Genevieve Valentine's Blog, page 7

June 25, 2014

We're in the home stretch of Penny Dreadful, and as my longest-ever io9 recap would suggest, a lot happened! It was a lot of beautiful payoff for all the setup, the kind of thing that makes you wish the season was one episode longer and the last one was just a really long poker game where Victor can't do anything right and then whoever tries to teach him something gets their head yanked off by Caliban or something (they're not a stable group of people, there's no way everyone would get out alive).

This week gave Eva Green yet another Emmy-runaround episode to add to the collection, as Vanessa gets claimed by the demon again; it's scary not because of the demon itself but because of the ways this particular round of the struggle acknowledges two things. One, Vanessa doesn't quite remember what happens when she's possessed. Two, that demon says a lot of things that feel like things Vanessa wants to say.

It's an intense face, but it's not the manic intensity of the demon; it's Vanessa somewhere in there, calling Malcolm to task for some of his many transgressions. (He has so many transgressions; his admission to Victor and Victor's stunned expression after were two of my favorite things in the episode. "I'm absolutely the worst person." "…..I mean.")

Sembene even got a few more lines this episode! He also punched Vanessa in the face, which is a thing. In a show that's otherwise extremely interested in tweaking the tropes of its genre, this is unfortunately the place it's bought into the trope wholesale. We're on episode seven, and Sembene's entire part can be summed up here:

It's a huge fight where everybody airs grievances in a way that highlights their personality. Sembene says nothing. Oh, show. At least Danny Sapani knocks every second he gets out of the park. If he survives until Season Two, maybe he'll get more stuff to do.

And I guess after this episode we should talk about how this is the part Josh Hartnett's been waiting for, both because his odds to survive are at about 50/50 and because he was great here, which is not something I thought I'd ever say about Josh Hartnett.

Here he is, as himself, gently concerned about Vanessa. Gently curving toward her without being oppressively close, careful, listening.

Here he is, as the demon, gently concerned about Vanessa. Besides the great mirrored framing (there was a LOT of great cinematography this episode; you barely noticed it was a bottle episode until someone complained they hadn't gone outside for a week), you can tell there's something off about him even though the mannerisms are almost identical. The "but not quite" quality was so subtle you could maybe miss it at first, and then just slide slowly into the Oh Jeez portion of the evening when you realize Vanessa, like us, has been taken in.

It was great. It was great, the Lily-from-Legend seduction was great, and I want nothing more than for Vanessa to have pulled a double blind and to surprise the crap out of the devil when the moment comes and she's like NOPE. Then again, she could give in at the last second for a cliffhanger ending. Then again, she could ride off on the not-at-all wolfish back of Ethan Chandler, normal human man. Then again, Caliban could save everybody. Honestly, with this show and at this point, there's no telling. There's just too much. We're all in it for whatever.

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Published on June 25, 2014 07:22 • 21 views

June 20, 2014

Catching up on stuff!

NPR’s summer reading list this year is Book Your Trip, which groups some really interesting books by mode of transit (including an entire category for hot air balloons). I contributed a handful, including women-crossing-Antarctica biography No Horizon is So Far, Wild Seed, and From the Mixed-up Files (a journey at which I marveled as a child, and more so now, given that as an adult I am only fractionally more on top of my daily life than they were when they lived at a museum).

I also got to review The Musketeers for The AV Club! Yes, the whole series has aired in the UK already, so many people are already aware of the cheesy yet well-acted fun times that await them (not to mention the parade of guest stars, which is a veritable bingo card of "I loved you on your eight other shows!"). If you haven't, and you like a bit of adventure that gently tweaks traditional gender roles and touches on social ills while still letting Milady de Winter end the first episode by strangling a priest as she spits out "I WANT REVEEEEENGE," then you have very specific tastes, but you are also in luck. The review goes into some details, including Tom Burke as the super, super, super haunted Athos, and Peter Capaldi as the very best man for the job. (Yes, it's a tiny reunion of The Hour Season 2! NO I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT, I'M STILL NOT OVER THE HOUR.)

In other AV Club news, I participated in the Tournament of Episodes, in a bracket that included Bob's Burgers "Turkey in a Can" facing off against The Good Wife's "Hitting the Fan," which was honestly a tough call. But I made that call, .
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Published on June 20, 2014 15:43 • 20 views

June 18, 2014

Yesterday, io9 hosted the cover reveals for the first slate of titles from Simon and Schuster's new SAGA Press, including my novel, PERSONA! (I've seen the cover flats, the snake is textured in incredible detail; it's just this side of uncanny, and I really dig it.)

Having written a fantasy-ish novel with Mechanique and a historical fairy-tale-ish novel with The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Persona is is a near-future political thriller with politics as celebrity culture, because why not. The official cover copy:

Suyana Sapaki's a failure in the International Assembly. She's not charming on camera, which is crucial for a Face: public image is ninety percent of diplomacy, they tell you right from the beginning. The United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation has been the site of scandal, so she's short on allies. It's a system designed to make you useless, but she's fighting. People back home are trusting her, and she has a country to save, one way or the other.

Daniel Park fled home to become a snap, because joining the last of the free press sounded noble before he was broke. On a hunch, he's picked C-lister Suyana Sapaki for his first outing; he thinks she's hiding something that's worth money to the right people, if he catches it on camera.

Like the assassination attempt.


On the run from someone who wants her dead, shadowed by someone she can't trust, Suyana will risk everything—everyone—to save her diplomatic ties; it's her only chance to control the future of her people, and she has promises to keep. The Assembly's declared her persona non grata.

That's what they think.

Persona is slated for release on March 10, 2015! Watch this space for more details as we get closer to publication.
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Published on June 18, 2014 05:52 • 18 views

June 17, 2014

Last night, everything started falling apart on Penny Dreadful, and it was both campily hilarious, because that's what we're here for, and a little amazing. (The fact that Caliban is presumably walking the streets waiting for anyone to be nice to Victor so he can snap their neck and bellow "MAKE ME A GIRLFRIEEEEND" into the sky was this episode's greatest twist.)

But as always, this series is Vanessa's show, and she fell apart harder than anyone when her demon came back to haunt her.

Loved this excruciatingly slow moment as the demon comes rushing back. Eerie more than cheesy. The horror is in knowing it's back, not seeing anything lurking in the bedroom.

I mean, Dorian's lurking in there, but he's only been interesting for the exact span of time Ethan was making out with him, and otherwise he's distinctly out of the action. He even spent the entire episode with Vanessa trying to make fetch happen, but she's got so much more chemistry with any of the other guys on the show that it's just never going to make sense, sorry, show. The most exciting thing about their sex scene was that he sliced off her corset and she was wearing a chemise underneath.

And on that note, I have questions re: when the demon suggests he was waiting for "this." This like sex? Because she banged that other guy in the alley in episode 2. Either she was still possessed there and therefore this demon comes and goes, or she was shaking off the effects of the séance and just went for what she wanted. Going into another round of possession, I'd love to know if this is something that comes and goes. And she had no sex consequences then, so why now? Why Dorian? We may never know. (We honestly may never know; unless that demon is actually the vampire and all that dovetails, we have so many plots happening that we'll be waiting at least a season for all those answers; somebody still has to wake up as the bride of Caliban, Mina still has to reveal she's the mastermind behind it all – please oh please – and Malcolm must reveal what he didn't get a chance to tell Vanessa before she started floating her way northwards.)

What we do know: Dorian's house is somehow less creepy with the lights off, which is true of almost nobody's house.

This definitely had a dark-fairy-bower feeling, don't get me wrong, but the stares are muted in candlelight; a creepy double-world, sure, but you're in it alone! I guess that's a bonus. Typing this I'm reconsidering. (Still, creepy or not, some great shots this week from Coky Giedroyc.)

And speaking of an unblinking stare, I also hope we get some amazing plot hail-mary pass re: the photograph of Vanessa. Watching her face fall as she stared into the lens was amazing, shifting as she dropped the veneer of manners she always puts on when she's trying to force herself to be normal (such as when she came home during the Malcolm/Ethan/Victor snide-off and recalibrated everyone effortlessly) and ended up with the piercing stare she has when she's actually being honest.

But unlike every time she's leveled this look on a person or a vampire and unnerved them, the lens looked back impassively.

It's both a callback to the last time Dorian wanted some photographs taken (women he's convinced to have sex with him? Women he can talk into doing things they'd rather not? People who will soon die? With Brona and Vanessa those Venn diagrams are intersecting an awful lot), and one of those devil-on-your-shoulder moments. The ghost of Vanessa in the curving lens hints at what's in store for her.

As much as I tend to dislike stories in which a woman is damseled in order to galvanize the men around her into heroics, I feel like the tone of her possession so far as been portrayed as a struggle of hers, which changes the context a bit, and that whatever happens, she'll be a participant. Can't wait.

(As always, the detailed breakdown, with questions and guesses, is over at io9, in which my chart catalogs some bursts of paternal feeling from Malcolm in the wake of realizing he's failed Mina repeatedly, and in which I need Victor to stop looking at little ballerinas, because just don't.)
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Published on June 17, 2014 11:37 • 20 views

June 11, 2014

REAL-LIFE NOTE: On Friday at 7pm I'll be at BookCourt in Brooklyn to talk about The Girls at the Kingfisher Club with my editor, Daniel Loedel. (It's called "in conversation" because when they asked me if I wanted to just show up and give a talk I laughed really hard and then hid.)

When io9 asked me to write 10 Reasons You Should Be Watching Penny Dreadful, I gave the ensemble their due, because it's an amazing ensemble, and then gave Vanessa Ives a bullet point all to herself. Partly this is because Eva Green knocks it out of the park with every piercing stare:

And partly this is because the show trades heavily on the nebulous lust that weighs down every lugubrious conversation while being careful to make Vanessa the subject, not the object, of that sexuality. (In this, she's the dark mirror to Tina Belcher, which isn't a thing you think you'll ever say, but that mixture of intensity and indiscriminate landing places—Mina, Ethan, Malcolm, Dorian—has that same sense of following a character's examinations as part of a natural progression of the day rather than the endgame to her character arc. Breakfast, séance, lust, lust, visit the captive in the basement, lust, theater trip, lust, write a long obsessive letter to your vanished soulmate, bedtime.)

The latest episode recap is also up at io9! Closer than Sisters examines exactly the subtext you think it does (Carmillaaaaaaaaaaaaa), alongside a heaping helping of daddy issues that I am beginning to really be afraid might be pointing to Malcolm as her actual dad, the one thing I might not want from this show. Their undefined hostility/codependency is so great, show, never pin it down! Let it fly free and make every single conversation loaded with triple meanings! I know you can do it. I believe in you.

Also, hats off to director Coky Giedroyc for this episode, which makes the asylum as visually arresting as it is textually horrific:

Beautifully terrible.
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Published on June 11, 2014 06:02 • 13 views

June 5, 2014

It happened! (Two days ago, I know, but hopefully a belated a party report is still a party report.) And it was awesome. I can't thank everyone enough for slogging through the rain to the Back Room to celebrate with me! By the way, the Back Room is gorgeous:

Pictures courtesy of my sister, who is awesome, and who took this shot of the snack table that made me laugh out loud for how succinctly it encapsulated my feelings about snacks in general, and about cheese in particular:


(She said this was her favorite shot, so either she really likes lamps or she really likes brownies.)

Though as always I didn't get to talk with anyone as much as I would have liked, I had a blast. I also kind of had a blast with the mugshot station I set up, including sparkly monocles, pipes, moustaches, and lips, and though the height markings weren't quite big enough to register, who cares when you have glittery monocles?

Not we. (I was so pleased that people were game for goofy photos; I love every single one of them. I even love the ones from the people who came in from the street, with no idea who I was or what was happening, but could tell instantly that this was a glittery moustache situation and they had a calling, dammit. I will probably never see their pictures, but I'm glad they're out there.)

And today, I'm back at work, with my fresh garden roses (thank you so much to the lady in question!), which look even better than they did when they were draped across the piano.

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Published on June 05, 2014 10:48 • 27 views

June 3, 2014

Today is the launch day for THE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB! This is the post where I talk about a lot of stuff!

I am so, so excited for this book, and immeasurably grateful to the people who have been kind enough to mention it. It's appeared in several summer reading guides (including at Buzzfeed, Bookish, and The LA Times), and people have been sharing reviews on Goodreads and on Twitter. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

I'm also thrilled at the reviews the book has collected, among them Niall Alexander at, Leigh Wright at Library Journal, The Historical Novel Society, Kathe Robin at RT Book Reviews, Meg Stivison at Yahoo Voices, and Amal El-Mohtar at NPR.

For the interested, it's available for order now at IndieBound, Powell's, and Barnes & Noble, among others.

And because they all deserve to be thanked again, an excerpt from my acknowledgments section, which actually does contain some mild spoilers for the book, though I suspect it won't come as an enormous shock, either:

To my family, for their support (particularly Tally and my grandparents, whose encouragement means more than I can say). To Elizabeth, Veronica, Delia, Stephanie, Kelly, Lisa, Jeanine, and everyone who read it and shaped it; to my agent Joe, who wanted it to see the world. To Daniel, who championed it all the way there, and all those at Atria, who have been amazing in their support. I would like to thank every amateur historian, professional association, national institution, and all others who make documents, photos, music, and ephemera available on the Web, allowing the hours at which research can be conducted to be Whenever O'clock. And finally, though this story has been a long time coming, I'd like to thank Anna for making me realize it was time to write this particular book, when she asked if I was ever going to write something in which not everybody died.

It's the tip of an iceberg (in particular, thanks are due to Kathy and Eileen for their immeasurable patience and support, Ariele at Atria for being fantastic, and the many people who were kind enough to blurb the book, including Kelly Link, Scott Westerfeld, Christina Schwartz, and Lois Leveen), and I know there are people I have forgotten, but just...thank you, everyone. A book couldn't ask for a better beginning.

(And now back to desserts for the launch party tonight! If you have heard a lot about this, it's because I don't want leftovers – come on down and help!)
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Published on June 03, 2014 11:19 • 38 views

June 2, 2014

First, because we're about 24 hours away and I am in Planning Mode, a reminder: I'm throwing a speakeasy, and you're invited!

Tomorrow,June 3, at the Back Room Bar on Norfolk St. in Manhattan—via an easy-to-miss flight of stairs—will be the Kingfisher Club! From 7pm until mumblemumble, come and say hi! A full bar will be available, and complimentary snacks catering to what I hope is a variety of dietary needs! It will certainly fulfill the needs of anyone who enjoys cheese, that's for sure (there will be a variety of other things available, I just personally can't stop buying cheese).

Okay, now onto Victorian hilarity.

This episode may still be shorter on séances as gaspworthy monster reveals than the first two episodes, but we're hitting the second act of this season's short arc, and I'm still having an amazing time. Not as amazing a time as a couple of dudes I know, but still, it's pretty good.

My recap at io9 is tracking the action with a handy chart that tries to categorize the many loaded stares this show provides. It will never get them all, of course, but we can hope to at least track some, so we remember who's broken with their colleagues from one week to the next, which I suspect Victor is juuuuuust about ready to do.

In the meantime, I embraced the theater stuff this week wholeheartedly, almost entirely because of the emphasis on the backstage perspective. (I mean, it was beautifully ramshackle from the front, too, but the backstage stuff was great.)

This whole scene was honestly a gift.

Caliban running around backstage was a perfect use of action that felt like it was leading to disaster but never actually did; I wondered if we were going to see him perving over the actress's undergarments, but not a bit, and I wondered if someone was going to come crashing down, but nobody did! (This episode, anyway. That was pretty heavy groundwork being laid for a terrible mentor-disaster in the very near future.) The whole scene was perfect, however, at building tension for Brona's explosive breakup later. Poor Brona. I figured you might end up the Bride somehow; that seems as plausible as ever. I have a bunch of nebulous feelings about where that could go, especially given your sad monologue about your jerkbag ex who, knowing this show, could honestly have been Caliban back when he was alive. Even if not, that's a dude with anger issues, no matter how adorable he seemed backstage. So much happening. Who can say.

Speaking of nebulous feelings! Here's these two discussing how Mina gave them the runaround, which means she probably hates both their guts and wanted a vampire to just rip them to pieces; then he talks to Vanessa in a really growly voice about how Vanessa betrayed them and she's really cruel and she's the daughter he really deserves, and I honestly sat there with my cursor over the blue line on the fancy chart waiting for them to just go at it. Afterward, I wondered what on earth to even mark this that was any clearer or less twisted (or hey, more twisted, just get off the dime) than what we were seeing. Bad news: nothing is clear. Good news: that's a deliciously messy psychological quagmire, you two! Whatever you're stringing us along about, I'm into it. Invade one another's personal space and then look quietly, deeply devastated, so it's framed exactly like a lovers' quarrel, could you?


But of course, this buildup of tension, like the theater business, was meant only to rev up the engines of suspense for the big event:

Ethan Chandler getting wasted and deciding that if he's going to spend a night being someone else, then he might as well go quite literally all the way. How Dorian Gray gets laid this much with hair like his is this show's biggest mystery, but otherwise I'm very interested to see how this will go. It definitely seems like something Ethan is into; whether it's something he's comfortable with is a whole different question, and we'll have to see how that plays out. My chart will be ready.
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Published on June 02, 2014 15:51 • 37 views

May 30, 2014

Penny Dreadful gave us something of a slow episode last week, so we'll pretend an homage to the pacing shift is the reason I am only getting this blog post up on Friday for an io9 recap that went up Monday. On the other hand, slowing down doesn't mean it was terrible. We got some Frankenstein's creature backstory, we got some more evidence that Ethan is a normal human man and definitely not a werewolf why would you even think that just because he can calm a wolf down in any situation, and we positioned ourselves for some sticky ethical dilemmas regarding treatment of prisoners, the personality-changing aspects of blood transfusions, and what it means to be a theater person.

That last subplot actually gave me one of my favorite images of the series so far:

It feels like shouting "VICTORIANS" just to look at that screencap, doesn't it? That lady in black up front is me during jump scares; the lady on the far left is me when there are bugs.

However, as extras go, they still came in second place to this lady, who was told to sit very still and look downtrodden, and during the entire tracking shot she didn't so much as blink.

That's some excellent backgrounding, madam.

This is all part of the theater subplot that Frankenstein's creature finds himself in, and while at the time it felt much slower than the first two episodes, it's clear we're introducing not only four more subplots, but the themes of reality/unreality, what people see/what they want to see, and all the other things theater subplots provide, and I'm interested to see where the show takes it.

(Right now, those actors are talking about a house party to which backstage crew will not be invited.)

And really (and I'll probably talk about this on io9 some more next week, probably, so bear with me), the slower structure of this week was actually a very Victorian construct in itself. "Let me tell you about my childhood," said the monster, and it was off to a lengthy flashback! Frankenstein got a flashback that explains his fixation on thwarting death but does nothing to excuse the way he treated Caliban, though he continues to feel aggrieved by it in a very Victorian way! (Yes, this particular story pre-dates the Victorian era, but we all know the Victorians love a lengthy flashback.) Ethan finds himself filled with heroic compunction to save the dying Brona from her life on the streets and from consumption! "We must do some seeking," said Vanessa, and boom! Trip to the very Victorian zoo. It's everything the Penny Dreadful title promises, except this week was a break from the gore (unless you count the torn-up corpse of Proteus in Really, the most startling thing about the episode was that someone actually explained something to Josh Hartnett, which I knew had to happen eventually but am still sad to see.

Something I am not sad to see:

Eva Green is side-eyeing Timothy Dalton in this cap; that's some A-level side-eye given her eyes are barely open, but if anyone can do it, she's the one. Someday soon I will have to sit down and map the orbital distance of how much her Over It actually ranges. It's some serious numbers.

Their relationship is so fascinating. Recently-released, spoilery episode photos that suggest certain things about their relationship honestly only ask more questions than they answer, which tends to be a sign of a nicely twisted pair of people:

Surrogate father? Ex husband? Badminton partner? We may never know.

They have exchanged all of a few dozen words, but they are constantly glancing at each other to assess things, and I love it. Whether it was the intention from the outset or Eva Green and Timothy Dalton got together and decided they were going to make eye contact every seventeen seconds no matter what, it's working out.

Of course, this is barely scratching the surface of Dr. Frankenstein and the No-Good Very Bad Day, so for the whole thing, head over to io9!
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Published on May 30, 2014 09:17 • 13 views

May 29, 2014

It's alive! "The Insects of Love," a story about sisterhood, stars, and the entomology of space-time, is available now from (The gorgeous cover art is the work of Tran Nguyen, who won the Spectrum for it! Clearly I'm a biased vote, but I'm so excited for her well-deserved Gold.)

Before Fairuz got the tattoo, I’d never even heard of the beetles.

I just knew that the tattoo she wanted was enormous, and that it would take all night, and even as I agreed to come with her I said, “This is a bad idea.”

“Good,” she said, and hit the gas.

I expected some shithole off the main drag, the kind of place Fairuz would go to make a point. But it was clean as a dentist’s office, and they gave us paper caps and told us to watch what we touched.

Inside was even cleaner, and the man waiting for us was in a work suit that zipped up to his neck.

“Lie down,” he said, turning on the projector.

As Fairuz pulled off her shirt and settled onto her stomach, the ink drawing snapped into place over her skin: fifteen constellations, scattered on her back from the shoulder blades down past the waist of her trousers; freckles with labels, pulled together by string.

“You want something for the pain?” the guy asked.

Fairuz shrugged. “Sure.”

He picked up a container of gold and pink marbles and poured them over her back.

Of course they weren’t marbles, but when you haven’t heard of the beetles before, you don’t think that kind of thing will ever happen, that someone gets a Tupperware of bugs and dumps them out.

(You only need one or two, if the area’s small, but Fairuz never did anything small if she could help it; the tattoo was all over and so were the beetles.)

They skittered back and forth over her skin, a shirt of rosy sequins, and across their bodies the projected constellations flickered in and out of sight.

I think this is before she died.

You can read the whole story at!
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Published on May 29, 2014 10:28 • 19 views

Genevieve Valentine's Blog

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