remembered for generations. As always, the voices of Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro compliment each other. Karmacode is infused with more spirituality than their prior releases and has a heavier metal sound than their breakout CD Comalies.

Best Song: "You Create."One minute and thirty-two seconds of pure instrumental with no lyrics, just the siren voice of Cristina Scabbia. And the way the song bleeds into "What I See" will leave you wanting to hear both songs over and over.

The Coolest Part: They manage to do a cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" without butchering it. Just the opposite, they do a great job with it.

Best to listen to while reading/writing: Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Space Opera, Sword & Sorcery

Format: Enhanced Audio CD
Label: Century Media
Price: $16.98