Alexandra Duncan

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Feminism.

Filtering by Category: "I wrote that :)"


Author and blogger Lenore Appelhans has an interview with me up on her blog, Presenting Lenore, as part of her wonderful Dystopian August series. I'm a few days late posting this link because of the general chaos that has descended over my life during the last two weeks, but I was so excited and honored to take part.

I got the chance to talk about SALVAGE, so if you want to be tortured by small bits of information about the book, please go read the interview. Lenore gave me some great questions, including my favorite, "What fictional character from another book would your character choose as his/her best friend and why?" and the one I most dreaded, "If your book had a theme song, what would it be and why?" This is one of those questions I've occasionally seen asked of other authors in interviews, and every time I hear it, my brain scrambles around like a headless chicken, trying to remember what music is and whether or not I like it. I can't help it. This question momentarily lobotomizes me. But I'm glad Lenore asked it, because she made me face my fear, and I think I came up with a relatively coherent answer.

In addition to interviews with other authors of upcoming books, Lenore also has book reviews and giveaways. If you're a lover of dystopian fiction and you're looking for your next book fix, check out Lenore's blog all month long.


I have a vlog post up about making time for writing and life over on the Friday the Thirteeners blog. We're playing Truth or Dare over there, and this week I took a Truth. It has me thinking about honesty, so today I've decided to lay it all out there.

I've had some really wonderful things happen lately - my husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary last Monday, part of my advance arrived, my husband found a full-time job, and The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2012, edited by Rich Horton, comes out today.

Year's Best includes my novella "Rampion," about love, tragedy, and witchcraft during the fall of the Umayyad caliphate in 11th century Spain. I'm thrilled to have my writing in such good company. Two of my literary idols, Kelly Link and Margo Lanagan, also have stories in the anthology, as well as my friend Theodora Goss.

At the same time, we've had car trouble, student loan trouble, and a slew of relatives visiting all summer long. On top of that, my grandmother is very ill. All of these things have culminated in me missing work and writing time, and coming down with a nasty cold. I would love to simply celebrate all of the good things happening, but I'm feeling a little "like butter scraped over too much bread."

I think I could shrug all of these other things off, if it weren't for my grandmother's sickness. Though she's receiving palliative care now, she's been in pain and declining health for a long time. And while I'm not depressed or anything so serious, it is hard to celebrate these other things while this is happening to her.

I sometimes feel bad posting unhappy items on this blog, as if I'm burdening any readers with my own morose thoughts. It also feels as if I'm being ungrateful by complaining when so many good things are happening to me. And believe me, I'm happy about these good things in my life, but I'd be lying if I omitted the bad.

And now I'm going to go eat some chicken soup and knock myself out with cold medicine. Things always look better in the morning.


Those of you who know me recognize what an introvert I am, but lately I've been out in the world, interacting with other people and talking about my writing. 

First, I've joined a blog called Friday the Thirteeners, which is written by a small group of Young Adult authors who have books debuting in 2013. The idea behind the blog is that we're playing an extended, writing-related game of Truth or Dare. Anyone can submit a challenge, and each week, one of the Thirteeners or a special guest author tackles one of the submissions.

My first dare went up today, a challenge to read part of a story I had written when I was younger. I ended up sharing an excerpt from my attempt at a sci-fi novel when I was 11 years old. It involved evil aliens, angels, space dragons, and more. Pop over to the Thirteeners site to watch my vlog post about it, and while you're there, don't forget to send us a challenge of your own. We are gluttons for punishment ready for anything!

I also have an interview about my novella, "Rampion," up on Prime Books' site. "Rampion" is a historical fantasy based on the fairy tale "Rapunzel" and set during the fall of the Umayyad caliphate in early 11th century Spain. It first came out in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction last spring, and now it's being reprinted in The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2012 edition. You can read the interview here. The anthology is slated to come out Aug. 8, 2012, but it's available for pre-order now.


To be perfectly honest, this past year has been so hard. I've had a lot of wonderful things happen - success with writing, the opportunity to spend time with my youngest sisters - along with a collection of truly awful things - some major family illnesses and drama. It's been a roller coaster.

But today, I got the okay to share a piece of news I've been dying to talk about: HarperCollins's Greenwillow Books has purchased my novel, Salvage. Which means it's actually, really, truly going to be published! Here's the write-up in Publisher's Weekly. . .

Duncan’s ‘Salvage’ Goes to Greenwillow

Virginia Duncan at HarperCollins’s Greenwillow Books took North American rights, in a six-figure deal, to Salvage by Alexandra Duncan (no relation). Another YA science fiction entry, the book, which Kate Testerman at KT Literary sold, has what the publisher calls a “feminist slant” and follows a teenager raised on a male-run spaceship who comes to a scorched future Earth where she settles on a “floating island of garbage and debris.” Author Duncan is a librarian in North Carolina and has written a number of short stories, including “Amor Fugit,” which initially ran in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and then appeared in the anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2011 (Prime Books). Greenwillow has Salvage set for a 2013 release.

This is - no exaggeration - my dream come true. Greenwillow is an amazing imprint, and I'm really excited to get the chance to work with Virginia Duncan (again, no relation), whose work I truly admire. (She was behind one of the smartest, most action-packed books I read all year, Black Hole Sun, by David MacInnis Gill.) My agent, Kate Schafer Testerman, really went to bat for me and worked out an amazing deal. Aside from marrying Jeremy, this is the best thing that's ever happened to me. So, for today, I'm going to put aside the hard things and the drama, and just appreciate the ride.


I have a ton of exciting news waiting in the wings, but I can only share one piece of it today. The lineup for Rich Horton's The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2012 has been announced, and my novella "Rampion" is going to be in it.

I'm doubly excited, because my friend Theodora Goss also has a story in the anthology called "Pug." I told my husband last night, and he said, "Hey, you guys are going to be anthology buddies!"

Dora writes these beautiful jewel-box stories that are sometimes fantasy, sometimes magic realism. When you read them, you instinctively want to read them carefully and make yourself slow down to admire the language. She has a lovely, unusual book called "The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story" coming out this January. You owe it to yourself to watch this book trailer:

The anthology also includes stories by three of my favorite authors, Kelly Link, Margo Lanagan, and Neil Gaiman (swoon). The release date hasn't been announced yet, but it will probably be sometime this summer. I'll post again as I hear more!


My dear readers, I have been lying to you by omission, mostly because I'm paranoid and superstitious. Now it's time for me to come clean.

1) I have written a novel.

It's a young adult sci-fi, and I promise to tell you more as it gets closer to actually coming into the world. But yes, it does have spaceships. Over the past six months, I've been polishing it and submitting it, which leads me to my next piece of news. . .

2) I have found a literary agent to represent me and said novel.

It's Kate Testerman Schafer of K.T. Literary. She also represents my good friend Stephanie Perkins and a ton of other authors whose work I either already love or am anxious to get my grubby paws on, including Maureen Johnson, Julia Karr, Ellen Booraem, and Ransom Riggs.

I'm almost indescribably excited about this. Kate has an amazing reputation for being both a genuinely nice person and a crackerjack agent, and she likes my book. She likes MY book!

Okay, I need to calm down, because I'm getting into Sally Field territory here.

Anyway, now that my book and I have an agent, I no longer feel that telling you about it is tempting fate to squash me with falling satellite detritus or subject me to spontaneous human combustion. This is wonderful news coming at the end of a very hard two years, and I am so grateful and thankful to all the people who helped me get this far: my husband, Jeremy; my friends, Stephanie, Nathan, and Dora; Gordon Van Gelder at F&SF, and now, Kate! 

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


I know summer doesn't officially end until later this month, but summer as I define it -- school's out, pools are open, vacations are afoot -- is over. Labor Day is here and library school is back in session, which means the luxury of having my evenings and weekends free for writing is gone again, too. Not that that will stop me. I'll still be tapping away on my lunch breaks and probably neglecting my homework in favor of a writing project at some point, but now seems like a good point to declare an end to the Summer Y.A. Novel Writing Challenge and look back on how it went.

I set a goal for myself of finishing 45,000 words in three months, but more importantly, to stay sane and keep the joy of writing in my work. What's the point of driving yourself crazy writing 45,000 words you ultimately hate? I didn't hit my word count goal -- as of today I have 26,050 words -- and in the past, this would have been cause to beat myself up and mope around eating Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt, wallowing in the certain knowledge that I was doomed to never succeed at anything. But this summer, I managed to stay sane, and more importantly, maintain my enthusiasm for the project I've started. So what if my pacing is more deliberate? 26,000 words is a respectable start, and right now, I don't have any editors looking over my shoulder, except the ones in my own head. Why not enjoy the process or writing, rather than hounding myself over results?
Something to be proud of

The best part of this challenge, though, has been having the opportunity to meet with Nathan Ballingrud and Theodora Goss for critique exchanges. They are both wonderful critique partners, and I'm so excited to see what their current projects eventually turn out to be.

So, what's next? I'm definitely going to keep working on the novel I've started, but I'd like to intersperse it with other projects. I haven't finished a short story since this spring, and I'd like to have at least one more out there in the world by the end of this year. You'll notice that I've changed the SUMMER Y.A. NOVEL CHALLENGE tab on my blog to Y.A. NOVEL CHALLENGE, and I've changed the goal to 90,000 words. I'll still blog about it occasionally, but not as often as I have this summer. In short, I'm going to keep going. Wish me luck!


No novel update this week, but a piece of exciting news:

Rich Horton's Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2011, came out today. My story, "Amor Fugit," which originally was published in the March/April edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, is reprinted in the anthology.

I haven't received my contributor's copies yet, so today at lunch, I broke down and drove over to the local big box bookstore to buy a copy. I know I'm acting like a huge dork who's never had a story in professional anthology before, but let's face it, that's exactly what I am. Maybe the more professional thing would be to sedately tell you about all the excellent fiction in the anthology (Amal El-Mohtar's "The Green Book" is spooky-wonderful, and I'm really excited about reading "Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain" by Yoon Ha Lee), but in all honesty, I wish I could read this post to you this while jumping on a trampoline and screaming through an old-fashioned bullhorn.

Thanks to all of you for putting up with my dorkiness. I hope to make it worth your while!


I'm not good at self-promotion.  I kind of hate talking about myself outside the confines of marshmallows and cockatoo sightings, and pointing out anything good that has come of my writing tends to raise the hackles of my Protestant upbringing.  Conversely, though, I love talking about my stories.  They're like my kids or my pets, and I'm extremely proud when anyone says something good about them.

All of this is leading up to say that two of my stories are on industry recommended reading lists this year.  "Amor Fugit," which is also being reprinted in Rich Horton's Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2011, is on both the Locus and Tangent 2010 Recommended Reading lists.  More surprising, at least to me, "The Door in the Earth" is also on Tangent's list.  Of all my stories so far, "The Door in the Earth" received the most divided reception.  I think it was one of those that you either loved or hated, depending on your tolerance for ambiguity in fiction.  I'm surprised and delighted to see it on Tangent's list.

There are some really great stories on both lists, including "Eating at the End-of-the-World Cafe," by Dale Bailey, "The Green Book," by Amal El-Mohtar, and "A Thousand Flowers," by Margo Lanagan.  Head over and check them out!


This past summer Jeremy spent five and a half weeks in Italy on an archeological dig.  It was the first time we had been apart for any significant amount of time since we got married, and I suddenly found myself with a lot of time on my hands.

The result of all that time is coming out next month in the May/June issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  It's a novella called "Rampion." It's a historical fantasy set during the fall of the Umayyad caliphate in 11th century Spain, loosely based on the fairy tale "Rapunzel." (By the way, if you want to read a really interesting book about the Muslim rule of southern Spain, I can recommend The Ornament of the World, by Maria Rosa Menocal.) Like history, it isn't always pretty, but I hope you end up enjoying it.


A quick post, because I'm sick with a pre-Christmas cold and the off-brand Robitussin in my medicine cabinet is singing its siren song.  Rich Horton's The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2011 (which includes my story "Amor Fugit") has a release date, June 22, 2011.  It's now available for preorder on  I don't know why, but somehow seeing it on Amazon makes the whole thing more real.


The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has an interview with me up on their blog, in which I discuss writing "Swamp City Lament."

I've never been interviewed before (at least, not aside from this one time on the local evening news when I was one of those people saying something inane like "people should go vote" in an interview montage), so it was pretty exciting.  I'm glad the whole thing was conducted in writing, since I'm hopelessly inarticulate in person.  I tend to stammer and forget words like "microwave" and "lobster" when I'm nervous.  Luckily, neither of those words came up in the interview.


Woo hoo!

So, there it is, the other good news I had that was making me want to vomit out of sheer nervousness.  My story "Amor Fugit" has been selected for The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2011 edition, edited by Rich Horton.  The news is elsewhere on the internets now, so I feel okay announcing it here.  I'm happy to report that I did not get run over or burst into flame in the meantime.

I'm incredibly excited.  Of everything I've written so far, "Amor Fugit" is still my favorite story, the one I measure all my other ones against before they go out into the world (or don't), so I'm thrilled to find other people like it, too.  And beyond that, I'm really honored that I get to be a part of this anthology.  Look whose names are on the cover!  Neil Gaiman! Yoon Ha Lee! Elizabeth Hand!  Gene Wolfe!

I'm so grateful for all my friends and family who helped me get up the nerve to send this story out into the world, and to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for publishing it in their pages earlier this year.  But most of all, I'm grateful for my husband Jeremy, who has endured my paralyzing bouts of self-doubt and numerous requests to read and re-read my stories with grace and very little desire to throttle me.  Without him, I wouldn't have understood love well enough to write about it.

I'll post more info. about where to find the anthology as it becomes available (probably some time in the first half of the new year.)


Hey, do you guys remember this post, where I mentioned that several good things were happening?  Well, I can tell you about one of them now.  My story "Swamp City Lament," which was published in the Nov/Dec issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, is now up on  You can download the story FOR FREE.  If you live in a city like mine where F&SF is too weird for Barnes & Noble and too mainstream for the independent newsstand downtown, here is your chance.  Suvudu puts up a different story from F&SF each month.  I'm really honored that they chose mine for December, so I hope you guys will go over and check out all their science-fictiony-fantasy goodness.*

*Like, for example, this preview of the HBO series being made of George R.R. Martin's book A Game of Thrones.  I LOVE HBO's Rome and Deadwood and Big Love and Carnivale and. . .  well, that could go on for a long time.  But I hadn't read Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, which is one of those required epic fantasy series you have to read if you want to call yourself a fantasy nerd.  After lots of peer pressure from my husband and our friend Nathan, this weekend I finally started reading the first book. Jeremy has done an admirable job of putting up with my utter failure to memorize characters' names so far. (Jeremy: "What part are you at?" Me: "Oh, King Fatty and Boromir are down in the crypt seeing the dead people!") But can I just say right now, I love Jon Snow?  I've been told that characters in this series tend to change and do horrible, morally-questionable things or have horrible, morally-questionable things done to them, but so far he's my favorite character. However, I haven't run into Tyrion Lannister yet, and I've been told that could change my favorite character ranking.  Ahem. Anyway, I'm looking forward to that when it eventually comes out on DVD or the magical money fairies give me the wherewithal to have HBO.


Hey, have you noticed there are now tabs up at the top of the page?  Blogger is getting progressively more awesome and making me feel more like I have a real web site, not just a place to dump pictures of my cats being weird and/or adorable.  I now have a "Published Works" tab. (I agonized over what to call that for a long time.  "Bibliography?"  Too snooty and academic.  "Stuff I've Written?"  Hmm. . . maybe I need something that indicates I have a better command of the English language than a fourth-grader.  Actually, now that I think about it, some of the fourth-graders I know are more articulate than that.  Anyway,  "Published Works" is what I finally settled on, so I hope it isn't too annoyingly pretentious.)

If you click on the new tab, you'll see some exciting news -- I have a new story, "Swamp City Lament," coming out in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  I found this sneak peek at the cover on their Facebook page.  Look at that! A skeleton!  Now you know you want to read it.


March is here (although you wouldn't know that from looking out my window, where our nth winter storm is in full swing), and for me, that means the March/April 2010 of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is out. It contains my new story "Amor Fugit." You can read reviews of it in here, on SFRevu, and here, on The Internet Review of Science Fiction. Lois Tilson has some interesting things to say about electronic vs. print format and the publishing industry in general in the second article. I'm sick today, and the Tylenol PM is kicking in, so that's all for now.


Welcome to another edition of Shameless Self-Promotion! (Sorry, I've been reading Octavian Nothing and it's starting to affect my brain.) My short story "Bad Matter" is on the ballot for the 2009 Locus Awards, and on their 2009 recommended reading list. You can cast your vote here for a wide range of categories, including Best Science Fiction and Best Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Novel, and Best Short Story, where you can find my story listed. You don't have a be a Locus subscriber to vote, and you can choose your top five picks in each category. If you liked "Bad Matter," I would appreciate it so much if you went over to the Locus web site and voted for my story.


Winter has been pretty eventful so far. I recently found out my next short story, "Amor Fugit" is going to appear in the March/April edition of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. (I've added a "Bibliography" box to the left for anyone who wants updates on my writing.) Also, my friend Nathan Ballingrud has a short story he co-wrote with Dale Bailey appearing in this year's The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow. You can also find the same story in Lovecraft Unbound, an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired anthology that came out earlier this year.

In other news, we (along with the rest of the Southeast) had an epic snowstorm just before Christmas:
This came up to my knees. My knees!
(I don't think I've seen so much snow since the winter I was eight and got incredibly sick when I neglected to put on socks inside my snow boots.)

Then, on the morning of New Year's Eve, someone going 45 miles per hour rear-ended my car at a stoplight. I was (miraculously) unhurt for the most part, except for some minor injuries we expect to go away with physical therapy. My car was totaled, though, so I've spent the last few weeks scrambling for a new used car instead of entertaining you here. Now I've secured a new used car. Let the entertainment commence!

In other news, Loki the Rescue Cat has demonstrated mad mouse-catching skills. We found him tossing this around our living room the other night:
We are so proud!

I'd feel bad for it if he had caught it outside, but I don't want this in my house. Go, cats!

I'm a little concerned Pyewackett might be teaching Loki to read, though.
Literate cats are as much trouble as cats with opposable thumbs. They've made me promise to post my favorite books of the year next, under pain of a mousecatching strike.


Today at 3:30 in the morning, I was poking around the internet (read: not writing a paper for library school), and I came across an early review by Karen L. Newman of Tangent magazine for the December/January issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, in which my story, "Bad Matter" appears. The review, here, includes a short synopsis of each piece in the issue, including mine. Ack! Suddenly, the idea that people other than my immediate family and friends are going to be commenting on my work is very real. I'm happy with Newman's response to my story (Among other things, she says, "This story stands out, not just for the strong writing, but that it lacks a hopefulnes common in a lot of science fiction." Hooray!), and the company I'm in. I mean, the issue's cover has a flaming hellscape on it. How can you go wrong?

I haven't been blogging much this past month, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. As part of a project for work, I had to teach myself how to make sushi (did I mention that I have the greatest job in the world?), which meant that Jeremy and I ate a lot of it in September. The first few times, I used too much rice and unintentionally ended up making futomaki (i.e. giant sushi rolls), but once I got the hang of it, my sushi actually ended up looking a more or less like what I've eaten at restaurants. Believe me, I was more surprised than you are. After I figured out how to make the roll cooperate with me, I ran across the house to Jeremy's office shouting "I did it! I did it!" and made him come look at what I had done. Here, as proof, is a sashimi tuna, avocado, and cucumber roll I made:

It tasted pretty good, too, and it looks like I managed not to give either of us any intestinal parasites! Always a plus. .

In other news, my (not so) little sister and brother were in town for a Decemberists concert at the late last month. We had a great time, although the sound was a little off during the first part of the show. Jeremy and I had traveled to Raleigh at the beginning of the summer to catch one of their earlier shows in the current tour, and were completely blown away. The band played all the way through "The Hazards of Love" their current album/"folk opera," and then came back for a second set. I've spent a lot of breath gushing about the Decemberists in past posts, so I won't make you suffer through more of it now. But I will post these photos.
Colin Meloy, in full rock god mode.
(No, I wasn't that close to the stage, but I was close enough that my camera's relatively crappy zoom lens was able to take this picture.)
Also, I grew this pumpkin. In my garden. Not on my person.

Last, Loki the rescue cat would like to remind you that he is adorable and he owns the ottoman.
Actually, both the cats are pretty damn adorable.And if you've seen me with cat hair all over my clothes, now you know why.

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