Archive for January, 2009

Answering Questions Via Cell Phone: The Future of Interviews?

Jeff VanderMeer • January 29th, 2009 • City of Saints and Madmen

Joseph Mallozzi was kind enough to host a discussion of City of Saints & Madmen this week as part of an ongoing book club he oversees from his blog. I had agreed to answer any questions from readers, but when Joe sent them to me I had already turned off my computer. So I answered them from my cell phone. I think this improved my performance immeasurably, as typing on the tiny keyboard at one in the morning made me choose my words very carefully indeed. Please go check it out–including a cute photo of my grandson Riley.

A couple of excerpts (it gets pretty strange by the end, with references to banjo playing and county fairs):

I think I understand the squid, which seem to be inspired by Cthulhu, but what was your inspiration for the fungus and Gray Caps?
JV: The squid were inspired by…squid. The fungus was inspired by…fungus. The gray caps were inspired by…the little gray people who [I force to] live in my cellar.

What was the initial reaction to the book’s publication?
JV: Chaos. Riots in the streets. Extreme anger. Indifference. Cookies. Handshakes. Major book deal.

I was wondering what kind of jobs you held prior to your first published work.
JV: Infant. Toddler. Middle schooler. Junior high[er].

Abandoned Twitter Novels

Jeff VanderMeer • January 29th, 2009 • Writing Tips

In an attempt to reconcile myself to new media, I’ve been trying to complete a Twitter novel, with no luck thus far. To at least get something out of it, here are the last 10 I abandoned.

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Help My Friend Matt Staggs Celebrate His 80th Birthday

Jeff VanderMeer • January 29th, 2009 • News


(Eldritch b-day cake in honor of Matt; taken from here.)

Matt Staggs has come to be a close friend over the last 18 months or so. He entered my life at a time when I was feeling beaten down, and somewhat drained of confidence. (The scar tissue in this business can be ridiculous at times, even though I don’t usually mention it here.)

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I’m 24-7 on Booklife–What’re You Working On?

Jeff VanderMeer • January 28th, 2009 • Uncategorized

I’m sitting here, back sore, a little frazzled, working on Booklife, hoping the cats won’t hate me for ignoring them for the next couple of weeks. I’m glad this is my last deadline for awhile, because it seems like it’s been one close deadline after another for the last year. Luckily, after Clarion South that all ends for awhile. But it’s a tough slog the next few days.

I’d love it if you guys would post a paragraph or two from whatever you’re working on now, or give a little description of your own creative projects, of any kind. Would be nice to see what others are up to while I’m pretty much sitting here with blinders on most of the time.

Cheers,

Jeff

Best American Fantasy 2 Update

Jeff VanderMeer • January 28th, 2009 • Booklife Now

BAF has survived the economic downturn that has led to some series being canceled and Realms of Fantasy ceasing publication. But I can’t say we survived by much–thus the delay in BAF coming out–so your support is truly appreciated. The book has gone to the printer and will be out in less than a month. If you want to support a truly unique anthology with stories you won’t find in one place anywhere else, considering ordering it. Contributors to this volume include Kelly Link, Jeffrey Ford, Rick Moody, Aimee Bender, M. Rickert, and more.

Excellent reviews have appeared in Locus, Publishers Weekly, and F&SF.

Discarded Shriek Part II Opening

Jeff VanderMeer • January 27th, 2009 • Fiction

An alternate opening to part 2 of Shriek, the part beginning with the war. I think you can see why. Although it provides more information and context, it’s more or less sludge in many ways. Especially in a book that doesn’t rely on a fast-paced plot for its effects.

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Avid Reader Reading, Brisbane

Jeff VanderMeer • January 27th, 2009 • Events

I’ll be reading at the Avid Reader in Brisbane, Australia, the evening of Feb. 12.

Teaching at Clarion South

Jeff VanderMeer • January 27th, 2009 • Events

Teaching at Clarion South in Brisbane, Australia.

John Updike

Jeff VanderMeer • January 27th, 2009 • Uncategorized

I heard that Updike passed away. I hope it’s not true. I loved his Becht (sic) books especially, which I know is blasphemy since they are minor in his canon.

Also heard a rumor RofF is leaving us. oy.

Surreal Noir: Something Stirring, Redux

Jeff VanderMeer • January 26th, 2009 • Booklife Now, Photos

Following up on my prior post, I’m definitely looking forward to this one, which arrived today, perhaps more than any other Mieville novel. It looks to be influenced by Borges, Kafka, and Kubin. I’ll be interested to see how the literalization of the figurative–Borges generally works because he doesn’t have traditional scenes in his fiction—is achieved here. If he pulls it off it could be magnificent. I’m just speculating here, but getting to Borges through Kubin might be the key, because Kubin did a nifty job of creepy surrealism and Borgesian-type play in the context of a more conventional story. Add in the structure of a police procedural and you’ve got the recipe for something that updates all of these approaches.

I’m also happy to see that Mieville’s novel and mine are vastly different creatures. It means I probably didn’t need to toss the advance unbound copy I got a few months ago (when you’re in the act of creating something idiosyncratic and retooling your style in the process you don’t want any white noise or interference from another highly visual imagination).

I’m definitely going to tackle a long critical essay, from a writer’s point of view, on this latest wave of surreal, fantastical noir. It’ll be interesting to mix analysis of books like the ones below with my own perspective from inhabiting the interior of Finch for so long–and from eight years of reviewing nothing but mystery/noir novels for Publishers Weekly.

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