Catherine Cruzan

A New Realm of Fantasy


Leave a comment

A Tangle of Fates

 

It has been a terrific year for books, I think.  In celebration of that fact, I charmed my friend Leslie Ann Moore into answering a few questions about life, writing, and her latest release, A Tangle of Fates.

pubphotoLeslie Ann is an award-winning SF/F author and international speaker.  She currently serves as the Vice President of the largest Writers group in Southern California, the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (GLAWS). Last summer, she appeared as a panelist at the 72nd Annual World Science Fiction Convention–home to the celebrated Hugo Awards— in London, U.K.

In 2008, her debut fantasy novel Griffin’s Daughter won the prestigious IBPA Ben Franklin Award for Best First Fiction. Her short stories appear in Literary Landscapes, the official magazine of GLAWS, and on the ClonePod SF/F podcast. In 2011, her short story Invisible won Honorary Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. A practicing veterinarian since 1988, in her spare time, she studies the ancient and beautiful art of belly dance.

 

Who is Leslie Ann Moore in a nutshell?

A teller of stories and inconvenient truths.

Why do you write?

Because the voices in my head make me. Seriously, though…Writing for me is like breathing or eating. Essential to my existence. I’ve been creating stories for as long as I can remember, and the sharing of those stories satisfies a deep-seated need in me to connect to other human beings in a way that involves my creativity.

My brain is always churning up ideas in the forms of snippets of conversation, plot points, character names, partial scenes, one-liners, faces, place names. Most of these bits are akin to flotsam on a heaving sea. I strain them out with my mental net, examine them, and if they’re worth keeping, I make a note and put them in a computer file for future reference.

What is it you love most about what you do?

Making a connection to a reader through my words. Eliciting an emotional response, so that s/he cares just as deeply for my characters as I do. There’s nothing like the thrill of having a discussion with a reader about my work, and listening to that reader talk about my characters as if they are real people. It’s a total rush!

What and/or who inspires you most?

The thing that inspires me the most is my passion for social justice. It influences virtually everything I’ve ever written. We live in a world where so many people suffer needlessly because of greed, racism, sexism, bigotry of all kinds. As a woman of color, I will always use my writing as a platform to rail against injustice. My fervor may not be overt in every story, but it will always BE in every story.

As for who…that’s easy. My soulmate and biggest fan is my husband. He gives me all that I need emotionally and his own amazing talents as a writer are truly inspirational.

As a local LA author, how are you influenced by the City of Angels?

L.A. is my hometown. I was born here and have lived all but 14 years of my life here. L.A. is essentially a Latin city now. Spanish is the unofficial second language. It’s everywhere. Place names, street names, billboards. Everyone who lives here, whatever their ethnic heritage, is influenced in some way by Latin culture. So, it only made sense to me, when I was first thinking about and planning my latest book, to create a society based on what I imagined Latin culture would evolve into on an alien world, several hundred years into the future.

Do you have any favorite LA hot spots and/or things you like to do in LA?

My husband and I love the L.A. Zoo. The zoo has really come a long way in terms of how it houses its residents since I was a kid. We also love the beach, of course! One of our all-time favorite pastimes is walking along the shore in the late morning, stopping for lunch, then finishing up the rest of the day at a locally owned coffee house, working on our latest writing projects.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write every day, if possible, even if it’s only a few paragraphs. Study writers you admire, learn how they do things, then emulate them. Know proper grammar, in whatever language(s) you write in. Then, when you break the rules, you’re doing it as a stylistic choice and not out of ignorance. Learn how to critically analyze other people’s criticism of your work. Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone who reads your stuff will have the necessary insight and abilities to offer useful advice. It’s OK to reject suggestions as crap, even if it’s from someone you trust. In the end, you are the boss. Write what you want to write.

Your last award-winning Fantasy book series also published in a Young Adult release, and this first in your new series of books crosses a few genres as well.  How does this affect your process?  Does it impact your story, your characters, or even how you market your books?

I didn’t purposefully set out to cross any genres with Tangle. I built a world based on what I decided was plausible given a certain set of parameters. It so happens that the story could be shoehorned into the steampunk subgenre, though it’s not hardcore by any means. There are steam-powered cars, airships, and gaslit interiors, but there’s also electricity, radio, fuel cells and energy weapons! Seems a hodgepodge, but it’s all very logical, based on the parameters I’ve set up. As for how the book is marketed, because it does contain enough of the right elements, my publisher is aiming it more toward the fantasy/steampunk audience, rather than a straight-up sci-fi audience.

What can you tell us about your current project?

007-Cover-test2A Tangle of Fates is the first installment of a new trilogy, the overall title of which is Vox Machina. Genre-wise, it’s soft sci-fi, with steampunk flavorings, a lot of politics, adventure, some mysticism, and a dash of romance. For those familiar with screenwriting terms, the log-line would be ‘Snow White as revolutionary.’ Another log-line could be ‘Snow White meets The Terminator’. Both of those should give you a good idea about the general plot.

My heroine is born into the elite class of her oligarchic society, but she feels very keenly the injustices suffered by others to make her life comfortable. She wonders why she has so much, while so many, including her best friend, have so little. Yet, she believes herself to be powerless to change things. During the course of her personal journey, she is forced to face many truths about herself that she’d rather not face, but in doing so, she discovers that she, indeed, has the power to literally transform her entire world.

This series is different from my Griffin’s Daughter trilogy, which was a romantic fantasy very much in the epic fantasy tradition; however, it is similar in that both series address social justice issues that are so important to me.

The book has already gotten glowing reviews from, among others, Howard Hendrix, a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee, and Emma Bull, one of the inventors of the urban fantasy genre back in the ’80’s.

It’s available in both trade paperback and both e-formats from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and direct from Muse Harbor(e-version only).

For more information about Leslie Ann Moore:


Leave a comment

Win a FREE Copy of ELFKIND

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Elfkind by Catherine Cruzan

Elfkind

by Catherine Cruzan

Giveaway ends August 27, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Leave a comment

Things to do in LA: SHADES & SHADOWS at CIA

clownJuly 19, 2014, I did my first live reading from my novel ELFKIND at the most amazing event: Shades & Shadows.

If you’ve never attended a live reading in LA, you definitely need to check one out.  The California Institute of Abnormal Arts is a wild choice for this kind of thing—like Beetlejuice’s imagination come to life in a quaint North Hollywood house-turned-venue packed with rare circus artifacts and sideshow oddities.  I’d done some dance shows at this location in past years, so I was excited to return to their stage.

stage bar hallway patio

marqueeSeeing my name on the marquee reduced me to the emotional stability of a two-year-old child, because I honestly thought I’d go my entire life without experiencing anything like it.  I had to photograph it for posterity, given the likelihood of it ever happening again.

hostsOur hosts, Xach Fromson and Lauren Candia, are fantastic writers in their own right.  And I’ve just adopted Lauren as my new style guru, with her retro chic hair and makeup, and flirty fifties dresses.  She’s the pride of pinup girls around the globe.

ericBram Stoker award winning author Eric J. Guignard was first up at the microphone, reading an excerpt from “Midnight and Jefe Bowman”.  Rather than me tell you about it, I suggest you experience it for yourself on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVJi5NXIXOs.  He was terrific with his narration and the many voices of his characters.

It intimidated me to follow such a talented artist, and this was my first time reading.  I also made the fatal mistake of practicing one excerpt during the week, only to change my selection immediately before taking the stage, thinking it would be more exciting.  This only added to the butterflies tearing up my stomach.  And needless to say, I completed a seven minute reading in under six.  My apologies to the audience!

scottAfter my six minutes, it was nice to relax again, and enjoy Scott Tarbet read from his story “Tombstone”.  It was another inspiring performance with Scott’s great voice and fun characterizations—definitely something for me to strive for.

XachOur host, Xach Fromson, read from one of his new shorts next.  I enjoyed the story a lot.  He’s a great writer.  And considering it was only his second time reading, he did so well I was convinced that I could come back for a do-over that I could be proud of.

jeffJeff Eyres can easily double as a standup comedian.  The man is completely entertaining, and utterly funny.  The pages you see him holding here are blank, as his first instinct was to complete the audience’s expectations for a “reading”.  But since his printer prevented the actuality, he gave us a rote recitation of his short story “Bugs”.   I promise you the entire audience walked away feeling like kings and queens of the cockroaches.

mereI warmed to Mere Smith the moment I saw her, because she is the spitting image of a dear friend of mine.  I almost grabbed her into a hug before remembering my friend had moved away.  And if that wasn’t enough, the woman wrote for one of my favorite shows, Angel.   At CIA, she read “Dead Girl” from her book COWFACE and other hilarious stories about death.  I laughed the whole time and freaking loved it.

Suffice it to say, me and my girls were mesmerized by the talent surrounding us Saturday night.

My author friend, Sophia Ann Montoya, later commented she’d never seen me nervous before, despite the many times she’d seen me take the stage as a performer, speaker and show producer.  I pondered this further, and came to the conclusion that I should have approached the reading as a performer rather than as myself at a mic, exposing something as personal as my own words.

trioPerhaps only another writer can understand how daunting it is to strip away everything else so as to bare one’s soul beneath a spotlight.  We publish our books in hopes of everyone reading our stories, after all, so what is the fuss over reading a few pages, right?  But I think there is something more to reading your own pages than there is to bringing any other kind of performance to the stage.

Theatrical productions require the performers to don a persona, complete with costuming, hair, makeup, and more often than not, someone else’s words.  Tribal style dancers sport ten pounds of hair and makeup, and lavish costuming that would make anyone feel like a completely different person.  We use props and layers of silk fabrics in every color you could imagine.  Story-telling dance takes it a step further as the performers bring fanciful tales to life.  And announcers are still a part of the act, with their own personas to share.

Public speaking strips a lot of that away, yet still, you step out of yourself a bit into the story of whatever topic you’re presenting, and again it feels like play-acting.  For us teacher-types, sharing what little knowledge we possess, the stage becomes a mere broadening of the classroom.

In the end, I discovered something as a result of this new experience: I have a profound and unmitigated respect for anyone willing to step in front of a mic with their own words.  Each and every one of my fellow readers impressed the hell out of me Saturday night.  I’ll definitely be back for more.  You can count on that.  I may or may not bring it to the mic again myself (hold the applause, jokesters), but I am certainly down for more of them.


Leave a comment

BayCon 2014 in Santa Clara, CA

ORIGINALLY POSTED: May 23-26, 2014

How do you spell Triskaidekaphobia?… Memorial Day Weekend at BayCon in Santa Clara, CA

At least, that’s what I found myself asking over the holiday weekend.  I’m not sure I ever gave myself a satisfactory answer…

I’d been looking forward to BayCon for months, given that my GLAWS author friends go on and on about the event with glowing excitement, especially regarding the BayCon goers who tend to be avid readers and SF/F/H aficionados.

In other words — the BayCon peeps are my kind of peeps.

 IMG_4587  IMG_4520

I dare say, the convention did not fail to live up to their praise, despite the unfortunate drop in attendance due to a rash of newly competing conventions in the Bay area over the holiday weekend.

I spent most of the weekend manning the signing table, meeting lots of fun and interesting people, and sold a respectable number of books, book bags and T-shirts.  My favorite visit was from Wiggles, the trained assitance pup — a sweet little black lab who reminded me of my childhood pet, Lady.

IMG_4629 IMG_4628 IMG_4583

Saturday night was awesome.  After the Dealer Room closed, I found myself immersed in Star Trek culture, complete with drinks at the Klingon bar, a Klingon slave auction, and even Captain Kirk on the sales block.  All the money collected went to charity, including the $5 I threw down for a drink called “Revenge” served to the tune of a room full of Klingons shouting, “Revenge is a drink best served cold!”

IMG_4566 IMG_4564 IMG_4561 IMG_4559 IMG_4556 IMG_4576

I even got to enjoy some Taiko drumming!

IMG_4601

I will definitely be back next year if they’ll have me.  =)

IMG_4625 IMG_4624 IMG_4582 IMG_4543 IMG_4580 IMG_4569 IMG_4554 IMG_4546 IMG_4544


Leave a comment

WonderCon 2014

ORIGINALLY POSTED: April 18-20, 2014

ComiCon International’s WonderCon in Anaheim

IMG_4146Another wonder-filled weekend in Anaheim…

WonderCon 2014 seemed so much larger than it did in previous years.  It’s just a matter of time before it’ll be as difficult to score an Anaheim ticket as it is to score one for San Diego.  It’s no longer the well-kept secret of San Diego refugees.  That, or there are just so many more of us shut out of the San Diego con, despite our hours lurking in the virtual waiting room on ticket-purchasing day.

A huge, heartfelt thank you to my dear friend Rebecca for my San Diego ticket this year.  It’s been 6 years since I’ve been able to get in.  I can hardly wait.  She was the first one to go with me so many years ago.  It’s apropos she’s the one to help me get BACK IN.

Meanwhile, WonderCon was a completely different experience for me this year, because I spent half of it behind a book signing table.  The whole weekend was a payoff for all of those grueling hours I spent working on ELFKIND.  I felt as if I’d finally grasped some of the stars I’ve been reaching for.

Thank you to my friends, and everyone else who stopped by to say “hello”!

IMG_4269 IMG_4270 IMG_4280 IMG_4263

I did manage to squeeze in a few wonder-filled WonderCon moments when I wasn’t manning the table…

Most memorable was the Salem panel, complete with Shane West (nice!) and the show runners, Adam Simon and Brannon Braga, answering questions and giving us a sneak peek at the new WGN series.  I’ve since been watching it air on Sunday evenings, and I’m truly impressed with the writing.  I’m pleased they are incorporating so much research into the dramatization.  The actors are amazing, bringing it all to life, with fabulous costuming and dark, gritty cinematography.  I’m crossing my fingers they get a second season!

IMG_4147 IMG_4151 IMG_4155

Any other Faceoff fans out there?  I’ve been watching this SyFy show from its inception.  Cat and Nico were on the most recent season.  They were at the con, showing off their skills, and I even got a fun greeting from Nico, who almost made it to the finale show.  Both he and Cat are impressive artists.  I enjoyed watching them on the show, and now I can say I watched them live in action as well!

IMG_4158 IMG_4165

I squeezed in the Nerdist Panel and a visit to the Nerdist booth, since I’m always all about Chris Hardwick and company.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get his autograph due to my own book signing commitments, but I got one from Jessica Chobot. Yay!   =)

IMG_4339 IMG_4223 IMG_4332

Star Wars definitely represented this year, including a visit from my friends, The Darkside Riders!

IMG_4348

And of course the Dealer Room abounded with excitement as it always does.  Some of the shots I collected are down below, including one of the artist who created the little Minion I took home with me.    =)

IMG_4211 IMG_4187 IMG_4347 IMG_4175 IMG_4183 IMG_4207 IMG_4191 IMG_4205  IMG_4210  IMG_4215 IMG_4218 IMG_4227 IMG_4234 IMG_4238 IMG_4243 IMG_4257 IMG_4292 IMG_4319 IMG_4322 IMG_4328 IMG_4346

 


Leave a comment

WonderCon 2013 — CONVENTION PANELS, DAY 3

ORIGINALLY POSTED: March 29, 30 & 31, 2013

WonderCon in Anaheim, CA

I Wonder, Wonder, Wonder… CONVENTION PANELS, DAY 3

My final day at the convention opened with a peek at Joss Whedon’s latest project of Shakespearian proportions – Much Ado About Nothing.  He introduced the cast after apologizing for Nathan Fillion’s absence (boo!), then joined them for a Q&A about the movie he filmed in his Los Angeles home over the course of 12 days.

Eric Eisenberg did an amazing write-up of this panel for CinemaBlend.com.  Check it out here if you want more details and a look at the trailer!

Joss Ado1 Ado2 Ado3  Clark

Next up… More Nerdist you say?  Fantastic!

Because if you think a nerd girl like me can get too much Nerdist, you’re wrong.  I was there with bells on when Chris Hardwick stepped up to moderate a panel discussion and field Quemments with participants from new and upcoming antics at Meltdown.

Paul Provenza and Troy Conrad talked about the Nerdist Channel version of Set List a stand-up comedy challenge drawn from topics projected onto a screen onstage.

Also, Matt Bennett, co-star of Victorious, talked about his newest project Nerdy Jobs.

The Nerdist blog coverage of this panel gives you even more information.  Just go here

Oh, and we were all glad to hear Chloe was feeling better!

Chris Nerdist1 Nerdist2

My last panel of the con was a Q&A with the cast of CW’s new show Arrow.  As a fellow ARCHERY ENTHUSIAST, I’ve been enjoying the show so far, so I was really pleased to see how many cast members came out to meet their fans.  Alas, I didn’t get a wrist-band for the autograph signing, but I stopped by the DC booth after the panel to nab a couple of photos (below).

What nerd girl doesn’t love a man in leather wielding a bow and doling out heavy hits to bad guys from a motorcycle?!!!  I’ve got my own bike, Oliver.  Let’s ride!

When asked, Stephen lamented over the fact that they don’t let him do as much on the bikes as he’d like, despite the many other stunts they let him do on set.

Considering they’ve got Dr Who cast members popping in and out most weeks, I’m hooked on this show now for the long run.  John Barrowman plays Tommy’s father, and they just had Alex Kingston guest as Laurel’s mom.

Other stellar guests include Manu Bennett as Slade and Kelly Hu as China White.  (Loved you in X-Men, Kelly.)  Plus, Thea called Roy “Speedy” in a recent episode (nudge-nudge), and series writer Marc Guggenheim hinted we might be seeing more from Deathstroke.  Whoot!

As for the cast members present at WonderCon…

I’ve been a fan of Paul Blackthorne since he played Harry Dresden in the Dresden Files.  (I was bummed when they canceled that show.  I read a couple of Jim Butcher’s Dresden books and really enjoyed them.)

Stephen Amell is doing a great job as our dark, complicated hero.  He’s certainly working hard to fulfill the role.  Not to mention the writers are adding some dimension to Willa Holland’s role in later episodes.  I’m looking forward to seeing it all play out.

They’re planning to twist things up for Colin Donnell as well, which should make things interesting with him and John Barrowman.  He busted out an Arrow parody song for convention-goers with his amazing voice.  I guess word had gotten out after the cast’s 2012 holiday party, and someone had the sense to ask for an encore.  Well done, Colin.

So, what’s next for Arrow, you ask?  Check out the COMIC BOOKS and KEEP WATCHIGN THE SHOW to find out!

Oliver2 Arrow GA_Cv17_R1 Oliver Arrow1 Arrow2

One final romp in the Exhibit Hall before going home…

It was nice to see some fellow NERDS come out to play at the Con.  Ivan was doing interviews on the Exhibit Hall floor, and I’m pretty sure I saw Moogega outside in the parking lot.

And of course the artwork and autographs abounded.  The cast of Arrow, Peter Mayhew, Richard Hatch, Frank Cho and Brent Anderson were the tip of the iceberg…!

Ivan Anderson Cho Hatch Peter ArrowEx ArrowEx2


Leave a comment

WonderCon 2013 — CONVENTION PANELS, DAY 2

ORIGINALLY POSTED: March 29, 30 & 31, 2013

WonderCon in Anaheim, CA

I Wonder, Wonder, Wonder… CONVENTION PANELS, DAY 2

I was really excited to hit the Con on day 2.  It was even crazier on the Exhibit Hall floor, and the Arena was packed.  I started the day up on the 3rd floor with a panel for History Channel’s new scripted program, Vikings.

Folks, I freaking LOVE this show so much I skipped a bunch of autograph opportunities and a Hobbit panel to see the amazing cast up close and personal.  A huge THANK YOU! to History Channel for creating this terrific exploration of some of the historical figures of my own personal ancestry, their culture and its mythos.

When I was in Norway, I spent a lot of time in the Viking Ship Museums in Oslo.  This show brings this heritage to life against the compelling dramatization of Ragnar Lothbrok’s exploits in 9th century Scandinavia.

And no wonder this show is good.  It’s created and written by none other than Michael Hirst, who is also responsible for bringing us Elizabeth and The Tudors.

   Vikings1 Vikings2 Vikings3 Vikings4 viking_battle vikings

  Up next for me was a true Mad GeniusGuillermo del Toro.  I’ve always considered him an inspiration to aspiring authors, producers, creators et al.  He never disappoints if you’re lucky enough to see him speak, and I’m not just talking about the amazing sneak peeks he brings with him.

The first time I saw him in San Diego, it was as if he was talking right to me, at a time when I was utterly discouraged with the publishing industry and ready to quit writing.  He said, You cannot let anyone else tell you what story to tell.  It has to come from your heart.  It has to mean something to you or it will never mean anything to anyone else.  His words, his passion and the timing of it all made me cry.  And because of him, I’m still writing almost every day.

Thank you, Guillermo, from the bottom of my heart, for restoring my passion with  your words and your creativity.

Pacific Rim: I AM SO THERE.  IT’S GOING TO BE AWESOME!

  In fact, according to FirstShowing.net, 2013 is going to be a HUGE year for Sci Fi in general.  I couldn’t agree more, and I’m absolutely thrilled about it.

Guillermo Hunnam Jaeger-Suit

  The Revolution cast made an appearance to promote their season on NBC.  I’ve not seen the show yet but what I saw and what I’m reading is good.  I’m going to have to check it out.

Revolution1 Revolution2

  I’ve been waiting (im)patiently for Cassandra Clare’s book turned film, Mortal Instruments, City of Bones.  I still need a signature in my 1st ed. hardcover BTW, so I guess I’ll have to troll for signings in the LA area while I wait for the movie to finally open.

We got to see a special extended trailer at the con, and it was awesome.  I think I’m really going to enjoy this movie as much as I enjoyed the book.

city-of-bones Mortal

Then Bruce Campbell stepped out on stage to a standing ovation.  He’s done so much for Geek fandom throughout his career it’s hard to narrow it down.  All I can say is… I had to watch the new Evil Dead trailer from between my fingers.  Wow.  To the Horror fans out there, you’re in for a real treat.  This is not your grandmother’s Evil Dead!

Fede Alvarez did it right.  There’s no CGI here.

Dead Dead2

This is the End!

Our friends Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg came out to promote their new end-of-the-world parody, This is the End.  It’s packed with cameos from all kinds of fun actors, including our Harry Potter darling, Emma Watson.  It stars Jonah Hill, James Franco, Seth Rogan, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and my Train Your Dragon/Sorcerer’s Apprentice favorite – Jay Baruchel.

End

Yet again I finished up the convention for the day with a round of perusing in the Exhibit Hall.  Saturday is always the best day for people watching and costume envy…

Artist Alley was awesome.  Check out my write-up on that here… ARTISTS’ ALLEY!

Star Wars, Battlestar & Batman… Oh my!  Check out my write-up on that here… EXHIBIT HALL!