Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

A Friday morning Family Guy moment, courtesy of Tall Chick. Enjoy!

I've tracked down my wayward priest!

Now how many times in your life will you ever see that headline?

Nice feller. But hard to keep track of, that one. I chased after him all the way from Tijuana to San Diego to Berlin to Rome before I finally pinned him down long enough today to let him know he had a national morning show to tape next week. Mission accomplished. (Next time, though? I'm radio-tagging his ear.)

It occurs to me that my job can be quite odd at times.

Okay, off to bed. Am exhausted from hunting clergy and helping Melicitlu move. All in a day's work, I say.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Still have a few copies of One for Sorrow for giveaway!

Congratulations to James, Robin, Matt, Mary, Steve and Adam. You will all be receiving a copy of One for Sorrow sometime next week.

Thanks to the generosity of Chris's editor, Juliet Ulman, I now have a few more to give away. This time I'm going to make it a little harder for you.

Here's the deal: Go to Chris Barzak's website and find the links to his online short stories. Pick any one of the short stories, go read it, and then come back here and tell me in fifty words or less why you liked or disliked the story. You should know I've read them all so I'll know if you're cheating here. The first three people to post their mini-book report here and then email me with your snail mail address will win a copy of One for Sorrows.

Ready? GO!

The Thursday morning "Pretend it's Wednesday night!" genre link dump. With PW snippets.

Sorry, kidz. Was just too dang tired when I got home last night to do anything more productive than read and fall asleep with the cats. A link round-up would have taxed my brain. However, this morning I'm bright and chipper! (Well, chipper at least.

I'll do a more thorough round-up of online reviews later this evening, but for now:
In an unplanned continuation of Barzak Global Domination Project, Liz Hand has a lovely review of Chris Barzak's One for Sorrow in the Village Voice.

At The Age (Australia) Jane Sullivan talks about Garth Nix's "magic" ring.

Publishers Weekly has a slew of new reviews in their August 27th issue including the following:
  • Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips: "British blogger Phillips's delightful debut finds the Greek gods and goddesses living in a tumbledown house in modern-day London and facing a very serious problem: their powers are waning, and immortality does not seem guaranteed. . . Fanciful, humorous and charming, this satire is as sweet as nectar."
  • Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning: "Monig's latest feverish Fae dispatch (after Darkfever) finds that in Dublin “the walls are coming down between Man and Faery.” That means that the Buffy-like services of MacKayla Lane—the 22-year-old Georgia-born sidhe-seer (or one who can see the Fae) and slayer—are required. . . addictively dark, erotic and even shocking."
  • A War of Gifts: An Ender Story by Orson Scott Card: (Wherein Ender's universe become light and fluffy, apparently) "Card returns to his Hugo and Nebula award–winning Enderverse saga with a heartwarming novella for the holidays. . . Exploring themes of tolerance and compassion, this story about stuffing stockings is, fittingly, a perfect stocking stuffer for science fiction fans of all ages."
  • Nova Swing by M. John Harrison: *Starred Review* "In this dense quasi-noir tale set in the universe of Light (2004), Harrison introduces Vic Serotonin, a ne'er-do-well who makes his living running illegal tours of the Saudade event site, where hallucinatory and impossible experiences are the norm. . . Although not for everyone, Harrison's trippy style will appeal to sophisticated readers who treasure the work of China Miéville and Jeff VanderMeer."
  • Fatal Revenant: Book Two of the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson: "Difficult but worthwhile, this complicated and emotional continuation of the Thomas Covenant saga is exactly what Donaldson's fans have been hoping for."
  • The Merchant's War by Charles Stross: "Readers unfamiliar with Stross's Clan Corporate (2006) and its predecessors should hunt them down before diving into this breakneck fourth Merchant Princes episode. . . For sheer inventiveness and energy, this cliffhanger-riddled serial remains difficult to top."
  • Empyre by Josh Conviser: "Robert Ludlum meets William Gibson in this dystopian spy thriller, the sequel to 2006's Echelon. . . the Orwellian atmosphere, intricate plot lines and breakneck pacing make this cyberpunk/espionage hybrid a highly entertaining read."
  • The Orc King: Transitions by R.A. Salvatore: "Celebrating his 20th year as one of Salvatore's most popular Forgotten Realms characters, dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden whirls into action in this first installment of a new trilogy. . . Salvatore mixes neatly choreographed battles with philosophical musings from self-styled “renegade soul” Drizzt, lending a little depth to an otherwise straightforward hack-and-slash adventure."
  • The Girl Who Loved Animals by Bruce McAllister: "How far would a person go to protect a loved one? That question is at the heart of many of the 17 stories in McAllister's career-spanning collection. . . McAllister's haunting work will enthrall any reader who appreciates thoughtful, evocative science fiction."
  • Air Apparent by Piers Anthony: "In this meandering 31st Xanth novel, Hugo, son of the Gorgon and Good Magician Humfrey, vanishes from his cellar, where the body of a murdered man just as suddenly appears."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Barzak Day: An in-depth interview with Chris Barzak,
and a One for Sorrow giveaway!

It's Barzak Day in the Blogoshere!

Chris Barzak's debut novel, One for Sorrow, goes on sale today. To help Chris celebrate, La Gringa and Mr. Mumpsimus - along with a host of other well-meaning online book nerds - will all be posting something fun about Chris and his work, and Mr. Mumpsimus will be collecting all those links for you in one handy place.

So who exactly is this Barzak character, you ask?

Well, in his own words: "I grew up on a small farm in Kinsman, Ohio, a small town where Clarence Darrow also grew up and the science fiction writers Leigh Brackett and Edmund Hamilton once lived. I attended university at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, bummed around in Carlsbad, California for a while afterward, lived in East Lansing Michigan, where I worked as a librarian’s assistant in the Capitol Area District Library, returned to Youngstown State to earn my Master’s degree in English, and lived in Ami, Japan teaching English in a rural junior high and elementary schools before returning home to Youngstown in spring of 2006. I've worked, pretty much in order from age fifteen until the present, as a sap collector for a maple sugar maker, dish washer, grocery store stock clerk, pet groomer, car washer, parking lot attendant, fast food slave, country club waiter, receptionist, assistant coordinator of Youngstown State University’s Poetry Center, telephone interviewer, book store clerk, librarian’s assistant and English and writing instructor."

Chris published his first short story at twenty-four with “A Mad Tea Party” in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and began writing One for Sorrow when he was twenty-seven. His short story "The Other Angelas" was long listed for the James Tiptree Jr. award in 2004, and his novelette "The Language of Moths" was nominated in 2007 for the Nebula Award. Currently he lives in Youngstown, Ohio where he teaches composition and fiction writing at Youngstown State University.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Chris for the Swivet (and apologies in advance - this is a long post!):
A great deal of your writing revolves around a recurrent – and difficult - theme: the complexity of relationships between men. In One for Sorrow, this theme manifests itself in the protagonist’s strained relationships with his father and brother, as well as his confused friendship – almost sexual at times – with the ghost of a murdered classmate. Is this a conscious decision in your writing? Who were the men whose presence in your own life affected you the most, either positively or negatively?

I can’t say that particular theme is a conscious decision in my writing. It is, though, a theme I recognized early on. If Henry James is reliable as a definer at all, I suppose he’d say it’s one of my central themes that I’ll be elaborating on for the rest of my life. Hmm. That doesn’t sound too fun, now that I think about it.

I think that the complexity of relationships between men crop up in my writing because of my experience of male relationships growing up as the youngest of a house full of men. I have two older brothers. The oldest is quite older than me; there’s ten years between us. So by the time I was three or four I can remember him babysitting my middle brother and me when our parents went out on occasion. By the time I was a ten, he was moved out, married and on his way to making his own family. He was like a second father to me because of the age difference.

Our house is built on my grandfather’s farm, so I grew up with my grandfather around too, and an uncle down the road with his family, all boys as well. The men really outnumbered the women in our family. I think being the youngest put me in a position where I felt like they already had all these established relationships before I came along, and so I did a lot of observing of their interactions with each other, which were plentiful to say the least, and often difficult and inarticulate events, probably contributed to me being concerned with relationships between men in my fiction. In any case, the men in my family are largely quiet types, except when they complain about politics, so their inner worlds felt less imaginable than my mother’s or grandmother’s, whose inner lives were articulated almost on a daily basis.

My mother is a think-out-loud person, so I think I heard what is normally a person’s inner monologue consistently externalized a lot of the time. My mom can talk about whatever she’s thinking, almost like a running narrative. I always thought that was funny and weird and cool. I think maybe because the men in my family didn’t articulate their inner lives, I tend to write about that absence as a way to try to understand them better, and maybe as a way of trying to fill some of that silence.

Another recurrent theme in your writing is growing up in rural Ohio. Indeed, in One for Sorrow, Ohio – and in particular, the city of Youngstown – are as much characters as Adam and Jamie and Gracie. How did where you grew up shape you as a writer?

Well, I grew up in a tiny house on a back road of a town with a population of roughly 3000 people at that time. I’m sure it’s grown a bit by now, though. As mentioned, my mom and dad built a house on my grandparents’ farm, so I also grew up with beef cows. Herefords and Angus. There were always lots of cats and a dog or three around as well. Occasionally chickens or hogs, and once a goose that showed up on her own, and then also once a rooster that fell in love with my grandfather. My grandmother hated that rooster, and the first time he pecked at her gave her enough reason to declare him dinner.

At the time I didn’t have a clue how quaint or weird this probably would seem to a lot of people. Growing up in a bucolic fashion is somewhat anachronistic, I’ve been told, but it was really nice. I wouldn’t trade it for another childhood. In any case, where I grew up shaped me as a writer of place, I think, and in particular a writer of rural Ohio and the urban decay of Youngstown, the city where I moved to live with an ex-girlfriend when I was 19, because these places were largely the main experience of the world I had for the first twenty years of my life.

My family didn’t travel. When my mom and dad married, they drove off for their honeymoon, made it to Kentucky, stayed overnight and came back the next day because they couldn’t wait to be home again. I did not inherit their particular fondness for home to that degree - I like to travel and live elsewhere - but I did inherit a love of home for sure. Stuff on TV didn’t really correspond with my reality much either, and the rest of the world felt pretty far away. So, having been in Ohio most of my life, I have deeply rooted memories that attach me to the place, and not just my own, but my family’s memories too, because we’ve been around here for the past five generations and so all of those memories come along, growing up, having places that are significant to my grandfather or great-grandmother or a second cousin etc. pointed out all the time.

Once, in a college literature course I took, while discussing E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End, a professor asked how many in the class had lived in the same house all their lives (many of the students didn’t understand the English attachment to family homes and property in that book). I was the only person to raise a hand. Most of the other students had moved around at least six or seven times in their lives. I think a bubble broke at that point, and I started realizing a lot of things I’d taken for granted about the world until then. So I started writing to some extent about what I know but also about what I didn’t know intimately because of having lived in one particular place for most of my life, and because of that place being somewhat remote.

Ohio isn’t always the place I know best in my fiction though. In many of my stories, the places I’m writing about exist only in my imagination. And my second novel is set in Japan, which is another home of mine now, after having lived there for two years. So I have several homes I write about now. Because my family home is such a stable one with history, having seen it from the outside as a structure that’s not largely typical of contemporary American families - which are more transitory and mobile, as you say in your next question - because of all that, the idea of home and familial relationships are often subjects in my writing.

Staying with the Ohio theme for a moment…you’ve lived and worked in a number of places: California, Michigan, Japan. In a country where so many of us live such a transitory lifestyle, you made the decision to return home to Ohio to teach at Youngtown State University. What brought you back to Ohio?

When I left Japan, I came home to Ohio because that’s where all my family live, and I hadn’t seen most of them in two years, so I thought it’d be nice to re-acclimate to America by coming home to live with them again for a few months. I figured I’d stay for the summer and be off again. But after I’d been home a while and decided to visit old friends in Youngstown, I noticed there had been some changes in the city since I’d left. They were small but good changes, and it gave me a sense of hope.

Youngstown is one of America’s notoriously poverty-stricken cities. I’m sure by now the majority of the country has forgotten what happened here in the early eighties, with the steel industry abandoning the region, and how the community was fractured by this and began to fall apart over the next three decades. It left a shadow over the area, and broke the community’s ability to work together and share resources. So like Detroit and Flint in Michigan, Youngstown, which used to be the fastest growing city in America, and had public amenities like the second largest municipal park in the country after Central Park due to those bygone years of growth here, fell into ruin.

When I left for Japan in 2004, I think the city was at its worst. But when I came home, I saw that a new mayor had been elected, our first African American mayor actually. The city and the surrounding suburbs have a history of racial strife that goes back to when the steel corporations pitted white against black during labor strikes. So this was a sign of progress for me. And the mayor and city council had managed to reopen the downtown and small businesses were opening again, and nice restaurants and coffeehouses and bars. People were on the streets again. It’s still in small numbers, but it’s increasing.

There was also a network of local artists and musicians and actors and writers here. Previously it had felt somewhat like a cultural vacuum. But when I returned it felt like a community was beginning to grow at a grass roots level, and after a lot of years of wanting to do something for the city but only being able to write about it and tell its story, here was an opportunity for me to try to be a part of what we’re hoping will be a local renaissance.

I’m a community-minded person, and I relearned what all that means while I lived in Japan, where community is everything. I decided to stay and be a part of the community effort to revitalize the area, to hopefully make it a place that may someday have more opportunities for people to become their better selves. That’s really all people need - opportunities. And I like being nearer to my family and able to spend time with them more easily than, say, when I lived in Japan or California. I can take my nephews and nieces to see a movie now and have a relationship with them, or be at my grandparents wedding anniversary party, like I was tonight.

Although you’ve written and published a number of short stories, One for Sorrow is your first novel. What can you tell us about how your novel evolved? What was the impetus for writing a ghost story?

I love ghost stories in general. There were a lot of ghost stories told in my family and in general in our community as I was growing up. My grandmother swears her mother’s ghost has helped her find lost things and advised her in difficult times. She’s a real, living presence to her, sort of in the same way God is to some people. Just there. And throughout our town there were always abandoned farms and little family cemetery plots from ages ago and dead-end, dirt roads that had lots of ghost stories surrounding them. I always loved these sorts of stories, the drama and mystery and history in them. So the ghost story comes somewhat naturally to me.

In this particular case, I wrote a ghost story called “Dead Boy Found” when I was twenty-four, the year a friend of mine, a little younger than me, died from a sudden, severe allergic reaction. It was a difficult time for me and a lot of my friends, and it dredged up a particular memory of mine from childhood, a memory of a boy in a nearby town who had been found by two men in the woods, which he’d been cutting through on his way home from a Boy Scout meeting. They tortured him to death. They didn’t know him. They just did it.

I was around twelve years old. I remember not being able to comprehend why people would do this to another person for no reason, and to a child at that. I remember being afraid after that, worried about dying. And when my friend died young, in our early twenties, in another horrible, sudden, senseless manner, all those feelings from when I was twelve stirred in me again, and I wrote a story that is for the most part chapter two of One for Sorrow. Except the ending of that story is different in the novel.

In the story, Adam gets into the grave with the ghost of the murdered boy and there is a sense that for the rest of his life an essential part of him will be dead as well, a sort of sympathetic spiritual death. A couple of years after I wrote that story, which went on to be published in Kelly Link’s anthology Trampoline, I reread it and felt bad about leaving Adam in such a bad place. My life was in somewhat of a bad place at that time too, so I decided that, as I was trying to figure out how to make my life better, I’d write Adam’s story, hoping he could find his way out of that dark place as well. In the end, I think we both ended up in better places - that place in life where everything is not completely the best but has potential to get better. When I finished writing the novel, Adam was at the beginning of starting over, and I was too. I left Ohio for Japan, where I began to write another novel.

Was working with your editor at Bantam – Juliet Ulman – very different than working with editors on your short fiction? What advice would you give a new novelist about learning to work with an editor? What mistakes did you make? How did the process help you grow as a writer?

Working with Juliet was really amazing. I feel lucky that she read my manuscript and saw what I was trying to do, and saw that with a little work we could make it even better. Juliet understood the book, and was able to communicate this to me in a way that made me know we’d be able to work together, that I could trust her.

Working with an editor on a novel is very different from working with editors on short stories. In my experience with short story editors, often there is not much editorial work to do, or else there is line revising or ending twists that need taken up a notch or something to that effect. Fine tuning, I guess you could call it. But with novels it’s a bigger thing, and Juliet and I dug deep into it, tossing ideas back and forth about issues that needed more work. She’d point out problems, explain why they were problematic, always made sense, and would offer an idea for change, which I’d often think wasn’t the solution, but it would spur my imagination and then I’d come up with an idea that we both liked. This was a really intimate process, which was different for me. So while I was also rewriting some of the book, I was also getting to know what the writer/editor relationship was all about, and a lot of times that would be as interesting to me as the writing and rewriting processes. I warned Juliet that she had a newbie in me, and she was gracious and led me gently through the whole book-making process. It gave me an understanding of and appreciation for the rewriting process, and for the writer/editor relationship.

My advice to new novelists who are about to work with an editor would be to make you’re your personalities fit together, like mine and Juliet’s did, and that you have the same vision for your book, so that you never feel like you’re writing someone else’s idea of your book. Before signing with Juliet and Bantam, she and I exchanged a bunch of e-mails, getting to know each other as well as talking about the book, and through those e-mails (I was still in Japan at the time) I got a good sense of who she was, and her me, and this made it really easy for us to enter into a working relationship together. I’m not sure if all editors are willing to do that with writers, but to me it’s a sign of a good editor who does.

One for Sorrow focuses primarily on the friendship between fifteen-year old Adam McCormick and the ghost of his murdered classmate, a sort of lonely misfit named Jamie Marks. The murder itself - particularly the discovery of Jamie’s body and how that affects both Adam and his fellow classmate Gracie Highsmith - figures prominently in the story. Yet you chose to leave the central question of the story unanswered. I admit that I was both surprised – and oddly satisfied – that you chose not to write what most readers probably expected at the end of the story. Can you tell us a little about that decision?

I want to say as little as possible about this, because I don’t want to interfere with the reading process for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet and may want to someday. But I have to say a bit, I guess, if I’m going to make any sense. The best way for me to answer this question is to say that I think that I did focus on the central question of the story - for most readers, when a body shows up, the central question is: Who did it?

So, okay, the novel doesn’t focus on answering that specific question. But it does respond to the question in its own way. If I’d been writing a police procedural novel, or a novel that is about our desire for justice in this world, I’d probably have written about Adam redeeming Jamie’s death by finding his killer(s). Instead I wanted to write about what the absence left behind by people who die, especially people who die in sudden, shocking ways, does to those who survive them.

For Adam, he’s been a little upset since the death of his grandmother, who he’s very close to, months before Jamie disappears. And of course with his mother and father’s casual cruelty and his distant relationship with his older brother in the background, when Jamie is killed - a boy he was just about to let himself get close to - he’s thrown completely out of his previous indifference to life because he has a realization that life may never get better, because it certainly didn’t for Jamie. And this realization that what’s already a bad situation may get worse, that life could be a series of enduring one brutal event after another until you die, sets him off looking for an escape from the chaos surrounding him.

In the end, I think he has to accept that we all have to live with uncertainty in our lives, and that there isn’t always fairness in the world, even if we strive for it, and that it’s probably going to be a bit harder for some people than others, including people from backgrounds like his, coming from the rungs of the rural working class.

I think books can have a lot of different ways to respond to their own central questions, and sometimes I think central questions aren’t maybe the same ones for everyone. When I pick up a book and a body shows up in the first chapter, I actually worry that the following chapters may begin the process of trying to find out who did it, which doesn’t interest me so much as who the person was that died, who loved them, who regrets their loss, what does their death say about the world we live in, where people take lives in such horrible, senseless ways? What does being alive mean, and what is being dead? Those questions are more central to me when a body shows up in fiction as well as life. I’m not a detective. Or else I’m interested in detecting what the living can learn from the dead, and not just the identity of who killed them.

Another strong theme in One for Sorrow is alienation. The alienation that Adam feels from his family. The alienation that Jamie feels, first from his classmates, and later as a ghost who cannot find a place to belong. The alienation that Gracie experiences when she comes to realize that finding her classmate’s body has made her different somehow in the eyes of her parents and classmates. How have you experienced alienation in your own life?

That could take a book of its own, so I’ll keep it to a minimum. I like to think everyone has experienced alienation in some way, even if it’s been in some small way. As soon as you put people together in groups and define them by general aspects, you’ve got a population within that group that probably doesn’t fit all the general aspects, or not in the way described at least, and in those spaces between the general and the specific is where a lot of alienation crops up.

For myself, I think I’ve felt a little different all my life, even within my family. While my middle brother was learning how to take tractors apart and put them back together, I was keeping a journal of my summer raising a calf my grandma had given me. I guess I was going through an All Creatures Great and Small phase. Or while my oldest brother was playing baseball, I was writing plays for my friends to put on together. My family doesn’t really have many readers in it besides myself and my sister-in-law, who I was glad my oldest brother married because it gave me someone else to talk to about books when I was younger. My mom’s reading materials was limited to women’s magazines, the newspaper and textbooks. She was an elementary school teacher in the school district I attended. My dad’s reading repertoire was the newspaper and hunting magazines. Neither of my brothers read much unless they had to for school.

I had a small library growing on my dresser when I was a kid, though, and once when I was a teenager an aunt remarked to my mother that it wasn’t natural for a boy to read so much. I think she had assessed “so much” by the size of that small library. I think it was probably fifteen books.

At school I was pretty quiet in the classroom because it was a small school system, being out in the countryside, and being a “thinking” kind of person was sort of suspicious. It was the sort of place where you’re just supposed to get through school and be done with it so you could start your own life, your own family. So I didn’t try to bring notice to myself in classrooms. I didn’t say when I was excited by a short story or a novel or by some cool thing we did in art or some chapter we’d read in history. My graduating class was fifty students. If I’d let myself participate excitedly in even one class, say, everyone would know about it by the end of the day. So in particular I didn’t feel entirely comfortable in a rural community, not in this particular way at least. I love the countryside, but the parameters for “normal” there are just too small for me.

In fact the smallness of my years growing up there made it hard for me to leave. I’d been raised to live there, so when I did finally leave and go to college at 18, it was a little like living in another country, trying to figure out how to live even just an hour away in an old steel town. Going to college was difficult too. At first I was quiet in those classrooms like I’d been in high school. It took me a year or two to get comfortable sharing my ideas out loud with people because I’d spent so many years keeping ideas to myself for fear they might cast a suspicious cloud of weird over me. Professors kept writing on my essays and reading responses, “Why didn’t you say this during class discussion?!?” Some of them eventually started to draw me out in class until I got more comfortable.

It was sort of a class issue, I think. Working class people aren’t brought up tossing ideas around or coming up with new ways to do things. They’re brought up learning how to follow directions and execute someone else’s plans. Even my mother, who went to a regional college for years as she raised my brothers and I, to get her degree in elementary education, saw that I was a Global Learner, she says, someone who learns in leaps and bounds, absorbing material almost randomly without seeing connections, and then just getting it. She didn’t approve of this learning style. She tried training me to be a Concrete Sequential Learner, someone who goes step by step through things, a good instructions-follower, but that didn’t really work out.

It’s also been an odd and somewhat neurotic experience becoming a writer after all. For years I’d been telling people that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up, and at first I think it was thought of as cute, and then as potentially an issue, and then as an issue (amongst family and friends), and then as a real problem when I went to college and majored in English. This was disturbing to my family, who felt if I were going to go to college at all, I should go for something that had an actual job waiting for me at the end of a Bachelor’s degree. And there weren’t many people from this area who had ever become a published writer that I knew of. So when I started to publish short stories eventually, and then to have sold a novel, at first I was like, this is cool, but then I realized I was actually doing what I’d always wanted to do and a part of me became afraid. I sometimes find myself at writing conventions or in conversations with publishing people, and think at any moment this person is going to realize I don’t belong here.

Maybe that sounds weird, I don’t know. But it feels that way sometimes. You know, my mother once tried to explain to me, when I was in college and set on studying literature and writing, that people from where we are don’t really write books. That sounds terrible, but when I thought about it, not many people from where I am really do write books. Or if they write them, I don’t see a lot of them published, I guess. Basically she was trying to politely say it was nice, but maybe I should be a little more realistic. I was wanting a career doing something that usually middle class and up people do. It was kind of a luxury career, she was saying, and was hoping I’d come to my senses and want something else, too. Something that I could actually make a living at.

Of course I didn’t listen to her. And I think to some degree I was able to do most of the things I’ve managed to cross off on my “To Do” list in life by not listening to other people. Or at least not listening to people who tell me I can’t do something because of who I am or where I’m from.

I could write about other kinds of alienation I’ve felt in life, but I’ve got to save some of that for the next book!

One for Sorrow was published by an adult trade publisher (Bantam), but in tone and style, it has a strong YA feel. Did you set out to write a YA novel? What were some YA or children’s novels that influenced you when you were younger?

Honestly, I don’t have a clue about this whole YA thing. To me it’s a marketing category, same as science fiction, fantasy, westerns, mysteries, and this amorphous thing I see in the bookstore called the “General Fiction” section. What is “general” fiction? Really, I’m not sure what constitutes a book being YA. For some people, it seems as easy as saying, well it’s a book told from the point of view of a teenager. But then I think, well what about Catcher in the Rye, or To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Lovely Bones, or Huck Finn, or The Perks of Being a Wallflower or A Separate Peace? There are a lot of books told by teenagers and kids that are shelved in “General Fiction” or adult fiction, and have been for years.

Once upon a time it seemed there wasn’t really a YA section, or at least it didn’t have as much of a presence, and what was there felt like it was written for kids, not teens. So I didn’t read a lot of YA books growing up. I read books that are categorized as YA literature now. But that category is something that I think is newer, with a coolness and hipness to it at the moment. When I wrote One for Sorrow, though, I wrote a novel I wanted to read. I wrote from a voice of a narrator that I loved. To me, while writing that novel, I felt it could be read by people fifteen and up. But if One for Sorrow feels YA in certain ways, or is shelved in the YA section at some stores, it’s not because I modeled it on YA fiction intentionally. It just happened.

I suppose that paragraph could give people an idea that I don’t like YA fiction, which isn’t true. I just didn’t write One for Sorrow with YA as a category in mind. I do love many books that are categorized as YA or children’s literature. And actually, a lot of my favorites are the ones I listed above. I also like Scott Westerfeld’s YA novels a ton, Peeps being my favorite of them all. And I really love Kelly Link’s stories, some of which are considered YA, and she’s going to have a book out from Viking next year, I think, collecting her YA stories. So that’s exciting. Holly Black’s faery series starting with Tithe and Justine Larbelestier’s Magic’s Child series have been fun reads in recent years as well.

My favorite books when I was a teen, though, were Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cavebear series. I imagine reading those were like reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World for some people. And I loved Ray Bradbury’s books so much. Something Wicked This Way Comes more than anything, and also Dandelion Wine and The Illustrated Man. And Poe. I loved Poe.

Okay, I have to ask: do you believe in ghosts yourself?

This is one of those questions that are hard because people totally judge you by your answer immediately. I’ll just say that I do believe in ghosts. But I’ll qualify by saying that what I think of as ghosts might not be the general definition

What’s next, Chris?

Well, I finished a second novel while I was living in Japan, and finally got it into a shape that I’m mostly happy with at this point and Juliet should be looking at it soon, I think. For now I’m calling it The Love We Share Without Knowing. It’s set in Japan, and is told from multiple perspectives, both multiple narrators but also multiple narrative modes. It has a ghost story at its heart as well, but spins off into other kinds of stories throughout.

I’ve also pulled together a collection of stories called Everything You Need. And right now I’m working on a third novel, tentatively titled Yesterday’s Child. It’s a family generational drama, told from the point of view of a boy who is something like a seer. Only he doesn’t see the future so much as he does visions from the past. It, too, has ghosts in it, as well as a white stag, dreams that become reality and a man who can stop time. In my imagination, it’s like a Midwestern The House of the Spirits or One Hundred Years of Solitude, recounting the history of an American family from the beginning of the twentieth century until, well, around now.
I'd like to thank Chris for taking the time to let me interview him, and for supplying that fabulous author photo.

The Giveaway: How did where you grew up affect who you became as an adult? The first six of you who post the answer to that question in the comments section will win a copy of Chris's debut novel, One for Sorrow. After you post, email me with your snail mail address. (Sorry, this contest is open only to residents of the United States!)

And now I'm gonna remind y'all to click over to the Mumpsimus to continue the journey through Barzak Day in the Blogosphere!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday night genre link dump. With cat hair.

Having spent the last three hours trying to manipulate Blogger code into letting me create collapsible posts has given me a whopper of a headache. And I still can't make collapsible posts. Feh. Irritability ensues.

But what do you care? You just came here for the skiffy links, dincha?
Over at SFF World, they gots loads and loads of new stuff: Hobbit reviews Cowboy Angels by Paul J. McAuley as well as The Prisoner Handbook by Steven Paul Davies ("You are Number Six!"); Arthur Bangs reviews Queen of Candesce by Karl Schroeder; and La Gringa pal Rob Bedford reviews The Hanging Mountains by Sean Williams.

SciFi Dimensions also has a slew of new reviews: John Snider reviews the audio versions of both Sandworms of Dune and Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson; William Allen Ritch reviews Peter David's Darkness of the Light as well as Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks.

The Amazon Book Blog reports on a recent visit by William Gibson to the Amazon offices.

At Blogcritics, Scott Butki posts the first of a two-part interview with Mike Carey, author of The Devil You Know and Katie McNeill reviews Stephenie Meyers's Eclipse.

At Bookgasm, Rod Lott looks at The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, edited by Gavin Grant and Kelly Link.

Book Fetish reviews Saturn Returns by Sean Williams.

The Gravel Pit reviews The Charnel Prince by Greg Keyes. (Pick up the first in this series - The Briar King - it's the best fantasy series you're not reading, and you really should be. Plus, Greg is really kick-ass with a sword in real life; how cool is that?)

Uh, oh! Aiden is stirring up shit again at A Dribble of Ink with more of that "changing of the guard" stuff.

Neth Space interviews Jay Lake.

And last but not least (and only last cos I am sleepy and want to go to bed but need to finish formatting tomorrow's Chris Barzak post), Pat's Fantasy Hotlist has a great three-way interview with George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham, co-authors of the Hunter's Run and Shadow Twin.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Meditation on procrastination.

I stumbled across this lovely meditation on procrastination and thought I'd share.

Vespa desk lamps!

So pretty. Me want. (Via Gizmodo.)

Go ahead. Ask me your publishing questions!

Much of the time when I meet new folks via this blog, I spend a lot of time answering questions about what I do in publishing, and how it works. (And, um, sometimes people email me and try to submit their manuscripts to me. Or they want my help in getting a large inheritance from Nigeria to the United States. Or they want to sell me products to enlarge my penis. Which, ya know, would be hard 'cos I don't actually have a penis.)

Specifically, they want to know about publicity and marketing in publishing. When I lived on the West Coast, I frequently spoke on panels geared toward newly-published writers, trying to give advice on how they could best promote themselves, work with local booksellers and - more importantly - work with their publicists.

So now's your chance, kids. Send me your publishing questions via email and I'll do my best to answer them here on the blog. (You can ask me bookselling questions, too. Or, um, questions about selling heating and plumbing supplies, which I know a scary lot about.)

Every Thursday I'll put up a new post that answers a couple of your questions. I can't promise I'll be able to answer all of your questions, but I'll do my best. And while I know something about the editorial process, I am not an editor. (If someone out there is an editor and would like to guest blog here once in a while to answer some editorial-related questions, feel free to get in touch with me.)

Also, while I'm sometimes funny, it's usually not intentional and I'm no Miss Snark (may her blog rest in peace).

Okay, that being said, go to it! I'm curious to see what you'd like to know.

Fag enabler!

Last year, Fred Phelps called Tyra Banks a fag enabler when she interviewed him and his two freaky daughters on her talk show. Well, hell! I know I'm a fag enabler. Most of my friends are fag enablers. I guess the folks at Translucence are fag enablers, too. They were so tickled by this label that they went out and made all us fag enablers some kicky fag enabler t-shirts. Click here to buy yours!

Hipster Olympics in Williamsburg.

A heaping tablespoon of awesome, kids. Hilarious!

Kirkus Reviews round-up (September 1st issue)

Time for the next Kirkus Reviews round-up. First, the Starred Reviews:
Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon: "Ridiculously entertaining. If the movie people don't snap this one up, somebody's asleep at the switch."

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007, edited by Ellen Datlow, Gavin Grant and Kelly Link: "Bring out the bone china—a critically acclaimed fantasy/horror annual celebrates its 20th anniversary in grand style. . . Worth a space on any bookshelf."

In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente: "Demanding, certainly, but no summary can do justice to the bedazzling intricacies on bountiful display here."

Devices and Desires: The Engineer Trilogy, Book One by K.J. Parker: "Those who prefer epics painted in sophisticated shades of gray to ultimate battles of good and evil will relish this first volume of a trilogy, published in the U.K. in 2005. . . Highly recommended, especially to readers tired of the usual thing." (This one also received a starred Library Journal review.)
Next up, the ones they liked enough not to mock:
The Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson (filed under "fiction" and not "science fiction" for some odd reason): "Apocalypse Then. Its prose aptly—on occasion annoyingly—portentous, this Superman prequel is action-packed, depicting a lost world in fanatic detail. . . Sci-fi of Miltonic ambition."

The Kingdom of Bones by Stephen Gallagher: "In this moody, gripping period thriller, the shadowy world of the undead sucks in a beautiful actress and the man who would give his life to save hers. . . Dark but splendid entertainment."

The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia: "Flavorsome fantasy set in the hidden underworld of newly capitalist Russia, from an ex-Muscovite and current New Jersey resident. . . Great character sketches and plenty of magic-realist incidents, all set forth in charmingly Russian-accented prose. Missing a structured plot, however, the story lacks an essential firmness." (Picky, picky.)

Sunday morning trans-fat free genre link dump.

Good morning! (Yawn.) The Furry Machiavellian Persons woke me up an hour ago to demand their daily worship, so here I am, sleepy but sadly awake. Nobody should be forced to get up before 9:00 A.M. on a Sunday.

Anyway, let's do a proper link round-up, shall we? (Oh, and by request, I've begun adding Amazon links to the book titles. Y'all are so lazy!)
At the Scotland on Sunday, Mike Duffy jumps into the William Gibson pool with a review of Spook Country.

Spook Country is also covered at the Raleigh News & Observer, with an interview of William Gibson by Scott Timberg. Also at the Raleigh News & Observer, Gabriel Morgan writes a passionate defense of science fiction and fantasy writing. Really good piece!

At the Boston Globe, Peter Berbergal writes about people in our real world creating steampunk objets d'art (like a wind-up laptop made of wood and brass). Paul Di Fillippo is interviewed for the piece. And there's a fabulous photo gallery!

At the Baltimore Sun, Victoria Brownworth has a great review of Always by Nicola Griffith.

At the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sandy Bauers has a review of Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann (really, how can you go wrong with a detective novel about sheep???).

At the Houston Chronicle, Robert Cremins reviews Daniel Wallace's Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician.

At the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Chancey Mabe reviews Susan Hubbard's new vampire novel, The Society of S. Also, in last week's Sun-Sentinel, Mabe reviews the new fantasy The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel By Michael Scott.

At the Hartford Courant, Kit Reed looks at Camille DeAngelis's Mary Modern.

At the Toronto Star, Shaun Smith reviews Iain Banks's non-genre novel The Steep Approach to Garbadale.

Did you know that Phillip K. Dick's head has been missing for the past ten months? Me neither. Neither did I.

At the Detroit Free Press, Oline Cogdill reviews Michael Marshall (Smith)'s The Intruders.

At the Decatur Daily, William Allen reviews Matt Ruff's Bad Monkeys.

At the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Timothy McNulty interviews Stephenie Meyer, author of Eclipse.

Infinity Plus is celebrating its tenth anniversary; they've also posted fifteen new reviews!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday night polyunsaturated genre link-dump.

Had a low key and restful day today. Met up with SoundGirl for a leisurely brunch at Five Points. It was really wonderful to see her; it had been a long while and we had much to catch up on. We shared a plate of fresh churros and Mexican hot chocolate (okay, okay - I had five churros; she had one) and then I had a pretty spectacular baked tomato and egg dish that was too big to finish (see churro consumption confession above).

On the way to meet her, however, I popped into Shakespeare & Company Books to kill a little time and ended up being courted by a large and extremely affectionate tuxedo feline named Monty (aka Fat Wanker). He waddled up to greet me as I walked in and followed me around for a few minutes before stretching his front paws up on my leg and demanding to be picked up. Those of you who are owned by felines know that picking up any cat, particularly a stranger cat, is taking one's life in one's hands. The store clerk looked dubious. Nevertheless, I picked him up and swung him over my shoulder where he remained happily purring for the next twenty minutes while I browsed around the store. Bought a copy of Mo Hayder's The Devil of Nanking (shelved - oddly enough - in their wee little SF/F section; I do love this store but their SF/F selection has always been pathetic and sad). Then Monty and I came to an understanding about our brief but torrid affair; we agreed it was best to go our separate ways.

After brunch, I visited my pal Ilya for a $6 haircut, sat outside and read for a bit and then came in and had a four hour nap with my own cats. Got up. Read some more. Ate a bowl of Cheerios.

Good times, my friends. Good times.

Anyway, onto the linkage:
At the Naples Daily News, Ben Bova posits the idea that the American education system be put in the hands of the U.S. military. (Um, I hope this is satire.)

At the New York Times Book Review, Jonathan Ames reviews Matt Ruffs's Bad Monkeys, while Dave Itzkoff looks at William Gibson's Spook Country.

At Associated Press, Sara Rose also reviews Spook Country, as does Matt Thorne at the UK's Independent.

At The London Times, Nick Rennison looks at Marie Phillips's comic fantasy Gods Behaving Badly.

At the Washington Post Book World, Elizabeth Ward reviews Lian Hearn's newest tale of the Otori, Heaven's Net is Wide.

I missed one from last Sunday's Contra Costa Times: Claudia Smith-Brinson reviews Mary Modern by Camille DeAngelis.
Short round-up today; more tomorrow.

Worth the Trip: Great queer books for kids and teens!

Via Lambda Literary Award-winning writer Lawrence Schimel comes word of a brand new blog - Worth the Trip - started by librarian Kathleen Horning that focuses on highlighting great GLBT books for kids and teens. Per Lawrence's request, I've created a Live Journal syndicated feed for the blog here.

The four-footed Vicks backlash begins.

(This post is for GolfPunk!)

The Atlanta Humane Society is now accepting Michael Vicks t-shirts and jerseys. They'll be used as bedding, chew toys and rags for cleaning up dog doo. Awesome! Also, the Arizona Humane Society is selling Vicks memorabilia to help raise money for their four-footed pals, too.

Insight into how a writer's mind works, or "I'll trade you a box of Fruity Pebbles for an autograph"

Patrick Rothfuss created this hysterical flow chart to help describe the thought process he went through when making the decision to no longer allow everyone and their brother to send him books for autographing. (You really need to read the whole blog post; it's bloody funny!) Click the picture below for the full effect:

Jesus rides a Harley.

Today's offering from the Department of WTF.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Friday night "I'm too tired to be snarky"
genre link dump.

Had an insane media-frenzied day, with a welcome respite at lunchtime to share a meal with Mr. Mumpsimus. (And then we had cake. 'Cos if there is chocolate cake on the menu, you really should have it. That's all I'm tryin' to say.) And then - alas! - back to the media frenzy.

Anyway, I think I owe y'all a round-up. So here goes:
The Lawrence (Kansas) Journal interviews debut fantasy writer Lane Robins about her new book Maledicte. (La Gringa seriously dug this gender-bendy book and thinks it's due a Tiptree nomination at the very least. Go read it!) Oh, and she has a blog, too. (Via Fantasy Debut)

Fantasy Book Critic reviews The Elves of Cintra by Terry Brooks. (FYI for those of you snobs who've been delighting in turning up your noses at Terry Brooks - you're seriously out of touch with what he's been doing lately. I dare you to read the first in this new series, Armageddon's Children - which PW gave a starred review - and not get hooked.) They've also got a nifty interview with Douglas Clegg.

Graeme's Fantasy Book Review looks at The Jennifer Morgue by Charlie Stross and interviews Brian Ruckley, author of Winterbirth.
::: If I break into Elvish suddenly, please forgive me - I am half-watching Fellowship of the Ring as I type this and the dreadful love scenes with Liv Tyler have just seared my frontal lobes once again - gah! :::
Angry Black Woman discusses David Anthony Durham's Acacia.

Speaking of which: How to write a bestselling fantasy novel. (Via Bookie Monster)

Neth Space interviews Chris Roberson, author of Set the Seas on Fire.

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist interviews Steven Erikson, author of House of Chains.

At Sci Fi Wire, The Slush God interviews James Maxey, author of Bitterwood, as well as Gene Wolfe, author of Soldier of Sidon, and Diana L. Paxson, author Ravens of Avalon.

SF Gospel discusses the new Nerve.com anthology 2033: The Future of Misbehavior.

SF Signal reviews In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan.

At Blogcritics, Richard Marcus reviews Steven Erikson's The Healthy Dead, while Katie McNeill reviews Worldweavers: Gift of the Unmage by Alma Alexander.

That crazy Book Swede reviews Hunter's Run, a collaboration by George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham.

Curled Up With A Good Book reviews Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible.
::: To sum up, "Gondor has no king; Gondor needs no king." Any questions? :::

A first time for everything.

I don't think I've ever bribed a priest with homemade chocolate chocolate chip cookies before today. In fact, I don't think I've ever bribed a priest before today.

Huh.

The media frenzy continues; my head has not yet exploded. However, I am still sitting in my office hours after the rest of the publishing world has gone home because I am routing interview calls through to Tijuana every twenty minutes; it seems I may be doing this FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

I promise a genre link update later, kids.

And I thought my dreams were weird.

Actual email conversation between myself and work pal. (She is a Big Mukky-Muk Sales VP Chick at Big Ass Publishing Company):
Big Mukky-Muk: Hey! You were in my dream the other night! You were breaking my door down with a croquet mallet.

Me: HA HA HA HA! OMG, hilarious! Wait, are you making that up???

Big Mukky-Muk: No really. I was going to call 911. But then you backed off. Too funny.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Freakiest ABBA video EV-AAAAAH!

You have to watch this. It is undoubtedly the most freaky music video I've ever seen. Every line of dialogue is a line from an ABBA song, too.

You. Must. Watch. (Via bovil.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Wednesday night "Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury!" genre link dump.

The Slush God lives! (And he really likes pizza.)

I met up with Mr. Slush God today for lunch - this was very first time that he and I'd actually met in person. It's a little odd to know so many book and publishing people through their online presence alone; I'm always thrilled to be able to put an actual face to an email address (or a blog). Friday I get to meet another long-time virtual pal, Mr. Mumpsimus. Wheeee! And La Gringa's world gets smaller every day.

I also had a fabulous (if impromptu) dinner with Cosmo Girl and Hikender at a groovy German joint on the Upper East Side this evening. (Yes, I just used the word "groovy"in conjunction with German food. Deal with it.) Bratwurst, sauerkraut, latkes with applesauce, baked Camembert with pears and cranberries, and an unpronounceable beer. Life is good.

Oh, and it's Ray Bradbury's 87th birthday today. Happy Birthday, Ray! And thank you especially for The Martian Chronicles, the book that taught me that science fiction could also be poetry.

Links, anyone?
At USA Today, Carol Memmot talks up Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next and Michael Marshall's The Intruders, among others. (La Gringa side note: If you like deep dark creepy weird and scary fiction, go out right now and buy a copy of Marshall's earlier book Straw Men. Just friggin' amazing.) Edit to add: As Adam has pointed out in the comments below, I should add here that Michael Marshall is in fact talented sf/f author Michael Marshall Smith, author of such amazing books as Spares and Only Forward. (Thanks for reminding me, Adam!)

I don't write up comics much here but this is awesome: AfterEllen writes about the super hero hot chicks of DC Comics. Purrrrrrr...

At the Seattle Times, Mary Ann Gwinn does not so much love Matt Ruff's Bad Monkeys.

At Bookgasm, Ryun Patterson reviews Warren Ellis's Crooked Little Vein.

Book Fetish reviews Kat Richardson's Greywalker. La Gringa liked this one, but really loved the sequel, Poltergeist. And, oh - guess what? Book Fetish liked that one a whole lot better, too!

Graeme's Fantasy Book Review is loving Acacia by David Anthony Durham.

New fun blog alerts! First up, Cheryl Morgan has resurfaced (yay!) and is now editing a new blog called Science Fiction Awards Watch. Go check it out! Next up, Rick Klaw and his cohorts at the Austin Dark Forces book group have started the Dark Forces blog. And lastly, via Written Wyrdd, the Editorial Ass blog, kept by an anonymous editorial assistant in New York City. Not really genre-related but still some funny shit up there.


Okay, too tired to Google anymore. Bed now.

Who is John Galt?

Okay, I know it's really early and I haven't had coffee yet but I'm certain I just heard Channel 4 reporter Adam Shapiro use an Ayn Rand reference while reporting on the whole debacle at the Deutsche Bank building.

It should be illegal to use literary allusion before 9:00 A.M.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Tuesday night "Will San Francisco please take its weather home now?" genre link dump.

Seriously, it's like San Francisco winter weather outside today; cold, damp and drizzly gray. Feh. I understand that there are hurricanes and tempests and monsoons and waterspouts and wind tunnels and black holes and whirlygigs and global warming thingies all over the world. But here, in NYC, it is still SUMMER! Dammit! SUMMER! (You listening, Horace? Just cut this shit out right now.)

Tirade over. Onward with the linkypoo:
Because the blogosphere can't have enough William Gibson, here is yet another interview with the author of Spook Country, this time at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

From Associated Press: One in four American adults read no books last year. This is an interesting survey; go check out the rest of the story.

At Blogcritics, Richard Marcus reviews Patricia McKillip's Something Rich and Strange.

Fantasy Book Critic reviews The Book of Joby by Mark J. Ferrari.

The Pearls are Cooling has an interview with Karin Lowachee, and reviews of two of her earlier books, Cagebird and Burndive.

OF Blog has a review of Best American Fantasy (the VanderMeer/Cheney one, not that other one - these yearly anthologies are SO confusing).

At Sci Fi Wire, John Joseph Adams (whom La Gringa will be lunching with tomorrow) has an interview with Brian Herbert, who says that this time the Dune cycle really is finished. (At least, ya know, until someone defrosts another copy of Duncan Idaho.)

Rick Kleffel talks about Margo Lanagan's Red Spikes as well as Gavin & Kelly's The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. He's also got an interview with NPR's Alan Cheuse.

The Gravel Pit reviews Charlie Huston's Already Dead. (La Gringa loved loved loved loved this book, and its sequel, No Dominion.)

Finally, at Bookgasm, Ryun Ferguson looks at Warren Ellis's Crooked Little Vein.

Marty McFly, paging Marty McFly!

Yes, it's true: the DeLorean is coming back. Cocaine is optional on the 2008 models, however.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Monday night "I've finally stopped worshipping the porcelain god" genre review link dump.

Yeah, not feeling sick to my stomach anymore feels good. And that's all I have to say about THAT! Onward with the linkage, yo:
On the Amazon Book Blog, Jeff VanderMeer talks about Best American Fantasy and Shriek and his summer vacation and knowing The Church (the band, not the Vatican).

And because a day doesn't go by unless someone mentions William Gibson and Spook Country, today's review comes from Pop Matters. (You're welcome.)

At Sci Fi Weekly, Paul Witcover reviews Monster Planet by David Wellington, and Paul Di Fillippo reviews Birthstones by Phyllis Gottlieb.

Book Fetish is lovin' on Tobias Buckell's Ragamuffin.

Bookgasm looks at Laird Barron's new collection of short stories The Imago Sequence.

Charlie Stross gives newbie author advice on how to do a bookstore reading. (As a former bookstore event manager who was forced to sit through more than my share of interminable readings by authors who really just didn't have a clue and whose publishers should have known better, I BEG YOU TO READ THIS!)

Monsters & Critics reviews Sarah Monette's The Mirador.

Over at BookEnds blog (an agent blog), literary agent Jessica Faust gives advice on how to handle an offer from a publisher if you don't have an agent (and, yes - it does happen). This is a blog you should be reading regularly, by the way. Good advice for writers.

Graeme's Fantasy Review interviews Karen Miller, author of The Innocent Mage.

Fantasy Bookspot interviews David Bilsborough, author of The Wander's Tale. In addition, there's a new review for Matt Ruff's Bad Monkeys.

SF Reviews looks at Naomi Novik's Empire of Ivory.

And lastly, Pat's Fantasy Hotlist has an interview with Scott Lynch, author of Red Seas Under Red Skies.