I’ll Be Your Writer This Evening! Let Me Tell You About Our Specials…

Catherynne M. Valente • July 28th, 2008 @ 2:37 pm • Uncategorized

Hi! I’m Cat Valente, and I’ll be your guest blogger for the week. Jeff already introduced me, but allow me to take this very special opportunity to remind you that authors enjoy long walks on the beach, sunsets, and eating–and to therefore link you to my most recent novel and my website so that you can, perhaps, help me with one or all of those things.

I have several posts ready to go for the week, but as today is a Monday, and I am exhausted, having spent the weekend in New York whilst all of New York was at ComicCon, and it is grey and blustery despite being nearly August outside, I am going to lad with a thud on this here blog and open up the comments to questions as a little get-to-know-each-other exercise.

Then, tomorrow, I’ll tell you about my love-hate relationship with confessional poetry.

So, in the comments, ask me anything you’d like about the writing life. Or the writing death. Or long walks on the beach.

22 Responses to “I’ll Be Your Writer This Evening! Let Me Tell You About Our Specials…”

  1. Allen says:

    This is a question about the writing life. While writing do you ever feel possessed by another writer – one of the great dead you’ve read and studied, for example.

  2. Catherynne M. Valente says:

    Not while I’m writing, but I certainly look back and say “wow, I was really channeling Borges/Lorca/Pavic/Nin/etc that day, wasn’t I?” It’s very easy to get someone else’s voice in your head, and even easier to not notice the repetition. I think of the writers I’ve studied as friendly ghosts, attending, but my job as a writer is to be able to tell when I’m copying off of their papers.

  3. Alex D M says:

    What’s your favourite kind of sand?

  4. Catherynne M. Valente says:

    The silver sand on the beaches in Northumbria.

  5. Jacques Barcia says:

    What´s your next book about? If there´s any in progress.

  6. Catherynne M. Valente says:

    Oh sure! It’s called Palimpsest, and I’m copyediting it as we speak. It’s an urban fantasy–but not a paranormal romance of any stripe–about a viral city, a sexually-transmitted universe that spreads among the populace of our world. The book follows four people who are exposed to the virus and their attempts to permanently emigrate to the city via an underground subculture of those in the know.

    February 24, 2009!

  7. J M McDermott says:

    Shadukaim – how do I pronounce this? “Shad-ooh-kah-ihm”? “Shud-uh-kaym”?

    What’s your favorite Medieval Romance?

  8. Jacques Barcia says:

    Wow! The same Palimpset as in the Paper Cities antho? That story is one of the strangest. And for strange I mean good!

    Btw, a review of the antho will be in Post-Weird Thoughts blog later tonight.

  9. Catherynne M. Valente says:

    Jacques: The very same!

    JM: Shah-doo-key-am is how I pronounce it, I am probably wrong, as I didn’t invent it, it’s from Arabic myth.

  10. Timblynod says:

    Who are your favorite living authors? Your favorite not-so-living authors?

  11. Fábio says:

    Cat, do you think the concept of genre as we know it is dead?

  12. Catherynne M. Valente says:

    Timblynod: Well, Mr. Vandermeer is one. Of living authors, see also: Theodora Goss, Milorad Pavic, Greer Gilman, Sonya Taaffe, Salman Rushdie, AS Byatt, and Jeanette Winterson.

    Dead? Too many! Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Borges, Plath, Italo Calvino, Sappho, Homer, TS Eliot…

  13. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Hey–had a stray moment to check in. Question then since you like Winterson–have you read her latest, and if so, what did you think of it? If not, what is your favorite of her works?


  14. Matt Staggs says:

    Catherynne! Over here! In the back!

    Speaking of Paper Cities, I have a question:

    Why do you think that so many authors are attracted to writing about imaginary cities? It can’t be any easier than writing about a real place – both tasks have their inherent difficulties – and it would seem that this goes beyond simple economic exigencies. That is, while “urban fantasy” is popular right now, it’s not like there’s the massive mainstream audience for these works that might exist for, say, a mystery novel, and it would seem that there would be easier ways to make a buck. So what do you think? Does it satisfy some psychological need or compulsion? Is it just a fun creative exercise? None of the above?

  15. Catherynne M. Valente says:

    Jeff: I haven’t read her latest–GUT Symmetries is my favorite of hers. I find that she very often gets bored halfway through and starts writing a different book–one I don’t care about nearly as much as the first. Lighthousekeeping is the worst example of that I think.

    Matt–I actually wrote about this the last time I guest blogged for Jeff!


  16. Orion Zangara says:

    What books are you currently reading?

  17. Larry says:

    Here’s a tough question: Besides those authors who literally can’t afford to do it, why does it seem that most fantasy/SF authors avoid signing tours of the Southeast?

    Thought you’d like something a bit more challenging to answer ;)

  18. Catherynne M. Valente says:

    Orion: I’m reading Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence at the moment.

    Larry: What an interesting question! For me, it’s because it’s VERY FAR. I don’t really know anyone down there, so my tours, which tend to be Tours of Your Couch, Loyal Readers!, don’t find purchase down there. Even the West, though farther, is easier, because I grew up there and know the area. There’s probably also an impression that there are not so many readers in the area that it’s worth the trip, except for Dragon*Con. But many of us live in the Midwest or Northeast, and the distance is just prohibitive. If you want to attract your favorite authors, I recommend organizing a couch-network and emailing them with possible venues–you could definitely set something up! I know that I go where I have fans, and where my fans make it clear I would be welcome.

  19. Timblynod says:

    That Jeanette Winterson is a sneaky lady. I’ve been reading ‘The Stone Gods.’ Each page is layered with incredible imagery. Extraordinary imagery. I don’t think she’s written a novel. It’s poetry disguised as prose.

    E is for Extraordinary.

  20. Catherynne M. Valente says:

    Timbly: Yeah, people say that about me. It’s not always one or the other.

    Fabio: It will never be dead until booksellers cease having to sell books. For authors though, it can be irrelevant. But mostly we tend to play the games of those who sign our paychecks.

  21. Larry says:

    Yeah, I knew for many (I do read your blog on occasion!) authors, it’s “how much does it cost to fill up the gas tank again?” more than anything else. But while the Southeast is a bit different in some respects, I just don’t see why many avoid the entire region. Atlanta and Miami have around 7 million each in their metro areas and Nashville isn’t all that small with a MSA of close to 2 million. It’s just puzzling when publishers, who pay for the so-called “bigger names” to travel, don’t cross the Mason-Dixon line at all, except in rare cases.

    It’s likely a Catch-22, as you imply. To get people to come out for these things, you have to know the people first and if you aren’t in the area, who’s going to know you to come out? Tough situation to be in, I agree.

  22. Ben says:


    I feel your pain! The lack of writers that visit the Southeast drives me insane! I used to live in Minneapolis where it wasn’t as much of an issue but currently live in North Carolina and don’t ever get visited by anyone :( Even the rare author who has a connection with the area (like Jack O’Connell, whose latest book was published a few miles down the road) are nowhere to be found. I suspect that part of it has to do with the sort of bookstores that one finds in these parts. There are plenty of great independent bookstores in this region but many of them seem to cater only to those who want to read about Southern history and culture. I can think of several instances in which I’ve suggested that an independent bookstore that frequently hosts signings contact a particular author only to be told that they “don’t do fantasy and science fiction.”


    Interesting posts so far. I’m looking forward to checking out “The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden.”

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