My new anthology with Jeannie Lin, Joanna Bourne, Molly O’Keefe, and Isabel Cooper is out today!!!
Okay so! I’m gonna talk about all the stories in this for a second. Because they are all SO SO GOOD OMG. It is honestly surreal to me to be doing an anthology with these authors. Wow. I have arrived. I am living the dream.
(The theme of the anthology, btw, is that one protagonist has to win the other at cards. My favorite trope!)
1. Mine. “All or Nothing.” This is my first self-published story and honestly I think I got a little drunk on it? This is a very personal, weird, nerdy little story about learning to be a grown-up with money, and setting boundaries in obsessive friendships, and kink, and how sometimes people won’t fucking shut up about kosher stuff when you’re Jewish and eating with them, and insecurity, and falling in love, and I hope you love it as much as I do. Also all the characters look like Nikita actors in my head (in particular the leads look like dreamboat couple Lyndsy Fonseca and Noah Bean), and every minor character in the first scene has a fannishly significant name. See how many you recognize!
Simon Radcliffe-Gould needs someone to run interference for him at his ex-boyfriend’s house party so he can actually design the garden folly he’s being paid to design, so he asks flashy gambling den hostess Maggie da Silva to pose as his mistress. I just love fake dating, what can I say?
2. “Liar’s Dice” by Jeannie Lin. OMG I could go on and on. Has Jeannie ever written anything ever that wasn’t note perfect? Be honest. The answer is no. This story is no exception and guess what, I have it on good authority that there will be MORE! more more more now plz. Okay. So Wei-wei is, in Jeannie’s words, “the straight A student who can do no wrong in her parents’ eyes, yet sneaks out of the house at night to meet up with her friends.“ Did I mention this story is linked to the Lotus Palace books? So Wei-wei sneaks out of the house dressed in one of Bai Huang’s discarded flamboyant Scarlet-Pimpernel robes to visit Ming-yu’s and Wu Kaifeng’s tea house, and while she’s out she runs into her brother’s disreputable associate Gao, who kind of reminds me of Han Solo except he doesn’t talk as much, and together they witness a murder! And then they have to investigate together and it is SO SO GOOD and Wei-wei is such a nerd and Gao is SO FUCKING INTO HER, there is this scene where she’s trying to explain to him about her favorite story where the hero and heroine turn into butterflies at the end, and he’s really trying to understand but he just can’t and OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO CUTE, GO READ IT NOW. GO. I’LL WAIT.
3. “Raising the Stakes” by Isabel Cooper. You may remember Isabel Cooper of Scottish Victorian dragon and also post-apocalyptic/Victorian time-travel My Fair Lady fame??? Yeah. So this story is set in 1930s California, and this tough-talking wisecracking two-bit con woman who’s sending money to the folks back home in Oklahoma wins a magic flute at poker, and now this magic elf has to do her bidding, so they decide to take down a crooked radio evangelist, and it is so so good. Sam is SO ADORABLE and she likes Cary Grant and her first instinct when faced with an immortal elf warrior is to buy him pancakes and I could just listen to her talk all day.
4. Molly O’Keefe’s “Redeemed.” If you like angsty stories about fucked-up, traumatized people who thought they could never love again BUT OH WAIT I GUESS THEY CAN, this is for you. Dr. James Madison (OH MY GOD STOP ASKING HIM, NO HE IS NOT NAMED AFTER THE PRESIDENT, JESUS, WHY DOES EVERYONE ASK THAT) is recovering from a chloroform addiction he developed because of his Civil War surgeon PTSD (he fought for the North, just FYI), and he’s living in a brothel, and then this creepy Confederate dude brings his weird creepy act through town where he makes this former Union spy girl sing in a big birdcage, and she’s weird and funny and desperate to escape and it turns out her handler is her abusive stepfather (sort of) who also has her addicted to morphine and laudanum, and Dr. Madison is like I’m no hero but THIS WILL NOT STAND, and they both claw their way towards being happy again, and it’s very beautiful. Also I hear that the hero is inspired by Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday. IJS.
5. Joanna Bourne’s “Gideon in the Den of Thieves,” which is set entirely in Lazarus’s court which I know some of you are into (the heroine is a fence), and 13-year-old Hawker is there being Hawker but younger and slightly less good at his job (but already very good at his job), and honestly I feel like anything else I could say is just keeping you from your reading.