Tag Archives: fantasy

A Celebration of Desdemona and the Deep in Reviews and Pictures!

Dear Friends,

Publishing is so funny; Desdemona and the Deep came out from Tor.com not even three months ago, but it seems in some ways it was another lifetime.

…Another season, anyway, and the world rolls on. It debuted in the bright heart of summer, and now it’s the first day of October.

But in many ways, Desdemona really is an Octobral book, isn’t it, with its goblins and bargains, its tithes and transformations. I hope that this October and for many Octobers to come, readers will discover Desdemona for the first time, or take it out for a re-read, or use it as a basis to play dress up! That Alyssa Wynans cover is such a perfect palette for autumn!

Here are some pictures from both my book launches, and some gorgeous fan art that my beloved friend Caitlyn Paxson made for me as a present. WHAT A GIFT!

Also to celebrate, I received news of three great reviews for Desdemona today all from Locus Magazine, October 2019 issue! One from Liz Bourke, one from Amy Goldschlager (for the audiobook), and one from Rich Horton!!!

Yikes! I let my subscription Locus lapse in the furor of summer: TIME TO RE-UP!

Here are some snippets:

C.S.E. Cooney won the World Fantasy Award for her collection Bone Swans. She has a strong – even glittering – track record with short stories, but Desdemona and the Deep is her first book-length work . . . At any other length, it would lose something of its impact: shorter, and it would not have time to build up the momentum for its series of punches; longer, and the effect of its short, sharp, furious poetic dismantling of assumptions would be diluted away from its pointed achievement . . . Desdemona and the Deep is an eloquent, elegant novella about power, art, consequence and change. It’s also pleasantly queer and drunk on language, which appealed to me deeply. I recommend it.”

– Liz Bourke, Locus

Professional audiobook narrator Cooney . . . reads her own tale with joy and confidence. She is delighted to tell you her story and you will be delighted to hear it. Cooney also does a great drunk voice, and some really fun character voices. I particularly liked the voice of the assistant to Desdemona’s mother; it reminded me a lot of Jane Horrocks’ character Bubble on Absolutely Fabulous, if Bubble were American and somewhat smarter. Edgy, romantic, earthy, and colorful.

– Amy Goldschlager, Locus (audiobooks)

I’ve been looking forward to C.S.E. Cooney’s Desdemona and the Deep for quite a while, and having arrived, it doesn’t disappoint . . . The best thing about this book is the prose – lush images and glorious words mix in a sometimes comic and sometimes earnest olio. . . There is always the music of the writing, and the comic coloration, and the engaging and just awakening Desdemona to keep us entranced.

– Rich Horton, Locus

And now some PICTURES!

This first gallery is from my first launch at the Savoy Bookshop and Cafe in Westerly, Rhode Island, where I lived for five years. So many people helped with this event! My friends even decorated the store to look like the Valwode!

And here’s the second launch, at the GLORIOUS Astoria Bookshop in Queens, where I currenly live. This place is wonderful! Please check it out if you get the chance! Well-worth an adventure!

And here is my darling Caitlyn’s fan art!

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SciFi/Fantasy I’ve Narrated: With Narrator’s Opinions!

SERIES

Mayhem Wave Series
By Edward Aubry

Narrator’s Opinion: What I Like About This Series

This was the first series I’d done wherein a fellow author heard me read some of my own work at a convention and, understanding that I narrated for Tantor Audio, specifically requested me to read his work when Tantor bought the audio rights to his books. What an amazing boost to my confidence! I will always be grateful. These are big, sprawling, unpredictable adventures with everything from dinosaurs to fairies to high tech trains to cannibal houses to dragons to laser guns. Okay, maybe not laser guns. But maybe not NOT laser guns too. It’s an interesting world full of colorful characters. This was also the first instance that, after a few weeks in the recording booth, I happened to glance in the mirror, and was surprised by the sight of my own face. I’d been so immersed in Aubry’s world for so long that I’d forgotten what I looked like, and expected to see a different character’s face instead of my own. Time in the “Whisper Room” can be very strange!

1. Prelude to Mayhem
2. Static Mayhem
3. Mayhem’s Children

Fate Weaver Series
By ReGina Welling, Erin Lynn

Narrator’s Opinion: What I Like About This Series

After I recorded the first book in this series I got a note back requesting me to be a little more “funny.” This was such a challenge; how to be vocally funny? They are indeed funny, fast books, full of witches and wisecracks, gods and gallivanting. I wanted to do them justice. One of the things I tried was really “activating my cheekbones”–basically, smiling while talking. Relax, have fun, but also concentrate on varying the vocal levels, so as to help the jokes land better and more naturally. And there were many jokes! These are glib, sassy books–even occasionally steamy! Sort of a mash-up of a mystery, a matchmaking rom-com, mythology and good ol’ fashioned MAGICK.

1. Match Made in Spell
2. All Spell is Breaking Loose
3. To Spell and Back

Grimm Agency Series
By J.C. Nelson

Narrator’s Opinion: What I Like About This Series

This is one of your put-upon protagonist must-save-the-world series, with a lot of interference from those who wish to invade, rule, and/or destroy it. It’s in the vein of, say, Buffy or Supernatural–taking place in a world like ours, except . . . paranormal. Now, I recorded these a while ago, but I remember I had SO MUCH FUN with the voice of one of the main villainnesses in particular: I believe, the Faerie Queen. She was French. Plenty of action, some romance, some friendships made through rescue and then through work, and MANY monsters to fight!

1. Free Agent
2. Armageddon Rules
3. Wish Bound

Cat’s Eye Chronicles
By T.L. Shreffler

Narrator’s Opinion: What I Like About This Series

First of all, the author of these books was just so sweet to work with, very communicative. I rarely have a chance to interact with the author, and for fantasy books especially, I really crave contact! Since I write fantasy, and since so much of the language of fantasy is invented, I want to make sure I am interpreting the writer’s vision as close to correctly as, well, an interpreter can! Second of all, I really enjoyed voicing the Harpies. You heard me: there are are harpies. Third, I started getting a little crush on Crash/Viper, and let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like living in the voice of your latest crush.

1. Sora’s Quest
2. Viper’s Creed
3. Volcrian’s Hunt
4. Ferran’s Map
5. Krait’s Redemption

STAND ALONE BOOKS

Inherit the Stars
By Tony Peak

Narrator’s Opinion: What I Like About This Book

This, again, was pretty early on in my narration career, but I do remember that author Tony Peak was SO AWESOMELY PROMPT and COMMUNICATIVE in his response to my request for pronunciations. I mean, I think he overnighted them to me via email. That was extremely helpful, because this is a sci-fi novel, with many kinds of planets and peoples. I remember this book had many female characters, including the protagonist–there was, in particular, a soldier (a captain? a general?) whom I particularly liked, and loved every time I got to voice her. I also remember noticing the strong colors of this book: lurid, alien, beautiful neons, like a favorite weird movie remembered from a 1980’s childhood. Also, I recall the sensation of being slightly cold the whole time I was recording: since the cryosleep chamber plays an enormous role in the plot!

The Rattled Bones
By S. M. Parker

Narrator’s Opinion: What I Like About This Book

Now, this was a really interesting read–and one I’d’ve read on my own had I just picked it up at random to read for pleasure. It’s YA and it’s a mystery–and it’s also a ghost story. There are horrific elements: historical racism (really awful stuff, and sensitively researched, I thought) and vengeful spirits. This is also a book about grieving. The teenaged protagonist Rilla Brae is QUITE powerful: a young lobster-boat captain. I’ve never read a protagonist like her before. I really loved her, and her grandmother, and her strange, wild, maritime adventure. I remember there was a complicated friendship, a realistically unsatisfying relationship–followed by a much better one. And so many cool things about MAINE!

Starlings
By Jo Walton

Narrator’s Opinion: What I Like About This Book

Ah. Ah! I have already blogged separately about narrating Starlings, because it was SUCH an experience! If you are interested, please read it at this link.

Suffice to say, this book was an HONOR and a HOOT to narrate, and I was SO EXCITED to have the chance! Not only did I get to do a good bulk of the stories (with my co-narrator Rudy Sanda doing the others), but I got to narrate the poetry. AND A WHOLE ONE-ACT PLAY! WITH ALL THE VOICES! I never felt so much like Mel Blanc in a Looney Tunes cartoon in my whole life!

Here is my favorite Audiofile Magazine review I ever got for anything I’ve done:

Beginning with a rousing introduction, C.S.E. Cooney offers an enthusiastic narration of Walton’s first collection of short fiction and poetry. All told, there are 20 stories, a one-act play, and 15 poems, many of which are populated by memorable characters and marked by sly humor. The challenge for the narrator of a collection like this is allowing for each piece to have a life of its own, rather than disappearing among so many others. A second narrator, Rudy Sanda, delivers a couple of stories, but the strength of the audiobook comes from Cooney. With Cooney’s deft narration, playful energy, and ease with accents, listeners have the opportunity to lose themselves in each fantastical story. A.S. © AudioFile 2019.

Mad Hatters and March Hares
By Ellen Datlow (editor)

Narrator’s Opinion: What I Like About This Book

If you stan Lewis Carroll, I think the stories in this book will both feed your obsession and challenge it.

As with the above-mentioned book, Mad Hatters and March Hares was another of those rare works that blew my skull apart at the sutures to try and voice. (Co-voice, actually, with the fabulous Eric Michael Summerer.) In addition to being an audiobook narrator, I also write fantasy; I even had a story in this particular anthology, my first work published under Editor Ellen Datlow, another scion of the genre! Also as with Starlings, I was so anxious about doing right by these stories–not least because I either knew or held in high esteem most of the authors–that it was one of the most difficult books I’ve ever narrated. Nothing shows me my own limitations as a voice actor so ruthlessly as being given something so beautiful and varied and brilliant to narrate that I almost can’t bear it. But I was the one on the ground, and I did my absolute best–sweating the entire time!–and I will forever be humbled to have had the chance.

Bone Swans and Desdemona and the Deep
By C. S. E. Cooney

Narrator’s Opinion: What I Like About These Books

Well, these two books are my own works–which sold to Tantor Audio and Recorded Books respectively. Bone Swans: Stories is my collection, and won the World Fantasy Award in 2016. Desdemona and the Deep was just released in July of this year (2019). The collection, comprising five novellas/novelettes, runs a gamut of flavors: from sword and sorcery, to a couple re-told fairy tales, to a fantastical murder mystery, to . . . something that’s just plain nightmarish carnival weird. The second is a standalone work juuuuuust longer than a novella (word count-wise) but meant to be one nonetheless.

They both are full fantasy books, all of the stories taking place in different secondary worlds. Although: HINT–the story called “How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One” in Bone Swans takes place in the same land as Desdemona and the Deep, only the latter is several hundred years in the future, in the equivalent of our “Gilded Age.”

I wish I were a full-cast of Academy Award-winning actors, each with their impeccable timing and distinctive voices and emotional surprises. I wish I could match in the air what these works sound like in my head. But I have to say, I also love, love, love, love, love narrating my own work. I have read aloud from my stories my whole life to anyone who would sit still long enough to listen: my mother, my brothers, my best friends, and now–my husband–and the idea that I am also reading my own work aloud to people I may never meet is deeply satisfying and warming.

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