Entries tagged with “vermilion


audio coverHey Vermilioneers! Guess what? You can now enjoy Vermilion as an audiobook, out from Blackstone. It’s out, so get yourself a copy! The talented Emily Woo Zeller is narrating, and man, from what I’ve heard, she really nails it. You can get it through Audible or as an MP3 CD.

In terms of Lou’s continuing adventures, you can now pick up a short story about Lou’s first adventure. “Qi Sport,” a reprint from Stone Skin’s Schemers anthology, is now available if you purchase the ebook of Nightmare Magazine‘s August issue. Or, you can wait until later in the month to read it for free.

And, as always, I appreciate your support! If you’ve read and enjoyed Vermilion, please consider leaving a review, or telling a friend. Thanks!

Vermilion is continuing to receive absolutely delightful reviews. I’m so very pleased readers and critics are enjoying it; it means the world to me.

Most recently, The Arkham Digest and Foreword Reviews discussed it, and both of them had very nice things to say.

The Arkham Digest:

The world building is excellent, and Molly has created a gritty Western world in which the supernatural exists alongside the normal. Bears talk and have their own civilization, co-existing with man despite tensions. Spiritual and undead threats are handled by professional psychopomps like Lou, while monsters are dealt with by licensed monster hunters. … Fans of fantastic adventure books and readers looking for something fun and different shouldn’t hesitate to pick this one up, as it’s already one of the best books of 2015.

As for Foreword Reviews:

A well-wrought character, she dresses androgynously and often passes as a man; and as an Asian American, she handles Old West racism with humor and grit. Molly Tanzer’s steampunk world layers the rough Old West of gold-rush San Francisco with the influx of Chinese immigrants and the Victorian propriety and technology attendant with the genre. The dialogue in Vermilion is vibrant and playful, with a hard edge, and offers a strong rooting of place somewhere between Victorian English and rough-and-tumble western American dialects. … Sentence for sentence, Tanzer demonstrates a strong sense of language and place, and as a whole, the world is a place which definitely demonstrates influences (anthropomorphic bears call to mind The Golden Compass; Lou’s duster and shotgun, Pretty Deadly), but is wholly unique and pleasurable to become enveloped by.

I’ll take any review that compares my stuff to The Golden Compass. Dang.

I also did an interview, over at the delightful Angela Slatter’s blog:

1. What do readers need to know about Molly Tanzer?

As my mother would say, “need is such a slippery word!” I’d certainly like readers to know that I’m a writer of short stories and novels, and that said fictions are available online and for purchase via various retailer and e-tailers—and that I think they will please anyone who like things such as historical fantasy, picaresque, Lovecraftiana (sometimes), gender-bending, genre-bending, and sexy times.

I’d also like them to know that I mix a killer cocktail.

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, my publisher/editor Cameron Pierce released a preview cover for Thetpm Pleasure Merchant, which is forthcoming this November from Lazy Fascist. Isn’t it gorgeous? I love how it fits with A Pretty Mouth but is entirely its own thing.

The Pleasure Merchant; or, The Modern Pygmalion is the first of two books I’ll be putting out with Lazy Fascist over the next year. The second will be a reprint of the novella “Rumbullion: An Apostrophe” that debuted in my collection Rumbullion and Other Liminal Libations. This is great news, as I know the cost of the original collection was prohibitive to many, and the print run was obviously limited. I’m excited Cameron’s giving me the opportunity to present “Rumbullion: An Apostrophe” to a larger audience at a more affordable price, so watch this space for further news!

11106286_10203916584380505_1917450945_nBehold! 

Yes, Vermilion is very nearly out. I’m so excited! People responded very well to the reading I did at AnomalyCon last weekend, which was lovely. Thank you to all who attended, and as for the two attendees who walked away with ARCs, I hope you enjoy the full story!

So, yeah! Keep your eyes peeled for copies in the wild over the next few weeks (and I’d be very grateful if you would ask for the book and Word Horde titles by name at your favorite local bookseller or library if you don’t see it on the shelf). The book is also imminently on Amazon and other online retailers, if you don’t have a favorite local spot to shop.

Inevitably I’m having a few first-novel jitters, but I’m cautiously optimistic about Vermilion. After all, two of my favorite authors had very nice things to say about the novel, which is lovely:

Vermillion is fresh and strange—a dark and sparkling story of magic, monsters, and mystery in the Old Weird West. Gloriously weird and heartfelt, it’s a credit to the genre from start to finish.”

—Cherie Priest, Award-Winning Author of Boneshaker and Maplecroft

Cherie is an amazing writer, and an amazing person, too! Maplecroft was one of the best books I read last year. I’m beyond tickled she enjoyed Vermilion.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, another of my must-read authors also found the book to his taste…

“Tanzer’s debut novel is extraordinary, portraying a world that is engagingly curious and curiously engaging. One doesn’t realise how much one’s life has been missing a story about a Chinese/English buster of violent ghosts out in the wilder end of the Wild West until one reads this. Plus, talking bears.”

—Jonathan L. Howard, author of the Johannes Cabal novels and the forthcoming Carter & Lovecraft 

Any regular reader of my blog knows how much I admire Jonathan Howard’s work, so it means an awful lot to me that he enjoyed the book.

Finally, The Monitor reviewed Vermilion a few weeks ago, for their Top Shelf column, and had exceedingly nice things to say about it:

“Tanzer’s writing, as always, is a delightful meld of period-authentic language and modern sensibilities. Snappy, often hilarious dialogue is embedded in a deftly written narrative thread that gives plenty of room for characters to breathe and evolve. The world-building is fantastic and leaves many opportunities for follow-ups: I for one really hope this is the beginning of a series, as I want desperately to see Lou — an amazingly round and compelling protagonist — back in San Francisco, doing what she does best.

Vermilion abounds with relatable, human characters of various genders and sexual orientations. LGBTQ issues are folded into the supernatural plot with respect and care, focusing on the emotional and interpersonal repercussions in a refreshingly gentle but frank manner.

An amazing debut novel from an author to be reckoned with, Vermilion is most definitely Top Shelf.”

Top Shelf? More like Top That!

You can read the full review at the above link, which sums up the novel better than I’ve ever managed—so, if you still have questions about the book, that’s a great place to check it out!

You can still order Vermilion directly from Word Horde, but as I said, it should be showing up elsewhere very soon. Oh, and as for those of you who pre-ordered, thank you! I confess my signature is awful, so I tried to spice up your bookplates a little. I hope you enjoy!

hands_2015_xpk1In anticipation of the release of my Steampunk Weird Western, Vermilion, my dear friend and steampunk expert S.J. Chambers introduced me to the lovely Kevin D. Steil. Kevin is the creator/editor of Airship Ambassador, which hosts a yearly event called Steampunk Hands Around the World. This year’s theme is Steampunk: Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop. I’m a little late to the party (it’s the last week of the event) as my copy edits for Vermilion took quite a bit out of me, but better late than never! And if you’re interested in what other participants have been doing as I agonized over commas, you can check that out here.

Though I’m just writing about all this now, the theme “Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop” had me thinking as I poured over Vermilion, re-checking various historical details and knowing that in spite of my best efforts, I would inevitably miss something. And I’m not just talking about a clunky sentence or a dropped word… I mean something more akin to an anachronism, an incorrect detail, a bit of “common knowledge” I never questioned. I loved researching Vermilion, but it was an experience as intense and humbling as it was rewarding, and today I’m going to blog about why.

Vermilion is set in 1870, in an alt-historical America where ghosts, monsters, and talking bears are as much a part of the landscape as people, trains, guns, and purveyors of quack remedies. That said, certain familiar elements remain—the Transcontinental links the West with back East, road agents hunt down and terrorize travelers, diseases like tuberculosis are as dangerous as they are difficult to cure, and it’s hard to get a fair shake if you’re not white, wealthy, and male.

Lou Merriwether is none of those things. She’s half-Chinese, works for a living, and she’s a woman, even if she usually passes as a man while she tramps all over San Francisco, exorcising the restless dead. Lou does well for herself, but that doesn’t mean things are easy for her; in fact, where the novel opens, anti-Chinese sentiment in San Francisco affects her personally and professionally on a daily basis. In spite of this, she tries to maintain a sense of humor, but that doesn’t mean she’s not aware of how annoying (and dangerous) being different can sometimes be.

When I first began to draft Vermilion, then a very different novel with a very different title, I knew I wanted a protagonist who lived on the margins, and whose identity (and sense of that identity) would create difficulties for her as much as it allowed her to access interesting opportunities. Vermilion is very much about the marginalized—19th century racial and sexual politics are reflected in the action as much as discussions about sickness versus health, insider versus outsider status, martial prowess versus strength of a different sort—and I wanted the novel’s point of view to be someone flexible enough to negotiate with everything with… let’s call it “a varying degree of success.”

For Steampunk Hands Around the World, the theme of “Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop,” inspired me to blog about a little about some of the historical and cultural research I did for Vermilion. As with all of us, Lou’s childhood experiences inform her personality, her lived experience, her work, and her decisions, so I wanted to read and learn as much as I could in order to bring her (and her world) to life. One of the reasons I enjoy the challenge of writing historical fiction is I love to research! It’s exciting to lose myself in the past, whether it’s picking up a work of fiction from a different time and place, or looking up what are considered to be the best nonfiction books on a certain subject. While I might jot down random notes or ideas during the drafting process, reading is how I know I’ve really and truly begun a new project.

When I began in earnest to work on Vermilion, several books in particular were extremely helpful to me:

Iris Chang’s wonderful and detailed accounts provided much of the backdrop I needed to create my alt-history Chinatown, and The Children of Chinatown was a fantastic study that helped me imagine what someone like Lou’s early life might have been like. Given that Lou must do some detective work, supernatural and more traditional, the tales of Judge Dee gave me some insight into the specifically Chinese detective novel, and Yutang Lin’s treatment of the Tao Te Ching, which pairs the original insights of Laotse with commentary by his follower Chuangtse, was most informative when it came to developing Lou’s personal philosophy toward life, death, and undeath.

While I love reading, and curling up with a history book is one of my favorite things in the world, I also wanted to do some more “hands-on” research. To that end, my husband and I took an anniversary trip out to San Francisco a few years ago, to relax and hang out, but also so I could walk the streets Lou would have walked. We had a great time visiting landmarks and poking around in shops, and he was very patient as I spent several hours taking notes at the Chinese Historical Society of America‘s wonderful museum. I also consulted with an apothecary and got a TCM prescription filled at the Great China Herb Company.

Learning about language was also part of my research. A large portion of the Chinese immigrants who lived in San Francisco and worked on the Transcontinental came over from Toisan, called Taishan in Mandarin, and Hoisan by native speakers. I initially hoped to use Toisanese when I needed to use a Chinese word, but after a few conversations with a native Toisanese speaker, on his advice I ended up using mainly romanized Cantonese pronunciations. Negotiating with Cantonese was fascinating if frustrating, as I neither speak nor read any Chinese, but my Toisanese contact as well as my very patient friend-cum-scholar of Asian languages Raechel Dumas got me through it in the end.

I cannot conclude this essay without mentioning several wonderful films that not only initially inspired the project, but actually helped me in my research into what would become Lou’s profession. The truth is, my interest in Taoist necromancy and geung si began with a film: Mr. Vampire. It’s an awesome flick, and I followed it up with watching many more in the Hong Kong vampire genre. Here’s an incomplete list for any curious cinemaphiles out there:

  • Mr. Vampire

The Hollywood picture Big Trouble in Little China is also worth a watch, if you’ve never seen it. I once pitched Vermilion as being set in the historical past of that film. It made sense to me, at least!

Writing historical fiction requires all kinds of research, but as much as I wish I could share everything, I want to keep my focus in this essay. And on that note, I’ll conclude. Many thanks to Kevin for hosting and promoting Steampunk Hands Around the World, this was a fun opportunity and I’m so glad I got to participate!

Oh, and if any of this sounds intriguing… well, Vermilion drops on April 15th, and can be pre-ordered now. There’s even a fancy bundle offer going on right now!

Mr VampireYikes! I wasn’t expecting this so soon in 2015, but Vermilion is… imminent here in ARC form,out in the world, digital and hard copy.

If you are a book reviewer, and would like to receive an uncorrected ARC for review, please contact Ross Lockhart at publicity[at]wordhorde.com. ARC!Also, if you know any book reviewers into some or all of the following, maybe send them this way, or at least spread the word: gender fluidity, weird westerns, steampunk-y things, sickness, death, and dying, sea lions, vampires, San Francisco, hiking, the Rocky Mountains, trains, bears, the Mr. Vampire franchise from the 1980s, ghosts, punching things, Big Trouble in Little China, friendship, sanatorium culture a la The Road to Wellville, hysteria, adventures, snow, mountains, sexual tension, mysteries, and… uh… I guess that’s enough to go on.

Thanks, and happy reading!