International Women’s Day 2018

Despite much prejudice over the years, it is undeniable that female authors have been a strong and significant force in Science Fiction and Fantasy since the earliest days. One only has to think of Margaret Cavendish, Mary Shelley, Jane Webb Loudon, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, C.J. Cherryh, Julian May, Marion Bradley, Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling. Even so, it is generally harder for female authors to be published, and many readers still say they are less likely to pick up a book if the author is obviously female.

Elsewhen Press, which was established in 2011, applies no constraints of age, race, gender or sexual orientation, on the authors whose work we consider or publish – our only criterion is quality. We now have a roll-call of female, male and non-binary authors, from various continents, writing in many different sub-genres of speculative fiction. To mark International Women’s Day 2018, we would like to highlight some of the female authors that have enabled Elsewhen Press to live up to its mission of delivering outstanding new talents in speculative fiction. They are all great writers and awesome people; we are honoured to have them as our authors and friends.


Zoë Sumra

Zoë Sumra

Zoë was born in London, but spent her later childhood living in Lancashire, where she started writing novels at the age of twelve due to extreme boredom. After completing the obligatory epic fantasy trilogy in her teens, she spent four years at the University of St Andrews, where she learnt to fence both foil and sabre and cemented her passion for space opera. She now lives in London with her husband, their daughter and a collection of swords. Zoë writes when she’s not fencing, looking after her daughters, or working as a print controller for an advertising company.

The Underside series
(Sailor to a Siren; The Wages of Sin)

The Underside series, space opera with a significant nod to gangland thrillers, introduced us to Zoë Sumra’s universe and established her as a name to watch in epic space opera. The depth of her characters, the breadth of her world-building, the ambition and longevity of her story-arcs spanning multiple generations of families, all made this a first series in what is going to be a fascinating and enthralling universe.


Tanya Reimer

Tanya Reimer

Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Tanya enjoys using the tranquil prairies as a setting to her not-so-peaceful speculative fiction.

She is married with two children which means among her accomplishments are the necessary magical abilities to find a lost tooth in a park of sand and whisper away monsters from under the bed.

As director of a non-profit Francophone community center, Tanya offers programming and services in French for all ages to ensure the lasting imprint and growth of the Francophone community in which she was raised. What she enjoys the most about her job is teaching social media safety for teens and offering one-on-one technology classes for seniors.

Tanya was fifteen when she wrote her first column. She has a diploma in Journalism/Short Story Writing. Today, she actively submits to various newspapers, writes and publishes the local Francophone newsletter for her community, and maintains a blog at Life’s Like That.

Sacred Land Stories
(Legends on the Prairies; Ghosts on the Prairies; Cursed on the Prairies)

The Sacred Land Stories trilogy follows a trans-generational timeline that starts in Legends on the Prairies, continues in Ghosts on the Prairies and culminates in Cursed on the Prairies. Alternate history suspense incorporating the paranormal and magical realism, and infused with romance, these are stories that concern the Sacred Lands of the Ghost tribes in the prairies of Saskatchewan, stretching from 1882 to 1936. But they also touch on the interwoven loves, hopes, dreams and tragedies of lives lived on those prairies by both the tribes and the settlers.


Sanem Ozdural

Sanem Ozdural

Sanem Ozdural was born in Ankara, Turkey in the 70s, and spent her childhood from age seven onwards in England. Happy days at a quintessentially British boarding school in Surrey helped forge her character and tastes, not to mention lasting friendships. Making her way to the U.S. she studied economics at Princeton University. After graduating from Boston University School of Law, she moved to New Orleans where she practiced as a prosecutor and civil litigator, and spent seven wonderful years living in the French Quarter.

In 2004 she migrated from New Orleans via Washington, D.C., reaching New York City in 2006, where she lived and practiced law until 2013. After teaching business law at Koç University in Istanbul for a few semesters, she is now back in New Orleans once again working as a lawyer. Sanem was an avid bridge player until the tenth round of revisions to her debut novel. She is now thoroughly enjoying an indefinite bridge sabbatical, and imagining all sorts of stories that feature absolutely no bridge or chess.

LiGa series
(LiGa™; the Dark shall do what Light cannot)

The LiGa series is a thought-provoking series of books in an essentially contemporary setting, with elements of both science fiction and fantasy. The LiGa of the series title is a contraction of Life Game, a game in which contestants are gambling with their lives to win what is essentially indefinite life expectancy. In the first book we meet the players of a LiGa™ Bridge tournament who are competing against each other to join the ranks of the ‘Immortal’ members of LiGa. In the second book, we find out more about the secretive organisation behind the game as we travel with some of them to a fantastic place beyond the Light Veil.


Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall

Rebecca started writing when she was supposed to be studying for her exams at Otago University but somehow passed anyway, eventually graduating with a decorative piece of paper. She moved to the UK to pursue a career in publishing and after a couple of mishaps ended up in Edinburgh and sold Instrument of Peace to Elsewhen Press, which is not quite the career she had in mind. The career she did have in mind was along more editorial lines which is why she is now a volunteer at Inspired Quill and a freelance copy-editor for everyone else. She also has a blog which she infrequently remembers to update, where those mysterious things known as short stories can be found.

Even after three years in the UK, she is baffled by the fact that the British use miles, pints and 1p coins but things like pineapple lumps, black forest chocolate and L&P have not caught on. Rebecca would like to make it very clear that she is a Kiwi and absolutely NOT an Australian (or South African) and she will do almost anything for chocolate.

Symphony of the Cursed trilogy
(Instrument of Peace; Instrument of War; Instrument of Chaos)

The Symphony of the Cursed trilogy, is a YA fantasy that begins with Instrument of Peace, which Rebecca describes as a magic school setting combined with the reality of the mundane world and horror of the Dresden Files, without any characters named Harry. Her trilogy sees the main protagonist, Mitch, move from high school to university while he strives to break The Twisted Curse that threatens those around him.

The location for the story may be surprising to some readers, especially those in the Northern hemisphere. The Academy, where Mitch is being educated in magic, is in a semi-mythical land populated by magical beings and legendary creatures, not to mention awe-inspiring natural features such as volcanoes, that has in recent years been discovered to be the location for Middle Earth. We know it, of course, as New Zealand.


Katrina Mountfort

Katrina Mountfort

Katrina was born in Leeds. After a degree in Biochemistry and a PhD in Food Science, she started work as a scientist. Since then, she’s had a varied career. Her philosophy of life is that we only regret the things we don’t try, and she’s been a homeopath, performed forensic science research and currently works as a freelance medical writer. She now lives in Saffron Walden with her husband and two dogs. When she hit forty, she decided it was time to fulfil her childhood dream of writing a novel. Future Perfect was her debut novel and the first book in the Blueprint trilogy. Forbidden Alliance and Freedom’s Prisoners completed the trilogy. Her latest novel is The Ghost in You.

Blueprint trilogy
(Future Perfect; Forbidden Alliance; Freedom’s Prisoners)

The Blueprint trilogy takes us to a future in which men and women are almost identical, and personal relationships are forbidden. Following a bio-terrorist attack, the population now lives within comfortable Citidomes. MindValues advocate acceptance and non-attachment. The BodyPerfect cult encourages a tall thin androgynous appearance, and looks are everything.

A dark undercurrent runs through the trilogy: the enforcement of conformity through fear, the fostering of distorted and damaging attitudes towards forbidden love, manipulation of appearance and even the definition of beauty. Despite seeming to be set in a distant and dystopian future, it is clear that many of the disturbing aspects of Katrina’s future world can be seen here and now; this should be a warning to us all. The books appeal to both an adult and young adult audience.


J.A. Christy aka Jacqueline Ward

J A Christy

J.A. Christy’s writing career began in infant school at the age of seven when she won best poetry prize with her poem ‘Winter’. Since then she has been writing short stories and has had several published in magazines and anthologies.

She holds a PhD in which she explores the stories we use in everyday life to construct our identities. Working in high hazard safety, she is a Chartered Psychologist and Scientist and writes to apply her knowledge to cross the boundaries between science and art, in particular in the crime, speculative and science-fiction genres.

She lives in Oldham with her partner and their dog. J.A. Christy also writes under the name Jacqueline Ward.

SmartYellow™

SmartYellow™ explores themes of social inequity and scientific responsibility. J.A. Christy’s first speculative fiction novel leads her heroine Katrina to understand how probability, hope and empathy play a huge part in the flow of life and are absent in the stagnation of mere survival. As readers we also start to question how we would know if the power of the State to support and care for the weak had become corrupted into the oppression of all those who do not fit society’s norms.

SmartYellow™ offers a worryingly plausible and chilling glimpse into an alternate Britain. For the sake of order and for the benefit of more fortunate members of society, those seen as socially undesirable are marked with SmartYellow™, making it easier for them to be controlled and maintained in a state of fruitless inactivity. Writer, J.A. Christy, turns an understanding and honest eye not only onto the weak, who have failed to cope with life, but also onto those who ruthlessly exploit them for their own ends. At times tense and threatening, at times tender and insightful, SmartYellow™ is a rewarding and thought-provoking read.


Alison Buck

Alison Buck

Like all of us, Alison Buck has led many lives.

One as a sensible, hard-working type, employed in financial systems, graphic design and web site development.  Another as a writer, scribbling away, committing her stories to disc and eventually publishing several to reasonable acclaim.  Throughout all of them, the mother of two and wife of one.

Skilled at exploring the psychology and interior lives of her characters, Alison delivers stories that range from chilling tales of horror through insightful contemporary drama to thought-provoking science fiction.  Her empathy with her protagonists, her rich descriptive prose and her use of gentle humour serve to ensure that, whatever the setting, her stories are always a rewarding read.

Abiding Evil

Abiding Evil, Alison’s second published novel, was a bestselling psychological horror story. A sleeping menace is roused deep in the darkness of a forest. For decades it grows, biding its time, reaching out to tug at the ordinary lives of those living beyond the shadow of the trees. Their children begin to disappear.

Unaware and unsuspecting of the danger, a group of families, friends for many years, journey to a newly re-opened hotel. It stands alone in a clearing a mile or more within the forest boundary. For some this will be their last reunion.

The long-awaited sequel will be published this year by Elsewhen Press.

Alison is also a talented artist who has designed many of the covers for our books. She is one of the co-founders of Elsewhen Press.


meticulous and painfully familiar – Pen Tynan’s (sort of) review of SmartYellow™

Artwork: Leosaysays
Artwork: Leosaysays

On her blog Axes’n’Yarn, Pen Tynan has just written a very thoughtful (and thought-provoking) article, which is partially a review of SmartYellow™ by JA Christy but also a commentary on the current welfare state in the UK. SmartYellow™ is set in contemporary Britain, although when we read it we hope that it is an alternative reality and not ours!

I am not going to try to précis Pen’s article, nor do I want to attempt to reduce it to merely a review of SmartYellow™ as it is so much more. I will say that Pen finished reading SmartYellow™ a month ago and says it is still haunting her. The description of life in a council estate, Pen says, is meticulous and painfully familiar. The science alluded to, that enables the inhabitants to be monitored and ultimately controlled, probably does not exist (says Pen) but that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine those who have control using more mundane methods for achieving the same goals.

Pen concludes by saying that the “real thing that left me shaken and melancholy from reading SmartYellow was a real, deep and darkly certain feeling not that this could happen, but that it already is happening.” She says that she desperately wants to recommend this book to people but with the warning that it might affect the reader (or as she puts it “it might leave you feeling like shit”). I’m going to interpret that as a positive recommendation!

You should read, and think about Pen’s article (click here to read it), whether or not you have read or might read SmartYellow™. Of course we hope you will read the book too.

 

“fascinatingly engaging” – review of SmartYellow™ on Risingshadow

Artwork: Leosaysays
Artwork: Leosaysays

On the Risingshadow website, Seregil of Rhiminee has just reviewed SmartYellow™ by J.A. Christy. Seregil starts by saying it was a “pleasant surprise” and goes on to describe it as “a stunning and thought-provoking story” and “one of the best novels of its kind” as it blends dystopian fiction and mystery elements with social issues. He adds that what makes SmartYellow™ stand out from other novels is “the author’s ability to draw her readers into the protagonist’s life” with a story that is “fascinatingly engaging and realistic” and characters that are fully fleshed out, credible and “relate to each other in a believable way”. In particular the two main characters have credible “personal voices of their own”.

Outlining the story background, Seregil says it “is the beginning of a fascinatingly told and terrifyingly realistic story about social control”. Readers get a “realistic and uncompromising glimpse” into the life of Katrina, the main protagonist, writing “touchingly” yet also “unflinchingly” about the problems in her harsh life and how she tries to survive on inadequate benefits. Seregil says that J.A. Christy “explores social inequity and scientific responsibility in an intriguing way”, causing the reader to ponder many questions relating to social control, some of which are answered in the story but many of which are left for the reader to decide for themselves. Seregil applauds this, saying that it is “rewarding to read an intelligent and thought-provoking story that raises questions about our current way of life” and how we treat those who are different or don’t fit in.

Seregil closes the review comparing J.A. Christy with Margaret Atwood. He admits that he seldom gives 5 stars, but felt compelled to do so for SmartYellow™ because “there’s something in this novel that intrigued me a lot”. Commenting that the author “writes excellently and realistically about Katrina and her problems”, Seregil says he is looking forward to reading more speculative fiction from J.A. Christy “because she’s a talented new voice in the field of modern speculative fiction”. He concludes by recommending SmartYellow™ because it’s “well written” and the “story flows effortlessly from start to finish”.

You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow here.

 

J.A.Christy interviewed by Amanda Saint on Retreat West

jacavatarAs part of her Year of Indie Debuts, Amanda Saint is interviewing some amazing authors on her website Retreat West. Today she has published an interview with our very own J.A.Christy to talk about SmartYellow™ which we published as an eBook this month (and which will be out in paperback in November).

Artwork: Leosaysays
Artwork: Leosaysays

Amanda asks about the inspiration behind SmartYellow™ and other influences; they discuss the worrying similarities between the disturbing vision of an alternative society presented in SmartYellow™ and the realities of life for less fortunate members of society today, not least the distinction between living and merely surviving; and we hear a little about J.A.Christy’s future plans.

The interview is well worth reading, as is SmartYellow™ of course!

You can read the whole of Amanda’s interview on Retreat West here.

 

Tanya Reimer peeks into the life of J.A. Christy

J.A. ChristyTanya Reimer

In the week that her novel SmartYellow™ is published (today! see announcement here), J.A. Christy has been interviewed by fellow Elsewhen Press author Tanya Reimer on her blog Life’s like that. Tanya, author of Ghosts on the Prairies, a Sacred Land Story and the upcoming Can’t Dream Without You, peeks into Christy’s life as they discuss the inspiration behind SmartYellow™, themes in writing, how dark chick-lit turned into crime novels, and why she’s proud to have been awarded an MBE for her work with vulnerable people.

You can read the interview here

 

Social experimentation with sinister overtones – SmartYellow™ by J.A. Christy out now

For the sake of order and the benefit of more fortunate members of society, those seen as socially undesirable are marked with SmartYellow™ to be tracked, controlled and constrained

DARTFORD, KENT – 7 August 2015 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication today of SmartYellow™ by J.A. Christy. A worryingly plausible and chilling glimpse into an alternate Britain where those seen as socially undesirable are marked with SmartYellow™, an invisible indicator of their status that can be readily detected by the authorities, social services and even retailers. They can be covertly tracked, controlled and maintained in a state of fruitless inactivity, collected together into surreptitiously segregated social housing estates.

Artwork: Leosaysays
Artwork: Leosaysays

Author J.A. Christy depicts a hidden world of social experimentation with very sinister overtones. She turns an understanding and honest eye not only on the weak, who have failed to cope with life, but also on those who ruthlessly exploit them for their own ends. At times tense and threatening, at times tender and insightful, SmartYellow™ is a thought-provoking exploration of how probability, hope and empathy play a huge part in the flow of life and are absent in the stagnation of mere survival. As the true extent of the public deployment of the experiment becomes apparent, the reader inevitably starts to question how we would know if the power of the State to support and care for the weak had indeed become corrupted into the oppression of all those who do not fit society’s norms.

As a psychologist working in high hazard safety, J.A. Christy has a professional interest in society and social analysis; as a scientist, she has always been fascinated by quantum physics, in particular the concept of decoherence and how it can be seen to apply in other disciplines. As a writer, she is keen to explore the human side of these ideas, and in SmartYellow™ she develops themes of social inequity and scientific responsibility.

SmartYellow™ is published today by Elsewhen Press in digital format on all popular eBook platforms and will be published in paperback in November.

Notes for Editors

About J.A. Christy

J.A. ChristyJ.A. Christy’s writing career began in infant school at the age of seven when she won best poetry prize with her poem ‘Winter’. Since then she has been writing short stories and has had several published in magazines and anthologies.

She holds a PhD in which she explores the stories we use in everyday life to construct our identities. Working in high hazard safety, she is a Chartered Psychologist and Scientist and writes to apply her knowledge to cross the boundaries between science and art, in particular in the crime, speculative and science-fiction genres.

She lives in Oldham with her partner and their dog.

About SmartYellow™ and the cover art

Artwork: Leosaysays
Artwork: Leosaysays

SmartYellow™ is the story of a young girl, Katrina Williams, who finds herself on the wrong side of social services. After becoming pregnant with only a slight notion of the father’s identity, she is disowned by her parents and goes to live on the Hill Farm estate. Before long she is being bullied by a gang involved in criminal activity and anti-social behaviour. Seeking help from the authorities, she is persuaded to return to the estate to work as part of Operation Schrödinger, alongside a surveillance specialist. But she soon realises that Operation Schrödinger is not all it seems.

SmartYellow™ has a front cover intended to suggest to a reader on seeing the book that it is coated in yellow powder, with the fingerprint suggesting that they might themselves become contaminated with the SmartYellow™ if they touch it. But beyond that, we wanted to give any brave would-be reader a reward for actually picking up the book and turning it over… so, we asked artist Leosaysays to produce some artwork for the back cover too, a rendition of Hill Farm.

 

EXPOSED: The covers of SmartYellow™

“Covers? Plural?” you ask.

“Yes!” we reply, archly. But then, before you stomp off in high dudgeon*, we explain…

SmartYellow™ has a strikingly plain, almost stark, front cover as you can see below. Author J.A. Christy wanted a reader to see the book and imagine it to be coated in yellow powder, with the fingerprint suggesting that they might themselves become contaminated with the SmartYellow™ if they pick it up.

Artwork: Leosaysays
Artwork: Leosaysays

Perhaps that’s a sales pitch not best designed to encourage a hesitant reader to look at the book! But it’s very appropriate for the world of SmartYellow™, as a reader would soon discover. But beyond that, we wanted to give any brave would-be reader a reward for actually picking up the book and turning it over… so, perhaps a bit radically, we asked artist Leosaysays to produce some relevant artwork for the back cover. He did us proud with a fantastic rendition of the Hill Farm estate where most of the action takes place.

Artwork: Leosaysays
Artwork: Leosaysays

As it says on the back, SmartYellow™ offers a worryingly plausible and chilling glimpse into an alternate Britain. For the sake of order and for the benefit of more fortunate members of society, those seen as socially undesirable are marked with SmartYellow™, making it easier for them to be controlled and maintained in a state of fruitless inactivity. Writer, J.A. Christy, turns an understanding and honest eye not only onto the weak, who have failed to cope with life, but also onto those who ruthlessly exploit them for their own ends. At times tense and threatening, at times tender and insightful, SmartYellow™ is a rewarding and thought-provoking read.

Exploring themes of social inequity and scientific responsibility, J.A. Christy’s first speculative fiction novel leads her heroine Katrina to understand how probability, hope and empathy play a huge part in the flow of life and are absent in the stagnation of mere survival. As readers we also start to question how we would know if the power of the State to support and care for the weak had become corrupted into the oppression of all those who do not fit society’s norms.

SmartYellow™ will be available in digital formats in August and in print in November.

* I’ve often wondered why dudgeon is always high… and conversely therefore, what would low dudgeon be like?

Control social misfits by marking with SmartYellow™

Psychologist, J.A. Christy, signs with Elsewhen Press for a Speculative Fiction novel portraying a sinister, but worryingly plausible, social experiment

DARTFORD, KENT – 23 February 2015 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce a deal signed with Manchester writer J.A. Christy, to publish her first speculative fiction novel SmartYellow™. As a psychologist working in high hazard safety, J.A. Christy has a professional interest in society and social analysis; as a scientist she has always been fascinated by quantum physics, in particular the concept of decoherence and how it can be seen to apply in other disciplines. As a writer she is keen to explore the human side of these ideas, and in SmartYellow™ she depicts a hidden world of social experimentation with very sinister overtones.

SmartYellow™ is the story of a young girl, Katrina Williams, who finds herself on the wrong side of social services. After becoming pregnant with only a slight notion of the father’s identity, she is disowned by her parents and goes to live on a social housing estate. Before long she is being bullied by a gang involved in criminal activity and anti-social behaviour. Seeking help from the authorities she is persuaded to return to the estate to work as part of Operation Schrödinger, alongside a surveillance specialist. But she soon realises that Operation Schrödinger is not what it seems.

Exploring themes of social inequity and scientific responsibility, J.A. Christy’s story leads her heroine Katrina to understand how probability, hope and empathy play a huge part in the flow of life and are absent in the stagnation of mere survival. As readers we also start to question how we would know if the power of the State to support and care for the weak had become corrupted into the oppression of all those who do not fit society’s norms.

Al Murray, managing publisher of Elsewhen Press said “SmartYellow™ offers a worryingly plausible and chilling glimpse into an alternate Nineties Britain. For the sake of order and for the benefit of more fortunate members of society, those seen as socially undesirable are marked with SmartYellow™, making it easier for them to be controlled and maintained in a state of fruitless inactivity. Writer, J.A. Christy, turns an understanding and honest eye not only onto the weak, who have failed to cope with life, but also onto those who ruthlessly exploit them for their own ends. At times tense and threatening, at times tender and insightful, SmartYellow™ is a rewarding and thought-provoking read.”

SmartYellow™ will be published by Elsewhen Press in 2015 in both a digital and paperback edition.

Notes for Editors

About J.A. Christy

Jacqueline A ChristyJ.A. Christy’s writing career began in infant school at the age of seven when she won best poetry prize with her poem ‘Winter’. Since then she has been writing short stories and has had several published in magazines and anthologies.

Jacqueline holds a PhD in which she explores the stories we use in everyday life to construct our identities. Working in high hazard safety, she is a Chartered Psychologist and Scientist and writes to apply her knowledge to cross the boundaries between science and art, in particular in the crime, speculative and science-fiction genres.

She lives in Oldham with her partner and their dog.