05/23/17

We Met in Dragon Shadow

Here’s a poem of mine which appeared in ASIM in 2014!

“We Met in Dragon Shadow”
by Penny Stirling

The first kiss is a fleeting duty
on my cheek burned and sooty.
“Thank you,” she says, “mighty sir—”
But then I remove my armour.

Although the fight was my conquest
the dragon’s sullied the success.
My gryphons are dead, my magics blown.
Princess and I have a long walk home.
Continue reading

09/27/16

Transcendent is here!

cover art
Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction has been released into the world! It contains my story “Kin, Painted”, originally in Lackington’s, a gentle thing about queer children growing up in a supportive family, and Our Narrator trying to find a true self and place amongst them. I wrote a bit about it, as well as my gender and ungendered protagonists, here. (Bit funny rereading that; last year feels like only just yesterday, yet also so long ago.)

“Kin, Painted” is the concluding story in Transcendent, and also the inspiration for the cover painted by the outstanding Noel Arthur Heimpel, and I am just all ヽ(゚〇゚)ノ and (⁄ ⁄•⁄ω⁄•⁄ ⁄) and (ღ˘ᴗ˘ღ) at such an honour.

Here’s the full table of contents! Look at that line-up, damn.

You find it here: Book Depository, Amazon.com, Kindle, Smashwords, and Goodreads.

I’m excited to see what future transgender sff anthologies are like, and what K.M. Szpara edits next!

(And remember to check out Lethe Press’s other books and Patreon!)

04/17/16

reprint & interview

My interactive poem “stone” has been reprinted in sub-Q! There’s other interactive poems, and interactive fiction and games, over at sub-Q which you can check out too!

And I did an author spotlight over at Pack of Aces where I talk about my published acearo characters and how much better my writing life is since I discovered the terminology that described me:

When I was a teen I tried to write characters who were like me. This was before I’d heard of asexuality or aromanticism. All of the characters were broken, like I obviously was, and they were all eventually fixed like I was told I would be. (Perhaps “they were all broken, and they were all eventually broken in” is better phrasing?) They should have been happy endings: the character admitted they were in love, sex was usually implied, hooray, the character is fixed. But they were all off. Stockholm syndrome was common, overbearing and wearing down of wills was common, power imbalance was common. The characters did not choose to fall in love, they didn’t really fall in love; they were pulled into love and sex and held there with a grip that only at a glance looked like a romantic holding of hands. Messed. Up. (But that’s what I thought I saw in books and films and TV, that’s what I thought was the only path for me. There were many stories which horrified me, which people insisted were romantic. He loved her, so it was all right. She ends up saying she loves him, so it was forgiven.)

There was a month dedicated to these author spotlight interviews with various acespec creators and you can check them all out here!

12/21/15

The Selkie Before Summer

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southern fur seal; Milford Sound, New Zealand, February 2008

My long poem “The Selkie Before Summer” is up at Liminality! It’s about a southern fur seal (or maybe an Australian fur seal) who leaves the ocean for the first time to rescue a lover and ends up exploring Victoria and gender and matters of the heart. (And there’s another poem in this issue about a sea creature who heads inland, by Sandi Leibowitz!) Yes, it is yet another S-title poem about skin. I might have gotten it out of my system now but I promise nothing.

Earless seals like greys and harps have always seemed like quasi-fantasy animals to me. I knew they were real, I saw them on documentaries, but they were just so different to the fur seals I was more familiar with that there was something mythical about them. (White swans have the same effect. When I visited Britain and saw them it was a very “how is this even a real island” moment. Seeing a lone black swan amongst a group of white swans in Windsor did not help this surreal disconnect.) But imagine an Australian fur seal selkie walking along a yellow sandy beach, their brown skin draped over their head to keep off the burning December sun, even though every story and art I see specifies otherwise. That’s more real to me than anything involving a grey seal and the Atlantic.

Of course, it is now well and truly summer, but I was in fact in Victoria this past spring, so here’s two indulgent photos. (If the eucalypts look strange, they’re shedding their back, which is one of my favourite things! Such a beautiful time of year, seeing the trees shed and change colour.)

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The Otways, Victoria, September 2015

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The Twelve Apostles, Victoria, September 2015

07/16/15

sky and kin

My story “Tanith’s Sky” is one of 50 reprinted in The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: The First Five Years! This anthology’s only in paper form but you can still read “Tanith’s Sky” online here. It’s about what happens after the world’s been saved, it’s about grief and non-romantic love and maths and astrology and gender.

And I’m in the new issue of Lackington’s with “Kin, Painted”, which is illustrated by Likhain! It’s about finding a way to be happy in yourself, in your family and in your life, it’s about paint and non-romantic love and romantic love and compromise and being different amongst the different and quite a lot of paint. In a couple weeks the issue will be online for free but if you can’t wait there’s the (very recommendable) ebook and subscriptions available!

06/22/15

skins and seas

My short poem “Skin Ashore” is up at inkscrawl! It’s got a selkie and consonance and difficult life choices.

And my longer poem “Singing Her Body Oceanic” is up at Liminality with mermaids and tattoos and yearning for something new.

Along with “stone” that makes three poems published this month (!), all with S titles and all featuring changing skin. They were all written in different years so that’s quite some coincidence there. I feel like I should probably understand poetry better now but most of it is just ??? to me still.

Short notes:
The supralittoral zone sits above high tide and is regularly splashed.
The photic zone is well-lit.
The mesopelagic aka the twilight zone is 200 to 1000 metres below the surface.
The bathyal zone aka the midnight zone is 1000 to 4000 metres below the surface; sunlight does not breach it.

06/10/15

stone

My hypertext poem “stone” is up at Interfictions Online! I hope you enjoy it!

In the portion of my life between working out that I wasn’t straight and finding the word “aromantic”, all I knew was that I wasn’t normal. It’s not uncommon amongst aromantics: feeling alone, broken, inhuman, monstrous, alien. I’ve written about it before, in “Even Robots Learn”, but “stone” is more personalised. If I wasn’t human, if I didn’t have a normal human’s normal heart, then I had to be stone. Even though I loved my family and my friends, even though I cared about people and engaged with people, the fact that I could not love in this very particular way meant I didn’t love at all. My heart was concrete, my body was rock, my flesh was stone. I couldn’t feel, I couldn’t love, I couldn’t be hurt. It was an incredibly toxic, unhealthy, self-destructive way of thinking, and it took me years to recover from it.

“stone” is a scar of my lithic years, and I show it to you because it is starkly visible against my heart, my human heart full of love and confidence.

Getting into the more technical side of things, why hypertext? Well, I was looking through some writing drafts when I found a document with the first few lines in it. I had no memory of writing them, no idea what ideas were supposed to follow them. I liked the lines–there was a solid aro sentiment that echoed my late teens, and of course some consonance–but I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I added to them, cautiously, and soon emerged something that was a bit similar to “She is, there–amongst the Mango Trees–a Flytrap Garden”. I decided to bam it up a notch with more elaborate repeating clauses but it soon became obvious that trying to rely on simple formatting like in “Flytrap” would just end in unintelligible mess. I tried different things in Word before I remembered Twine.

Twine creates choose-your-own-adventure stories and games such as Depression Quest. I’d never used it before so I had fun adventures figuring out the basics and getting it to do what I wanted it to do, but it does it superbly. I’ve got some rough ideas for more things I’d like to try in Twine someday! In “stone” I’ve not really delved into what the format’s capable of, but ohh the things it is capable of if you try.

Thank you to the friends who encouraged me while I was experimenting with this poem’s presentation!

05/29/15

Love Over Glass podcast

You can now listen to “Love Over Glass, Skin Under Glass” over at the GlitterShip podcast! And also read it, as there’s a full transcript provided! This is the first time “Love Over Glass” has been free to read or hear online (it was originally published in Aurealis and then reprinted in Heiresses of Russ 2014) which is super exciting! It’s a creepy romance about obsession, compromise, differences and self-discovery.

GlitterShip is a new podcast focusing on queer SF&F stories. Definitely check it out!

11/11/14

More Embers than Feathers Filled the Firmament

My consonance-based story “More Embers than Feathers Filled the Firmament” is online for everyone to read in Lackington’s issue 4! With stunning art by Kat Weaver! *___* There is some beautiful prose in this issue, as there has been in the previous issues! I’m so happy to be part of such a luscious endeavour.

(A-and it got such a nice review at Clavis Aurea, bwee!)

One note for the curious: “carnivore demon ducks” refers to the extinct Bullockornis planei, nicknamed the “Demon duck of doom”, the 2.5 metre tall carnivorous duck. There’s a collection of them at Kings Park.

I wrote a bit about the journey of “More Embers” earlier, and there’s the very short genesis of the birds’ war if you would like some more weirdy birdy words.

I don’t know anything about wagtails outside of Australia (didn’t even knew they existed until a few months ago!) but it’s difficult to imagine life without willie wagtails. They’re tiny, adorable, inquisitive and utterly fierce. They’ll attack any kookaburras, magpies (also wow non-Australian magpies are weird, I don’t know how youse cope), crows, falcons, eagles that get too close to their nests. And they’ll follow you around the garden as you weed, hopping about and wagging back and forth.

10/1/14

We Met in Dragon Shadow

Ah, it’s finally here! Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #60 is out and it contains my poem “We Met in Dragon Shadow”, concerning what happens to a mercenary and the princess she’s rescued after slaying the dragon. Editor Sue Bursztynski said the narrator reminded her of Brienne of Tarth, which my Westeros-familiar friends had to explain to me but I’m quite honoured as she seems like a badass!

In other news, I’ve had a couple of extremely busy months. August was a whirlwind of social engagements and Beethoven concerts (!! oh my, if you ever get the chance to see the 9th live, it’s an experience like no other), September I went on a 1,500-km roadtrip to see some rocks with my rock buddy! To top it all off, earlier this week my lack of coordination gave me an eye injury. *sigh*

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Dog Rock, Albany, Western Australia, September 2014


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Wave Rock, Hyden, Western Australia, September 2014

Later this month I’ll have a poem and a story published, both of which I’m very excited about. And hopefully I will get some time to cross stitch now that it’s less busy and warmer! My projects are so neglected… I wonder if I could try one-eyed cross stitching? Definitely no need for depth perception where needles and precise patterns are concerned! :p