Quick Questions with C.S.E. Cooney

In 2020, we’re adding more events! We’ll be bimonthly starting this month. And, of course, we’re still doing tiny interviews with our upcoming authors!

C.S.E. Cooney is an audiobook narrator, singer/songwriter, and author. Her latest book, Desdemona and the Deep, was described by Liz Bourke in Locus as “pleasantly queer and drunk on language.”

Come see her on February 27th at Trident Books! RSVP here.

Tell us about your latest release in five words or fewer, or in one image/gif.

Okay, but . . . I’m cheating. Here are THREE gifs for DESDEMONA AND THE DEEP:



What book do you wish more people knew about?

EARLY RISER, by Jaspar Fforde. My husband Carlos and I read it aloud to each other over December and January and were wholly compelled by the voice, world-building, wit, heart, myth-making, plotting, pacing, and overall Gesamtkunstwerk of Jasper Fforde’s latest. Also a great audiobook. Totally thrilling. Not uncomplicated. I immediately listened to it after reading it aloud. It almost requires more than one read in a row.

desdemonaWhat appeals to you about the genre you work in? (or a genre you work in?)

I just love fantasy. In a way, all fiction falls under its umbrella. It’s a very, very flexible genre, and it’s only getting more exciting as it shatters horizons, blows out glass ceilings, burns tropes, makes way for the new blue-green hills of other worlds.


C.S.E. Cooney is the author of the World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories. She is also an audiobook narrator and the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine. Her work includes Tor.com novella Desdemona and the Deep, three albums: Alecto! Alecto!The Headless Bride, and Corbeau Blanc, Corbeau Noir, and a poetry collection: How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes, which features her Rhysling Award-winning “The Sea King’s Second Bride.” Her short fiction can be found in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the Sword and Sonnet anthology, Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and elsewhere.

Quick Questions with Isabel Yap

We’re twiddling our thumbs impatiently for our next event… in the meantime, more tiny interviews with our upcoming authors!

Isabel Yap is the author of short stories that have appeared in Tor.com, Strange Horizons and Year’s Best Weird Fiction. “Windrose in Scarlet” is in the current issue of Lightspeed Magazine, and will be online on 10/17!

Come see Isabel on October 24th at Trident Books! RSVP here.

Tell us about your latest release in five words or fewer, or in one image/gif.

I’ll use five emojis: 🐺👭🏰🧚‍♀️🌲

What book do you wish more people knew about?

All the Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma. It won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Single-Author Collection this year, but I haven’t heard it talked about too much despite that. Priya’s an excellent, eerie writer–her stories have a visceral quality to them, while also being dreamlike and authentic. She has a knack for unexpected twists.

Also, The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox. It was originally published in 1998, but I only found out about it a few years ago. I was living in London then; Elizabeth came by as part of a writing festival, so I picked it up on my way to a workshop session she was hosting (I bought a ticket on the recommendation of a Twitter friend). It’s an astonishing book, beautifully written and structured, and the central relationship in it is heartbreaking, flawed, and believable.

What was the first story you ever wrote?

I’m not sure if it was the first, but I’ll embarrassingly admit that I distinctly remember creating a text file with the title “The Day I Got My Period.” I was reading Judy Blume at the time, I guess? And Paula Danziger, and Ann M. Martin. It seemed to me, as a seven-year-old, the capital-t Thing to write about. I didn’t get past page one: in which the heroine woke up, ate breakfast, and boarded the car that would take her to school. I think I either bored or disgusted myself after a while, trying to write it. I do sometimes wish I still had access to my old first or second grade “stories,” if only to try and understand what was going on in my pre-pubescent brain.


Isabel Yap writes fiction and poetry, works in the tech industry, and drinks tea. Born and raised in Manila, she has also lived in California and London. She is currently completing her MBA at Harvard Business School. In 2013 she attended the Clarion Writers Workshop, and since 2016 she has served as the Clarion foundation secretary. Her work has appeared in venues including Tor.com, Strange Horizons, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction. She is @visyap on Twitter.

Quick Questions for Theodora Goss

Theodora Goss is our last interview before we gather at Trident! Her new collection, Snow White Learns Witchcraft, contains “an abundance of lace, roses and porcelain contrasting with fur, snow and blood.” (New York Times Book Review)

Come see Theodora on April 25th at Trident Books! RSVP here.

Tell us about your latest release in five words or fewer, or in one image/gif.

Mirror Mirror Poem Quote

What book do you wish more people knew about?

Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner. It’s about a woman living in post–World War I England who never married, and serves as a sort of helpful aunt to her annoying sister and her family. But one day she decides that she’s had enough, so she moves to the country by herself. There, she realizes that she’s really a witch. Once she has gotten herself a familiar and made a pact with the Devil, she can have the life she always wanted. I think of it as a story with a realistic happy ending!

What appeals to you about the genre you work in? (or a genre you work in?)

I write in a sort of in-between space, between fantasy and history and mystery. I love writing about things that are real, such as historical events, clothes, foods, travel. At the same time, I love to include monsters and creatures out of fairy tales. I think we understand our lives best through metaphors. We have all felt monstrous at one time or another, we have all bitten into poisoned apples, we have all wanted happily ever after, whatever that looks like to us. And I love mysteries that pull the reader along–puzzles to solve, clues to follow, things to figure out. I don’t want to write just one thing, so I sort of write everything at once.

What do you like to listen to when you write?

It depends, but some of my favorite musicians and bands include Loreena McKennitt, Cecile Corbel, Ashley Davis, Agnes Obel, First Aid Kit, Marissa Nadler, Salt House, and Rachel Newton. I try to find the right music for the story I’m writing, and sometimes I play the same thing over and over, just to keep the mood I’m in consistent . . .


Theodora Goss was born in Hungary and spent her childhood in various European countries before her family moved to the United States. Although she grew up on the classics of English literature, her writing has been influenced by an Eastern European literary tradition in which the boundaries between realism and the fantastic are often ambiguous. Her publications include the collections In the Forest of Forgetting and Songs for OpheliaThe Thorn and the Blossom, a novella in a two-sided accordion formatdebut novel The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, and its sequel, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman. She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Locus, Seiun, and Mythopoeic Awards, and on the Tiptree Award Honor List. She has won the World Fantasy and Locus awards.

Quick Questions for Julian K. Jarboe

As we wait impatiently for our next event, we’re running another set of tiny interviews with our fabulous authors.

First up is Julian K. Jarboe! Their short fiction and poetry has been published in Strange Horizons, Fairytale Review, Transcendent 2: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, and more.

Come see Julian on April 25th at Trident Books! RSVP here.

Tell us about your latest release in five words or fewer, or in one image/gif.

What book do you wish more people knew about?

I mostly just wish people poked their noses into each other’s genres a bit more, especially if you are seeking an experience of the ideas you’re interested in that feels like a longer-term conversation. So much of my favorite writing that informs my own speculative fiction is not published by a genre publisher or shelved with the SF/F/H, though I love those too. So I’m going to cheat on this question and throw a bunch of suggestions out (smashing that Great Work construct with a plurality of voices, or, stubbornly ignoring instructions? Who can really say!).

  • If you like quietly brutal rural settings imbued with nature mysticism, read Mary Oliver’s poetry.
  • If you like (criminally, tragically) flawed, unreliable narrators who establish that sense of un-reality through voice rather than a particular novum, read Brontez Purnell’s books and zines.
  • If you (want to) love Italo Calvino but are tired of his chauvinism, read Kristine Ong Muslim or Tom Cho or Eric Gamalinda, which have all the fabulist charm plus refreshingly topical and uncomfortable explorations of climate change, gender, nation/ality, immigration, and technology.
  • One of my favorite epistolary novellas about abuse of power, and which informs whatever it is I do when I’m mucking around in writing “dystopian” stories, is John Darnielle’s Master of Reality, which is officially a book of music criticism about a Black Sabbath album.

What do you like to listen to when you write?

I make playlists on YouTube like it’s eternally 2010. I actually prefer the sort of chaotic nature of a YT playlist over platforms that are specifically for music discovery and sharing because there’s a whole lot of people’s personal demos, projects, live recordings, and mixes on there, including sound effects or miscellany that verges on unlistenable garbage, but keeps me in the mindset I want to be in to work towards what a given story feels like in my head. For example, while writing and revising “I Am a Beautiful Bug!” (see GIF), I listened to a 10-hour loop of the Katamari theme song (and nothing else) because that is exactly that story’s whole deal– menacingly cheerful and eventually overbearing.


Julian K. Jarboe lives in Salem, Massachusetts. They are an Associate Editor at PodCastle magazine, a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop, and most recently a fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston, where they also sit on the board. Their writing can be found in The Atlantic, Strange Horizons, The Fairy Tale Review, and anthologized in the LAMBDA award-winning Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction series, among others. They also produce and co-host Mothers & Others, “the podcast about maternal figures and mommy issues.”