New story “The High Cost of Heat” coming this Sunday

My new story “The High Cost of Heat” is coming to The Sunday Morning Transport very soon — June 2, 2024! Edited to add: Now out, link here!

The Sunday Morning Transport is an email magazine edited by Fran Wilde, and distributed via Substack. It does what it says on the box — a new story via email every Sunday Morning. You can sign up for a free 60 day trial subscription here, or choose the no cost subscription option which gives you the first story of the month for free. Either way, you get my new story in your inbox on Sunday!

“The High Cost of Heat” returns us to the world of “The Waters of Versailles” which was a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy awards in 2016.

In a formal Versailles reception room, with many paintings on the surrounding walls, Kelly (a red haired woman in glasses, wearing a black and white dress, black leggings, black jacket, and red Blundstone boots) strikes a goofy, one legged pose.
Me in Versailles!

Stories in The Sunday Morning Transport are all a maximum of 3500 words, which is a challenging length for me. I think I hit it, though, and managed a very satisfying story with a killer ending.

This weekend I’ll be in NYC for a whirlwind trip, arriving Friday evening and leaving on Sunday morning. I’m excited to know my story will be out in the world as I’m making my way back home! I hope you enjoy “The High Cost of Heat.”

This writing exercise is making me a better writer

I’ve always found description really hard. Though some writers see a scene in their mind’s eye, I don’t see a darned thing so describing something from imagination it is hard. But lately, a daily exercise is making a difference.

For sever months, I’ve been making #witchyskeet 
posts on Bluesky with photos of interesting houses I find on my Google Street View rambles. This fun little activity puts to good use my passion for exploring on StreetView, and lets me share interesting and beautiful places. After doing it for a few weeks and finding great pleasure in it, I began forcing myself to describe the photos in the alt text.

A large two story house in tan stucco, with a new black roof corrugated like snake scales, and a suggestion of chocolate-colored half timbering on the upper level. A green lawn in the foreground, with a paved path leading up to the accessibility ramp. Tall, narrow windows on the ground floor, framed in dark caramel wood. The eves form an arch over a paned, arched window under the peak, with a single small porthole window above, and smaller windows to either side. There's also a small gabled window in the roof to the left. Green trees all around.
This accessible witchy palace welcomes all visitors. Starý Jičín, Czech Republic.

Alt text: A large two story house in tan stucco, with a new black roof corrugated like snake scales, and a suggestion of chocolate-colored half timbering on the upper level. A green lawn in the foreground, with a paved path leading up to the accessibility ramp. Tall, narrow windows on the ground floor, framed in dark caramel wood. The eves form an arch over a paned, arched window under the peak, with a single small porthole window above, and smaller windows to either side. There’s also a small gabled window in the roof to the left. Green trees all around.

I didn’t want to write the alt test. Description, ugh! So hard! But I felt it was ethical to do so, so I forced myself to do it. Nothing fancy, no trying hard, just describing what I see as accurately and completely as I had patience for.

And surprisingly, not long after, when working on the historical fantasy story “The High Cost of Heat,” I found my drafting more vivid, more easily descriptive.

Never before have I found writing exercises of much benefit, but this one sure is. A little daily stretch of the descriptive muscles gave me some images I never would have found before. What felt like an ethical obligation turned into something that really benefits my writing, so I’ll keep doing it daily and reaping the rewards.

From a low angle, a pink, orange, and red house looms over us. The upper level is orange brick. The middle level is red brick but not the usual color of red, this is rosy and very saturated. The lower level is pink stucco. The roof is flat. Curving from the ground level on both sides are circular staircases, in pink marble, with silver guardrails. Continuing on from the second level, the stairs are grey (we can only see the undersides of them) and there are no guardrails! On the top level, the windows are square holes with no glass, dark inside.
Here we have a witchy house with extremely dangerous staircases. I have never been more intimidated by a structure. Tirana, Albania.

Alt text: From a low angle, a pink, orange, and red house looms over us. The upper level is orange brick. The middle level is red brick but not the usual color of red, this is rosy and very saturated. The lower level is pink stucco. The roof is flat. Curving from the ground level on both sides are circular staircases, in pink marble, with silver guardrails. Continuing on from the second level, the stairs are grey (we can only see the undersides of them) and there are no guardrails! On the top level, the windows are square holes with no glass, dark inside.

New story MEDIAN out at

On a dark highway, a woman walks the median, sandwiched between lanes of oncoming cars. A three headed dog looms monstrous in the background
Illustration by Elijah Boor

MEDIAN is newly out at It’s also available as an ebook. I wrote this story when my mother-in-law was dying of cancer, one of the lightning strikes in a recent storm of deaths.

Writing horror is good therapy for real-life horror. I’ve written several horror stories lately, but that storm of death really put a kink in my writing practice. I haven’t been as productive as I want.

When you’re a new writer, one of the big problems is how to write. What you don’t know at that time is that these problems don’t really go away after you’ve solved them. They just morph. “How do I write?” turns into “How do I keep writing?” and the second question is even harder than the first. Because you can teach yourself to write, but how do you learn to keep writing in the face of everything life throws at you?

Back when I was a fresh new SFWA member, I volunteered for an admin project building the organization’s history archive. My job was to approach former SFWA board members and ask them to donate any materials they might have, such as meeting minutes, publications, newsletters, etc. Sadly, I discovered that many of those former board members were no longer writing. Once, they’d been deeply passionate about their writing careers — committed enough to volunteer for SFWA, and established enough to win the election, but then quit.

It’s terribly sad but understandable. Writing takes a lot of resources, and people can’t necessarily keep devoting those resources eternally. A writing career can stall at any point.

What resources does writing take? Time, obviously. Attention and concentration. Emotional energy. Money, or the ability to forego earning money, which means that either money for life is coming from elsewhere (most writers who rely on this don’t admit it), or the writer is willing to live in poverty, or both. Most commonly, we fit writing in around our day jobs. I did that for a long time. The vast majority of writers do.

When we are first writing, we talk a lot about finding the time. When we get more established, and start comparing time spent to money earned, we talk, bitterly, about money. But honestly, emotional energy is just as important as anything else. Writing stories requires access to emotions and the energy they create. Or, it sure does for me. Maybe there are writers who don’t need it, or can fake it. I can’t.  For me, writing well means being able to feel things.

And when you’re grieving, it’s hard to feel anything other than grief. You’re emotionally and physically exhausted. Grief takes it all away. But I’m bouncing back. Working on developing a consistent writing practice, a consistent and productive artistic practice, taking advantage of new freedom to create new work.

I hope the storm is over.

High Times is a Nebula finalist!

I am incredibly surprised and pleased that High Times in the Low Parliament is a finalist for the Nebula Award this year.

Five paperback books "High Times in the Low Parliament" on an abstract background.

This is the fourth time I’ve received a Nebula nod. Waters of Versailles was a finalist in 2016. A Human Stain won the Nebula in 2018. And Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach was a finalist in 2019.

I’m that lucky. I get pushback when I call it luck, and yes, it also takes hard work and dedication. Luck comes in when your story manages to say the right things, at the right time, to readers who understand and care. Lovely when that comes together, but it can’t be aimed at. I don’t take it for granted.

I have lots of experience both winning and losing awards, and being a finalist is a huge win.

The Nebula Awards are voted on by the members of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, and awarded at the Nebula Conference, which runs May 12-14. This year, there will be both an in-person event and a virtual conference, supplemented by virtual events throughout the year. I’ll be in Anaheim for the in-person conference this year, barring unforeseen events, and hope to see you there, too!

SFWA does a heathen ton of nigh-invisible, amazing work that benefits all writers. The organization has, by the way, recently streamlined their membership qualification requirements, so hey writers, why not join?

DRESSED AS PEOPLE in Toronto, LIVE, March 7-18, 2023

DRESSED AS PEOPLE, A Triptych of Uncanny Abduction

UPDATE: Tonight is opening night! Alyx and I will be there tonight (March 7), Thursday, March 9, and on closing night, Saturday, March 18.

DRESSED AS PEOPLE, the play I wrote with award-winning Science Fiction and Fantasy writers Amal El-Mohtar and A.M. Dellamonica, will be live in Toronto at Red Sandcastle Theatre from March 7 to 18. Three very different characters, superbly performed by brilliant actor Margo MacDonald.

Tickets are available now — book early! Tix on Tuesdays are only $20. Prebooked tix are $30, or you can buy at the door for $40.

We have just finished a highly successful series of performances in Ottawa, and the stage is HOT. Here’s a rave review of the production but beware of spoilers).

Photos from Ottawa!

Here are some shots from the recent Ottawa gig:

Five people pose playfully on a stage
Mary Ellis, director, Amal El-Mohtar, writer, Kelly Robson, writer, A.M. Dellamonica, writer, Margo MacDonald, performer and producer (photo by Titus Androgynous)
Three sett of clothing hang above a dark stage, bathed in blue light and framed by small white lights
The Dressed As People stage
Two women pose affectionately, bathed in pink light
Our wonderful performer and producer, Margo MacDonald, and our superb director, Mary Ellis

Want to know more? Dressed As People was created in 2021, deep in pandemic-time. It premiered at the Ottawa Fringe via streaming on-demand, and won the Best Solo Performance Award and the Audience Choice Award!

Margo MacDonald is a superbly talented actor and producer, who has worked all over the world. Don’t miss this chance to see her live!

High Times in the Low Parliament is out and events are happening!

My lesbian stoner buddy comedy with fairies about Brexit is out in the world! Available in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook at your favorite indie bookstore, or: Amazon US | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Chapters Indigo | Kobo | Books-a-Million | Indiebound | iTunes | Macmillan

High Times in the Low Parliament

Thursday, August 11 at 6PM Central/7PM Eastern (virtual event)

New Orleans bookstore Tubby and Coos hosts a virtual event with Nicola Griffith and me, on Thursday, August 11 at 6PM Central/7PM Eastern (to attend, you must register here).

Nicola has just published the superb queer Arthurian book SPEAR. We have thoughts about historical fantasy and probably will gab like wildfire. It’ll be fun!! (And if you haven’t read SPEAR yet, get it in your eyes.)

Friday, August 12 at 6PM Mountain time, 8PM Eastern (virtual panel)

Colorado bookstore Old Firehouse Books has Alix E. Harrow, Rachel Swirsky, and me at their Summer SpecFic Panel. All info is here — the event will stream to the bookstore via Facebook.

Saturday, August 13, at 3 PM Eastern
Live launch at Bakka Phoenix Books in Toronto

My book launch will be in person at Toronto’s Legendary Bakka Phoenix Books, (map). There will be cake! And laughs! Please come if you’re in Toronto, I’d love to see you!

Want a signed, personalized copy of HIGH TIMES IN THE LOW PARLIAMENT, but aren’t in Toronto or prefer to avoid strange germs (which is totally understandable!)? Order from Bakka Phoenix and I will sign it! In the instruction field, just let them know who the book should be dedicated to.

September 1 to 5
WorldCon in Chicago

The schedule isn’t finalized, but I’ll definitely be doing a kaffeeclatch, a signing, and a reading, along with several panels. See you there, I hope!

October 14 to 16
Can-Con in Ottawa

Ottawa’s Can-Con is one of my favorite conventions, attended (and organized!) by so many of my favorite people. I’ll definitely be there. You should be, too!

November 11 to 13
GoH at WindyCon

Alyx and I are excited to be Guests of Honor at WindyCon, in Lombard, IL. Come and hang out with us there this November!

Amal El-Mohtar, A.M. Dellamonica, and I team up for DRESSED AS PEOPLE

DRESSED AS PEOPLE, a play at the Ottawa Fringe Festival June 17-27

Exciting news! Amal El-Mohtar, A.M. Dellamonica, and I wrote a play together: DRESSED AS PEOPLE, performed by multi-award winning actor Margo MacDonald. You can stream it on demand during the Ottawa Fringe Festival, June 17 to 27. Tickets are $15 (Canadian) for this world premiere.

A Triptych of Uncanny Abduction

Skinless by Kelly Robson
The Shape of My Teeth by Amal El-Mohtar
Repositioning by A.M. Dellamonica
Performed by Margo MacDonald
Directed by Mary Ellis
Music by SIESKI

Tickets $15 / 75 minutes

A school haunted by troubled children, an encounter with the unknown on open waters, the mysterious disappearance of a friend. Three characters, three time periods, three tales of abduction and the intrusion of the uncanny into the lives of those who are taken, those who do the taking, and those who are left behind.

No spoilers!

What can I tell you about DRESSED AS PEOPLE that isn’t a spoiler? All three pieces are about supernatural abductions. Mine, Skinless, is emphatically horror. British playwright Alan Bennett is one of my heroes, and I tried to bring to the script something of his trademark whiplash effect. So watch out.

I can’t tell you anything about Amal’s piece The Shape of My Teeth, except it’s gorgeous and chilling. And A.M. Dellamonica’s piece Repositioning is probably my favorite of anything they’ve ever written – it’s hilarious and heartbreaking. All three pieces pack a powerful emotional punch. Audiences will be blown away.


Margo MacDonald is a superb performer, so charismatic and charming (and scary!). I got to sit in on rehearsals alongside director Mary Ellis, and seeing them bring my words to life was something new and thrilling. As writers, we’re used to working alone. Collaborating live and in person (or rather, in pixel) with a pair of highly skilled professionals who care about the meaning and emotion behind every single word? It was like being able to hang on the shoulder and mind-meld with a passionate reader, over and over again, and feel the shape my story made in their brains. Wow.

Superb young songwriter and singer SIESKI is at this moment working on original music for the show. Legendary drag king Titus Androgynous has been supporting the company as Associate Producer, and we also have support from wonderful graphic designer K.

We will probably be having a special event for the premiere, so stay tuned for more info. Subscribe to the Perry Riposte newsletter (here in the right column) to get all the info when it’s hot!


Closed captioning and a sensory-friendly transcript of the show will be available to viewers.

What I published in 2020

In this year of our weirdness, with reality bending all around us, it’s actually difficult to remember what was done and when. I don’t think I’m alone in that!

So here it is in pixels — four short stories, three of them available to read for free online, and the other in a spectacular illustrated anthology. I’m proud of them all. If you read and liked them enough to nominate them for any award, I would be honored.

La Vitesse (Fantasy short story)
in The Book of Dragons, edited by Jonathan Strahan, July 2020

Monkey Work (Science Fiction short story)
at Serial Box, April 2020

Two Watersheds (Science Fiction short story)
in Avatars Inc., edited by Ann VanderMeer, March 2020

So You Want to be a Honeypot (Fantasy short story)
in Uncanny Magazine, March-April 2020

My Super Huge 2018

2018 was a massive year. If fate gives me another year like this, I’ll be very lucky indeed. Here’s the rundown:

My first book (novella) came out
It’s a book, but it’s not a novel–it’s a novella! Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach came out in March, and the audiobook arrived in September. People like it, and of course it’s eligible for award nomination, should you be so inclined. (But always vote your heart.)

I published three other stories

  • A Study in Oils (novelette) in Clarkesworld, September 2018 (read it online or listen to the podcast)
  • Intervention (novelette) in Infinity’s End, edited by Jonathan Strahan, July 2018
  • What Gentle Women Dare (short story) in Uncanny Magazine, May/June 2018 (read it online or listen to the podcast (top right of the read link))

Two of my older stories were podcasted

Two stories made it into three Year’s Bests
“A Human Stain” was chosen by Ellen Datlow for her Best Horror of the Year, Volume 10. “We Who Live in the Heart” was reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection, edited by the late Gardner Dozois, and also in Neil Clarke’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 3.

I dipped my toe into foresight consulting
For UNICEF! It was fun. I got to write a piece of flash on the fly in the middle of one of their strategic meetings.

I found an agent
And the wonderful Hannah Bowman found me!

I won a Nebula
Oh my goodness, yes, I did. Still stunned.

I got to play with the big kids
I wrote a story introduction for the Best of R.A. Lafferty, out next February.

I made the cover of Locus
With a big big interview! I’ve been a Locus subscriber since the 90s so every time I look at the issue I think I’m hallucinating.

Me freaking out over having my name on the cover of Locus

Me freaking out over getting a big interview in Locus
This is one of the biggest things that has ever happened in my life

And I traveled to China
It was beautiful. So beautiful. Look:

Danzhai Wanda Village, Guizhou, China

Zangaogao Terraces, Guizhou, China

Rice terrace in Paizuo village, Guizhou, China

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach roundup

In March, my first book Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach hit bookstores.

Cover for Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, out March 16. Cover by Jon Foster
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach. Cover by Jon Foster

How do you encompass something as huge as having your first book published? Impossible — it’s too big. Which is why this post is so late. I just couldn’t face the challenge of summing up something that enormous. So I won’t try. Here are some of the best bits:

I cried.
Of course I did. Several times. In one instance, I was sitting on the couch with all my author copies piled in my lap, drinking a huge glass of rye and bawling my eyes out. Seriously.

I was overwhelmed by seeing my book in an actual bookstore. ALSO A LITTLE GOOFY.

I lost some copies.
Here’s what will happen to your first book: You’ll be so excited, you’ll show it to people — and they’ll think you’re giving it to them. One of the first people I showed my book to was my favorite barista. She thought I was giving it to her and grabbed it. I couldn’t ask for it back, because she was so happy and excited. Bye bye book!

My book launch was transcendent.
We held it at Toronto’s famous Bakka Phoenix Books. I made not one but two different carrot cakes. Tons of people came. We sold 70 copies. It was the best day of my life.

Me emoting at the Lucky Peach launch.

I read in Orlando and New York.
The week the book came out, I went to the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (which is a wonderful event), and then to New York to read at KGB Fantastic Fiction.

NY had a huge snowstorm the day of my NY reading! This is Central Park.

In NY, I read with the delightful Chandler Klang Smith, author of THE SKY IS YOURS — which is a very cool and awesome book, by the way.

People like Lucky Peach a lot.
Review have been fantastic! Here’s a few examples:

  • “Thrums with a delicious tension carefully developed among the wonderful characters.” Amal El-Mohtar, NEW YORK TIMES (link)
  • “Packs an enormous wallop of imagination and worldbuilding.” BARNES & NOBLE” (link)
  • “It’s likely to be one of the most impressive debut novels of the year.” – Gary K. Wolfe, CHICAGO TRIBUNE (link)
  • “There’s enough wicked cool tech to satisfy hard SF geeks, character development to please SF dilettantes, and fantastic storytelling to enamor everyone else.” – Alex Brown, TOR.COM (link)

People are buying it.
Lucky Peach hit the Locus Bestseller list! Check it out:

You might like it too.
Get it from your favorite indie bookstore, or:
Amazon US | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Chapters Indigo
IndieBound | Powells | iTunes

People want more.
I’m working on the sequel right now, called Time, Trouble, and the Lucky Peach, and it’s going to be great!