How Old Are You In Writer Years? Here’s the Formula…

Just like dogs, writers have their own conversion to human years to make. If you’re a 32-year-old writer writing for 20 years, you’re probably much, much older than a 40-year-old writer writing for 10 years.

How do you go about determining your true writer age? It’s simple.

First of all, discard your real age, which is meaningless. Then

(1) Take the number of years you’ve been writing and multiply it by the number of rejection slips you’ve received.

(2) Divide that number by the number of acceptances. (If zero, use one instead.)

(3) Then subtract the number of times someone (anyone from your mum to the NYT) has said they like your writing.

(4) Add to that result the number of bad reviews you’ve gotten.

(5) Take the number of feuds you’ve had with other writers, multiplied by the number of ranting comments you’ve posted to someone’s blog on a subject related to writing. Add that number to your total.

(6) Subtract the number that represents every time you’ve helped another writer, either by reading something of theirs or by helping them get an agent, etc.

Don’t count the number of times you’ve wept at a rejection or raged in private at some slight. Don’t count the number of times you’ve thought enviously of some other writer’s career. Don’t count the number of times the precarious nature of the business has driven you to drink (or, if you’re under-aged, copious amounts of soda and ice cream). Don’t count the number of times you’ve danced around in your bathrobe because of some success. All of these variables, over the lifetime of a writer, tend to occur in the same numbers for everyone.

So, by that formula I am almost exactly 1,000 years old today. Happy writer’s birthday to me.

Books Received: Durham, Electric Velocipede, Marxism, and More


(Well, here are three books that couldn’t be more different if they tried…)

Honestly, the number of books entering the house each day has become a torrent, impossible to keep up with, let alone photograph. So this is just a selection of material that’s come in over the last couple weeks. I’ll try to get back on a regular schedule of listing/photographing books received soonish. Of special note–the Marxism book co-edited by China Mieville and the new EV. (I love EV, but now that they’re in the smaller format, I really wish they’d switch to a single-column format. There’s a reason that books in that size, like anthos and novels, aren’t published in two-columns. Anyway, it’s beautiful but it’s hard for me to read.)

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Paradigms & Fairytales: What’s Your Favorite Eccentric Nonfiction Book? (Er, and Beer)


(So, like, what’s with the beer in the photo? Over on Omnivoracious, I’m soliciting suggestions for books to feature with Stone Brewing’s latest act of genius–said act included sending us two bottles of amazing beer. So, here, your fav nonfic crazy books. There, your fav books to pair with beer. Go to it, my peoples!)

I love eccentric nonfiction, in part because I get some of my funniest fictional ideas from such books. In the past, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of any number of slightly “off” texts, including a book on penguins where the author went off on long rants about misclassifications and the backstabbing that goes on in the penguin studies community. There’s something about eccentric nonfiction that points out the inherent absurdity of our situation as living beings. Which is to say, we establish these parameters for reality and we abide by them, the data reinforced by the evidence of our five senses and our brain’s ability to process and analyze information. We tell ourselves that certain things are more real than others—for example, chemistry is more real, based on more facts, as a branch of science than, say, a soft science like sociology. And yet, when it comes down to it, everything is still processed through our slightly illogical, definitely subjective, maybe-having-a-bad-day brains.

So, you wind up with a lovely subset of nonfiction that often reads like Kinbote from Pale Fire is your narrator. Sometimes this is because the writer is truly a bit cracked. Sometimes it’s because even a decade can turn a serious nonfiction book into…fiction.

Then, there are books that you can’t not take seriously and yet also seem full of crazy in the best possible way. For example, I’ve recently been reading the two-volume set Paradigms & Fairy Tales: An Introduction to the Science of Meanings by Julienne Ford (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975)

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Murder By Death’s Finch Soundtrack (and More Finch Limited Details)


(The CD design by MBD, based on John Coulthart’s cover for Finch.)

Murder by Death sent me the Finch soundtrack music yesterday, and I’ve spent a fair amount of my life since listening to it. The CD clocks in at about 23 minutes and has seven tracks, some of which have multiple parts or subtitles. I absolutely positively love it–it’s about as close to the music in my head I imagined while writing Finch as it could possibly be, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since I listened compulsively to MBD while writing the novel. I just can’t believe how amazing this is, especially because the mood throughout really seems to capture Finch’s character, and to be both sad and defiant and human. And the music always has a seeking, questing feel to it that fits the detective plot perfectly.

I interviewed the band for Amazon, a feature I’ll post next week, but here are a couple of snippets from them about the soundtrack.

Adam: We thought of central or particularly vivid scenes we wanted to recreate and went for it. We wanted various styles of music on the soundtrack so we tried to use dark moments, sad moments, brutal moments etc to vary the feeling. The fun part was trying to think how a mushroom sounds. Since we didn’t use lyrics, we had to communicate all the ideas through music and the feel of the song.s We decided a vintage Fender Rhodes had the best overall tone for “mushroom”.

Dagan: This was different from any previous project we’ve done. We have songs fully written and rehearsed before we go in to a recording studio, but this time we wrote, rehearsed, and recorded on the spot. Plus, we don’t necessarily have to play these songs live, so we were able to get pretty elaborate in the studio. Things like six cellos playing at the same time, and three Dagans and Adams singing underneath it.

I’m going to briefly describe the tracks after the cut, even though I’m not the best at such description, so apologies in advance–also because I got it all as one long file, so I may be misinterpreting the transitions. (I’ve already talked about the limited editions that come with the CD before, and do so again below the MBD stuff.)

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Belated Outer Alliance Pride Day

September 1st was Outer Alliance Pride Day, and Cheryl Morgan has a round-up of some of the posts associated with the day, with some context about the John C. Wright post that sparked the idea–and there’s the posts linkage on the Outer Alliance site itself. I’m not normally a joiner–I don’t actually belong to any organizations, as far as I’m aware–but this one seems like a no-brainer.

So here’s the pledge: “As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.” Again, a no-brainer, right? Not even necessary? Well, yes, necessary, unfortunately. Ann and I have so many dear friends and relatives who are gay, lesbian, transgendered, what have you, that it still strikes us as bizarre that this is even an issue with some people.

Anyway, you’re supposed to post a piece of fiction, too, so here’s a bit from “The Transformation of Martin Lake.”

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Matrix Reloaded: Fifteen Pounds of (Pouncing) Chest Cat and Major Kung-Fu


(Looks so evil. Not evil. Demented and nuts, but not evil.)

So. We have a new cat, who looks like the devil sometimes (see above) and sometimes looks like this:

Other times, the cat looks like this:

We got him from neighbors down the street who had put up a “Free Cat” sign as part of their garage sale. Because, with three cats already and all kinds of time commitments, we needed another beast in our lives. But Ann bonded and I enabled, and we took the cat, which otherwise might’ve gone back to the pound. The cat seemed well-fed, healthy, and apparently had a chip already.

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Fall/Winter VanderMeer Tour Update: David Anthony Durham and Paul Tremblay in Boston and More

One cool thing about doing a book tour is getting to mix it up by doing some events solo and teaming up for others. So, for example, we’ve just added an event at a Borders in Boston for November 20th, featuring myself and co-conspirators David Anthony Durham and Paul Tremblay, two writers I really think are great. Should make for a great evening, and as soon as I’ve got the finalized time (evening) and address, I’ll add it to the tour

Expect more events added to San Francisco, New York City, and the Carolinas, specifically around Raleigh-Durham. And, MIT has the updated description of my lecture (scroll down), presented in conjunction with their Future of Entertainment conference and also featuring Kevin Smokler of Bookmark Now.

Emerging Writers Interview at Clarkesworld with Jesse Bullington, N. K. Jemisin, Tessa Kum, Meghan McCarron, Shweta Narayan, Jeremy C. Shipp, Angela Slatter, Genevieve Valentine

In addition to the usual great content, the latest Clarkesworld has run my round-robin interview with eight writers I think of as cool and “emerging,” since “new” doesn’t quite cover it: Jesse Bullington, N. K. Jemisin (also in this issue with fiction), Tessa Kum, Meghan McCarron, Shweta Narayan, Jeremy C. Shipp, Angela Slatter, and Genevieve Valentine. (A tip of the hat to the Emerging Writers Network, by the way–they don’t own the term “emerging writer,” but they’re why I thought of using it.)

Every once in awhile, it’s good for a fool like me, entering mid-career, to check the pulse of what’s going on among the emerging writers who will one day call you a curmudgeon. Keeping tabs on this unruly, diverse lot not only lets you see the end of the road coming from much farther away and softens the often abrupt transition from “young turk” to “old fart”—it also re-energizes you and helps ensure that your reading patterns don’t get too predictable. Usually, I keep up via blogs and online fiction, but I thought it would be interesting to interview a few emerging writers about subjects like their connection to the larger community, where they see themselves in five years, what they’ve been reading, and their take on mammals versus large reptiles. A kind of core sample, if you will.

Go check it out–and below the cut here, since the interview was already running long, and they couldn’t include photos, you’ll find–the photos! What a bunch these writers are, from their mugshots. Bullington was such a tough I couldn’t even get his photo to load into flickr. Heh.

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