Archive for February, 2008

Gregory Frost Interview

Jeff VanderMeer • February 15th, 2008 • Culture

My full interview with Frost is now up on SF Site, along with the latest news from Smaragdine.

Jeff

This time of year at least twenty prominent writers host pity parties in the city of Smaragdine. By February, all of the major newspapers and websites have posted their lists of the best books and stories published in the country over the past year. In keeping with long-standing tradition, writers not included on these lists host elaborate parties at which they are expected to pretend to cry (for some of them, it’s all too real) and to seek comfort from their friends.

New Weird Contest–Deadline Sunday

Jeff VanderMeer • February 15th, 2008 • Uncategorized

Just a reminder that the New Weird contest ends on Sunday, midnight EST.

Someone asked me about whether contest entries had to have a supernatural element, since many of the current entries do. The answer is: absolutely not. Funny-weird is good. Anything out of the ordinary, bizarre, etc. Weird road trips, strange job experiences–anything.

Also, we’ve decided to up the ante a bit. In addition to the loot already mentioned, I’m throwing in a first edition Shriek hardcover, a copy of the forthcoming Predator novel, a Situation (PS Publishing), and copies of Veniss Underground, City of Saints, and Secret Life.

Jeff

Predator Novel: Question and Back Cover Copy

Jeff VanderMeer • February 14th, 2008 • Uncategorized

A reader of this blog writes in to ask:

I had a small question about your forthcoming Predator novel. I know you talked a bit about the animosity (maybe that’s too strong a word) toward writers who do so-called “tie-in” novels, and I was wondering if you had any second thoughts about writing a Predator novel. Specifically I was curious to know if you would still have agreed to do it had it been your first novel, if you hadn’t already been established as an author of original fiction? Did your current good standing in the field make you more comfortable with taking the job, or were you of the mind that it’s your life, your career and you could do whatever you wanted regardless of what other authors feel about tie-in novels and the like?

It’s a good question. I don’t have any second thoughts about doing a Predator novel, but I definitely wouldn’t have done one as my first novel or before I was “established,” simply because I think in that context it would be difficult to be taken seriously. People’s perceptions are a powerful thing, and where you enter the public consciousness is often where you stay for a long time. However, at the same time, I couldn’t have written a Predator novel in my twenties. I wasn’t versatile enough and I wasn’t relaxed enough with my writing. Some people may think that writing a Predator novel is a lot easier than writing something more “literary,” but the fact is that on the level of technique, it’s easier only in the sense that you’re not layering in as much stuff. And in some ways, if you’ve been writing a lot of surreal or literary fantasy, even if you do in fact, despite what some people believe, write action scenes sometimes, there’s a lot of new stuff to learn.

In actual fact, the only negative response I’ve gotten is a kind of double-take from a few people who were (1) incredulous I got asked and (2) obviously didn’t think I could do it. But I have done it–I’ve written a fast-paced action-adventure novel that will appeal to Predator readers but that also has enough of my own “signatures” that I think that most of my own fans, if they pick it up, will also enjoy the novel.

Would I make a diet of writing tie-in novels? No. You become defined by the stuff you do the most of, I think, because most people can’t identify other people as being good at more than one or two things. So while I believe that the blurring of the lines between genre and pop culture and pop culture and what’s respectable has made it possible to get away with writing something like this on ocassion, I don’t think that applies if you do a lot of them. Or maybe I’m wrong, because I know lots of authors I respect who do them regularly. I think I might just be one of the only ones who actually talks about it a lot and doesn’t mind actually pro-actively promoting mine.

Below the cut, the current back cover copy for the book…which doesn’t convey things like an alien virus and a ton of other complications that make the book more layered but are kinda hard to put into a paragraph. (Er, I almost suggested they add “There will be blood!” to the end of it.)

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Project Runway: Rami’s Drapery Obsession

Jeff VanderMeer • February 13th, 2008 • Culture

So in another twenty minutes, Rami might make it to fashion week on Project Runway. For those of you who follow the show, Rami likes to drape. He drapes his dresses. Every damn dress is some kind of drapery. Kinda like the foams of that guy on Top Chef.

Well, at least I know why he has this obsession. In the outtakes on the Bravo website, he explains that his first major sexual encounter was with a high school teacher who had come to his house to tutor him, and they did it behind the livingroom drapes. Ever since, draping and drapery has been imprinted on his fashion soul.

Knowing this does not in any way make it right. STOP THE DRAPERY!

I realize this entire post may be incomprehensible to large numbers of my readers.

Jeff

Letter from Singapore: An Interview with Jason Erik Lundberg

Jeff VanderMeer • February 13th, 2008 • Uncategorized

In addition to running his livejournal, Jason Erik Lundberg is a writer and editor who, with his wife Janet Chui, runs Two Cranes Press. TCP put out Scattered, Covered, Smothered (fiction about food/cooking) and has a new antho coming out soon. In 2008, his writing will see publication in Subterranean Mag, Farrago’s Wainscot, Sybil’s Garage, Tiny Stories, and Strange Horizons. In addition to all of that, he podcasts, including a reading of my story “Appoggiatura” from John Klima’s Loghorrea anthology. In the middle of all of this activity, he up and moved to Singapore. I thought it would be interesting to interview him about his various projects, and what it’s like to live in Asia.

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Recent Reviews and Features

Jeff VanderMeer • February 13th, 2008 • Book Reviews

My SciFi Weekly review of Inferno, edited by Ellen Datlow:

This is the brief at the smoldering heart of Inferno: to provide the reader with a heart-pounding moment of shock or dread. But horror is about more than that jolt, and the majority of stories in Inferno work well because the writers are willing to push their concepts and their characters to the brink. The best examples of this willingness to go beyond come from two of the Young Turks in the anthology, Barron and Ballingrud, both of whom are known exclusively for their short fiction.

On Amazon’s book blog:

Tiny Books, Big Imaginations
Why do I like small books? Well, when I’m on vacation, it’s a great rationalization for buying books in the first place: Oh, I’ll just get this microscopic book here, that I have to pick up with tweezers. That way, it’ll fit in my luggage. Of course, I wind up buying so many tiny books using that rationale that I wind up with less space than if I’d just bought big books to begin with.

Are You Feeling Better?
In Better, now out in trade paperback, Gawande focuses on issues like hand-washing (if everyone in hospitals did it, many more lives would be saved), medical malpractice suits (the issue is more complicated than you might think), and advances in saving lives on the battlefield (due mostly to improved processes rather than new technology).

Various linkage

The Year to Come

Jeff VanderMeer • February 13th, 2008 • Uncategorized

Ann and I finally have an emerging schedule for the year, and as you can see it’s somewhat crowded–and likely to get more crowded on the events side, since several other things are pending; we are highly chuffed about the Czech thing, which just happened yesterday.

Re the projects, you’ll note we have six anthos coming out this year–each radically different from the last. Sometimes it just happens that way. So just bear with me as I babble on about one thing or the other. We’re excited about each of these projects and each of them will have our full attention. (The pirate antho date was just fixed for October and we’re in the process of letting the contributors know.) Things are off to a good start with several amazing developments for The New Weird antho that I’ll share in the coming weeks.

APPEARANCES
Feb – South Carolina Book Fair guests
March – Keynote speaker, Arizona Convocation of librarians
April – I-CON guests
August – Czech Republic convention in Pilsen (with China Mieville, Les Edwards, and Steph Swainston)

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Colleen Lindsay: Publicist Extraordinaire Becomes Agent Provocateur

Jeff VanderMeer • February 12th, 2008 • Uncategorized

Colleen Lindsay, one of my favorite people, is now an agent–and looking for clients, I believe. Congrats to Colleen!

Jeff

Off-Line Temporarily

Jeff VanderMeer • February 11th, 2008 • Uncategorized

I’m off-line until sometime Wednesday. If you’re expecting an email from me, there might be a slight delay. Keep those NW contest entries coming. – Jeff

CONTEST: Tell Us Your New Weird Story, Win Tons of Cool Stuff!

Jeff VanderMeer • February 10th, 2008 • News

UPDATE: Just now visiting and want to enter the contest? Note this update about additional prizes, etc.

In honor of the publication of The New Weird anthology, which we hope you’ll consider buying, Ann and I have decided to have a little contest. Tell us your “new, weird” story–something strange (but entertaining and either PG-rated or with the naughty bits blocked out) that happened to you or you witnessed in the last couple of years. Work-related, fun-related, whatever–go wild. Hopefully some of these will be bizarre but also uplifting, although that’s not a requirement. It’s more about…hey, this world we live in is an odder place than we might think. All of those stories in The New Weird from China Mieville, Clive Barker, K.J. Bishop, Steph Swainston, Jeffrey Ford, Jay Lake, Pual Di Filippo, Michael Moorcock, M. John Harrison, and others–they’re not strange; the world is strange!

What do you win? The three winners, chosen by Ann and me, will win ONE COPY OF EACH ANTHOLOGY WE EDIT BETWEEN NOW AND 2010, PERSONALIZED. Yes, that’s correct. You will get a copy of The New Weird, Steampunk, The Leonardo Variations (Clarion charity anthology), Fast Ships/Black Sails (pirates), Best American Fantasy 2, Best Horror 2009, Last Drink Bird Head, Mapping the Beast: The Best of Leviathan, and various other anthologies currently in the planning stages. Heck, we’ll even throw in the first couple issue of Weird Tales with Ann as fiction editor. We also reserve the right to give out honorable mentions, said HMs to receive a copy of the NW antho.

Contest Rules:
- Must post the incident in the comments field on this blog entry (with at least a first name for now, although anonymous monikers are vaguely acceptable) and also, if you have a blog, we strongly suggest you post it there and link back to us (gives us all more traffic and content!)
- Try not to go over 500 words in relating your true story
- Contest ends February 17th, Sunday, at midnight EST.
- You can be located anywhere in the world and still enter the contest, but we reserve the right to ship books to overseas contest winners using an method other than first class airmail.

Also, check out The New Weird’s connection to Mike Libby’s awesome Insect Lab.