I'm honoured to host my friend Benjanun Sriduangkaew on the blog today to discuss her upcoming release, Winterglass! I'm definitely pre-ordering a copy, as it sounds absolutely amazing, as is everything I've read by Benjanun.
Without further ado, on to the post!
Content warning for discussion of anti-queer violence, concentration camps, anti-queer sexual violence, misogynistic slur, anti-lesbian slur.
Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard that in Chechnya, they’re rounding up gay people and putting them in concentration camps. Recently it came out that gay singer Zelimkhan Bakaev has, most likely, been tortured to death in such a camp.
This is the reality for queer people; this is happening in the real world. But in the popular imagination, of television shows and epic fantasy and science fiction, such an event is just another trope to tug at the heartstrings of and thrill the cisgender, heterosexual audience. It’s just another trope to make cisgender, heterosexual creators feel good and socially aware; it’s just another trope to make them feel radical, daring. It’s just another trope. Here’s a queer character, she lives under mortal terror of being rounded up, stuck in a concentration camp, or — as in the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, in a scene aired to critical acclaim— watching her lover hanged and then being genitally mutilated. This, popular media wants to tell you, is what it means to be queer: constantly terrified, miserable, brutalized, sexually assaulted and then finally dead.
A cisgender heterosexual viewer or reader will feel emotional about it for five minutes. After the five minutes are up they’ll go on to think, not that they’ll say it aloud, how fortunate it is that they are not born queer. We are fodder for their emotional porn, fodder to reinforce their certainty that they’re the normal ones, fodder for them to feel better about themselves and that they belong in this world.
I could go on about the many, many pieces of media. I could describe the specific tropes and the specific occasions. How about an anime where a lesbian dies and then her wife hangs herself after trying unsuccessfully to overdose? How about that one grimdark fantasy book where a lesbian is blackmailed — with the gang-rape of her lover — into pretending to enjoy her own rape? There’s a lot, isn’t it, usually written by men but I’m sure we can think of a few written by cisgender heterosexual women. There is a deep, nasty hatred of lesbians in particular, and men who already enjoy writing reams of graphic rape will enjoy it double when that rape is of sapphic women. Because in their heads this teaches women a lesson for rejecting them: don’t like men, you little bitch? Well, this is what happens to dykes. I’m sure they will insist they’d never harbor such a heinous little thought, but I ran out of tolerance or consideration for good intention a very, very long time ago.
It’s exhausting to think about this, it’s more exhausting to talk about it. It’s exhausting to face the fact that these tropes will persist on and on, in shows given a budget in the hundred-millions. It’s exhausting to think that while the equivalent to this is decried when it comes to (presumed cishet) women, the relentless heaping of sexualized violence and tragedy on lesbians is often treated as necessary to make a point (about what?) or passes by unremarked upon, or worse it’s recommended as a must-read for its inclusiveness and its representation of queer women, just as with My Absolute Darling --
It also raises larger questions, as a man attempts to use a tale of graphic sexual violence — and the added taboo of incest — to jumpstart a career that likely would have been supercharged already thanks to his family connections and the fact that he’s a man. The notion that men like Tallent are doing women a favor by telling their stories for them ignores the fact that they usually tell these stories badly, and that their voices suck all the oxygen from the room, making it impossible for victims and survivors to be heard.
Using scenes of escalating brutality and grotesquerie may be a popular literary device, but it serves, in a warped and tormented way, to glorify this violence. Books like this become “must reads,” even for people who find them extremely traumatic, while the amazing women exploring themes of child sexual assault, molestation, incest, and sexual violence are pushed to the sidelines.
— s.e. smith, ‘MY ABSOLUTE MISOGYNY: MALE AUTHORS ARE STILL PROFITING FROM WOMEN’S PAIN’
It is tiring. It wears you down. And it never, ever stops.
My book Winterglass is a dystopia. It’s not a dystopia in the more conventional sense of 1984 and Brave New World, or The Hunger Games: the city-state Sirapirat, where Winterglass takes place, is a land under siege but the conditions of siege has become normalized. One of those conditions is that, in order for its people to survive the drastic change in climate — a perpetual winter — they must make use of heating and power fueled by ghosts sacrificed to the Winter Queen. In this way those dehumanized in a conquered territories (the marginalized, the politicized, the criminals) are gotten rid of, and the queen’s conquered subjects accept it as both convenient and necessary.
In many settings like this, and in dystopias in general, queer people are the author’s favorite targets for slaughter. Queerness is defined not as itself but by the brutality queer bodies suffer: the loss of lovers, the strain of keeping one’s gender or orientation a secret, the persistent threat of sexual violence, the suppression of self. This is the story that dominates the popular imagination — being marginalized means living in terror, and popular media teaches that not only do stories need conflict, but when conflict arises for marginalized characters that can only ever center around their identity. Women are raped; queer people are genitally mutilated or under threat of ‘corrective’ rape; people of color are enslaved and have their heritage stolen.
That isn’t a story I’m interested in telling. The world of Winterglass is a queer-normative one. It is brutally oppressive, as all imperialist invasive regimes are, but both Sirapirat’s native culture and the Winter Queen’s are not homophobic (one white gay man fled from ‘the Occident’ to live under the Winter Queen so he can marry his husband). In Sirapirat all genders are normalized, and the protagonists — both queer, one of them non-binary — may have many concerns, but being suppressed for their gender or romantic identity is not one of them. Why?
Because stories that trade on and exploit queer trauma are not simply reprehensible; they are lazy. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talked of the ‘danger of the single story’, and the endless mountains of queer tragedy are this, an embrace of and a perpetuation of it — the single story, predictable, the same every time: that queer people are born to be brutalized specifically because they are queer.
I am not your emotional fodder. I am not here to make you feel good about being heterosexual. I am not here to make you feel fortunate. I am not here for you.
I’m here to tell a different story.
Winterglass is a lesbian epic fantasy based on ‘The Snow Queen’, set in secondary-world Southeast Asia. Out December 2017, and available now for pre-order.
How far would you go to save your family?
Adilan Brennan knew from a young age that Elementalist blood was in her veins. She’d seen her sister look at her with fear, sadness, anger, hope--all before ever speaking a word. She grew up behind the sandstone walls of Ardonia, meant to keep the Council out, and her sister Celosia within them.
Adilan was never much of a talker. She saw too much. She had a fate that was intertwined with Celosia’s from the moment she was born. An Enivisoner whose gift was not the immediate future, but a concrete vision of what was to occur many years later kept her from giving away what she saw when she closed her eyes. It was something unable to be put to words.
When she saw her sister’s flames burn her mother alive at Daybreak--she knew it was too monstrous to speak of. That words could never do it justice. They would give things away. Betray her, and all the secrets she kept locked behind her lips.
The Council recruited her with a hefty payoff in the aftermath of Daybreak. She recalled her father’s face, his shock and dismay at her proud chin. Her angry words--the first she had spoken in years. She rose quickly through the ranks of the Council forces, a brilliant, strategic mind hell-bent on capturing all that resisted the Council’s reign. Take the plea bargain, or death was certain. That was the rule. She commanded soldiers with a wave of her hand, pointed to areas on maps she’d never been to--destroyed cities she had never seen. Such was her gift, and her curse. The Council exploited her knowledge with glee, thrilled to have a powerful Envisioner on their side in the 120 years since the Cleanse. Most of all, she wanted beyond reason to destroy Celosia. To take away everything she ever loved, and make her pay for the horrible things that she had done. Any Council soldier could tell you of Adilan Brennan’s hatred for Daybreak, rivaling that of her fellows ten-fold.
Adilan set her sights a little higher as the years went by. When she heard Celosia’s thoughts in her mind years later, she Spoke. Taunts, jeers, anything to chip away at Celosia’s fragile sanity. Hard-wrought barriers crashed down as Adilan threw Celosia’s past in her face, rendering her unable to call upon her magic. Celosia never expected that the person causing her such pain would turn out to be her own flesh and blood.
Nobody, not even Celosia--Expected her to be such a gifted liar.
Find out more in book two of the Embers of Redemption trilogy -- Arriving in 2018 from Kraken Collective Books
/I have so much news to share with you all. SO. MUCH.
If you don't want to read all of this, the TL;DR so you can scroll to your point-of-interest is:
1. I'm re-publishing DAYBREAK RISING with The Kraken Collective
2. DAYBREAK RISING edits = MAPS AND MORE STUFF!!
2.5. DAYBREAK RISING sequel yayyyy
3. Collab w/dos_twinjas = get hypeee
4. F/F SFF graphic novel collab w/o_zabethy = HOPE YOU LIKE LESBIAN DRAGONS.
First things first:
1. I'm excited to announce that I am re-publishing DAYBREAK RISING with The Kraken Collective!
As you may already know, The Kraken Collective is a brand-new, team-based publisher of LGBT speculative fiction with an emphasis on positive representation and uplifting stories. I was always going to be a part of it from its creation, but had to step back for a while due to some mental health issues (Ohai burnout, nice to see you again! Except, not.) anyway, that's pretty much better, and I'm back in full swing. I'm really looking forward to contributing to The Kraken Collective, and helping my fellow authors.
I shamelessly store the next section here from my collective cohort Lyssa Chiavari re: more about The Kraken Collective. (Thank you!!)
The Kraken Collective is an alliance of indie authors who have pooled resources to publish high-quality fiction while retaining complete creative control over our stories. We aim to provide a wide variety of science fiction and fantasy stories, all starring LGBTQIAP+ characters. From alien hunting lesbians to complex political fantasy, The Kraken Collective publishes queer SFF that will blow your mind and leave you craving more.
Although it begins as a simple cooperative between authors, we aim to grow into an unique publishing model capable of supporting queer indie voices everywhere in SFF. We are committed to building a publishing space that is inclusive, positive, and brings fascinating stories to readers.
If you’d like to follow The Kraken Collective on social media, you can find us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram! The Kraken Collective is an indie co-op rather than a traditional publisher. I love this publishing model and the independence that it gives authors while also providing the support network you can find in traditional publishing.
I’m very excited to be part of this team, and to be working with them for the release of DAYBREAK RISING'S sequel, The Vanishing Wars, PR and marketing help for my fellow collective members, and much more. It's going to be awesome!
So...Yay!! This is for a lot of reasons, but mainly because I like having things all in one place, and I want my readers to experience DAYBREAK RISING in all its glory. To that extent, I will be making major edits to DAYBREAK RISING prior to its re-release.
2. You by no means have to re-purchase it, but I hope to have maps/other visual goodies [!!!], TONS of updated text, and a bit more clarification/editing done to to make it how it should have been rather than the rush job it had to be due to the other issues I had leading up to its debut. (Which are easily searchable if you look on my blog, no dirty laundry here.) I hope to have the updated version of DAYBREAK RISING released by late Autumn 2018!
2.5 My next novel—the sequel to DAYBREAK RISING—is releasing Spring 2019/early 2020 from The Kraken Collective as well. I've got a little teaser snippet I'll be sharing in a separate post in a few weeks. :D It will be told from the antagonist's perspective, and it's pretty much all things wonderful and morally gray. If you wanted to know more about Adelin's motives while reading DAYBREAK RISING, strap in, because you'll have a front-row seat in this next chapter to the story.
3. Another project I'm working on this year is my first foray into traditional romance--A collaboration between myself and the amazing G.L. Tomas, also known as @dos_twinjas. Not only have these awesome ladies been rocking my world with wonderful SFF like THE MARK OF NOBA, they've been slaying in the romance genre with amazing books such as SAME PAGE.
So when they asked if we wanted to collab, this guy would have to be spacing out bigtime to say no. Obviously, I said, "Hell yes!" so we're going to be bringing you a romance that's near and dear to my heart with a queer Portuguese trans-man MC and a Cape Verdean pansexual love interest. It's got Portuguese pastries! (malassadasssss omgggg) Tattoos! All kinds of chemistry! Hell. Yes.
4. Next up, is a graphic novel I'm collaborating on alongside my wife, illustrator Elizabeth Yeterian-Oliver, aka Zabethy. You might know it as DRAGONSONG, but as of today its tentative title is: The Vanishing Wars - Book One: Dragonsong. We're going to be releasing it with The Kraken Collective sometime in 2018 or early 2019.
It's going to have roughly 100+ pages of full-color beautifully illustrated F/F SFF goodness, with the script a collaboration between myself and Elizabeth. If you want to know more about it, check out this page right here.
5. Lastly, but certainly not least I am going to be releasing some non-SFF related passion projects in 2017 including a poetry collection and my very first cookbook.
Thank you so much for reading all of this. I hope you're all as excited as I am!
As the image below summarizes, I am beyond honoured to announce that DAYBREAK RISING has been nominated for the 2017 New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy Association's Sir Julius Vogel award in the, "Best Novel," category!
Final voting will take place at Lexicon 2017 in Taupo, New Zealand. If you read and enjoyed DAYBREAK RISING, please help ensure it makes it onto the final ballot by casting your vote for it by clicking here and filling out a short form. It would really mean the world to me!
I don't know who first nominated it to start this ball rolling, but whoever you are, you have my eternal thanks and gratitude!!
Thrilled to announce DAYBREAK RISING got a 5-star editorial review from Readers Favorite reviewer Liz Konkel!!
"Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver follows Celosia Brennan, a Fire Elementalist, as she pulls her life back together after a disastrous attempt at overthrowing the Council with a mission that earned her the name Daybreak. With her second-in-command, Riva Callum, she’s able to create a second chance at a revolution. Ianthe is Celosia's opposite, from the icy nature of her abilities, and her way to helpCelosia see how to accept her past and find hope for her future. Kayvun has a rare Duality that puts her in the sights of the Council’s Commander. She uses her new found abilities to cross to the Spirit Realm to reach out to Elementalist lawyer, Adan Poole. Lark is the last member of the team who has a gift for air and a passion for renewable energy. The six of them work together to stay one step ahead of the Council, but with every decision they make, they seem to come to a dead end. Can this small team bring forth a revolution before the Council catches up to them?
Where high fantasy meets the modern age, Daybreak Rising is a charming breath of fresh air. In the fictional world, magic is viewed as a threat or a tool. Elementalists either have the choice of a plea bargain or they will be part of the Cleanse (which is as eerie as it sounds). There are a lot of modern elements including the technology elemental magic, holographic monitors, and datapads. Kiran Oliver brings to life a world rich in culture, history, religion, and characters. On the surface, Daybreak Rising is the origin of a revolution for Elementalists, but at its heart the story is about characters. They’re down-to-earth and trying to make it one day at a time. Celosia has mental health issues following her time as a soldier that went horrifically wrong, but she’s able to open up to Ianthe and find something solid to hold onto. They provide a nice balance to each other that makes it easy to fall in love with their relationship. Daybreak Rising is charming, witty, with a little romance, but more importantly it’s realistic and full of heart."
Tricks can be fun, but TREATS are way better. And this contest gives you a chance to win a ton of treats in the form of signed books, ebooks, candy, book swag and more from 13 authors!! We know...it's kind of SPOOK-TACULAR!
So WHAT WILL YOU WIN??
A creepy-awesome black canvas tote bag with a cool skull on the cover, filled with each of the books noted below as well as bookmarks and other great book swag. You will also win all of the treats that the author's list on their pages PLUS a bunch of other candy treats all in a black plastic cauldron. You'll even get the cute little plastic skulls shown in the prize photo.
LIST OF PARTICIPATING AUTHORS and their AWESOME BOOKS!
Amy McNulty - NOBODY'S GODDESS (advanced paperback)
Kiran Oliver - DAYBREAK RISING (ebook)
Dorothy Dreyer - SCARE ME TO SLEEP (Kindle ebook)
Jodie Andrefski - THE SOCIETY (signed paperback)
Julia Ember - UNICORN TRACKS (paperback)
Julie Reece - THE ARTISANS (signed paperback)
Nina Rossing - FJORD BLUE (signed paperback)
Pat Edsen - BEYOND YOUR TOUCH
Pintip Dunn - FORGET TOMORROW (signed paperback)
S.A.Larsen - MOTLEY EDUCATION (signed paperback)
Suzanne van Rooyen - OBSCURA BURNING (Releases 11/10 ebook)
Vanessa Barneveld - THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE (Kindle ebook)
Vicki Weavil - FACSIMILE (signed paperback)
SO HOW DO YOU SNAG THE LOOT YOU MAY BE ASKING ABOUT NOW, RIGHT?
It's simple, and you don't even have to dress up and walk in the cold, door to door, to get the goodies. Visit each of the THIRTEEN participating author websites. You will find the name of the candy/treat they are giving away, as well as what BOOK they are offering as part of the PRIZE PACK! Be sure to write down the name of the treat, you'll need it later. Each author will provide a link to another author website on the hunt. (We are making it nice and easy so you don't get lost in the dark) =)
Have fun reading all about the books each author is giving away in the prize pack, plus any other tricks and treats the authors may have in store for you.
When you have collected the names of all 13 author "TREATS", head on over to complete the Trick or Treat Hunt Page Google Forms doc and enter the correct treat next to the corresponding author name.
You can enter for BONUS chances to win via the Rafflecopter found on each author's website, by doing things like following them on Twitter or following their Goodreads page, or tweeting about the Hunt!
The contest runs from Friday October 28th, 2016 through Midnight, October 31st, 2016 (EST)
Winner will be announced November 1st.
Contest is US only. Thank you for your understanding.
For my part of the hunt, I am giving away a digital copy of DAYBREAK RISING! :D
Celosia Brennan was supposed to be a hero. After a spectacular failure that cost her people their freedom, she is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance at redemption. Together with a gifted team of rebels, she not only sets her sights on freedom, but defeating her personal demons along the way.
Now branded a failure, Celosia desperately volunteers for the next mission: taking down the corrupt Council with a team of her fellow elementally gifted mages. Leading the Ember Operative gives Celosia her last hope at redemption. They seek to overthrow the Council once and for all, this time bringing the fight to Valeria, the largest city under the Council’s iron grip. But Celosia’s new teammates don’t trust her—except for Ianthe, a powerful Ice Elementalist who happens to believe in second chances.
With Council spies, uncontrolled magic, and the distraction of unexpected love, Celosia will have to win the trust of her teammates and push her abilities to the breaking point to complete the Ember Operative. Except if she falters this time, there won’t be any Elementalists left to stop the Council from taking over not just their country, but the entire world.
DAYBREAK RISING is a dystopian fantasy novel with a demisexual character in an F/F romance as one of the lead protagonists. There's loads of awesome characters spanning the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum to be found, and it's pretty awesome if I do say so myself. If you're a fan of elemental magic, ladies kissing, and a bit of anarchy, feel free to check it out!
For my prize, I'm also throwing in a personal favorite of mine--Riesen's! :D :D Things I love = Dark chocolate + caramel.
To continue on the hunt, be sure to head on over to Vicki L. Weavil's blog. She writes awesome YA and NA Fantasy novels, and for this hunt she is giving away a signed copy of her YA sci-fi novel, FACSIMILE. It's pretty awesome. If you're a fan of YA fantasy, definitely check it out!
Before you head out, don't forget to write down the name of my treat, and enter to win by clicking on the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Remember, you can tweet daily about the contest for another chance to win. Happy hunting, and good luck!! Thanks for stopping by! =)
Happy book birthday to me! :D :D DAYBREAK RISING's release day has finally arrived!! I am beyond grateful for all of your support. Thank you doesn't seem like enough. I truly appreciate everyone's encouragement and support over the last two years. I look forward to sharing many more stories with you.
In celebration of the upcoming release of DAYBREAK RISING, it's time for a giveaway! I like money for books. Chances are, so do you. In that vein, I'm putting a $50 Amazon giftcard up for grabs along with an advance copy of DAYBREAK RISING to the lucky person that wins this little contest. :D
Like I said, the grand prize winner gets a $50 Amazon giftcard (which will be sent to you by 10/10/2016 via email, with the giftcard in USD), and a free advance copy of DAYBREAK RISING sent to them on 9/19/2016. :D Three other lucky people will also get an advance copy! Huzzah!
So, what are you waiting for? Good luck, and have fun!
If you want to skip that to help me feed our cats/dog (thank you!), you can preorder DAYBREAK RISING over at: https://books2read.com/daybreakrising
You read that right, folks. DAYBREAK RISING is available on iTunes and Amazon for pre-order! If you've got a spare $4.00 and want to read an #ownvoices F/F SFF novel that's full of awesomeness, you should definitely check it out.
My eternal, undying gratitude to Lyssa Chiavari for the beautiful formatting and page design that made getting this to all of you on its original release date possible. If you're in the market for ebook/paperback formatting, she's amazing!
If your device doesn't allow you to click the links in the above logos, the links themselves to pre-order are as follows:
If you've got another type of device/are ordering internationally, keep an eye on: books2read.com/daybreakrising to see when your format of choice is available! I plan to have print versions of DAYBREAK RISING available shortly.
I'm going to cut right to the chase: As of today, I have reacquired the rights to DAYBREAK RISING, previously with Torquere Press, and will be self-publishing it. (Don't worry, I couldn't part with the beautiful cover design by Kris Norris. That stays!)
"But Kiran, I already pre-ordered it. You've got two weeks before release day, man. What are you thinking?!" -- Don't worry! I'll still be sending your pre-order the night before DAYBREAK RISING is officially available (9/20/2016 in the USA--21/9/2016 for those in Oceania), but you'll also get a personalized email from me! (And maybe a sketch or a hand-written short story.)
As for those of you that were waiting for DAYBREAK RISING to be on Amazon to pre-order a copy, that should be happening VERY soon. I'm thrilled to announce that the wonderful Lyssa Chiavari is going to be formatting it for Kindle. Which means that if you liked the amazing decorative elements that went into the paperback of FOURTH WORLD, you're in for a treat.
This also means I have the ability to print editions of DAYBREAK RISING much, much sooner than I'd planned. You read that right. You'll be able to hold it, smell it, and flip through it very, very soon. Amazing? I think so.
Again, DAYBREAK RISING is releasing on the EXACT SAME DAY it was supposed to originally, 9/21/2016 at midnight EST. That's 22/9/2016 for those of us in Oceania.
I'll be announcing a promotional contest (Ooh! Prizes!) next week to celebrate the upcoming release of DAYBREAK RISING--so keep your eyes glued to this blog, GoodReads, and my Twitter/Facebook pages for more information on that!
Is this timeline to finalize the book ridiculous? You bet. Is it harrowing? Absolutely. But I have faith it's all going to get done, and done better than I could have dreamed of. I'm now able to give it the love and care it deserves, particularly in terms of promotion. The next books in the Embers of Redemption trilogy are on the docket for 2017 and 2018, respectively.
DRAGONSONG will be releasing under a new publisher (MORE ON THAT LATER, FRIENDS) hopefully in late 2017 or early 2018.
It will be available in print and digital editions across multiple distributors. It may have a series of short stories following it. For all I know, it might get a sequel. We'll see. The world is wide, friends.
My as-of-yet unnamed trans boy prince YA will hopefully release in 2018-2019 under the same publisher. Again, maybe sooner. We'll have to see how fast I write/if the world wants me to write more about the Ember Operative before I start something new!
I am also going to be drafting my very first royal/historical romance, featuring the above transgender prince--By then a king, in 2019 I hope, if not sooner. Yes, you heard right. Me. Writing historical romance. This. Is. Happening.
Also, I'm working on something really exciting with Lyssa, Claudie, B.R. Sanders, and RoAnna Sylver at the moment, which I'm totally excited to share more about with you all after the new year. Hang in there, folks. The last 4 months of 2016, and the start of 2017 are going to be amazing.
I am excited about these changes, and love the team I'm working with to make my new releases the absolute best that they can be.
I also want to thank Torquere Press for its support and enthusiasm for my work. I truly appreciate all the support and enthusiasm they've shared for DAYBREAK RISING. Thank you to my editors at Torquere for their patience, Kris for making such a beautiful cover that I actually bought it so I could keep it, and to Kristi and Joanna for being a joy to work with these last few months and making this transition absolutely painless for me.
If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me a DM on twitter or hit up the handy little contact form above.
Thank you so, so much for all of your continued support. I would not be writing today without all of you.
Kiran Oliver is a 31 year old writer and author residing in New Zealand with his wife and their cat, Ember.