Powell’s Reading (Portland, OR)

I’ll be reading at Powell’s at Cedar Hills Blvd. Expect also an anecdote involving “professional cockroaches”. (Special guest to be announced.)

That night, there may also be a bar reading with Jeff Johnson; still working out details.


Hugo House Booklife Workshop (Seattle, WA)

A workshop at the Hugo House sponsored by NW MediaArts. Details on how to sign up when I have them.

EXPLORING YOUR BOOKLIFE: In this new age of social media award-winning writer Jeff VanderMeer, the author of Booklife: Strategies & Survival Tips for 21st Century Writers, shows you how to achieve a sustainable career and sustainable creativity. The workshop touches in holistic fashion on both your Public Booklife and your Private Booklife. From dealing with white noise and “open channels” to multi-tasking your creativity, distinguishing process from habit, and rediscovering passion in your writing, this workshop is all about balance and working smarter. The workshop addresses questions like “How can thinking strategically about your career actually enhance your private writing time?” and “What types of promotion or networking enhance your life and which turn you into a dog chasing its own tail?” For beginning and intermediate writers. Whether you’ve just started submitting your work or have a couple of books published, this workshop will provide valuable strategies for enhancing your Booklife.


University Bookstore Reading (Seattle, WA)

A reading and signing at the University Bookstore in Seattle, with Q&A, centered around my new novel, Finch. Cat Rambo will also be reading.


World Fantasy Convention GoH (San Jose, CA)

Ann and I are two of the guests of honor. We will be participating panel discussions, signings, readings, and more at the convention. The convention will be held at the Fairmont Hotel, 170 South Market Street, San Jose. Check the program guide for our events if you plan to attend.


Shared Worlds (Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC)

This unique summer camp for teens (13 to 18 years of age) from all over the world provides a creative and fun approach to learning how to build Science Fiction/Fantasy worlds for the purpose of writing fiction, game development, or creating art—all in a safe and structured environment with award-winning faculty. Participants in this “teen think tank” will meet like-minded students from around the world and learn how to work together and be proactive on their own. During the first week, the camp will break up into groups of 8 to 12 students to create their own separate SF or Fantasy worlds. During the second week, they will choose either a creative writing, game development, or visual arts track and produce fiction, gaming modules, or art/illustration based on their particular world. The products that come out of the camp include complete world wikipedia entries, and a book of student art, fiction, and game modules. Faculty for 2009 will include Holly Black, co-creator of the Spiderwick Chronicles, World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer, Hugo Nominee Tobias Buckell, White Wolf game developer Will Hindmarch, Weird Tales fiction editor Ann VanderMeer, and many more.


Where Do You Head For in a Bookstore?

(Taken from here.)

As kind of a side discussion to the conversation about literary/genre, realism/fabulism occurring downriver here (some interesting stuff), the subject of migratory patterns in bookstores has come up, fueled by a comment from Emily Leverett. Here’s what I said:

“I tend to follow this pattern, in part because I already get so many books of a genre nature for review…(1) thorough investigation of the trade paper and hardcover new book tables, (2) followed by the new mysteries section, (3) followed by totally perverse quest to see if my Predator book is still offered in the SF/F mass markets, (4) followed by skimming through graphic novels and manga, (5) followed by new offerings in history, (6) followed by quick scan of the SF/fantasy section, (7) followed by the discounted books section, (8) followed by travel books, (9) and ending up in magazines.”

What about you? What’s your path through a general bookstore? Why? And what do you avoid?

Forty-One and Not Dead Yet

(When you’re giving someone a high-quality selection of rubber chickens for their birthday, you have to also give them a salmonella microbe–it’s just the law. Especially when you, alas, almost share a birthday with George W. Bush…Thanks, Amanda Le!)

“Me, I was at the height of my powers…” – Giant Sand

I’m 41 today, and I’ve been trying to think through what I wanted to say, given that the last year has been such a strange mixture of the tumultuous and the triumphant. (Here’s my post about turning 40.)

On the good side of the ledger, I finished Booklife and Finch–and not only finished them but perfected them to the point that the final books are exactly what I wanted them to be. I’m very proud of them. Ann and I have also had wonderful opportunities to travel and to teach–Ann at World of Warcraft and me at Clarion South (a truly great experience), and the whole involvement in Shared Worlds, among other things. Our editing projects and fiction have been up for awards, and we’re two of the guests of honor at World Fantasy in October, which quite frankly made my year in some ways. I’ve grown as a fiction writer, and I’ve pushed myself to not only get involved with graphic novels but other types of writing that will benefit me in several different ways. I had on my list of goals for this year to start reviewing for the New York Times Book Review, and that’s happened. I also worked hard in the gym and, among other useless stats only important to me, I can now benchpress 200 lbs. I’m happy to be in better physical shape now than when I was thirty.

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July Updates: Booklife, Finch, Kosher Guide, Last Drink, Steampunk, Etc.

(Yes, I’m chained to them forever, Booklife and Finch, their pub dates so close together that even the ARCs came in around the same time.)

The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals

Out in February of next year, and I’m thrilled to announce that in addition to an introduction by Joseph Nigg and the entries on the imaginary animals, the book will feature a conversation between my wife Ann and Duff Goldman, star of Ace of Cakes, about the best ways to cook some of these beasties. Like, erm, hobbit. Goldman’s hilarious.


The ARCs are going out now, the East-West Coast tour is getting firmed up (full list of dates by the end of July), and more blurbs have come in. I’ll mix ’em up, but I think it’ll be clear what’s for what…

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The Ultra Casual VanderMeer Books Received Podcast (early July 2009): Hansen, Niven, Baker, and More

Right, so to give these books received posts a little more firepower, I’m going to start podcasting my initial thoughts about the books–basically providing context and reading a paragraph from each. I’m talking about them in the same order in which the images appear below. Yep, soon this will all be the rage. Probably already is all the rage somewhere I haven’t seen it yet. And, yep, this is the first rough stab at this; everything will get better as I continue to do these: the audio quality, the quality of discourse, the quality of the readings, and making the podcast itself more self-contained. I might even just go to video, but that takes a lot longer to put together. So, for now, we’ll try this experimental retro idea of you puttin’ the images and the audio together in your mind by yer lonesome…

1 – Best SF/F magazine evah: Taltivaeltaja

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War of All Against All: Realism vs Fabulism? Er, No…

J.M. McDermott argues that the non-realistic, near-fantastical approach to crisis in literary fiction bothers him, whereas the non-realistic, near-fantastical approach to crisis in fantasy doesn’t bother him. Larry from OF Blog of the Fallen drinks a little bit of the Kool-Aid by trying to find examples of literary fiction that don’t fall into this “trap”.

I find this discussion bizarre, to be honest. I don’t automatically assume that my life is like everyone else’s life, or that everyone’s reaction to stimuli and trauma falls roughly within the same narrow spectrum of reaction. And there is much that each of us keeps hidden.

But then, I reject the term “literary” fiction entirely as nonsensical and meaningless, just as I find “genre” meaningless. I have to use them sometimes because of common understandings of the terms, but that doesn’t make them any more meaningful. So, the discussion becomes even more incomprehensible to me in that context. Literature is not a binary construction. No one text is exactly like any other fictional text. Writers who interest me have unique ways of looking at the world, and some may use fantastical elements and some may not. Some may use elements of “realism” and some may use “hyper-realism” and some may eschew realism altogether. A hard SF writer may seem mimetic to me in his or her approaches just as a “literary” writer whose subject is contemporary relationships, and who uses no element of fantasy, may seem to me a fabulist.

The act of committing fantasy in a story or novel no more automatically makes that writer a fabulist than makes a unicorn of an accountant who reports hearing the voices of angels.

In an unintentional footnote to aspects of these first two posts, Matt Cheney tackles mimetic fiction.

I am now waiting for my friend Hal Duncan’s five-thousand-word post that will bind them and rule them all.

Of course, I am just stirring up trouble here. I’m mixing literary and realist, fabulist and genre. Just call me contrary. Besides, it all seems like a Mad Hatter’s tea party anyway.