Hey, you know what’s better than endlessly scrolling social media? Closing your eyes while someone reads you a story that transports you to another world. Maybe—like me—you find an odd sense of comfort in a deep, dystopian dive?
The latest episode of the Simultaneous Times podcast is so good, and I’m thrilled that The Ebb Somatic, my feminist, dystopian (but funny!) podcast-within-a-podcast, is part of it.
The Ebb Somatic is set in 2050 Los Angeles—renamed The Angels after 2039’s American Language Act—in a United States that has finally, fully deteriorated into an anti-woman, anti-queer, wealth-hoarding plutocracy. What persists? Trashy true-crime podcasts, overpriced, “anti-aging” beauty devices, and, perhaps, true love. (This is the same setting as another story of mine, also produced for this podcast: From the Angels to Snakes.)
Huge thanks to Phog Masheeen for the brilliant music and sounds, including the saddest, catchiest jingle. The team producing the Simultaneous Times podcast every month does such fine work, and I hope that you will listen to this episode and then listen to many more.
I’d love to hear what you think.
The Ebb Somatic – Simultaneous Times, episode #29
From The Angels to Snakes – Simultaneous Times, episode #14
We Have Your Connie Moody – Simultaneous Times, episode #18
Interview – Simultaneous Times Podcast, Supplementary Log #16
In 2019, my writing did not make any “Best Of” or “Favorite” year-end lists. I wasn’t expecting it to. I did write a fair amount—less than I should’ve. But my writing brought me to some singular experiences this year, opportunities to read intensely personal work in front of larger audiences than I’d encountered until now. I started the Desert Split Open Mic in an effort to continue the conversation started by 2018’s Feckless Cunt Anthology. Every month I wrote something for it, and a few pieces were published. I planned literary events for Joshua Tree Pride, participated in a staged reading of a friend’s novella-in-verse, helped plan two events celebrating composer and poet Lou Harrison, and more. A few times each month, it seems, I found myself standing before a microphone as myself. Did I forget to mention that I’m an introvert?
As 2019 limps to its overdue end (just me?), I feel overwhelmed by exhaustion. It was a tough year, personally, and that’s part of it. But the truth is, I was busy. So busy that I forgot some stuff by the time those year-end lists cropped up. Gathering these photos, I realized that almost everything here required me to step beyond my comfort zone. No wonder I’m tired!
Most writers labor on without much if any external appreciation. We open our veins for the page and—maybe—get an acceptance or a “Like” or word of praise. Sometimes that’s enough, that small acknowledgment from a reader: “Yes. For me, too.” But, in the quiet between acknowledgements, it’s important to remind yourself that you are amazing. You are doing the work and, sometimes, it’s good! Thank you for indulging me as I reminded myself. Wishing you health, happiness, and—most importantly—hope in 2020.
A month devoted to all things literary? Yes, please!
Our community celebrated September’s NEA Big Read with many events, all inspired by one extraordinary book: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
Joshua Tree-based literary journal Cholla Needles devoted their September issue to the theme of survival, taking a cue from Station Eleven. I’m thrilled to have three CNF pieces included: “Pathological,” “Listen for What I Don’t Say,” and “Desert, Mother, Home.” I read them at a number of community open readings held throughout the Morongo Basin, including the one I hosted at Joshua Tree’s Space Cowboy Books.
I was especially honored to participate in this Author Panel on literary genres. I found our conversation interesting and useful—hope you will too. Click below to listen:
My latest sci-fi story, We Have Your Connie Moody, can be heard on Episode #18 of the sci-fi and speculative podcast Simultaneous Times. It’s my second story for them and features multiple voice actors, sound effects, and original music by Phog Masheen. I wasn’t sure how this unconventional story would translate to an audio drama, but I think it’s perfect. What a THRILL.
The story is constructed of online posts to private social networks and is a pointed look at suburban life through alien eyes. Many thanks to Jean-Paul L. Garnier and everyone who helped bring this to life. Click below, or find it streaming on all your favorite podcast players.
If you like what you hear, have a listen to my first story to appear on this podcast (Episode #14), From The Angels to Snakes, a feminist dystopia set in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree:
I am still new to writing in this genre and I’m excited by the possibilities, especially in terms of how it might frame smart and subtle social commentary. In the last year, I’ve thought a lot about my former misunderstandings about genre fiction and in fact what genre means for both writer and reader. On September 21, as part of the NEA BIG READ Morongo Basin, I will participate in an author panel discussion of science fiction and what defines literary genres. Local friends, I hope you’ll join us! Let’s expand our minds like the universe.
Okay, I admit it: I was a snob, when it came to sci-fi. Isn’t that for boys? Isn’t that lighter, pulpier stuff, nerd fantasy, spaceships, oversexed aliens? It doesn’t tackle the Big Questions like Lit’ry Fiction. Okay, I was ignorant. But I smartened up!
Jean-Paul Garnier, publisher of Space Cowboy Books, which last year released my chapbook of tiny stories Swap / Meet, suggested I try my hand at science fiction. He produces a monthly science fiction and speculative podcast called Simultaneous Times (available on itunes, spotify, googleplay etc.), which is beautifully produced with full-cast recordings, custom music, sound effects. Each episode is like an old radio play, but the stories are of this moment and far beyond. Writing “From The Angels to Snakes,” the story that appears in Episode 14, I learned so much about what sci-fi can do, in terms of storytelling. Researching as much female-driven sci-fi as I could, and thinking deeply about what might be possible in a story unconstrained by the factual reality of present or past, I found myself quite inspired. “From The Angels to Snakes” is a dystopian, feminist story that I’m proud of and can’t wait to share. I’m grateful to everyone who worked on it: Music by loopool & RedBlueBlackSilver; Read by Susan Rukeyser, Zara Kand, Danu Heatherly & Jean-Paul Garnier. This was truly a community effort. If you’re so moved, please give it a listen. And subscribe to this terrific podcast.