Reconstruction is a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominee!

Mon 8 Aug 2022 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

Reconstruction coverWe are delighted to see Alaya Dawn Johnson’s collection Reconstruction: Stories is a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominee! Alaya probably does not need any introduction to readers here. She is a fabulous writer whose work we have long admired — as does Janelle Monáe who asked Alaya to be one of the co-writers in her fiction debut, The Memory Librarian.

Reconstruction has ten stories and to give you some idea of the range, here are a couple of stories, A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i and A Song to Greet the Sun, you can read online and an excerpt from the outstanding title story on

Such a punch!

Mon 20 Jun 2022 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

This week on on Book Riot’s Under the Radar SFF podcast Jenn and Sharifah discuss many interesting books (including Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel) and other things including a review of Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Reconstruction: Stories.

Alaya was recently chosen to co-write the first story in Janelle Monáe’s New York Times bestselling first book The Memory Librarian.

I enjoyed he podcast so much I used the voice memo app on my phone and then the dictation app on my laptop to make this lightly edited transcript. It’s definitely not 100% accurate as I was looking to capture the description of this book I love more than keep it to 100% of what was said. You can listen to the full episode or subscribe here:

Alaya Dawn Johnson is a writer whose career I have been happily following for some times now. This collection is such a punch. From the opening story right on through it is putting you on notice. You’re gonna go some places here and you’re not gonna be able to look away. It’s an amazing collection.
The title story is the last story in the collection and the longest  in the collection. It takes place during the end of the Civil War in the United States. You’re following a black woman who is a laundress, freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, and now following a regiment of black soldiers. It’s really good. That character, Sally, is so justifiably angry but one of the through lines of the story is a breakdown of the different kinds of anger and what they do to you and why you cling to them and how they affect you and how you move through the world through these different forms of anger. It’s so insightful and perceptive and so visceral and present.
The first story is such a punch. It’s called “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawaii” and it imagines a world — sort of our time — in which vampires are in charge and have enslaved humanity and put them in camps and are breeding them as a food supply and our main character is an overseer who is a human working for the vampires. So it’s about coercion and collaboration, what does it mean to survive? What does it mean to try to carve out enough power to do the good that you can while knowing that you are perpetuating harm? It’s so intense. It’s beautifully written.
The stories are not easy and I think they’re not supposed to be. I think Johnson is doing so much in here. There’s a huge range of what speculative elements she’s using between the stories and the tones shift and the settings shift. Each story is very different. They are so good. She is such good short story writer — she’s also an excellent novelist — but you really feel the power of her short fiction in this collection. And there’s a really interesting author note at the end.

Second Interview in New Series

Thu 18 Nov 2021 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Posted by: Gavin

Alaya Dawn Johnson, photo by Armando VegaWe recently posted a new interview with recent World Fantasy Award winner Alaya Dawn Johnson in our occasional Book Moon Small Beer author interview series. As with the first, the interview was carried out by the inimitable Franchesca Viaud.

Reconstruction: Stories is Alaya’s first collection of stories collecting stories from as far back as 2005 and as new as the eponymous title story that first appeared in the collection. “The Mirages” was going to be published for the first time in the book but the pandemic got the better of us, the book was moved to January of this year, and the story first appeared in Asimov’s last issue of 2020. In between those times Alaya has published many stories and novels, started a band, and moved to Mexico.

Alaya’s first novel, Racing the Dark, was published in 2007 by Agate and her latest, Trouble the Saints, that World Fantasy Award winner mentioned above, was published in 2020 by Tor with the paperback edition coming out just this past August. We have some signed bookplates at Book Moon will be included free with any of her books ordered from there.

Read the interview here.

Author photo by Armando Vega.


Tue 5 Jan 2021 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Posted by: Gavin

Reconstruction cover - click to view full sizeToday, despite wanting to be in home, in bed, reading a book, recovering from 2020, instead, here we go: we’re publishing our first book of 2021, a book that has been a long time coming, Alaya Dawn Johnson’s collection, Reconstruction: Stories. Is it worth getting out of bed for? Yes. Order it from your fave local bookstore (or Book Moon) on and when the book arrives in the mail you will be very happy you got out of bed that day.

Alaya’s stories range far and wide moving smoothly from contemporary times to far future explorations to historical fiction and throughout they showcase her deep-seated guiding intelligence leaving the reader in no doubt that no matter where, where, or who the story is about, it is worth going down that path and turning page after page until the end.

Alaya wrote 2 stories for the book, the title story, “Reconstruction,” a tremendous story with a depth and weight not to be missed — read an excerpt on — and “The Mirages.” Because the book was moved from November 2020 to today (for pandemic reasons) the latter story was first published in Asimov’s magazine in Nov/Dec 2020 issue.

Five of the ten stories collected here can be read online, the first on Alaya’s website, the rest as below. Dig in!

“A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i” [read]
“Their Changing Bodies” — read on Subterranean Press
“The Score” — read at Nightmare Magazine
“A Song to Greet the Sun” — read at Fantasy Magazine
“Down the Well” — read on Strange Horizons