Remember when I said I was going to be hosting more awesome author friends that you should know about on my blog space? Well, the time has come to introduce you to my friend Ira Nayman, who is launching his latest book in the Multiverse series, Bad Actors. Here’s a run-down of the series so far, and a description of his work that’s as accurate as it is wacky:
In You Can’t Kill the Multiverse (But You Can Mess With its Head), Ira Nayman’s second novel published by Elsewhen Press, a madman develops a machine which he hopes will destroy the multiverse. When he sets it off, nothing seems to happen. Not content with this state of affairs, Doctor Alhambra, the chief scientist for the Transdimensional Authority (which monitors and police traffic between universes) creates an alarm system that will alert him if any of the universes in the known multiverse should start to show signs of collapse.
In Good Intentions: The Multiverse Refugees Trilogy: First Pie in the Face, the sixth novel in the Transdimensional Authority/Multiverse series, the alarm goes off. The universe that is in imminent danger of collapse contains billions of sentient beings; the Transdimensional Authority develops an ambitious plan to help as many of them immigrate to stable universes as possible before their universe dies. Good Intentions follows the first alien immigrant’s journey to Earth Prime.
Bad Actors: The Multiverse Refugees Trilogy: Second Pi in the Face, takes place two years later. Tens of thousands of aliens have immigrated to Earth Prime, with mixed results. Some have been welcomed and aided by their human hosts. Others have been vilified, exploited and attacked. Just another day in the multiverse…
Reading a book by Ira “is like going head-to-head with an selection of thirty three and a third disconnected Wikipedia entries filtered through seven layers of artesian coffee filters woven from at least three more fibers than permitted by the historic laws of any major religion in a blender made of a strange kind of cotton candy spun from titanium anodized in fairground colours with blades made of live sharks while simultaneously tap-dancing to a Steve Reich composition based on the absolute value of the square root of pi. In other words, simply and elegantly the most entertaining way ever invented to invert your brain over a platter prepared with roasted apples and a variety of field mushrooms for your own delighted consumption.” – Jen Frankel, editor, Trump: Utopia or Dystopia, author, Undead Redhead
So, now that you know the premise, let’s chat with Ira about creativity, comedy and of course, books!
Can you tell me about your other books? What do my readers need to know about your series that are on the go so they can jump in?
In my novel series, I try to make each work a standalone so that readers can jump in at any spot and not feel like they are missing something. Even in the Multiverse Refugees Trilogy I am currently completing, there is enough information in each book that a reader could conceivably start with any of them and understand all they need to know to fully enjoy them. That having been said, characters do grow and situations do develop over time, so I would never discourage readers from reading the books in order.
The main characters in all of my novels (except for one) work for the Transdimensional Authority, which monitors and polices travel between universes (the exception, It’s Just the Chronosphere Unfolding as it Should, focuses on the Time Agency, a parallel organization which monitors and polices time travel). The focus of the first four novels was on the investigators of the organization, with some support from the science division and the data processing division. For the trilogy (Good Intentions, which was published last year, Bad Actors, the ebook of which has just been published with the paperback coming out in August, and The Ugly Truth, which has been submitted to Elsewhen Press and will be published next year), I wanted to focus on a different part of the organization: the diplomatic corps.
So. At the beginning of Good Intentions, an alarm goes off in Transdimensional Authority headquarters that signals that one of the known universes is about to collapse. The trilogy deals with a crazy plan by the organization to resettle as many of the sentient beings from the dying universe as possible to more stable universes. The first novel explores the experience of the first alien to settle on Earth Prime. The second novel, which takes place two years later, expands to show a half dozen different responses to the now thousands strong population of aliens on Earth Prime. The final novel, taking place four years after the first immigration, expands the scope of the story further to explore a larger number of the experiences of the million plus aliens who have immigrated to different universes. I should probably mention that the reason the alien universe is collapsing is set in motion in the second book in the series (You Can’t Kill the Multiverse (But You Can Mess With its Head)); but, again, it isn’t necessary to read that to enjoy the trilogy.
One final thing about my writing: I write humour. Readers may not get that impression from my long-winded descriptions of my writing process and intentions, but, trust me, I will drop my pants in a heartbeat if it will get a laugh.
What inspired you to write stories about multiple universes?
My exploration of the multiverse actually starts with a different series of books: the Alternate Reality News Service. ARNS sends reporters to other dimensions and has them write about what they find there. There are 12 books in this series (14 if you count two omnibus volumes). ARNS is a feature of my web site of political and social satire, Les Pages aux Folles and, although print and ebook versions are available for readers, all of the text is still available in the archive.
Writing about alternate universes gave me a way of satirizing things that are happening in this universe. It also allowed me to indulge in my long-standing love of science fiction. Winning! When I decided, late in the game, to start writing novels, ARNS gave me a foundation of ideas to work with.
Looking back over a decade of writing novels and short stories (as opposed to the short short articles I was writing for my web site), a theme emerges: how we become the people we are. (This is not surprising to me: I was obsessed with understanding why I was the person I was starting in my 20s and well into my 40s, until I finally decided to accept myself and move on.) In the first novel of the series (Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience)), for example, the main character, Noomi Rapier, meets four different versions of herself in four different universes. Without going into too much detail, her experience illustrates how the world we live in constrains the options we have to choose from in our lives, and how the choices we make contribute to who we become. As I often say, life is the dance between choice and chance. Multiple universes was the best way to explore this idea.
Is there a universe you’ve envisioned that you like the best, or would want to live in if you could?
The alien version of Earth in the dying universe in the trilogy is a live-action Looney Tunes world. I think it would be fun to live there, although it would probably be exhausting!
Your work always has such a great rhythm to it, and a sense of fun. What is your advice for others who want to include comedy in their work?
People have the mistaken impression that to write comedy involves turning the switch on humour when you sit down to write and turning it off again when you are done writing. In fact, writing humour is a philosophical way of existing in and responding to the world. On the one hand, it is a recognition of the absurdity of most human behaviour. On the other hand, it is a joyous recognition that, as absurd as our efforts may be, there is a joy in simply being alive to make them.
So. My advice would be to become a student of human behaviour: watch people, read psychology textbooks, try to synthesize a theory of human behaviour for work. Then, forget all of that and have some fun.
I know that you are a very well-read guy in a lot of genres. What is your favourite non-science fiction book, and can you tell us why you like it?
If you want to be a writer, I believe that it’s essential to read widely. “What do they know of science fiction, who only science fiction know?” In fact, as much as I love speculative fiction, I tend to enjoy literary and experimental fiction more. I know, I know. Bad writer! Bad!
Two books come to mind that I would highly recommend. One of my favourite writers of all time is Thomas Pynchon. Against the Day is his masterpiece. Like many of his novels, it delineates a historical inflection point (in this case, World War One), exploring the optimism of events leading up to the inflection point and how it sours the social mood. And I found it terrifically funny. (RUNNER-UP: Tom Robbins; Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.)
The other is Mark Danieleswki’s House of Leaves. It is a story within a story within a story within a story about a family that discovers that its house is slightly bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. As the dimensions of the interior of the house grow, the story takes on dimensions of horror before it finally resolves as a love story. Somehow, it works. (RUNNERS-UP: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire.)
Thanks for stopping by, Ira! And readers, if you like what he has to say, you can buy Bad Actors at the links below:
Today, I want to talk about blessings from bad things.
The pandemic was undoubtedly a bad thing, and was scary, uncertain and trying for all of us at different levels and in different ways. Now that I’ve been vaccinated, I have been spending some time away from writing and the general hustle to recoup and think about what this past year and a half has revealed to me about life, the universe and everything.
The essence of what I have decided is that life’s too short not to spend your time as happy and fulfilled as possible.
Here are my bad things, and the good that came out of them.
The Bad: I waited too long to start looking for a new job, and got stuck in a situation that felt coercive and exploitative for most of 2020.
The Good That Came Out of It: In my day to day life, I’m no longer apologizing or compromising on the way I want my life to look and what I want my life to be. Life’s too short to spend all day, every day doing things that make me unhappy, or just don’t fit with me as a person, because I’m trying to fulfill others’ vision of what responsible and respectable look like. I’m no longer going to downplay it when people try to run down my wants and needs as ‘too much’. Folks can help or get out of the way.
The Bad: Pretty much all of my progress in being more present online, on social media and actively promoting my books on a weekly basis went down the tubes as I saw more and more aggression, anger and pile-ons online. I do what I can to make this world a better place, but I’m not big on public conflict and so I tend to shy away when a space feels mean or full of call-outs. I also react badly to people who lead with aggressive rhetoric such as ‘Specific political stance or die/GTFO’ even if I do share their views and they see themselves as well-intentioned. After much personal work recently, I have discovered that the reason for this is that I was badly bullied as a child and teen, and I have a trauma response to this kind of thing happening to me. This kind of atmosphere made me feel really uncomfortable in a lot of writing and fan spaces available to me during the pandemic, most notably Twitter.
The Good That Came Out of It: I have realized that life is too short to spend it around people that make me feel uncomfortable or attacked. I’ve always been open to new ideas and discussion, but ‘gotcha’ call-outs and making blanket hateful statements about any group of people that are not explicitly a hate group or similar is going to get people bounced. Unfortunately, regardless of intentions, I think that this kind of behaviour serves to further marginalize people rather than call them in to a discussion or self-improvement. It’s all about getting attention for the poster rather than actually building anything up in the community. I’m going to be seeking out more in-person spaces that have a vibe that I enjoy and don’t make me feel like I’m walking on eggshells, and curating my social media friends lists to ensure that I like what people are posting to my feed, regardless of who it is that’s posting. If I can’t be happy in this career and spend time with folks I love being around and that I trust not to turn on me online over something they could have just talked out with me, then it isn’t worth it. I’m going to stay in my own positive little corner, still volunteering, supporting Canadian, women, BIPOC and LGBT+ creators with my time and money, and doing the things that I think will concretely lead to a better world rather than shouting about it online. This move is 100% about giving myself permission to be myself and not try to fit into a way of relating to others that doesn’t work for me and isn’t fun for me. I want to get back to it being about the art and the joy of creating and not about the external politics that are making us all miserable in other spaces. I am in several marginalized groups and feel strongly about change, but there has to be someplace we can go to just have fun together and enjoy creating, doesn’t there? Otherwise, what’s it all for?
But Liz, what will you do now?
That’s a great question, Made-up Rhetorical Audience Member. I have decided to make some concrete changes going forward. First of all, I will be posting 3-4 times a week to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but I will only be checking my notifications and my feed once a week. I understand that in our current culture, this is just Not Done, and some people may be disappointed with me or read me the wrong way when I don’t respond immediately, but this is the healthy choice for me. If it’s really urgent that someone have my attention, my email inbox is always open. To anyone who is still wondering why I am doing this, I would point to the above realization that life is too short to spend in a negative space online. My promotional strategy going forward is going to be a lot more blog/website focused, and I am going to try to post something here at least once a week and foster a fun and multi-media space that invites visitors into the worlds of my books. This is going to require an overhaul of the current site, and will definitely take time and not be immediate. I also want to focus more on making art (and maybe even animations) of my characters, settings and worlds, because that is something that has always brought me joy that has gotten lost in the shuffle, and I think it is something that fans would enjoy too. To foster a sense of community, I am going to pursue more guest bloggers and artists, as well. I could even see more videos becoming part of the site, but that would be a long way off. I’ve got to get the basics right first. Eventually, I hope to curate a space that centers the kind of discourse and fun that I’ve been missing lately from fandom, and if that starts to happen, I will probably engage in more of the social side of the internet again. One thing I am absolutely going to do is be me, unfiltered, uncensored and 100% genuine, and I’m not going to be arguing, bartering or apologizing for it. Say it with me one more time, for the road…
With summer coming to a close, and things ramping up again for fall, I just wanted to let my friends and followers know that I am open for editing slots.
The editing projects I have worked on so far have been a pleasure to be a part of, and I am pleased to report that I have added a testimonials section to the Editing tab on this site.
I will work with you to make sure that you get a high-quality editing pass that works with your budget. Here’s what one previous customer had to say:
“They say you should have a second set of eyes look over your manuscript, and I recommend Elizabeth. I was a client of hers and had wonderful results. Not only is she an experienced editor, and caught things that I missed, especially with punctuation, but her insight into the plot and characters really helped me find hidden gems that will add more depth to my story. Her plot and character analysis pointed out the weak points, and her critique suggestions will help me to create an overall, better story. Critiques can be a hard pill to swallow, but Elizabeth does it with care and understanding, offering a genuine and professional review of your project.”
If you are interested in knowing more, please consult my editing information page for contact info and sample rates.
Just like last year, I think we can all use a Quiet Afternoon or two. Well, good news for all of you out there who enjoy lo-fi fantastic fiction (and contributing to good causes), I am pleased to announce my appearance in A Quiet Afternoon II, now available for pre-order. I think the story I contributed is one of the funniest I’ve ever done (What? Liz is funny?) and I’m really proud of it. Just follow the link, pre-order, and enjoy!
That’s right, today’s the day that Distant Early Warning is finally available for purchase. Due to the pandemic, we’re holding the launch party virtually at Penguicon, but that just means that we can pack in more friends and fans than ever before.
Buy the Book
Here are the links below to where you can buy the book. If you already bought the book in the pre-order phase, first of all, thank you! Please consider leaving an honest review of the book, which helps authors in a ton of ways whether you liked the book or not.
We’re having a virtual launch at Penguicon 2021, with readings, giveaways and fun! I’ll also be appearing on a lot of panels over the weekend, because Penguicon has some great programming. You don’t want to miss it!
Friday April 22
8:00 pm – Help! My Characters Have Taken Over
Saturday April 23
12:00 pm – Read Like a Pro
4:00 pm – Distant Early Warning Book Launch
6:00 pm – Why Aren’t I Writing: Dealing with Imposter Syndrome, Writer’s Block, and Other Muse Killers
7:00 pm – Attending a Major Writing Workshop
8:00 pm – Creating in the Time of Isolation
Ginger Nuts of Horror Author Profile
I’ve been profiled by the amazing Ginger Nuts of Horror blog! In this interview, I reveal some of my writing tips and secrets, my feelings about the horror genre, and some surprising personal facts about me.
April and May are shaping up to be busy months, in no small part due to the Distant Early Warning book launch on April 15. Below, I’ve listed some of the confirmed events I’ll be part of, but don’t be surprised if some other fun things pop up later on. I don’t have exact panel times for some events yet, but I will make separate posts as they come in.
April 15: Viral Video Launch
Join me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as I release a short, funny video to launch Distant Early Warning. There will be cute dogs and low-budget special effects.
April 22-25: Penguicon Panels and Virtual Launch Party
I’m excited to be a part of this year’s Penguicon, an open source arts and maker convention in Chicago, as part of their virtual programming. I’m doing a lot of interesting panels about the art and business of writing throughout the weekend, and you can also join me and my host, Nathan Frechette, as we celebrate the launch of Distant Early Warning with an online shindig. Prizes will be a thing.
May 20-23: Stokercon 2021
If you’re attending Stokercon’s virtual edition, be sure to catch my reading from Distant Early Warning, which will be available to stream throughout the weekend.
That’s right… we’ve got a final date for The Distant Early Warning launch, and because I love you all so much, we’re not doing just one event. There’s going to be a viral video launch that I know all my fellow dog lovers are going to dig, a virtual launch party with giveaways at this year’s Penguicon, and possibly even more! I can’t write about the rest of what we’re planning because it’s still in the negotiation phase, but we should have even more goodness happening in the weeks around the launch date. Meanwhile, if you want to support the book, pre-order info, the trailer and the synopsis are below.
Canada is in crisis. Climate change has taken hold, and amid the flooding and the super storms, the dead begin crawling out of the ground at night, screaming out strange gibberish songs that entrance anyone who hears them. The north quickly becomes a wild west, without the west.
Denny’s life changes forever one day when she sees her dad on TV, dead and screaming. Denny gives up her job, buys supplies, and heads out with her dad’s dog, Geoff, to discover the truth behind his death, but truth always comes with a cost. What Denny discovers in the wilds of Northern Ontario will shatter all of her assumptions about her life, and what lies beyond.
In this essay, I make the argument for being aware of our reading choices and making sure that we are including works with more difficult protagonists that have their own distinct personality and don’t exist solely to act as an audience surrogate. I feel that this is an especially important topic when we are reading stories about women, because difficult women protagonists push back against the notion that women must always perform desirability.
That’s the summary, but there’s so much more good stuff in there. Jump in and have a look for yourself!
So, I have a legitimate question for all of you… where did January go? Somebody please tell me. I was definitely hibernating, but now I’ve come out like the cozy groundhog that I am, and my shadow wasn’t visible so I guess I’ll stay awake. It’s good timing, too, because February is Women In Horror Month!
This is my first year celebrating Women In Horror Month, but I am glad it is catching on as an idea. Not only are there so many great authors, both classic and contemporary, to discuss and enjoy, but I love that it’s a time when women horror creators and fans can step up and be seen.
I’ve been a little bit behind on my reading (as well as on my writing, mumble mumble…) so this month I am going to purchase at least two books by women horror authors I have not read before and give them a boost on my social media. If you’ve got any good recommendations, especially for releases within the last three years, let me know! I love ghost stories, cults, monsters, cosmic horror, hybrids with other SpecFic genres, and weird magical-realism type stuff.
In Other News…
I think a lot of people hit a wall with the whole COVID thing in January, and I am no exception. My adrenaline ran out and all I wanted to do was work on my Animal Crossing island and knit. I did get 60 pages edited on a new manuscript that is almost ready to be sent out into the world, though, and I don’t want to discount that. It wasn’t what I had hoped, but it was at least something. And I haven’t stopped my journey through the French-language version of The Hobbit, either! It’s been a really good skill sharpener for me and I find myself more prepared for my next French course as a result of doing so much independent learning.
After a lot of rest, I am back and more motivated than ever. This month has it all. Short stories? Check. Editing two books? Check. Getting geared up to finish The Singing Bones trilogy ender starting in March? You bet that’s a check. I’m excited about what the new year is going to bring in terms of new writing adventures and new friends.
If you happen to be attending Capricon this weekend, you can also find me doing a wide variety of panels, from talking about libraries in fiction to digging my way out of ever more outlandish fictional scenarios for the entertainment of our audience. It should be a good one, so I hope to see you there.