Joy to the Worlds Book Tour!

IMG_0882Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays has been released and I’m thrilled to say that it’s having a great ride (great reviews, great on-line sales, just great stuff all around).

Please celebrate with all four authors (including yours truly) by joining us for one (or more) of these fun events. There will be prizes and/or treats at every single one. I’d love to see you there!

DEC. 5—Virtual Book Tour Event streaming live on Google+ and YouTube. Join us for a short reading and Q&A. We’ll be giving away a free autographed copy as well. (Link coming soon.) 5:30-6:30 PM CST.

DEC. 6—UW Bookstore Event in Bellevue, WA. Join us for a mini-mystery hunt (with prizes), seasonal treats, Q&A, and book signing. 3-4 PM. Further details here.

DEC. 11—Barnes & Noble Event in Beaverton, OR. Join us for a reading, Q&A, and signing. 7-8 PM. Further details here.

DEC. 12—Seattle Mystery Books in Seattle, WA. Come chat with the authors and snag a signed copy of Joy to the Worlds while you enjoy the ambiance of this unique bookstore. 12-1 PM. Further details here.

DEC. 13–Kings Books in Tacoma, WA. Join us for a short reading, Q&A, and signing. 2-3 PM. Further details here.


Joyful Reviews!

Early reviews are rolling in for Joy to the Worlds!


I’m particularly excited about the one by Publishers Weekly, not only because it’s from Publishers Weekly (!), but because, gosh, they said such nice things about my stories.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Eight short stories by four authors glisten with holiday wonder, each one decorated in hues of legend, myth, SF, and quirky, joyful fun…The two standout stories come from G. Clemans: “Escape from Old Yorktown” blends snarky teenagers working for a futuristic living-history museum with secretive politics and galaxy-wide conspiracies, and “Bevel & Turn” dives into familial lore and obsession, crafting a tale of mystery and time travel that’s flecked with the psychology of loss and loneliness…”

“THE TWO STANDOUT STORIES”?! I’m over the moon. The full review can be read here.


Joy to the Worlds!

joy to the worlds

I could not be more excited about my upcoming fiction debut! Two of my short stories are included in Joy to the Worlds, a cross-genre collection of holiday-themed short stories available Dec. 1, 2015. And I’m in great company: National bestselling mystery author Maia Chance, IPPY award-winning science fiction author Janine A Southard, and Sci Fi and fantasty bestseller Raven Oak.

Here’s the blurb from the publisher (Grey Sun Press): “What do you get when you mix mystery and speculative fiction, then toss in the holidays for good measure? A mobster Santa, genetic hanky-panky, Victorian villages, time-travelling detectives, Krampus, eerie beel spirits, and more – this collection of short cross-genre fiction is the perfect counterpoint to traditional holiday reading!”

AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes,  Kobo,  Books-A-Million,  Powells,
and other independent booksellers worldwide.
…clever and evocative of the mystery and thrill of Christmas by turns creepy and sometimes amusing. Ranging from dark dystopian worlds to comedic retro-futures, four diverse writers find new ways to combine these disparate worlds into something anyone will enjoy.
Amy Brown, Geek Syndicate
The holidays plus spec-fic… yes please! I was tempted to hold off reading this book until closer to Christmas, but I couldn’t do it. I needed this book in my life. And the good news is… Joy to the Worlds did not disappoint! The bad news is, I want more! Way more. This book was unlike any other holiday collection out there, and that’s why I loved it. Is it Christmas yet?
Shannon Terril (Librarian)

Ideas Crash Down but Themes Bubble Up


The idea for my third novel came as I was headed out the door for a walk with my younger daughter and our ridiculous dog. The sky was gray – nothing new there, we live in Seattle – but it was a dense, purplish gray and the clouds were heavy and round. “Muscular,” I thought to myself.

Lightning crashed before we even made it onto the sidewalk, so we turned right around and went back inside. The dog was not happy.

But that wasn’t the end of it. I kept thinking about those muscular clouds.  And the threat of lightning.  And I just knew I wanted to see what would happen in a story about a world with constant thunderstorms. I wanted to conjure up those images and, through the writing, discover where the story would lead.

So, for me, anyway, ideas crash down – or sneak in. Single images or phrases lodge themselves in my brain until I sit down and write. Broad themes come later.

Just a couple of years ago, when I first started writing fiction, and people were kind enough to ask what I write about, I’d give some specifics about the particular plot I was constructing.

Black-and-White-Raindrops-TextureNow that I have a few short stories under my belt and am on my third novel, I can recognize the themes that are bubbling up.

So, now, if people were kind enough to ask what I write about, I might say, “The conflation of myth and history” or “The beauty and terror of nature – the Sublime.” Oooh, or how about, “The emergence of identity amid conflicting socio-economic systems”?

They’re nothing mind-bogglingly original, but, to borrow a phrase from Scott Westerfeld, they’re bubbly to me.

Why I Write

I’ve stolen the title of this essay from George Orwell, who, in 1946, loaded his explanation with phrases like “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.”

Sheesh. So, why did Eric Arthur Blair (a.k.a. Orwell) write?

George Orwell suffering though a bout of writing

George Orwell suffering though a bout of writing

He laid out four “great motives”:

Sheer Egoism
Aesthetic Enthusiasm
Historical Impulse
Political Purpose
I suppose I relate most to the first two. Sheer Egoism? Sure. I find writing both ego-stroking and soothing. Aesthetic Enthusiasm? Absolutely. Arriving at le mot juste — or the right combination of mots — is liberating and satisfying.

And as for the last two? Well, I want to contribute good novels for smart, young readers, but my ego hasn’t been stroked quite enough to feel like I’m participating in the grand Historical Impulse. And while I try to pepper my middle grade and young adult novels with ideas about socio-economic structures, I can’t really say that I’m driven by Political Purpose.

Orwell has lots of weighty, important things to say about these four great motives. (You can read the complete essay here).

But, for me, he really hits home at the end of his essay, where he gets quite charming and self-deprecating and says that it all boils down to compulsion. He says writers write because they are propelled by “some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

This particular demon has only recently come to stay with me.

There I was, minding my own business — trying very, very hard to mind my own business: Raising two daughters, doing some freelance writing, teaching a few classes, and struggling to finish my Ph.D. I had plenty of business to mind. But then a little demon flew into my head. An idea for a novel.

And it wouldn’t leave me alone. My attention was pulled more and more toward character names, plot ideas, turns of phrases. The opening sentence. Oh, I adored thinking about that opening sentence. The whole thing became a fantasy land to which my mind flew.

But it was all theoretical. I hadn’t written a word. Finally, I sat down with my laptop, debating whether to open up a fresh, blank Word document. I told myself, “Don’t do it. Finish your dissertation first. Don’t do it.”

But, of course, I did it. I opened up that document and started writing my very first piece of fiction.

Well, my first piece of fiction as an adult.

In his essay, Mr. Orwell wrote, “From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer.”

It wasn’t that way for me, although I did write a fair bit as a kid: mostly poetry and short stories, including a very, very earnest story called, “Friends Forever.” I wasn’t exactly a prodigy. But I did enjoy making things up and writing them down in my loopy, girly script.

And then, as I grew up, I drifted away from fiction. I became an academic and then a freelance art critic, and I wrote a fair bit of non-fiction. I still do, and I love that process.

No. I am grateful for that process. Through the cherry-picking of words that will articulate what I want to say, I figure out what I am saying. It’s how I understand art and history and theories more deeply.

Now that I think about it — write about it — it’s like Orwell’s Historical Impulse, which he describes as “the desire to see things as they are.”

But fiction is different. It takes me places I didn’t even know I could imagine. Writing fiction is magical. Sometimes, I am almost breathless when I write, and that’s not an exaggeration. I want to find out what happens next.

Of course other times — often, really — it’s plodding and sticky. But when it’s flowing, and I’m in it, really in the writing, it’s as close to alchemy as I’m ever going to get. The characters talk to each other. The next element in the plot is revealed. Or, all of a sudden, something insists on being inserted into an earlier chapter. I rewrite as I write. I understand as I go. And I keep going until I’ve created something out of nothing.

So, now, this alchemical escapism has become its own demon. A friendly, if slightly nagging, demon that I have welcomed into my life, onto my couch where I sit with my laptop, wondering where the writing will take me.


(This essay was originally produced for, March, 2014)

Who Wrote a Book?

I recently finished my first novel!

It’s an upper Middle Grade adventure, blatantly inspired by, and written for, my two spunky daughters.

I didn’t set out to write a novel. I was pulled into it while avoiding my dissertation, walking my dog, and dragging my two daughters along on “It’s good for you!” hikes in Discovery Park, the big, semi-wild park near my house in Seattle.

I started thinking about what it would be like to live in the park and I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. And so I started writing.

Here’s what my heroine, thirteen year old Asha Barden, would say about the book:

“Oh, scrud. Let me think…Okay, I’ve got it: This book is about different ways to create a society.  At first I thought that our way, The Commune’s way, was perfect: ordered, harmonious, cooperative. But lately, well, I’m not so sure…”  

Here’s my blurb-in-progress:

One hundred years in the future, in a communal, anti-materialistic culture devoid of electricity, thirteen-year-old Asha Barden helps to maintain Tellings: myths from around the world, historical stories about life before The Bombing, and origin stories about her ancestors’ brave settlement of Discovery Park, a sprawling wilderness within the now-defunct city of Seattle.

As summer approaches, Asha has a choice to make: Will she stay in The Park, studying the commune’s Tellings and building a treehouse with her friends Dare and Lavender? Or will she have the courage to venture beyond Discovery Park?

If she stays, she will please her friends, the Tellers, and her parents who still mourn the loss of her sister five years before. If she goes, she might at last break free from the past and discover new stories of her own to tell.  But what she encounters might threaten the harmony of the community she cherishes.