Happy Holidays!

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Happy Holidays, everyone! I’m going to hibernate for a little while, but I wanted to thank all of the readers, booksellers, reviewers, and publishers (here and abroad) who have helped make this year so special for me, and made the Southern Reach Trilogy one of the most talked-about series of 2014.

Highlights lately have included making Entertainment Weekly’s Top 10 and the LA Times Gift Guide, as well as Buzzfeed’s favorite books of the year.

Special thanks to my wife Ann, agent Sally Harding, and Sean McDonald and everyone at FSG.

Enjoy the season!

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The Southern Reach Trilogy: My Year in Indie Book Stores

Jeff VanderMeer reading at Elliott Bay--Annihilation tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The start of it all: At Elliot Bay in Seattle, this February; photo by Todd Vandemark.)

Over on Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s Housekeeping site, they’ve posted my year in indie bookstores. I was fortunate enough to spend much of 2015 on the road in support of the Southern Reach Trilogy, and a big part of that was reading at or signing in independent bookstores.

Head on over and check out my notes on Bookmark It, Book Passage, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Booksmith, Book Soup, Chop Suey, City Lights, Elliott Bay, Fountain, Kramers, Green Apple, Housing Works, Hub City, Inkwood, Malaprops, McNally Jackson, Mysterious Galaxy, Politics & Prose, Powell’s, Quail Ridge, WORD, and more.

A special shout-out here to Kathmandu Books for handling the limited edition S.R. chapbook, Subterranean for various kindnesses, and for Borderlands for providing books for the Writers With Drinks event I did in San Fran–one of the best events ever.

How to Gift-Wrap a Book So It Doesn’t Look Like a Book

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 (Thanks, Matthew Revert, for the great info-graphic.)

It’s a perennial problem, isn’t it? How to make that dang-blasted book look like something else when you wrap it, because otherwise what’s the point? It can be slathered in wrapping paper that’s covered in three-dimensional rainbow-colored topographical anomalies interspersed amongst Satanic dog-headed kittens and the person receiving the gift will still figure it out.

But don’t despair! As a public service, you can find my preferred method above. I finally admitted to this approach when NYT bestselling author Lois H. Gresh asked the question on her facebook page. Matthew Revert was then kind enough to provide an illustrated version as a holiday season mitzvah.

Of course, Gresh then had to raise some issues that point to a possible need for refinements in this approach. Specifically:

So let me get this straight. I use the Fishomatic to pulverize 12 dead fish. I dump the fish pulp into a 12″-diameter sphere-shaped ice tray (and good luck finding one of those). Then I push the book into the fish pulp. Clearly, a pulp title is best. I freeze. Carefully, I pop the frozen sphere from the “tray” and arrange it in a nest of fish scales. Then I put it under the recipient’s pillow in his/her bed. Oh, wait. That’s The Godfather Method of Wrapping a Gift Book.

This interpretation is a little time-intensive and perhaps limiting in terms of the type of book. And, granted, sometimes I will just strap the dead fish to the book and cover both with wrapping paper and hand that to the lucky recipient–especially if there’s no convenient sea nearby. Her next suggestion, however, may further streamline the whole process…

If I hide the book or toss it into the sea, and hence, the supposed recipient doesn’t know that he has this wonderful gift… then I can save my book money and give him something much smaller and cheaper, such as a pea. Yes, I can hide a pea and feel good, knowing that I intended to give him a book. After all, it’s the thought that counts!

I have no suggestions on how to hide a pea. Nor for wrapping an e-book. But for less avant garde suggestions on book-wrapping, here are a few links.

5 Creative Techniques to Wrap a Book

Google Image Search (less terrifying than you might expect)

Pinterest, suggesting disguises that will fool no one (like if you put a fake moustache on)

Of course, you could always just wrap the damn book using time-proven and careful techniques.

Or share your own secret ways in the comments below…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite New Publisher, Burrow Press: Community-Driven, Forward-Thinking, Terry Gilliam-Connected

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(A favorite Burrow Press cover.)

One highlight of my year-long book tour in support of the Southern Reach trilogy was doing a Functionally Literate event in Orlando, Florida. The organizers did perfect pre-event publicity, had their own built-in PR through their own radio show/podcast. They also knew exactly what details to take care of to make my life easier after having been on the road a lot, and the gig itself was impressive as hell. From the venue to the format to the dedicated, extremely large (and enthuastic) audience of regulars–with great back-up from the awesome independent bookstore Bookmark It–Functionally Literate had pretty amazing organization, logistics, and support. (I highly recommend this reading series to all writers and their publicists–I put in a good word for them with Farrar, Straus and Giroux.)

They also had books they’d published–beautifully designed books, smartly edited, imaginatively conceived, featuring really interesting writers. I got a sampling of them at the hotel they’d put me up at. They all bore the Burrow Press logo. Burrow, you see, is the driving force behind Functionally Literate. And Burrow quickly has become my favorite new independent press.

After only three years and 10 books published, with four more scheduled for 2015, Burrow Press  has become a prominent part of the Orlando literary landscape. One recent title, the story collection Train Shots by Vanessa Blakeslee, blurbed by Laura van den Berg, won an IPPY in addition to being long-listed for the Frank O’ Connor International Short Story Award and named a Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award Finalist.

Burrow Press seems poised for continued and sustained national attention–especially with its release of the novella on which Terry Gilliam’s latest movie is based. Indeed, you could say that Burrow Press is both reflecting a revitalized Orlando culture scene and helping drive that revitalization. It was energizing to see, and reminded me of ancient days back in Gainesville, Florida, where my cohorts and I founded one of the first significant indies in that city. (Today morphed into Cheeky Frawg.)

With the year coming to the end, and in celebration of the indie press/bookstore renaissance that seems to be sweeping the U.S., I thought I’d interview Ryan Rivas, the publisher and co-founder of Burrow Press. His writing has appeared in decomP, Annalemma, Prick of the Spindle, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012, and elsewhere.

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Guest Post: Michael J. Seidlinger’s The Face of Any Other

Michael J. Seidlinger is the author of a number of novels, including The Laughter of Strangers, The Fun We’ve Had and The Face of Any Other. He serves as Electric Literature’s Book Reviews Editor as well as Publisher-in-Chief of Civil Coping Mechanisms, an indie press specializing in unclassifiable/innovative fiction and poetry. He can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@mjseidlinger), and at michaeljseidlinger.com. Flavorwire recently called this unique writer “a kind of 21st century David Markson. He’s prolific and talented and we should all read together to try to figure him out.” I’ve long liked Electric Lit, Civil Coping Mechanisms, and the press that published his The Face of Any Other—Lazy Fascist Press (highly recommended in general). So I thought I’d ask Seidinger here to talk about his book…or, in this case, excerpt it. – JV

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When Jeff graciously offered this space to let me talk about my most recent book, The Face of Any Other, I was ecstatic—so much that I couldn’t come up with any ideas about what that guest post might be. I came up with all kinds of ridiculous ideas, from something “creative” (read – tacky) dealing with the book’s cover to writing some big behind the scenes (that would likely just go on and on and on), but ended up back where I started. With nothing else, I figured I might as well come clean, much like the unnamed main character of the novel: no personas or facsimiles. Just be myself; or, more precisely, let the book be the book. It gets weird, but that seems to happen to every single one of my books. The following excerpt takes place at the beginning of the novel, offering a candid look at the character’s skewed worldview. –Michael J Seidlinger

 

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Jeff VanderMeer’s Storybundle: Win a Secret Life & Area X and Promote International Fiction

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Over at Storybundle, they’re running a selection of our Cheeky Frawg titles, which include fiction from Finland and Nigeria. It also includes Stepan Chapman’s PKD Award-winning novel The Troika and an exclusive: my novelette Komodo as a stand-alone e-book, in expanded form.

Proceeds go to the authors, to the Helsinki 2017 WorldCon bid, and to us, the publishers. Our share will help fund more translations and support our huge forthcoming omnibus of iconic Finnish writer Leena Krohn’s short novels.

With 10 days to go, I’d like to make it even more interesting. One of the titles on offer is Secret Lives, which collects the flash fictions I wrote for readers as a thank you for buying a prior book of short stories.

Anyone who buys our Storybundle at the bonus level (all of the e-books) will be eligible for their own secret life. Three randomly chosen readers will win a flash fiction written by me that incorporates details of their lives as the starting point. Handwritten, personalized, and one-of-a-kind. No other copies will ever exist. in addition, those three winners will receive the Area X hardcover of my NYT bestselling Southern Reach trilogy, with a limited edition Southern Reach art booklet. (Anyone who has already bought the Storybundle at the bonus level will be entered in the random drawing.)

International fiction is important to us. Now you might just win some unique fiction yourself.

Please share the link. Go forth and acquire our Storybundle.

In addition to a secret life, here’s what you could win:

Southern Reach trilogy with chapbook

 

Book Deal Announcement: Space Oddities & Super Freaks: The Secret History of Science Fiction And Fantasy

I’m very excited to report that I’ve sold Worldwide Rights to my next coffee-table book, Space Oddities & Super Freaks: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy, to editor David Cashion at Abrams Image, in a robust deal via my agent Sally Harding (The Cooke Agency).

What is Space Oddities & Super Freaks?

The unexpurgated behind-the-scenes story of one of the world’s most popular forms of entertainment, from movie projects gone terribly wrong to mysterious rock-album SF worlds, from eccentric, flamboyant personalities to some of the most interesting art, performance, music, movies, and fiction of the 20th and 21st century…this is Space Oddities & Super Freaks.

…and not just the secret history, but also the story of the underappreciated, the eccentric, and just plain off-the-charts strange–across all forms of storytelling/media. The project will involve writers and artists from all over the world, like previous projects Wonderbook and The Steampunk User’s Manual. However, this is likely the most wide-ranging book I’ve done yet with Abrams–roving across decades and diverse points of view, involving research and a lot of interviews.

Sometimes books like this can be organized like encyclopedias. This is not that beast. This will have clear through-lines thematically and organizationally to focus on telling the most entertaining stories, and then hang other fascinating details off of that. Over 350 full-color pages and 120,000 words of text.

Working with Abrams Image has always been wonderful, and teaming up against with editor David Cashion and everyone else at Abrams is going to be great. My wife Ann will be involved with creating this book as well.

(Image below by John Jennings: a two-page spread from current Abrams project The Steampunk User’s Manual.)

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Cheeky Frawg StoryBundle: For International Fiction and Helsinki’s WorldCon Bid

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Over at StoryBundle, you can now acquire nine titles from our Cheeky Frawg books for a very low price–unless you’re moved to pay more. You’ll be supporting not just our press, which specializes in international fiction and what you might call cult classics. You’ll also be supporting the Helsinki 2017 WorldCon bid. We’re donating a minimum of half of the publisher proceeds to that effort.

What are you going to get?

–The Philip K. Dick Award winning The Troika by Stepan Chapman

–Finnish fiction by Leena Krohn and Jyrki Vainonen

–The International Horror Guild Award winning novel The Divinity Student

–A collection of rare and out of print stories by iconic Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola

–Our Odd? anthology, which includes fiction by Nalo Hopkinson, Rikki Ducornet, Amos Tutuola, Brian Evenson, and more.

–Two selections of mine, a collection of micro fictions, Secret Lives, and also a NEW e-book, Komodo, a novelette that won’t be available in stand-alone e-book form otherwise until late in December.

We hope you’ll want to support our efforts–please share the link! And as a bonus–here’s the promotional video for ODD?

The Southern Reach Story: Continued Through Annotations at Genius.com

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It’s been a great couple of weeks for the Southern Reach trilogy. The Area X hardcover is officially out and the series has made the year’s best lists for the Huffington Post, Bookriot, Amazon, Kirkus, and a host of others. FSG also has a great splash page for the hardcover that includes this rather wonderful flipbook of links and articles related to the novels. I’m also doing a Reddit AMA at 3pm today EST.

This week, we’re also teaming up with Genius.com for a contest that could lead to you winning a cool Southern Reach full-color chapbook or even the hardcover itself, signed and personalized. Details here.

The contest accompanies my annotations for the beginning of Acceptance. Although I’ve annotated Southern Reach text at Genius.com before, this time there’s a difference!

I’ve gone a little metafictional this time, a little bit “found object,” too. What will you uncover?

–Brief entries from Whitby Allen’s personal journal.

–Transcripts of interviews and other “evidence” pertaining to the Southern Reach and Area.

–Reports from the Séance & Science Brigade.

–Southern Reach images, some of which you may not have seen before.

–Excerpts/fragments from Southern Reach science division lead Mike Cheney’s shambolic novel-in-progress “Control,” in which he tries to make sense of the new director of the Southern Reach…although I think he’s really trying to make sense of his own experiences.

But that’s not all! I invited Tom Abba from the U.K. to create a “shadow page” of annotations that depict what might’ve happened to Southern Reach staff left behind at the end of Authority. Can you find the shadow page? Peruse my annotations and you might just stumble upon it. (Abba is a director of ‘Circumstance’, which develops methods to link physical books to codependent digital content.)

Finally, author Nicholas Rombes will be adding annotations later this week. Rombes is the author of Ramones from the 33 1/3 series and the just-released (and highly recommended) novel The Absolution of Roberto Acestes Laing. He will be addressing the found footage from various expeditions.

Of course, you can join in the experience by signing up at Genius.com and adding your own annotations.

Go check it out–and don’t forget about the contest.

(Thanks to Chris Urie for bunny photo.)

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