Saturday, August 23, 2008

Interview with Lorina Stephens

Last week our four-week virtual book tour made a stop at Ferret Fabricates, the internet home of Ferret, a remarkably talented textile artist who continually pushes the boundaries of quilting and quilt-design. Week two was hosted by David Robertson, who not only has a presence at e-webincome, but at his artisan blacksmithing site, which is very much worth a visit. The tour launched at Paul Lima’s blog August 3, 2008.

Q: Last fall you released Shadow Song, a historical fantasy set in Upper Canada during the 1830s. How has it been received?

A: I’m pleased with how it’s been received. It’s out-selling Recipes of a Dumb Housewife, and has received some good reviews, in particular from Dan Pelton at the Orangeville Citizen and from Meg Mathur, Online Merchandising Manager at Indigo Books. People seem to be interested in the fact it’s based in part on an actual tragedy that occurred in the village of Hornings Mills, and also seem to be interested in the fact it’s written by a Canadian about Canada.

Q: I understand you’re about to release a new book. Can you tell us about it?

A: In September I’ll launch an anthology of speculative short fiction, entitled And the Angels Sang. There are 17 stories, from dystopia to utopia, written over the past 25 years. Some stories have appeared previously in publications such as On Spec and Sword & Sorceress X, while some make their debut. I chose to divide the anthology into two sections to easily separate the more fantastical from the speculative.

Q: Do you have any personal favourites?
A: I do indeed. The cover story, of course, which is a speculative piece that examines what the last moments of Father Jean de Brébeuf’s life might have been like. I wanted very much to create a stream-of-consciousness feeling, a surreal quality, combined with what was clearly Brebeuf’s own devotion to not only his God, but the people he came to serve.

On a lighter side I’ve always loved For a Cup of Tea, which appeared in On Spec, the winter issue of 1995. That was such a fun piece to write. It’s a fantastical alternative history of the famed race between Cutty Sark and Thermopylae, two of the great clippers of the 19th century. I love the romance of the age of sail, the danger and skill that surrounded the men who rode the sea for profit and country.

The other story I like, which perhaps shows my twisted sense of humour, is Dragonslayer. It’s an irreverent romp and complete spoof. The anthology for which the story was targeted was an examination of what happened to all the fantasy heroes after the wars were over. I’m afraid I didn’t approach the subject with sufficient seriousness, because the story was not only rejected, but received incendiary comment regarding its chauvinistic, sexist, degrading tone. All I could envision was some swaggering archetype reduced to selling life insurance (no offence to insurance salespeople). It just seemed the ultimate irony. But plainly not that editor’s vision.

Q: Where will you launch And the Angels Sang?

A: The staff at Coles, Orangeville Mall has been kind enough to invite me back, although whether the book launch will take place Saturday, September 27, or October 25 is unclear at this point. More information will soon be available at my blog. You can still take advantage of the pre-order sale I have available.

You’ll also be able to purchase copies in select stores, as well as online from Chapters and other major online retailers worldwide like Amazon and W.H. Smith. You can also purchase directly from me through my website if you wish a signed copy.

After the launch in Orangeville I’ll be appearing at other book stores in the Indigo/Chapters chain throughout southern Ontario.

Q: Nothing in December or the winter?

A: I don’t usually travel during the heavy winter months. Living where we do the weather is a bit unpredictable. My touring season usually starts in March. But it you ‘d like to arrange a speaking engagement, lecture or book signing, by all means contact me and we’ll see what we can arrange.

Q: What’s next on the agenda for you?

A: I’m currently working on a new fantasy novel, From Mountains of Ice. It has a definite Italian milieu; I suppose harking back to my own roots. And there is a definite overtone of reverence toward ancestors and preoccupation with death and mourning rituals, although I wouldn’t say the novel is morbid. In fact, the novel deals primarily with a man’s loss of honour and his attempt to regain that honour, while examining what honour is, exactly.

Hopefully I’ll have the first draft finished by the close of the year or shortly thereafter, and then set to the tedious but exacting task of revision and editing. If Mr. Murphy refrains from taking tea, I may have the novel ready for release in the fall of 2009. If not then for sure the following spring or fall.

This concludes our four week Virtual Book Tour. Thank you for being part of it. To stay up to date with Lorina’s activities, visit her at her website or blog.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Victorian Overskirt Pattern

I finally managed to take picures of my new overskirt (we are replastering the inside of my house, but that is another story).

This skirt is named after my mom, Dona. In Spanish, Doña means lady or noblewoman, and Madre means mother, so I thought it was very appropriate.

1870 – 1890
Doña Madre

Ideal as a dressy overskirt for
any occasion.
Based on patterns from period sources.
Includes the full text of the original instructions.
Directions for many different styles of draperies.
This pattern has adaptations for the 1883 - 1887 aggressive bustle.
Variations and decoration ideas are included.
Foundation skirt is not included.

All sizes Petite - Full are included.
Price $12

Please have a look at more photos at

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Mantua-Maker Milestone!

The Mantua-Maker has hit a new milestone. For the first time, I have had 100 orders in a single year! I added a PayPal shopping cart in January, and sales have soared. Thank you Lorina Stephens for talking me into wrestling with my website builder!

Speaking of Lorina, she is having a virtual book tour for her excellent novel, Shadow Song. You can read the first installment, an interview with Lorina Stephens by Paul Lima at: