ODD? Volume One Table of Contents


We’ll be announcing the full roster of a new line-up of e-books under our new Cheeky Frawg imprint very soon. Most of them are reprints only, focusing on my own work to start. However, one project that kind of came to us in a flash of inspiration, launches a new e-book anthology series, featuring new and reprinted stories, along with new translations of favorite stories. ODD? will be out in May, and eventually followed by a POD version that will include most of the material in the e-book version.

The plan is to release ODD? twice a year and have it be a showcase for strong, hard-to-define fiction, some of which may be slightly disturbing. Eventually, once it’s established, we want to bring it full-on back into the print world with a version that includes strange comics and art—basically an odd culture zine with high production values—while continuing to do the e-book version.

The cover is by Jeremy Zerfoss, and may change slightly before publication.

Here’s the line-up for volume one…


The anthology that poses the question, “Is this odd…or are you too normal?”

Amos Tutuola – “The Dead Babies”

Gustave Le Rouge – “The War of the Vampires” (new translation by Brian Evenson and David Beus)

Jeffrey Ford – “Weiroot”

Leopoldo Lugones – “The Bloat Toad” (new translation by Larry Nolen)

Mark Samuels – “Apt 205”

Michael Cisco – “Modern Cities Exist Only to Be Destroyed” (published only in a limited edition previously)

Nalo Hopkinson – “Slow Cold Chick”

Sumanth Prabhaker – “A Hard Truth About Waste Management” (revised since publication)

Hiromi Goto – “Stinky Girl”

Eric Basso – “Logues”

Edward Morris – “Lotophagi”

Karin Tidbeck – “The Aunts” (previously unpublished)

Jeffrey Thomas – “The Fork”

Rikki Ducornet – “The Volatilized Ceiling of Baron Munodi”

Amanda le Bas de Plumetot – “Unmaking” (previously unpublished)

Karl Hans Strobl – “The Head” (new translation by Gio Clairval)

Caitlin R. Kiernan – “A Child’s Guide to the Hollow Hills”

Stacey Levine – “Sausage”

Shared Worlds / Single Vision: Applied Imagination

(Click here for a full record of John Coulthart’s book design work; all images in this post copyright to John Coulthart.)

Now that I’ve had a little time to come up for air from projects and traveling, I wanted to go into a little more detail about Shared Worlds/Single Vision, the book on writing I’ve sold to Abrams Image and my editor there, Caitlin Kenney.

First off, the book will be designed by John Coulthart, who I think is a genius, and who has designed covers and/or interiors for previous books of mine like Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer, Finch, The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals (co-written with my wife Ann) and The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, as well as many interior illos for my City of Saints and Madmen, The Steampunk Bible (with SJ Chambers), and the forthcoming The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (co-edited with my wife, Ann).

It will also feature over 100 full-color illustrations, paintings, and other images, about 70 percent of it provided by John and the rest by a variety of creators. Abrams is exhibiting a humbling amount of trust in both John and myself in letting us work together directly to create the look-and-feel, but it’s also very important to the final product to do so. The images are not just going to be eye candy, but fully integrated into the narrative for the most part—in some areas will replace narrative.

One simple example, without giving too much away, would be that our approach to exemplifying certain kinds of plot structures will not take the form of simple line drawings, as found in other writing books. But there will also be much more intricate ways in which image supports text and vice versa, as well. And, in the exercises section, the use of full-page paintings and photographs will help to show in concrete terms different approaches to writing imaginative fiction.

With regards to the text in general, I will be interested in making clear areas where writers of non-realistic fiction may require different approaches or patterns of thought and also what areas share commonalities with the writing of any kind of fiction. I am also interested in applying the idea of negation—which is to say, for any given “problem” in fiction there are usually multiple solutions and it is not useful to provide single or binary ideas on most subjects. In the section of the book on world-building, negation will play a huge role, for example, given that there are so many different thoughts on this subject, most all of them legitimate in a certain context. (Some of the larger sections or chapters will include beginnings, writing, rewriting, the bleeding edge, and writing exercises.)

Throughout, the approach will emphasize the importance of both playfulness and pragmatism, so that Shared Worlds/Single Vision can energize and motivate while also containing the practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. I will lso deconstruct and dissect certain aspects of my own work to demonstrate key concepts.

Aimed at creatives at the aspiring and intermediate levels, with some more advanced content, Shared Worlds/Single Vision will also include a comprehensive appendix of resources, as well as a section on the Shared Worlds teen writing camp (although the book is not specifically for teens, some of the camp’s processes are of use to all writers).

Finally, the book will also feature sidebar essays by the following, or exclusive interviews (as noted):

—Iconic fantasist Neil Gaiman
—National Book Award finalist Paolo Bacigalupi, author of The Windup Girl
—NYT Bestseller George RR Martin(HBO series Game of Thrones; interview)
—NYT Bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler
—Diana Gill, editor-in-chief of HarperVoyager
—Karin Lowachee, author of the critically acclaimed The Gaslight Dogs and Warchild
—NYT Bestseller Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians: A Novel
—Crawford Award winner Karen Lord, author of Redemption in Indigo: a novel
Michael Moorcock, among England’s greatest living novelists
—Liza Trombi, editor-in-chief of Locus Magazine
—Nick Mamatas, author of the cult classic Move Under Ground
—Anthologist and Hugo Award-winning editor of Weird Tales, Ann VanderMeer
—National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” award recipient Charles Yu, author of the critically acclaimed How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel

That is an incomplete list, and there are several surprises in store regarding the content for this book that I can’t reveal now, but rest assured it will be an absolutely stunning work of art in addition to its value as a book on craft for writers.

(I should also note my two advisers on the text side will be my wife Ann and Matthew Cheney, both of whom will serve to test material and to perform the role of devil’s advocate.)

VanderMeer European Tour: Finland VanderCon and Warsaw Weekend


Even though we’re just back from the West Coast, we’re already preparing for our European trip. We’ll be in Amsterdam to visit family, but I’ll also be going to Warsaw for a weekend (April 2-4) to do some events in support of the Polish edition of Finch, with my good friend and fellow writer Neil Williamson joining me for some events. I’ll have more information on that soon.

But Ann and I are also spending a week in Finland for a traveling road show known as VanderCon, sponsored by Finnish fandom and a cultural grant. It’s an awesome and amazing opportunity and we’ll be taking every advantage of it to give something back by interviewing Finnish writers and blogging afterwards. Here’s a description of our trip by the Finns:

The Amazing VanderMeers are coming to Finland and they want to see YOU! Follow the intrepid travellers as they roam around the countryside, conquer the Turku castle, jump from the Jyväskylä’s skijump hill, wander the length and width of the Moomin Valley in Tammere as well as attend both the stupefying Escon in Espoo and the wondrous Tähtivaeltaja Day in Helsinki! Facebook has more info.

What’s our schedule? We’ll have the events listing soon, but for now, here’s where we’ll be, as documented by the VanderCon blog.

9th – VanderPersons arrive to Helsinki.
10th – Turku calling!
11th – More of Turku!
12th – Jyväskylä calling!
13th – Moomin Valley (Tampere) calling!
14th – Back to Helsinki! Speech at the University, followed by evening at the St. Urho’s Pub.
15th – Escon.
16th – Tähtivaeltaja Day.
17th – The End.

We love the Finns, and there was a time in my career when I was better published in Helsinki than in the U.S., so I really feel indebted. We are also unbelievably humbled to be guests of honor for Tähtivaeltaja Day. Tähtivaeltaja is one of our favorite, favorite magazines—just amazing stuff—and it should be wonderful.

(Finnish fandom is extraordinary–I wish they’d bid for a World Fantasy Convention.)

Community, Redux

We’ve just returned from about a week on the West Coast, first as honored guests with Ann at FOGCon and then at SF in SF, before winding up in Los Angeles on the Paramount lot, with Ann’s son Jason showing us around the set of NCIS LA (which he helps cast, along with NCIS), followed by some meetings elsewhere that may lead to something.

FOGCon had some great programming and a great dealer’s room. We enjoyed meeting a lot of interesting people. It’s the first year of the con and they perhaps need to better deploy their “honored guests” at the social events, although we did enjoy ourselves greatly and were well-treated. The decision to brew VanderBeer was inspired!

But this post by our friend Morgan Dempsey probably sums up our feelings about the trip the most. We know a lot of amazing people in the community, in many creative fields, not just writing.

We had wonderful conversations with so many of them, old friends and new, and so many of them are high-energy and positive and forward-looking that it revitalized us and lifted us up. As many readers of this blog know, it’s been a tough couple of years in terms of workload, and so it was nice to be reminded that there is a community out there, and that it’s various and rich and smart and fun. This isn’t an impression you always get just looking at the internet.

So, a thank you to everyone we met and talked to. I won’t name you all—you know who you are, and that we love you.

(More later on books acquired, FOGCon panels, our upcoming European schedule, etc…)

FrawgCon, FrogCon, FOGCon: This Weekend

We’ll be in San Francisco this weekend as honored guests of FOGCon, along with the wonderful Pat Murphy. Hope to see you there. You can check out our schedule here—although our autograph session from 3-4 Sat in the dealer’s room isn’t on it. (And here’s a SF Signal interview mostly about my new nonfiction collection, Monstrous Creatures, debuting at FOGCon.) We’ll also be doing a presentation at the SF in SF Variety Theater event on Monday night.

Blogging will be sparse for a bit, but if you’re my friend on Facebook, you should see regular mobile updates from my about the convention. So if you’re not my friend…maybe you should be…


The Steampunk Bible: In the House!


It won’t be in bookstores until May 1st, but an advance copy of The Steampunk Bible , by me and SJ Chambers, made it into the house today, and it’s gorgeous! Below the cut find a few images. and because this is a Wednesday full of riches, the formatted proof pages of The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities came today as well—I’ve included one photo of those at the end. You can pre-order The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literatureand also The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists. SB contributors will hopefully have their copies by the time it hits the stores. (A huge shout-out to Jake von Slatt on this project, btw–he knows why.)

Note the wonderful endpapers by James Ng!

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I Dance Because You Care: Leviathan 5 Donations Dance

Yes, I followed through on my promise to dance–an interpretative dance based on my story “The Third Bear”–because you donated over $1,000 to the Leviathan 5 translation fund in February. Damn you all! (No, not really–thanks, even though I look like a complete fool.)

Um, didn’t really mean to have a soundtrack in the background, but what you can hear is from Murder By Death’s latest, which you can buy here.

Author David Erik Nelson on the Craft and Commerce of Writing

Today Omnivoracious ran a short piece on how to make a sock squid, with a short intro I put together. The project is part of David Erik Nelson‘s Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred: Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make with Your Kid. I thought it would be interesting to ask Nelson to give me some thoughts on the craft and commerce of writing for Ecstatic Days as a kind of behind-the-scenes piece about his featured book and the writing life (which also ties into this recent Booklifenow feature). Here’s the insightful result…

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One Pill Will Make You Smaller: “Why the Silence, VanderFrog?”


Blogging’s going to be a little erratic for awhile, because of several book review deadlines, figuring out when to do the Leviathan dance video, the start of new projects, and travel to FOGCon and then, in April, to Europe. Not to mention, coordinating the kick-off of Cheeky Frawg Books, a new e-book imprint Ann and I are starting up. It’s going to include a new e-book anthology series called ODD? (more on that soon) as well as some reissues in maxi-single format (one main story and then additional material), original fiction, the Album Zutique antho, Secret Lives, and a few more.

Here you can see how me ‘n’ designer Jeremy Zerfoss have struggled with the covers. “Give me something subtle,” I said and it came out too small–see above. “Correct it!” I said and it came out too large. Finally, on the third try it was just right.

Anyway, more soonish. In the meantime, tell me what you’ve been up to!

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Proudly Bringing You Intelligent Mushrooms Since 1992

intelly mushrooms

Over at the Everything Is Nice blog, Martin Lewis, an Arthur C. Clarke Award judge, has been compiling statistics about various aspects of the 55 novels put forward for awards consideration by publishers in the UK. As Lewis says himself not all of it is as scientific process-wise as normal statistical standards would require, but taken as a whole it is interesting information.

Most of it is Serious or Fairly Serious, but you’ll forgive me I hope for snorting my coffee when I saw the graphic above, in which I am apparently sui generis in having intelligent mushrooms as a trope (Finch, nominated by Corvus).