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Friends and readers, it is with great excitement and pride that I share with you my latest publishing feat! Some time ago I wrote a little short story entitled “Her Majesty’s Untapped Fury” and submitted it to the Seattle-based Mad Scientist Journal for their Summer, 2016 anthology. And now, here it is, Summer and the anthology has been published both in print and digital!
I suppose you’ll want to know what it’s about before you buy, correct? So be it!
“Her Majesty’s Untapped Fury” is about the discovery of the world’s first weather machine and the hotly debated “mad” scientist who created it. To reveal anything more would give too much away, but suffice it to say that the Archive and primary sources are heavily featured!
What’s that? You’d like an excerpt as an additional form of incentive? Oh, well, all right! Twist my arm!
While conducting research on the correlation between science and megalomania, I found
myself arriving at, of all places, the Royal Society. London has a long and storied history of men
in suits with egos the size of planets, so logic dictated that my time would be well spent rifling
through papers craftily collected as glorified tributes to the scientifically-minded God Complex.
My hope was that the rarest of rare instances might occur: stumbling upon the papers of a
genius lost to the ages. The odds were against me. Most of the interesting subjects had already
been discovered. But I felt confident that my wayward mastermind had to exist amid the myriad
stacks and collections tucked safely within the pristine walls of the Archives.
It goes without saying that my days were spent combing through the long-winded essays
and profoundly worded declarations preserved for the sake of posterity and little else. The
tedium, however, finally bore fruit when I began to notice a common phrase appearing in the
minutes, correspondence, and journals of prominent Society members during the late
nineteenth century. Plainly written, or as plain as elaborate script can be, it said “the Mad
Rodney wm.” There was very little context to the statement, and the more it appeared, the more
it began to take on an air of warning. Between the years 1859-1867, “Mad Rodney” was a
popular topic of conversation within the Society, despite their attempts to keep appearances to
the contrary. So who was he, and why did he inspire such hushed tones in an otherwise
garrulous group of intellectual gossips?
As always, the first one’s free. To find out more, you’ll have to make a slight contribution. Luckily, I have websites for you to visit where said contributions will not only finish my tale, but provide you with many more amazing tales of mad science to keep you good and entertained!
You can either go directly to Mad Scientist Journal to find all of the links!
And don’t forget to leave a review on Goodreads!
Lastly, thank you to Mad Scientist Journal for the opportunity to submit as well as publishing this story that was tremendously fun to write. Thank you to my beta readers who offered their support. And thank you to those who will eventually read my story and all of the stories therein.
Why eight questions? Because I had more than five and less than ten! Actually, there are more than eight because of grouping the questions by subject but – and you probably don’t care about any explanation I provide.
Over the summer I started reading more prose fiction to shake things up between comic book trades and I was fortunate to come across a spectacular, mostly coming-of-age, story of magic, music, and the harsh reality of growing up: Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Set in Mexico City and jumping between 1988 and 2009, Signal to Noise follows Mercedes “Meche” Vega who discovers her love of music, and the right vinyl, can cast magic spells. Roping in her friends Sebastian and Daniela, the trio use magic to change their lives for the better, but the consequences of their actions result in a decades long estrangement.
The book comes highly recommended by io9’s Charlie Jane Anders and I couldn’t agree with her more. Signal to Noise is an intimate look at a young woman searching for a solid foundation, something she can believe in, trust in, but always comes up short. Meche’s exterior and interior turmoil makes for a complex and nuanced protagonist who is as frustrating as she is sympathetic.
In light of my new found book to gush over, I reached out to Silvia Moreno-Garcia and she was kind enough to answer several questions, via email, about Signal to Noise and her forth-coming anthology, She Walks in Shadows, which looks at the works of H.P. Lovecraft through his female characters – or lack thereof.
Maniacal Geek (MG): Though Signal to Noise is a coming-of-age story, the magical elements are secondary, acting more as a catalyst than being a consistently present force. Is this how you perceive the role of magic in urban fantasy or did it just serve this specific story?
Silvia Moreno-Garcia (SMG): For many Anglo writers and readers magic must work as a system, a kind of D&D system. I wanted to play with this notion, with how much you can systematize magic, versus the ‘magic’ which appears in Latin American fiction which works in a completely different matter. So that the result is this is not quite magic realism and not quite urban fantasy.
MG: Meche’s grandmother doesn’t mind telling stories about magic but she’s reluctant to use it and only does so to save Sebastian from Meche’s recklessness. In your opinion, is magic the folly of youth?
SMG: I leave it up to the reader to figure that out.
MG: Music is the connective tissue that keeps Meche tied to her father and becomes her means of casting spells. What is your relationship with music and how did it influence Signal to Noise?
SMG: My parents both worked in radio stations. That’s the kind of environment I grew up in. We had a lot of albums stacked around the house. I used my father’s professional tape recorder to make mixtapes. That kind of thing. My son now has a portable record player. My grandfather was also a radio announcer so the fear is it’s genetic.
MG: Coming from a comic book background myself, there’s been an ongoing discussion about the flawed female protagonist, which Meche definitely fits. Were you worried that people might not be able to relate to Meche? Do we have to relate to a character like Meche? How do you feel Meche has grown as a character by the end of the book?
SMG: Ugh. Relatable, likeable characters, eh? There are so many famous characters in books you can’t relate to and the books do just fine. You have criminals like Tom Ripley and Dexter in multiple novels. And in the romance novel the brooding hero is a staple. I don’t find Heathcliff or Mr. Rochester to be relatable since I’m not a white billionaire living in the age of carriages. They’re not super likeable either, mad wife in attic and all. But women. Ah, we are much harder on women. Women better be fucking perfect and relatable.
Look, I’m Mexican, I grew up without a lot of the bells and whistles Americans take for granted. There’s not a lot of people I can relate to in books. Not Holden from Catcher in the Rye, not Bella in Twilight. So *I* can relate to Meche.
So no, I didn’t worry that Meche was likeable or relatable, although I’ve heard from many people that they can relate to her. If people find her interesting enough to follow her through the book I think that’s enough.
As to how she’s grown, I went to visit my friend who is now living in NY this year and I hadn’t been there in about 14 years. At one point he said something which sounds pretty accurate. He said: “Silvia, we are older but not more mature.” I’ll leave it at that.
MG: Do you believe Mexico has a greater cultural connection to magic? To music?
SMG: I grew up with a lot of folklore in my life and folk magic, but I believe this is unusual and certainly much more unusual for people younger than me. But you do see magic more openly, there is a witch’s market in Mexico City where you can buy ingredients, there was an “esoteric plaza” in a shopping mall near my home, and there’s the witches in Catemaco who are quite famous. Some people still might visit the curandero, the healer, or believe in the evil eye. Things like that. But the influence of Anglo culture is erasing a lot of that.
MG: You’ve edited several anthologies with horror themes with many specifically focused on H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos. What attracts you to Lovecraft and the horror genre? Do you have a favorite Lovecraft story?
SMG: “The Colour out of Space.” My thesis work focuses on Lovecraft, eugenics and women so I’m interested in him on an academic level and at a visceral one. I like all kinds of genres and read indiscriminately, from cheap, old pulp crime novels to modern dramatic lit. As a writer, horror is just one tool I can employ. As a reader, I’ve always had a basic interest in terrible things.
MG: The latest anthology, She Walks in Shadows, explores Lovecraft through the feminine perspective and the explicit or ambiguously defined female characters. In your opinion does Lovecraft have an inherent feminist slant or did you see his writings as a challenge, something to meet head on for the anthology?
SMG: He barely has any women in his stories, so it’s a challenge. The writers are all showing a variety of visions of Lovecraftian characters, Weird fiction, and women. Women for Lovecraft exist as an absence, an unnamed presence, they are the lurking fear of his stories and we are bringing them to the forefront.
If you’d like to get your grubby mits on all of Silvia’s work currently available for purchase:
Signal to Noise: http://www.silviamoreno-garcia.com/blog/books/signal-to-noise/
Love and Other Poisons: http://www.silviamoreno-garcia.com/blog/bibliography/love-other-poisons/
One year ago today Cara Reads Books premiered on Facebook with The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt! Now with the next Teddy Roosevelt related review …
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard
An exciting account of the jolly journey of Teddy Roosevelt and friends going down a tributary of the Amazon called the River of Doubt. You will be shocked when things go wrong for the under prepared party on the unexplored river.
Spoiler Alert: The river was actually less doubty and more deathy.
I give this 4 out of 5 Teddy Roosevelts Cheating Death
Cara Reads Books returns after a short … Holy crap, has it been 4 months!? Um, yeah … anyway …
A riveting account of the battle of Stalingrad from 1942-1943, which will leave you wondering that between logistical issues, lack of common sense, lack of supplies, poor military tactics, and the crippling Russian winter, how the Germans and the Russians even managed to fight each other.
Spoiler Alert: The Soviets won! USA! USA!
I give this 4 out of 5 Russian Winters
Next review, one of the million books Cara read in the last 4 months instead of writing reviews.