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Friday, June 2, 2017

Behind The Mask Book Tour + Giveaway


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. 


EXCERPT 

Seventy-eight. Seventy-nine. Eighty—

Cerebrelle came back to herself all at once.

It took her a moment to remember where she was. Shattered glassware and smashed computer parts: a laboratory. Poison Dart's lair? Yes. She remembered the mission now, locked onto the situation at hand before it could slip away again. She ran a quick self-assessment before moving on. Damage? Yes. Her wrist had been badly wrenched. Her vision telescoped inward, and she could see millions of red blood cells flooding into the injured region. No fractured bones, no ligaments stretched or torn.

She let her awareness expand back out to her whole body and flexed the injured wrist once—nothing serious. She looked left, then right, and her eyes fell on the perpetrator of her injuries. She flinched.

Badger Girl's broken body lay across a cracked black laboratory bench to Cerebrelle's left. Cerebrelle closed her eyes and turned away from the too-still face. Should she even think of her as Badger Girl anymore? She doubted the Protectors let you keep your call sign once you took to defending the secret lair of the Coalition's favorite mad scientist. Besides, Badger Girl hadn't even suited up in her black-and-red uniform. She was dressed civilian-style in a denim jacket and t-shirt; only her motorcycle boots would have passed super-heroic muster. Cerebrelle's sidekick—gone rogue.

Cerebrelle squared her shoulders and turned back to Badger Girl. There would be time to deal with the fallout of her sidekick's betrayal later. But for now, she had work to do, and she had to do it fast. Badger Girl had always been more than a physical match for Cerebrelle. Of course, a solid punch wasn't everything—you had to know where it was going to strike, too—but it still meant Cerebrelle had a limited timeframe to work. She pulled Badger Girl down from the bench, leaving a smear of red on the broken computer screen where the younger woman's head had been resting. She'd seen a lot of Badger Girl's blood over the years, but this time, she turned her eyes downward to avoid it.

Cerebrelle grimaced as she cinched Badger Girl's hands behind her back with a frayed length of electrical cord and knotted it twice for good measure. As she twisted the cord tight, she could feel the rough edges of broken bones grinding together. She pulled back, but too late: she was spiraling down the black hole of Badger Girl's injuries. Her mind contracted down to count leukocytes and chase platelets through capillary beds, then just as suddenly it was rocketing outwards, assigning numbers to stars never before seen from Earth, let alone from deep underground in Poison Dart's hideout. She triangulated distances, chased the highest prime number. –Three hundred and twenty, three hundred and twenty-one, three hundred and twenty-two—She counted the hairs on Craig's head . . .

Craig? Who the hell was Craig?

No time to worry about that now. Cerebrelle rubbed her eyes and dark sparks flew behind her eyelids. Badger Girl would heal; that was what Badger Girl did, after all. And Cerebrelle had work to do. Her gifts were mental, not physical. But it didn't take a powerhouse like Badger Girl or Red Comet to wreak havoc on some helpless technology.

Helpless only until Poison Dart's henchmen showed up, though. Cerebrelle glanced over her shoulder and took in the three access points to the room: door, upper right. Door, lower right. Ceiling duct. Imaginary laser fire trajectories arced through her mind, weaving a perfect spider web . . . or a complex manifold. She blinked and the web folded in on itself, resolving into a Klein bottle.

No. Not now. She lifted a boot and brought it down hard onto an exposed hard drive. Plastic shrieked, wires ripped, the plastic carnations decorating the adjacent desk flew through the air, and suddenly Cerebrelle was translating the complete works of Neruda into Farsi.

—I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. A thousand and twelve, a thousand and thirteen, a thousand and fourteen—

Wires frayed into a tangle of neurons. Glassware shattered into elaborate constellations. Cerebrelle panted as she stared at her dark, fragmented reflection in the remains of a busted flat screen and tried not to let her heart beat in time with the nearest pulsar star, tried not to count the sodium ions scurrying between action potentials in her brain. Her mask was crooked. She pushed it back into place with a shaking hand. Bring it back. Close it all out. There's a job to do. Four thousand three hundred and two. Four thousand three hundred and three—

Interview: 

What inspired you to write this story?
I had an idea for an opening scene – a young runaway on a train, making faces at a baby in the next row 
of seats. She’s returning to a city where she once witnessed frightening battles between superheroes and 
villains, events that only she seems to remember. She’s looking for answers, and she’s not going home 
without them. The rest of the story unfolded from there. 
What was your favorite part to write? 
I got a big kick out of developing backstories and powers for the superheroes who are mentioned in the 
story. I wanted them to feel a little familiar – using the syntax we’ve come to employ for these stories – but 
offer new variations rather than stamped-out copies from the genre.
What was the hardest part to write? 
There’s a flashback in which the protagonist recalls encountering a superhero in the middle of a 
cataclysmic incident. I wanted to show how much that event meant to her, even though the moment itself 
was very brief. Writing it was a reminder of how humans can transform even horrible events into personal, 
private moments that resonate with them for the rest of their lives. 
How did you come up with your characters? 
That’s always been something of a mystery to me - I don’t have reliable access to that part of my brain’s 
machinery. I had a few broad sketches for the main characters when I started writing, and they grew more 
flesh as I wrote them. 
Do you have anything coming up and can you tell us about it? 
I’ll be attending the Clarion West writers’ workshop for six weeks this summer. I’m very excited to have 
the opportunity to study under Daryl Gregory, Kij Johnson, John Chu, Pat Cadigan, Daniel José Older, and 
Connie Willis.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Featured author bio:

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, Baen.com, Persistent Visions, andThe Sockdolager.


Giveaway: 

The authors will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

7 comments:

  1. Stacy, thanks for hosting. This is Meerkat Press and wanted to ask if you could make a note at the top of the interview and the excerpt that they are both Aimee Ogden's, she is one of 20 authors in the collection so want to make sure your readers know who is talking. Thanks!

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