I am so excited for today’s post because it combines not only information on some of my favourite books these year but has a great interview with the author B R Sanders and some very exciting news. I hope you’ll enjoy…
Please welcome B with me on our blog today!
I realise that these are a lot of blurbs and you can, of course, study them all right now, only have a look at what strikes your fancy and come back later for more, or skip right ahead to B’s interview… Ariah is the only full-length novel and the first one I read. Most of the others are shorts, and Resistance and Cargo are novellas.
I really love how there is this one universe with so many different stories which are only loosely connected. There are all kinds of characters and places we get to see and discover. Some of the stories are romantic, others not. Some have happy endings, others not so much.
I especially love B’s unique and diverse characters, the imaginative world with different races and political dependencies and above all its magic, which is unlike everything else I’ve ever read. B takes their time creating the setting and developing the plot and characters, without it ever being boring. The world is epic and we get to know pieces little by little. A wonderful journey of discovery that I highly recommend.
An Introduction to the Aerdhverse
Ariah’s magical training has been interrupted. Forced to rely on a mentor, Dirva, who is not who he claims to be, and a teacher who is foreign and powerful, Ariah is drawn into a culture wholly different from the elven one that raised him.
As his friendship with Dirva’s brother blossoms into a surprising romance, and he slowly learns how to control the dangerous magic in his blood, life finally appears to be coming together for Ariah—but love and security are cut short by a tyrannical military empire bent on expanding its borders.
War, betrayal, passion, and confusion follow Ariah as his perilous journey leads him beyond the walls of the Empire, and into unfamiliar territory within himself. Along the way, he’ll discover just how much he’s willing to give up to find his place in the world, and he’ll learn what it means to sacrifice himself for freedom—and for love.
A Matter of Circumstance
Ariah’s abduction throws everything into chaos. What are Sorcha and Shayat willing to sacrifice to get him back? How does their story change? What do they mean to each other now that he is not there to intercede?
Resistance has many faces, and one of them is Shandolin’s. When she finds her friend brutally murdered, Shandolin decides to fight instead of run–but her only hope of survival is a takeover of the City government. Shandolin draws everyone she loves into the fray with her: her assassin lover, Rivna; her mentor, Moshel; and her best friend, Kel. Apart, they are weak, but together Shandolin and her friends, lovers and fellows may be just strong enough to save their skins and the skins of the other elves in the City.
Roake attracts bad luck like half-buried coins attract magpies. Roake is as clever and hard to kill as a weasel. Whenever his bad luck gets the better of him—whether it’s when his father sells him to the army or when the pirates capture him as a ship slave—Roake finds a way to survive the situation. Sometimes, that means running. Sometimes, that means staying put and playing the odds. Always it means taking a calculated risk.
In CARGO, Roake tells his own story. Roake tells us what he’s done and what’s been done to him to make sense of his life. Like every young man, he wants his choices to matter. He wants his friendships to endure. He wants to leave a mark. Telling his own story is how Roake does it.
The Adviser and the Diplomat
Iiva’s place as the Bachelor King’s adviser has always been precarious: an elf at the right hand of a human king is a dangerous thing. But when someone even stranger than Iiva comes to the king’s court, the delicate balance Iiva depends on is thrown into chaos. Iiva must make a reckoning of not only the present and the future, but the past as well.
Matter of Scale
Moshel has hidden himself away for years, trying to keep the emotions of others from driving him mad. It’s in mechanics alone that he can find relief, the reliable tick of clockwork his escape. It’s only when he meets his counterpart, Tovah, that he realizes all may not be as it seems in his world, and there may be a way to change it. It’s all a matter of scale.
Pahvo loved Anu before they ever met. Pahvo is a scryer; he sees the future, the past, lives both in a fractured present. When Pahvo first notices Anu across the street, he sees their entire lives together. Anu sees a stranger.
BLUE FLOWERS explores what the nature of irrevocable and inescapable love.
The Other Side of Town
Asher is a changeling: not quite human enough for his Inalan family. He was banished while still a child, forced to eke out a life on his own in a sprawling and callous city. Asher survives, even flourishes, for twenty-five years, and then his past comes knocking at the door. His Inalan brother tracks him down and begs him to come home one last time to comfort their mother, the woman who permitted Asher to be banished in the first place.
“The Other Side Of Town” explores what it means to be a family, the pull of shared blood, and the obligations we ultimately have to ourselves.
Her parents told her to avoid the forest, but Marloh didn’t listen. The mysteries within it captivate her. When Marloh creeps further into the forest than ever before, she stumbles across creatures of legend, things from stories she thought her parents made up only to scare her away from the forest’s edge. But the stories were real.
Valiyon, the Mother of the Elvish Rebellion, leads an intriguing recruit into an ambush against her old foe’s homestead. The ambush is supposed to be a test, supposed to reveal the recruit to Valiyon, but everything goes sideways.
Mel: When I read Ariah earlier this year, I was totally blown away and knew right away I had found a new favourite author. I think I’ve read more or less all the additional short stories and novellas that are set in the same universe by now and am utterly fascinated by what you’ve created, B, and I’ve been wondering how the Aerdhverse came to life.
B: Thank you so much! I’m really honored!
The Aerdhverse has kind of a weird beginning. My partner, Jon, wrote this odd, very derivative story during college and promptly buried it in a desk drawer. It didn’t resurface until years later, when we were reading Bad Writing to each other. Early papers, things like that. He read it, and I was at once horrified and fascinated. I was like, write more of this! And he was like, why? This is drivel, this is shit. And I was like, I don’t know. Just do it.
I tried to corral him, writing these very precise outlines of what should happen and when, doing all this elaborate worldbuilding, but he was not into it. Finally he just told me to write if I wanted it written so badly. I balked. I told him I wasn’t a writer. He pointed to the reams of world building I’d been doing – for over a year at that point – and was like the hell you aren’t. Hop to.
So, I came to the Aerdhverse, and fiction, almost by accident.
The really central worldbuilding question for me was this one: what if there was magic as a fundamental force in the universe, one that shaped the development and ecology and evolution of the world. What would it be like if magic was a resource, a tangible resource, not a supernatural one? How would it affect biology? Sociology? Psychology? The big constraint of this universe is the lack of supernatural weirdness. There is plenty of weird, but there are no ghosts or gods, necessarily.
Mel: Oh wow, that is so cool. Please give a huge thank you to Jon for providing you with the idea. He was obviously right to point you towards writing it yourself, too!
What is it that you personally like most about the Aerdhverse? Is there a theme or a character that you love and/or identify with the most ?
B: Oh goodness. That is hard. Change. Growth. The magic is a catalyst for that almost everywhere it appears. People always adapt. It’s how they adapt that is fascinating to me, and why. The spaces we create in response to oppression to make ourselves as whole as we can be. I like the ability to use the sandbox of speculative fiction to play with ‘what if’ scenarios, to take our world apart at the seams and see how it works. But the questions I keep asking are about family and love, I guess. What it means to have them, to want them, to make your own. How these things looks in our own culture versus another.
As for characters…hmmm. This is always a really telling question for writers, isn’t it, which character do you identify with? He hasn’t appeared in a lot of published fiction, yet, but I find it easiest to write Vathorem. The shapers have a particular kind of my weirdness in them, that obliterating, overwhelming empathy that drives a person into solitude. It’s exaggerated with them – of course I can’t do anything like the mind reading approximations like they can, but that heightened sense of other people’s emotions, and the irritant it can be, that’s me, for a bunch of complicated reasons. Vathorem is a kind of a sharp-tongued bumpkin who wasn’t raised right and has to teach himself how to be a decent person on his own. That is…also me. Would that I was Sorcha. Everyone loves Sorcha.
Mel: Yes, Sorcha is amazing and very lovable and cute and… *sigh* Oops.
The shaping gift is rather mind-boggling to me, actually. I even had a hard time grasping it when reading Ariah. I think it’s clear that it’s really not a gift gift, because damn, it’s so hard to cope with it. You are correct, by the way: I always ask this question to see whether an author might reveal some interesting details about them ;-P The themes of change and making your own family also really resonated with me.
What do you wish readers take away from your stories and what motivates you to write?
B: I hope queer and trans readers take some solace and validation from my writing, some sense of having been seen and recognized. I didn’t get enough of that in the fiction I read growing up, I think, which is one reason I turned to writing my own stuff.
I hope readers take away that kindness can have lasting impact in the world, even in small doses, even when you feel small and powerless. That’s a theme, I think, that comes up over and over again in my writing. Not even intentionally. I’ve realized through my writing how strongly I believe that’s true: when in doubt, err on the side of kindness.
By now I think I write out of habit, and because the stories themselves have their own curious momentum. Especially since we’re talking about the Aerdhverse. I write a novel, and then it spurs a spin off short story. And then I have questions about this or that character, so I write a novella to answer them, which starts a new series.
I’ll also say that I feel better when I write. More centered, and more like myself. Selfishly, writing is part of my self-care process.
Mel: I really love how there are so many snippets and stories in your universe that basically can each be read on its own. They all are like puzzle pieces to a larger picture and it’s a lot of fun to put them together.
What are your plans for the future writing wise? What can we expect from you and on which book(s) are you working right now?
B: Mostly just to keep going. I am not an ambitious person; I don’t tend to have grand plans. I’m contracted for a four book series set in the Aerdhverse, the first of which should be out some time next year. (Mel: OMGOMGOMG SQUEEEEEEE *faints*) That’s very exciting! I’ve drafted three of the four books. They feature elves in rebellion, and also spies and pirates. I also have a follow up book to ARIAH I have drafted that I need to revise. (Mel: :))))))))) *happy dance*) It is far too long and ambling. Pacing is really not my strong suit. And some other Aerdh stuff. Honestly, there is so much Aerdh stuff.
I’ve got a bunch of short stories and at least one non-Aerdh novel in various states of draft and revisions going, too. I write a lot. I don’t revise as much as I should. I’m always working on something new instead.
Virtually all of it is queer speculative fiction. I try to branch out from Aerdh now and again for longer pieces, since that Aerdh is my comfort zone, but I always end up writing something speculative and queer. Which I am just fine with.
Mel: Whaaaaa… This is awesome news. You just made my day and I can’t fucking wait. Seriously, I am so excited. It’s so much more that I dared hope for.
Do you have any book recommendations for us? I’ve noticed you are reviewing books on your blog and have started looking out for them.
B: Oh, so many! I just read Fire Logic and really loved it. I also love Kameron Hurley’s Wolrdbreaker Saga. Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olandria broke my heart and put it back together again. So did Nicola Griffith’s Hild. RoAnna Sylver’s Chameleon Moon is all action and romance and features a trans woman lead character. And my favorite book is Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I am a sucked for gender weirdness.
Mel: Ohh, these look good. I definitely need to check them out.
A kind of different question: You’re on Patreon. Do you want to tell us a little bit about this?
B: Oh, sure! So, if you’re interested, you can subscribe to my Patreon. I have been releasing exclusive Aerdhverse short stories there, and I have plans to release an exclusive Aerdhverse novella there by the end of the year. If you just want the short stories, you can subscribe at the $1 level. If you want both the short stories and the novella, you can subscribe at the $5 level. Funding from my Patreon helps me go do things like present worldbuilding workshops at writers’ conferences. Anyone who is interested can sign up on Patreon or can lurk and get information about a pending story release via my newsletter.
Mel: I can only recommend this 😉
B, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I loved to read your answers and I’m really, really excited about the things to come.
B R Sanders is a white, genderqueer writer who lives and works in Denver, CO, with their family and two cats. Outside of writing, B has worked as a research psychologist, a labor organizer and a K-12 public education data specialist.
A Word About Pronouns
I identify as genderqueer, which for me means I do not comfortably reside on either side of the gender binary. I use the singular ‘they’ to refer to myself because of this and respectfully request you do the same in reference to me.
You can purchase B R Sanders’ books from: