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After about two years of pandemic isolation, during which I’ve had a number of books out, it’s about time to start a new chapter on what I’m writing and my environmental activism. If you missed it, since the start of the pandemic, I’ve published Dead Astronauts, A Peculiar Peril, Hummingbird Salamander, reprints of the Ambergris novels, The Big Book of Modern Fantasy (co-edited with Ann VanderMeer), and Theo Ellsworth’s graphic novel of my short story Secret Life. It’s not been the best time to be so prolific, given everything going on in the world, but I’m thankful to still be here and starting new projects. That includes things outside of the fiction-writing sphere.
The Hummingbird Salamander book tour was a whirlwind, including so many amazing moments–getting to talk with Karen Russell, David Mitchell, David Duchovny, and so many more. I think I particularly loved this moment visually, although this photoshop includes our cat Neo because that’s hilarious. Thanks to everyone who came to so many virtual events. I believe in a 12-month period I did about 70 Zoom events, which was both amazing as an opportunity and also an endurance test!
Some of you may know I helped found and served as contributing editor for Our Tallahassee, a new media site posting articles on local North Florida politics that other places just haven’t been picking up on. OT fills an important gap in coverage and spotlights ongoing systemic corruption in our local government. I was pleased to be asked to be involved and it was invigorating to help get OT up and running, but ultimately day-to-day operations took too much time away from the writing career. So I’ve stepped back and am no longer part of OT, although I’ll continue to signal boost their most important stories. Bob Lotane, the publisher there, is a great guy. I am proud of my 9 Things Tallahasseans Should Be Concerned About article–it includes issues that anyone living anywhere should be worried about if they crop up in their community.
During this time, too, I’ve been flattered to enjoy the trust of a number of concerned folks in the community about various issues, many of them environmental in nature. I plan to continue to serve as a conduit for folks to media outlets, but I also urge you as concerned people in the community to reach out to whoever you trust, from new media to more traditional places, so important news that we need to know becomes visible.
For my part, I am writing a couple of articles on local politics for national media, as well as a major piece on Florida’s troubled environmental record. I think I can more effectively pick my spots and still concentrate on the fiction this way.
We continue to work on rewilding the yard and helping to preserve land in North Florida–this recent Australian radio interview with me is probably the best I’ve done on the subject. We’ve seen the yard become ever more of a haven for urban wildlife and migratory birds. In 2021, I planted another 20 native bushes and about 15 understory trees. I also planted two sycamore trees, which are already getting quite tall! Five basswood saplings are the latest additions along with a Palatka Holly tree. In rather hilarious news, some of what I thought we palmettos in the yard were slow-rising sabal palms. We also faced challenges of new light pollution in the ravine, part solved by more shielded street lights and selective plantings that will blot out some of the light over time. Other challenges include increasingly unpredictable and unseasonable temperatures and weather, resulting in a strong move toward even more drought-resistant plants. We also are consulting with a landscaper to turn the front yard into more of a teaching/learning experience about native plants.
In terms of movie/TV news, all I can say is that the Borne TV series at AMC continues to make great progress. I can’t share details yet, but I’m very pleased with how it is going. My short story “The Third Bear” is also still under option and I’m hopeful there will be a finalized script soon. A series of short films were made out of three individual short stories from my collection Secret Lives, as well.
As for new fiction, fans of A Peculiar Peril, the first volume of the Lambshead duology, will be happy to know that I will be turning in volume 2, A Terrible Trouble, over the summer. I’m also working on a novel set in a version of the ravine behind our house, working title The Stone Shed. In addition to that project, I have a fourth Southern Reach novel on slow burn, Absolution, and a stand-alone set in a future of plastic oceans entitled Drone Love. With regard to short fiction, my story “Always Home” will appear in a terraforming anthology later this year (details to follow) and I’ve edited a digital-only short story anthology for Plympton, which will be announced soon.
Both Ann and I were very pleased that our The Big Book of Modern Fantasy won the World Fantasy Award for best anthology. I would also add that Subterranean Press’ limited edition two-volume set Ambergris is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Alas, it is already sold out.
I was chuffed to have City of Saints & Madmen be part of a major Byzantium exhibition in Istanbul recently–Scott Eagle’s art from the first edition of City was part of the exhibition and I also participated in a podcast about the Byzantine influences on the Ambergris trilogy.
Meanwhile, our cat Neo continues to live the good life and be semi internet famous, with more fan art and people on my facebook and twitter very loyal to his antics, bleps, and beauty egg routine. Neo has been a big part of us not going nuts during the pandemic lockdowns and general isolation.
Finally, I was disappointed to find that facebook was hiding in my spam approximately 150 legitimate emails from readers, event organizers, etc. This covers the span from late 2019 to early this year. I’m so awfully sorry that I didn’t see your email at the time and although I have responded late to some of you, it’s kind of hard to pick up the thread on all of them. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments, requests for appearances, etc.