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today 6/2/16 on aobibliosphere™ [aobibliospotlight™: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart]

Friday, September 23, 2011

07 Masters & Mistresses of the Genre: Elissa Malcohn - a writer's journey

welcome to the Masters & Mistresses of the Genre Series featuring
Elissa Malcohn: 
Mistress of Science Fiction & Dark Fantasy

I'd like to thank aobibliophile™ for inviting me to be Mistress of Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy. And thank you all for stopping by!

My exposure to science fiction probably began with watching The Outer Limits (the original series) in the early 1960s. It reached full blast with the original Star Trek series, which went off the air when I was ten. I missed Trek so much that I started writing my own adventures. From there I branched out to writing general SF short stories.

Pretty soon I was reading the genre regularly. Peter Graham's adage, "The golden age of science fiction is twelve," literally applies to me. I was weaned on the New Wave subgenre and I write in that tradition, which focuses on social issues, taboos, and "inner" versus "outer" space.

I especially loved anthology series, like Robert Silverberg's Alpha and Damon Knight's Orbit. At 1970s science fiction conventions I loaded up on dozens of used paperbacks that I picked up for a dime and a quarter apiece. In 1972 I subscribed to Galaxy magazine, which also sent me my first rejection slip.

Far from being discouraged, I was thrilled! I had made "first contact" with an editor. Even slushpile readers stood far up on pedestals. I was just a kid, sending my manuscripts snail-mail by fourth class rate (later Media Mail), because that's what I could afford on my allowance.

My first published story appeared in Karmic Runes (1977). "Black Magic" won that small-press magazine's Dale C. Donaldson Memorial Award, specially created for my submission. "Choreographer" won the New England Science Fiction Association Short Story Award in 1983. I also made my first break into the pro market that year, with a poetry sale to Asimov's.

In 1984 Asimov's published my novelette "Lazuli," which drew from my writings at an I Never Told Anyone workshop given by Ellen Bass. That story alone placed me on the final ballot for the 1985 John W. Campbell Award, given at Worldcon to the best new science fiction writer of the year. "Moments of Clarity," in Full Spectrum (Bantam, 1988), reached preliminary ballot for a Nebula Award, given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

Over the years my fiction, poetry, and articles have appeared in dozens of publications. More recently, my stories have appeared in Hugo and Bram Stoker Award-winners and an IPPY Silver Medalist, and I've twice made the recommended reading list in The Year's Best Science Fiction.

From an early age, I told myself that I didn't care what job I held as long as it supported my creative writing. I had obtained a masters degree in psychology and was on the PhD track, but moved from New York to Massachusetts to escape domestic violence. I supported myself with a combination of office work and freelancing.

My Deviations series began as a short story, drafted at the end of 1985 and critiqued at the SFWA Cambridge Science Fiction Workshop. I realized back then that the story was too big for short fiction and prepared to expand it, but then my life took a different turn. Much of that involved working multiple shifts, but I also had a terrific "cycling year" in 1995, training for and doing the first Boston-New York AIDS Ride. The cog-and-derailleur-driven transports in my series take their cue from my bicycling experience.

I published articles and exhibited and sold mixed-media art, but did not return to submitting fiction until after my move to Florida in 2003. The following year, I dusted off my old draft and critique notes and watched Deviations swell to a six-book series. In 2007, Covenant was published by Aisling Press, which folded in 2008 around the time the second volume, Appetite, was to be released. A concurrent upturn in caregiver responsibilities fueled my decision to go ahead and release the entire series (already written) as free e-book downloads.

Deviations (contains mature themes and situations) is the saga of people locked in a symbiotic, predator-prey relationship. Long ago the Masari and the Yata hunted together in peace, until the species they drove to extinction included those possessing nutrients necessary to Masari survival. The Yata then became the only source of those nutrients. The series tells how these different people cope with the reality of being sentient creatures forced to play the roles of predator and prey, with members on all sides who break the rules. The saga focuses on the social, ethical, and spiritual dilemmas surrounding both the literal cannibalism of the societies involved and the many ways in which their different communities feed off each other.

You can find the Deviations series books in multiple formats at: 
The first (paperback) edition of Covenant is available for sale at:
  • Amazon (Note: This special Amazon link will send a few pennies from each sale to the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund)
  • Barnes and Noble

Volume 1: Covenant

An accomplished hunter in the Masari village of Crossroads, TripStone is charged with slaying the sacred Yata of Basc. Her comrade Ghost tries to end Masari dependence on Yata meat by performing experiments punishable by death. Their worldview shatters when they harbor Piri, a Yata woman raised to be livestock instead of a god -- while a secret Yata militia prepares to alter the balance of power.

Volume 2: Appetite

Crossroads and Basc face starvation after the Covenant's destruction; their independence relies on an uneasy alliance. TripStone's plot to destroy Destiny Farm, which drugs and raises Yata for meat, could place her entire valley at risk. Unaware of Crossroads' fate, her comrade Ghost and his pregnant wife Piri search for a home, but no place is safe. Piri risks giving birth to their hybrid child in the deepest heart of danger.

Volume 3: Destiny

Repeated acts of sabotage threaten Promontory's Destiny supply. The more TripStone learns about Promontory and the meat trader BrushBurn, the more she doubts her mission to destroy Destiny Farm. Across town, the very people hiding Ghost and his new family are under pressure to unlock the drug's secrets -- while Crossroads, on the brink of bankruptcy, faces certain invasion.

Volume 4: Bloodlines

Promontory's people must hunt down the escaped "Farm Yata" or starve, but they must also integrate with the Skedge Yata to save their industries. The drive toward integration makes TripStone the main target of a Yata out to save her kin in the canyon. Across the region, Crossroads and Basc struggle to maintain a peaceful coexistence, but violations bring them to the brink of all-out war.

Volume 5: TelZodo

Ghost's and Piri's son TelZodo comes of age in Crossroads. Celebrated as a non-dependent hybrid, but unable to follow in his parents' footsteps and cursed with sterility, he seeks his salvation and sanity in Promontory. Hobbled by poor health, TripStone's life is equally bleak. TelZodo's arrival plunges them into a battle of wills that leaves them no choice but to face their personal demons together -- if they don't kill each other first.

Volume 6: Second Covenant

The new generation speaks out. Bless struggles to govern Crossroads as the Yata gain power. Abri must balance his sworn oath to kill Masari with his growing worship of them. TelZodo becomes enmeshed in a push for increased predation. Evit stumbles on a solution to the Masari's dependence on Yata flesh, but his discovery could destroy the region utterly. In an atmosphere of murder and political intrigue, only the victor will get to rewrite history.

Elissa Malcohn
Elissa Malcohn lives with her partner Mary in central Florida. when not writing, Elissa can sometimes be found crouching in odd positions to photograph bugs, or performing song and spoken word at open mics. she belongs to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America , Science Fiction Poetry Association , Florida State Poets Association , and is currently on the Motherboard of Broad Universe. she works as a freelancer in communications. see her website for more details and the latest publishing news: http://home.earthlink.net/~emalcohn/index.html

some of the places where Elissa hangs out:

i would like to say thank you to Elissa Malcohn for guest posting today and to you as well for stopping by. watch out for my next master or mistress of the genre.

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