You know that guest-blogging while traveling thing I mentioned in the last post? Well, one of the unfortunate results was that I left the file that held an entry by Matt Staggs, the mastermind behind everything public that Underland does. I think you’ve probably heard of him on Jeff’s blog before. He’s very talented, very dedicated, and is a huge support for both me and the press. (Thank you, Matt, for everything you’ve done…) [Read more…]
I got back from NYC yesterday, tired and happy. Not the smartest time, in retrospect, to guest blog… Some highlights from the week…
In one of the comments, Mark asked a question about the Aliens and Predator books that both Brian and Jeff wrote. Brian is traveling right now, so I thought I’d take a crack at answering the question. I was the Dark Horse editor on both of the series. Managing the license, and figuring out how it worked, was one of the most interesting duties I had while an employee there.
Regarding Brian and Jeff, I wanted them to write these books because I’m super interested in literary cross-pollination. Licensed books provide an incredible opportunity to watch multiple literary minds approaching the narrative of the license in very different ways. The idea was as exciting to me as reading Li Po’s “The River Merchant’s Wife,” and then reading Elliott’s version.
From Brian Evenson:
I heard from Victoria Blake, my publisher, that copies of Last Days have arrived to her, which means I should see the final copy soon and that itâ€™ll start appearing in stores and online any day now.Â So, Iâ€™m in that odd moment where the book both is and isnâ€™t alive:Â it exists, it made it into the world despite the economy, initial blog attention and advanced reviews have been good; but people arenâ€™t holding it in their hands yet.Â Now Iâ€™ll wait to see how things click with readers and other reviewers.Â Iâ€™ve got an excellent introduction from Peter Straub, so hopefully that will get a few people interested in the book that didnâ€™t know it before.
Every book is a new experience, but this one feels newer than most.Â Iâ€™ve had a book with an introduction beforeâ€”philosopher Alphonso Lingis wrote an introduction for Altmannâ€™s Tongueâ€”but that was a reprint; this is the original edition.Â Cover artwork is by filmmaker Karim Ghahwagi, from one of the stills he took when he was doing character stills for his screenplay for the novel, so thatâ€™s new.Â I got not one but two reviews in Locus, so thatâ€™s new.Â Iâ€™ve never published a book that was an expansion of a previously published chapbook, so thatâ€™s new. Alongside the paperback, weâ€™re doing a simultaneous limited edition hardback, with each cover personalized by hand by my, so thatâ€™s new.Â Borders is filing the book in the Horror section, so thatâ€™s new:Â Iâ€™ve been in Mystery and Literature before (and in SF for the Aliens novel I did), but never Horror, though Iâ€™m very comfortable there.Â And Underland Press is new as wellâ€”Iâ€™m their first title, which feels both very exciting and like stepping into the unknown, probably for both of us.Â Itâ€™s been a pleasure to have Last Days published by someone who really believes in the book, and the support and professionalism have been very high.Â Now Iâ€™m keeping my fingers crossed that all the hard work will pay off, and that the book will get into the hands of readers who will be willing to brave its weirdnessâ€¦
Without further ado… Brian, take it away.
Last Days, my novel that just appeared, has had a varied and complicated life.
It started when Paul Miller of Earthling Press approached me about doing a limited edition chapbook.Â At the time I was reading a lot of noir and hard-boiled fiction.Â The writer who really stuck with me was Dashiell Hammettâ€”not his two best known books, The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man which Iâ€™m not wildly impressed byâ€”but his first novel Red Harvest.Â The thing I loved about that book was how it felt like Hammett was working without a net, creating the genre out of thin air.Â Iâ€™d also been reading or rereading a lot of things that combined elements of different genres, books that blended the detective genre to horror or to SF, books that refused to stay neatly within genre lines.Â As a result, â€œThe Brotherhood of Mutilation,â€ drawing on noir, horror, and literature, seemed almost to write itself.
This is Brian Evenson: Iâ€™m a writer with a few past books out and with a novel, Last Days thatâ€™s just come back from the printers.Â Â Iâ€™m hijacking Jeffâ€™s blog for a post or twoâ€¦
Probably because I have a novel just coming out, Iâ€™ve been thinking a lot about how you put a novel together.Â When I wrote The Open Curtain I had a plan going in:Â I would trick myself into writing a novel by writing three novellas and then putting them together.Â That worked flawlessly for the first two novellas, but then I got to the third novella and realized it had to be not only a novella but had to complete everything.Â So, I spent years writing and rewriting that third section and throwing it away until finally I got it right. Then, when I wrote Aliens: No Exit, I had to write a fifteen-page summary of the book so that I could get it approved by Dark Horse and by Fox.Â Result:Â everything came together pretty smoothly.
In October I spent two weeks at an artist colony and thought:Â â€œDoing an outline worked pretty well, maybe I should do that again.â€Â So I did. Only problem is that I ended up with a 95-page outline of the first third of a projected novel.Â Maybe a case of too much time on my hands.Â Itâ€™s pretty specific and filled out, but itâ€™s still only a third of the book, and if the outline is 95 pages, how long is the book itself going to be?Â And when do I find time to sit down to write the 95-page outlines of the other section.Â Wouldnâ€™t it be easier just to write the book without an outline?Â But if I do that will I run into the same problem that I ran into with The Open Curtain?
Youâ€™d think Iâ€™d have written enough by this point to have this figured out, but I think each book has asked for something a little different from me, which is part of what keeps it interesting.Â There are certain things that get easier and certain things that I have to keep re-teaching myself every time.
I’m in New York now. The occasion? The Tools of Change confrence. I’m hoping that it gets better than it was today. Today, I learned that authors should have blogs, and that editors should XML code their books.
I’ll write more tomorrow or the next day with highlights. For now, though, I’m putting you in the capable hands of Brian Evenson, author of Last Days, Altman’s Tongue, The Open Curtain, among others… He’s pulling back the curtain on the writing of the book, and writing in general.
Brian, take it away.
Quick question: John Coulthart’s cover art for Jeff’s upcoming Finch is so beautiful we were thinking of making a limited run poster out of it.
If we do, would some of you be interested in buying?
This is just a feeler. I haven’t done cover art posters for sale, but it seems to make sense in this case.
Here’s Brian Evenson’s reading schedule:
St. Mark’s, NYC — Feb. 19
Elliott Bay, Seattle — March 7
Powell’s, Portland — March 8
Village Books, Bellingham, WA — March 9
Newtonville Books, Boston area — March 15
And here’s a picture of the man himself…
Oh, and for those who ordered from Amazon… The book shipped from the PGW warehouse in Jacksonville yesterday. We weren’t late on the printing, but the Amzon listing should have said Feb. 15, not Feb. 1.
You should get yours soon. Don’t panic.