New fiction and a Pushcart Prize nomination!

By Heather Clitheroe - November 25, 2014


Bartleby Snopes has published my latest science fiction short story, Culpability. And! They’ve nominated it for a Pushcart Prize!

Banff doesn’t change. Everywhere else does—so quickly that I feel bewildered and lost almost on a daily basis. But in Banff, the stores are still crammed with the moose-themed souvenirs and little bottles of maple syrup. The mountains surrounding the town are the same, and when I look at them, it’s not limestone and calcareous shale, but memories of years ago. The ghosts of childhoods and ski trips, hot summers and damp autumn days. While Jaywant sleeps in, I sit alone in a booth in the hotel restaurant and watch the tourists taking pictures of the sunrise. They painstakingly crop out the parking lot and the bear-proof dumpsters, carefully editing out what they don’t want to see. As if it’s that easy.

It was my suggestion that we take a small trip and spend some time together before he has to go back to Paris for the inquest. He did not want to go. “People will recognize me,” he said.

“But I got you a window seat on the train,” I said. “And I booked a hotel room.”

He made a face that I remember him making as a boy: wrinkling his forehead, his nose scrunched up. “I’m not sharing with my mother.”

“You get your own,” I told him, but I didn’t add that it was adjoining.

He huffed and sighed. He agreed because I gave him the pained expression that is the weapon of all mothers everywhere. “You need to get away,” I tell him. His doctors agree with me, but I do not say this. “It’ll be good for you.”

If you like the story, you can vote for it for story of the month here. Thanks!

Another year.

By Heather Clitheroe - November 16, 2014

Another year, a little bit older.


It comes around faster now than it did when we were kids, doesn’t it? But I had a really great day — it started with being taken out for breakfast brunch. I hadn’t brunched before.


Turns out brunch is not only fancy breakfast, it’s fancy breakfast with dessert! I can see the merits of this brunch thing. Definitely. And the company was pretty great, too.

Yesterday evening was Dungeons and Dragons night, too. Whee!


And…and…there were birthday cupcakes!


Admittedly a lot of desserts in one day, but I was up for the challenge. Oh, yeah. I was.

Thanks for the birthday wishes, everybody! I had a really great day.


By Heather Clitheroe - November 14, 2014


The vacation is well and truly over. I’m back at work, I caught a bit of a cold, and it started to snow. I’m feeling reflective about the Banff Centre residency. It was amazing and productive, and I truly miss my little cabin in the woods and the unstructured writing time. The studio’s creaky floors, too…I miss the sound of them.

I haven’t been writing much these last couple of weeks. I came home and decided to take a week ‘off’ writing. Towards the end of that week, I started working on a longish short story in the ‘to revise’ folder on my drive. It’s been there for a while, and the revisions on that are going well. I’m expanding it out to see if it can become a novella, and it’s going well.

The novel revisions are waiting for me, but I haven’t felt ready to start.

The idea of a novel sitting and waiting for revisions is at once exciting and a little bit terrifying. I know there are some major fixes needed, and I’ll settle down to work on them soon. I tell myself that. I need to prune and trim, go back and tighten (well, and overhaul) up a major plot line, think carefully about the motivations of characters. I think I know the feel I want for the book, but I’m worried about achieving it. So the novel sit and waits while I think about all of these things, and in my head, I’m designating December to be revision month. I think so.

For now, I’ll finish up revisions on the piece I’m working on now. I’m enjoying the change in the season. The beginning of winter is always so lovely: the first really cold weather, the first snow, the ice fog in the evenings. Admittedly, I’m not quite ready for the Christmas decorations to be up, but I like those, too.

They shall not grow old.

By Heather Clitheroe - November 11, 2014

My great-uncle Victor Clitheroe (KIA May 5, 1943)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.


Great Uncle Victor (KIA 1943)

New fiction: ‘Disciplinary Action.’

By Heather Clitheroe - November 2, 2014

My story, Disciplinary Action, is up on Strange Constellations today. It’s about magic and unions; a labour-based story written after my grad school mentor mentioned the absolute dearth of them in a literature review he was working on (challenge accepted!).

15.01 Disciplinary Action is defined as a written warning, a suspension of Magical talents or removal of Magical equipment, a demotion, or a rendition applied to a Magician for the purposes of discipline. No Regular, Limited Scope, Recurring Part-time or Student Magician who has completed the Probationary Period shall be dismissed, demoted or suspended without just cause.

A message came in on a Sunday evening. Lucian Prando, a minor magician, made the mistake of reading it on his phone while he was at his girlfriend’s house. Cara sat on the couch, watching the red carpet live show before the Academy Awards started, her arms wrapped around an enormous bowl of popcorn. They had been sleeping together long enough that she was wearing sweatpants and an old college t-shirt, her hair drawn up in a no-nonsense ponytail. Glasses. Chapstick instead of lip gloss. Sports bra instead of lingerie. Less effort, more comfort. He heard the chime and angled his body away from her to dig into his pocket.

Interestingly, it’s a Creative Commons licensed story, which means it can be shared and adapted with attribution. A bit different from the usual rights you sell with writing fiction, but it’s a neat way to experiment with copyright and fiction. This story has Attribution-Noncommercial licensing. What appeals to me most is the idea that it could, in theory, be expanded and built upon by another writer, or used as the base for something else.

And yes, I would love to see other writers building on this story. The whole concept reminds me of the Thieves’ World series.


By Heather Clitheroe - November 1, 2014

Back from the Banff Centre, my novel sitting in a bookbag on the floor. I’m slowly decompressing from that monumental effort, and gladly. I can’t believe the first draft is done.

I headed off to Tamara’s house yesterday afternoon. She’s got three wonderful kids, but trick or treating usually means somebody gets tired and has to come home before everybody is done shaking down the neighbours for candy. I volunteered to stay at the house and hand candy out so she and Matt could take the kids (Thor, a princess, and spiderman) out.

Me, I was a pirate.


I got to carve a pumpkin, too!


So much fun. The city keeps a ‘kidcount’ at the behest of our mayor.

Somebody made a map to show the responses, too: http://yyckidcount.kenwtong.com/

So much fun to see little kids all dressed up, Tamara’s all excited to go out. I had a date (!) after, and he came to pick me up at her house. Little guy came trooping back in with his dad, announced that his legs were tired, and stared. “Hey, who are you? Are you trick or treating in my house?”

Still a week of vacation left for me. I’m off to shop for ice skates today.

Done. Done!

By Heather Clitheroe - October 30, 2014

I am done. First draft of the novel was finished last night, in the quiet of the studio.


So, so much work. I ploughed through it this last week, piecing together the work I’d already done, thinking about the story and the characters, and writing new material. The writing I’ve done here — the last third of the book, basically — feels like a truer, more authentic voice. There’s a marked difference (to my eyes, at least) between it and the earlier work. But now that I’ve found that voice, I think I can hold onto it, sustain it through the revisions.



This year of writing, I feel like I’m finding my voice. I owe so much to the Women Destroy Science Fiction project, to Christie Yant and Wendy Wagner (among so many others) for their endless enthusiasm. To my editor, Katey Schultz, who has been reading through awful first drafts with me and giving me honest advice and feedback — a mini-MFA all in its own. To the friends cheering me along, mom and dad. Writing can feel like such a solitary act, but really, no. It’s the community of friends and family that make it possible to write my cyborg conspiracy stories. Really. You guys are the best.

And also the great silence of Banff, the wind that murmurs through the trees and buffets you, the feeling that the mountains are listening.

There’s a long road of work ahead; still so much to do to bring this draft to a point where it’s ready to go out. But it’s done and I’m ready.