Thursday, May 25, 2017

Virtual Book Tour w/Giveaway: Behind The Mask by Various Authors


Behind the Mask
by Kelly Link, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Lavie Tidhar and others
Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.


The authors will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please visit to follow the tour, remember the more you comment better your chances on winning.



Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.

Buy Links:


EXCERPT from “Meeting Someone in the 22nd Century or Until the Gears Quit Turning” by Jennifer Pullen

The first time Greg asks Sandra out, she doesn’t hear a word he says. She works at a bookstore, although “works” might be a charitable term, because what she really does is sit at a desk reading the books she’s supposed to be selling. Greg’s been coming to the bookstore for weeks, browsing and staring with a feeling approaching desperation at her bare feet propped up on the desk. Her perpetually-chipped blue nail polish, and the calluses on her heels, and her face as she leans back in her chair reading feel like the sight of land to a sailor. He loves the way she bites her lower lip when she turns the page, and he loves the fact that her curly red hair gets progressively more rumpled as the hours go by, because whenever she gets to a part of the book that she finds particularly exciting, she’ll grab at her hair with her free hand and rub it vigorously. She’s doing just that when he comes up to the counter with a copy of Cat’s Cradle in hand and asks if she would mind ringing up his book and also coming to coffee later.

She continues inflicting trauma on her hair. His mouth feels full of saliva. He swallows and sets the book on the counter. He tries again. “Coffee?” She looks up from her book at last and frowns at him. He smiles. She reaches out with one bare foot and hits a button on the cash register and makes it ding. She says, “$11.50.” He starts to swipe his thumb over the scanner and then changes his mind and takes cash out of his pocket. Maybe she’ll touch his hand when she takes the money. She didn’t hear him the second time he asked her out, either; he’s sure of it. He doesn’t even want the book. He already owns Cat’s Cradle. It was just the first book he saw on the big center display. Back at home, he drank some peppermint schnapps in preparation for this moment, this day, asking her out. She takes his money and then stares at him for a moment. He feels her eyes on his freckles, on his hair with that weird cowlick in the middle he hates. He feels her deciding that he’s probably one of those weird guys who plays with action figures and lives in his mother’s basement. He doesn’t live in his mother’s basement.

“If we’re going to go out, you should know I’m a cyborg,” she says.

“Cyborgs are cool,” he says.

She puts his money in the cash register and bags his book. She tells him to pick her up at seven in front of the bookstore, for dinner not coffee, because she’ll be hungry. She also tells him to stop staring at her feet; it’s creepy. He thought cyborgs were just a myth used to excuse protests against the government. He thought all the fear was just a sort of Uncanny Valley situation. He wonders if she’s really a cyborg.

• • •

Back at home, Greg rearranges his house, including his sock drawer, five times. He doesn’t actually expect her to want to come to his house or to look at his sock drawer, but if she does, he wants it to be neat and tidy. He tries to work. He’s a comic book artist, and he’s supposed to be drawing Wolverine having a nightmare about Jean Gray, but he keeps finding himself giving Jean Gray curls and blue nail polish. He drinks some more peppermint schnapps. Joe at the Marvel offices told him men didn’t drink peppermint schnapps, only women and mobsters in cartoons. Greg drinks it anyway, because it tastes like gum, and back when he was a kid, before he knew better, he used to eat chewing gum. All that decades-old gum twists in his stomach. He thinks he might throw up.

He shows up at the store twenty minutes before seven and paces on the sidewalk just around the corner so she won’t see him and think he’s a loser or desperate. He wishes he smoked so that he’d have something to do while waiting. He stares at his watch until all the hands align and goes to wait outside the bookstore. She’s already there, tapping her foot. She’s put on some improbably-spiked purple heels with her jeans and t-shirt. Those shoes must be why she always goes barefoot.

“You are exactly 37 seconds late,” she says.

He tells her he’s sorry, but he also can’t help but be curious about how she came up with such a precise number. He holds out his arm and she takes it. He leads her down the road to a little American sushi place that serves meatloaf and cheeseburger sushi, among other oddities. At dinner, he talks about his work and she talks about the secret strategy for making sure you always get the books you want (stashing them in the wrong section because no one at the store actually bothers to re-organize things more than once a week) and about her childhood in Seattle, where she used to throw candy at seagulls.

“Are you really a cyborg?” he asks.

“The original,” she says.

“I thought cyborgs running the world was just something the anti-government nuts came up with,” he says.

“Well, I don’t think the men in the big house are cyborgs, but I’m the genuine article.” She takes a bite of her meatloaf sushi and washes it down with a swallow of Cherry Coke.
He reaches out and lightly pinches her arm.

“You feel real to me, and I bet you’d bleed if you bit your tongue,” he says.

“I’m a cyborg, not an android, silly. A cyborg is just a person who is partially machine.” She flicks a wasabi covered French fry at him. He dodges it.

“What part?” he asks.

“My heart,” she says.


Interview with the Author:

Author: Jennifer Pullen
Story: “Meeting Someone in the 22nd Century or Until the Gears Quit Turning” in Behind the Mask

What did you enjoy most about writing this story?

My story in this anthology stalked me for a while. What I mean by that is, I carried around one of the lines from the story in my head for months, the line when Sandra says “I tick, not thud.” I had that line bouncing around in my noggin for ages, it wouldn’t leave me alone. I didn’t know who said it, or why. All I knew is that I couldn’t get the phrase out of my head. I caught myself doodling clockwork and gears. I felt compelled to watch movies about androids and cyborgs. I was also thinking about the concept of the Uncanny Valley, and how the mythology surround changelings was like the contemporary mythos surrounding cyborgs and androids, in so far as both involved artificially created beings, or beings that were somewhere between human and not human. Finally, one day the image of Greg resting his head against Sandra’s chest, listening to her heart ticking came to me. I decided I wanted to get to know these people. After that my story stopped stalking me, and we walked together.  

What inspires you?

Folklore, mythology, popular culture, and nature. I love work that is heavily allusive and intertextual, like how fairy tales are constantly in dialogue with other versions of the same stories. Comics are great in the same way. Any superhero story exists in conversation with other superhero stories. For instance, I can’t read Margaret Atwood’s graphic Angel Catbird without thinking about the cartoon Harvey Birdman, or the Michael Keaton film Birdman, or the X-Men character Archangel. In turn, such stories about winged beings get connected to Christian iconography surrounding angels, including medieval artwork. Furthermore, I can’t help but think about mythology, about poor doomed Icarus, and Zeus raping Leda in the form of the swan. Comics and mythology are close cousins.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?

Angela Carter, Peter. S. Beagle, Margaret Atwood, Emma Donoghue, Octavia Butler, Robin Hobb, Neil Gaiman, and of course, Kelly Link, who I am honored to share space with in Behind the Mask, and who I had the privilege of sharing a long conversation with on the drive from Athens OH to the Columbus OH airport. I also can’t forget my dissertation advisor, Joan Connor, a wonderful writer and gracious human being.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I am currently sending an interconnected short story collection of feminist myth and fairy tale retellings around to publishers. I am also working on a novel about a professional dreamer, and a novel set in the universe of “Meeting Someone in the 22nd Century or Until the Gears Quit Turning.”

Do you ever get writer’s Block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

I think every writer gets writer’s block sometimes. When I get writer’s block I try to reread something I love, something that has prose I admire, writing that gets under my skin. Then, I will sit down and just try to write a paragraph or two, not a whole story, in the style of that piece I admire. Perhaps it’s my theater background, but I find that for some reason, getting out of my own head, and trying to inhabit the voice of another character or writer, just for a moment, frees me from self judgement. I trick myself into writing, by pretending that I’m just going to practice a prose style. I can usually transition back into writing whatever I am working on after that.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and several small agents of chaos disguised as a dog, cat, and child. She works as a cover designer and video game writer. Her fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and other venues, and her YA survival thriller I Am Still Alive is forthcoming from Viking. You can find her online at

Chris Large writes regularly for Aurealis Magazine and has had fiction published in Australian speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. He's a single parent who enjoys writing stories for middle-graders and young adults, and about family life in all its forms. He lives in Tasmania, a small island at the bottom of Australia, where everyone rides Kangaroos and says 'G'day mate!' to utter strangers.

Stuart Suffel's body of work includes stories published by Jurassic London, Evil Girlfriend Media, Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Kraxon Magazine, and Aurora Wolf among others.  He exists in Ireland, lives in the Twilight Zone, and will work for Chocolate Sambuca Ice cream. Twitter: @stuartsuffel

Michael Milne is a writer and teacher originally from Canada, who lived in Korea and China, and is now in Switzerland. Not being from anywhere anymore really helps when writing science fiction. His work has been published in The Sockdolager, Imminent Quarterly, and anthologies on Meerkat Press and Gray Whisper.

Adam R. Shannon is a career firefighter/paramedic, as well as a fiction writer, hiker, and cook. His work has been shortlisted for an Aeon award and appeared in Morpheus Tales and the SFFWorld anthology You Are Here: Tales of Cryptographic Wonders. He and his wife live in Virginia, where they care for an affable German Shepherd, occasional foster dogs, a free-range toad, and a colony of snails who live in an old apothecary jar. His website and blog are at

Jennifer Pullen received her doctorate from Ohio University and her MFA from Eastern Washington University. She originally hails from Washington State. Her fiction and poetry have appeared or are upcoming in journals including: Going Down Swinging (AU), Cleaver, Off the Coast, Phantom Drift Limited, and Clockhouse

Stephanie Lai is a Chinese-Australian writer and occasional translator. She has published long meandering thinkpieces in Peril Magazine, the Toast, the Lifted Brow and Overland. Of recent, her short fiction has appeared in the Review of Australian Fiction, Cranky Ladies of History, and the In Your Face Anthology. Despite loathing time travel, her defence of Dr Who companion Perpugilliam Brown can be found in Companion Piece (2015). She is an amateur infrastructure nerd and a professional climate change adaptation educator (she's helping you survive our oncoming climate change dystopia). You can find her on twitter @yiduiqie, at, or talking about pop culture and drop bears at

Aimee Ogden is a former biologist, science teacher, and software tester. Now she writes stories about sad astronauts and angry princesses. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction,, Persistent Visions, and The Sockdolager.
Nathan Crowder is a Seattle-based fan of little known musicians, unpopular candy, and just happens to write fantasy, horror, and superheroes. His other works include the fantasy novel Ink Calls to Ink, short fiction in anthologies such as Selfies from the End of the World, and Cthulhurotica, and his numerous Cobalt City superhero stories and novels. He is still processing the death of David Bowie.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the 2015 Nebula Award winning novelette "Our Lady of the Open Road." Her novelette "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind" was the 2014 Sturgeon Award winner and a 2013 Nebula finalist. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Galician. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife and dog. She can be found online at and

Carrie Vaughn is best known for her New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, who hosts a talk radio show for the supernaturally disadvantaged, the fourteenth installment of which is Kitty Saves the World. She's written several other contemporary fantasy and young adult novels, as well as upwards of 80 short stories. She's a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R.
R. Martin and a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado. Visit her at

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her second novel, Hearts of Tabat, appears in early 2017 from Wordfire Press. She is the current President of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of America. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see

Keith Frady writes weird short stories in a cluttered apartment in Atlanta. His work has appeared in Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology, Literally Stories, The Yellow Chair Review, and The Breakroom Stories.

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NOTE: THE PUBLISHER IS OFFERING A SPECIAL CONTEST – ONE COPY OF THE BOOK (CHOICE OF Epub or Mobi) WILL BE GIVEN AWAY TO A RANDOMLY DRAWN COMMENTER AT EVERY STOP (Drawing will be held 5 days after the stop’s date and is separate from the rafflecopter drawing – to enter, the entrant must leave a comment at the stop). Thanks!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. Hello everyone, thanks for reading! I am happy to answer any questions I can. Cheers! :)

  3. Enjoyed the excerpt and interview. Sounds good. Thanks for the giveaway chance.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the excerpt and interview. Thanks for reading! :)

  4. What books are you looking to read in 2017? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  5. Well, I want to read this whole anthology! :) As well as a friend of mine's book, called The Monster's Daughter. Its sitting on my to-read shelf right now.

  6. Happy to see an anthology with some of my favorite authors taking on a really juicy theme!

  7. Like reading anthologies and discovering new authors.

  8. This book sounds like something I'd really enjoy reading, thank you for sharing!

    1. Nikolina, congrats! you are the winner of the random drawing for an ebook version of Behind the Mask! contact us at to claim your prize!

  9. Sounds like an interesting read. I'm going to add to my wish list

  10. Thanks for the giveaway.