The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda
Here’s a MG that’s a ton of fun. Ash Mistry visits his uncle in India, and stumbles into an adventure that involves deadly demons and gods. My first impression was WOW this is creepy. It starts out with an almost cobra bite, and then there’s a half-eaten water buffalo on the shore, snakes with baby heads. But if you know me, that’s right up my alley. The prose is quite visceral and toothy. It’s very well written.
Yet it is very much a MG. The kids act like kids and talk like kids. It’s an adventure that starts straight away, without taking its time. Archaeological digs, ancient mysteries, gods and demons. If you liked the Percy Jackson books, I think you’ll like the Ash Mistry ones.
My only disappointment was that, though there was a fierce demon girl who helps Ash, his sister doesn’t get much page time and her main function is ‘damsel in distress’. Hopefully, she gets her time to shine in the later books in the series.
Every year I try to do something for professional development. Usually it’s attending a local writer’s conference, or taking a class.
The local speculative fiction writing community here is tiny, and that’s both good and bad. Good, because it means that almost everyone is a familiar face by now, and it’s not too weird to strike up conversations. That takes away a layer of anxiety as an introvert, and I feel comfortable trying new things, participating on panels, and even cracking dumb jokes that fail. It’s great because you can engage with a small, encouraging, group of people.
But, always low-key on my mind, is how weird it is to be the only (or one of the few) visibly non-white people, attending these conferences. I just… hmm… stick out like a sore thumb. The weirdest part is that 40% of the local population is composed of visible minorities (as they call POC in Canada). I can step outside of the hotel, or even into the lobby, and see this version of reality. So going into the conference space is a little like walking into an alternate universe. Welcome to the Twilight Zone, where everything is the same, but melanin doesn’t exist.
I can see why other minorities wouldn’t feel comfortable in spaces like these, and why they are absent or don’t return, even if an environment is not outwardly hostile: it can feel like it’s just not somewhere you belong.
I have no solutions for this tiny community. It’s hard enough to get anyone to show up, let alone find representatives from the small percentage of visible minorities who write in spec-fic. But I think it’s worth pointing out and being aware of.
Ahh April, you whirlwind you. It started with Creative Ink Fest, and devolved into a tangle of emergency child care, edits, and compressed work weeks. I needed a breather between it all, so Hello TV, my old pal, I haven’t seen you in a while. Here’s what I’ve been watching:
The Expanse: A master class in tension and stakes. Bonus <3 for the diverse cast and imagined future. Some actor’s I’ve only seen in supporting roles finally get some some meaty roles to chew on here and that makes me happy.
The Night Manager: A beautifully made miniseries, based on the John le Carré novel. It’s your prototypical spy story (so nothing new there), but you get Tom Hiddleston heart eyes and Olivia Colman’s performance is outstanding.
And Then There Were None: WOW. GORE. We had to read the Agatha Christie book in high school and nowhere in my imagination did it ever go like this. The miniseries was shot like a psychological horror: tense, ugly, disquieting. But well done. Also… is Charles Dance in every period show ever? That man works hard.
Into the Badlands: It’s a bloody, post-apocalyptic, martial arts extravaganza, and there were 3 crazy fight scenes in the pilot alone. Plot and worldbuilding are sacrificed in the name of style and getting the requisite fight scenes into each episode, but I don’t mind. It’s weirdly mesmerizing, stylish, and low-key silly. (Watch the ladies in sky high heels, and see how their shoes miraculously change into flats during fight scenes). I’m totally crushing on both Sunny and Vale. Also, cute Asian baby. NOTHING BAD better happen to that baby or I’m going to start flipping tables. *No spoilers people! I haven’t caught up on Season 2 yet.
- The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley
- Death and Night by Roshani Chokski
Writing Status: Revising