Silver Rainbows

EliseWhy We Rock!1 Comment

sapphireCongrats to Jennifer, whose comment (and name!) were chosen in our drawing to celebrate A.C. Wise’s collection, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again. Jennifer, here’s your drink — The Silver Rainbow!


Silver Rainbow
From Sapphire’s Little Black Book of Cocktails 

1/4 cup of blueberries

1 kiwi, chopped

1 1/2 pineapple rings, chopped

1/4 cup mango, chopped

1/4 cup raspberries

3 tablespoons plain yogurt

1 tbsp orange juice

1 tbsp pomegranate juice

Edible Gold Dragees

Edible Silver Glaze (such as Sugarflair)

In a blender, combine 1/4 cup blueberries with 1 tbsp yogurt and blend until smooth. Set mixture aside in small bowl and rinse blender. Repeat with this step with the kiwi, then the pineapple.

Next, combine mango with 1 tbsp orange juice, blend and set aside. Repeat this with the raspberries and pomegranate juice. (Note: milk, vanilla yogurt, greek yogurt, or coconut milk can be substituted for plain yogurt in any or all layers.)

Once each separate smoothie layer has been prepared, drizzle Edible Silver Glaze into a tall parfait glass, turning the glass so the silver creates a swirl pattern as it runs down the sides.

Place a small number of Gold Dragee balls at the bottom of the glass. Carefully spoon blueberry mixture on top of the Gold Dragees, followed by kiwi layer, pineapple layer, mango layer, and raspberry layer. This drink is best enjoyed with a Crazy Straw — glittery, if possible!


This drink is time consuming, but, honey, it’s worth it. Not only is it pretty to look at, it’s even good for you. It’s got all the colors of the rainbow, plus a little silver for flair. Now some people might say rainbows are good enough on their own, but I say, if there’s an opportunity to add a little more shine to a situation, you take it. Like all good rainbows, this one even comes with its own pile of gold at the end.

EliseSilver Rainbows

Friendship Is Magic

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E. Catherine Tobler was kind enough to interview me about The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again for the illustrious pages of Shimmer. In answering her questions, I touched on something on I wanted to expand on — female friendship. Luckily, Shimmer was kind enough to invite me back to blather on a bit more. So here we go.


In mainstream media, female friendship is disturbingly rare. Women tend to be relegated sidekick roles, love interests, or the damsel in distress, motivating the hero.

By now, everyone has likely heard of the Bechdel Test — the simple test that requires a book or movie to have at least two women share the page or screen and talk to each other about something other than relationships with men in order to pass. Failing the test frequently indicates that the women in question are props in a male-driven story; they have no lives of their own.

the_big_bang_theory_1x08_the_isolation_permutation1A particularly egregious offender is The Big Bang Theory. At a certain point in the series, they had multiple interesting female characters who did nothing but discuss what the guys were up to anytime they got together. They didn’t talk about their jobs (Neuroscience! Pharmaceutical research and development!); they didn’t talk about their families; heck, they didn’t even talk about what they had for lunch. Their lives began and ended with their male-centered relationships.

The lack of female friendships in mainstream media goes beyond failing the Bechdel Test. There’s also the problem of the Lone Exceptional Female. Black Widow in the Avengers is a prime example. As the only woman allowed in the boy’s club, she ends up carrying the entire weight of her gender (something cis-het-white-able-men are rarely asked to do).

Avengers00113These problems are both symptoms of the prevailing sense in mainstream media that stories about men are the only ones worth telling. Women get to fit into whatever space is left over. It gets even worse when the women in question are trans women, women of color,  or anything that puts them further outside the “norm”. Because there is so little space, a sense of competition develops. To be included, you must be the right kind of woman. Play nice with the boys, support their story, punch down and out at each other and climb to the top of the heap.

In this environment, the stories we see about women end up being very narrow. They aren’t the stories about women supporting each other, working together to accomplish a goal, commiserating over their losses, or celebrating their victories. They are stories about women fighting over a man. Stories about one woman surviving while the others are killed off, or simply not there. They are stories about the women left at home waiting while men go off and do important thing.

A study by the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media showed that a group made up of 17% women is seen as being equal, and one made up of 33% women is seen as being female-dominated. Women’s stories aren’t normal, they aren’t universal, they take up so much more space than stories for everyone. If we start letting all those stories about women talking to each other into onto our pages and screens, how will we ever hear the men’s voices over the deafening cacophony?

mlp-girlsThe culture is changing, but it’s a slow change. Still, there are some good examples out there. Parks and Recreation put the friendship between Anne Perkins and Leslie Knope  front and center; My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is based entirely on the idea the ponies are stronger together; and Lumberjanes not only features an all-female cast, but an all-female creative team. One of my goals for The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again was to show that kind of female friendship. The members of the Glitter Squadron don’t always get along. They disagree, they fight, but under it all, they care deeply for each other. And they talk to each other. Occasionally it’s about relationships, but more often than not, it’s about saving the world.

In the spirit of the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron’s friendship, I’ll leave you with a recipe from Sapphire’s Little Black Book of Cocktails, designed especially for my good friends, the Shimmer badgers. What better way to celebrate friendships of all sorts than with a drink?

The Shimmery Badger

2oz Viniq
1 oz Spring 44 Honey Vodka
.5 oz Orange Liquor
Orange twist

Combine Viniq, honey vodka, and orange liquor in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne and an orange twist. The perfect drink for celebrating shimmery deeds.

As I understand it, badgers eat just about anything that won’t kill them, and a few things that will – fruit, roots, hedgehogs, chickens, and even venomous snakes. They’re also fond of honey, so this cocktail pays homage to the spirit of the badger’s diet, without the more…interesting aspects of their culinary choices. I am not designing a cocktail that relies on hedgehog parts for its flair.

Bunny and the Shimmer badgers go way back. To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure whether these badgers are actual honest-to-goodness, black and white, digging in the dirt animals, people, or some combination of both. What I can tell you is The Shimmer Badgers sounds like a hell of a band name. When Bunny first mentioned them, I assumed she was talking about the back-up band for the cabaret show she used to do. I overheard Es and Bunny talking once, accidentally, of course. A lady never eavesdrops. Something about ghosts and were-raptors, and sets leading to underground tunnel networks and pocket dimensions. When I asked, they exchanged a super secret look and clammed right up. Maybe if I load them up with a few more of these Shimmery Badger drinks they’ll spill the beans.

Don’t forget: Come get your Glitter Squadron name/drink! A.C. will be picking a random winner, who will get glittery swag! Contest closes Monday October 26.


A.C. Wise

A.C. Wise


A.C. Wise hails from the land of poutine (Montreal) and currently resides in the land of cheesesteaks (Philadelphia). Her fiction has appeared in previous issues of Shimmer, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and the Best Horror of the Year Vol. 4, among other publications. In addition to her writing, she co-edits Unlikely Story. You can find her online at and on twitter as @ac_wise. The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again is available NOW from Lethe Press, and be sure to visit Shimmer #28 for “Even In This Skin,” her newest Shimmer story.

Guest PosterFriendship Is Magic

Queers Destroy Horror

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Nightmare_37_October_2015Queers Destroy Horror is a double-issue of Nightmare that’s written, edited, and illustrated by LGBTQUIA creators. There is a former Shimmer badger among them — not to mention a couple Shimmer authors in the mix, which we love to see. Today, we’re talking to guest editor Wendy N. Wagner about the project, monsterflails!


QDH is the newest member of the Destroy family. How did this amazing journey begin?

The Destroy projects really ARE amazing. Back in 2013, Christie Yant, one of our Lightspeed Assistant Editors, got fed up with the state of genre fiction. The genre’s main trade organization, SFWA, had included some articles that were disrespectful to women; bloggers and analysts (like Nicola Griffith) were putting together uncomfortable statistics about the ways women writers don’t make recommended reading lists or get reviewed in the same ways that men do. And then an article came out that claimed Lois McMaster Bujold’s books weren’t real science fiction, because they included romance and balls and court scenes with descriptions of people’s clothes. So Christie made a joke on Twitter about how women were just DESTROYING science fiction with all our icky girl germs, and the joke sort of snowballed.

The publisher of Lightspeed and Nightmare, John Joseph Adams, thought the joke could be used to make a positive difference in the industry, so invited Christie to do a special issue of the magazine that would celebrate women’s work in science fiction. They wanted to make it really special and really inclusive, so they decided to run a Kickstarter campaign to give them some extra funds to work with. The Kickstarter exploded! They (we, by that time, because John had brought me on as the Managing/Associate Editor of his magazines, and I immediately wanted to help with Women Destroy SF) raised ten times the amount of money they had hoped to make. And the feedback was phenomenal! People wanted us to destroy everything. And everybody wanted a chance to come out of the shadows and show the world how they could contribute to the field.

Last year, we published Women Destroy Science Fiction!, Women Destroy Horror!, and Women Destroy Fantasy!; this year we’ve asked gender and sexual minorities to smash up the genres. Next year we’ll be putting people of color in the driver’s seat.

Talk to us about this cover art — it’s amazing. How did this concept come about?

When the team was working on the cover for Queers Destroy Science Fiction!, they really struggled to find an image that meant “science fiction” for them. I was just a fly on the wall, listening to their conversation, and I found myself thinking that for me, nothing said horror like a skull. And I immediately had this vision of a skull with this black beetle crawling on it, and the beetle’s carapace had this wonderful rainbow shimmer on it.

So when Cory Skerry, our art director for QDH, asked if I had any ideas about the cover art, I shared that idea, and he thought it would be cool. Neither one of us was really prepared for AJ Jones to come back to us with this image. It’s so much more nightmarish and exhilarating than what we imagined!

Why horror? What draws you to the genre?

The strongest memories I have from early childhood are all about Halloween. My mom and my sisters always made these great costumes and we decorated the house and made a big fuss about it. It seemed like Halloween was made out of some kind of magic — the kind of stuff that let three-year-old kids turn into bats and made candy into an acceptable meal. I loved (and still love!) everything about Halloween. I can not get enough of it. So much of horror looks and feels like Halloween. I can’t resist that aesthetic!

On the other hand, I’m also a super emotional person. Unhappy things affect me deeply, and the heart of horror is unhappiness and darkness and the deep injustice of bad things happening to people. And reading about that stuff in a safe, fictional way helps me cope with the real world.

Plus, being scared when I know I can hide under the covers is the most delicious feeling possible!

After choosing the stories for this issue, what advice do you have for writers working in horror?

Worry less about being original and more about being meaningful. If you infuse your work with a feeling that comes from your core, you can make any situation, any trope, any monster interesting. Look at Let the Right One In. At a time when people were rolling their eyes about vampires, this story came along and hit them over the head. Why? Because it’s such a powerful story about being isolated and lonely and finding someone who gets you. It’s very meaningful and real.

I want to read stories that make me feel. So get out there and scrape up some feelings!

What makes for a great horror story?

A main character whose feelings and thoughts come clear in the prose. Every image and plot development is only as interesting as that character’s response to it, so if your character is a piece of cardboard being dragged along by the story, your story will fail.

In your QDH editorial, you mention falling in love/horror with “The Raft,” from Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew collection. What other authors and stories have influenced your writing (and perhaps editing)?

The unintentionally big influences on my writing are Margaret Mahy, Pamela Dean, Robin McKinley, and David Eddings. These are the writers I read and re-read as a kid and I absorbed them like I was a sponge. I don’t mind writing like the first three, but I am still trying to expunge David Eddings from my brain, because I don’t think I want to write like him. (His books are still fun — they’re just not me.) Some influences I’ve tried to cultivate are Octavia Butler, David Mitchell, Tana French, and Scott Fitzgerald.

But the person who has had the biggest effect on my work as a writer (and editor) is John Joseph Adams. He’s published me a couple of times and the edits he gave me were incredibly insightful—I learned a lot just working on them. And I’ve been his editorial assistant or assistant editor or associate editor on and off since 2010. I’m hoping some of his good taste has rubbed off on me.

You recently did an amazing thing–bringing home a Hugo for the work done on Lightspeed, Nightmare’s parent pub. Is that thing heavy, or what? 

The Lightspeed team won the Hugo for Best Semiprozine, and the group included John Joseph Adams (our editor-in-chief/publisher), Stefan Rudnicki (our podcast producer), Rich Horton (our reprints editor), Christie Yant (head of special projects and Guest Editor of WDSF), and me, so there was rather a horde of us. It takes a lot of people to make the magazine come together!

The Hugo award this year weighs about 8 or 9 pounds. The base is also covered in metal triangles that are quite poky and sharp-edged. It looks like a medieval mace or something. It’s kind of terrifying.

Horror seems to be making something of a comeback with television series like Scream Queens, American Horror Story, and Hannibal. Do you think visual horror is more effective than written horror, or are they simply two sides of the same coin?

I think visual horror is a paper dollar bill and written horror is a gold one dollar coin — they’re equally effective, but most people seem to prefer using paper. Visual horror has a lot of advantages, like jump scares and musical scores, and I think it has the luxury of building on a visual language that has saturated our culture. I mean, even if you haven’t seen the movies, you’ve usually picked up some of the tropes and standard images coming out of popular horror movies. That can make a new horror film/show more accessible to new viewers.

I know a lot of people who say they don’t find themselves as frightened when they read horror as when they watch horror. But I also think that horror is about a lot more than just being scary, and that’s where writers get a chance to shine. Horror is the genre where we get to explore everything dark in the world. Fear is one part of that, but I think it’s just one corner of the playroom.

If you could invite one horror author (dead or alive, naturally) to tea and spider scones, who would it be?

Shirley Jackson! I just read Let Me Tell You, a new collection of shorts and essays by her, and I’m pretty sure we have a lot in common. Plus, I love her work. She’s the writer I most want to be when I grow up. I mean, if I have to grow up. :)

What’re you destroying next? What does the future hold?

I am currently revising a novel that is destroying science fiction with werewolves and philosophy. I am very excited about it. I also have a new novel coming out in August, which is a dark adventure set in the world of the Pathfinder role-playing game. It features the same main character as my first novel, Skinwalkers, although it’s not a sequel per se, and I think it’s going to be a really fun book.

Thanks, Wendy! Readers, you can get your mitts on QDH here. The issue is available online, in trade paper, and a variety of ebook formats!



EliseQueers Destroy Horror

She Walks in Shadows

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shewalksinshadows2-846x1269She Walks in Shadows is the newest anthology from Innsmouth Free Press. Best dressed editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia was kind enough to sit down with me in this virtual space and talk about the project, which I and another badger have stories in.


How did She Walks in Shadows come about?

There was a discussion; it started on Facebook and trickled into some other spaces, which made it obvious most Lovecraft fans couldn’t name more than one woman Lovecraft writer (Kiernan), and some couldn’t even recall her. There was even a gross comment that women are biologically incapable of writing Lovecraftian fiction. As often happens in these discussions someone will pipe in and say “if you don’t like it why don’t you do something about it rather than whining,” so, since I actually tend to do things, we got together this anthology project to help showcase the work of women .

The cover art is striking and beautiful. Who did the art and what was the idea behind the image? Was it just “women and Lovecraft, go”?

That’s Sara K. Diesel‘s work. She did the cover for This Strange Way of Dying, my debut collection, and I contacted her for this. I asked her to do something inspired by a rather lousy movie with Barbara Steele called The Crimson Cult. Despite being kind of dull it features Steele in a distinctive headdress. I asked Sara to create a cultist or priestess inspired, but not identical, to the one in that movie. Her sketches were very good and I picked one with a profile pose because it seemed different than some of the other covers we’d done before.

With the anthology, what was it you most hoped to accomplish and what did you want to avoid?

We wanted to feature a wide variety of voices and characters. Not just women as heroes, but as villains, mothers and daughters, young and old. We didn’t want it to be too Mythos heavy. It’s always a delicate dance because some buyers love and only love the “monsters” and deities, but others want stuff that uses less places and people utilized by Lovecraft and is more about mood or ideas. So there’s that back and forth. We didn’t want to just have the Who’s Who of 1920s Lovecraft Mythos and I believe we avoided that. Cthulhu appears, but probably not the way you expect him, we get a kind of funky Asenath thanks to Molly Tanzer, and some people go ahead and spin stories like the opening one, about Lovecraft’s mother, which don’t namedrop any famous entity but are still preoccupied and responding to Lovecraft in some way. The anthology also features a good number of POC contributors, seven as I recall, and other writers who are not POC but are from outside the United States, which is obviously a dominant force in the Mythos market. So you get to meet people like Inkeri Kontro who is from Finland and I think it helps to show how widespread Lovecraft is nowadays.

After all these years, and all these beautiful anthologies from Innsmouth Free Press, why Lovecraft? What is it about him and his stories that continue to fascinate?.

To be honest I don’t know how much longer I’ll be dealing with Lovecraft. I am working on my thesis, and it involves Lovecraft and eugenic thought in the early 20th century, so I’m very much exhausted of reading about him by now. Next year, after that’s done, I think I’m going to take a long stretch of time without him, maybe I’ll even be done with him forever. I’ve had a long time to build a dialogue with him and I’ve worked hard to get more POCs and women noticed in this niche, but at some point I guess we all grow out of certain things and I’m at the point where this might be true for me and Lovecraft. On the other hand, my husband thinks I’ll never stop. I’ve been reading Lovecraft since he’s known me, which is a long time, and he can’t picture me without something vaguely related to him in my hands. We’ll see.

Do you have a favorite Lovecraft monster?

The Deep Ones. It’s not Lovecraft per se, but I liked Derleth’s Ithaqua. I live in Canada so part of the appeal is the snowy landscape.

How did you first discover Lovecraft?

Like most people, as a teenager. I read Poe and then moved onto Lovecraft, and from then on read quite a bit of pulp fiction and Gothic fiction for a while.

After reading, editing, and writing so much Lovecraftian fiction, what’s your advice for writers jumping into the genre?

Know your Lovecraft. There’s a lot out there and you want to know the original sources but also some of the newer stuff that’s been done. But knowing doesn’t meaning imitating. Trying to slavishly replicate Lovecraft’s style is not going to get you very far.

What’s next for you?

My second novel, Certain Dark Things, sold recently and will be out in 2016. It’s about a garbage collector in Mexico City who ends up involved with a narco vampire and they find themselves trying to outrun rival narcos, cops, and almost everybody.

Thanks, Silvia! Readers, you can grab She Walks in Shadows here, in a variety of formats, including a beautiful trade paperback! You should also grab Silvia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise. The badgers give it two paws up.


EliseShe Walks in Shadows

Ultra Fab

EliseAuthor Interviews27 Comments

glittersquadA.C. Wise first hit Shimmer’s pages in issue #14, with her story “Trashman.” We’ve been lucky to have her four more times, including one of her Glitter Squadron stories, “How Bunny Came to Be.”

She hails from the land of poutine (Montreal) and currently resides in the land of cheesesteaks (Philadelphia), and today we’re helping her welcome THE ULTRA FABULOUS GLITTER SQUADRON SAVES THE WORLD AGAIN. This collection debuts tomorrow, and if you didn’t pre-order like we did, you can grab your copy from Lethe Press or Amazon!

A.C. was awesome enough to sit down and chat with us about this collection. Be sure to stick around, because at the end, you’ll find a Glitter Squadron Drink Generator and an opportunity to win some glittery swag!


What was the process for putting this glittery collection together and does it collect every Glitter Squadron story to date?

As far as collections go, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again is a bit of an oddity. It all started with “Doctor Blood and the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron,” the first story I wrote featuring the wonderful ladies of the Glitter Squadron, which was published at Ideomancer. I thought it was a fun one-and-done kind of thing, but then along came “How Bunny Came to Be,” a prequel story, which appeared in a wonderful publication you may have heard of called Shimmer. I briefly thought I might be done after those two stories, but as it turned out, the Glitter Squadron had strong opinions to the contrary. Aside from “Doctor Blood,” and “How Bunny Came to Be,” all the stories in the collection are original. The ladies (and M) had plenty more to say, and about the same time I started writing the rest of their stories, Steve Berman at Lethe Press approached me about doing a collection. The rest is history!

What can readers expect to find in this collection? 

Sequins! Drink recipes! High heels! Ass-kicking! Friendship! Exclamation points! Okay, that last one might just apply to my answer to this question. What readers can expect is a series of inter-connected short stories about a group of queer, trans, agender, and gender fluid characters saving the world from various supernatural threats, all while looking terribly fabulous in glitter, lame, velvet, feathers, and so on. It’s a bit campy, a bit serious, a bit about gender, and hopefully a lot of fun. It is also about different ways of being strong, and about how glitter is the best thing ever and severely unappreciated when it comes to world-saving materials.

“Dr. Blood and the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron” (Ideomancer, 2013) appears to be the first story in this universe; what sparked the initial idea for you?

The original story was sparked by a call for submissions for an anthology themed around B movies. I happened to see this call for submissions just over 24 hours before the deadline. Oops. My Unlikely Story co-editor and I dared each other to see what sort of story we could write within such a short time frame. And thus, the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron was born.

We had the good fortune to publish “How Bunny Came to Be” (Shimmer #17); it is a story that speaks to being true to oneself, whatever that self may be. This feels, in some ways, to be the heart of the Glitter Squadron, but what other themes are in play?

Friendship, in particular, female friendship, to me is the heart of the Glitter Squadron. Too often we get dude-centric narratives where one, lone exceptional woman is allowed into the club. Said woman then has to stand for all women everywhere, because anyone outside the cis-het-white-able-bodied-male is not part of what is ‘normal’ and therefore has to answer for their entire gender/race/sexuality etc. They are not individuals. The one lone exceptional female ends up being criticized no matter what she does. If she’s too girly, she’s a stereotype. If she’s too tough, she’s just a guy with boobs. If she’s too needy, then she’s saying all women are needy. If she falls in love, well of course she does because all any woman cares about is getting married and having babies. Often times, said lone exceptional woman never even gets to speak to another woman the entire time she’s on the page or screen.

However, with more than one women, or even a whole group of women, you start to see that women are indeed human beings. They want different things. Some of may be interested in babies and relationships. Some may be worried about a bad hair day. Some may have PTSD from their time in the military. Some may know exactly who they are and carry themselves with confidence; others are insecure, and still trying to figure it out. But none of them are carrying the entire weight of their gender alone. Together, they’re stronger than they are apart. They support each other, and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They don’t always get along, but ultimately they are family, and they love each other.

Aside from CeCe and M, the members of the Glitter Squadron are also very ‘girly’, which was another important theme I wanted to explore. They wear glittery dresses and high heels and makeup. They are fabulous and badass and they aren’t asked to shed the traditional trappings of femininity in order to be battle ready. Femininity isn’t demonized. In the end, the Glitter Squadron members are far from perfect. They have their insecurities and flaws, but together, when they aren’t asked to carry they entire weight of femininity on their shoulders alone they are fucking strong.

Do you have a favorite story in the collection?

Nope. I love them all for different reasons. The collection is anchored by two stories featuring the team as a whole, but most of the stories in-between take the time to explore some aspect of one of the individual characters. They were all fun to write in that they allowed me to get to know the Glitter Squadron as individuals and as a team along the way.

Picture it: Netflix wants to make a Glitter Squadron series. Any casting dreams?

Eeep. This is a hard question. Part of me thinks that largely unknown actors might be the way to go. I do have certain specific casting ‘rules’ I would insist on, presuming this is a magical world where the lowly author gets a say. Sapphire, Starlight, and Bunny would be played by trans actresses. No one would be white-washed, thin-washed, or straight-washed. Looking up various trans actresses make me think that appearance-wise, some combination of Estelle Asmodelle, Candis Cayne, Nina Arsenault, and the late Coccinelle would be perfect for Bunny. However, even though I saw Bunny as Caucasian while writing her, there’s no reason why she has to be, and I think Laverne Cox would be a brilliant Bunny. For Sapphire, someone like Ines Rau, but a bit older would be excellent. CeCe was actually directly inspired by photos of Marlene Dietrich in a tuxedo, and Renate Muller as the original star of Victor Victoria. In a modern show, I think Scarlett Johansson could totally rock that 1930s suave-butch look. Someone like Aidy Bryant would be good for Ruby. As for Penny, Starlight, and Esmeralada…I’m still thinking about those ones. And M? Well, maybe whoever wore the gimp suit in the first season of American Horror story?

Which would you rather have a squadron of: poutine or corgis?

Corgis. I love poutine, but I don’t think it would make a very good squadron. Corgis, on the other hand, can be pretty fierce (I say as my own corgi is passed out snoring beside me). People tend to think of them as small dogs, but secretly, they’re big dogs with no legs. And if you get between them and food…well you can forget about it.

Is there a soundtrack/playlist for the Glitter Squadron?

Funny you should ask! I was just thinking about what song each member of the squadron might listen to in order to get pumped up before a fight. So I went ahead and put one together, and you can find it here.

What does the future hold for the Glitter Squadron?

The Glitter Squadron fans out there (if there are any) may be pleased to know that there are at least three more stories rattling around in my head. I haven’t done anything with them yet, other than make tons of notes, so I’m not entirely sure whether they’re short story length things, longer pieces, or if any of them will ever see the light of day. I am quite enamored of my beautiful, glittering ladies however, and thrilled to keep chronicling their stories as long as they keep telling them to me.


Now that you’ve had a taste of what the Glitter Squadron is all about, don’t you want a customized cocktail recipe of your very own? All you have to do is use the Glitter Squadron name generator to create your drag name/cocktail name, and drop your results in the comments.

A winner will be chosen at random, and the Glitter Squadron’s bartender supreme, Sapphire, will create a drink recipe for you based on the name. But wait, there’s more! You’ll receive the recipe on a Glitter Squadron coaster along with a glittery flask so you can take the party with you wherever you go. Contest closes on Monday, October 26!


EliseUltra Fab

Shimmer Supports Hugo Voters

BethNews9 Comments

You know what would be neat? If everyone in the science fiction and fantasy world voted in the Hugo awards. If everyone read widely and discussed what they loved. If all the voices were heard, not just the loudest. A healthy ecosystem is one that’s teeming with millions of kinds of life; let’s find ways to include more people.

If you can afford a supporting membership to WorldCon, I strongly encourage you to buy one. It’s $40. A supporting membership gives you the right to vote in this year’s Hugos — and the right to nominate in next year’s.

If you can’t afford a supporting membership… Mary Robinette Kowal is offering to pay for a supporting membership to WorldCon for ten people who cannot afford it.

This is a splendid idea. Shimmer’s happy to join Mary. We’ll match her offer: ten memberships for people who can’t otherwise afford one. Email with your name, phone number (just as backup in case your email doesn’t work), and a paragraph telling me a little bit about yourself and why you’d like a supporting membership. I expect to get more than ten people interested, so will ultimately choose at random.

Please help us spread the word. Tell a friend, tell your family, tell your community members. Reach out and help us make the table bigger.

And while you’re reaching out? Talk to them about science fiction and fantasy. What are you watching or reading that’s awesome? What are you creating?

I think my favorite thing I read this week was Ishq, by Usman Malik, a reprint in this month’s Nightmare. It’s a story about family and hope and death, and it’s wonderful and terrible.

Comments on this post will be heavily moderated. Don’t be a dick.

Edited to add: vote for whatever works you want; that decision is entirely up to you, and you don’t owe Shimmer (or me!) anything.

BethShimmer Supports Hugo Voters

Damien Angelica Walters, Sing Me Your Scars

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Damien Angelica Walters - Author PhotoDamien appeared in Shimmer #17 with “Girl, With Coin,” a story that isn’t necessarily speculative fiction at all (gasp!). Her short story “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” has been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction. Here, she drops by to talk about all manner of things, including her short fiction collection, Sing Me Your Scars. Buckle up!


Tell us about your first fiction sale; what was that like? Did you spend the money on anything special?

I think my first sale was in late 2009 or early 2010 to Bards & Sages Quarterly. I know my first professional sale was in 2011 to Daily Science Fiction, and in both cases, I’m certain I spent the money on books.

You started publishing in 2011, but how long have you actually been writing?

Here is where I say ever since I was very young and everyone can roll their eyes, but I think most writers answer that question the same way because it’s true. I remember writing books in third grade and trying to sell them to my friends. Of course my friends had no money, but still.

I wrote tons of poetry and vignettes over the years and tried writing novels (including a mystery and an epic fantasy), but never finished the latter. In 2009, I started writing flash fiction, something which I find almost next to impossible to write now, and completed my first novel, a novel that will never see the light of day because it’s the most dreadful thing ever.

Do you consider your writing dark fantasy, horror, or does it exist in that place that simply is “speculative fiction”? 

I tend to think of my work as speculative fiction. It’s quite a bit like cake — sometimes I cover it in science fiction frosting, other times I reach for the contemporary fantasy flour, and still other times, I spice it with the dark and horrific or weird.

You write and you also edit; you write short stories and also novels. Does one balance the other? Are they ever in conflict? Is it all just one beautiful, chaotic ball of creativity?

Editing occupies a very different headspace than writing, and on the plus side, editing work by other authors has strengthened my ability to edit my own work. Most of the time, juggling both editing and writing isn’t a problem, unless I’m working against simultaneous deadlines. Then it becomes a bit tricky because it’s hard for me to quickly flip from creative brain to analytical pick apart the sentences until they bleed brain.

Talk to us about process a little. Do you outline? Do you just write forward from a general idea of how a piece will go?

I used to get an idea, sit in front of the computer, and start writing. Now, though, I spend time thinking about my stories first. I jot ideas in a notebook, make notes on themes and sketch loose outlines, and start writing in longhand. I’ve written quite a few stories against deadlines recently and have found that more time spent thinking often results in a cleaner first draft.

SMYS_largeHow did you go about choosing the stories that would become your debut collection, Sing Me Your Scars?

Here is where I confess my love for spreadsheets. I made one with columns for everything from theme to grammatical tense to genre to word count, then I added in those details for each story I was considering. Once I came up with a likely table of contents, I put all the stories in a word document.

That first draft had several more reprints, but as I read it through, some didn’t seem to fit as well as others, so I cut here and there, making adjustments to my spreadsheet as well to keep track of everything. I hope that the end result is cohesive and enjoyable, but my work is done and it belongs to the readers now.

Do you have a favorite story in the collection?

That’s a hard one to answer because many of them mean different things. “Like Origami in Water” was my first professional sale so it holds a special place in my heart, and both “Melancholia in Bloom” and “Glass Boxes and Clockwork Gods” were influenced by my grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.  But I’m also very fond of the title story as it’s an homage to Mary Shelley.

What can you tell us about your novel, Paper Tigers, coming later this year from Dark House Press?

Paper Tigers is about a disfigured young woman and an old photo album she finds at a thrift store. It’s partly a haunted house story and partly a ghost story, but the ghosts are both external and internal. It’s very different from my first novel, Ink, and closer, I think, in flavor to my short fiction.

Favorite authors — both in and out of field in which you write? Do you think any one has overly influenced your work?

As far as novelists, off the top of my head I’ll say Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Margaret Atwood, Peter Straub, Jacqueline Carey, Ray Bradbury, Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, Alice Hoffman, and Cormac McCarthy. When it comes to short fiction, my favorites are Kij Johnson, Catherynne M. Valente, E. Catherine Tobler, Sunny Moraine, Ken Liu, Kelly Link, and Maria Dahvana Headley.

I’m certain they’ve all influenced my work in one form or another, but probably (hopefully) in more subtle than overt ways. And I know I’m missing names on both lists, names that I’ll remember as soon as I send these answers!

Picture it: you’re alone on the Nostromo…or are you? What weapon would you want if you were going up against an Alien? Flame thrower? Harpoon gun? Power loader?

I’m going to go with the flame thrower. It would keep me from having to get up close and personal with the Alien. Then again, the Alien is pretty tricksy. Look at what happened to poor Dallas in the air duct. Maybe I should pick the power loader instead.

Tell us about a great book you read recently.

The Wilds by Julia Elliott. It’s a short fiction collection that’s hard to classify. It’s literary, it’s genre, it’s dark and fantastical and the imagery is amazing. Like this:

“On a rancid summer dog day, when you’re dirty and scrawny and ugly and poor, when your fingernails sting from too much biting, when the kitchen stinks of unclean plates, when there’s nowhere to go, when punishment awaits you, when swarms of gnats flicker beyond bright windows, when heat sinks your mind into the syrupy filth of boredom…”

I want to marry that passage. It’s incredibly evocative. Regardless of what genre you’d shelve this collection under, I highly recommend it.

How do you take your coffee? 

Preferably with soymilk and two packets of Truvia, but if milk and sugar are the only things available, I’ll make do. If the zombie apocalypse ever happens, I’m pretty sure it will be the lack of coffee that does me in. Then again, I’d make sure to add instant coffee and a spoon to one of my supply runs. Desperate times, desperate measures…

Grab Damien’s collection: @Apex + @Amazon
Visit Damien’s website


EliseDamien Angelica Walters, Sing Me Your Scars

Ferrett Steinmetz, Flex

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Ferrett appeared in Shimmer #13 with a story involving, of all things, a unicorn. And a magical mirror. He’s always been turning tropes on their head, and does so again in his debut novel from Angry Robot, Flex.


Flex-400Tell us how and where Flex began for you.

True fact: When I sent this to Seanan McGuire to see if she’d blurb it, she called me up and asked, “So how much Mage: the Ascension did you play before you came up with this?”  And I said, “Ya got me.”

But yes, my group was roleplaying, and someone joked about the idea of brewing magical drugs.  I was hugely into Breaking Bad at the time, and I thought, “Wow, how much weirder would that be if it wasn’t just drug dealers, but magical drug dealers?” So the wheels started turning.

But the problem was that I generally don’t like magic.  It’s got what I call “Doctor Strange syndrome” – what can’t Doctor Strange do?  What are his limitations?  All the guy has to do is wave his hands and chant about Agamotto and he can turn back time, he can erase the world’s memories, he teleport to other dimensions.  And that’s fun for a while, but eventually you start struggling to find challenges that the audience can understand – it’s more fun if the audience knows when the hero’s about to crack.

So I thought a lot about what I thought magical drugs could do that no other drug could, and decided to explore the ramifications of Harry Potter’s luck potion.  Seriously, why is anyone learning any other kind of magic?  I know it’s difficult, but if you devote your life to brewing up batches of Felix Felicis, what else do you need to do?  So I thought, “Well, if you get good luck for a while… you must get bad luck.”  And then I started tying that into Unknown Armies’ obsession-based magic system, and the next thing you know I had a guy who was so devoted to getting his insurance paperwork right that he’s become this magical champion of the insurance company.

“That guy seems the least qualified person to make drugs,” said I, and a story was born.

Does Flex have a soundtrack? (If not, why not! Get cracking!)

It does!  Sorta.  I listen to one song over and over again when I write – it’s how I keep centered on the heart of the novel.  When I’m stuck for what to do next, I just listen to The Song and everything unravels.

In this case? The Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House.”  (The live version off of Stop Making Sense.)

Interestingly, Stephen King lied to me.  If you read Christine or any of his other early novels, you’d think it’d be super-easy to quote lyrics in your book.  But these days you have to fill out forms and go through ASCAP, and it costs a fortune.  I’m told by the publishers that Fleetwood Mac once wanted $4,000 to quote lyrics.  That’s more than many advances, man.  So you won’t find the lyrics quoted in the book, though I may scribble them in there at a signing if you ask me nicely.

Flex plays with a lot of tropes, but is notable for its use of video games, and their environments–literally plunging characters into the midst of games most SFF readers should be familiar with. If you could be thrust into any game, which would you choose?

I’d actually go with Mass Effect.  I love Bioware games, but Dragon Age is such a crapsack world. Between mages and demon infestations, I would not want to go there.  Mass Effect has the Reapers, natch, but large segments of it look pretty nice.  And given that I’d rather chat than fight, there’s a lot of talking to be done.

(Fun fact: In any RPG, I’m the guy maxing out his speaking skills.  If I can talk my way out of the final battle – *cough cough* Fallout *cough* – then I automatically love the game.

Paul’s magic stems from paperwork; where does your magic come from?

I think the reason I had a magic system based on obsession is because really, obsession is my writing superpower.  I wasn’t the most talented writer in my Clarion class; I wasn’t the most charming.  But I think I was the most dedicated, and so when Neil Gaiman told me that I wasn’t good enough yet and “You just have to write,” well, dammit, I wrote.  Every day.  Sick or well.  Psychologically healthy, or in the throes of seasonal depression.  I honed my knife as best I could, and now if Flex isn’t good enough, I’ll keep writing more.

The theme keeps turning up in my stories, though.  “The Sturdy Bookshelves of Pawel Oliszewski” is about obsession-based magic.  And my story for Shimmer, “A Window, Clear As A Mirror” is entirely about a man who can’t let go.  So I kind of deal with that a lot.

ferretsSpeaking of Magic, you work for Star City Games — what is your favorite Magic the Gathering card (or set) and why?

Magic has repeatedly disappointed me by failing to produce a viable ferret. Joven’s Ferrets and Repopulate?  NOT GOOD ENOUGH, WIZARDS OF THE COAST.

That said, my favorite card is still probably Pernicious Deed.  It’s in my favorite colors (black and green), it is a distinct Rattlesnake card in multiplayer to warn people off elsewhere, and it’s super-fun.  For me.  Not you.  But hey, who wanted you to have a good time?

You attended both Viable Paradise and Clarion; did one workshop teach you something the other didn’t? How do you think both have changed your writing?

Clarion was what got my eyes pried open.  My six weeks at that writer-intensive broke me down and reforged me, but the number-one lesson is that I Was Not Shooting High Enough.  I thought my stories were pretty good, going into Clarion, and I came out thinking my stories were pretty good; the difference was that I had realized that pretty good wasn’t enough.

I had to knock the reader so far on her ass that she’d have to crawl back to the page.

So Clarion was where I really went, “Wow, you’ve got a lot of lazy habits that you thought you could get away with,” but man, I could not.  If there’s anything you’re aware of in your story that’s not polished to a diamond-like shine, fix that.  Because your story’s going to fall short in a hundred other areas that you’re not good enough to even see yet, so the smartest thing you can do is to amplify the stuff you know is good.

And if Clarion got me thinking about the guts of a story, Viable Paradise got me working on my prose.

Here’s a hint if you ever go to Viable Paradise: Ask Teresa Nielsen-Hayden to do her trick.  She’ll say she doesn’t know what that trick is.  “Edit me,” you tell her.

And she will sit down with your story, and begin to edit it.  She will cross out whole sentences.  She will eviscerate your words.  She will show you just how flabby and redundant and awful your prose is, and eventually what’s left will be the barest minimum of words – so few you won’t be able to believe what’s left standing.  And you’ll see how much quicker and bolder your story reads, and you’ll be enlightened.

Tell us about a fabulous book you recently finished reading.

I am currently reading Jo Walton’s The Just City, which is a fantastic hook: the Greek Gods, who are still alive today, have recreated Plato’s Republic, using everyone who ever prayed to Athene that it existed.  It’s an amazing thought experiment, and considering that I’ve loved everything Jo’s written, I’m positive I’ll love it in all of its weirdness.  She’s amazing.  I’m so stoked every day to sit in my bathtub and read it.

What’s next for you? When can we expect FLUX?

I’m finishing up a new draft of Flux as we speak (literally, I’m switching back to answer a question between each chapter), and while I have no absolute date, I expect it’ll be out sometime in 2016.  I’m also working on an as-yet-untitled science-fiction manuscript about a boy coming of age in the greatest restaurant in the universe – yes, yes, make your Douglas Adams joke now – and I have my sci-fi dystopia The Upterlife out on submission from my agent.  So I’ve got lots coming up.

But seriously.  Buy my book now, or I might not get to publish all these others!

Want to have Ferrett sign YOUR copy of Flex? Get thee to a bookstore:


Flex @Angry Robot | Flex @Goodreads | Flex @Amazon



EliseFerrett Steinmetz, Flex

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Signal to Noise

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signalSilvia Moreno-Garcia has appeared in Shimmer three times and this winter, her debut novel, Signal to Noise arrives. Silvia was awesome enough to sit down with us to talk about books, Easy Bake Ovens, and the wonder that is “Take on Me” by a-ha.


Tell us how and when Signal to Noise began for you.

Not sure when. I’m terrible with dates. Probably three years ago. It started only with one scene, which is how I start everything. Adult Meche and Sebastian see each other across the street and it is raining. I know it sounds rather prosaic but I thought it was a very weighty moment and it lingered in my head. The rest of the book was an attempt to answer what they were doing there.

Let’s get the most obvious question out of the way first: does Signal to Noise have a mix tape? soundtrack? Do we have to wear our Vans to listen to it?

There’s an ‘official’ playlist that I made with about a dozen songs but a reviewer compiled all of the songs that appear in the novel. There’s a surprising amount of jazz in there. Also, that reviewer deserves major thanks for putting it together.

How did the structure of the novel develop? Was it always two interlaced timeframes?

Yeah, it always jumped back and forth in time. I think originally I was attempting to write a Young Adult novel but that didn’t work out. I don’t think I know what YA means. Or I’m not good with categories.

Why Mexico City?

Write what you know, I say.

You write both short stories and novels; does one appeal to you more than the other?

I would rather write shorter than longer. I have a hard time focusing on a single project. I hate the fact that the 50,000 word novel is not so popular these days. I have a lot of old books which clock at around that point. I’m also not a series person. I cannot imagine reading book 9 of the 15 volume series A Very European Medieval Imaginary Land, much less writing it. With that said I write whatever length works best.

If we were to come visit you in British Colombia, what’s the most 80s place you could take us to?

The Movieland Arcade on Granville. It has only machines from the 80s and it feels like a dingy time capsule that was left behind, forgotten, between the shiny new glass buildings of Vancouver. This is also the home of the last of the 8mm peep shows. Pretty much the last place in North America where you can throw a quarter and see a few minutes of vintage, celluloid pornography. It’s one of my favourite places in Vancouver, though I’m sure they’ll bulldoze it and build a giant condo tower on top one day or the other. That’s what happens here.

1980sIf Meche had to choose between the hair of anyone from the Thompson Twins, Whitney “How Will I Know” Houston, or Mike Score of Flock of Seagulls, who would she style herself after?

She’s probably too cool to imitate any popular hairstyles of the time period.

What would a Signal to Noise music video look like? Would it be styled like “Take On Me,” or maybe “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” or maybe even “How Will I Know.”

Good God. Maybe “Take On Me,” just because it’s the most awesome music video ever? But my memo to the artist when they asked about inspiration for the cover said to sit back and listen to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Duncan Dhu’s “En Algun Lugar,” so I guess I had “Total” on my head.

Favorite movies from the 80s, go.

Too many to name. Many did not age well though I was watching the 1980s version of Flash Gordon with my children the other night and they had a lot of fun. More super hero movies need a Queen-like soundtrack. I guarantee you the shitty Transformers franchise would benefit greatly if you played it with no dialogue, only Queen songs playing. It might become avant garde, even.

StrangeWayDyingYou have published and written a good many Lovecraft-themed stories and anthologies. What is it about Lovecraft that interests you, and does that influence your own work?

It varies. Right now his biological determinism but it’s not a constant state of affairs.

Tell us about a fabulous book you’ve read recently.

I’m not a good person to make recommendations. I liked Kraken Bake by Karen Dudley, which is the second book in a funny series set in Ancient Greece where gods and magical creatures are real. I call it Princess Bride meets Greek Mythology.

What do you have against Easy Bake Ovens? Will this hostility be resolved in a Signal to Noise sequel? If not, what’s next for you?

I can guarantee there will never be a Signal to Noise sequel. I hope we can sell Young Blood, my novel with Mexican vampire drug dealers. But that’s for my agent to figure out. I was working on a 1920s novel set in the Mexican northern border but I got to the point where I hate it and kicked it away to start work on something new that is called, for now, The Beautiful Ones, and takes place in a sort of alternate Belle Epoque.

As a postscript, I owned an Easy Bake Oven. It was the best toy a child can have. Now they make them with some kind of special lightbulb that takes forever to cook the cake, for safety reasons. But I say live a little.

Signal to Noise @Goodreads | Signal to Noise @Amazon



EliseSilvia Moreno-Garcia, Signal to Noise

Hugo Eligible

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Shimmer published five issues last year, so here’s what we have for your consideration when it comes to Hugos, Nebulas, and Academ– Er.

Shimmer 19

Shimmer #19

Original Short Stories:


  • Sandro Castelli
  • Kurt Huggins
  • Zelda Devon

Editors (short form):

  • E. Catherine Tobler
  • Ann VanderMeer

And indeed, Shimmer Magazine is eligible in the Semiprozine category.

adminHugo Eligible