Sylvia Kelso is the author of many speculative fiction novels including Riversend, published in December 2008 by Juno Books The first chapter is excerpted at juno-books.com/riversend. I recently got a chance to talk to her about her many novels and to catch up on her sequels.
Hello Sylvia, I recently saw a review of one of your novels, The Red Country, on SF Crowsnest and I thought I'd catch up with you one year later to see how life had changed for you since our last interview. You seem to be juggling series, standalones, websites, and sequels. Do you have time for an interview?
Of course I do.
Thanks. How was Amberlight received by critics? I tend to divide a book's readers into Critics, Normal folks who love reading, and Writers. How have these groups reacted to your book? Or is there no real difference?
There were definitely groups in the reception of Amberlight. In the Blogosphere, I think with a lot of younger readers and reviewers, most liked the story and characters, but had trouble with the style, though they usually finished the book. Au contraire, Harry Markov, on his blog Temple Library Reviews was intrigued by Amberlight as a “political fantasy,” and there were some other positive reader/reviewers. Also online, the received Critics, Library Journal — always a kick to attract — found the characters “tough and resilient.” Publishers Weekly fussed about the style but liked the “calculus of power” and the gender politics. The Washington Post, courtesy of Kathleen Goonan, probably hit closer than almost anyone else to the core of the book as I see it, when she wrote “this is a novel about economic forces, geopolitical supply and demand, and the human price an unfettered market extracts. It is also about trust and love.”
So, was there any marked difference between how men reviewed the book and how women reviewed it?
Male reviews were rare, but I haven’t found a bad one yet, interestingly. A couple put Amberlight on their list of 10 best for 2007, or listed it as a good Christmas present for 2007. But the strongest response came from what I’d probably call the feminist SF community, on and offline.
The book had some very good blog reviews, from Liz Henry’s Feminist SF blog to Aqueduct Press’s Ambling Along the Aqueduct. Cheryl Morgan also boosted Amberlight on her own blog, and recalled it in her list of the best for 2008 on Ambling. Cindy Ward at the end of ‘07 named Amberlight her book of the year on Ambling, gave it a Nebula recommendation, and reviewed it again on International Review of SF on the Web. And I nearly fainted from sheer shock when Eileen Gunn, to me a senior member of established SF, women’s SF, and feminist SF, congratulated me on Amberlight at WisCon, last year.