Goodreads’ Ask the Author: Q&A Featuring the Southern Reach, Atwood, Allende, and a Host of Others

(Check out the FSG site for Authority with interactive map here.)

Goodreads has all the info on their site, but basically they’ve launched a new section where you can ask authors questions directly. What amounts to the beta launch includes a plethora of writers, including yours truly. You can see what questions I’ve answered and ask me a question yourself. Below find the links for the other participants.

I’ll be answering two or three questions a day through early June, at the very least. Although I’m laser-focused on the Southern Reach trilogy, feel free to ask me anything you like. I’ve already asked my own questions of Robin Sloan, Margaret Atwood, and Isabel Allende. (Click on images to enlarge.) - vanderworld@hotmail - vanderworld@hotmail1 - vanderworld@hotmail2

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Spanish-Language Annihilation–from Destino!

On the heels of the news that Authority has made the NYT bestseller list, the Spanish edition of Annihilation is being released–today, in fact! I’ve previously blogged about how much I love these editions from Destino. The care and work they’ve put into the Southern Reach series–the enthusiasm and the smarts–has me really energized!

Destino has a great page for the Southern Reach here, including a cool video, and you can find them on twitter, too: @_Southernreach

The OF Blog has already weighed in on the translation, calling it “terrific.”

There have been a lot of pre-pub mentions and reviews in Spanish media, and soon I hope to collect and link to them. I’ll also be posting an interview with the artist responsible for those great covers: Pablo Delcan. In the meantime, here are some highlights from the US publication of Annihilation in case you missed them. Annihilation was an Amazon and GQ pick, among many others, and blurbed by Warren Ellis, Kelly Link, and Karen Joy Fowler, among others.

–“Binge-reading,” front page of the NYT

–Cover iterations, NYT slideshow

–The Power of Nature, USA Today interview

–Music Notes, at Largehearted Boy

–Reviews by the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald,, The Globe & Mail, The Guardian, and (Laura Miller)

–Radio interviews with Bookworm and Studio 360, as well as a podcast and print interview with Buzzfeed.


Authority News: Bookworm, City Lights, NYT Bestseller List, Entertainment Weekly’s Must List, Teasers, and More

(Me with Eric J. Lawrence and Michael Silverblatt in back.)

–Read the first chapter of Authority here.

–Interactive map and other Authority goodies here.

Authority, the second Southern Reach novel, has gotten off to a good start–I’m told it’s made the next New York Times bestseller list!! This on the heels of Annihilation topping Locus Magazine’s trade paper bestseller list for May.

In addition, Bookworm broadcast their interview with me, conducted while I was in California for the LAT Festival of Books. Michael Silverblatt’s program has been a favorite of mine for a while–check out these great interviews with Will Self and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for example. This time around Eric J. Lawrence, who does a music program out of the same radio station, sat in and contributed to the conversation. I had a lot of fun, and both hosts were very kind as we talked for about 20 minutes before doing the interview, about a variety of fascinating topics–I kinda wish that bit had been recorded too. For one thing, they got me past this kind of wince I’d developed expecting the genre-vs-mainstream question. I was also quite touched that Silverblatt had brought into the studio every book of mine he’d been sent, stretching back to the 1990s.

I also annotated this excerpt from Authority for PoetryGenius–I’m rather happy with how this turned out, with “found objects” I added. Hope you’ll check it out.

So on top of all of that, you can imagine how surreal I found this: Entertainment Weekly picking Authority for their Must List along with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Steve Carell–this after their enthusiastic review in the magazine itself and a shout-out to Annihilation on their site’s Shelf Life feature.

Interviews have appeared at Raw Story, BuzzFeed, Bookmunch,, My Bookish Ways, and LitReactor. I’ve tried to put a lot of care into my responses, and I hope you enjoy them. Radio/podcasts have included Studio 360 and Rick Kleffel’s awesome Agony Column.

In addition to Authority making several best-of-month lists, I’ve also been blessed with some truly great reviews, including those by Michael Matheson, the Raging Bibliophile, Nisi Shawl at The Seattle Times, The Times (UK), Pete Sutton, Rick Kleffel at The Agony Column, My Bookish Ways, Bookmunch, and Geekadelphia. Also, this piece about What Writers Can Learn from Authority.

There’s a lot more coverage coming, a cool new project I’m involved with that’ll be announced next week, and also an interview on To the Best of Our Knowledge, among other things.

I also just want to say–I really appreciate your support for these trippy, weird novels. It means a lot. If you enjoy them, please keep recommending them to friends, neighbors, and even enemies and frenemies.

Finally, here are some out-of-context paragraphs from Authority for your enjoyment. You can hear me read them out-loud on this City Lights podcast, along with an exclusive excerpt from Acceptance, the third novel, out in September, and, of course, a reading from Annihilation.

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The Southern Reach Goes Retro with Covers by Matthew Revert

(Click for larger view.)

With Authority, the middle book of the Southern Reach, launching this month, I thought it was a good time to reveal these “Go Retro” covers for the Southern Reach trilogy. Designed by the extraordinary Matthew Revert, they don’t appear as the covers for any of the actual editions of the novels, but one can hope. I’m a big fan of Revert’s design style and these covers came about as the result of a conversation we had about cover design after he did some work for my Wonderbook last year. Besides, it kinda fits if you read this review of Authority or this Big Idea feature. Yeah, there’s a fair amount of seventies and early eighties influence in these books, repurposed and assimilated. For an excerpt from the novel, check out the first chapter at io9 and this excerpt at PoetryGenius featuring image-heavy annotations from yours truly.

I like the idea of these editions being found by readers in some dusty ill-lit corner of a used bookstore in the early 1970s. An unexpected find, like the ones that led me in the 1980s to find authors like Edward Whittemore and Frederic Prokosch. I still haunt used bookstores looking for those kinds of unexpected discoveries, and I still make finds that I treasure to this day.

To do these covers justice, I’ve created my own new book descriptions modeled on back cover copy from several 1970s mass market paperbacks in my library. Granted, they’re teetering between serious and satirical…


ANNIHILATION: A mysterious wilderness in which the animals are changing! A tunnel into the earth, not on any map! An expedition divided against itself! In an adventure unlike any other, will the old ruined lighthouse guide them to safety or wreck them on the rocks? Come visit Area X with the biologist on the twelfth expedition. Nothing is at it seems, and nowhere is safe…


AUTHORITY: Beware the rabbit–especially when there are two thousand of them tasks with clandestine special ops. Heir to a spy dynasty, John Rodriquez will pass through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole when he takes over as director of the super-secret Southern Reach agency. Charged with discovering the mystery behind Area X, Rodriguez is running out of time and the clues just keep multiplying like the rabbits in the Southern Reach’s bizarre experiments. Reality is a fractured mirror in this game of parsing truth from untruth.


ACCEPTANCE: In the triumphant conclusion to the Southern Reach trilogy, a desperate new expedition crosses the border into Area X seeking the truth. But will Area X oblige them? This mind-blowing climax is haunted by demons and shadows–and owls. Travel into the past with a lighthouse keeper and explore the history of the Southern Reach secret agency. Bear witness to horrors and miracles. Who will be chosen? Who will fall…and what will rise? Only the owl knows.

Spanish Edition of Annihilation: Pablo Delcan Art, Video, Skyping with Madrid

(Shot of bloggers/reviewers kind enough to chat with me via Skype from Madrid)

One thing I’m really excited about later this month is the release of the Spanish-language edition of Annihilation, from Planeta de Libros imprint Destino. The editors there, and everyone associated with the project, have been great to work with–and they have exciting ideas about how to market and promote the trilogy. It just feels like a great fit.

Earlier this past week, I Skyped with interested bloggers/reviewers who were kind enough to gather at a Madrid bookstore to talk about Annihilation. They asked some great questions, including one that stymied me: What animal from Annihilation would I like to be! It was a lot of fun, and I appreciated them taking time to discuss the novels.

As you can see, they’ve done an amazing job with the look-and-feel of the Southern Reach trilogy. They’ve also set up a Southern Reach twitter feed at @_Southernreach (note the underscore) and a great web page here.

Here’s the advance reader copy of Annihilation, presented in a modified slipcase with Jeremy Zerfoss’s map of Area X and other goodies. Below you’ll also find the full set of covers by Pablo Delcan–please check out his site. He’s a genius, in my opinion. Just such great work. (You can click on any image in this post for a larger version.)

If you read in Spanish, please check out the series. The Spanish editions have been created with love, attention to detail, and a lot of hard work.



Wonderbook: Thanking the Contributors


In recent weeks, my Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction has won the British SF Association’s award for nonfiction and been named a finalist for the Hugo Award and the Locus Award. Congrats also to the main art contributor, Jeremy Zerfoss, for being up for a Hugo with me for Wonderbook. A special shout-out to main text consultant, Matthew Cheney, too, and my wife Ann, whose help was amazing on this project. As well as Luis Rodrigues who designed the website and Gregory Bossert who created the trailer.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to see such great reader reaction to the book–it’s being taught at more and more universities, including Brown. I’ll be using it as a text to teach from at Yale, Shared Worlds (teen writing camp), and the Clarion workshop this summer, too. Thanks to readers for making this a title that’s been hard for booksellers to keep in stock–and for engaging with the book’s sense of humor in such a marvelous way. I’ve also been pleased with how much Wonderbook has caught on as a general creativity guide outside of creative writing, and as a source of inspiration across media.

The main purpose of this post is to thank the dozens and dozens of text and art contributors to Wonderbook from all over the world. You’re the ones who help make Wonderbook work for so many readers, and also make it a reflection of the richness and depth of science fiction and fantasy, not just the reflection of one person’s perspective. So thank you–I’ve name-checked you below. Those readers who haven’t encountered some of these writers before, I endorse them all whole-heartedly. You should seek them out.

The accompanying Wonderbook website has a ton of content, too, all of which went up at the same time the book was published last October.

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Blackstone’s Awesome Audiobook of Authority, Read by Bronson Pinchot

Blackstone’s interview with my about the Southern Reach series.

This week, Blackstone releases the audiobook of my novel Authority as well. It’s read by the actor Bronson Pinchot, who does a rather amazing job. It’s a riveting performance, and Pinchot’s decisions on characters like the Voice are spot-on. Even his decisions on the very opening little snippet:

In Control’s dreams since he came to the Southern Reach it is early morning, the sky deep blue with just a twinge of light. He is staring from a cliff down into an abyss, a bay, a cove. It always changes. He can see for miles into the still water. He can see ocean behemoths gliding there, like submarines or bell-shaped orchids or the wide hulls of ships, silent, ever-moving, the size of them conveying such a sense of power that he can feel the havoc of their passage even from so far above. He stares for hours at the shapes, the movements, listening to the whispers echoing up to him…and then he falls. Slowly, too slowly, he falls soundless into the dark water, without splash or ripple. And keeps falling. Sometimes this happens while he is awake, as if he hasn’t been paying enough attention, and then he silently recites his own name until the real world returns to him.

He gets the cadence perfect on the first sentences, giving them a kind of relaxed intensity and dreamlike quality, which then sharpens into the present moment with the last sentence. The choices for the various voices are also great, and he does a magnificent job of slowing down in certain sections and speeding up a bit where needed.

There are a fair number of coiled, circular, and absurd passages in Authority. To encompass all of that in one performance–to get across hints of dark humor and then also move all the way to extremities of horror–is quite a feat. I’m entirely in awe of it, and also appreciative. The right reader makes a huge difference to me as a writer, especially with the series so fresh in my mind. The right reader also helps you see your own text more clearly.

Even if you don’t normally buy audiobooks, you might want to check this one out. You can listen to a sample here.

Here’s more information on the novel, too.

The bone-chilling, hair-raising second installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy For thirty years, a secret agency called the Southern Reach has monitored expeditions into Area X—a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. After the twelfth expedition, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (a.k.a. “Control”) is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and more than two hundred hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve.

“The second volume of VanderMeer’s trilogy…In this sequel, VanderMeer supplements his evocative descriptions of the unnatural Area X with the shadowy, dusty, seemingly half-forgotten offices in which Control spends his time…The book strengthens and develops the narrative arc while remaining fully coherent on its own, revealing more and more secrets about Area X all the while. VanderMeer’s masterful command of the plot, his cast of characters, and the increasingly desperate situation will leave the reader desperate for the final volume in the trilogy.” –
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Authority isn’t a book that just picks up where the last one left off. Instead, it’s packed full of new pleasures, not only new characters and settings but whole new kinds of writing.” – Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

The Southern Reach Trilogy: Authority Release Day!

(What is the Séance & Science Brigade? Why is their calling card from tarot? Read the novel to find out. Image by Jeremy Zerfoss.)

This is the release week for my novel Authority, in the US, UK, and Canada! The novel received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, has been blurbed by Robin Sloan and Brian Evenson, and made several best-of month and best-of week lists, with many more high-profile reviews to come.

FSG has a great page with the first chapter for your reading pleasure and an interactive map of the island in Area X–go check it out! That page also has a whole list of bookseller links if you scroll down.

Also do not forget the amazing audiobook, narrated brilliantly by Bronson Pinchot! I can’t recommend it enough.

Here’s more about the novel:

After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X—a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization—has been as series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach. Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in complete disarray. John Rodrigues (aka “Control”) is the Southern Reach’s newly appointed head. Working with a distrustful but desperate team, a series of frustrating interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, Control begins to penetrate the secrets of Area X. But with each discovery he must confront disturbing truths about himself and the agency he’s pledged to serve. In Authority, the second volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Area X’s most disturbing questions are answered… but the answers are far from reassuring.

How You Can Help!

If you like my fiction and want to support Authority, here are some of the things you can do to help.

—Buy the book now from your preferred bookseller, and preorder the final volume, Acceptance.

–Buy the book during release week. You can find direct sales links here.

—Review the book. Blog, review site, or on social media. Any mention, especially noting whatever you really liked about the book, helps immensely.

—Review it on Amazon. Go to the Amazon sales page for the book and tell other readers what you liked about it. A quick and easy way to help get the word out and create interest.

—Make sure local booksellers carry it.

—Request it from your local library. Making sure your local library knows about Authority, which notonly increases library orders but allows multiple people to enjoy the book.

—Spread the word through twitter and facebook. Tell people about the novel through social media, using your favorite link about the book.


Southern Reach Annihilation Book Tour Schedule: LAT Festival of Books and More


Well, it’s been a ridiculously busy spring, with Annihilation taking off, including a featured review in Entertainment Weekly, and great press in GQ, the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald,, and many more. I’ll share links in a separate blog post in a week or so. In the meantime: all three animated gifs for the Southern Reach series!

The next leg of the tour is swiftly approaching, and here are all the details. Authority is out May 6 and Acceptance in early September.


Sat. April 12 at 4:30pm, Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (USC Campus)–Panel “Fiction: Outside the Margins,” with Aimee Bender and Karen Joy Fowler. Moderated by Joy Press. Taper Hall, THH 101. Followed by book signing.
–Also catch me at 1pm at Black Clock (booth #121) and 3pm at Skylight (booth #138)
–I’ll be at the LAT book awards Friday night, too.

Mon. April 14 at 7:30pm, Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Redondo Beach (2810 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach CA)–Reading from Annihilation, signing, and discussion. As well as teasers from Authority. Check out their facebook page for the event here.
–From 12 noon to 1pm on April 14, catch me at, answering questions; their bookclub is discussing Annihilation.

Thurs. April 17 at 7:30pm, California State University Channel Islands (One University Drive, Camarillo, CA, at Del Norte 1500)–“In Other Worlds: An Evening of Fantasy and Science Fiction,” with Jeff VanderMeer, Sofia Samatar, and Nikko Nguyen. Reading and Q&A. Samatar is the 2014 recipient of the Crawford Award for her novel A Stranger in Olondria (published by Small Beer Press).


Thurs. April 25 thru Sat. April 26, Arkansas Literary Festival (Main library campus and other venues)–Wonderbook Workshop, discussion of Annihilation (with slideshow), school visit. Check the schedule for my events.


UPCOMING EVENTS (more info soon, with more events TBA)

May 8–WORD Bookstore tumblr (virtual event; answering questions online)
July 9–Hub City Bookstore (Spartanburg, SC)
July 10–Quail Ridge Books (Raleigh/Durham, NC)
July 12–Malaprop’s (Asheville, NC)
July 15–Hub City Bookstore (introducing Carrie Vaughn; Shared Worlds event; date tentative)
July 25-26–Comic-Con (San Diego; with Ann VanderMeer)
July 30–Mysterious Galaxy (Clarion Writers Workshop event, San Diego, with Ann VanderMeer)
Aug. 14-28–United Kingdom Book Tour (WorldCon, Edinburgh, Bath, and more; with Ann VanderMeer)
Aug. 29—31, Decatur Book Festival
Aug. 31–Blue Train Books event (Hogansville, GA)


Ann VanderMeer’s April Time Traveler’s Almanac Tour


Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award winning editor Ann VanderMeer will be touring in support of her MASSIVE thousand-page time travel anthology, just featured on NPR with a review and interview on All Things Considered!

Monday, April 21, 7:00 PM—Flyleaf Books (752 MLK Jr. Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC)
Wednesday, April 23, 7:00 PM—Joseph-Beth Booksellers (161 Lexington Green Circle, #B1, Lexington, KY)
Thursday, April 24, 7:00 PM—Malaprops (55 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC)

Come out and learn more about time travel and great fiction!

–Read the Preface at the Onion’s AV Club.
–Read an interview with Ann at Paste.