(That’s probably because you rolled up nothing but Claire!)
This week I am visiting the sparkly C.S.E. Cooney in her well-appointed Rhode Island garret, right across from the Victorian strolling park. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the magnificence that is C.S.E. Cooney. Never fear, that shall soon change!
C.S.E. Cooney is a writer of plays, poetry, and stories, an actor, a narrator, a singer and songwriter, a blogger, an editor, a lover of sea kings, and an all around infectiously delightful person. Here are a few bits of her gloriousness:
“Thorns” by Martha Wells, narrated by C.S.E. Cooney at PodCastle: This story is set a hundred years after the events of Sleeping Beauty, and Claire reads the tale with a deliciously wicked tone. This is her very first narration for PodCastle, and it’s brand new this week. I, for one, am holding out high hopes that it will be the first of many. Listen for free here: http://podcastle.org/2013/09/25/podcastle-279-thorns/
Poems: There are so many poems by Claire in the world that it is hard to choose one or two to represent the lot, but here I shall limit myself to “What Is Owed” in the summer issue of Goblin Fruit, and to “The Sea King’s Second Bride” in a much earlier issue of Goblin Fruit. The first I link to because Goblin Fruit is a wonderful poetry magazine, and I think you should just devour the whole of the latest issue. The second I link to because it won the Rhysling Award in 2011, and because it illustrates Claire’s love of sea kings. Indeed, across the the table right now, I believe she is writing something about another sea king.
“Ten Cigars” by C.S.E. Cooney with illustrations by Rebecca Huston: As a fiction editor at Strange Horizons, it delights me to no end when a writer who is also a friend sends me a piece that all three of the fiction editors love enough to publish. Most of the time this doesn’t happen. Most of the time, I have to send rejections to my friends, which is no fun at all. When we got this story, though, I knew I wanted it right away. Furthermore, I wanted it to have pictures. One of the wonderful things about Claire is that she gathers artists and creators of all sorts around her like magpies gather shiny things. When I floated the illustration idea by her, she promptly suggested Rebecca Huston, who gave us a gorgeous set of drawings to accompany Claire’s text. At 1100 words, “Ten Cigars” is short enough that you can read it in just a few minutes, but it’s awesome enough that you may find yourself thinking about it long after you’re done.
“Martyr’s Gem” by C.S.E. Cooney at GigaNotoSaurus: A longer piece, “Martyr’s Gem” is the kind of story that shows more of the depth of Claire’s strengths. This story features fascinating worldbuilding, complex characters, and a transporting feeling that sweeps you up and makes you care about the events. It’s lush and luscious and witty and sharp-edged and heartbreaking. I love it as much as Claire loves sea kings. This piece is over 18,000 words, by the way, so if you’re impressed, you might want to remember that it is eligible for awards in the Novella category.
Performance: As an actor, I have seen Claire on the stage as Rosalind in As You Like It, but more often I have seen Claire perform her own work. To see Claire recite is a revelation. She commands an audience and holds them in the palm of her hand, leading them exactly where she wishes them to go. At World Fantasy in 2012, she performed a bit of “Martyr’s Gem” as part of a singing, dancing, reading, and reciting extravaganza with Amal El-Mohtar, Caitlyn Paxson, and Patty Templeton. They called themselves the Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours, and they had their standing room only audience utterly enraptured. I wish I could show you one of the songs Claire and Caitlyn have written and performed together (whence the banjo came into the name of their group), but I cannot. I can, however, give you the “Martyr’s Gem” excerpt, presented with wonderful animation by Grant Jeffery and Magill Foote, featuring drawings by Erik Amundsen, and music by Will Sergiy IV. See what I mean about her gathering creative people to her? It’s like magic. Anyway, this video is awesome.
Hankering for more of the fabulous C.S.E. Cooney? You can follow her on Livejournal, check out her blog posts at Black Gate (here’s her latest post), or buy her collected poems from Papaveria Press. She’s also got a wee book of two dark and delicious fantasy stories called Jack o’ the Hills. I highly recommend it.