My AMA on Reddit is now live. To recap, an AMA (short for Ask Me Anything) is Reddit’s version of a Q&A. You can come and ask me any question you desire and I’ll be answering questions from 3pm to 5pm. The AMA link to ask me questions is here.
Today is the official publication date for Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy. For this hardcover collecting Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance, FSG has come up with yet another amazing, stunning cover design–the title page is pretty wonderful, too.
On the Farrar, Straus and Giroux site you can
–Access a great flipbook of articles, essays, and reviews connected to the Southern Reach novels. The flipbook really deserves your attention. It’s beautiful.
In other news, Library Journal put the trilogy on their year’s best list, while Kirkus and Amazon both had Annihilation on their top 100 books of the year. Annihilation has also made it to the final round of the Goodreads Choice Awards.
There are also a lot of features about the series this week.
–Suvudu’s posted an interview and also features the title page from the hardcover.
–Weirdfictionreview.com is running Southern Reach content all week. The kick-off interview includes an exclusive excerpt from a new Southern Reach story. They also ran features by Seb Doubinsky and Scott Nicolay.
–Electric Lit has my explanation of a mouse-washing scene in Acceptance, along with an excerpt and amazing exclusive images by Matthew Revert.
–Over at HarperCollins’ SF festival I talk Cronenberg, SF films, and the Southern Reach.
–My Bookish Ways has run my “Tidal Pool Rules” post, complete with annotations by a real marine biologist.
–Time Out NY ran an interview with me about the Southern Reach.
–Jason Sanford is kind enough to recommend the trilogy.
–Largehearted Boy has my thoughts on several Southern Reach playlists.
–Eric Nyquist is also selling prints of his amazing art for the FSG trade paperback editions.
Not to mention, in the past couple of weeks, my essay on weird fiction at the Atlantic and an “in conversation” piece between me and the wonderful designer and writer Peter Mendelsund, over at Boing Boing.
If you like the Southern Reach trilogy and want to support this new edition, please recommend it to family and friends, write a review on your favorite book seller’s website, and/or tell your library to order it.
Thanks so much for your support! This trilogy started out as a dark horse, an underdog, and it’s become a juggernaut–all because of you. Word of mouth has been astounding and I feel very blessed and humbled by just how many people have gotten into this series.
Post-Halloween, it’s time to clear the cobwebs and get back to making things–and one of the things I helped make is The Steampunk User’s Manual. This is a unique look at Steampunk fashion, fiction, art, making, and much more that takes a practical and whimsical approach. There are projects you can do and projects nobody can ever do but that are fun to speculate about: like a giant steam-powered mecha-penguin commissioned specially for the book. Steampunk creators in all fields give their advice in ways that will be of use to those looking to enter the Steampunk world, but also general enough to be useful to anyone who is creative. As a full-color coffee table book, The Steampunk User’s Manual is also just darn pretty to look at. You can check out our website for more details and my esteemed coauthor has also written a pretty spiffy “7 Reasons Why Steampunk Is Totally Now.” In addition to this interview I did for the Royal Museums, Greenwich. The perfect book for you to order or to give as a gift this holiday season.
It also just so happens we’ve provided some free stuff online to supplement the book.
–Storium’s Will Hindmarch created a whole Steampunk RPG for the book’s release, which you can check out here.
—Author Richard Ellis Preston Jr. has been kind enough to allow readers to download his new story set in his popular Romulus Buckle Steampunk universe while we also showcases his giant kraken vs airship battle from a Buckle novel. (Offer good until November 9; direct link here) Featuring original art from Wonderbook’s Jeremy Zerfoss!
Today The Atlantic posted my essay on weird fiction. The essay focuses on the ways in which beauty and humor coincide with the bizarre in this kind of fiction, using my experience coediting The Weird. Among the writers I mention or discuss are Murakami, Leena Krohn, Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti, Leonora Carrington, Helen Oyeyemi.
Here’s a short excerpt. Please go read the essay and share it if you like it.
The intel begins to takes on an almost luminous quality—hidden linkage and lineage interwoven with literary resonance to reveal a greater, deeper sense of the complexity of the world. Confusions of writer and work become inevitable and can even be clarifying….Yet, I also began to have the sense, fostered in part by the cross-contamination of research, that around the world enclaves that never knew one another—writers who could not have read each other—still had communicated across decades and across vast distances, had stared up at the same shared unfamiliar constellations in the night sky, heard the same unearthly music: a gorgeous choir of unique yet interlocking imaginations and visions and phantoms. At such times, you wonder as both a writer and an editor if you are creating narrative or merely serving as a conduit for what was already there.
Julia Elliott’s phenomenal first short story collection is out this week and I hope you will buy it. I hope you will buy copies for your friends. The Wilds is wonderful in every way. The stories range from mainstream realism and magic realism to surreal science fiction—all unique, all demonstrating Elliott’s wonderful ability to see the absurdity and seriousness of life in equal measure. In a tie with Laura Van den Berg’s The Isle of Youth, it’s my favorite collection of the year.
Here’s an interview I did with Elliott for the Tin House blog (excerpt below). Go read it. Go buy the book.
Jeff VanderMeer: What do texture and tone mean to you when writing a short story? And do you have to get them right before you can finish a rough draft?
Julia Elliott: As a hedonistic texturist, my initial impulse is to cram every particle of a story with texture and tone, so that each and every sentence bursts with perfumed, purple language like an overripe fig—an oozing, fermenting, parasite-infested mess of a fig. When I return to early stories, I’m struck by the electric, visceral moods that end up going nowhere—especially plot-wise. Although I’m now more ruthless about gagging and straight-jacketing the bad poet within, I don’t feel at home in a narrative unless I’ve created a palpable texture that I can inhabit as I work out character motivations and plot, elements that occur less instinctively for me.
NOTE: Coming here because of the lighthouse article in the NYT? To contact me email vanderworld at Hotmail.com
–Featured in Entertainment Weekly’s Summer Binge recommendations, along with an A- for Acceptance
Acceptance came out September 2–the concluding volume of my trilogy about the increasingly urgent search for answers about the mysterious Area X. I’ll be touring behind the novel’s release, with some expectation that copies may be available in time for the Decatur Book Festival, too. Here’s the general information so you have it early, with specifics and possible additional events to follow.
Most of these events are some combination of reading and Q&A, with anecdotes about writing the books that range from strange wilderness experiences to weird workplace experiences. With slideshow where possible. If you need more information on the series, this lovely roundup gives you maximum information.
September 21, Sunday, 4pm panel with signing to follow–Brooklyn Book Festival
4:00 P.M. Fantastical Thrillers: Face Your Fears, or Else… Confronting the evils of the past, deliberately pushing into the unknown, and even stealing the moon. Join NYT bestselling author Lev Grossman (Magicians Trilogy: The Magician’s Land), Jeff VanderMeer (The Southern Reach Trilogy: Acceptance) and debut novelist Deji Olukotun (Nigerians in Space) in a conversation about traveling to the brink and back, and what redemption means in magical worlds. Moderated by Noreen Tomassi, Center for Fiction.
September 22, Mon., 7pm – Housing Works event with fellow NYT bestsellers Lev Grossman & Laura Beukes in New York, NY (short readings, slide show, discussion, signing)
September 25, Thurs, 7:30pm–Free Library in Philadelphia, PA Reading, Q&A, and slideshow, with live owl; additional event partners Geekadelphia and The Academy of Natural Sciences
“I’m loving the Southern Reach trilogy…Creepy and fascinating.” – Stephen King
This week Ann and I will be teaching at the Yale Writers’ Conference. There are semi-public readings at the campus B&N that are mostly for the students and faculty. But for anyone in the area who’s interested, I’ll be doing this event:
Join us on Thursday, June 19 at 7:00 p.m. for a program with a trio of authors fresh from the Yale Writers’ Conference: Terence Hawkins, conference director and author of American Neolithic; and instructors Louis Bayard, author Roosevelt’s Beast; and Jeff VanderMeer, author of Wonderbook, The Illustrated Guide To Creating Imaginative Fiction. In addition to speaking about Wonderbook, Jeff will read from and discuss his latest book, Annihilation.
I’ll probably give some teasers about Acceptance, too.
I always love doing events with writers I’m just encountering, and in this case two with such intriguing novels out. Here’s some more information on both…
Terence Hawkins’ American Neolithic is America is a Police State Lite. Drones patrol the skies. The Patriot Amendments have gutted civil liberties. The Homeland Police and Patriot Tribunal have exclusive jurisdiction over all legal actions implicating national security. And then Neanderthals enter the story. Political satire, courtroom thriller, and speculative fiction, American Neolithic is also a story of loyalty, betrayal, and redemption.
Louis Bayard’s Roosevelt’s Dream. A reimagining of Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt’s ill-fated 1914 Amazon expedition—a psychological twist on the smart historical thriller that first put Louis Bayard on the map. A story of the impossible things that become possible when when the mind plays tricks on itself and when old family secrets refuse to stay buried.
One of the great pleasures of seeing the Southern Reach trilogy in print has been the ingenuity and sophistication of the foreign language editions. Among the absolute best of the many versions are Destino’s covers for the Spanish editions. Destino commissioned artist and designer Pablo Delcan to create these covers, which capture the surreal vibe of the novels as well as the theme of transformation running through the narrative.
I caught up with Delcan via email this month to ask him about how he created these striking images, and to share with readers some early versions. You can experience more of his amazing work at his website. Spanish readers can also check out the Destino Southern Reach webpage and also check out updates on twitter @_SouthernReach.
For your summer reading consideration…first off the HuffPo list of ten influences on the Southern Reach trilogy, including Under the Sea-Wind by Rachel Carson:
This was the famous naturalist’s first book, and it contains her observations of several coastal environments in the 1930s. Taken just as an intricately detailed account, Under the Sea-Wind has a mesmerizing rhythm that places the reader under a spell. But not only does this book fascinate with its documenting of the lives of animals and the environment around them, it describes pre-World War II landscapes that today do not exist in quite this complexity. This chronicle is thus also an important account of our natural history.
I also contributed to a Conde Nast Traveler list of summer reading, along with David Sedaris and several others. I chose Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book as my classic summer read. Go check out the other recs.
My novel Authority made this New York Post list of the 29 best summer books, along with work by Emma Straub, Haruki Murakami, and more.
Authority’s also on this Tampa Bay Times best-of summer list, along with intriguing titles by Emma Donaghue and John Waters.
GQ’s list of May recommendations includes…um, you know, Authority, but also some *other* books that might be of interest.
If you’re looking for some rock-solid trade paperback fiction, the latest New York Times’ bestseller list includes quite a few interesting titles, including David Eggers’ The Circle. In a first for me, Authority also pops up on the list.
I should also point out this Coode Street podcast if you want some summer listening, in which Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan have a conversation with me. I think it turned out really well. Other recent episodes feature the likes of Joe Abercrombie. (I also highly recommend any of Bookworm’s interviews, except the one they did with this bastard.)
And, if you have a question through early June, I’m answering them over at Goodreads–at least one a day.
Finally, FSG Originals has a roundup of some of the great press for my novel, for those who are interested.
(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.)