Tag Archives: jaine fenn

Wicked Women Anniversary Interview: Jaine Fenn

Today we’re joined by the author of Wicked Women story ‘Down at the Lake’ – Jaine Fenn, take it away!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write:

jaine Novacon 2012 - credit to Al Johnston

Photo credit: Al Johnston 2012

In my writing I’ve dabbled across the SFF spectrum but gravitated towards space opera, because I love the grand scale and possibilities it provides. When I was younger I read fantasy in preference to SF and that’s coming back to me now, as I have a growing fondness for that most unfashionable hybrid, science fantasy.

How long have you been writing and how did you get started?

I’ve been writing forever, or at least it sometimes feels like it. I’ve wanted to write stories  since my early teens, though thanks to letting myself get distracted by other stuff (earning a living, role-playing games, having a social life) this took a little longer than intended. I cut my teeth on short stories while working on the-novel-which-became-Principles-of-Angels; thanks to having had a few stories published I was on a panel with Jo Fletcher, who accepted Principles of Angels for publication by Gollancz. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Which authors have influenced you and why?

Ursula le Guin was my gateway to the SFF world: when I was nine I picked up a copy of A Wizard of Earthsea by chance; up until then I’d only read media tie-ins as my family didn’t keep books in the house so I had no idea what was out there.

I wish I could write like Geoff Ryman; he’s a real writers’ writer.

Mary Gentle is a much underrated writer: she’s shown my how to cross boundaries and mix it up.

Cyberpunk came along as I was getting into SF, and I can’t quite shake its influence, especially William Gibson.

And Iain M Banks got me into space opera.

Both history and fiction are replete with women who aim to misbehave – do you have a favourite wicked woman and why?

Ooo, tricky question. Sadly, I think many of the real women who’ve been labelled ‘wicked’ by history have been done so pejoratively, as a way of belittling and disempowering them. One exception would be Boudicca. Though the full facts are lost to time and obscured by later myth-makers, for me she’s a great example of a woman who decided enough was enough and fought back, big time. If we’re talking about pure myth, it would have to be Queen Mab; she’s the essence of capricious, powerful femininity.

Tell us about the Hidden Empire series and what stories we can expect to see next from it?

The series is space opera, though with influences from other parts of the genre too (notably fantasy and cyberpunk, as noted above). There are five books to date, starting with Principles of Angels, and each book is meant to stand alone whilst adding to the overall story. The premise is that humanity was originally elevated to the stars by a not-quite-alien race who wanted to control human destiny – a race of archetypical wicked women, by the way – and though humans overthrew their rulers their attempts to rebuild independent human culture have been fragmentary, and the old oppressors are not entirely gone; plus, there are greater threats lurking out there which most people have no idea of.

The most recent Hidden Empire novel, Queen of Nowhere, tied up a number of loose ends, but there is more to tell. I’m currently working on other novel-length projects, but am still playing in that world; in fact I’ve just finished a short story set immediately after the human rebellion, exploring what happens to a culture when it goes from tyranny to (sort of) democracy.

You were recently a guest of honour at BristolCon, and have been GoH at Novacon as well as being a long time convention goer – what’s your favourite convention to go to, and what benefits have you found at conventions as an author?

I think my favourite con is BristolCon – which was why I was so delighted to be a guest. It’s only one day long but has excellent programming and a lovely chilled and friendly vibe. Cons are a fantastic way to connect with readers, and a chance to talk shop with other authors.

As someone who has been both traditionally published and ventured into self-publishing, what are the benefits of being a hybrid author for you?

It pays to diversify – these days more than ever. The big publishers are increasingly risk-averse, and most writers will produce work which won’t suit traditional publishing models, like novellas, which have always been hard to place. Self-publishing lets you get work like that out there alongside novels.

What’s the appeal of short fiction for you and do you have any short fiction recommendations?

Short fiction is great if, like me, you have a hectic lifestyle and short attention span. More seriously, the short story is an art form which doesn’t get as much credit and coverage as it should; creating and develop compelling characters in a believable world whilst getting across your central idea in, say, five thousand words is quite an art. As for recommendations … there are some excellent short story writers out there, too many to mention, though I think short stories particularly suit hard SF ideas, and two recommendations for hard SF shorts would be Alasdair Reynolds and a newer writer, Vaughan Stanger.

Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?

There’s a whole steaming pile of gender-related stuff we could do without, although that is changing, slowly. I think the cliché which annoys me most is not from SFF, but about it, and that’s the common view of those who don’t read in our genre that those of us who do are infantile, anti-social, incapable of functioning effectively in the real world – and male.

What are you up to next?

I’m currently working on a science fantasy duology called Shadowlands, though I don’t have a publication date for that yet. Next May I’ll be Guest of Honour at Satellite 5, up in Glasgow, and I’m looking forward to that. And one of my intentions for next year, which your earlier question reminded me of, is to revise some of the many not-quite-there-yet short stories I have around.

Thank you for joining us Jaine!

Jaine Fenn studied Linguistics and Astronomy at college before spending a decade and a half developing a healthy distrust of technology whilst working in computing. She lives in Hampshire with her husband and her books.

As well as numerous short stories she is the author of the Hidden Empire series which started in 2008 with Principles of Angels. Since then, she has published a further 4 novels in the Hidden Empire series and a short story collection, Downside Girls set in the Hidden Empire universe. In her spare time, Jaine includes wild, green places, dancing like nobody’s watching and serious chocolate in her list of things to ease the trials of everyday life.

Her website can be found at http://www.jainefenn.com

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Wicked Women Out Now

Just in time for Halloween, Wicked Women (edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber) has landed!  Available in paperback or ebook formats from your local Amazon or Barnes & Noble.com.  Spooktacular!  (Sorry. I’m not sorry!)Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00024]From thieves and tyrants to witches and warriors, here are twelve tales of women who gleefully write their own rules, women who’ll bend or break the social norms, who’ll skate along the edge of the law and generally aim to misbehave.

Contents:

Juliet E. McKenna – Win Some, Lose Some
Christine Morgan – The Shabti-Maker
Tom Johnstone – Kravolitz
A. R. Aston –  No Place of Honour
Adrian Tchaikovsky – This Blessed Union
Sam Stone – The Book of the Gods
Chloë Yates – How to be the Perfect Housewife
Stephanie Burgis – Red Ribbons
Jonathan Ward – A Change in Leadership
Jaine Fenn – Down at the Lake
Zen Cho – The First Witch of Damansara
Gaie Sebold – A Change of Heart

Published by Fox Spirit Books
 ISBN: 978-1-9093486-9-1

Urban Mythic: Jaine Fenn Interviewed

jainefennGood morning groovers!  And what delights do we have for you today?  Why, it’s Urban Mythic author Jaine Fenn in da house! 🙂

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I mainly write Science Fiction, of the far future character-driven kind. My Hidden Empire novels are published by Gollancz, and for the last few years I’ve been focusing on them, but I also love writing short stories, and with these I range across the genre, having fun with everything from alt. history to, well, urban fantasy.

What was the idea behind “Not the Territory”?

It’s a story I’ve been meaning to write for years. I’ve never lived in London, but I have commuted into both the City and the West End on a regular basis and to me, London has always been a fascinating other world, crowded with history, full of possibility. And if the bits you can see are intriguing, what about the stuff you don’t get to see? Or at least, don’t usually get to see … I also love maps, possibly to an unhealthy extent; personally I’m not a fan of maps that don’t tell you what you’re getting into, but Phil and Astral (two characters I’ve written about before) are just the blokes to follow a map and see where it leads them. I also wanted to use the basement of the Guildhall as a setting; not many civic buildings have a Roman amphitheatre under them. That’s the essence of this story: all those compacted layers of history and possibility, and how they interact.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I have to confess that these days I don’t read much urban fantasy. This isn’t because I don’t like it, just because I have limited reading time and so have to be extra picky about what books to add to my teetering ‘to read’ pile (OK, piles). I’ve enjoyed reading Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman and more recently Paul Cornell’s London Falling, a book I highly recommend.

How important is music when you’re writing and did “Not the Territory” have a particular backing track?

I always write to music, though I find anything with a clear vocal distracting. By default I use ambient and dub for the quiet sections and trance and rock for action sequences. Not every story has a particular backing track but this one does: the album Dead Cities by Future Sound of London.

What are you up to next?

The most recent Hidden Empire book, Queen of Nowhere, came out this autumn, and I’ve just started work on the next one. I’ve also got a YA space mystery which I describe as ‘Lord of the Flies meets Silent Running meets the Midwich Cuckoos‘ but I don’t have a publication date for that yet. Convention-wise, after World Fantasy I’ll be at Novacon, then – having been to loads of cons this autumn – I’ll have a bit of a rest. But I’m looking forward to Worldcon next year, in London.

[ Jaine Fenn is the author of the Hidden Empire series, far future SF published by Gollancz, which began with Principles of Angels. She also writes short stories in other genres, a number of which have been published professionally. Back when she had a proper day-job she spent too much time travelling on the Tube and London remains one of her favourite alien worlds. Her website can be found at www.jainefenn.com ]

Urban Mythic at WFC!

UM cover A 008 dI may have mentioned a few times that Urban Mythic is launching at WFC in Brighton next weekend.   Because, dudes! We’re launching at WFC!  Friday 1st November!  Noon!  In Signing Alley!   (Along with Alchemy’s other titles – Pulp Heroes 2 & Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac.)

But anyway, Urban Mythic, innit!  Lovely author people who will be floating around are: Jaine Fenn, Christopher Golden, Alison Littlewood, Anne Nicholls, Gaie Sebold, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jonathan Oliver, Ian Whates & Ben Baldwin.

But my lovely people-folks, that’s not all.  Oh no!  Selected members of Team Urban Mythic will be doing a reading event on the Thursday!  From 2:00 – 2:30pm in Hall 8B.

And! Also! Our faaaabulous authors will be out and about doing other things at the WFC beast.  Here, for your author spotter notebook, is where else you can find them…

Artist:
Ben Baldwin
SAT 11:00 am-Noon – Launch – Newcon Press & Snowbooks (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
SAT 5:00-7:00 pm (Art Show)

Authors:
Jaine Fenn:
SAT 5:00-6:00 pm – Panel – Does SF Have a Future? (Cambridge)

Christopher Golden:     
THURS 4:00-5:00 pm – Panel – Strip Search (Oxford)
FRI 3:00-4:00 pm – Panel – Writing for the Franchise Market (Hall 4)
FRI 4:00-6:00 pm – Party – PS Publishing Bumper Book Launch (Regency)
SAT 3:00-3:30 pm – Reading – (Hall 8A)

Alison Littlewood:     
THURS 4:00-5:00 pm – Panel – Landscape of the Fantastic (Cambridge)
SAT Noon-1:00 pm – Panel – When the Fairies Come Out to Play (Cambridge)
SAT 3:00-4:00 pm – Launch – Constable & Robinson (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
SAT 11:00 pm-12:30 am – (mysterious unknown funky thing) (Chartwell)
SUN Noon-1:00 pm – Panel – How to Write that Second Book (Hall 4)

Anne Nicholls:
THURS 8:00 pm – Presentation – David Gemmell Awards (Oxford)
THURS 9:30 pm – Party/Launch – David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing (Regency)

Jonathan Oliver:  
SAT 4:00-5:00 pm – Panel – You Can’t Write, Edit an Anthology (Hall 4)
SUN 11:00 am-Noon – Launch – Solaris/Rebellion (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
And you’ll probably also find Jonathan at the Solaris table in the Dealer Room too!

Gaie Sebold:    
THURS 9:30 pm – Party/Launch – David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing (Regency)
FRI 4:00-5:00 pm – Panel – Broads with Swords (Cambridge)

Adrian Tchaikovsky:
THURS 9:30 pm – Party/Launch – David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing (Regency)
SAT 10:00-11:00 am – Panel – Best of All Possible Worlds (Cambridge)
SAT 5:00-5:30 pm – Reading (Hall 8A)
SUN 10:00-11:00 am – Launch – Fox Spirit Books (Hall 8/Signing Alley)

Ian Whates:     
THURS 9:30 pm – Party/Launch – David Gemmell Awards Reception/Legends Signing  (Regency)
FRI Noon-1:00 pm – Panel – Surviving as an Independent Press (Cambridge)
FRI 5:00-6:00 pm – Interview – Life Achievement Award: Tanith Lee (Oxford)
SUN 11:00 am-Noon – Launch – Solaris/Rebellion (Hall 8/Signing Alley)
And don’t forget to find Ian at the Newcon Press table in the Dealer Room!  And also in the Dealer Room, on the Solaris table signing stuff on SAT 3:30 – 4:30pm

And also!
Look for Alchemy Publisher Peter Coleborn in the Art Show SAT 5:00-7:00 pm
And Editor Jan Edwards wandering around having fun!
And Editor Jenny Barber (hello!) lurking behind the registration desk Weds – Sat.