Luna Station Quarterly is a speculative fiction magazine featuring stories by emerging women authors.
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Issue 036 Author Interview: Jennifer Lyn Parsons and “Joinery”

by Anna O’Brien


Today we had the absolute pleasure of chatting with our very own editor-in-chief Jennifer Lyn Parsons about her story “Joinery.” It’s in Issue 036, along with twelve other spectacular crone-themed stories. Go read it, then come back here for some writerly insights.

LSQ: There are four (if you count the Bright One) ages represented in this story. Was it difficult to weave those different layers into one piece? Where did the idea of this story start?

JP: Working with the various characters was surprisingly straightforward for me. In some ways, having these women all be of different ages eased the writing process because I had a clear demarcation for who was who because I could tap into their physicality and various levels of life experience. However, while their ages may have set these women apart, it was not all that defined them. They were each the culmination of their acquired wisdom and experiences. I had to take a little time to get to know them as individuals and that helped me to be sure that they each felt like their own fully-developed person. Though honestly, at the end of the day, I just hope I’m as spry Grannie Hella when I’m as old as she appears to be.

As for where the story came from, I had written Grannie into my first novel and those who’ve read it have been asking me for more of her ever since. When I knew I was writing a story for this special Crone issue, the first time my own work has been in LSQ in all these years, I knew I needed to write about Grannie Hella. Once I figured out what she might be doing on this far-flung planet, the rest came together rather quickly. Though I admit I was surprised with where the story took me. I love it when writing takes a turn you weren’t expecting. Can you tell I’m not much for making outlines?

LSQ: Can you speak to the metaphor of the title as it applies to the story as a whole?

JP: Titles are often the hardest part, well, after the writing itself that is. I had struggled with this one for a bit, trying to find a few words that would encompass the theme of the story. It finally came together when I understood what exactly I had written and how these women interconnected with each other.

For anyone who doesn’t know, “joinery” is a woodworking term for joining together pieces of wood to form more complex items. What Regine does in making the dovetail joins of the box she creates for Grannie Hella is a prime example of a woodworker’s joinery. That box was pivotal to the whole story and I knew it needed to be a part of the title.

When I thought about what was happening between the characters, I realized joinery was also a great way of describing the new relationships that were formed throughout the story and I knew it was the perfect title for the piece. The characters fit themselves together like perfect dovetail joins.

LSQ: Do you have any experience with or interest in woodworking yourself? What made you pick that profession for Regine?

JP: I do have an interest! It’s something I’m working on developing and hope to have space in my next home to put a small shop together. My daily work as a programmer allows me to build things every day, but they’re all ephemeral. You can’t hold them in your hands, you have to hold them in your head, which is exhausting, to be honest. Working with wood, or any other physical material, has a very soothing, flow-inducing quality to it. At the end of a project you are left with a definitive, tangible object as proof of your time, energy, and command of your craft. That is supremely satisfying as well as being great self-care and a counterbalance to the digital work I do.

Regine received this profession for a few reasons. One of which is the old writer’s adage: write what you know. That’s not always meant to be taken literally, but here I was able to take a current passion and use it to provide a depth to this character. We were just getting to know each other, and having her be a woodworker gave us some common ground. It also provided a wonderful reason for Grannie to require her services. When I first started writing this story, I knew Grannie would show up and ask Regine for help, but had no idea what kind of help she needed or how the story would develop as a result. When I realized that Grannie had brought some special cargo with her and would require that box, well, the rest of the pieces started to fall into place.

LSQ: What was the most challenging aspect about this story to write and why? What was the easiest?

JP: Once I could see the shape of the story and all its parts, the actual writing became the focus. It was like having all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, but not having the picture to guide you. I knew early on that Regine would take an apprentice, but I had to work out why she had been reluctant to do so, and what about Grannie and the Bright One’s visit would change her mind. Honestly, I think moving Regine through this subtle but important development was the most difficult part of the process. It was challenging to make sure it didn’t feel forced or abrupt, but a natural evolution of her story even while Regine herself was surprised by her own realization that mentoring Elisha was part of her personal destiny.

As for the easiest, that’s simple: Grannie Hella. She’s one of those characters who comes along to fortunate writers that is such a powerful voice that she writes herself onto the page. She just tells you what she would say and do and it’s a joy and privilege to write her every single time.

LSQ: Lastly, are you working on any other writing projects and if so, can you tell us a bit about them?

JP: My new novel, Take On Me, is forthcoming and I’m very excited about it. I surprised myself by writing a novel that has no dragons, spaceships, or any other speculative elements whatsoever. Instead it’s about music, love, grief, and found families. It’s been described as Rent meets High Fidelity if it was directed by Jim Jarmusch, which pretty accurately describes some of my biggest influences for the book, if I’m honest.

With that completed after a very long three years of work, I’m between writing projects and trying to figure out what to tackle next. “Joinery” was my first completely new work in all that time and it was interesting to see how much Take On Me changed how I write and the stories I want to tell. In a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve finally found my voice so I’m seeking the spark of something that will allow me to keep developing that.


Bubble Bubble Pasta Pot

by Jen Gheller


In today’s “YA Girl,” I’ll be focusing more on the “young” and less on the “adult.” Like, super super young. Picture book young. But it can be fun to take a look back at the stories that cultivated our love of books and reading, so please humor me. As you probably know by now, our theme for this month is “crones,” so you might be wondering why I’m writing about picture books. They’re not the likeliest combination, but when I remembered these books sitting on my bookcase’s bottom shelf, I knew I had the perfect series to present to you all. It is Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona series, starting with the first book, Strega Nona, published in 1975. If you’re not familiar with these wonderful books, I highly encourage you to see if your local library has any of them available to go along with your reading of Issue 036.

So, who is Strega Nona, and why is she so great? First off, she has a magic pasta pot that makes her as much pasta as she wants when she sings the magic words. Who wouldn’t want one of those? Limitless pasta aside, let’s get into her actual character. The name “Strega Nona” literally means “grandmother witch” in Italian, and while she does have magical powers, she mainly serves as a wise woman figure to her hillside village in Calabria. She is a practical old woman, but also very kind and patient. While her friend Amelia went to the city to learn modern magic, Nona stayed in the village and learned the old ways from her own grandmother, including the ingrediente segreto to be a great strega. Can you guess what that secret ingredient is? Yep, it’s love! All the love she gives to the villagers is given right back, even from the priest and the nuns. Unlike many old witches in fairy tales, she isn’t feared or scorned. The villagers respect and depend upon Nona, and when her old friend Amelia sets up shop in Strega Nona Meets Her Match, the villagers actually kick her out, preferring Nona’s traditional methods.

For children, the books are fun, short stories that teach the values of hard work and good manners. The illustrations are also extremely comforting to look at. Strega Nona is depicted as a little old lady who always has a smile on her face, surrounded by cute animals. They’re like a warm, fuzzy blanket wrapped around you, with a heaping plate of delicious pasta on the side. Reading these books as an adult, however, brings an entirely different perspective. Even when her bumbling assistant Big Anthony floods the town with pasta, or causes other kinds of trouble with his carelessness, Strega Nona never turns to anger, but instead deals with the situations using her sense of humor. Although one of Strega Nona’s specialties is helping the village women find husbands, she herself isn’t married. Despite this, she’s never portrayed as a stereotypical old, bitter spinster. She has her assistants, Big Anthony and Bambolona, so she’s never lonely. She has her magic pasta pot, so she’s never in want. She has the village’s adoration, so she’s never ostracized. Dare I say that Strega Nona is the perfect example of an older woman having it all? Truly, she’s the perfect role model.


Issue 036 Author Interview: Diana Hurlburt and “The Curse of Apollo”

by Anna O’Brien


Our latest issue of the Quarterly, Issue 036, has been out about a week — are you enjoying it as much as we are? Containing thirteen amazing speculative fiction short stories written by women authors, we are excited to share it with the world and even more excited when we get the chance to hang out with our authors. Diana Hurlburt’s story “The Curse of Apollo” is our featured story this issue and we jumped at the chance to share our conversation with her with you all. Enjoy!

LSQ: Am I correct in that this is a re-telling of a Greek myth? Or perhaps pieces of a few different myths? How did you come across this story and what inspired you to re-work it? 
Diana: Less a retelling and more a remix, I think. The horses of the sun appear in the story of Phaethon, which is one of hubris and destruction. I wanted to depict a triumphant journey, in part because I was also writing to a horse named Justify who had just smashed what the Thoroughbred racing world refers to as “the curse of Apollo.” Apollo and Artemis were always my favorites of the Greek pantheon, so twin horses seemed right for a story featuring their influence. Constellations are a major trope in Hellenic tales, with many heroes (and some less heroic characters) ending up literally among the stars. I especially wanted to create something that read like my favorite collection of myths for kids, by Bernard and Dorothy Evslin, which led to the unnamed narrator and their occasional asides, editorializing, and stock epithet-heavy storytelling style.
 
LSQ: Can you tell us a bit about your personal interest in Greek myths, their influence on your own writing career, and what you believe their importance is to the modern reader and writer? 
Diana: I was definitely the Greek Mythology Nerd as a kid. I read and reread Evslin and Hoopes, and the “Groovy Greeks” edition of Horrible Histories in elementary school, and then Graves, Ovid, Hamilton, and Bulfinch in high school. Some of my all-time favorite books are reworkings of Greek or Roman myth, including Goddess of Yesterday, The Pomegranate Seeds, and Lavinia, and the more recent Thessaly series. However, it wasn’t until this story (and another constellation neo-myth that may be forthcoming in the new year…) that I overtly tried to mine that literary bedrock for my own projects. I think it’s pretty common for future writers to latch onto a set of myths as young readers, whether that’s pre-Islamic Arabian tales or Arthuriana or Norse Eddas, and even when a genre or myth cycle seems to have saturated the market, there’s always a new angle for stories. The things that captivated us as kids are almost always rich and surprising fodder for adult creativity.
 
LSQ: Horses lend themselves naturally to writing I think, given their beauty, grace, athleticism, and relationship to humans. Do you have an interest in horses outside of this story? 
Diana: I was also the Weird Horse Girl as a kid! So this story is really the mirror of myself around age 11. In the past couple of years I’ve returned to horse enthusiasm, particularly the sport of racing, with which I had no familiarity but which rapidly overtook my writing to the point of obsession. I’ve found it rewarding to tell stories of horsewomen and racehorses in fantastic settings, drawing in part on books like The Firebrand and The Foretelling, both of which feature Amazons. Poseidon’s underwater stables of hippocampi and Scots kelpie stories led to my story “Eel and Bloom,” which was collected in the Equus anthology. Horses are endlessly inspiring and have influenced so many literary classics. I doubt that humans will ever stop telling stories about them. I certainly feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface!
 
LSQ: An undercurrent in this story is the fact that both the horses and Kharis are outcasts and underdogs in this great race, which makes them even more appealing to root for. What was it like to write these characters? What did you enjoy most? What was the most challenging? 
Diana: I was so delighted to see LSQ’s call for ‘crone’ stories of older female characters, because many of my favorite heroines are hard-knocking grandmas and spinsters (Pratchett’s Nanny & Granny come to mind, as do books by Elizabeths Bear and Moon, Jo Walton, Anne Tyler, Alice Hoffman, Gloria Naylor…). Kharis was fun to write. She’s old enough to be set in her ways and a sort of established Town Character, and I liked the idea of a leathery old Amazonian woman being chief of the village’s horses. The horses themselves I tried to make what racing people would call “interesting,” meaning impressive, talented, but maybe a little intractable or idiosyncratic. They’re young and untried, having never run against other horses, and Kharis is aged and experienced and a bit taken for granted by her village, so that dynamic was appealing. The major challenge was creating a blend of the modern Kentucky Derby and ancient festivals that didn’t feel too contrived or anachronistic. Happily, the historic Greeks were very into horse races of all kinds too!
 
LSQ: Can you give us an update on your other writing projects? 
Diana: I’ve got a story included in the upcoming edition of saw palm, which will be out in early 2019, and I’m hoping to have more info about aforementioned Neo-Myth #2 soon too. Recently I’ve had work appear in Memoir Mixtapes and have launched a newsletter devoted to talking about, you guessed, horse racing literature.

“There is No Friend Like a Sister”: Christina Rossetti

by Erin K. Wagner


In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

(“In the bleak midwinter,” ll. 1-4)

 

Christina Rossetti’s poem “In the bleak midwinter” depicts a land cold and frosted, waiting for a savior. But when that savior comes, Rossetti’s narrator is unsure what she has to offer him:

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

(The carol was later set to music that you can listen to the choir of King’s College, Cambridge sing here.)

Rossetti’s biography reveals that she was a very religious woman, but one who struggled at times with that faith, with depression, and with societal convention in the second half of the nineteenth century. Famously, she rejects the love of a suitor in “No, Thank You, John,” arguing that she never promised anything other than friendship to the titular man. In the poem, she relates John’s accusation that she has no heart:

I have no heart?—Perhaps I have not;
But then you’re mad to take offense
That I don’t give you what I have not got:
Use your common sense.

It is interesting that we see Rossetti acknowledge and give away her heart elsewhere, then, in the later carol excerpted above. But Rossetti’s body of poetry reiterates again and again that her trust in earthly men is limited, and she often casts this concern in a fantastical setting.

In her poems, men often show love and care too little and too late, and it is women who must support and defend each other. In “The Prince’s Progress,” she pens a second-person condemnation of a dawdling fairy-tale prince:

Too late for love, too late for joy,
Too late, too late!
You loitered on the road too long,
You trifled at the gate:
The enchanted dove upon her branch
Died without a mate.
The enchanted princess in her tower
Slept, died, behind the grate;
Her heart was starving all this while
You made it wait.

The choice to write in second person emphasizes Rossetti’s criticism of a society that favors a man’s choice and time over a woman’s. Later in the poem, she makes it clear that it is the princess’s subjects who are condemning the prince, and they celebrate the princess, criticizing any too-late mourning from the prince. It is a theme reiterated in the less-fantastical “After Death,” wherein the narrator (presumably a young girl) observes a father-figure mourn her after her death:

He did not love me living; but once dead
He pitied me; and very sweet it is
To know he still is warm though I am cold.

The voice is bitterly sarcastic, mocking the false sentiment of the patriarchal figure.

Rossetti has a harsher criticism of how men control or treat women’s sexuality. Though her poems do, on one level, support a traditional idolization of female chasteness and virginity (see the narrator’s self-condemnation in “A Daughter of Eve,” the title of which calls to mind C. S. Lewis’s appellations in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe), Rossetti still makes a clear statement about male fetishization of and threat to that virginity. She does this most explicitly in her famous poem, “Goblin Market.”

“Goblin Market” relates the adventures of Lizzie and Laura, who in the course of their daily feminine duties (fetching honey, milking cows, cleaning the house, baking bread, churning butter) fend off the advances of a predatory goblin horde who wish to sell them a dazzling array of fruits. The list of wares, tantalizing detailed, opens the poem—but also clearly signals the true concern of the poem, namely women’s sexuality, so often linked with fruits and flowers.

Laura gives in to the goblin’s wiles against Lizzie’s warnings, trading a lock of her hair for the fruit: “She dropp’d a tear more precious rare than pearl, / Then suck’d their fruit globes fair or red.” But much as in any fairy narrative, the goblin food is a trap, and Laura is afflicted with an insatiable appetite for the goblin’s fruit after they disappear, one she cannot find any way to satisfy. It is up to Lizzie to find a way to save her sister. She finds the goblin men and gives them money (not a part of her body) for their wares. In return, they attack her (in fairly graphic terms that can read as sexual assault), forcing their fruit on her. Rossetti still describes her as a “lily” in the midst of this attack, preserving her innocence. When Lizzie finally returns home, she offers the remnants and juice left on her skin as a cure for her sister. The poem has been interpreted in a myriad of ways. But I think an important reading is this: female intimacy (“Hug me, kiss me”… “Eat me, drink me, love me”) is offered as a solution to the predation suffered by both girls.

Though Rossetti ultimately still reinforces the popular condemnation of the sexually active woman in both “Goblin Market” and “A Daughter of Eve,” she also offers what was very often lacking in nineteenth-century discourse (if not also today): a condemnation of the false man—the loitering prince and the animalistic goblin. Consequently, it makes a certain sense that Rossetti is willing to hand over her heart to God, but not to John.

Speculative poetry gave Rossetti a way to express her disappointment with the narrative of love that had so often failed women, reminding us of the power behind both fiction and poetry in this genre. As we approach the New Year, we should embrace this potential to read and write change through speculating a better future, the same hope we embrace in the diversity of holidays we celebrate throughout December.


Weekly Wrap-Up: Week of December 3, 2018

by Anna O’Brien


Dear dear readers–it’s been a fantastic week at LSQ and our blog posts are proof. We’ve got a Quarterly issue release and the start of a month of crone-themed posts to share with you all and we can’t wait to get this party started. Here’s what our fab bloggers were up to this week:

  • On Monday, we had a double feature: first, a monthly news flash to keep you up-to-date and then we finished the afternoon with Tracy Townsend who opened our month of crones with a job announcement. . .
  • On Tuesday, Cathrin Hagey continued her thoroughly researched monthly column “What’s in a Fairy Tale” with a feature on crones;
  • On Wednesday, we were ecstatic to publish our Issue 036 and with it, an in-depth interview with our cover artist, Eran Fowler;
  • On Thursday, our very own EIC Jennifer Lyn Parsons celebrated the birthday of the amazing Grace Hopper;
  • On Friday, we rounded out with the week with “On the Books,” the monthly column by Jacqui Lipton where she tackles writerly legal questions.

Securing Your Author Domain Name

by Jacqui Lipton


Many authors today maintain their own websites, although a number of us prefer to use social media to promote our work and engage in online conversation. If you do have a website, you’ve likely faced issues about which domain name to register and how to secure a domain name you want if someone else has registered it first.

The good news is that with sophisticated search engines and SEO (search engine optimization) strategies, the actual domain name you use isn’t as important as it might have been some years ago. However, many search engines still include domain names as part of their search algorithms so it can benefit you to have a domain name that reflects your name or the title of your work.

On that first question: your name versus the title of your work. . . ?

Most authors will want a website that reflects their own name or, if they write under a pen name, their pen name, or both. It’s easy and generally inexpensive to register multiple domain names and have them all resolve to the same website.

The limitations of having a domain name that reflects the title of your work is that you’ll find you need multiple websites and domain names if you write lots of different things. If you do have a big-selling main title that you want to promote, it may be worth registering that title as a domain name and having a dedicated website for it. It’s a judgment call for you.

What about the string of letters after the dot? Do you want to register in the “.com” space? It’s probably still the most desirable, but it’s the one where most of the names you might want are already taken, even a lot of personal names. After all, lots of people have the same name, and there are lots of cybersquatters and domain name speculators out there (people who register domain names in the hope of making money by later selling them to someone with the actual name).

There are lots of other options: “.org”, “.net”, and even “.name”.

Of course, if you use blogging software like WordPress for your website, you can typically insert your name in a WordPress website, like <[yourname]Wordpress.com>. That way you don’t even have to register a domain name at all. You simply use the blogging software’s domain and take a “second level” domain through the blogging service when you sign up. A lot of authors find that easier than setting up their own website from the ground up.

What do you do if the name you want is already taken by someone else? There are several options depending on the circumstances, but none of them is as easy as finding another domain name, unfortunately.

You can try to contact the registrant and see if they’ll agree to give you the name. Usually they’ll want you to pay them to give you the name. If the name is registered to a domain name speculator, they may want to negotiate a relatively high price to transfer the name to you (often around $1,000) because that’s how they make their profits. If someone else is actively using their name for their own business, they may not want to transfer it at all. In either case, it’s often wise to look for another name rather than getting into a fight over it.

There are few options for authors who want to use the law to attempt to secure a domain name already registered to someone else. Most of the options revolve around trademark law. Both regular trademark law and the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the online arbitration system set up by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) require the person who wants to secure the name to prove they have a trademark right in the name. Because it’s actually quite difficult to establish trademark rights in a personal author’s name, authors aren’t likely to have much luck here.

There is one provision of American federal law that enables you to sue someone else if they register your name as a domain name with an intent to profit from selling it to you or anyone else. This law may work for a number of authors, although it would be expensive to hire a lawyer and bring an action in federal court, so again it might be just as well to find an alternate name if possible. If, for example, a domain name registrant is asking $1,000 to transfer the name to you, litigation will likely cost more than that. You could potentially threaten litigation and see if the mere threat of legal action encourages a registrant to drop the price, but it’s probably easier to seek an alternative domain name.


“Grandma COBOL”

by Jennifer Lyn Parsons


Rear Admiral, Teacher, Mathematician, Programmer. For my column this month I want to tell you about an amazing woman who laid the foundation for the career I have today.

Born this day in 1906, Grace Hopper was an accomplished woman who invented some of the core features and tools of modern computer programming. The field would not be the same today without her work.

As a programmer myself, it amazes me what she was able to accomplish. Of course she was part of a team, not toiling away by herself in some dark room, however that fact makes it even more impressive that she is so clearly credited for her work in a time when women’s accomplishments were so often obscured.

She is credited with inventing the compiler, a program that translates written instructions into code that computers read directly. She also was key to inventing COBOL (and FORTRAN) a new kind of programming language that allows programmers to write their code using words instead of only numbers. The modern web would likely not exist without this development. These languages influenced the hundreds of languages that came after it.

If you have ever heard a programmer talk about “debugging” a bit of code, you can thank Grace Hopper for coining the term. A moth was trapped in a relay of the Mark II computer she was working on and she described its discovery and removal as “debugging” the machine.

She is sometimes called “Amazing Grace” for all her accomplishments, though she would say her biggest accomplishment was helping young people learn. She was an avid teacher and took joy in challenging those around her to think beyond the ways they had always done things. She even had a clock in her office that ran counter-clockwise as a reminder to look at problems in new ways.

For all that, in this month of crone celebration here at LSQ, I find one of her most interesting traits is the age she started her programming career. Born in 1906, she did not join the Navy until she was 38 and it was only then that she began programming. She brought along her childhood curiosity for taking things apart and rebuilding them and her love of mathematics. Combined with her life experience, this meant Admiral Hopper was well-suited to bring new innovation to the burgeoning field of computer programming.

Throughout her life, she continued to buck traditions and expectations. She remained active in the Navy Reserve for 42 years, much of that by special permission of Congress that allowed her to serve well past the mandatory retirement date. After retirement she returned to teaching, her first love, and continued to inspire students until her passing in 1992.

Grace Hopper left behind a legacy of innovation and inspiration. Her work garnered her the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest decoration given to those who did not participate in combat, along with a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.

You can learn more about Grace Hopper here:
Wikipedia page
– Yale’s Computer Science Dept. profile
– The U.S. Navy profile
– National Women’s History Museum profile

I’ve also put together a video playlist, including a fabulous interview on David Letterman:


Issue 036 Release and Cover Artist Interview: Eran Fowler

by Anna O’Brien


“Witch of the White Wood” by Eran Fowler

Trumpets, banners, applause, and cheers! Our Issue 036 is out now and contains thirteen stories by women-identifying authors on the theme of crones! We could not be more excited to share this issue with you all. Please, do go check it out — available both on-line and in print. When you see it, you’ll first notice the amazing cover art by Eran Fowler. We had the opportunity to chat with them recently about art and crones and creatures. Here’s what they had to say.

LSQ: Let’s talk about the cover for Issue 036: “Witch of the White Wood.” Does this character have a story behind her? Our Issue 036 is our first ever themed issue, the theme being “crones.” The overall consensus of the staff here at LSQ is that older women don’t get the recognition they deserve in literature. What are your thoughts about the portrayal of older women in literature, art, and other media? 

Eran: I didn’t have a full story in mind when I painted “Witch of the White Wood”, but I wanted to depict her as a person with humanity, someone whose alienation from society didn’t mean she was alien. Independent women have historically been resented and feared by society, and “witches” were usually women who existed outside the narrow circles of influence allowed to them, particularly those without families. In many ways, this is still true: women are expected primarily to be desirable to men, and then to create and maintain a family. Women who exist outside these expectations are alienated or poorly represented.

“The Wrong Prey” by Eran Fowler

LSQ: How is creating work for a dynamic medium like gaming different from creating a static image? Do you have a preference? 

Eran: I’m a 2D artist, so any assets I create are still flat. The difference comes in making sure my assets function with any animated movement. That can mean painting a background with different lighting versions, or it can mean painting separate pieces that move independently, or it can mean planning an image so that the seams of different pieces are hidden, etc. Animation involves a lot of problem-solving so that your paintings continue to function under a variety of conditions. Still, paintings have fewer technical limitations, but they’re also limited to a single moment in time. I’m a single-image painter before anything else, but I love working with animation and the possibilities offered by it.
LSQ: You have so many wonderful creatures and environments featured in your work. Where do you get your inspiration for your pieces? How do you recharge your creativity?

Eran: No ideas exist in a vacuum, and I find that it’s important to regularly seek out and immerse myself in new things. I read a great deal, and I maintain a large collection of artwork and photo references that inspire me. I find a lot of inspiration in current events, history, and mythology.

“Safe Passage” by Eran Fowler

LSQ: Since you started freelancing, have you seen your skills change? If so, in what ways?
Eran: Freelancing is often an exercise in efficiency, and it has taught me how to use my time and painting technique for the best results I can manage in the shortest time. But it’s important not to get too miserly with time if it compromises quality; sometimes, good work takes however long it takes.
LSQ: Where would you like to see yourself and your business in 5 years? 
Eran: I’ve oscillated between in-studio and freelancing since I first began working, and I enjoy both of those worlds; they offer very different challenges and opportunities which have helped me grow as an artist. For as long as I’m able to do so, I think I’d like to continue doing both.
LSQ: Do you have a personal favorite of the projects you’ve worked on? Or one that was memorable due to its challenges? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
Eran: It would be difficult to choose an all-time favorite, but one of my favorite recent projects is “Safe Passage.” I’m continually trying to evolve the way I paint, and I think a lot of different aspects gelled really well in that painting. I’m having a lot of fun finding new ways to play with unexpected lighting conditions and color palettes.

Crone

by Cathrin Hagey


To be called a crone isn’t a compliment. Etymologically, the word derives from one meaning insult, which, in turn, derives from another word implying annoying woman or, literally, carrion.

It shouldn’t be surprising, given the patriarchy and all, that old women in fairy tales and myths are lumped into one inglorious category: suspicious fringe dwellers (further sub-divided into widows and spinsters—either can be witches).

In a different world, crones would take their rightful place as leaders, spiritual guides, healers, teachers, comforters, judges, and punishers. Old men, too, can be these things, but women, including those who don’t bear children, have a deeper connection to the processes of life and a tendency to live far longer, accumulating wisdom and experience along the way. An old woman is a living cauldron of knowledge and notions; her words and deeds should be the nutrition we crave, the correction we respect.

Crones in fairy tales are not as common as one might think. I’m ruling out Cinderella’s fairy godmother as an example. In older variants of this tale, the spirit who comes to the girl’s aid is actually the ghost of her dead mother; in other cases it is a fish or a spirit animal. The wicked stepmothers in “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” and others, are of child-bearing age, young enough to catch a widower’s eye.

The real crones are far more interesting:

  • Baba Yaga, that mysterious denizen of the east European woodlands, the powerful old woman capable of tender mercy one moment, absolute destruction the next. 

Unlike other villains, who may be defeated once, never to be heard from again, Baba Yaga is not permanently conquerable, for Baba Yaga is far more than just another witch. In such stories, typically, the protagonists fall into Baba Yaga’s hands by breaking some rule of the forest, or abusing her hospitality, and are assisted or advised by woodland creatures whom they have met and befriended along the way. Vladimir Propp compared Baba Yaga’s role as mistress of the forest and its denizens to a parallel figure from the Indic Rig Veda: it is likely that Baba Yaga is a amalgam of numerous archetypes, incorporating elements of rulers of the forest and underworld mistresses in a single entity. Scholars of Slavic mythology have also linked her to the ancient Indo-European goddess of death.1

  • The witch in “Hansel and Gretel” who lures the children with the promise of fun food in order to consume their flesh.

“Now we’ll set to,” said Hansel, “and have a regular blow-out. I’ll eat a bit of the roof, and you, Gretel, can eat some of the window, which you’ll find a sweet morsel.” Hansel stretched up his hand and broke off a little bit of the roof to see what it was like, and Gretel went to the casement and began to nibble at it. Thereupon a shrill voice called out from the room.2

  • The sea witch in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.”

The witch’s house lay behind the swamp in the middle of a strange forest. All the trees and bushes were sea polyps, half animal and half plant. They looked like hundred-headed serpents growing out of the ground. Their branches looked like long slimy arms, with fingers like slithering worms. Joint by joint from the root up to the very tip, they were constantly on the move, and they wound themselves tight around anything they could grab hold of from the sea, and then they would not let go.3

  • Yama Uba, the mountain crone.

Literally, “yamauba” means an old woman who lives in the mountains, an appellation indicating a creature living on the periphery of society. Medieval Japanese literature equates the yamauba to a female oni (ogre/demon), sometimes devouring human beings who unwittingly cross her path. She is, however, not entirely negative or harmful. She is also credited with nurturing aspects, though these attributes are not always at the forefront of her character.4

  • The woman at the well in “Diamonds and Toads” who dispenses reward or punishment, as deserved.

“You are so very pretty, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot help giving you a gift.” For this was a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country woman, to see how far the civility and good manners of this pretty girl would go. “I will give you for a gift,” continued the Fairy, “that, at every word you speak, there shall come out of your mouth either a flower or a jewel.”5

According to Marina Warner in From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers,

The word ‘fairy’ in the Romance languages indicates a meaning of the wonder or fairy tale, for it goes back to a Latin feminine word, fata, a rare variant of fatum (fate) which refers to a goddess of destiny. The fairies resemble goddesses of this kind, for they too know the course of fate.6

First Nations of the southwest United States tell of Spider Grandmother, an Earth goddess who taught them spinning and weaving, and many other things.

Born in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, Grandmother Spider resides at Spider Rock, one of Earth’s holiest spots. . . As a model of duality the gracious teacher is both a gobbler of misbehaving children and the motherly provider of survival skills—fire making and pottery, weapons and hunting, herbalism and healing, raising of crops, reverencing of ancestors and Mother Earth, and etching of pictographs on stone walls.7

If maiden is waxing, and middle-aged woman is in the fullness of life, crone is the dark moon. Reviled, persecuted, ridiculed, she remains with us, at least in spirit, through fairy and folk tales. She is patient, if not always kind. Her time is not yet past, nor will it ever be, for she is the architect of civilizations, the creator of worlds.


First Image Credit: By Wikilmages at Pixabay.com

Second Image credit: By Pezibear at Pixabay.com


  1. Pilinovsky, Helen. “Russian Fairy Tales: Baba Yaga’s Domain,” accessed on November 18, 2018, https://endicottstudio.typepad.com/articleslist/baba-yagas-domain-by-helen-pilinovsky.html
  2. Hansel and Gretel,” annotated by Heidi Anne Heiner, accessed on November 18, 2018, http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/hanselgretel/index.html
  3. Andersen, Hans Christian. Edited by Maria Tatar. The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc: New York, 2008), 141.
  4. Reider, Noriko T. “Yamauba: Representation of the Japanese Mountain Witch in the Muromachi and Edo Periods,” accessed on November 18, 2018, https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-asian-studies/article/yamauba-representation-of-the-japanese-mountain-witch-in-the-muromachi-and-edo-periods/168B8136161FC452F0AF0E79F2EB5BFC
  5. Diamonds and Toads,” annotated by Heidi Anne Heiner, accessed on November 18, 2018, http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/diamondstoads/index.html
  6. Warner, Marina. From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers (Random House: London, 1995), 14-15
  7. Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature, Second Edition (Infobase Learning, New York)

 


The Position Will Remain Open Until the Job Is Filled

by Tracy Townsend


Notice of Available Positions: Crones, All Experience Levels Desired

Narrative Personnel Staffing Services LLC prides itself on providing storytellers and their Heroes with reliable access to the best and most essential story resources. Specializing in Villains, Sidekicks, Henchmen, Allies, ready-made Four Man and Five Man bands, Cute Shoulder Dragons, and (of course) various love interests and family members (from the essential to the disposable), NPSS is a storytelling industry leader in quality, consistency, and brand recognizability.

Radical shifts in the current social and political environment have challenged all providers in the narrative sector to adapt their services to meet new demands, and NPSS is no different. The demand for Heroes has risen sharply over the last two years, and with it experienced support staff, including Sages, Veterans, and Chosen Ones. However, the market is showing a trend toward leveraging the authority of women (cis and noncis), which means that Crones are also experiencing a sharp increase in narrative placement rates, particularly in stories involving rising women Heroes. To meet this rising demand, NPSS seeks to hire a qualified pool of Crones based on both required attributes and experience.

Image credit: www.starshipnivan.com

NPSS encourages all new applicants, regardless of background and experience, showing special preference to Crones who:

 

NPSS’s Crone benefits package includes:

  • Comprehensive magical insurance coverage.
  • Flexible hours with a preference for working out of the home.
  • Connection to a vast historical network of your fellow Crones.
  • Fostering the success of a new generation of Heroes.
  • Beating back the darkness.
  • Ushering in a new dawn.
  • Confronting ignorance and stamping out hate.
  • Hexing the unworthy (for vengeful or educational purposes).

 

NPSS is pleased to offer storytellers the resources they need to tell the tales the world requires. In a reality fraught with division and marked by campaigns to maintain stagnant, regressive power, the rising Heroes of narrative require the support, guidance, and goading of their Crones: dismissive of the judgments of others, committed to serving their causes against any odds, and capable of cooking up literal and figurative trouble in a cast-iron cauldron. We hope to count you among our applicants for Crone positions.

If you are uncertain if you qualify for Crone consideration at this time, we recommend you enter one of the many Crone training and mentorship programs available to women today. NPSS and its storytelling clients and their readers require your competent services now more than ever.

 

Image credit: Lucasfilm media, Disney