Tuesday, February 28, 2006



Today the Bantam trade paperback edition of City of Saints & Madmen appears in bookstores all over the U.S. and Canada. This 700-page edition features the wonderful cover created by James Hollywell at Pan Macmillan and the definitive text. It features great illustrations and art, some of which are shown below.

Excerpts and banner ads will be appearing on many websites, including Locus Online. Reviews should start appearing in newspapers, etc., in mid-March. Thanks to everyone at Bantam for their great support for this title.


Juha Lindroos has revamped my website to coincide with the release and Mark Roberts and I, with input from Bantam, have created the definitive City of Saints fun page for readers, and the definitive press kit. You can also download the banner ads and use them on your own websites. I hope some of you will. Here are the links.

My website
Click on the moon for a City of Saints-related sound experience…Click on a spire to get to Ambergris…Click on my, er, head, and you get some cute photos of me, my wife, koala bears, and drinking absinthe out of half a human skull…

City of Saints Fun Stuff
Everything from screensavers and a quiz to the trailer for the book and downloadable mp3s from the soundtrack.

City of Saints Press Kit
A ton of free-use articles and links to other information about City of Saints, excerpts, the Bantam press release, and print/web versions of the cover, among other things.

Art from City of Saints, by Mark Roberts


If you’ve got the book already but want to help out in some way, downloading a banner ad and running it on your blog or website is a huge help. Here’s the link.

If a banner ad isn’t your thing, if you’ve already run a review or mention of City, pulling it out of your archives and running it again would be a huge help as well!

Posting an Amazon.com review would be great, under the listing for the Bantam edition.

Art from City of Saints, by John Coulthart (with inset by Scott Eagle)


I’ll be in Austin in support of the book at the Associated Writers Programs conference on a panel with Kelly Link, Brian Evenson, Matt Cheney, Laird Hunt, and the editors of ParaSpheres, and doing a reading at BookPeople with them, Gavin Grant, and Michael Moorcock (!!). March 9-12.

Then I’ll be in Ft. Lauderdale for the Conference on Literature of the Fantastic, doing two panels, a reading, the "Rough Guide to Ambergris" multimedia presentation, and just generally being rather present.

(Evil Monkey: "You're one busy son of a bitch." Jeff: "Yeah, but it's exciting! And there's a cool review of Shriek at Bookmunch now." Evil Monkey: "Who's your editor at Bantam, by the way?" Jeff: "The wonderful Juliet Ulman." Evil Monkey: "She's one smart monkey." Jeff: "She's smart, but she's no monkey." Evil Monkey: "That was a compliment, you jerk.")

UPDATE: Yup, there it is on the new trade paperback table, right next to Goldie...Ann went and took some photos! I don't know when you ever lose the thrill of seeing a new book in print in the bookstore. I'll never take that for granted.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Octavia Butler has died, in one of those quirks of fate that could happen to any of us. So let's mourn her and maybe appreciate our loved ones a little more today. Who knows what will happen tomorrow.

Matt Cheney has links to various appreciations.


Sunday, February 26, 2006


Kevin de Groot, from the band Leopardskin Nuclear Bomber (see previous blog entry), was kind enough to send me a most peculiar sound file stripped of the overlying guitars. I then sent it around to a few people and asked “Does this sound like the gray caps?” The gray caps, for those of you who don’t know, are the underground inhabitants of my imaginary city of Ambergris, driven there when the current colonists arrived.

You’ll find the responses, which run the gamut, below.

But my question now, for the rest of you out in cyberland, is Does this sound like the gray caps? And if not, what Ambergris sound is it? (I’m sincerely interested, and looking for your honest opinion—your first reaction. Please take a few moments to leave a comment—and, besides, it’s a 13-second sound clip. It won’t take you long at all. And you might be helping with the Shriek movie...)

You can listen here.

Robert Devereux
I imagined them a bit more like one of those African languages with clicks and whistles, but this works well.

Tessa Kum
Egads. I had my volume up too loud, and now the dogs are barking. I never actually imagined the grey caps making any noise, they were much more creepy when silent. That said, the last few seconds of that clip, when there is gibbering/choking going on...that worked for me. The middle, not so much. I couldn't see a context for the middle except for, say, a foreman yelling orders. I could hear lots of teeth in the whole thing. That bit was spot on, heh.

Keith B. Johnston (book collector)
Sounds gray cappish to me!

Rick Kleffel
Yep, perfect, and it made Cosmo bark. She got out of bed to chase whatever was making that sound. The staccato bits near the end of the sample sounded particularly great.

Clare Dudman
Well...that is truly disturbing. Honestly, quite worrying. But no, not at all like my idea of a grey cap, I'm afraid. I imagined them silent, insidious, a moan rather than a screech, even when they were at the door trying to get in and they escaped over the roof. I imagined maybe a howl, a low one...but mostly I guess I imagined a SILENCE. I guess it could represent something to do with the festival of the Great Squid, and maybe when the two coloured factions were fighting...but that would be more low pitched. No, what this reminds me most of all is the EVIL MONKEY - mid-throw...It really is incredibly affecting - it doesn't lose its power either when you hear it again which is strange. It is the sound of a smashed up mind. That's what I thought, unrestrained insanity.

Luis Rodrigues
Jesus. Yes.

Matt Cheney
The greycap sound seemed odd to me, because I'd never imagined them as high-pitched. (And now you can scold me and tell me they're always referred to as high-pitched screamers in the book.)

Jeffrey Ford
The grey cap audio thing, for some reason, cracked the shit out of me. Laughed like hell when I heard it -- supremely annoying.

Juliet Ulman (my Bantam editor)
AAAAAAAAACK! And yes, yes it kind of does.

Eric Schaller (writer, illustrator, man of science)
Not the version I have in my mind--which tend to be quietly menacing.

Hannes Riffel (my German editor)
The sound file sounds like the seven dwarfs on dope, which certainly fits the profile ...

Gilles Goullet (my French translator)
Actually, gray caps had always given me the impression they were quiet (almost mute) people. Maybe because they don't have a single line in the book. So I guess nothing will sound like gray caps to me! But I like the sounds, though. Kind of creepy. I wouldn't like hearing that while being underground...

Tamar Yellin
All I can tell you is that really, really upset the Jazz-dog. It also freaked me out! Brr. Remind me not to visit Ambergris!

Robert Wexler
More like the gray cat after you stepped on its tail. I always thought they sounded more like a woody vibration, a bassoon made of cork.

Anna Tambour
No. But everyone will have their own aural image of gray caps' sounds. I always thought of them having bass voices as they mature, and also, I think of them never sounding wild and unsocietal as this clip does to me. They would sound articulate, and soft-edged as adults. But again, there's no 'right' to this, is there? I don't know how you think they sound, but I've hunted for how they would sound to me, and if you can imagine the sounds of boiling mud in a place like Rotorua (or slowly boiling and popping oatmeal) add that to sounds of your foot being pulled from mud, and these clips (with the first one speeded up in parts), and that's what they--young, adult, and aged—sound like to me.

Jonathan Stephens (book collector, writer)
Very Cool!

David Lynton
I always imagined them making a tongue clicking or perhaps whispering, but that definitely sounds like the noise they would make when they are doing "something" to someone they have captured!

Juha Lindroos
I love it!

EVIL MONKEY’S TIP OF THE WEEK: If someone is stealing your plastic-wrapped newspaper, get up earlier than the culprits for five consecutive days and replace the new newspaper with an old one into the middle of which you have stuffed a ton of cat poop. Not only will this soon stop your paper getting stolen but you’ll have cleaned the cat box for the day.



Juha Lindroos is directing and doing the cinematography for the Shriek movie. Juha is also doing a lot of work with the script, helping me get it into shape. The Church are still on board to do the original music for the piece.

Mark Roberts will be creating the Shriek website, which should go live by the end of April, with any luck.

City of Saints & Madmen is out from Bantam on Tuesday and I will be posting Tuesday morning with all of the exciting news about the launch.

Some people have asked where I got Slattery and Ungdom, the names of the merchants in the novella The Cage (City of Saints). I got them from this CD, which is absolutely harrowing and bizarre. I used it to channel the gray caps in Shriek quite a bit. Some of the tracks have mushroom dweller written all over them.

This is one of the only things that comes up when you type “mushroom dwellers” into Google’s image search.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Sherry Decker, who used to run Indigenous Fiction magazine (which published an excerpt from Veniss Underground before that book came out), is also a fiction writer--mostly dark fantasy and horror. Her first collection, Hook House and Other Horrors, has just been published by Silver Lake Publishing. Sherry's fiction has appeared in, among others, Cemetery Dance, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Black Gate, and Black October.

The collection is getting good reviews, from among others, Bookgasm:

In both subject and style, the [title] story reminded me of Shirley Jackson and Joyce Carol Oates...one thing never wavers, and that’s Decker’s strong, skilled voice as a writer with a uniquely feminine point of view. For a collection showcasing a taste of the Gothic and the grotesque, check it out.

For fans of quiet and Gothic horror, this looks to be an interesting collection. (You can buy it on Amazon.com, among others.) Again, due to my World Fantasy Award judging commitments, I haven't had time to read it yet, but I am looking forward to it. Sherry's a good and careful writer.

Sherry was kind enough walk the plank for me 'n' Evil Monkey...



Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
Because buying anybody else’s book doesn’t help pay for my new computer!

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
A print shop was paid to print my book. My book is helping our economy. Buying my book is patriotic.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
It has tremendous mental health benefits. After reading it people will realize how much more normal they are than, well, say . . . me.

Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
Children would not necessarily be horrified, but they may ask questions like: ‘Mommy, what does a leech sucked through a straw sound like?’ No, it’s the parents who would need therapy.

Why don’t you write more about giant rabbits?
Because they scare the hell out of me, that’s why and only a cruel and malicious jerk would even mention them . . . oh, but not you of course, Jeff.

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
I’d be a Writer-Editor-Consultant. Or a movie star. They’re about the same thing.


Mark Roberts, my friend and conspirator on the fake disease guide, sent me this account of being guest of honor at a con that I thought might be of interest.

Mark has recently been working on the Tom Holt site and will soon be doing a very cool website for Shriek.



Had an interesting weekend – my first ever appearance as a Guest of Honour at a convention happened on Saturday! It was a one-day affair called Picocon, run by the Imperial College of London’s SF Association. Very student-orientated (as one would expect) and I felt a little aged at times, but I had a great time hanging out with the other two GoHs, especially Ian Watson, who I’ve known for ages. I always enjoy his company. I arrived a little late, and the talk by Natasha Mostert (the other GoH) had already begun. When it finished at noon, I happened to be standing outside the room it had been held in, and Ian came out looking slightly dazed. He saw me, his face broke into a broad grin, and he exclaimed: “Thank God! It‘s you!” and hugged me. Very sweet of him.

Later, I watched students dip dodgy SF toys into liquid nitrogen and then smash them with hammers. Big hammers. At 2:30pm I gave a presentation on the Disease Guide and read a few of the entries out (note to self: Diseasemaker’s Croup is challenging to read out loud, and may leave an audience wondering if you have gone barking mad. Second note to self: following that up with Ouroborean Lordosis will get an audience back on board pretty sharpish). We then had a very entertaining QandA session that I played for laughs. At 3:45pm (it was supposed to be 3:30, but Ian and I had demanded a tobacco and real ale break) the three GoHs were quizzed by the ever-hungry mass of wannabe writers about the state of genre publishing. At one point the three of us (without prior discussion, it should be noted [and with an evident display of humour]) conjoined on a gambit to discourage anyone else in the room from writing, as there is plenty of competition as it is.

The rest of the day passed with convivial discussion in the bar, then a baffling SF quiz (although, I must say, with a little pride, that Ian and I amazed and confounded our team-mates with our in-depth knowledge of such diverse topics as: what year WASN’T there a Picocon [that was Ian]; and what SF TV show featured soldiers haunting a train station [that was me]). Then the committee for the event took us GoHs out to dinner, and we had a fabulous time. It was lovely to catch up with Ian and to meet Natasha. A great day.

(Jeff: "Hey, Evil Monkey. How've you been?" Evil: "Down with the flu, man. It sucks." Jeff: "That's odd. I feel fine. Just raised my personal best on the incline leg press to 575 lbs." Evil: "Someone needs to beat you senseless with your own leg, Jeff.")

Friday, February 24, 2006



Last night, I dreamed that Kelly Link and Gavin Grant had come to visit our house for a day. We gave them breakfast and then had some errands to run and so we said we'd be right back.

For some reason, we took a short cut through the back of the house, only at the back of the house was a mansion connected to our house--like, Gormenghast big, and partly a Gothic cathedral. Huge columns. Pews in places, regular furnishings in others. Part museum part mansion part cathedral. There's even an indoor cemetery with headstones right next two a huge organ. Anyway, for some reason this place is attached to the back of our house, but we don't live there and visit but rarely.

But we're taking a short cut through it to get to wherever we need to go. Except the mansion contains parts of the world, too, so we're soon seeing blue skies and trees and a dirt road, at the end of which is another graveyard on a hill. This one is more like New Orleans--huge blocks of white stone.

At this point, Ann goes off to run her errands and I go off to run mine. I wind up in a small store with a skeleton for a proprietor buying what look like pieces of animals. But all mixed together so you really can’t tell what it is.

Then I look outside and the sun is suddenly a late afternoon sun. Somehow this little trip has taken all day and Kelly and Gavin are waiting patiently in our house.

So I start to run back toward the house, only I can’t really tell where it is because I can’t see the walls of the mansion any more. I run and run, through an ever-rising city of gravestones and sepulchers. Through trees and dirt roads. Through an area of swamp where huge saurian carnivores are locked in mortal struggle. Through a garden. Through a courtyard. Through a….and then I suddenly have a hardwood floor under my feet and Ann’s there and we’re back in the mansion part.

We rush back into the house to apologize to Kelly and Gavin for being gone so long, but they just wave it off. Kelly was writing and Gavin was gardening (?!) in the front yard all day, they said. They had a good time regardless.

But I have to explain why were late, so I take them out back into the mansion/cathedral and show them the way it opens up into the world and how there’s a graveyard right in the mansion itself.

I say to Kelly, “Isn’t this cool?”

Kelly says, “That's a story.”

I say, “Yeah, but the story here is your story, I think. I’ll take the part where you can’t see the walls anymore.”

She just smiles. Maybe I’m being presumptuous. In the dream, I feel presumptuous.

“Maybe it’s a novel,” I say.

She says, “I’ve already written three novels.”

“Where are they I say?”

She says, “Right here,” and she pulls three manuscripts out of the loam of the graveyard. “I’m just waiting for them to ripen.”

Ann and I nod. That sounds right.

Then we all go out into the wider world to find some kind of insane party we can hear going on in the distance.

Yeah, I know. Really weird. Really vivid. Mostly I remember waking up wondering what we’d had for breakfast. That’s the only part I couldn’t remember.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Laura Manning at the Bristol Old Vic asked if I'd post information about an upcoming production of Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus. I really wish I could be in the UK to see it.

More information here.


bristol old vic and lyric hammersmith in association with kneehigh theatre present
nights at the circus
based on the novel by angela carter
a new adaptation by tom morris and emma rice

14 march – 1 april
Bristol Old Vic, King Street, Bristol BS1 4ED
Tickets £6 - £22
Pay What You Can Night (for 18-26 year olds) 20 March Tickets £3.50

Booking 0117 987 7877

After a critically acclaimed opening run at the Lyric Hammersmith in London, Nights at the Circus comes to Bristol Old Vic. Starring Natalia Tena (Mrs Henderson Presents; About A Boy; Shared Experience’s Gone to Earth) and ex-international gymnast Gisli Orn Gardarsson (Young Vic's Romeo and Juliet and Woyzeck) this flighty new adaptation of Angela Carter’s novel will enthrall.

Featuring Fevvers, a bird woman who claims to have been hatched from an egg, there’s a simple love story at the heart of this cracked, beaten, bloody world of circus and theatre.

Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus is one of the most critically acclaimed novels of the twentieth century and is a homage to theatre; to the thrill of fantasy and to the intoxication of dreams.

Live music is performed by Stu Barker and the cast who all sing and play instruments.

“An adaptation every bit as magical and cheeky as the novel”
The Independent

“joyous, flighty affair that celebrates possibilities of freedom”
The Guardian****

Suitable for age 14+
Contains strong language and partial nudity

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Tobias Buckell has just had his first novel, Crystal Rain, come out from Tor Books. There’s a cool website devoted to the book and a lot of good press about it. Unfortunately, my duties serving as a World Fantasy Award judge have made it difficult to get extra reading in, but the book sounds like a lot of fun, from the Barnes & Noble review:

Set on a distant planet inhabited by the descendants of long-dead refugees from Earth,Caribbean-born speculative fiction writer Tobias S. Buckell’s debut novel is a science fiction adventure reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s classic John Carter of Mars saga.

John deBrun lives in a small village with his wife and their 13-year old son. An experienced sailor and fisherman, John leads a simple existence that is close to idyllic — except he often wonders about his life before he washed up on the shores of Nanagada 27 years earlier, with absolutely no memory of the past. When his village is attacked by the Azteca, a fierce nation of warriors who reside on the other side of a looming mountain range, John is separated from his family and becomes involved in a desperate quest to find the Ma Wi Jung, a mysterious artifact once belonging to the old-fathers that could help defeat the Azteca and their bloodthirsty gods forever. But with Azteca spies searching for John, and with a strange man named Pepper hot on his trail, it seems that everyone knows about John’s past except himself…

Not unlike Burroughs’s John Carter of Mars novels, Buckell’s Crystal Rain features an almost invincible Earth-born hero, a distant planet with decaying civilizations and lost technological knowledge, and enough savage combat to satisfy the bloodlust of the most action-obsessed reader. Genre fans looking for a little adventure should look no further than Crystal Rain, which — not surprisingly — is the first installment of a projected series. - Paul Goat Allen

And various blurbs:

There’s a nova in the skies: Tobias S. Buckell is a dazzling new voice, and _Crystal Rain_ is an explosive debut. Read it!
-Robert J. Sawyer

“CRYSTAL RAIN is refreshing and imaginative, an exotic stew of cultures, myths, and technology.”
- Kevin J. Anderson

“After making the Campbell Ballot for Best New Writer with his short fiction, Tobias Buckell delivers on that promise with his first novel.”
—Mike Resnick

Tobias also set up the SF Novelists site, a great resource, and is very active in the kind of networking that helps other writers. Everybody I’ve ever heard talk about Tobias winds up describing him with words that pertain to integrity and being community-minded. He’s a great guy, a talented writer, and someone we will be hearing a lot from, I think.

And, he’s been kind enough to answer my insane questions…



Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
Because Todd Lockwood painted this incredible cover for it that has everything I've ever wanted in a cover. A man who is of mixed race with a hook for one hand, a gun in the other, hanging from the undercarriage of a blimp. That's so cool. In fact, I'll encourage everyone to steal the cover and leave the book behind, it's just acid free paper with ink markings on it. Nothing special really. I'm told far future Caribbean steampunk has been done over and over and the genre is all mine out anyway, so it's all about the cover...

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
I guess if there is a redeeming quality it's that I'm trying to populate a future and universe full of various peoples and ethnicities. Of course, I completely undermine all that by having gleeful fun with explosions, airship fights, Aztec sacrifices, ship battles and duels to the death. So I guess I'm not socially redeemable after all. My book also once burped at an awkward silence during a social dinner, so it's never been invited back to that type of thing.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
If you've been reading about FDA's new dietary requirements one realizes our modern diet does not have nearly enough pulp fiber in it. By ripping the pages out of Crystal Rain and eating one a day you'll be able to add enough roughage to properly ensure a clean colon. This I promise you: Crystal Rain is better than Metamucil.

Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
I would love for 8-12 year olds to grab this book. How much fun would it be to be reading about Aztec sacrifices as an 8 year old. Every 8 year old needs to know how to crack a rib in order to reach a still beating heart, IMHO.

Why are you always such a bastard? No one who meets you can stand you for more than five minutes.
The word bastard is always funny, because my biological father never married my mother, and thus my response has always been 'why yes, I am actually a bastard in the proper sense of the word' which I then let hang in the air for several beats... hey, I am a right bastard in both senses of the word for doing that, aren't I?

Why don’t you write more about giant rabbits?
It's the prickling sensation running up the back of my neck that one of them is waiting for me in the shadows, just watching, waiting for me to slip up and write about them just once...

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
I'd go into exertainment. I've always dreamed of a line of gyms that offer DDR, video boxing, and cycle plane video games. I'd pay someone to code the face of my my media critics onto the faces of the video boxing opponents and I'd spend all day trying to beat the crap out of their pixels. It would be successful for a while, but then I'd get hooked on pez and spiral into a pit of despair, waking up one morning next to a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew and then realize it was all for nothing and join a law school somewhere.

Monday, February 20, 2006


My dad's interviewed in New Scientist about his work studying and trying to eradicate fire ants!!


Sunday, February 19, 2006


Kevin de Groot of Leopardskin Nuclear Bomber (and formerly lead guitarist for the seminal punk outfit Kronstadt Uprising, in addition to several other bands) emailed me yesterday to share the mp3 of a new song by his band called "The Silence" inspired by some of the stories in City of Saints & Madmen.

I like it a lot--it's a good metal song, and they've even got a really creepy section where it sounds like gray caps speech. I think they really got how the Silence in the Ambergris books is about events in our world as much as anything else. The song isn't available on the internet yet or on CD, but a forthcoming EP will include it, and I'm hoping to have a sample from it up on the Shriek website (which will go live in a couple of months).

In the meantime, you can hear some their other songs here. I particularly like "Don't Need You Now" and "17 Days".

I also wonder if they got their name from this art?

In any event, I'm thinking about ways to incorporate Kevin and the band into the next Ambergris novel. (He's given me some excellent ideas.) That's how it works. Nobody escapes Ambergris...Bwaahaaahaaa...


Friday, February 17, 2006


Here's the list of stories for the John Betancourt edited Horror: The Best of 2005.

Joe Lansdale, "Shadows, Kith and Kin," (Outsiders),
Jack Cady, "The Souls of Drowning Mountain," (Taverns of the Dead),
Holly Phillips, "The Other Grace," (In the Palace of Repose),
Nicholas Royle, "Sitting Tennant," (Poe's Progeny),
Joe Hill, "The Cape" (20th Century Ghosts),
Caitlin Kiernan, "La Peau Verte," (To Charles Fort, with Love),
M. Rickert, "A Little Madness Goes a Long Way," (F&SF),
Richard Bowes, "There's a Hole in the City," (SciFiction),
Barbara Roden, "Northwest Passage," (Acquainted with the Night),
Clive Barker, "Haeckel's Tale," (Dark Delicacies),
Laird Barron, "Proboscis," (F&SF),
Jeff VanderMeer, "Lost," (TEL),
Ramsey Campbell, "Unblinking," (Lost on the Darkside),
Nick Mamatas, "Real People Slash," (Son and Foe),
Michael Marshall Smith, "Fair Exchange," (Weird Shadows over Innsmouth),
Simon Owens, "This Hand, Waving," (Chizine),
David Niall Wilson, "The Call of Farther Shores," (Lost on the Darkside).

So, last tally for Vander short stories is:

"Lost" - Horror: The Best of 2005 (Ibooks)

"Farmer's Cat" - in three fantasy year's bests: Strahan, Sean Wallace, and Hartwell/Cramer.

Huge thanks to Deborah Layne and Jay Lake for publishing "Farmer's Cat" in Polyphony, and the same for Jay for publishing "Lost" in TEL. "Lost" got literally lost in the crowd earlier in the year, so I'm glad it gets a second life. I'm very proud of that story.



Man, I just love both of these links. I hate posting a links-only blog entry, but both of these are just wonderful!

Cabinodd (thanks Neddal!)

Thing Makers

Meanwhile, Leisa Pichard has the official Ambergris Sock Monkey Squid displayed on her blog

$22.00 plus shipping. Just drop her an email re payment details.


Thursday, February 16, 2006


Dan Green at the Reading Experience has a post about my Emerald City essay on politics and fantasy. And I have replied. Since Dan is known for deleting posts, I am posting his post and my reply below. The original exchange can be found here.

Being both sick right now, and more crotchety as I approach senility and old age, a little bit of Evil Monkey slipped out...my apologies.

Although it may not be clear from this particular exchange, I value Dan Green's blog and his analysis of experimental fiction. It's a good counterbalance to the commercialism that tends to rule the publishing world. I just think in this case, he is quoting me out of context and in a half-assed way. Thus the rebuttal.



***See my responses below with *** by them, intercut by your actual post. I think, in general, you've latched leech-like onto one part of the essay, while ignoring other parts that don't fit your analysis.

While I am indeed the sort of reader who is very quick to scream "didactic!" when fiction begins to deal in "issues," in my opinion the real problem

****So the idea of not screaming didactic when fiction deals in issues is not the real problem, but still a problem? Just a kind of unimportant one. Or you're being sarcastic? And you think the point is made in an overly dramatic way? If not sarcastic, are you then saying that you prefer fiction that does not include politics in some way? Okay, well, that's fine. My essay doesn't say you have to. But the fact is, any number of experimental works you champion dabble in the didactic, even if not in a political way. So I'm not quite sure that your point is not undercut by your own tastes in fiction.

with Jeff's analysis here is the overly reductive way in which he's separated fiction's appeal into its "entertainment value" and "the depth of what is being said." This doesn't leave much room for writers who aren't interested either in "entertainment" for its own sake or in "saying something,"

****How does the "depth of what's being said" equate with being "didactic?" It is true I may have used a short-hand here, in that the reader generally expects some kind of "entertainment", on some level. But I count as "entertaining" Borges, Calvino, Angela Carter, Vladimir Nabokov, Bulgakov, R.M. Berry, and any number of writers who I would claim did want to entertain even as they also wanted to grapple with deep issues—indeed, what to “say something”--whether concerning the nature of personal relationships, the politics of gender, the nature of reality, or whatever.

much less in using fiction as a podium from which to deliver lectures.

****I have a problem with this whole idea of not leaving room for writers who don’t want to be “didactic” (or, frankly, how you think I’m espousing *being* didactic unless it’s important to the structure or integrity of a particular piece of fiction). Where in the essay do I say that I have no time, patience, or respect for writers who don’t want to deal with the kinds of things I talk about in the essay? Where do I denigrate writers who don’t want to use these terms or who might not agree with the essay. All I’m saying is that sometimes it is important for a piece of fiction to engage the world in this way. I don’t think that’s a very sneering or exclusionary point of view. Nor do I think I ever said that “fiction should be a podium from which to deliver lectures.” I just said sometimes a reader needs to be patient if a piece requires more of the “didactic” than they may be used to encountering. I would think as a champion of experimental and non-commercial fiction (I also am—just crack open Leviathan 3 or Album Zutique, or any other fiction anthology I’ve edited) that you would certainly not sneer at the idea of readers being willing to be patient. Because, quite frankly, a lot of experimental fiction and experimental fictions *read* in a way indistinguishable to many readers from the didactic. I.e., it has the same effect on them.

***What’s really funny to me about your analysis of this section is that another section of the essay makes the point that using “politics” in secondary world fiction allows a writer to potentially incorporate these kinds of things in a non-didactic way because there’s more distance from the real world. Hardly advocating a podium. Although I rather feel you were standing behind one while writing this blog entry. And I also think this part of the essay is hardly suggesting fiction writers should be preachy: “Asking such questions is part of creating fully rounded characters. A character’s politics — public and private — may be inconsistent or, again, irrelevant to the main story being told, but the writer still needs to think about such issues. The questions still need to be part of the conversation the writer has with him or herself about the character.”

I think the whole idea that what makes fiction "serious" is the extent to which it allows a writer to "say something" is misguided,

*****Again, show me where in the essay I say that only writers who deal with “issues” or “politics” are “serious”? I don’t see the essay as exclusionary. In fact, by claiming that the essay is exclusionary and either/or, I think you are saying more about your own approach to literature than anything that is intrinsic to my essay.

but the implicit suggestion that making political observations and providing political critique is the most serious use of the fiction writer's time is even more objectionable.

****You may have implied it. I’m not sure the essay does. I was very careful in writing the essay not to make it a call for more overt writing about politics. Just that more care should be taken to consider these things. And then I talk about how politics informs my own work—something personal to me, not a universal call to arms. I think what’s kind of funny about your observation above is that it could be implied that you’re saying lots of works already do this, or that the true Artiste is somehow above the fray (also dealt with in my essay). But all of this aside, I don’t believe, nor do I believe the essay indicates, that making political observations and providing political critique is the most serious use of fiction.

***But this brings another observation to the fore: you’re talking in generalizations. Sometimes, depending on the work of fiction, political critique is the most serious use of the fiction writer’s time because it’s what’s right for the story or the novel. In my essay, I’m careful to give examples from my own work so as to be specific, and also so as not to seem to put words or attitudes in the mouths of other writers by citing their work by way of example. Specificity is very important to fiction, and I think it’s very important to talking about fiction as well.

Why politics rather than some other sphere of life? Is it really true, as Jeff maintains, that "all people are political in some way, even those who seem apathetic, because politics is about gender, society, and culture"?

****Well, you’ve answered your own question, sir. If politics is as all-encompassing as I claim, then, by God, it *is* the most serious use of fiction, I think you’d agree. You cannot imply an answer to your first question that is not negated by an equally honest answer to your second.

Isnt' this defining "politics" so broadly as to almost drain it of it meaning? Can't almost any activity ultimately be construed to involve "gender, society and culture"? It seems to me that to say a writer is concerned with such activities is finally to say only that he/she is writing about human beings and the various things they do.

****This is a good question. It’s entirely possible I defined politics too broadly. Or could it be I was making the point that it is somewhat all-invasive? But this is definitely a good question for debate.

And are the most pressing questions we face ones like "How do ruling elites come into being?" or "How do they stay in power"? I don't myself find these questions entirely uninteresting, but are they really the preeminently "serious" kinds of questions a writer of fiction can pursue?

***Again, please show me where I say this is the most important, most serious kinds of questions. Not to mention I also posed these questions, but they don’t fit your approach quite as well: “What is the character's relationship to his or her job? Does the character think about the ethics of supporting harm to others, even if indirectly? What are the character's politics, and how do they reflect or not reflect the character's actual actions? How does the character justify both personal and political decisions?”

***Let’s also look at the context in which I posed the question about ruling elites, shall we? It was in a very specific context dealing with a very specific aspect of one of my books: “For me, the secondary world fantasy of Ambergris let more of the real, unstylized world into my writing — and that meant those echoes of the real world that concerned politics as well. I found myself thinking about how conflict arises on a micro and macro level. How do ruling elites come into being? How do they stay in power? What are the consequences of colonialism and pogrom on both the oppressor and the oppressed? Who fills a power vacuum when it occurs, and why?” There is no way that you can, from that context, infer that I thought these were the “most pressing questions” we face. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t—depending on the specific fiction a writer is working on. But that’s not what I said.

Beyond whatever "content" a work of fiction may have to offer, what about those works in which the writer's serious effort has clearly gone into meeting particular aesthetic goals, into extending the formal or stylistic possibilities of fiction? Is such a writer to be consigned to the category of "entertainer," albeit an entertainer of some sophistication?

****Yes, “consigned” to the “ranks” of mere “entertainer”, fated to “entertain” “readers” with their “words”. (I think you quite earned the “sarcasm”, but I apologize in advance anyway. Evil Monkey made me do it.)

*****But to be serious again—as you say, what about those works in which the writer’s serious effort has clearly gone into meeting particular aesthetic goals, into extending the formal or stylistic possibilities of fiction? Well, that’s a different essay. I was writing an essay about politics and fiction. And, ironically enough, inasmuch as my novel Shriek is specifically one thing, it is most definitely a “work in which the writer’s serious effort has clearly gone into meeting particular aesthetic goals, into extending the formal or stylistic possibilities of fiction.” Oh yes—and it has a political and historical component as well. This is called layering. And, it’s also entertaining. Or it’s supposed to (readers will tell me if I succeeded or not).

To be fair,

***To be fair, you’d have to do a better job of providing context from the essay.

Jeff elsewhere in his essay does affirm that fiction has no obligation to be "relevant," that "The instinctual idea I had as a teen and young adult about Art for Art’s sake, the idea that character and situation are paramount, that some truths transcend politics — that’s all valid." But even here, the assumptions seem to be that the alternative to a focus on content is a focus on "character and situation" and that the writer of fiction is ultimately seeking to embody "truth," even if it isn't necessarily political truth.

****I think it’s fair to point out the focus on “character and situation”. I was thinking in terms of what people generally think about as an antidote to the didactic or the purely plot-driven. I could have listed more alternatives, but it wasn’t a big part of the essay. It was mostly just a bridge to other parts of the essay. But, fair cop.

***Re “truth.” There’s an important distinction between “truth” and a truth. One is general, while the other is specific and personal to an individual writer. I never say anything about Truth in my essay. All I talk about are “truths”. It was outside of the scope of the essay, but I believe a writer’s search for a truth can be found in experimental form as well as character and situation. So I don’t think we’re in disagreement there anyway.

What of the writer who seeks to discover whether fiction as a form has aesthetic potential beyond rendering character and situation through conventional narrative? Is this not in itself a "serious" undertaking?

****See above. What of that poor bastard who seeks to discover whether fiction as a form has aesthetic potential beyond rendering character and situation through conventional narrative? Well, that poor bastard—or at least one of them—is me, Dan. See above, re layering. On one level, Shriek is most definitely a response to Nabokov’s narrative techniques in Ada, as well as an attempt to create a hybrid form that is neither plant or animal, on land or at sea, etc., etc. So, yes, I consider it a serious undertaking—even a “serious” one. I don’t think my essay precludes this possibility, and I apologize again for the sarcasm but the last thing I wanted to spend my evening doing was rebutting a post about my politics essay.

And what if the "truth" a writer's work reveals is that fiction does have this potential and that the human imagination has yet to find its limits? I guess it could be said that this is a message of some "depth," although such a writer has not attempted to "say" anything. Indeed, the value to be found in such work originates in the effort to avoid saying anything at all.

****This has my vote for the most pompous ending to a post in the last week, even if I agree with the sentiments, were they not coated in poison treacle and then subjected to a further coating of melodrama. That said, I don’t subscribe to your “truth”. I believe in many truths, many ways of getting somewhere, and the journey being the most important thing. Do I think the human imagination has yet to find its limits? No. Do I think yours has? I’m not longer sure. Do I think your post was a half-assed response to a fairly innocuous and fairly specific essay? Yes. And do I think you have largely, in your post, avoided saying anything at all? That should be obvious from my responses.

***At this point, I think this is all I have to say on the matter.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006



Shriek excerpt and interview now up at SF Site.

Shriek Stuff

"Maybe it's because Jeff VanderMeer looks so normal when you see him at cons or talking panels that his fiction comes as such a huge shock. Is this fetid hothouse world really the subconscious of that smartly dressed American writer?...A typical VanderMeer novel: clever, intense, and multi-layered. Four stars." - SFX

"Jeff VanderMeer is a realist of the surreal, a chronicler and bibliographer of the impossible city of Ambergris, which could only have been constructed in a collaborative dream between Charles Dickens and E.T.A Hoffman. It is a city of Dickensian scope and intricacy whose inhabitants are the lovers, the artists, the grotesques of German romanticism, and I sometimes suspect that VanderMeer himself is a fragment of the same dream. Shriek is a beautiful and maddening, and beautifully maddening, book. Go to Ambergris: lose yourself among its labyrinthine streets and the fabulous, deadly secrets that lie beneath them." - Theodora Goss

Links of Interest

Emerald City now has an announcements blog.

David Lynton of Galaxy Books in Sydney has a new blog.

London at night now has a blog...

Jeff Ford blogged about the Black Dust (by Graham Joyce) charity project already, but here's a reminder. In addition to fiction by Joyce, it has intro/afterword material by me, Zoran Zivkovic, Ford, and others. You can still buy this really cool book if you send an email to: books @ thetalkingdead.fsnet.co.uk.

Steve Savile has a new web site.

I've meant to recommend Abigail Nussbaum's Asking the Wrong Questions for some time now. Excellent blog entries, and thorough.

This one's for Evil Monkey...

Best New Fantasy, Edited by Sean Wallace--Contents

1 "My Father's Mask," Joe Hill (20th Century Ghosts), 8500 words
2 "Pip and the Fairies," Theodora Goss (Strange Horizons), 3000 words
3 "The Language of Moths," Christopher Barzak (Realms of Fantasy), 11,300 words
4 "At the End of the Hall," Nick Mamatas (Fantasy Magazine), 3300 words
5 "Heads Down, Thumbs Up," Gavin Grant (scifiction), 5360 words
6 "Monster," Kelly Link (Noisy Outlaws), 6700 words
7 "The Dybbuk in Love," Sonya Taaffe (The Dybbuk in Love), 8000 words
8 "Gulls," Tim Pratt, (Polyphony 5), 2400 words
9 "Summer Ice," Holly Phillips (In the Palace of Repose), 7000 words
10 "The Maiden Tree," Catherynne M. Valente (Cabinet des Fees), 2900 words
11 "The Farmer's Cat," Jeff VanderMeer (Polyphony 5) 1760 words
12 "A Little Madness Goes a Long Way," M. Rickert (F&SF), 6557 words
13 "Proboscis," Laird Barron (F&SF), 8500 words
14 "Dancing in the Light of Giants," Jay Lake (Realms of Fantasy), 550 words
15 "Eating Hearts," Yoon Ha Lee, (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction), 1500 words
16 "Returning My Sister's Face," Eugie Foster (Realms of Fantasy), 5700 words

World Fantasy Awards

All of us judges for the World Fantasy Award (for material published in 2005) are receiving a ton of material from publishers. But I'd again like to urge you to make sure if you've got something you want considered to make sure your publisher sends it in. Any kind of fantasy, published in mainstream or under genre imprints, from big houses and indie presses. We need to see it all. And the sooner the better. The judges' addresses can be found here. The cut off date for receiving materials is June 1st.

Laser Books to Publish Veniss

Laser Books in the Czech Republic releases Veniss Underground in late February. The listing for the book can be found here. My editor there, Martin Sust, decided early on to include all of the related stories with Veniss, so it's extremely comprehensive. And, in fact, one of the Veniss stories first appeared in Ikarie B in the Czech Republic.

...And a Preview of an Upcoming Interview with My French Translator, Gilles Goullet...

Question: How closely do you work with the author?
A - Shadow them day and night
B- Call them and emit a high-pitched whining sound five or six times a day
C - Live in their house, disguised as a wall.

Answer: Depends. With you, I am kind of a manta-like shadow where the wall meets the ceiling, so more C. But I don't usually need so much additional information from the author (you are my first crazy one). So I ask them a few questions when something seems obfuscated or inconsistent.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


This summer I'll be a guest lecturer at Odyssey. Anyone who has taken one of my masterclasses or workshops knows what you get: honest general and specific comments that focus on all aspects of writing, along with recommendations for improvement and exercises to help you get there. I'll also make myself as available as possible to answer questions about publishing, editing your work, etc. In addition to doing a lecture on fantasy fiction.

What I always promise is simple: no bullshit and no melodrama. I'm also not there to validate you as a writer. I'm there to identify your strengths and weaknesses and impart what I've learned over the last two decades.

See below for more information.


Improve your Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror writing at The Summer Fantasy Writing Workshop

Special Writer-in-Residence:
Robert J. Sawyer

Guest Lecturers:

Melissa Scott
Jeff VanderMeer
Christopher Golden
Laurie J. Marks
Shawna McCarthy

Six weeks of directed study with Jeanne Cavelos, former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell and winner of the World Fantasy Award

June 12 through July 21, 2006

Held at Saint Anselm College • Manchester, NH
For details or an application visit our website

or send an SASE to
20 Levesque Lane, Box F, Mont Vernon, NH 03057
Phone/Fax: 603.673.6234

E-mail: jcavelos at sff.net

*Application Deadline April 14th*

Monday, February 13, 2006


Bodhisattva (Jay Tomio) has an excellent post here about reviewers and reviewing. I agree with just about everything he says, having been both a reviewer and a writer.

Matt Cheney has another great article/essay at Strange Horizons, which I also agree with completely. The fact is, SF/F has generally been a reactionary field and I think lately reviewers and readers have begun to take for granted the wonderful cross-genre diversity you can currently find in the field. People don't seem to realize that the field even just a few years ago wasn't nearly as inclusive or as diverse. Thus, we have posts about writers being self-indulgent or not catering to the reader enough. The natural result of the experimentation and the mixing of genres that has occurred of late is that some things are going to push the envelope in ways that don't appeal to every reader....but Matt makes the argument more convincingly than I ever could, so I'll shut up now.


Friday, February 10, 2006


Doug Lain has a major short story collection, Last Week's Apocalypse, out from Night Shade Press this month. I've read some of his work in various magazines like Third Alternative and been impressed. He's an original voice with a lot of promise--and the book is getting a lot of excellent press so far. I haven't yet received a copy of the book from Night Shade, so I'll wait to actually review the book until later. Here's what Jonathan Lethem had to say about it:

"Doug Lain has a huge brain. I am highly impressed with his prospects to be a completely uncommercial genius. God help him."

In the meantime, Doug has been kind enough to subject himself to the five (seven in this case) questions.


Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
My book is not a major motion picture, isn't based on a video game, will not transport the reader to a world or universe of wonder, and does not contain suppressed information about Christianity, the Illuminati, or Captain Kangaroo. There are no diet tips, color photographs, or bits of celebrity gossip. Also, I am not a television personality, porn star, supermodel, radio jockey, war criminal, nor will I ever be any of these things. My book is simply that. A book. Full of interesting and odd stories. Also it has a cover illustration by punk
rocker/artist Gee Vaucher.

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
Society can not be redeemed by something as slight as a book. Still I do attempt to be socially engaged when I write and there is a polemic that runs through my stories. Here it is:

"We have to change almost everything because keeping things as they are would be an act of suicide."

That's not too complicated a polemic really so I have a lot of room to write about other things like Rubik's cubes and time travel.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
My goal is to drive readers crazy, so crazy that they can't live with things as they are. It's an absurd goal really. After all, I go to work every morning, take my medicine (caffeine and alcohol mostly), and generally behave myself. But this is my goal despite everything. Overall my fiction is a placebo, but there is such a thing as a placebo effect.

Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
I have a nine year old son and I happen to know that my stories bore him. If he ever came across "Last Week's Apocalypse" in the library he'd surely put it down before he got to the dirty bits. Kids a little older, maybe 14 on up, might actually like the stories, although none of them would catch all the references to Devo.

If your book were a politician, what kind would it be?
A dead one. I'd like it to be a politician like Warren Beatty's character in the film "Bulworth", that is a politician in the throes of a nervous breakdown. A politician who has lost it so completely that he's willing to speak honestly about what he knows. But it would probably end up dead that way.

Why are you afraid of giant rabbits?
I am afraid of giant rabbits because, despite their apparent docility, these creatures are tricky. Giant rabbits tend to give the kind of advice or make the kinds of comments that, while often sound or even wise, cause trouble. Also they can eat a lot of vegetables. A lot of vegetables.

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
Nothing would change very much except that I'd go back to taping my stories to telephone poles like I sed to in the early nineties. Back then I used to imagine people walking along and reading the stories in or out of sequence. Sometimes I imagined a person might follow the pages all over the city of Portland, stopping to read every few blocks. My ideal reader kept a watchful eye out for pages torn from legal pads and taped to trees, signs, buildings, and telephone poles.


Both Jason Bloog and John Joseph Adams from F&SF have interviewed me recently, for

The Publishing Spot


Sci Fi Wire (and Adams' blog)

A lift from the Jason Boog interview.

Jason Boog:
The Internet has turned newspaper and book publishing upside-down. As a writing professor, what do you teach your students to help them survive in this chaotic publishing atmosphere?

Jeff VanderMeer:
I think that the Internet is the great equalizer. It is much, much easier to get leverage and to get things done now. You can approach almost anyone via the Internet.

But it boils down to the same thing it always has: write a good, unique book and then worry about the rest of it. Most students, because it is also easier to get published online sometimes (almost no overhead for the publisher), seem so fixated on getting published and on getting validation that way that they lose track of the bigger picture.

Does it mean anything at all, in any meaningful way, to create a “sellable” story when the threshold for publication is often very low? Not really. So I generally have to deprogram students in my writing workshops. Make them focus on their own writing line-by-line, because this fixation with the idea of being a writer as opposed to working very hard on the writing itself is very damaging.

Also, don't forget that the Big Giant Book Sale is still going on.


(Jeff: "Hey, Evil! Where you been?!" Evil Monkey: "Off on vacation, reading fantasy." Jeff: "You have a very thoughtful look on your face, although it might just be the monocle." Evil Monkey: "No, I have been thinking, actually." Jeff: "About what?" Evil Monkey: "About fantasy. I have some questions." Jeff: "Questions?" Evil Monkey: Yeah, like: If the talking animals central to the plot were just people, would I give a flying fuck what happened to them?" Jeff: "Ah, you're going for the deep and wide questions." Evil Monkey: "Or: If this scene explaining how the magic works was deleted, would my reading pleasure be diminished in any way?" Jeff: "Good point..." Evil Monkey: "Or, or, or...If that evil guy were smarter, would I be enjoying the book more? Or: If that there "squiggle" were re-named a "hobbit," would I notice any difference between "hobbits" and "squiggles"? Or, or...Where the fuck are the grocery stores? Food just keeps "appearing". Like it's...magic. Where's everybody's gold come from? They just have money all the time to buy shit and yet I never see them working for it. And if everybody is pretty and handsome, how do they know? Or, or...If that mountain range on the cute map was named something more specific than "Sinister Mountains" would I find the higher elevations in this here chapter more fucking convincing?" Jeff: "Don't hurt yourself there, Evil. Just sit down and take a breath." Evil Monkey: "...Sorry. I just got overcome with emotion for a second." Jeff: "Oddly enough, I'm deeply enjoying George R.R. Martin's fantasy series right now. And none of that goes on. It's a stunning, stunning book." Evil Monkey: "Good for you! Good...for...you....Well, I'm not reading Martin. I'm reading something decidedly more problematic." Jeff: "What's it called?" Evil Monkey: "I'm not telling.")

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Organizing My Office

So, as I may have mentioned, I cleaned out my office yesterday. Having begun to get books to consider for the World Fantasy Award and also having realized that with all I've got on my plate this year I need to be better organized, I spent a good eight hours, helped by Ann and some trappist ale, sorting through everything.

One thing that struck me immediately is that surplus books need to get the hell out of the house, what with all the books coming in. And also because the clutter was beginning to get to me.

At the same time, I'm building up a war chest for all of the stuff I'm doing this year that requires money.

Yes, Another Book Sale--But With Cool Incentives

Thus, another book sale. But not just any book sale--oh no. I found so much cool stuff that I can't use any more for PR or other purposes. I found the City of Saints fortune cookies I used to use at conventions I found the wrappers from City of Saints candy bars. I found promotional posters. I found very cool fungus and candles left over from The Exchange. I found cover flats from various books. I found old drafts of poetry in long-hand. I found cool blank books for writing in. I found plastic squid and rubber squid. I found Hoegbotton & Son stickers. I found copies of cool little chapbooks and copies of books by British small presses. I found a ton of stuff. AND, I found enough of the 9 x 12 promotional posters for the fake disease guide (Night Shade cover) that not only will I toss in a few of these other cool things mentioned above, but ALSO everyone who orders in the next month or so will get a free copy of the disease guide poster with their order. It's a cool stiff-backed poster, full-color, suitable for framing, of the NS edition cover of the book.

Who knows? You might wind up with something really cool or you might wind up with a poem I wrote when I was 12. You takes your chances. :) And my office will finally be a peaceful place rather than a cluttered mess.

Where Is This Wonderful Book Sale of Which You Speak?

Right on the Hoegbotton Book Store Web Site, terms and conditions above and new additions below, followed by stock we've had for awhile.

What Kinds of Things Are You Selling?

I found lots of extra copies buried under piles of papers--things like:

Dradin and Other Stories - The only Greek edition of my work
The Exchange - Extra copies of the cool chapbook illustrated by Eric Schaller
Stadt der Heilegen - The German edition of City of Saints

And a lot more. I have to get rid of some of the copies, keeping only three or four for my personal library because the book situation is just getting ridiculous.

A lot of the other books we're selling constitute extra copies, or things we don't really want to get rid of but have to . We thought about just putting them up for sale on Amazon, but we'd like them to go to good homes.

So, take a look at the selection and see the Terms and Conditions section to contact Ann to order.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


I've been cleaning up my office all day, in preparation for taking stuff over to our storage unit. I'm a pack rat and I've got stuff from when I was five years old still in my office.

It's just kind of odd. Suddenly, you wake up one day and you're 37 not 7 or 17 and maybe you're not quite sure how you got there. I don't know about you, but memories of high school can be so vivid that there are days when you look in the mirror and you see the wrinkles and worry lines and you wonder if you just forgot the time in between. I'm still a kid, you say, but your face doesn't reflect that. And with that thought comes the other thought: I'm going to die someday.

And it doesn't bother you quite yet, but it bothers you just a niggling bit, because it's true you could get hit by a bus tomorrow and all the stories you want to tell and all the people you want to meet and all the people you've met and love, all that's just history. And you begin to wonder about why you write, and you realize once again that your writing is like your children and your legacy interwoven. And it sounds pretentious because it is, but death's a serious subject, so you're entitled.

How did I get from Clarion in 1992, sitting with Kristine Kathryn Rusch, telling us "sometimes puppies get stuck" with a smile, to having books out all over the fucking world.

In 2001, I had two books to my name, both with print runs under 1,000 a piece. in 2005, I've got books out in nine different countries and I'm gearing up for a European book tour. How does that happen? How surreal is that?

One thing is for sure, while I'm savoring it, I don't take it for granted. How can I? How could anyone?

City of Saints comes out from Bantam the end of this month. How cool is that?, the fan boy in me says.

Just yesterday it seems, I was waiting in line to talk to Harlan Ellison at a Dragon Con, shaking in my freakin' boots.

So, yes, it seems some perspective is in order as I look at all of these old, old photographs from an older, more innocent time.

There could have been nothing better than growing up in Fiji, in a tropical paradise. There could have been nothing better for a writer.

Looking at a report card now. "Confident when he knows the subject. Works well with others. But needs to be kept away from disturbing influences." Or another bit of school work: a report on the Etruscans from fifth grade. I'd apparently embossed the folder with golden letters. How the hell did I have the time?

You look at yourself as a child and you think: How did I get here? Will I look back at photos of myself at 37 when I'm 60 and again wonder: Where did the time go?

The fact of things is, we're all going to die, and it's how we all come to terms with that that defines who we are and how we're remembered. Some turn to religion, and that's all right. Me, I know we're going to all be returned to the earth, and that's all right, too.

In the meantime, you have to live life like you mean it.

And so it goes...


BEST MUSIC OF 2005--Erin Kennedy's Choices

My stepdaughter, Erin Kennedy, is a manager at the local music store, Vinyl Fever. Probably the best store in the Southeast, maybe the whole East. Still haven't found one that compares. Anyway, recently she deigned to write her top music choices of 2005 on a napkin for me, and here they is...a couple of them she discovered in 2005 but are from 2004.

BEST MUSIC OF 2005 - Erin Drew Kennedy

1 - Gogol Bordello - Gypsy Punks
2 - Xiu Xiu - La Foret
3 - Gang of Four - Return the Gift
4 - Calla - Collisions
5 - Soft Pink Truth - Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Soft Pink Truth? (2004)
6 - Jolie Holland - Escondida (2004)
7 - Dangerdoom - The Mouse and the Mask
8 - Kind of Like Spitting - In the Red
9 - Briefs - Steal Your Heart
10 - Celebration - Celebration

Friday, February 03, 2006


Well, I've got my first two copies of the Bantam City of Saints--and it's gorgeous!! It'll be in bookstores February 26th, so watch for it.

For those of you who are already familiar with Ambergris, check the first blurbs page inside the book. You'll find something interesting there... :)


Wednesday, February 01, 2006


UPDATE: Another blurb came in!

Jeff VanderMeer's work opens a trapdoor in the world we think we know, into a realm as unforgettable and compelling as an opium dream, and as seductive. SHRIEK: AN AFTERWORD is a sinister and bewitching tour-de-force. - Elizabeth Hand

And a very kind review of Shriek by Joe Gordon.

Granted it's an automatically updated system, so the rankings change a lot over the course of a day, but Shriek has been #1 at FB among SF/Fantasy books and seems to be fluctuating between #1 and #6. With City of Saints popping up every once in awhile.

So, thanks for buying from one of my favorite, favorite bookstores!