(Me at Utopiales in Nantes a couple years back. This photo was taken after three days of epic food poisoning, and I was thinking please gawd let me die rather than suffer through another interview or panel. Shortly thereafter, I participated on a panel where the moderator asked me a question and I said I had no interest in the question whatsoever–next!–mostly because my brain had been scooped out of my skull by then. I keep this photo as a reminder of my least impressive performance.)
….I hope you’ve enjoyed the last week of posting. I’ve had fun digging into the guts of Derek Raymond’s work and posting about hiking, in particular. These entries make me no money and pull me away from the work I need to do to survive as a freelancer, but I find them so deeply satisfying that I’m willing to take the hit; doing such things contributes to my peace of mind. I’ve thought about putting a paypal donation button on this blog, but am not really sure I like that idea. So, if you enjoy the blog, consider buying one of my books, especially the stuff published in the last couple of years.
Speaking of them books, my post excerpting Booklife was picked up by Boing Boing, much to my surprise. That led to all kinds of linkage, including from Chinese and Swedish writer groups. Why was I surprised? I believe the advice I give in the excerpt is sound, but I deliberately picked the most obvious, least proprietarial section for the blog. That even this relatively “remember that the sky is blue” section could arouse such interest makes me believe Booklife is going to sell very well. (It looks like we’ll also be setting up Booklife retreats on the East and West Coasts–probably Portland and St. Augustine–among other cool things.) One thing that does make Booklife unique is that it doesn’t just present information–it presents it in a package that gives it strategic integrity. So, erm, go out there and preorder the hell out of the thing…
In other news, my short story “Predecessor” in the current issue of Conjunctions is beginning to make its way into reader’s subconscious. Dan Wickett at the Emerging Writers Network has a short post about it, as part of Short Story Month, that excerpts the opening. It’s the kind of story in which you just ride like you’d ride a huge wave as a surfer, and hope you don’t get drowned in the subtext–I woke from nightmare and ran to the computer and typed the rough draft. “We walked onto the porch and found there beside two large wicker chairs like decaying thrones the mummified remains of two animals the size of dogs but with skulls more like apes. They looked as if theyâ€™d fallen asleep attempting to embrace. They looked, in the way their paws had crossed, as if they had been attempting to cross the divide between animal and human.”
Also, Charles Tan at Bibliophile Stalker wrote a review of Shriek: An Afterword the other day that I really appreciated. Did I appreciate it because he liked the novel? Nope. I liked it because he understood the book. Specifically, he totally got the layering effects and the purpose of those effects. He also got that you can have characters who aren’t always particularly likeable…and like them. I’m not sure if it’s usually reflected in fantasy fiction that the people we like in our real lives–our friends and colleagues–are often people that, on one level, we also think are crackpots, eccentrics, idiots, and even jerks. Instead, we want this idealized, stylized thought in fantasy especially: the good guys are noble and consistent and never fuck-ups (except in that unrealistic sexy rogue way), and their friends are loyal and consistent and stalwart and all that crap. Anyway, if he’d understood the book but not enjoyed it, I would still have appreciated his review for demonstrating that he’s a careful reader. (It also, for some reason, makes me wonder what my core readers will think of Finch–a novel that is, on the face of it, not experimental at all…and yet, deeply at its hidden core, is experimental. It’s just that, having done so many overt experiments, I am no longer interested in overt experiments. I’m much more interested in devices that don’t draw attention to themselves, and in effects that surprise the reader because those devices have colonized their minds without them realizing it.)
And, Brad Moon at GeekDad/Wired just posted about Shared Worlds. If you have teens who are interested in fantasy and SF, you really ought to consider sending them. We’re creating a very unique experience.
Finally, one thing about blogging is that if you’re diverse enough in what you blog about, you invariably turn up new treasures. In blogging about Derek Raymond, one of those treasures took the form of Ray Banks, who commented on one of the posts (he’s currently got an interesting post up on the film Gomorrah). Ray, as it turns out, writes exactly the kind of thing I love, and I’ve now got a whole new series to look forward to…
(Tomorrow, a link to and further thoughts concerning my Washington Post review of Chuck P’s “vibrator mise-en-scene” novel Pygmy.)