Self-promoting like a self-promoter.

Rachel Swirsky • November 9th, 2009 @ 3:32 pm • Fiction, Media, Read Online, Videos

Hello. My name is Rachel Swirsky, and for better or worse, I’m a short fiction writer. This is relevant to today’s post — and indeed, to my entire last week — because for me, fantasy and science fiction has turned out not to be just a fun occupation, but also a disease vector.

Last week, my husband and I headed over to San Jose for the World Fantasy Convention, where — among many other entertaining things — I was able to meet our fair hosts, the VanderMeers.√ā¬†Unfortunately, my husband and I came home with more than just our free tote bags full of books (and by the way, wow, World Fantasy really piles on the free books. I think someone was being paid by the pound).

Now, a mere seven days after contracting the swine flu, husband and I are doing much better. I’m even able to start thinking about things like blogs again.

Which brings me to today’s shameful, shameless purpose.

I had hoped to ease into guest blogging with a few reviews, some weird links, and maybe a political rant or two. Instead, having lost a week to cough and fever, I’m going to leap into the breach with some self-promotion.

Last week, upon my return from the World Fantasy convention, I discovered not only that I was contaminated with swine flu, but also that my novellette, “A Memory of Wind,” had just gone up at

“A Memory of Wind” tells the story of the sacrifice at Aulis from Iphigenia’s perspective. Traditionally, her voice has been ignored; the original Greek tragedy, Iphigenia at Aulis, concentrates on the pain of her father, Agamemnon, as he decides whether or not to have his daughter killed so that he can go to war. I began writing “A Memory of Wind” several years ago, after seeing a feminist reinterpretation of the tale in which Clytemnestra (Iphigenia’s mother) was given her turn as protagonist. I wondered whether Iphigenia would ever get her chance to speak.

I worked on this piece at the University of Iowa, where a very famous author informed me that anger was never an appropriate inspiration for writing.

I ignored him.

Here’s an exerpt from the beginning of the piece:

I began turning into wind the moment that you promised me to Artemis.

Before I woke, I lost the flavor of rancid oil and the shade of green that flushes new leaves. They slipped from me, and became gentle breezes that would later weave themselves into the strength of my gale. Between the first and second beats of my lashes, I also lost the grunt of goats being led to slaughter, and the roughness of wool against calloused fingertips, and the scent of figs simmering in honey wine.

Around me, the other palace girls slept fitfully, tossing and grumbling through the dry summer heat. I stumbled to my feet and fled down the corridor, my footsteps falling smooth against the cool, painted clay. As I walked, the sensation of the floor blew away from me, too. It was as if I stood on nothing…

And now, I shall provide a unicorn chaser to follow my own self-promotion. Behold, greeting cards for after the zombie apocalypse:

YouTube Preview Image

(Check out David Ellis Dickerson’s entire entertaining Greeting Card Emergency series, and possibly also his book, House of Cards: Love, Faith, and Other Social Expressions.)

I’ll be back later this week with reviews, weird links, and politics.

5 Responses to “Self-promoting like a self-promoter.”

  1. Kameron Hurley says:

    “I worked on this piece at the University of Iowa, where a very famous author informed me that anger was never an appropriate inspiration for writing.”

    Ah. It took me a second to realize that he meant, “for women writers.”

    Goodness knows Hemingway was never angry at anything.


  2. Rachel Swirsky says:

    To be fair, I think there were a number of groups who would be included. ;-)

  3. Kristan says:

    Beautiful writing!

  4. David Steffen says:

    “I worked on this piece at the University of Iowa, where a very famous author informed me that anger was never an appropriate inspiration for writing.”

    What an odd thing for a person to say. Some of the best writing comes from a strong emotional center, and what emotion is more motivating than anger?

  5. David Steffen says:

    And in any case, it’s rather presumptuous for one writer to tell another writer where it is appropriate to draw their inspiration from. If one limits where you’re allowed to draw inspiration, it’s easy to find none.

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