Ruthie Marlenée’s new, acclaimed novel, AGAVE BLUES, presents readers with a strong sense of place—in both Mexico and Los Angeles—and a strong-willed female protagonist. The book is a gripping family saga and lesson in transformation. An excerpt, plus a conversation with AFLW’s Lillian Ann Slugocki and the author on her inspiration–and magic in her writing process.
Category Archive: UNREAL
Natashia Deón’s latest novel, THE PERISHING, is a love letter to time, space and the transformative stories of Black women. This coming-of-age speculative fiction book delves into L.A. history, racism, sexism, fantasy and humanity. An excerpt, plus a Q&A with the author and AFLW’s Danielle Broadway on the novel’s runaway success.
Pete Hsu’s new, experimental fiction chapbook, THERE IS A MAN, bends reality at the intersection of satire, family drama and ’80s alternative rock. An excerpt, plus a Q&A with the author and PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow Chinyere Nwodim on writing, reading and the value of unconventional choices.
Through an imagined affair between his grandfather and Lucille Ball, bestselling author Darin Strauss shines a spotlight on the dualities of desire and love, infidelity and marriage, fiction and reality–and traces the ongoing impact of the revolutionary ‘I Love Lucy’ star and studio mogul.
‘Gossip Girl’ meets ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ in this dramatic debut YA novel about a group of friends at a prep school in an affluent L.A. suburb. An excerpt plus Q&A revealing how the title touches on issues of Asian-American profiling, class and privilege that we are reckoning with in the U.S. today.
In her new collection, Colette Sartor delves into her generations of influence, from her strong, smart and ‘difficult’ Grandma Sartor to her mother’s bookshelf of true crime and horror. An excerpt plus Q&A with the author on writing craft and pandemic survival, past and present.
A selection of contributions from participants in our ‘Homebound Heroes’ workshop, with a focus on self-acceptance, self-care and imagination, reveals the power and magic of coming together as a virtual writing community and supporting others during this time of imposed isolation.
In this emotive short story by Luis Garcia Romero, we dive headlong into a world of impenetrable secrets and deep memories trapped in the recesses of the heavy hearts of a wife and husband.
Mei Mei Sun’s lyrical essay explodes in a torrent of feelings about the beauty, fragility and brutality of love. New to L.A., she’s uncertain about her love for this city until she realizes the Pacific Ocean connects her upbringing in Shenyang, China, to this place she is still getting to know. And yet. Love may be very close to home.
Jonathan Blum’s anticipated collection, THE USUAL UNCERTAINTIES, is a glorious offering of stories in a range of settings from L.A.’s Koreatown to a South Florida country club. An excerpt, plus Q&A with translator Breanna Chia.
Writer D.B. Zweier brings us to a dark setting lit only by The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” In his short story, a call in the pre-dawn hours unites two friends, one suffering through years of addiction and trauma and the other who has watched his sad charade again and again.
Adam Popescu’s debut novel, NIMA, tells the story of a young Sherpa woman’s journey through the many challenges of her world: an exploitive Western tourism industry, strict gender restrictions & the implacable presence of the Himalayas. An excerpt, followed by Q&A between the author & writer D.B. Zweier.
In YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY, Steph Cha brings her formidable crime-writing prowess to the aftermath of racially charged 90s’ Los Angeles. The result is a page-turning thriller driven by honesty, tension and an unyielding willingness to speak the emotional experience of its characters.
THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA is J. Ryan Stradal’s anticipated follow-up to his bestselling debut novel, KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST. With his signature warmth, detail and exquisitely fine storytelling, Stradal once again delivers a novel worth falling in love with.
Through the lens of a cell-phone dating app, Wayne Tan’s experimental short story, “Ontology,” investigates the intersection of longing and regret, technology and humanity, philosophy and the age-old question: Have you ever been in love?
After the loves and betrayals of THE REVOLUTION OF MARINA M., young poet Marina Makarova finds herself pregnant and adrift amid the devastation of the Russian Civil War, forced to survive on her own resourcefulness. A riveting excerpt from Janet Fitch’s latest, acclaimed novel, CHIMES OF A LOST CATHEDRAL, followed by a deeply thoughtful Q&A on her process with writing group partner and friend, author Rita Williams.
Chris L. Terry’s new, acclaimed novel, BLACK CARD, presents a stirring examination of racial identity in America as its unnamed narrator is a young, mixed-race man who longs to earn his “black card,” but soon finds it comes with an acute and systemic vulnerability to racism. An excerpt, followed by a Q&A between the author and AFLW Fiction Editor Pete Hsu.
Acclaimed YA novelist Lilliam Rivera creates an intricate dystopian world in her new novel, where fierce Latina girl gangs rule in order to survive.
Maria Hummel delves into L.A.’s art world, a sordid place of vice, provocation, violence and, yes, mystery in her novel, now in paperback.
In his recently released novel, PORTRAIT OF SEBASTIAN KHAN, writer Aatif Rashid creates a uniquely compelling modern Muslim-American coming-of-age story and a new POC narrative.
In her acclaimed debut novel, CATALINA, Liska Jacobs takes us into the tortured mind of Elsa Fisher as she retreats to Los Angeles, jobless after an intense affair in the heart of Manhattan’s art world. A journey of drinking, destruction and discovery follows as Elsa unravels in a seeming paradise: Catalina Island. An excerpt from the perfect beach (or island) read for hot summer days and nights, and a revealing Q&A between AFLW’s Jian Huang and the author on the evergreen question of New York vs. L.A. and, as a native Angeleno, how the character of Los Angeles as place influences her writing.
In Jessica Shoemaker’s “Mia Is Going to Mars,” Mia has survivor’s guilt. She wants to make good. But what’s lined up against her stands firm.
In “Panels,” inspired by small oil portraits on wood, Jonathan Blum sketches glimpses of people from diverse backgrounds, capturing the essence of lives lived.
In THE LAST TO SEE ME, M. Dressler blurs the boundaries between the living and the dead, showing us that otherness is a matter of not seeing and not knowing how to communicate, and that evil resides not either in the world of ghosts or men, but in one’s own heart. An excerpt and fascinating conversation between AFLW fiction editor Shilpa Agarwal and the author, on the heels of her winning this year’s $10,000 Book Pipeline Award book-to-film project for the novel.
In TRIPLE CROSS KILLER, crime writer Rosemarie Aquilina, who recently made headlines in the courtroom for her historic judgment for survivor rights, takes us into the dark, shadowy life of a serial killer and those who hunt him out. We are honored to feature an excerpt from the book and a conversation between AFLW fiction editor Shilpa Agarwal and Judge Aquilina, in which she speaks about what inspired her to write her novel focused on children, voice and power, and her vision for creating real change in society.
“They’d fought so loudly that their terrified daughter stomped on his foot to make him stop screaming.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“It’s a very L.A. story, surely, but you needs must own that it’s the sort of thing that could happen anywhere, to anyone.” New, fanciful fiction, a love story, by THE BLACK WATCH indie rock band founder and author John Andrew Fredrick.
“There is a story of two Simbirsk landlords who used to meet regularly for hunting, card games, and vodka-drinking bouts.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“My love was obese, all bent out of shape. White flesh in low-riders.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Every winter river rocks shatter in place. Vulnerable when saturated, a frost shears them at every seam.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Meeting under twilight skies, talking for hours, and then lying together, purrs and soft breath.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
Sgt. Hector Gallegos of the LAPD reads his cheap, plastic Bible backward. This is a secret, as is the holy book’s presence in his patrol car, a tool – like his gun – to combat evil. When tragedy visits his home, he understands it’s not just faith, but something more that wields the power to protect his family. New fiction set in the City of Angels.
“Not yet men and women and no longer boys and girls, they may have believed in fairy tales still but wouldn’t dare confess. That summer, after the black-bristled gypsy moth caterpillars hatched, Avalon’s youth surrendered the woods reluctantly. What more was there to fear?” A beautiful yet foreboding prelude excerpt from Julia Fierro’s heralded coming-of-age novel.
Julia Fierro on how her new novel, THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER, is an “anti-revenge revenge story” and more.
On a precarious journey down a twisting mountain road, a singer-songwriter finds herself on a crash-course with her heart. Her husband awaits at the bottom, but the loops and turns of her life are pointing her elsewhere, a burning for change, a fiery want, a flame.
Inside the dreamscape of the Hollywood sign, a love story unfolds, but as in all fairy tales, a villainess appears, and the stars begin to fall.
“And I know he isn’t talking to the hummingbird zippering the air just behind his left ear.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Seven weeks had passed since she’d discovered the infidelity. First the email messages, then the bank statements.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“The scream queen shakes her head. She watches Frank’s boxers fall from his pale ass like a raggedy Band-Aid from a wound.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Having a level twenty-one paladin with a +3 sword of sharpness does not impress girls even though the sword of sharpness is really cool.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“His face, sharp with twitching whiskers, is close to what was once her shoulder …” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“The water is clear and as it rises up it shimmers, until the waves crash on the pier.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Because of the steps, your mouth was eye-level so I kissed you, not hard, no tongue, just a warm friendly kiss for no reason I’ve ever known.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Your pool man might dream about retiring or finishing school or impregnating his wife or getting divorced or saving enough for his daughter’s college.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“The rock star opens his mouth and you tumble out, with the dead-leaves scent of your hair I remember.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Fat rain fell like intention on the side of the road where the life had left, fat rain on my cheeks, benediction to a girl who was suddenly wrestling with religion …” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Dash of the sea in his honey-blue eyes, bones carved by angels …” We’re honored to debut publishing flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“He was only a ghost in the technical sense of the term, in that he was dead and haunting the Earth.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“I drink from the hipflask and, even before the alcohol fills my mouth, it is delicious—the coldness of the metal against my lips, my teeth, the roundness of it, the O.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Where are those skies, those seas, that earth of my blood memory?” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.