Barkin’, Geiger-Counter Hundred-Pound Rodent Fer Yer Wednesday

Right, so, Caplin Rous posted some new videos on Facebook, and they’re really cute. So I must obey my capybara masters and post them here for your enjoyment…

The Age of Misrule is Upon Us: Mark Chadbourn Shows Us the Way

Mark Chadbourne’s fascinating Age of Misrule series has just been published in the U.S. by Pyr, and he’s contributed three guest posts to the Amazon book blog, the last one going up today. Really interesting stuff. Anyone who mentions Colin Wilson is aces in my book.

And: OMG, those John Picacio covers are to die for.

The Real-Life Roots of Fantasy

Mysterious Britain

The Invisible Hand of the God of Writing

Shared Worlds–Photos on Facebook and Elsewhere

(Ann with the students, this past Saturday)
Frankly, the last week is a blur. I forgot how much time and energy you spend on a workshop like Shared Worlds, and how patient you have to be about doing things like blog posting and other stuff on your plate.

The photos below show Holly Black from the first week, the students with Holly, them in class, with Ann, and presenting their worlds. I’ll have more text soonish, on Amazon and elsewhere, and you can also check out my mobile uploads to Facebook here.

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Books and Book-Related: That What Follows You, That What Finds You, That Wot You Acquire

I am too tired to write about Shared Worlds–which is awesome, and Holly Black is awesome and Ann is awesome, and the students and teachers too, but more on that later–but did want to touch on those things that followed us to Wofford, those things we took with us, those things that awaited us, and those things we acquired along the way…

First off, what awaited us in the cottage: many books on the bookshelves, including the ones above, which you may note includes a book called The Finnish Political System by a certain Nousiainen, intended to, erm, as the intro says, “inform Finnish students about their own governmental system.”

However the book also contained the following two notes, almost certainly by a Finnish student attending Wofford?

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Finch Cover, Tad Williams Quote


The cover for the finished version of Finch is just about complete–just futzing around with the blurbs and whatnot.

Speaking of which, this blurb just came in from the awesome Tad Williams:

“VanderMeer’s FINCH is…well, it’s FAREWELL MY LOVELY if Philip Marlowe worked for the pod-people while snacking on Alice’s Wonderland mushrooms. It’s NAME OF THE ROSE if Sean Connery’s character was a conglomeration of self-aware spores instead of a medieval monk. It’s THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD if all the agents were also testing psychedelic drugs and hung out in a post-apocalyptic Emerald City instead of Eastern Europe. More importantly, FINCH is a really good book–exciting, dark, suspenseful, and wonderfully weird.” – Tad Williams

Feel free to share your own news here. I’ve a long weekend of catching up on stuff ahead of me…

Shared Worlds Update…With Fantastical Beasts

(Franz Blei’s description of Kafka, with accompanying illo by Shared Worlds’ student Miranda Severance)

A long, long day of individual consults, a session on writing, editing, and publishing, and a fantastical beasts exercise that the students had a lot of fun with here at Shared Worlds. I’ve been posting photos on Facebook because it’s easier to do that on the run from my phone, rather than blog, but I will post a true week’s end report on Saturday or Sunday. (In the meantime, check me out on Facebook.)

Here is the fantastical beasts exercise I did on Ann…


The Ann is a short but fierce mammal with cute tiny ears and T-Rex-ish arms that make it difficult for her to reach food high in the cupboards; for this reason the Ann has entered into a symbiotic relationship with the much taller Jeff. The Ann is sometimes nocturnal, but every morning nimbles frantically on a strange round bread with a hole in the middle. It likes to read, and because of this it fashions different kinds of glasses for itself out of elements of its natural habitat (which is usually indoors). As a defense mechanism, the Ann will twist its pointy elbow into the fleshy part of your arm or leg. This hurts. A lot. The Ann also edits anything it encounters, and this is how it builds its dwelling places: from bits and pieces of sentences that have been edited out of stories and thus discarded for any other purposes. The Ann’s natural enemy is the rejected writer, but the Ann has no fear of such creatures, and stands its ground despite the roaring, spitting, and general carrying-on. The Ann has been found playing in rock bands and climbing up mountains. It is slow to anger and very patient, and as evidence of that it has been married to the Jeff for a long time. If you ask her why she is so cute she will say, “It was borned into me.”

Heading Out to Shared Worlds: What Was the Best or Weirdest Summer Camp You Ever Went To?

(Me in the Chelsea Hotel, in the middle of a Hawk Alfredson painting slashed by a madman while it had been hanging on a wall. It’s a painting inspired by Ambergris, I believe.)

So, Ann and I are headed off to to teach at the Shared Worlds teen writing camp in South Carolina tomorrow, and although I may be blogging next week I thought I’d share a last link–the latest Sofanauts, recorded by Tony Smith and featuring Amy Sturgis, Damien Walter, and moi. (Thanks btw to Jeremy Tolbert for many kindnesses.)

While I’m in transit–what’s the best or strangest summer camp you ever went to? (Erm, nothing R-rated in yer language, please, and Bob L–consider yourself warned.)

TATTOO MACHINE IS AWESOME; And Recent Omnivoracious Features

Want a great nonfiction book that’ll read like a thriller but with more humanity? Pick up Jeff Johnson’s amazing Tattoo Machine, all about his experiences as a tattoo artist. It’s blurbed by Katherine Dunn and Gus Van Sant for a reason: it’s awesome. These anecdotes are note-perfect, paced to perfection, and contain amazing details. Johnson is also honest and personal in his approach. It’s a truly compelling and humane and sometimes touching account. You’ve got to read it. (I’m also excited because it looks like I’ll be able to do an event with Jeff when I’m in Portland this fall.)

And, while I’m at it, links to some recent Omnivoracious features you shouldn’t miss, followed by a…video…

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Finch for a Thursday

We’re into that space of time between which review copies go out for Finch, my new novel, and the actual publication of same on November 1st. There will definitely be a big book release party at World Fantasy in San Jose, which will kick off my six-week, two-coast tour (also behind Booklife).

Into this space enters the inevitable outliers, as those who have glimpsed an advance copy for various reasons blog about it.

– J.M. McDermott notes the layering in of the details of a failed state.

– David Moles comments on the novel as a noir mystery and also how it further expands on the theme of colonization and attempted genocide.

– Paul Jessup gushes about the Boschian influence and the devouring of genre.

– Jeffrey Thomas points to how the novel effectively answers questions raised by the first two books in the Ambergris cycle, notices that, although multi-layered, Finch is fast-paced–as well as the multi-faceted nature of the characters.

But my favorite quote is from another writer who emailed me and said, “Fucking awesome, man. Laughter like dogs being strangled (Yeah, thanks–I can actually hear that sound in my head now), the skery (very witty, that), the grey cap guns (should he have been feeding it?)… I think it’s safe to say you’ve stocked my nightmare image cupboard for about the next seven years. But there are some lovely moments of quiet emotional acuity as well.”

Also, more blurbs, including this one from Stephen R. Donaldson: “I can’t remember ever reading a book like Finch. Audacious in technique, and extravagent in imagination, it has the rare quality of making the macabre poignant. In the midst of a disturbed and disturbing narrative landscape, Jeff VanderMeer gives us deeply sympathetic characters–especially Finch himself–who inspire us to care about their flawed and tyrannized world. I’m impressed.”

And now, since you’ve sat through all of that, here’s another short excerpt. Buy early. Buy often. Buy while there’s still money. And electricity.

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War of Beer Against Books: Stone Brewing’s 13th Anniversary Ale, Muriel Barbery, Stephen Hunt, and More

While those poor genre-literary bastards continue to slug it out in an enclosed space downstream, Ann and I decided to ignore the goings-on there to conduct an experiment involving Stone Brewing Co.’s 13th anniversary ale, which they were kind enough to send us, and various books. The idea was to see which books went best with the beer, based on a sampling of both. The books were by Jesse Bullington, Marie Brennan, Stephen Hunt, Brooks Hansen, Emma Bull, Geoff Manaugh, Muriel Barbery, Warren Fahy, Brooks Hansen, and Christina Baker Kline

You can see and read the results on the Omnivoracious blog, with outtake photos from the last drinking session below…

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