Tuesday, June 08, 2004


It took six years, with innumerable other projects getting in the way, but as of lunch today, Shriek: An Afterword is complete. Tomorrow it goes off to my agent and we'll see what happens. In part, Shriek took six years because I had to learn how to write it--parts of it I didn't have the ability to write back in 1998. This is a novel in which the landscape of Ambergris recedes a bit and the main characters stand out in sharp relief against its outline, which is different from City of Saints, where many of the characters were fully-rounded, but so was the city. This time, I wanted to pull back from the pseudo-Victorian feel of City of Saints and write in a more informal style. I feel as if this is a break through novel for me, for a number of reasons. First, it's the first real novel I've written. Veniss is only 53,000 words, while Shriek is currently 125,000. Second, it marks a definite change of emphasis and style. Third, it's intensely personal for me in that many of the events or anecdotes that comprise part of the plot are autobiographical. I've been able to write about things, for the first time, that I wasn't sure I'd ever have the proper distance from.

Now I'll set it aside for a couple of weeks, then go through it for a final copy edit and perhaps a couple of scene additions or deletions, while it goes out to publishers. I'm a compulsive editor and believe that time away from a completed novel is the only way to gain objectivity. At the same time, I'm confident it's in extremely good shape and ready for editors to see it.

My friend Neil Williamson sent me a book by Ian M. Banks about scotch and Scotland on the stipulation I only read it when I finish the novel. I think I'll indulge in it sometime this evening, along with a nice bottle of English hard cidar and, possibly, a good cigar.



At 1:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is excellent news. I was commenting to Steve McCabe just yesterday that I am more excited about this book than I can remember being about any event, book, cd, film or any such thing. I have a distinct feeling this will be a breakthrough novel for more than just yourself, Jeff. I am getting tenterhooks surgically inserted on Thursday afternoon.

At 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Jeff.


At 6:50 AM, Blogger Jason Erik Lundberg said...

Big congrats, Jeff! I can't wait to see it on bookshelves. Are you going to shop it around or has a publisher already taken an interest?

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, guys.

I'm not at liberty to say who, but several publishers are very interested in the book.

Also, for those who are interested, here's a brief summary of what the book is about. I'm still perfecting this "statement," so...

A manuscript found next to a decaying typewriter in the backrooms of a tavern, Shriek: An Afterword is a family chronicle set in the imaginary city of Ambergris, the milieu of Jeff VanderMeer's previous City of Saints & Madmen. Narrated by influential gallery owner Janice Shriek and supposedly an afterword to her brother, the controversial historian, Duncan Shriek's "The Early History of Ambergris", Shriek: An Afterword quickly becomes something else entirely: a story of three lives--including Duncan's lover and fellow historian Mary Sabon--and a life-long quest to save an ancient city from utter destruction. Duncan's explorations into the underground parts of the city, in search of the truth about the mysterious gray caps, form the backdrop to a story of war, love, and emotional and physical transformations. Part One Hundred Years of Solitude, part Nabokovian in its use of narrators (Duncan has come behind Janice and added his own comments on her interpretation of events), and completely original, Shriek: An Afterword is both an exciting adventure and a love story, but also a rumination on mortality.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Luís Rodrigues said...

Congratulations, Jeff! I can't wait for the book!

At 12:12 PM, Blogger cleek said...

Fantastic news. I can't wait.

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