Thoughts

Thoughts #48: My Favourite Female Authors

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As mentioned at the end of January, I’m focusing on female authors for the entire month of February, as my book group Dragons & Jetpacks has declared it ‘Women Writers Month’. I thought I’d start off by discussing my favourite female authors, and I’d love to hear yours!

Diana Gabaldon

diana gabaldon Outlander

My current lady of the moment is Diana Gabaldon, author of the fantastic Outlander series. If you’re into historical fiction, give it a try (or give the show a watch, totally worth it just for Sam Heughan alone, not to mention the beautiful Catriona Balfe and the gorgeous Scottish landscapes). Diana: thank you SO MUCH for creating the beautiful Scotsman that is Jamie Fraser.

J.K. Rowling

JK Rowling Harry Potter

Do I really need to explain this one? J.K. Rowling is my queen and shaped my childhood, forever.

Sarah J. Maas

sarah j maasThrone of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas is another female author I love, although I’ve only read one of her series – Throne of Glass. I met her in 2013 and she was the sweetest. She brought her own copy of Throne of Glass for fans to sign, and it travelled all over the world. It was pretty cool being able to sign something that my fellow bloggers had also signed!

Jaine Fenn

Jaine Fenn Downside Girls by Jaine Fenn

I’m going to make a mention of Jaine Fenn, who is truly lovely. She writes science fiction, and I first came into contact with her in 2013. She took part in my Sci-Fi Month event with an author interview, and I’ve met her twice now, both times at Bristolcon (where I was very shy because I actually don’t know how to act around authors…). She recognised my name instantly, thanked me for my review of her recent short story she’d sent me, and mentioned she had a new release coming and would I like to review it. Basically, she knows how to interact with her fanbase very well. Her sci-fi series is a mix of books to be read in order, and others that can be read as standalones within the same universe.

Marianne Curley & Katherine Roberts

Marianne Curley Katherine Roberts

Marianne Curley and Katherine Roberts cannot be forgotten! Both of these ladies write fantasy for younger audiences, and wrote some of my favourite books as a child/teen. And both of them took time out of their busy schedules to let me interview them for my blog. Like Jaine, they are lovely people and know how to treat their fans 🙂 Marianne has written the Guardians of Time series which involves time travel (yaaaas) and Katherine has written several series, my favourite being the Echorium Sequence, where words and song are power.

And because this post will be an entire novel if I write a paragraph about every awesome lady, honourable mentions go to…

Kristin Cashore, S.J. Kincaid, Suzanne Collins, Laini Taylor, V.E. Schwab and Rhonda Mason.

Which fabulous ladies of fiction are your favourites?

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Guest Post

Guest Post: Freya’s Account of BristolCon, October 2014

Bristolcon

Some of you may remember that in 2013, I went to a science fiction and fantasy convention called BristolCon – it was wonderful to have such a thing in my little corner of England rather than all the way out in London or elsewhere. Unfortunately, as I wasn’t in that little corner of England, or much less England at all, for BristolCon 2014, I couldn’t attend. However, my lovely friend Freya did, and she has kindly written an account of her experience!

BristolCon 2014

Hello peeps – Freya here guest posting for Rinn Reads! Last year I attended BristolCon with Rinn and another of our friends from university which was pretty awesome and had a great time! This year due to a few reasons (Rinn being in another country for starters!), I went book-raiding at BristolCon 2014 as a party of one – it was a good day, but going with friends certainly makes the day – I’m looking at you Rinn for attending a Convention next year!

Guests of Honour this year were: Jon Courtnay Grimwood, Emma Newman and Julian Quaye, with a whole host of other authors appearing on panels, doing readings and signings, including: Paul Cornell, Jaine Fenn, Gareth L. Powell, Adrian Tchaikovsky and many more

There were so many exciting talks and panels going on and it was sometimes difficult to decide which ones to go to! I sadly missed the talk on Modelling the Climate of Tolkien’s Middle Earth (and our Earth) which I am STILL kicking myself over!

Freya's BristolCon haul!
Freya’s BristolCon haul!

I did manage to attend Writing Historical Fantasy which discussed historical accuracy and the pros and cons of sticking to events or being only loosely based in fact. I also went to Sex or Death? where the authors discussed killing characters and how difficult it can be to write a sex scene without it being gratuitous or just ending up a reflection of authors’ preferences and experiences! Amusingly in the same time slot in another room was More Weird Sex – apparently ‘when a mummy alien and a daddy alien who love each other very much…’ or more about bizarre mating and offspring in science fiction.

After a number of mugs of tea and some lunch I went to listen to Garth L. Powell interview Guest of Honour Emma Newman. She is amazing, a lovely person who told me not to apologise for wanting some books signed (I have a habit of sprinkling my sentences with ‘sorry’). She is also very funny with her interview having me in fits and some slightly strange but amusing part about fitting turnips into socks?! She’s a roleplayer, and science fiction short story author though I first heard about her through her Split Worlds trilogy. She also runs a podcast with her author husband Peter Newman called Tea and Jeopardy which just sounds amazing! I would recommend you check out her website where there are free stories (who doesn’t love a free story?). She finished off with a reading of her new science fiction novel called Planetfall which sounds like it is going to be great!

Emma Newman Emma Newman

Finally I attended talks on Writing Non-Human Characters with the challenges that brings of making them relatable but trying not to make them sound like a human in a costume, and finally Rogues, Ruffians, Pirates and Thieves where I queried that although these type of characters are often our favourites in fiction, would we actually like them if they were in the real world, as in fiction the consequences of their actions do not affect us? By this point in the day my stomach was growling for supper and I had a tedious headache so sticking around for the evening boardgaming they were planning to do after last year’s pilot was not going to happen for me and I headed home with my goodies from the day.

My goodie bag had a free book by Michael Moorcock, Gloriana, or ‘The Unfulfilled Queen’ and I got books two and three of the Split Worlds Trilogy by Emma Newman signed, Jaine Fenn’s Downside Girls and Principles of Angels signed, and Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt #2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky signed. The dealers room had a brilliant range of books, graphic novels, jewellery and other goodies being sold and I would have bought a lot more but the Forbidden Planet stall nicked all my money buying books instead (whoops?), however I did want to mention the artwork of Jennie Gyllblad, an illustrator and graphic novel artist who had some beautiful artwork on sale! She has also been writing some of her own graphic novels as well as illustrating them so I suggest you check out her website and take a gander!

Jaine Fenn Jaine Fenn

BristolCon 2015 is earlier than normal on September 26th at the Doubletree Hotel in Bristol. It’s £20 for the day in advance or £25 on the day – really not bad for a Convention price and it’s growing bigger every year. The Guests of Honour for 2015 will be Jasper Fforde, Jaine Fenn and the artist Chris Moore.

Thank you so much to Freya for her account of BristolCon 2014! Have you ever attended BristolCon, or another smaller convention? Do you prefer these sorts of conventions to ones like Comicon?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Previous Sci-Fi Reviews

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In today’s Sci-Fi Month post, I’m showcasing my previous reviews of science fiction books. Click the cover to read the review! Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.
 

 

 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts!

 

Author Interview, Giveaway, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Author Interview with Jaine Fenn

For today’s Sci-Fi Month post, I have an interview with the very talented science fiction author, Jaine Fenn! I first came across her work when I won a copy of her short story collection, Downside Girls, through LibraryThing. I really enjoyed the stories as an introduction to her Hidden Empire series, and she was one of the first authors I thought to contact when I came up with the idea for Sci-Fi Month. At the end of the post, there is also a giveaway for a copy of Downside Girls, open internationally.

Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Interview

Rinn: I first encountered your work when I read your short story collection, Downside Girls. Do you plan on writing any more short story collections?

Jaine: I love short stories, and have written plenty of them. I like the idea of themed collections, and at some point I’ll gather up all my alternate history and fortean stories – although they aren’t SF as such – and then, as with Downside Girls, add a new story or two to complete the set.

Rinn: Did you have any particular inspiration for the Angels and the Sidhe (from Jaine’s Hidden Empire series)?

Jaine: The Angels – female flying assassins with implanted blades – come in part from two books I read at an impressionable age: William Gibson’s Neuromancer and the Miller/Sienkeiwicz graphic novel Elektra: Assassin. The concept was too cool not to use, though I added the bit about flying.

The Sidhe are more complex because the ‘real’ Sidhe are the Celtic fey folk, treacherous, otherworldly and rarely seen. The Sidhe in my stories are aliens who gave themselves this name when they encountered humanity. They did this with knowing irony. There’s a lot more to be said about that, but it’s a story for a later date.

Rinn: Which of the Hidden Empire books did you most enjoy writing?

Jaine: Now there’s a tricky question. I’ll always love Principles of Angels, because it was not just the first in the series, it was the first novel I wrote. And rewrote, over a number of years. The easiest book to write was Guardians of Paradise, partly because it brought together the stories started in Principles of Angels and Consorts of Heaven, and partly because it is a (sort of) romance, and I find romance easier to write than straight SF. In some ways Queen of Nowhere was great fun once I’d got into the main character’s head. But each book brought moments of elation and surprise, and I enjoyed them all, in different ways.

Rinn: The most recent Hidden Empire novel, Queen of Nowhere, was published this year. Do you plan to write more in this series?

Jaine: Oh yes. I’ve got plans for four more books, one of which I’ve started. Having said that, I’m not sure when they’ll see print. Queen of Nowhere ended one plot thread – or rather, changed the game – and I wanted to take a break from the series after it. As it turns out I’ve got caught up in a number of other projects, including a return to short-story writing. Watch this space, as they say. Well, watch www.jainefenn.com.

Rinn: Your series does not necessarily need to be read in order, and the books work as standalones. Which character did you most enjoy writing, and were there any you wanted to bring in the story purely because you enjoyed writing them?

Jaine: Another tricky but interesting question. As with novels, the characters you’ve spent the longest with will be the most special to you, so I like writing Taro (irritating to everyone else though he can be); Nual’s more challenging, and because of her unique worldview I’m sparing in writing from her viewpoint, but then she hasn’t reached her full potential yet. As every writer knows, characters tend to take on a life of their own: Bez, who played a relatively minor role in Guardians of Paradise, ended up getting her own book!

Rinn: Who or what are your influences as a writer?

Jaine: So many… Here’s a few: Manga, Iain M Banks, Ursula Le Guin, cyberpunk, Larry Niven, C.J. Cherryh, Philip K. Dick and Mary Gentle.

Rinn: What five science fiction novels would you recommend to my readers?

Jaine: It depends on whether they are SF aficionados or new to the genre. If I had to pick five relatively recent SF books I think everyone should read I’d go for: The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams; Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson; The Player of Games by Iain M Banks, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin.

Rinn: What do you like to spend your time doing, when you’re not writing?

Jaine: Reading, though my ‘to read’ pile only ever gets bigger, not smaller. I also enjoy walking in the countryside near my home in Hampshire, a hobby that fits in well with being a writer, as I use my walks to consider plot points or get to know my characters. I play the odd role-playing game, and in the summer I take part in historical re-enactment events. Like a lot of writers, I also have a part-time day-job; in my case I run a small charity.

Rinn: Do you get involved in the science fiction community online very much?

Jaine: Not as much as I’d like to, due to lack of time. I have a Facebook presence and I’m sporadically on Twitter as @JaineFenn, but there are loads of great blogs I’d like to check out.

Rinn: Where/when will your next appearances be – I know you appear at quite a few cons – like BristolCon this past October.

Jaine: I’ll be at Novacon, which will be the last of a number of cons in a very busy autumn. I’ll probably go to Picocon, a small one-day convention in London, and I’m still trying to work out whether I can get to Eastercon, as the logistics are a bit complicated for me this year. And then of course there’s the British Worldcon, LonCon, which I’m really looking forward to.

Thank you to Jaine for letting me interview her!

About Jaine

Jaine Fenn is a science fiction writer, hailing from the United Kingdom. She has written several short stories, and the Hidden Empire series of books, which can either be read as standalones or in order. A sci-fi fan since she was a young girl, she discovered the world of fiction through Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, and began writing at a young age. She now also runs her own charity.

Jaine’s books include Principles of Angels, Consorts of Heaven, Guardians of Paradise, Bringer of Light, Queen of Nowhere and Downside Girls.

Jaine can be found on Goodreads and Twitter, and you can also visit her website.

Giveaway

Thank you to Clarion Publishing for providing this giveaway! Giveaway widget removed after migration to WordPress.

Review

Review: Downside Girls by Jaine Fenn

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free via Librarything, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Clarion Publishing for sending it to me (along with some very friendly emails), and for putting me on their ‘nice people’ list! =)

 

This collection of four short stories by Jaine Fenn, set in the universe of her series Hidden Empire, assumes no previous knowledge of her work. Leaping straight in, without any introduction to the world, it is still completely accessible to readers who have never read any of the series. Facts were laid out when they need to be, rather than dumping lots of information on the reader. It is for this reason that I believe it is the sort of science fiction that is accessible to any reader. One of the downfalls of the science fiction genre is that it is often very specialist, and so much of it is very heavy – someone who does not usually read sci-fi could easily be put off. However, that is not the case with Downside Girls.

The city in these stories has a ‘topside’ and a ‘downside’ – topside being the upper class area, and downside for the poorer citizens. Patrolling the city are Angels – downsiders chosen to be assassins and given special powers, who target corrupt politicians. The descriptions and feel of the city definitely gave me a bit of a Mass Effect vibe – I was imagining the scenarios taking place in the Citadel, which was pretty cool.All four stories have very different situations, and weave together the lives of humans and Angels. The stories are also interlinked in small ways, but I think you have to read the main series to truly understand the link – I only picked it up from reading the synopses of Jaine Fenn’s other work. The narrative of the stories is just about different enough to show that each one is being told by another character, but I do feel that this aspect could be improved on.

The writing flowed very well – not overly showy, or too simple. Despite only spending a short amount of time with each character, I somehow felt for them all – particularly in the last story. Fenn manages to pack a lot into only 80-odd pages – trickery, assassinations, gangs, as well as a rather sweet tale at the end.

This novella has made me definitely want to check out the main books. Whilst appealing to science fiction fans, I believe it is also a perfect collection of short stories for those wanting to ease themselves into the genre.