Here’s the cover for The Urban Fantasy Anthology, edited by Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale. It contains my story “Talking Back to the Moon,” an excerpt from my upcoming Change novel Avalon Burning.
Beagle & Lansdale are two very different (and extremely talented) writers, and the fact that the anthology contains me, Charles de Lint, Patricia Briggs, and Neil Gaimin gives some indication of the interesting variety to be found there. (Apparently I am “old school” urban fantasy. Who knew?)
Urban Fantasy will be published in August, 2011, from Tachyon Publications.
I’m delighted to present the cover art for the Subterranean Press release of Mortality Bridge. Vincent Chong had originally been slated for the cover but his work schedule was insane, so the artwork was handled by the legendary J.K. Potter.
Here’s the description of the novel from Subterranean’s website:
Decades ago a young rock & blues guitarist and junkie named Niko signed in blood on the dotted line and in return became the stuff of music legend. But when the love of his damned life grows mortally and mysteriously ill he realizes he’s lost more than he bargained for — and that wasn’t part of the Deal.
So Niko sets out on a harrowing journey from the streets of Los Angeles through the downtown subway tunnels and across the redlit plain of the most vividly realized Hell since Dante, to play the gig of his mortgaged life and win back the purloined soul of his lost love.
Mortality Bridge remixes Orpheus, Dante, Faust, the Crossroads legend, and more in a beautiful, brutal—and surprisingly funny—quest across a Hieronymous Bosch landscape of myth, music, and mayhem; and across an inner terrain of addiction, damnation, and redemption.
Saturday night’s reading at FogCon went wonderfully, and thanks so much to everyone who attended.
I read two sections from my upcoming novel Mortality Bridge. The first is a brief soliloquy; the second is from one of the core chapters, “Floating Bridge.” I make an effort to memorize my readings so that I can perform them and not just read them, as I think that people prefer feeling as if they’re being told a story over feeling as if they’re just being read to. And because if people take the effort to attend your reading, I think they should get something out of it that they wouldn’t get if they just stayed at home and, you know … read. I also don’t like looking at a page when there are people there wanting some kind of experience. I like looking at the people.
That said, I was only able to memorize the soliloquy. I had big chunks of the chapter down, too, but I really hate having to refer to the page. There’s something about the contact, the immediacy, the rhythm of having internalized the narrative that makes the experience very different for the audience and for me.
A thin wall separated the reading room from a panel in progress, which accounts for what may seem like inappropriate laughter in places. I cleaned up the audio, but there’s not much I can do about the occasional crowd noise. The video clips are brief excerpts from both pieces.
I’ve gotta say, the reaction to these was pretty terrific.
Publication of Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2, edited by Bill Shafer, is only weeks away. This anthology contains “Not Last Night but the Night Before,” my first short work to be published in a loooong time (well, relatively short; it’s a novella), and I’m excited about it.
Bill Shafer of Subterranean has kindly let me put up a substantial preview of the novella. You can download the preview in PDF, ePub, or MobiPocket format by right-clicking the relevant icon, or you can read the preview online on its own page on my website. Enjoy!
I’m delighted to report that the release date for Mortality Bridge has been moved up from November to July. I’ve done a teaser page on the Mortality Bridge website and will be putting more info & goodies up there as pub date nears. This also pretty much guarantees that I’ll be going to this year’s World SF Convention in Reno, and makes World Fantasy Con in San Diego more likely for me as well.
I will be reading from Mortality Bridge at FogCon on Saturday, March 12, at 9:30 PM.
I’m very jazzed about this. But the real Gift from On High came in the mail yesterday: Advance Reading Copies (ARCs, also known as bound galleys) of Mortality Bridge.
It was an odd and affecting moment for a number of reasons. First (and most superficially), because I have a bit of a reputation for being a big proponent of digital media and the possibilities it creates for writers (and also changes that are both liberating and wrenching). I’ve seen this book in electronic form a bunch of times now. Word-processed in at least 30
drafts (not remotely an exaggeration). I typeset it & laid it out in two-up format for a limited edition of 10 handbound copies with endpapers and matching bookmarks that I marbled, back when it was called Ferry Cross the Mercy (a title whose loss I confess I mourn). I’ve seen it professionally typeset and sent to me in PDf from Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press for my input on layout and design, then for a couple of proofreading rounds (and for which I am forever grateful to Bill — do you know how often writers get input on layout & design of the text? Ace was wonderful about this on Elegy Beach, and Bill has been a God Among Men).
So you’d think I’d be all, Oh, look, here are the bound galleys. How nice.
Not even close. Here it was, the thing itself, which I have worked on harder and believed in more completely than anything I’ve ever written. And suddenly I’m holding it. It weighs something, and every ounce of its inconsequential weight in my hand is suddenly worth every bit of effort I have put into it. Will put into it.
I’ve been told it’s an age thing, that below a certain line (let’s say 35), the physical book doesn’t hold any more weight (yuck yuck) than the digital. I’m sure there must be some merit to that. I fully recognize the irony of my arguing for all of this cutting-edge, paradigm-shifting, grassroots-empowering digital technology and yet not feeling that my book is real until it’s its own thing in my greedy little hands.
Which leads me to the second reason the unexpected arrival of the bound galleys was an odd and affecting moment: Because this book is the product of twenty-five years of work (not remotely an exaggeration; I started it in 1986). Because I literally wrecked my life to write it (not an exaggeration, either — the six years it took to write the first draft, this thing owned me, buddy, and it made me work shit jobs and trash relationships that demanded more attention, and wouldn’t let up until it was done.) Because my agent — no slouch in the taste or reputation department (and bless you eternally, Richard) — believed in it utterly and championed it completely. Because as much as I think this is the best thing I’ve ever done, I had to grow into it, had to become something more to step up to what the book wanted to be. And just as important, because ultimately I needed years of distance from it to understand what it needed to be apart from my blind obeisance and obsession. Sometimes you have to be able to cast a cold eye at what you love most to see what it really needs to make it realize itself.
All of that between generic covers without artwork in my hand, all unexpected on a Tuesday. I took it to Starbucks to give it a quick look while I worked on Avalon Burning, and I sat down with my cup of coffee and pulled it out of my book bag and all of a sudden I’m choking up. I mean if I give it half a chance this dam’s gonna break, baby.
I was startled by that. I remain amazed that it’s possible to be startled by how you feel about something. I mean, who is it who’s startled and who is it who’s feeling? And why don’t those two communicate better?
I’ll record the FogCon reading and post it here. And god knows what quivering mass of instant pudding I’ll be reduced to when the final hardcover shows up.