Alumni News

Clarion West Alumni News, June 2015

It’s June, and that means it’s the most wonderful time of the year at Clarion West—Six-Week Workshop season! Writers are signing up for the Write-a-thon, and our amazing workshop staff members are taking care of all of the last little details before the students start arriving.

Speaking of the Write-a-thon, if you’re a writer who wants a great way to challenge yourself during the long days of summer, the Write-a-thon is a great way to accomplish your goals. If you haven’t signed up yet, now’s the time! Signups close on June 21. Learn more and sign up on the Write-a-thon page.

If you’re in the Seattle area, the Clarion West Summer Reading Series is a great way to get your speculative fiction fix and hear new work from our workshop instructors. Readings are on Tuesday evenings at 7 PM in Seattle’s University District. Planning to attend the Cory Doctorow reading on July 28? Buy your tickets in advance for a chance to win a book signed by Doctorow. See the event page for more information and to buy tickets.



The finalists for the Aurora Award for Canadian fiction have been announced, and Helen Marshall (CW ’12) is on the list twice: once for her poem “Aversions,” and once for her book Gifts for the One Who Comes After.

The Shirley Jackson Awards finalists were announced in June, and among the finalists are Helen Marshall (CW ’12) for her book Gifts for the One Who Comes After, and Siobhan Carroll (CW ’09) for her story “Wendigo Nights.”


K.C. Ball (CW ’10) has a new story in Perihelion: “White Russians and Old Lace.”

Emily Skaftun’s (CW ’09) story “No Alphabet Can Spell It,” is now live at Buzzy Mag. “The remaining three Fixie astronauts on their way to colonize CelBod have been out of contact with Earth for years. When they arrive on their new home planet, they find robots run amok, an elaborate garden, and a flock of semi-feral children and teens…and the genetic legacy of the human race may depend on this menagerie.”

cover art for Seriously Wicked by Tina ConnollyTina Connolly’s (CW ’06) book Seriously Wicked is now out and available for purchase wherever great YA is sold. “Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch. Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school. Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra.”

Ossuary,” by Ian Muneshwar (CW ’14), is now live at Clarkesworld. This is his first professional publication—congratulations!

The latest edition of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet has stories by two Clarion West alumni: “The Blood Carousel” by Alyc Helms (CW ’12) and “The Shadow You Cast Is Me” by Henry Lien (CW ’12).

cover art for The Weave, by Nancy Jane MooreNancy Jane Moore’s (CW ’97) new novel The Weave is out this month from Aqueduct Press. The Weave brings us a first-contact story in which humans, seeking to exploit the much-needed resources of a system inhabited by creatures they assume are “primitive” and defenseless, discover their mistake the hard way.

Nisi Shawl (CW ’92) was interviewed by Aiesha Little of the Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance. Nisi talks about the anthology Stories for Chip and what she loves about Samuel Delany’s work, the Writing the Other workshop, and the effect that reviewing has on her work. She was also interviewed by The Pandora Society about steampunk and her upcoming novel Everfair.

Helena Bell (CW ’13) has a new story in Lightspeed: “Mouth.” “When Ann was only five years old, she took her brother’s mouth. He’d been sleeping, or crying, it’s hard for Ann to remember now, but she remembers the way her hand stung as it came full against his cheek, and the rattle his teeth made as his mouth flew off his face and hit the side of his crib.”

cover art for The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc HelmsAlyc Helms’s (CW ’12) debut novel, The Dragons of Heaven , about a woman who takes on her grandfather’s superhero legacy, is coming out from Angry Robot in June 2015. The ebook and UK print version are available now. Due to a production delay, the US/Canada print version will be available June 30. Synopsis, blurbs, and purchase information can be found at the Angry Robot site.

Kris Millering (CW ’09) has a new story in Clarkesworld titled “This Wanderer, in the Dark of the Year.”

Curtis C. Chen (CW ’14) has sold his debut novel Waypoint Kangaroo and its sequel to Thomas Dunne Books. Look for Waypoint Kangaroo next year, and the sequel sometime in 2017.

Colleen Anderson (CW ’87) has recently sold two poems: “Morrigan’s Song” to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, and “the moon: Fever Dream” to Pantheon. Her short story “Shaping Destiny” was published in Black Treacle last month.


Appearances, teaching engagements, and new gigs

Nisi Shawl (CW ’92) and K. Tempest Bradford are teaching an online Writing the Other workshop. Click through for the details: The class is currently full, but they do have a waiting list.

Cat Rambo (CW ’05) has announced her upcoming online classes, including workshops on character building, going from idea to draft, and a first pages workshop.

On July 11 at 3pm, Alyc Helms (CW ’12) will be holding her inaugural reading and book launch at Borderlands Books in San Francisco. Please join her if you’re in town!

Alyc is also the new assistant editor under David Higgins for the Science Fiction section of the Los Angeles Review of Books, specifically responsible for small press published and emerging authors. Her co-assistant editor, Taryne Taylor, is a Clarion graduate and is in charge of authors of color and non-American authors. Their team is looking to expand the range of works covered by their section and to present engaging, non-traditional reviews and essays that further the conversations taking place in SF&F. They are very interested in finding reviewers from within the SF&F community, so please feel free to reach out to Alyc if you have a review idea:


Alumni Interview
Interview with Alyx Dellamonica, Class of 1995

alyx dellamonica portrait 2014AN: What are you working on now?
AD: My fourth novel, A Daughter of No Nation, will be out in November from Tor. It is the second in my Hidden Sea Tales trilogy. As I write these words the first, Child of a Hidden Sea, is up for a Lambda award in the SF/F category. I am horrifically smug about that, even though I’m also telling everyone who’ll listen: “But my second novel was so much gayer!”

Anyway, it should come as no surprise that I’m now working on finishing the third book in this series. Its working title is The Nature Of A Pirate and I hope to have it turned in by summer.

The Hidden Sea Tales is an ecofantasy series, meaning that the genre is a mash-up of urban fantasy and environmental science. It’s Charles Darwin in Wonderland. Jared Diamond versus Narnia! The main character is Sophie Hansa, an ocean videographer from San Francisco, who discovers a world that might either be Earth’s far future or a parallel dimension. The world, Stormwrack, has Age of Sail technology, insane biodiversity, ludicrously complicated politics and a lot of magic. Being at heart an explorer and scientist, Sophie throws herself headlong into an investigation of Stormwrack’s relationship with our world.

AN: What do you do when you need inspiration?

Answer #2 – I rip my gaze out of my navel. I’m an avid wildlife photographer and walking around my home city, Toronto, looking for and documenting the animals who co-exist with humanity here is one of my primary hobbies. (Also icicles. Lately I’ve been shooting lots of icicles.) Like a lot of writers, I find it easier to think when I’m in motion: muscles working, an elevated heartrate and blood flowing to my brain all help the writing process far more than sitting around headdesking. (Of course that’s a word!)

Answer #3 – Coffee failing and in horrific weather, I haul tush to a museum and do the same thing, without the camera. I also read history and science articles, and occasionally watch randomly chosen documentaries.

Inspiration for me is largely about having new information to play with: things to consider, turn over, and transform into fiction. When it works, I feel like Rumplestiltskin, spinning straw into gold. When it doesn’t…well, you know how baby hippos go from nursing to eating their mother’s partially digested grass droppings? Which they turn into a more refined form of hippo poop? But that’s okay, is the thing. Baby hippos are supercute, and learning to revise their waste until it too is gold is just another part of the racket.

AN: What one piece of advice would you give to the members of the incoming Clarion West class?
AD: I went to Clarion West in 1995 and at that point the Internet was barely a thing. I got my very first dial-up e-mail account so I could be in touch with my wife and I can’t remember it being useful, at that time, for anything else. (I did try going into an IRC-type chat room and got mashed by a guy claiming to be a famous comic artist, but that’s beside the point.) Now it’s twenty years later and the Internet is everywhere. I love the Internet, don’t get me wrong. But it almost seems presumptuous to say anything about a Clarion West of the now. The world is different; what do I know? So I’m not going to be the one to tell you to shut off the Facebooks, get off my lawn, and write.

So instead! Consider thinking of Clarion West as a place where you can make bold and possibly unmarketable experiments. Try writing a whole story longhand if you’ve never done that before. Hell, try dictating. Then realize you’re a terrible proofreader and that voice-to-text software doesn’t do well with SF lingo and cry a few tears before going back to work. Try that completely ludicrous second person present POV story that you’re afraid is too pretentious for words. Write the thing about aliens who bleed from the eyebrows. Explore the inner longings of semi-sentient esophageal camera equipment on Venus. You can write neat, sane, tidy, and hopefully salable stories when you go home, but bust out the weird stuff, at least once, for your classmates. Mad scientist your face off! Be rowdy. Be an excellent human face to face, but on the page put down the things that will get you banned from grade schools! Dig up stories you wouldn’t tell a psychiatrist on your deathbed, turn them into fiction and, y’know, just see how it goes.

I say this not only as a writer, but as a UCLA Writers’ Extension Program instructor whose favorite student novels, time and again, are about things that would give your grandpa the vapors.

These student writers I’m talking about, they’re fearless. They go for it. So my one piece of advice, is to jump off literary cliffs for six weeks this summer. How else are you gonna learn?
A. M. Dellamonica has recently moved to Toronto, Canada, after 22 years in Vancouver.  In addition to writing, she studies yoga and takes thousands of digital photographs. She teaches writing through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.

Dellamonica’s first novel, Indigo Springs, won the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her most recent book, Child of a Hidden Sea, was released by Tor Books in the summer of 2014. She is the author of over thirty short stories in a variety of genres: they can be found on, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed and in numerous print magazines and anthologies. Her website is at



Spring has arrived in full force in Seattle, and at Clarion West we’re getting ready for the Six-Week Workshop, the Summer Reading Series, and the Write-a-thon. We have a busy and wonderful season ahead! If you’re local to Seattle, please join us for the Summer Reading Series on Tuesday evenings during the Workshop. The last reading, by our Petrey fellow Cory Doctorow, is a special event that we hope everyone makes time to attend.

The Clarion West Write-a-thon signups are open! This is our yearly fundraiser, and you’re invited to join us. You don’t need to be an alumnus of the workshop to participate. Whatever your writing goals are this summer, the Write-a-thon can help you get there—and you can help keep Clarion West strong now and into the future.

We still have spaces left in our last One-Day Workshop of the spring: Paul Park’s workshop on Point of View. Paul Park is a wonderful instructor, and we’re so pleased to have him teach for us. Join us on May 24 for what’s sure to be an inspiring workshop.


Ann Leckie (CW ’05) has been nominated for a Hugo Award for her novel Ancillary Sword. Congratulations, Ann!


Publication News

Alison Wilgus (CW ’14) has had two pieces published recently. Her story “Noise Pollution” appeared on Strange Horizons both as text and as a podcast read by Anaea Lay. She has also had a story called “The Last Wild Place” reprinted in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination—a story that she credits with putting her on the road to Clarion West.

Usman Tanveer Malik (CW ’13) has had two stories appear recently: “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” at, and “Ishq” reprinted in Nightmare Magazine. Both have had several favorable reviews appear since their publication.

Flavorwire published a wonderful review of Robert Guffey’s (CW ’96) new book Chameleo. Visit the site for the review and an excerpt from the book.

Indrapramit Das’s (CW ’12) story “Weep for Day,” first published in Asimov’s and anthologized in several year’s best collections, is now available in its entirety online, in this month’s issue of Clarkesworld Magazine.

Kelly Sandoval (CW ’13) had a story appear in April in Escape Pod: “In Another Life.”


Alumni Updates

From Karen Allendoerfer (CW ’87):
For the past two years I have been working in the field of science education for middle-school-age students. I teach molecular biology and neuroscience to gifted and talented students and homeschoolers at an educational start-up, and I also work with an organization that brings scientists into public schools to provide hands-on science curriculum and enrichment. This work has gotten me very interested in the role of science fiction in engaging young people in science. I’ve been editing and revising a novel called Hallie’s Cache that I first wrote during 2012’s NaNoWriMo that takes place in the year 2074 with a young adult protagonist.

I have also discovered the activity of geocaching, with my husband who recently found his 10,000th geocache. Geocaching is a “high-tech treasure hunt” like letterboxing but using a GPS. I go along with my husband for the ride, and am finding that it is fun to write and blog about it, even if I’m not as hard-core as he is about finding every cache in a given area, and have found only about 1/10th as many caches as he has. On the occasion of my 1000th cache find, I started a regular blog ( and recently had a short story about geocaching accepted to an anthology called “Geocaching GPS,” coming out in May 2015 at Geowoodstock (an international geocaching get-together). This is my first publication that isn’t a scientific paper!


Alumni Interview

Interview with Henry Lien, Class of 2012

AN: What are you working on now?
HL: I am done with short fiction for the next five years or so. I sold all the short stories that I wrote at Clarion West in 2012 and I will be concentrating exclusively on novels for the foreseeable future. I am finishing up revisions under the supervision of an agent on my novel The Taming of the Pearl. It is a YA Asian fantasy about a sport I imagined called Wu Liu, which is essentially kung-fu on figure skates. It’s the first of a trilogy. I wrote two precursor novelettes in this world at Clarion West, “Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters” (written for Chuck Palahniuk, published in Asimov’s in December 2013, and nominated for a Nebula) and “The Great Leap of Shin” (written for George R.R. Martin, published in Analog in January 2015). The first few chapters of the novel constituted my Clarion West application writing sample. A couple of my Clarion West classmates described it as “Harry Potter Meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and that is pretty apt.

AN: Tell us something we don’t know. (Could be personal or could be something about SF, technology, science, or anything else)
HL: I devised a logical, working system to continue communicating with my former partner after he died of cancer; I wrote about it as my Clarion West personal essay; I turned the essay into a story at Clarion West; and Sofia Samatar bought it for Interfictions.

AN: What’s your favorite part of writing? Least favorite?
HL: I squirm a bit to say this, but my favorite part of writing is reading my own stories once they’re written. I try to write only stories that I have been wanting to read my whole life but have never been able to find. So for me, on a scale of 1 – 10, getting a story published is like a 3 – 4. Getting a story nominated for a major award is like a 4 – 5. Having a reader really respond to my work is like a 5 – 6, and it’s got a bit more lasting nutritional content. But writing a story that I have been trying to find my whole life, that’s a 9 – 10. It’s liberating because I know that even if I release a story into the world and the world says, “Eeew,” I still get to read something I’ve been dying to read.

AN: What’s your creative process like?
HL: I seal myself in a cocoon spun from my own saliva and the Songs of Dolphins and emerge with my naked body covered in a complex birthmark that forms the words of the story. Also, I use a combination of the “architect” and “gardener” approaches to writing that George R.R. Martin talked about. “Architect” type writers plan everything out. “Gardener” type writers let things grow organically. I take a hybrid approach. I do a lot of research and outlining, which constitute the architecture portion of the process. Then I put away all the notes and begin to write while referring to the notes as little as possible. I make up certain aspects of the worldbuilding as I write, relying mostly on sound to produce an image to sketch in the worldbuilding. And I let loose with voice in this stage, which is one of my favorite parts of writing. So that’s the gardening portion of my process.

AN: What one piece of advice would you give to the members of the incoming Clarion West class?
HL: I’ve got three pieces of advice.

  1. If you think you’re going to do a piece at Clarion West that involves research (and I personally would urge you to consider doing at least one piece that requires research), do as much of your research ahead of time as possible. You won’t have time to write, critique, bond, drink, sleep, and research while at Clarion West. Only one of these things can be pre-accomplished.
  2. I would challenge students to try as hard as they can to choose concepts for stories that only they could have written. Be mercilessly selective in deciding what story you choose to write. Ask yourself hard questions like, “Does the world really need another story about [insert popular magical creature or scientific theory or genre trope]? What am I adding to make this worth my time and my reader’s time?” And be constantly brainstorming in the months ramping up to Clarion West so that you will have options if you find that examining your story idea in this light makes it collapse into a pile of ashes.
  3. You should expect there to be a significant risk of Clarion West changing you profoundly. Re-entering civilian life afterwards, especially if you have a partner or spouse, can be difficult after such a life-changing experience. Thus, it’s best to break up with them beforehand. Just kidding. Sorta.



Looking for news from past months? You can find it at the Alumni News Archive.

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