News

Cheeky Frawg’s Finnish Selections (and a Swede)

Jeff VanderMeer • September 14th, 2013 • News

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Our Cheeky Frawg publishing house has made a strong commitment to Finnish fiction, while also offering Swedish writer Karin Tidbeck’s Jagannath. We hope to expand that commitment past 2014, and to expand to Nordic fiction in general, but obviously 2014 will be consumed mostly by our Leena Krohn omnibus (to be published late in the year).

Here’s what we have on offer, with Datura, The Explorer, and the Finnish fantasy anthology all out in October and November….

Print and E-book

Datura by Leena Krohn, translated by Anna Volmari and Juha Tupasela. Our narrator works as an editor and writer for a magazine specializing in bringing oddities to light, a job that sends her exploring through a city that becomes by degrees ever less familiar. From a sunrise of automated cars working in silent precision to a possible vampire, she discovers that reality may not be as logical as you think—and that people are both odder and more ordinary as they might seem. Especially if you’re eating datura seeds. Especially when the legendary Voynich Manuscript is involved. Where will it all end? Pushed by the mysterious owner of the magazine, our narrator may wind up somewhere very strange indeed. “Datura is luminous–at once a secret history of losers, dreamers, and quacks, and a lyrical argument on the nature of reality. I thoroughly enjoyed it.” – Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria

Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck. Enter the strange and wonderful world of Swedish sensation Karin Tidbeck with this feast of darkly fantastical short stories. Whether through the falsified historical record of the uniquely weird Swedish creature known as the “Pyret” or the title story, “Jagannath,” about a biological ark in the far future, Tidbeck’s unique imagination will enthrall, amuse, and unsettle you. How else to describe a collection that includes “Cloudberry Jam,” a story that opens with the line “I made you in a tin can”? Marvels, quirky character studies, and outright surreal monstrosities await you in the book widely praised by Michael Swanwick, Ursula K. Le Guin, China Mieville, and Karen Joy Fowler. Winner of the Crawford Award and shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. Introduction by Elizabeth Hand.

The Explorer & Other Stories by Jyrki Vainonen. This sly book showcases the quietly strange, unsettling short fiction of this acclaimed Finnish writer. Vainonen is renowned for his Finnish translations of the works of Seamus Heaney, Jonathan Swift, and William Shakespeare. Vainonen’s first collection of short stories was awarded the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize and his work has been featured in such iconic collections as the Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy. This first English-language collection includes stories from Jyrki Vainonen’s three collections and is translated by J. Robert Tupasela and Anna Volmari, with one story translated by Hilde Hawkins. Introduction by Johanna Sinisalo. “Vainonen’s deceptively cool voice lured me into a world where horrors and wonders lurk just beneath the surface.” – Karin Tidbeck, Jagannath

E-book only

It Came from the North edited by Desirina Boskovich. This anthology of Finnish fantasy features fiction from Jyrki Vainonen, Leena Krohn, Johanna Sinisalo, Hannu Rajaniemi, Anne Leinonen, Tiina Raevaara and many more—also including Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen, author of the critically acclaimed The Rabbit Back Literature Society. What will you find within these pages? A photographer stumbles on a wounded troll, and attempts to nurse it back to health. A lonely girl discovers the flames in the family smithy are tied to an ancient portal between worlds. A modern woman excavates something sickening from the shower drain…and falls in love. A peculiar swamp holds restorative powers, for its avian and human inhabitants alike. It Came From the North offers a diverse selection of fifteen fantastical tales from some of Finland’s most respected writers, alongside up-and-coming talents who are redefining the rules of contemporary literature. Are you ready for a journey into the uncanny? Then come discover the strangeness lurking in the land of a thousand lakes.

Tainaron by Leena Krohn. The classic novel by an iconic Finnish author, a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. Tainaron: a city like no other, populated by talking insects, as observed by the nameless narrator, who is far from home. Afterword by Matthew Cheney. “The novel contains scenes of startling beauty and strangeness that change how the reader sees the world. Krohn effortlessly melds the literal with the metaphorical, so that the narrator’s exploration of the city through its inhabitants encompasses both the speculation of science fiction and the resonant symbolism of the surreal.” – Locus.

Forthcoming in 2014

The Leena Krohn Omnibus. A not-to-be-missed and unstoppable thousand-page celebration of iconic Finnish author Leena Krohn. This epic volume, to be issued in hardcover, trade paperback, and e-book editions, will include the short novels Pereat Mundus, Tainaron, Dona Quixote & Other Citizens, and Gold of Ophir, among others, in addition to a selection of short fiction, essays, and poetry. The omnibus will also feature appreciations by other writers.

Explorer
(Rough draft of The Explorer cover.)

Michael Cisco Novels–Now Available as Cheeky Frawg Summer Reading E-Books

Jeff VanderMeer • September 10th, 2013 • Culture, News

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(Click image for larger view.)

This month our Cheeky Frawg press released our 2013 Weird Summer Beach Reading E-books…all four of them by the American Kafka, Michael Cisco.

You can buy them at Amazon, or through either of these two preferred vendors (direct links):

Weightless Books

Wizard’s Tower (which is also offering all four at a special rate)

And if you go over to Weirdfictionreview.com, you’ll find we’re serializing The Divinity Student and generally having a celebration of Cisco. Part 1 of the Divinity Student and Ann VanderMeer’s appreciation as well as a general editorial.

The Divinity Student
The International Horror Guild Award-winning novel that launched the career of a writer sometimes described as “the American Kafka.” Struck by lightning, resurrected, cut open, and stuffed full of arcane documents, the Divinity Student is sent to the desert city of San Veneficio to reconstruct the Lost Catalog of Unknown Words. He learns to pick the brains of corpses and gradually sacrifices his sanity on the altar of a dubious mission of espionage. The divinity student’s strange adventures will haunt the reader long after finishing this unique and exciting novel. As Publishers Weekly wrote, “Cisco wields words in sweeping, sensual waves, skillfully evoking multiple layers of image and metaphor. Though his novel is brief, it is a gem of literate dark fantasy, concisely illustrating the power, both light and dark, of words and meaning.” Recommended for fans of Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti, Gemma Files, Kafka, Leonora Carrington and other masters of weird fiction. With an introduction by Hugo and World Fantasy Award winner Ann VanderMeer.

The Golem
Struck by lightning, resurrected, cut open, and stuffed full of arcane documents, the Divinity Student constructs a golem replacement to pursue his love underground, with lyrical consequences. As Publishers Weekly wrote, “Cisco wields words in sweeping, sensual waves, skillfully evoking multiple layers of image and metaphor.” Recommended for fans of Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti, Gemma Files, Kafka, Leonora Carrington and other masters of weird fiction. With an introduction by Paul Tremblay.

The Tyrant
From the author of the award-winning The Divinity Student comes an audacious dark novel detailing a battle in a phantasmagorical hell. Full of amazing scenes and images, The Tyrant has become a cult classic of weird fiction. Recommended for fans of Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti, Kafka, Leonora Carrington and other surreal masters. “Michael Cisco’s works immerse the reader in worlds that are not simply dreamlike in the quality of their imagination but somehow manage to capture and convey the power of the dream itself. The Tyrant is his masterpiece.” — Thomas Ligotti. With an introduction by Rhys Hughes.

The Traitor
As Publishers Weekly writes, “Cisco (The Tyrant) ups the ante for provocative dark fantasy by giving this coming-of-age tale a subtle metaphysical edge. While still a boy, sensitive Nophtha realizes that he’s uncommonly empathetic and able to see the world from the perspective of others. Tutored by his uncle, Nophtha apprentices as an itinerant spirit eater, or someone who absorbs lingering ghosts that congest the surrounding atmosphere and converts their essence into formidable healing powers. One day, Nophtha crosses paths with his alter ego, Wite, a soul burner who hopes to evolve to a higher level of being by gorging himself on the souls of the living.” Things get worse from there. Recommended for fans of Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti, Gemma Files, Kafka, Leonora Carrington and other masters of weird fiction. With an introduction by Jeffrey Ford.

Wonderbook Contributors Redux (yes there are more)

Jeff VanderMeer • September 7th, 2013 • News, Writing Tips

DSCN1915

Well, you’ve seen the table of contents for my forthcoming Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction and I’ve also shared the list of artists and illustrators. (I should also note that the mighty John Coulthart stepped in and provided necessary expertise, balance, and stability for the page layouts. Matthew Cheney served as a consultant on the text, although any errors are mine and any enhancements are his…)

Now I thought I’d share additional information on contributors to the book. The fact is, the coffee table format allows for a lot of layering effects. So in addition to the material found in the main text—quotes and whatnot—there are things like Disruption Dragons and Revision Snakes…about which you’ll find more information below. The website will also have exclusive content, as noted by the website symbol found throughout the book.

Contributors to the Main Text

The main text, written by me, is about 90,000 words. The Appendix includes features on LARP and Games in the context of fiction by Karin Tidbeck and Will Hindmarch respectively, in addition to a 7,000-word exclusive interview on craft with George R. R. Martin.

Here’s the full list of writers who have short essays (sidebar articles and spotlight features) interwoven into the layout. Most are original to Wonderbook.

Joe Abercrombie
Lauren Beukes
Desirina Boskovich
Matthew Cheney
David Anthony Durham
Rikki Durcornet
Scott Eagle
Karen Joy Fowler
Neil Gaiman
Lev Grossman
Ursula K. Le Guin
Stant Litore
Karen Lord
Nick Mamatas
Nnedi Okorafor
Kim Stanley Robinson
Peter Straub
Catherynne M. Valente
Charles Yu

I also conducted a lot of interviews for Wonderbook, and also used some material from interviews I’d done for other venues and quotes from conversations with writers who saw various parts of Wonderbook in a beta version. One advantage of the longish gestation period for the project is that I could discuss sections with various people and then change the text if I thought something had been left out or could be better expressed.

So within the book you’ll find wisdom and experience from the following writers, listed below. Some interviews for the book, like ones with James Patrick Kelly, Stant Litore, and Leena Krohn, will appear exclusively on the (in progress) Wonderbook website. (I also made use, with permission, of substantial material from lectures by Karin Lowachee, Nick Mamatas, and Ekaterina Sedia.)

If someone has an asterisk by their name, Wonderbook interview Q&A that didn’t make the book will probably be posted to the website.

Tobias S. Buckell
Matthew Cheney
John Chu
John Crowley*
David Anthony Durham*
Matt Denault
Junot Díaz
Brian Evenson*
Jeffrey Ford*
Lisa L. Hannett
Will Hindmarch
Jennifer Hsyu
Stephen Graham Jones*
Caitlin R. Kiernan*
David Madden
Michael Moorcock
Ian R. MacLeod*
Kate Maruyama
Haruki Murakami
Cassandra N. Railsea
Thomas Ligotti*
Johanna Sinisalo*
Vandana Singh*
Catherynne M. Valente
Kali Wallace
Charles Yu*

In addition, many writers’ work is quoted from, including that of Amos Tutuola, Brian Evenson, Elizabeth Hand, Greer Gilman, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Lisa Tuttle, Premendra Mitra, and Lewis Carroll.

Not including dozens of brief references and mentions (prominent amongst them, Carol Bly, Samuel R. Delany, Vladimir Nabokov), there is more extended analysis of works by:

Ian M. Banks
John le Carre
Angela Carter
Tamas Dobozy
Brian Evenson
Leena Krohn
Mervyn Peake
Joyce Carol Oates
Kim Stanley Robinson
Amos Tutuola
Colson Whitehead

Wonderbook--SF Signal

Also, in terms of analysis, Wonderbook includes an extensive masterclass on the opening of my novel Finch, which lays bare the entirety of the decision-making process, including several false starts.

Not to mention other elements in Wonderbook…

Disruption dragon

Disruption Dragons

Basically, after there was a rough draft of the entire book in a near-final layout, I sent a PDF to various writers and asked them to create a “yes, but” statement for sections where they thought additional interrogation was needed or where they disagreed with the text in some way. This, to me, begins the necessary process for readers of thinking about what’s being read and reacting to it, not simply accepting what is put in front of them. So you’ll find very wise and useful Disruption Dragons in the page margin from:

Nathan Ballingrud (x2)
Kelly Barnhill
Matt Bell
Desirina Boskovich
Kij Johnson (x2)
Brian Francis Slattery
Sofia Samatar
Karin Tidbeck

DSCN1920

Revision Lizards

For the revision chapter, I thought I’d ask some writers about their specific experiences revising a particular novel. The results are capture on two pages of somewhat whimsical Revision Snakes, with their eyes showing the number of revisions. You’ll find accounts from:

Daniel Abraham
Aliette de Bodard
Tobias S. Buckell
Jesse Bullington
Jim Hines
Simon Ings
Stephen Graham Jones
Richard Kadrey
Nicole Korner-Stace
Karin Lowachee
Ian R. MacLeod
J.M. McDermitt
Nene Ormes
T. A. Pratt
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Patrick Rothfuss
Sofia Samatar
Pamela Sargent
Delia Sherman
Peter Straub
Jeffrey Thomas
Lisa Tuttle
Carrie Vaughn

Editorial Roundtable—Website Only

Finally, I must also mention one feature meant to be in Wonderbook that couldn’t be added because layout-wise it just wasn’t working, and we were also running out of pages…It’s an entire editorial roundtable, with some of the best editors in the field making specific and general comments about a promising but flawed short story: Ellen Datlow, Paula Guran, James Patrick Kelly, Nick Mamatas, Ann VanderMeer, and Sheila Williams. In addition, Liz Gorinsky and Gardner Dozois provided general comments.

Ed_Round--graphic

(This feature will be available on the Wonderbook website in the fullness of time.)

Wonderbook--appendix1
(Sample page from the appendix…)

Wonderbook: The Images (and TOC)

Jeff VanderMeer • September 2nd, 2013 • News

Wonderbook cover

SF Signal posted the table of contents for my forthcoming release Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction today (out October 15 from Abrams Image). The listings for the main text, instructional art, and sidebar text by other writers is so extensive that going into the artwork more deeply was just impossible, so I thought I’d do that here.

In addition to Jeremy Zerfoss’s original art and diagrams (about 150 individual pieces) and author photos for sidebar essays, the following artists and photographers are represented in Wonderbook. Many have multiple pieces in Wonderbook. If someone known only for their writing is listed, I’ve put the nature of their artistic contribution in brackets. If the art was commissioned specifically for Wonderbook, I’ve put an asterisk by the name. The artists are primarily from North America and the U.K., but also France, Finland, Spain, Serbia, and Poland, among others.

Wonderbook is the world’s first fully illustrated writing books, and one of the only general writing books of use to any writer that takes its examples from fantastical rather than mainstream literary sources (although those are in there, too!). There’s an example of a page spread below, and a few more sneak peeks in this blog post. I’m not sharing much of the unique diagrams for now, though.

ART

Ninni Aalto*
Joe Abercrombie [map]
Hawk Alfredson
Aeron Alfrey
Mo Ali
Kristen Alvanson
Gregory Bossert*
Michael Cisco [diagram]*
R. S. Connett
Molly Crabapple
John Coulthart
John Crowley [writer’s journey diagram]*
Leo and Diane Dillon
Rikki Ducornet*
Scott Eagle
Stephen Fabian
J.J. Grandville
Richard A. Kirk
Stant Litore [diagram]*
Tomasz Maronski
Ian Miller
Nnedi Okorafor [art/novel structure]
Victo Ngai
Matthew Revert*
Óscar Sanmartín
Eric Schaller
Dave Senior
Ward Shelley
Ivica Stevanovic*
Ben Templesmith
Jason Thompson
Ben Tolman
Sam Van Olffen*
Charles Vess
Myrtle Von Damitz III*

PHOTOGRAPHY

Kyle Cassidy*
Patrick Eriksson
Leila Ghobril
Tessa Kum*
Angel Rodriguez
Jorge Royan
Paul D. Stewart
Henry Söderlund
Mariana Tavares*
Ann VanderMeer*
Robert K. VanderMeer*
Corrie White

Wonderbook--Ivica Stevanovic and Tolman
(Original art for Wonderbook by Ivica Stevanovic on left and Ben Tolman art on the right; also a typical non-diagram page spread)

Ann VanderMeer’s Worldcon Schedule

Jeff VanderMeer • August 30th, 2013 • News

Ann’s in San Antonio, at this year’s Worldcon. Here’s her schedule starting tomorrow.

She also has an advance copy of Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction with her, for those who might be interested in a sneak peek. (Check at Carrie Ann Baade’s booth at DragonCon this weekend as well–she has a Wonderbook display copy).

Here’s Ann’s particulars:

Friday, August 30
- 12:00-12:30 Signing at Tachyon Table in Dealer’s room
- 3:00-4:00 Creating Anthologies – How do you create a good anthology? With Ellen Datlow (M), Ann VanderMeer, John Joseph Adams, David G. Hartwell, James Gunn
- 4:00-5:00 Canon Formation: How Do We Decide What Becomes a “Classic”? – Canon formation takes place through awards short lists, juries, critical essays, and anthologies. What conscious processes inform these decisions, and how do canons form over time? With Karen Burnham (M), Ann VanderMeer, Jacob Weisman, Damien Broderick

Saturday, August 31
- 4:00-5:00 Alice Sheldon and Susan Wood: Can They Still Inspire Us? – Feminism caught fire in the SF community in the 1970s. The Tiptree Award, Broad Universe, Japan’s Sense of Gender Award. Do you feel the heat? With Liz Gorinsky (M), Mari Kotani, Ann VanderMeer, Pat Murphy, Catherynne M. Valente

Sunday, Sept 1
- 1:00 – 2:00 Intersection of Science, Space Exploration, and Speculative Fiction – with Astronaut Cady Coleman, Ann VanderMeer, John Chu, Marco Palmieri
- 3:00-4:00 Into Darkness: Horror and Dark Fantasy – Who’s doing great work with horror and dark fantasy right now? Where are the best places to find and read these works? With Lee Harris (M), John Joseph Adams, Greg Ketter, Julia Rios, Ann VanderMeer

The Southern Reach Trilogy: FSG Cover Reveal for Annihilation (with animation!)

Jeff VanderMeer • August 28th, 2013 • News

annihilation animation

Farrar, Straus and Giroux has revealed the cover for the first novel in my Southern Reach trilogy: Annihilation. Along with a description of the novel AND an animated version of the cover…Go check it out! And post a comment if you like it.

Helsinki’s 2015 Worldcon Bid and a Cornucopia of Finnish Speculative Fiction (free e-book)

Jeff VanderMeer • August 27th, 2013 • Culture, News

helsinkiworldcon_banner_2013 copy

We here at Cheeky Frawg had no idea that Helsinki would be vying to host the 2015 Worldcon when we started to acquire books by Finnish writers for our line, supported by generous grants from FILI, the Finnish Literature Exchange. We just knew that there as a rather amazing amount of talent in Finland when it came to speculative fiction, weird fiction, fantasy, SF—whatever you want to call it. And that this talent was backed up by a very strong and knowledgeable SF/F community.

But we now find the release of our books (in October) coinciding in part with Helsinki’s bid, and we’d just like to say how strongly we support that bid—in part because their home grown talent is so great. You’ll note the names on the image above, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And one reason we think a Helsinki Worldcon makes so much sense is the number of really interesting writers you’ll discover—as interesting in person as on the page.

In fact, in celebration of that bid, we’d like to offer, for free, an ebook of Finnish writer Leena Krohn’s World Fantasy Award finalist Tainaron, one of our favorite short novels of all time. Just through today, midnight Eastern Standard Time. Just email me at [email protected] with the subject line Free E-book and specify mobi (Kindle) or epub and I’ll send it to you. I’ll send them out in batches, so don’t worry if you don’t hear right away. All requests will be filled by tomorrow afternoon, tops.

Not only are we releasing Krohn’s Datura in October, but next year we are putting out a 900-page omnibus of Krohn’s collected novels in English, along with some short fiction and commissioned essays.

Dradin, In Love: To Be Staged May 22-25 at the Granary in Cork, Ireland

Jeff VanderMeer • May 7th, 2013 • News

Dradin, in Love - Poster Large

Bob Kelly and his cohorts at Tribe have wanted to do a stage production of “Dradin, In Love,” from City of Saints & Madmen, my book set in the imaginary metropolis of Ambergris, for awhile—and now they’re doing it! May 22-25 of this month at The Granary in Cork, Ireland. They’ve trained with a very physical theater group, so it should be an interesting production.

I’ll have more information and inside looks at the production next week, but for now here’s a link to the description on The Granary’s website and also, below, one of their more esoteric (and fun) fliers for the event, incorporating text from City of Saints.

I can also share that they’ll be using my story “The Exchange” as an interlude between acts.

(more…)

Publishing Is Full of Creative, Interesting People

Jeff VanderMeer • May 4th, 2013 • News

I just thought I’d say that: Publishing is full of creative, interesting people. For an industry that’s supposedly dying–something I don’t believe–I certainly have met some of the most interesting and dynamic individuals over the last few days. Invigorating and inspiring.

In other news, German rights to the Southern Reach series have sold, with more to follow. The note about the series from the German editor is one of the best I’ve ever received–hopefully might share a bit of it later if he doesn’t mind. (I’m motoring along on Authority, the second novel in that series.)

I’m also happy to say I’ll have news on a stage production of my novella “Dradin, In Love,” set in Ambergris, in a few days. It’s sprouted up as quickly as a mushroom, which seems appropriate.

Right. Back down the rabbit hole.

New Foreign Rights Sales for the Southern Reach Trilogy (and digging out and digging in)

Jeff VanderMeer • April 28th, 2013 • News

So, there has been more good news for the Southern Reach series (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance) on the foreign rights front. The Spanish rights have sold to the absolutely first-rate publisher Seix Barral and the Dutch rights have sold to the equally high-class De Bezige Bij. Just as good: Andrea Cannobio at Einaudi took the Italian rights. They all publish some of my favorite authors.

Some more information on the deals mentioned in a prior blog post. The trilogy went to Nicholas Pearson at Fourth Estate, in a six-figure pre-empt; to Iris Tupholme at Harper Canada, in another six-figure pre-empt, to Intrinseca in Brazil, in a pre-empt as well.

Hungarian rights have also sold, but I’m waiting for details before posting about that, and a few other deals will come through in the next week or two. I’m just…well, stunned, appreciative, over-the-moon–these are just powerhouse publishers.

I’ll also have more information on the publication schedule for the Southern Reach trilogy through FSG in the U.S. and, hopefully, some updates on the progress on the possible movies.

I’m currently digging in to finish off the second and third novels in the trilogy. But I’m also hoping in the coming weeks to blog more–and not updates but actual posts about craft, along with some reviews of books read recently. I’m off of social media until November, and only on the internet very rarely now. One nice thing about being off the internet for long stretches is you find your attention span comes back to you, and I’m having a great time diving into some very long, very convoluted, and very satisfying novels.

More soonish.

P.S. Karen Joy Fowler asked for a wild animal encounter–I gave her this post about seeing a Florida panther. It kind of fits with the Southern Reach series, since the landscape, transformed, is really the North Florida trails I’ve hiked for the past 15 years.