Book tour & giveaway – Behind the Mask by Kelly Link, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Lavie Tidhar and others


Behind the Mask

by Kelly Link, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Lavie Tidhar and others




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.



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 from “The Fall of the Jade Sword” by Stephanie Lai

The eucalyptus is old, and it takes her weight with ease. Mok-Seung crosses into its branches, and after carefully closing her window and peering through the branches onto the street below, she scales its trunk to the top and onto the roof, disappearing into the dark.

Clad in loose ku, her traditional pants, with a green band across her brow, she runs over the rooftops lining Little Bourke; she stretches herself to leap out over Exhibition Street and keeps running. Mok-Seung nearly misses a couple of jumps, but she’s getting better, and she makes it across town without too many mishaps.

From atop the roof, she sights one of the new augmented bikes leaning against a terraced house. She jumps down to the road and drops to the ground inside the house’s high front gate. The generators beside the house are working overtime, pressing steam into the sky, so the house is still awake. She hopes they won’t notice that she longs for this contraption, sleeker than the new steam carriages with their gears and the constant need for fire, ceaseless in comparison with horses, which plod and clop through the streets. This one has red and white streamers tied to the handlebars and around the pipes. She wonders if, perhaps, that’s less than wise, but she wraps the streamers around her hand and admires them all the same.

Mok-Seung sits on the bike, imagines cycling it through Little Bourke, imagines its potential when coupled with the airship technology.

She blinks, suddenly awash in bright light. “Get off!” she hears. “Jeremy, there’s a Chinese on your bike!” She looks up in confusion, and the woman at the door screams. Mok-Seung reaches for the fence, balances on its pointiest peak as she reaches for the balcony of the townhouse, and then pulls herself onto the roof. She feels a scratch against her ankle, but doesn’t pause as she starts to run.

She sprints across the roofs, hears a clatter as she jumps onto the English-style tiles. She curses them for their difference and keeps running, her footsteps not as light as she might hope. She sees the curve of an airship rising to her left and turns suddenly, making a leap like the photo captured by the local newspapers.

The skin of the balloon is too smooth beneath her hand, and she loses her grip. She scrabbles for purchase but it’s to no avail—she loses her hold and starts to free fall off the side of the airship, bounces on its edge, and brushes past the edge of another roof. Mok-Seung continues to plummet and panics, looking for anything to break her fall, when she is stopped, suddenly, a hand grasped fast around her wrist. She looks up and meets bright brown eyes and an unrelenting stare under a green band. The real Jade Sword!

“Pay attention,” says the familiar voice, not unkindly. “You need to know where to throw your weight.” She flicks her wrist and the figure releases her, letting her drop painfully the final few feet to the ground. Mok-Seung pauses, her hand resting on an augmented bicycle; she lets herself breathe for a moment, the shame of being caught out curling in her gut. She admires the lean build and smooth pipes of the bicycle. One day she’ll have one.

A shout behind her spurs her back into action. Ahead, “Yong’s Chinese Laundry” is monogrammed in red above a brick building. She speeds up, darts through the red door, past the uncle at the counter and into the steam of the pressing room. The auntie emits a yell, “Out, out!” as another clasps her heart. “Jade Sword!” the second auntie yells, in what Mok-Seung hopes is awe and pride, even though she’s not who they think she is.

“Sorry,” she says as she trips over a steamer. “Sorry, sorry.” She bows to each auntie as she passes them and heads straight for the back window she knows opens onto a narrow laneway. At the last auntie, she pauses. “Lou Yap,” she says. “Your pau at festival last week was the greatest I have ever eaten.”

As she climbs through the back window, there is silence in the usually chatty laundry, broken only by the hiss of the press. She peers back through as the front door clangs open. Suddenly, the laundry swings back into action, and a number of large trolleys are completely accidentally wheeled into position between the door and the window. Lou Yap waves cheerily, and Mok-Seung ducks out of sight, running down the alley.

She leaps up onto a roof, delightfully low placed. She puts some distance between herself and her pursuers, until all she can hear is the city settling down.


Guest Blog

Stephanie Lai: Why I write what I write

I love being Chinese-Australian, but it’s so frustrating to spend all this time looking at myself, what it means to be Chinese and Australian and from Malaysia, to be first generation in a country, and to know that all the media I have access to doesn’t look at that. So much western SFF takes our cultural trappings and uses them to signify the other. There’s lanterns and chopsticks and random Chinese swearing to indicate so many far flung futures, but there’s no Chinese people. There’s robot geishas and no Japanese people.

It’s this fun challenge to interact with science fiction and fantasy tropes and apply my own cultural background and history to it, especially because it gives me a chance to complain about science fiction and fantasy. A large part of the reason I enjoy steampunk is because it’s fun to reimagine our past with steamships and airships, but steampunk is so often rooted in colonialism and Victoriana and the precedence of Western things. That’s not what my steampunk past would have looked like.

As a first generation Chinese-Australian migrant, it’d look a little bit more like this: the use of wuxia, itself often a signifier of the fantastical in Western fantasy (think about the use of wuxia in the Matrix), when in Chinese texts it’s just another day to day thing, never the most fantastical element at all; Chinese communities; being ignored by the Australian press except when it suits them; and laundries, of course. You can’t escape it for a reason. It might involve less steam: being Australia, the ease with which water is accessed and turned into steam might be radically different; but then, being so colonial and so heavily obsessed with Mother England, Australia might have thrown itself into steam-power and said to hell with the upriver areas.

In my story, The Fall of the Jade Sword, I’ve chosen to look at the day to day life of a superhero who isn’t quite a superhero. Mok-Seung is still working out where she fits, and what best suits her, and how to navigate the racism and complexities of being Chinese-Australian in Melbourne. She’s looking at how to fit her culture into the injustices she sees around herself, and how to fit herself into her culture. She’s coveting a steam-powered bike, because I would want one, too. (Several of my protagonists ride bikes; it’s the transport of our oncoming climate change dystopia.)

My stories explore three main themes: climate change; being Chinese-Australian, specifically from Malaysia; and the tension between the emphasis on the individual which is so prominent in Australia with the need to look after community and kin. Most of my stories feature Chinese-Australian protagonists: I’m not yet so well-published that it’s oppressive or overt, and though I imagine each story fitting into a world spanning generations, no protagonist is yet repeated.

And I love what I write. Writing feels like an extension of my day job (climate change adaptation) which feels like an extension of my activism (environmental justice) which feels like an extension of my interest in SFF (where we go to from here). And it’s fun!


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Featured author bio:

 Stephanie LaiStephanie Lai is a Chinese-Australian writer and occasional translator. She has published long meandering thinkpieces in Peril Magazine, the Toast, the Lifted Brow and Overland. Of recent, her short fiction has appeared in the Review of Australian Fiction, Cranky Ladies of History, and the In Your Face Anthology. Despite loathing time travel, her defence of Dr Who companion Perpugilliam Brown can be found in Companion Piece (2015). She is an amateur infrastructure nerd and a professional climate change adaptation educator (she’s helping you survive our oncoming climate change dystopia). You can find her on twitter @yiduiqie, at, or talking about pop culture and drop bears at

All other author bios:

Kelly Link is the author of four short story collections: Get in Trouble, a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, Pretty Monsters, Magic for Beginners, and Stranger Things Happen. She lives with her husband and daughter in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Seanan McGuire lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest, in a large, creaky house with a questionable past.  She shares her home with two enormous blue cats, a querulous calico, the world’s most hostile iguana, and an assortment of other oddities, including more horror movies than any one person has any business owning.  It is her life goal to write for the X-Men, and she gets a little closer every day.

Seanan is the author of the October Daye and InCryptid urban fantasy series, both from DAW Books, and the Newsflesh and Parasitology trilogies, both from Orbit (published under the name “Mira Grant”).  She writes a distressing amount of short fiction, and has released three collections set in her superhero universe, starring Velma “Velveteen” Martinez and her allies.  Seanan usually needs a nap.  Keep up with her at, or on Twitter at @seananmcguire.

Carrie Vaughn is best known for her New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, who hosts a talk radio show for the supernaturally disadvantaged, the fourteenth installment of which is Kitty Saves the World.  She’s written several other contemporary fantasy and young adult novels, as well as upwards of 80 short stories.  She’s a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R. Martin and a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado. Visit her at

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her second novel, Hearts of Tabat, appears in early 2017 from Wordfire Press. She is the current President of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of America. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see

Lavie Tidhar is the author of the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize winning and Premio Roma nominee A Man Lies Dreaming (2014), the World Fantasy Award winning Osama (2011) and of the critically-acclaimed The Violent Century (2013). His latest novel is Central Station (2016). He is the author of many other novels, novellas and short stories

Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and several small agents of chaos disguised as a dog, cat, and child. She works as a cover designer and video game writer. Her fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and other venues, and her YA survival thriller I Am Still Alive is forthcoming from Viking. You can find her online at

Chris Large writes regularly for Aurealis Magazine and has had fiction published in Australian speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. He’s a single parent who enjoys writing stories for middle-graders and young adults, and about family life in all its forms. He lives in Tasmania, a small island at the bottom of Australia, where everyone rides Kangaroos and says ‘G’day mate!’ to utter strangers.

Stuart Suffel’s body of work includes stories published by Jurassic London, Evil Girlfriend Media, Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Kraxon Magazine, and Aurora Wolf among others.  He exists in Ireland, lives in the Twilight Zone, and will work for Chocolate Sambuca Ice cream. Twitter: @suffelstuart

Michael Milne is a writer and teacher originally from Canada, who lived in Korea and China, and is now in Switzerland. Not being from anywhere anymore really helps when writing science fiction. His work has been published in The Sockdolager, Imminent Quarterly, and anthologies on Meerkat Press and Gray Whisper.

Adam R. Shannon is a career firefighter/paramedic, as well as a fiction writer, hiker, and cook. His work has been shortlisted for an Aeon award and appeared in Morpheus Tales and the SFFWorld anthology You Are Here: Tales of Cryptographic Wonders. He and his wife live in Virginia, where they care for an affable German Shepherd, occasional foster dogs, a free-range toad, and a colony of snails who live in an old apothecary jar. His website and blog are at

Jennifer Pullen received her doctorate from Ohio University and her MFA from Eastern Washington University. She originally hails from Washington State. Her fiction and poetry have appeared or are upcoming in journals including: Going Down Swinging (AU), Cleaver, Off the Coast, Phantom Drift Limited, and Clockhouse.

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,, Persistent Visions, and The Sockdolager.

Nathan Crowder is a Seattle-based fan of little known musicians, unpopular candy, and just happens to write fantasy, horror, and superheroes. His other works include the fantasy novel Ink Calls to Ink, short fiction in anthologies such as Selfies from the End of the World, and Cthulhurotica, and his numerous Cobalt City superhero stories and novels. He is still processing the death of David Bowie.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the 2015 Nebula Award winning novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road.” Her novelette “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind” was the 2014 Sturgeon Award winner and a 2013 Nebula finalist. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Galician. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife and dog. She can be found online at and

Keith Frady writes weird short stories in a cluttered apartment in Atlanta. His work has appeared in Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology, Literally Stories, The Yellow Chair Review, and The Breakroom Stories.

Ziggy Schutz is a young queer writer living on the west coast of Canada. She’s been a fan of superheroes almost as long as she’s been writing, so she’s very excited this is the form her first published work took. When not writing, she can often be found stage managing local musicals and mouthing the words to all the songs. Ziggy can be found at @ziggytschutz, where she’s probably ranting about representation in fiction.

Matt Mikalatos is the author of four novels, the most recent of which is Capeville: Death of the Black Vulture, a YA superhero novel. You can connect with him online at or

Patrick Flanagan – For security reasons, Patrick Flanagan writes from one of several undisclosed locations; either—

1) A Top Secret-classified government laboratory which studies genetic aberrations and unexplained phenomena;

2) A sophisticated compound hidden in plain sight behind an electromagnetic cloaking shield;

3) A decaying Victorian mansion, long plagued by reports of terrifying paranormal activity; or

4) The subterranean ruins of a once-proud empire which ruled the Earth before recorded history, and whose inbred descendants linger on in clans of cannibalistic rabble

— all of which are conveniently accessible from exits 106 or 108 of the Garden State Parkway. Our intelligence reports that his paranoid ravings have been previously documented by Grand Mal Press, Evil Jester Press, and Sam’s Dot Publishing. In our assessment he should be taken seriously, but not literally. (Note: Do NOT make any sudden movements within a 50′ radius.)

Keith Rosson is the author of the novels THE MERCY OF THE TIDE (2017, Meerkat) and SMOKE CITY (2018, Meerkat). His short fiction has appeared in Cream City Review, PANK, Redivider, December, and more. An advocate of both public libraries and non-ironic adulation of the cassette tape, he can be found at


Book Page:




Barnes & Noble 




THE PUBLISHER IS OFFERING A SPECIAL CONTEST – ONE COPY OF THE BOOK (CHOICE OF Epub or Mobi) WILL BE GIVEN AWAY TO A RANDOMLY DRAWN COMMENTER AT EVERY STOP (Drawing will be held 5 days after the stop’s date and is separate from the rafflecopter drawing – to enter, the entrant must leave a comment at the stop).  Thanks!



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




11 thoughts on “Book tour & giveaway – Behind the Mask by Kelly Link, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Lavie Tidhar and others

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