Lovecraft and the Ravens / Bellysnatcher / The Situation

Lovecraft and the Ravens

There are a few projects I’m working on inbetween the major stuff. One of these is something I started off posting on facebook photo by photo as a way of keeping my hand in fiction while editing anthologies. As it evolved, it became “Lovecraft and the Ravens” and included Borges and others as characters. It also began to include my own very primitive artwork, with some of the “pages” actually written on my hand. The plan as I finish this is to retake the photos that need to be high-res and to continue to write “pages” on all kinds of surfaces. So any final book would have to be a series of photographs. Above you’ll find an incomplete slideshow of the pages…


Another project I’m getting back to is Bellysnatcher. I jokingly used the word with the artist Eric Orchard, and then we got to talking and it seemed like a cool idea. Eric then filled a notebook with his paintings and drawings while on the road, sent it to me, and I’m in the process of creating a narrative around it. Samples below.

He found the journal in a pile of junk. It wasn’t food so he tossed it aside. But, eventually, he came back to it. “Bellysnatcher.” A cover smudged and dusty. Once, in his other life, he’d read a lot. He’d written a little, too. Now he was a nomad, had a backpack and dirty clothes and wasn’t sure what city he was in.

He took the book out at night, around the fire, with people watching. A risk, but he was a big man and had hands that made fists like clubs…Some of the pages disturbed him. At first he thought they frightened him, but that wasn’t it. Inside, in their muteness the pages made him want to create a story around them. To make what seemed random have meaning.

The Situation

And, finally, despite some delays, Orchard is working on The Situation. I think it’s just amazing. Here are some sample images from the work in progress—the lettering is placeholder.







The Awesome Rachel Swirsky: “The sun glows brighter”

Back in 2007, I interviewed Rachel Swirsky for a series I called Conversations with the Bookless.

This year Swirsky finally had a book out, and I interviewed her for the Omnivoracious book blog. I decided to ask basically the same questions I asked her in 2007 and juxtapose the answers. The result is, I think, really interesting. Go check it out and buy her book. She’s one of the most talented story writers we have.

2011: What Do You Want to See More or Less Of?


Me, I’d like to see more facts and less hyperbole. I’d like to see more specifics and fewer generalizations. I’d like less stupid and more smart. Oh, yeah, and cats in hats—more of those, please.

What about you?



VanderProjects: Toward 2011 and Beyond

Ann and I have a decent idea now of our joint projects coming out in 2011, along with my solo projects and collaborations. (Ann’s also working hard on Weird Tales, and should have some important announcements about the magazine in January.) Not as many books as in 2009 or 2010, but these are all major undertakings and we’re extremely proud of them.

My nonfiction collection Monstrous Creatures (Guide Dog Books) will debut at FogCon in San Francisco. The book collects the last five years of the best of my nonfiction from the New York Times, Washington Post, and elsewhere. Essays, articles, reviews, opinion pieces, interviews with China Mieville and Margo Lanagan, etc. There will be a 50-copy limited edition with additional content, probably previously unpublished, featuring a different cover based around the art by Jeremy Zerfoss pictured below. (Main cover by Eric Orchard.)


The Steampunk Bible (Abrams Image; created with S.J. Chambers) is a 214-page coffee table book about steampunk in all of its various manifestations, with over 150 full-color images. There are other books on steampunk coming out next year, but they all focus only on the maker/art side of things (and we’ll probably bring some of these to your attention on a SB website). This is the only comprehensive overview.

steampunk bible cover new

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (co-edited with Ann VanderMeer; HarperCollins/Voyager) is, quite simply, a showcase for some of the world’s best imaginations in fiction and art. The conceit of having stories revolve around items in the Dr. Lambshead’s cabinet worked more beautifully than we could have imagined to highlight a variety of traditional and avant garde approaches to fantasy. The full table of contents will be revealed in January, but includes everyone from Ted Chiang to Garth Nix, Holly Black to Helen Oyeyemi, Alan Moore to N.K. Jemisin, Minister Faust to Mike Mignola. An oversized hardcover.

Lambshead Cabinet Cover

The Weird (co-edited with Ann; Atlantic/Corvus) is a definitive 750,000-word reprint anthology covering a century of weird fiction. Alfred Kubin, Bradbury, Murakami, Butler, Kafka, Kelly Link, Angela Carter, etc. The cover below is a rough mock-up of the final.

NOVEMBER 2011 – APRIL 2012
Ann and I are currently talking to ChiZine Publications about doing Leviathan 5: The Next Wave, with an open reading period starting in late 2011 and extending into the spring of 2012, for publication in spring of 2013. This anthology, the latest in the World Fantasy Award winning and PKD award finalist series, would focus on weird fiction and fantasy from newer writers. We would do something fairly unprecedented in the history of genre and have between 15 and 25 assistant editors in other countries so that many writers who do not write in English would be able to submit. Up to 30,000 words of the 100,000 words might be fiction newly translated for Leviathan 5. More on this as it develops.

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities Cover

Lambshead Cabinet Cover

The almost-final Cabinet cover. Some effects, like possible raised surfaces, etc., not showing here, which will make the names in blue pop. Thanks to Diana Gill, HarperCollins, and the designer for a way-cool cover. Out in June. Over 70 images/art pieces—including an original Svankmajer print, four originals each by Mike Mignola and Greg Broadmore, and sumptuous section title pages by John Coulthart among a host of other cool things–almost too many to remember. Plan is for the full TOC of over 90 contributors to be revealed on io9 early next year.

The introduction to the antho is also a kind of short story, written by me with input from Ann and driven in part by the images included in the intro. Each subsection has introductory text that continues that particular story. The fiction inside ranges from the traditional to the somewhat experimental. The way it turned out, it’s perhaps the finest showcase for imaginative fiction Ann and I have ever had the privilege to work on.

Available for pre-order already, along with the Steampunk Bible for an intensely cool two-fer.

Here’s a sample of Coulthart’s interior pages. John did a lot of work for this book.

6-Visits & Departures

And, finally, a teaser collage of images from the antho:

Lambshead collage

Finally, if you’ve appreciated what you’ve read on this blog this year—much of which has promoted other writers’ work—consider showing your appreciation the same way you would with any good busker. If the link doesn’t work, direct paypal is vanderworld at

Madras Press Offerings from Kalfus, Barthelme, Kaufman, and Marcus


Madras Press is currently one of my absolute favorites: beautiful and unusual little books that collect new and established talent, with proceeds from each book going to the author’s favorite charity. This time around, for the second series, the books are:

The Moors by Ben Marcus
A Manual for Sons by Donald Barthelme
The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman
Three Stories by Ken Kalfus

You can’t find these titles on Amazon, but you can get more information on how to order here. You should do that. You should go there right now and order. Because these books are wonderful, and make great gifts. For a good cause.

On a slightly more selfish note, if you’ve appreciated what you’ve read on this blog this year—much of which has promoted other writers’ work—consider showing your appreciation the same way you would with any good busker. If the link doesn’t work, direct paypal is vanderworld at Full-time writers gotta eat.

Third Bear Carnival E-Bear at Wired’s GeekDad

Brad Moon at’s GeekDad has kindly offered a home for the Third Bear Carnival e-bear (er, 42-page e-book, suitable for printing) that features ruminations (and cartoons!) about various stories in my Third Bear collection from the following wonderful people:

—W. Irving Bishop
—Paul Jessup
—Hal Duncan
—Eric Schaller (cartoons)
—Larry Nolen
—Matthew Cheney
—David A. Beronä
—Paul Charles Smith (with art by his fiancee)
—Deborah Biancotti
—Rachel Swirsky
—Brian Francis Slattery
—Micaela Morrissette
—Ann VanderMeerCarnival Contest Winner
—Alys Sterling (fourth bear contest winner)

Matthew Cheney organized the Third Bear Carnival in the first place, which was what one can only call super nice of him and a great surprise. Thanks to Tachyon, and in particular Elizabeth Story, for creating the PDF and design. Major thanks to Matt Staggs the Amazing and Jill Roberts the Awesome, as well.

The Third Bear has received some really lovely reviews this year, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly and another starred review from Library Journal, in addition to blurbage from Junot Diaz, Mike Mignola, and many others. If you’re still looking for a holiday gift or chancing upon this while deciding how to spend a gift certificate, consider The Third Bear. Or, just signal boost this post. Thanks.

Need a Book? Help out Paul Jessup

Paul Jessup, a very interesting writer who’s fairly fearlessly experimental, is having a book sale. It’s been a hard winter for some, and Paul’s not selling books because he wants to sell books. Signal boost if you think it’s worthy, and I think he’s got a City of Saints he might be parting with. If so and you buiy it , I’ll throw in a freebie extra connected to the book that only about a dozen collectors have.

Book Lovers: Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2011

Posting will be sporadic here through January 1st.

Echoing something a friend said to me recently, it’s been a tough, tough couple of years for the publishing industry and associated book culture, for writers, agents, and everyone else. A lot of good people have had a difficult time and had to work twice as hard to get results. It’s been tough on a lot of people, frankly, across a lot of different types of careers.

I know that writers having the opportunity to write is a gift and privilege not a right, and that writers in the grand scheme of things are fairly unimportant…but this is the little corner of the world I inhabit, and I’d just like to say: peace and love to every one of you who is in some way connected to the written word–writing it, selling it, marketing it, promoting it, publishing it, editing it, etc. And reading it.

People out there appreciate you, even if you don’t always get day-to-day affirmation of that. Thanks to every single one of you, because I know each one of you loves books, because lord knows there are easier fields to make a career in.

Have a great holiday and I hope, rested and de-stressed, we all come out re-energized in 2011.

..and if you want to post here about some uplifting experience you had with books, people in the industry, writers, or book culture generally, feel free to share…