5 Minutes with Nix Whittaker

Advice to aspiring authors: Write a bad book first. Finishing a book is probably the hardest thing you have to learn to do. So first write a bad book. Once that is under your belt write a second book and then decide if the bad book is worth publishing. Ask any writer out there who has been writing for years and they say their first book was the worst.

A Choice of Evils: How Roger Zelazny Created a Heroic Jack the Ripper

In 1888 a killer stalked the streets of London’s Whitechapel district, brutally and ritualistically murdering women. The killer, dubbed Jack the Ripper, captured lurid headlines and the imagination of the public. Fictionalized versions of his story started appearing as early as October of 1888, only a few weeks after the discovery of the first victim. Since then hundreds of stories have been written about Jack, his victims, and his legacy. No fictional treatment of the character, however, has ever been approached like the character of “Jack” in Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October. Rumor has it that someone bet Zelazny that he couldn’t write a story in which the reader rooted for Jack the Ripper as a hero. According to the rules of the wager, Jack could not be a “modified version” of the character where it wasn’t “really” Jack who committed the murders; the character had to be the 1888 serial killer who committed the crimes. Whether the rumor is true or not, Zelazny created a fascinating narrative with a host of characters from literature, history, and film—including Jack the Ripper, Dracula, Frankenstein, Rasputin, Sherlock Holmes, and more—in which a deadly game is played in a rural suburb of Victorian London.

Unique Convention and Festival Accommodations

As springtime blooms in North America, conventions and festivals (especially outdoor festivals) start to appear in the calendar. Travel is certainly a consideration when planning what events to attend, as is finding a place to stay when you arrive. Many attendees plan to stay at the hotel associated with the convention centers, but there are more whimsical (and less expensive choices) available if one takes the initiative to search. One such inexpensive accommodation is available in downtown Chicago: Vincent Van Gogh’s Bedroom.

A Revolution in Printing: How A Steam-Powered Press Changed the World

When discussing steam-powered machines and the Victorian Era, many focus on the revolutionary additions made to travel. Steam-powered locomotives or ships are considered groundbreaking innovations that helped to shape the course of our world. Yet another steam-powered ingenious device created during the reign of Queen Victoria had what some would consider an even larger impact on the world: A steam-powered printing press revolutionized the print industry and improved the literacy rate throughout the western hemisphere.

Review: Redshirts & Metafiction

  Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, by John Scalzi*, focuses on new crew members aboard the Universal Union flagship Intrepid who begin to notice alarming patterns that determine how long they will survive. The story follows Ensign Andrew Dahl, newly assigned junior scientist, and his friends. They […]

Quick Suppers with Sloane Taylor

Calling the final meal of the day “supper” has been a standard in my family. Only later in my life did I ever hear of it being called “dinner.” For my family, “dinner” was actually the middle meal of the day. I think it must be regional. It is nice to see that Sloane, who is also from the Midwest, enjoys “supper” as well! Chris

Sunset Now Available

My short story “Sunset” is the featured work in the inaugural issue of The Magical Past, a magazine that features historical fantasy and offerings on the craft of writing.

The first issue is being offered for free here. Future issues will be available via subscription.
I hope that you all enjoy!