Odds ‘n’ Ends

(As you can see from this photo taken on the way to St. George Island, I’m among Ann’s odds and ends.)

This is a kind of odds-and-ends week as I begin work again on a new short novel called “Borne” and take care of some other random obligations. A few realizations from the weekend.

– I’m working too hard and have to slow down.
– The 60 in 60 has broken me; it’ll start up again soonish, but won’t be daily.
– Star Trek the reboot was good but not great, mainly ’cause of stupid villain stuff.
– Role Models was pretty darn hilarious, and Sarah Marshall well nigh almost tragic, oddly enough.
– It’s time to start hiking again, since it’s gotten hot as hell here in Florida. Woo-hoo! Bring on the bears.
– the intertubes are beginning to invade my brain too much.
– Derek Raymond’s I Was Dora Suarez is possibly the best noir horror novel I’ve ever read.
– I’m working too hard and have to slow down.

One fun thing I’m working on is setting up the joint book tour in the fall/winter for my novel Finch and for Booklife: Strategies & Survival Tips for 21st-Century Writers. I’ll be on the road four to five weeks, driving across the entire country. Tentative gigs thus far (don’t quote me yet) include venues like Powells, the Library of Congress, the University Bookstore (Seattle), and a couple of universities. Cities tentatively include everywhere from Portland to Salt Lake City, Denver to Chicago, Asheville to New York City. It’s a fairly robust schedule, with the potential for 20 to 30 stops. (Since I’m still setting this up with Underland and Tachyon, drop me a line if you’d like to see me come to your fair city: vanderworld at hotmail.com. Both in terms of venues and potential places to crash for a night or two; yep, it’s the very definition of indie tour, and I like it that way…)

Also, just got in Conjunctions 52: Betwixt the Between–Impossible Realism, which includes my story “Predecessor,” and Geoff Manaugh’s The Bldg Blog Book, both of which I hope to blog about later this week.

Have yourself a good little Monday. What’ve you been up to?

Happy Mother’s Day!

This is Ann taking over Jeff’s blog for a moment. Well, it IS Mother’s Day after all, right? And I am sure he won’t mind. Just had to share this funny Mother’s Day moment with you.

As many of you know, Erin & Riley moved to Amsterdam last Sunday. Before they moved, Erin had a yard sale and was planning to throw out all of Riley’s magnificent finger-paintings. I saved all of them (including some of Erin’s as well) and decided to have one professionally framed.

I took this amazing piece of art to our local frame shop (by this time they are used to all kinds of wonderful wackiness from us) and asked the owner Hub to help me select the best matting and frame to properly enhance this spendid creation.

After a week Erin, Jeff and I went to pick up the finished product and were amazed (this photograph just doesn’t do it justice).

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World Fantasy Con GoH

Thrilled to say Ann and I have been asked to be two of the guests of honor for World Fantasy Con this year. Garth Nix and Lisa Snelling are also GoHs, and Jay Lake will be toastmaster. It’s quite an honor.

Update: Michael Swanwick has also been added to the list.

Sfar and Trondheim’s Sublime Dungeon

I just did a long feature on Dungeon for Omnivoracious. Love this series.

Each of these characters, and many supporting players, are fleshed out over the course of the series to an astounding degree. One masterstroke by Sfar and Trondheim in mapping out the narrative was to create different story “threads.” Thus, you get three main series–the dungeon’s Early Years, Zenith, and Twilight–with minor stories that still support the main narrative collected in the parallel series Monstres and Parade. Not only does this allow the creators, and a series of guest artists, to work on whatever parts of the narrative interest them at any particular time, it makes the effect truly three-dimensional. Further, you can, more or less, begin with any particular thread you want, and then read through the others–every point of entry creates a different experience of situation and character.

Found in Translation: Wyte’s Story in Finch

UPDATE: I forgot, blurbs are beginning to come in… “Jeff VanderMeer’s stunning Finch opens with a claustrophobic interrogation and with a reluctant detective forced to solve a double-murder. Finch quickly expands beyond genres and beyond the edges of Ambergris–its complex history, its many apocalypses–while remaining a deeply affecting and personal story. Told in a pitch-perfect voice and steeped in the unrelenting menace authentic to the best works of noir, Finch is a wonderful, sad, brutal, and beautiful book. A tour de force.”–Paul Tremblay, author of The Little Sleep

Long before I began to work seriously on Finch, my latest novel, I had fragments of something called, er, Fragments From a Drowned City, which was about a detective who comes to Ambergris seeking a girl apparently abducted and brought to the city. (I worked on it from 1999 to 2001.) It never really came together because I couldn’t at that time imagine the city of Ambergris with the subterranean gray caps in control. I also didn’t really know what happened to the detective. However, in reviewing all of my notes about Ambergris when beginning work on Finch, I realized that hidden in Fragments were many scenes and elements that belonged in the novel–just not in the same style or from the same perspective. In Finch, for example, I knew Finch’s partner, Wyte, had gone through the same experience ascribed to my nameless detective in Fragments. But that same experience needed to be rendered in a totally different way. So, here’s the more-or-less finished anecdote in Finch, followed after the cut by a snippet from what appeared as “Corpse Mouth and Spore Nose” in my collection Secret Life. I make no claims for which is better, just which is better for Finch. In many ways, it is a complete transformation–an example of the intial spark of imagination leading nowhere, and then another spark coming along to reignite the original material and re-purpose it in a totally different way. The original, including other scenes that didn’t fit in Finch, now reads like Ambergris in an alternate universe. – Jeff

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Strange Birth: Morbid Anatomy at Barrister’s

(Maud Larsson’s Strange Birth)

I love Barrister’s Gallery in New Orleans. Being there as part of the New Orleans Indie Book Festival a few years back was amazing. The art they promote is so fantastical and dark and oddly beautiful. And the place itself you really have to see–a high-high ceiling means they can display huge canvases all the way up.

Now they’re showcasing a new exhibit. Go check out the images, and if you’re in Nawlins go visit Barrister’s.

(Monique Ligons’ Anatomy of Pantroglodyte)

Evil Monkey: I don’t recall sitting for a portrait! Nor ever being that open with anyone, not even my best friends.

Jeff: You talk in your sleep. And sometimes we drug you and have painters come in and do sketches.

Evil Monkey: That’s deeply disturbing.

Jeff: You’re deeply disturbing, Evil.

Atomic Pistol’s Got Yer MonkeyDoo–fer iPhone!

My good friend Charles Goran and his Atomic Pistol crew of interstellar design monkeys have just put out a new game for the iphone. I love Charles’ work, and this is really cool. Give it a try–check it out on itunes.

Jeff: Do you like it?

Evil Monkey: Hell yeah! It’s gots monkeys in it! And doo!

Ziesing Books Has Your Derek Raymond–and Tons More

I just got the latest catalog from Ziesing Books, and they went ahead and stocked some extra copies of the Derek Raymond novels from Serpent’s Tail Press. These are sharp, snazzy editions in trade paperback, and a good opportunity to check out Raymond. Cindy and Mark Ziesing are also two of my favorite people, and their online and printed catalogs are great. They love a wide variety of books, so although you’ll find lots of genre stuff in there, you’ll also find amazing non-genre books you never thought you needed…but you do!

They’re also great at special orders, like the two out-of-print Raymond books I got through them. I especially like that they take such care in wrapping the books and sending them. (They do ship overseas, but are based in California.)

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All Belgian Beers = 1,500 Pages

This is like trainspotting, isn’t it, except more fun? A few select photos, including an old friend, Mr. Nocturnum. And what the hell is that first critter? (Or the second and third, for that matter.)

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Books Received: Matt Bell Collecting, Hall’s Sad Stories, Tomine’s Optic Nerve Shortcomings, and More!

A small but cool haul today, including Matt Bell’s The Collectors, which I’m looking forward to reading along with the winner of the Caketrain contest. You can order these books directly from Caketrain. The Collectors looks a little bit like pseudo-Gothic sprinkled with a little Evenson and Danielewski (I could be wrong). Bell’s one to watch. Er, but not like from his lawn or looking in on him from an apartment window or nuthin. That wouldn’t be cool. (His address is 1234 Uranium Lane, New Flangiers, IA 45003, though, if you want to try.)

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