Kage Baker–Terrific Writer, Needs Your Support

Kage Baker has been a favorite writer of mine for a long time, and she was a marvelous contributor to both our pirate anthology and to The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases. Her entry in that book is one of my favorites. Her Company stories are wonderful, and in her humorous stories she has one of the best senses of comic timing I’ve seen in fiction. When she participated in the video for our pirate anthology, she had a real parrot on her shoulder!

In the last couple of days, she’s finally made public her battle with cancer, which is in a critical stage. All of the information here, but below are the snail mail and email addresses at which you can reach her.

She’s a great person, a great writer. Drop her a line. Please. She could do with something silly, something fun, something that shows you care.

Emails of support: [email protected]

Letters, notes, cards and anything else you can think of can be sent to her home:

Kage Baker
331 Stimson, Apt. B,
Pismo Beach CA 93449

Story for Haiti Donations: Bats

Per Jay Lake’s post (and Cheryl Morgan), if you’re entertained by the previously unpublished kid’s fiction vignette posted below—one of the only things I have that’s unpublished and therefore exclusive—consider making a donation to Haitian disaster relief. Jay has more details here.



The Great Bat Expedition from Camp Crystal Lakes started out well enough. Nick, his sister Nikki, and their best friend Tom gathered outside Nick’s tent in the mid-afternoon.

One by one they went through their list.

“Flashlight?” Nikki asked. She always kept the lists.

“Check,” said Nick. It was one of his favorite words. Sometimes he would say it all day long. Those were the days Nikki and Tom would try to avoid him.

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VanderMeer Books in 2010 and 2011

I don’t have a new novel out in 2010—I haven’t even really thought about writing the next one yet—but Ann and I have a bunch of books coming out in 2010-2011. Not on this list is a book version of “The Three Quests of the Wizard Sarnod,” since the details on that are still iffy. (Breaking news: “new” Gormenghast novel!)

February 2010
The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals (Tachyon Publications) – Ann and I wrote this together, and the book also includes Ann’s interview with Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes. It’s the perfect little hardcover gift book for fantasy lovers, Jews with a sense of humor (there are many), those who love off-beat books about food/cooking, and general readers as well. Jewcy.com and Forward have both done preview features on the book.

Best American Fantasy 3: Real Unreal, guest edited by Kevin Brockmeier (Underland Press) – We really didn’t have anything to do with putting this volume together (thank Kevin and then-series editor Matt Cheney), but as founders of the series we will be involved in getting the word out. With stories by established writers, such as Peter S. Beagle, Laura Kasischke, Jeffrey Ford, and Lisa Goldstein, alongside tales by brilliant newcomers like Kellie Wells, Thomas Glave, Ryan Boudinot, and Rebecca Makkai, Real Unreal delivers a richly diverse experience of contemporary fiction.

May 2010
The Third Bear (Tachyon Publications) – My second major short story collection features the title story along with all of my best fiction from the past five years, including a new story, “The Quickening.” (Possible this is actually coming out in July.)

June 2010
Monstrous Creatures (Guide Dog Press) – My second major nonfiction collection, with reviews, essays, and articles, pulled from my work for Omnivoracious, the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. (Assuming I turn the darn thing in on time.)

The Leonardo Variations (Ministry of Whimsy) – With any luck, we’ll finally get this charity anthology for Clarion San Diego published. It features student writing and nonfiction from instructors. We planned to do it last year but found that doing two charity anthos in one year was beyond us time-wise and financially, given I live off of the writing and editing.

July 2010
Booklife (A&C Black) – The UK edition of Booklife will be released over the summer.

The Situation Web Comic (Tor.com) – Okay, so this collaboration with artist Eric Orchard isn’t technically a book, but it’s a substantial project and should be up on the Tor site by the summer.

August 2010
Finch (Grove Atlantic) – The UK edition of the novel that made the year’s best lists of the Washington Post, Barnes & Noble Review, Wall Street Journal, etc., will appear in August. New blurbs from Lev Grossman and Warren Ellis, too.

September 2010
Steampunk Reloaded (Tachyon Publications) – The “sequel” to the first Steampunk reprint anthology, but primarily focusing on the last decade. Contents are shaping up nicely, and include work by Cherie Priest, Catherynne M. Valente, Daniel Abraham, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Margo Lanagan, Gail Carriger, Jake von Slatt, etc. Plenty of surprises here, so stay tuned.

November 2010
XXXXXX????? (Grove Atlantic) – A project we’ll formally announce in the next couple of weeks.

Spring 2011
The Steampunk Bible (Abrams Image) – This amazing 7 x 10 coffee table book will be a definitive overview of Steampunk in image and text. Ably assisted by S.J. Chambers on this one.

Best American Fantasy 4: Invisible Borders (Underland Press) – Guest-edited by Minister Faust and with series editor Larry Nolen and Latin American consultant Fabio Fernandes on board, BAF will soldier on. Ann and I will be serving in an administrative and

Summer 2011
The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (HarperCollins) – Edited by Ann and me, this follow-up to The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases will feature, among others, Mike Mignola, Alan Moore, China Mieville, Cherie Priest, and Naomi Novik. A more integrated combination of text and image than even the fake disease guide, this new anthology will combine the quirkiness of the original with actual full-on short stories.

Indiebound and Finch Video: In Praise of Independent Bookstores

One thing about my recent five-week book tour behind Finch and Booklife that I particularly loved was getting to read in so many great independent bookstores. Indies are extremely important to the well-being of book culture and often serve as strongholds for author events. This month, Indiebound has listed Finch as one of its Indie Notables, something I’m very proud of. This comes on the heels of tons of national media attention and praise for the novel–the novel has significant legs.

You can find some longer descriptions of indies in my book tour reports for Omnivoracious, but below the cut I’ve written downpersonal impressions of the indie bookstores I visited during the tour–including some little-known facts about each. A huge thanks to each and every one of them.

I’m also rolling out the new Finch negative campaign ad video (see above). Friends and fans from all over the world contributed to the video. After some bugs in moviemaker, Matt Staggs stepped in to finish it, including doing the voice-over. If you like the book, please feel free to post the video and a link to Indiebound this month, along with your own praise of the indies. Thanks.

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Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief

The situation in Haiti following the earthquake is terrible. Here’s information on how you can help. It reads in part:

“In a blog post on the U.S. State Department Web site, Clinton’s Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills called for those wanting to help to donate $10 by texting “HAITI” to “90999.” The $10 donation will go automatically to the Red Cross “to help with relief efforts” and will be charged directly to your cell phone bill, the Web site said.”

Finch: Finding a Way into the Novel

(Chapbook cover for Finch limited edition, available through Underland.)

This is the fourth of a series of posts on my novel Finch. Finch is set in my fantastical city of Ambergris, but also borrows heavily from such genres as the spy novel, the noir mystery novel, and certain types of political thrillers. In the novel, an inhuman subterranean species called gray caps has risen up to take control of the city and subjugate the human population. As in Paris during Nazi control, the gray caps attempt to give a semblance of normality by providing institutions of order like a police force, even though these institutions are often merely a façade or horrible/absurd in nature. Against this backdrop, reluctant detective John Finch must solve a strange double murder.

You can find the other entries here:

Finch and Black Hawk Down: Repurposing Technique

Finch’s Opening–intro post

Finch’s Opening–discarded approaches

You can read the first 68 pages of Finch here.

To recap, I felt I had four possible entry points to the novel:

(1) John Finch, standing over two dead bodies, at the crime scene. Beside him are his inhuman gray cap boss, Heretic, and a Partial (a kind of traitor willingly working for the gray caps).
(2) John Finch poised at the door to the apartment, inside of which are the bodies, the Partial, and Heretic.
(3) John Finch at the police station, receiving the call from Heretic about the murders, telling him to come to the apartment.
(4) John Finch in some guise giving readers an overview of the fantastical city of Ambergris in which the story takes place before being called to the crime scene.

I tried all four of these approaches, but finally settled on #2. Why? See below.

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Deadline Reminders: Shared Worlds, Clarion at San Diego, Steampunk Reloaded Antho

Just a few reminders…

First off, teen writers who are interested in a wonderfully fun and educational experience–the Shared Worlds teen SF/F writing camp is now accepting applications. Come to Wofford College for two weeks this summer and build your own fantasy/SF world, write in it, and meet awesome writers like Holly Black, critically acclaimed YA and adult authors Kathe Koja and Marly Youmans, Nebula Award winner Michael Bishop, writer and gaming expert Will Hindmarch, plus Wofford College’s own Dr. Christine Dinkins, philosophy professor, and Jeremy Jones, lecturer and camp director. Artist Scott Eagle will also conduct a workshop during the camp. Erm, and I’ll be there, too. There’s nothing like it anywhere.

Secondly, Clarion at San Diego will be taking applications for this summer’s six-week workshop until March 1st. You can find details here. Ann and I will be teaching the last two weeks, together, and before that you get the amazing Delia Sherman, George R.R. Martin, Dale Bailey, and Samuel R. Delany. Ann and I are also helping read the submissions that come in with applications. We’re extremely excited about this opportunity. Now’s the time to bite the bullet and get your application in!

Finally, the Steampunk Reloaded volume Ann and I are editing is still open to reprint submissions. As has been noted elsewhere, we may also reprint some Steampunk comics–query with regard to that. Otherwise, the short story guidelines are here. And, man, let me tell you–this anthology is shaping up to absolutely kick ass. Ann and I are very, very excited about it.

Gender Roles and Writing

An issue that pertains to some extent to a few of the current discussions within genre, posted on Booklifenow.

And, just so it’s not lost in the shuffle–Bruce Holland Rogers first put forth the six points in my post at Booklifenow. I, with his permission, paraphrased them (as noted); Everything on gender after the first couple of sentences are my observations or quotes from others. Also, Rachel Swirsky has posted a blog entry related to the discussion here.


As one female writer who wished to remain anonymous put it in an email to me: “[The significance of sacrifice is] wrapped up for me in the stress/struggle I have as a female writer, on the losing end of gender expectations. There a number of things I always felt like I should do: cook healthy meals, exercise, keep the house clean for me and my significant other, remember my friends’ and family’s birthdays, be there for my five younger siblings whenever they need me, etc. Yet I’m constantly aware of the fact that all the time I spend on those good things is time that I’m not writing. I constantly feel guilty — either guilty because I’m not writing, or guilty because I’m not keeping up with the tasks mentioned above. I think women are probably more prone to that feeling of guilt and personal failing than men, though perhaps that’s just a stereotype.”

Back on Monday-Tuesday–What’re You Up To?

Due to pressing deadlines, I’ll have to post my next blog entry about Finch next week. In the meantime, here are some lovely images from the Bellysnatcher project Eric Orchard and I are working on–and feel free to tell me/us about anything you’re working on or have out.

Also, the Onion AV Club interview with me is up. It was a phone interview and a couple of things got garbled, but it’s pretty good. The “[pastiche]” in an early draft really was of Darconville’s Cat by Theroux, not noir.