Novelist Caitlin R. Kiernan’s pale-skinned monster hunter Dancy Flammarion is coming to comics next month with the all-new limited series Alabaster: Wolves. Although Kiernan is best known for her dark fantasy prose novels, the Irish writer is no stranger to comics; she was hand-picked by Neil Gaiman to write the Sandman spin-off series The Dreaming in the late 90s, and did several additional miniseries for Vertigo following that. But now after a 10 year hiatus, she’s returning to comics on her own terms with this creator-owned series via Dark Horse. 

For those unfamiliar with the character Dancy Flammarion and her prose stories, the new comic series Alabaster: Wolves is a fresh start for both readers and the character itself, according to Kiernan.  Dancy is what you call a monster hunter, and although she now joins a comic publisher with others like Hellboy and Buffy in that line of work, she approaches it differently than others. Described by the author as “Old Testament hellfire-and-brimstone stuff,” Alabaster: Wolves shows the maturing Dancy on the hunt for something lost in her past amidst a town and neighboring bayou full of monsters both living and dead. As you could gather from the book’s subtitle, there are wolves involved, and a whole lot more. (via Newsarama)

Alabaster: Wolves drops April 11th, I read the preview in Dark Horse Presents #9 and it was actually really interesting. Regardless, I really do like Kiernan’s style of writing and if you’re a fan of anything by Gaiman, you should pick up the first issue of Alabaster: Wolves, it might be up your alley. 

big books by big men

A list of a hundred books appeared in the media recently, authored by David Bowie. Critical reaction was mostly admiring, but a few people on twitter and elsewhere pointed out how few of these were written by women. This occurred to me too. I never quite know what to do with this awareness. One reaction would be to simply state that ‘David Bowie just doesn’t like books by women’. That could be true, though it does seem to hinge upon the assumption that what Bowie doesn’t like about those books is their femininity. I don’t know the man, so I couldn’t say. But I do know a few things about me, so I propose to examine why I read more books by men than women.

Here is a tendency that I have noticed in myself: whenever I am in a bookshop or a library, I will go around the shelves and gather up an armful of what appeals to me for whatever reason. But before I go to the checkout, I’ll review the books, and in particular I will think about the gender bias of my selection. Most of the time, there will be a bias towards male authors in whatever I have picked out. So I’ll go back to the shelves and return those which were maybe only a second or third choice, and I’ll look again at their stock, paying particular attention to female authors. I try to even things out as best I can.

Sometimes my approach works well. In a few instances I’ve been introduced to writers whose work I might not have otherwise noticed, like Caitlin Kiernan, Eimear McBride or Leanne Shapton. Other times I haven’t liked the books so much – but I suspect this is more out of grabbing whatever appealed at first glance, and not pursuing figures of interest in advance. 

If the aim was perfect equality across my reading list, this is hardly a satisfactory solution. Whenever I think of all the books I’ve been reading lately, I still end up with more men than women. And moreover, there’s an element of hypocrisy here too, because I don’t do this with any of my other hobbies. Granted, video games and films are different in that they aren’t usually authored by a single personality, but the lack of prominent women directors in mainstream cinema and the treatment of new, original female voices in gaming are both big problems for those art forms. 

But why did I pick out so many books by men in the first place? In terms of my general literary knowledge, I feel like I’ve simply absorbed more about male writers than women. If you were to total up everything I’ve read, you’d probably still find that most of the books were written by men. The stuff I know about books comes from schooling, general reading, and from papers like the Guardian, magazines like the New Yorker and LRB; respectable, liberal organs full of famous male British and American voices talking about famous British and American men. Similarly, most of the reading I did at school and university was centred around prominent male authors, who in themselves were most likely informed by other great men of the past. This spiral winds on forever.

I don’t quite know how to escape this dilemma. I could work harder at it. I could only read women for a few months, or a year – but how long would be long enough? I could start following prominent more feminist blogs and internet magazines, but where to start with that? Examined too closely, my approach starts to take on all the twisted proportions of classic liberal guilt; you could argue that deliberately seeking out books by women is treating them as if they were homework to be done, or medicine to be swallowed. Why do I think that doing this will make me a better, happier person? And why stop at heteronormative voices – where’s the representation of other ethnicities and sexualities in my reading? What exactly would I be trying to achieve by altering my reading towards what I feel like I should be reading instead of what I want to read?

There can be no such thing as a perfectly representative reading list, and I would regard with suspicion anything which claims to be that. The only solution, I suppose, is some kind of awareness of the reasons why we choose the media we consume, and an acknowledgement that we rarely do this just because we think those things are just ‘the best’. Culture is not just something to be consumed; it’s something which informs our decisions, and which in turn is shaped by the myriad small choices we make each day.

Does anyone know where to get Caitlin Kiernan's book Alabaster?

It seems like it’s out-of-print, but I really want to read it. I started the Alabaster: Wolves comics today, and I’m so intrigued by the character of Dancy, as well as the dark angel that follows her around. I’m fascinated by dark stories based around Biblical mythology, and I want to read more of Dancy Flammarion’s story. So does anyone know if Alabaster is still in print and where I can find it? I don’t particularly want to go to eBay, but anywhere else would be fine if the price is cheap.


Some queer reads out in the past 30 days: Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney; Queering Anarchism edited by C. B. Daring, J. Rogue, Deric Shannon, and Abbey Volcano; Pantomime by Laura Lam; What’s Wrong With Homosexuality? by John Corvino; The Sin-Eater’s Confession by Ilsa K Bick; The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson; and 7 Miles a Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger, & Marguerite Van Cook.

É um mito que pessoas loucas não saibam que são loucas. Sem dúvidas muitos de nós somos capazes de epifanias e introspecção como qualquer outra pessoa, talvez até mais. Suspeito que passamos muito mais tempo pensando sobre nossos pensamentos do que as pessoas sãs.
—  A Menina Submersa

“It is not the task of a writer to ‘tell all,’ or even to decide what to leave in, but to decide what to leave out. Whatever remains, that meager sum of this profane division, that’s the bastard chimer we call a 'story.’ I am not building, but cutting away. And all stories, whether advertised as truth or admitted falsehoods, are fictions, cleft from the objective facts by the aforementioned action of cutting away. A pound of flesh. A pile of sawdust. Discarded chips of Carrara marble. And what’s left over.”

-Excerpt taken from Caitlin R. Kiernan’s 'House Under The Sea’

“I can hardly draw off my own experiences as a heroin addict, having only shot up that once and all. It’s not that I dislike needles. And smack really is better by a hundred times than the best sex you’ve ever had. It’s just I was meant for greater things, like growing old and bitter and more properly wicked.”

- Caitlin Kiernan
TIDAL FORCES by Caitlín R. Kiernan

“The Age of Exploration was already long over with,” I say. “For all intents and purposes, it ended early in the Seventeenth Century. Everything after that—reaching the north and south poles, for instance—is only a series of footnotes. There were no great blank spaces left for men to fill in. No more ‘Here be monsters.’”

She’s lying on top of the sheets. It’s the middle of July and too hot for anything more than sheets. Clean white sheets and underwear. In the glow from the television, Charlotte looks less pale and less fragile than she would if the bedside lamp were on, and I’m grateful for the illusion. I want to stop talking, because it all sounds absurd, pedantic, all these unfinished, half-formed ideas that add up to nothing much at all. I want to stop talking and just lie here beside her.

“So writers made up stories about lost worlds,” she says, having heard all this before and pretty much knowing it by heart. “But those made-up worlds weren’t really lost. They just weren’t found yet. They’d not yet been imagined.”

“That’s the point,” I reply. “The value of those stories rests in their insistence that blank spaces still do exist on the map. They have to exist, even if it’s necessary to twist and distort the map to make room for them. All those overlooked islands, inaccessible plateaus in South American jungles, the sunken continents and the entrances to a hollow Earth, they were important psychological buffers against progress and certainty. It’s no coincidence that they’re usually places where time has stood still, to one degree or another.”

“But not really so much time,” she says, “as the processes of evolution, which require time.”

(Read more.)

Love this short story of Lovecraftian weird fiction by Caitlín R. Kiernan – noted trans dyke dark fantasy author. You guys have to read this! It’s about lesbian relationships, the unknown, and inconvieniently placed holes in space/time.

Nenhuma história tem começo e nenhuma história tem fim. Começos e fins podem ser entendidos como algo que serve a um propósito, a uma intenção momentânea e provisória, mas são, em sua natureza fundamental, arbitrários e existem apenas como uma ideia conveniente na mente humana. As vidas são confusas e, quando começamos a relacioná-las, ou se relacionar parte delas, não podemos mais discernir os momentos precisos e objetivos de quando certo evento começou. Todos os começos são arbitrários.
—  A Menina Submersa.