I used to rely on (former) local author Michael Jasper to help manage magazine deliveries to Wake Forest’s Story Teller Bookstore. Now that he’s been living in Boone for a few years, I can only continue to rely on him for fantastic stories. The author of a fantastic collection (Gunning for the Buddha) and digital comic series (In Maps & Legends), novels of first contact sf (The Wannoshay Cycle) and contemporary fantasy (A Gathering of Doorways, which is excerpted in Bull Spec #1), a YA contemporary fantasy series (“Contagious Magic”), and the best supernatural historical baseball novel I’ve ever read (The All Nations Team), Jasper is back with a new novel, out yesterday, starting a new series set in Boone. Here he writes about the struggles of finding the right voice and perspective for that novel, Finders, Inc.
By Michael Jasper:
While the actual writing, editing, and revising of my novel Finders, Inc. took less than half a year, the book itself required over five years for me to figure out how to write it. That was definitely the hardest part.
The novel is a mystery set in the northwestern corner of North Carolina, and it features two misfits from the mountains: Hank Johnson, a 5’5″ black guy obsessed with fitness and his personal code of honor, and Bim Mayer, a 350-pound white guy with no fashion sense and the ability to connect psychically to other people. Together, they fight crime! Read the rest of this entry »
This Wednesday at Quail Ridge Books marks the first of three Triangle-area readings for North Carolina’s own Fred Chappell. While I personally know his work best for his short speculative fiction (particularly his “shadow” stories in F&SF) he has enchanted readers of every mode, from Southern novels, to the horrors of Dagon, poetry to prose. It is for his poems that he returns this year, for a new chapbook Familiars: Poems from Louisiana State University Press, for readings at the aforementioned Quail Ridge Books (Wednesday, December 10, 7:30 pm), Flyleaf Books (Thursday, December 11, 7 pm as part of their “Second Thursday Poetry Series & Open Mic”, with Pat Riviere-Seel), and The Regulator Bookshop (Tuesday, December 16, 7 pm). Below, author and academic Warren Rochelle reviews Familiars, interviews Chappell, and provides a brief biography as well. I hope you manage to catch (at least!) one of his readings — for myself, I should be (again, at least!) at Quail Ridge Books on Wednesday. See you there!
Interview by Warren Rochelle:
The Little Gods at Our Feet, the Mythic and the Mundane, Whimsy and Mystery and Cats, or
A Personal Essay and a Conversation with Fred
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I am an ailurophile. First, there was Osito, a Siamese mix, rescued as a kitten from a flea-ridden house. This lilac-point beast saw me through graduate school, my first post-doc job, and my first year here in Fredericksburg, at the University of Mary Washington. Then, Alex and Festus, two brothers (but not littermates, and believe me, it made a difference), from the local shelter, and a Yogi and Booboo combo, if there ever was one. Alex weighed in at 17 lbs.; Festus, about 10. Now, there is just Festus, my little godling, my familiar, the muse at my feet when I am writing, an old guy, now, almost fourteen. Read the rest of this entry »
Friday Quick Updates: Julia Elliott tonight, The Caroling Dead opens this weekend, A Browncoat Christmas on Sunday, three readings from Fred Chappell, crowdfunding roundup, and morePosted: 5 December, 2014
Friday, December 5, 2014: Readings, dark holiday comedy, and more await you, oh Triangle-area reader, starting tonight with multiple “Best Books of the Year” listee Julia Elliott at Durhams Regulator Bookshop at 7 pm for her collection The Wilds. If you missed her conversation with Bill Verner for bullspec.com’s “Coming to Town” series, here’s a pull-quote from one of Bill’s questions: “medically induced human molting or lovelorn robots”. I’m looking forward to it.
Starting tomorrow and running every Saturday through January, DSI Comedy Theater presents The Caroling Dead, “an original Sketch Comedy Revue inspired by the holidays and local news …and zombies (and more). What if Santa were quarantined? What if Cracker Barrel wasn’t safe? What if the police raided an Adam & Eve warehouse? What if UNC mismanaged another scandal? Well, come see the show and find out.”
Sunday night at 8 pm, “It’s time for our [Raleigh NC Browncoats] annual”ish” Christmas screening of SERENITY at the awesome Colony Theatre! We are so happy to return again this year. Tickets are only $5. Our BiG Damn Movie will be shown in DCP Digital format! Doors are at 7:00. Movie at 8:00 on Sunday December 7th. Please come and enjoy the comfy lounge and enjoy a beer, wine, soda or soft drink before the movie if you can. No advance tickets to this event. Just $5 at the door. Please do bring cashy money as the theatre does not take cards. Hope to see you there!” Read the rest of this entry »
From the Other Side, November 2014
By Paul Kincaid
[Editor’s Note: “From the Other Side” is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic.]
Okay, let’s get this out of the way right at the start: there’s another new book from Adam Roberts. What’s that? I hear you cry. But didn’t he have a novel out in January (Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea from Gollancz, yes), and another novel in September (the excellent Bete also from Gollancz, yes), and wasn’t there a collection of reviews (Sibilant Fricative from NewCon Press with an introduction by someone called Paul Kincaid, indeed), and on top of that there was a new critical edition of Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria (there certainly was). So what is he up to now? Well he’s done a Teach Yourself book, Get Started In: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. It’s designed for the complete beginner, and there can’t be many writers with more practical experience when it comes to the dos and don’ts of trying to write the stuff. [Editor’s Note: Coming to the US from McGraw-Hill in February 2015.]
Actually, I tell a lie: Adam Roberts has two books out this month. He’s also produced Landor’s Cleanness (Oxford University Press), a critical study of the writings of Walter Savage Landor, though you would want to be a fanatic about this now largely forgotten 19th century poet, essayist and dramatist to spend this much money on a book. Read the rest of this entry »
The Hardest Part: Jim C. Hines on The Prosekiller Chronicles: Rise of the Spider Goddess (An Annotated Novel)Posted: 3 December, 2014
“The Hardest Part” has traditionally been mostly a column for NC authors, with some Bull Spec “alumni” in the mix. Jim C. Hines is neither, but when I read about his plans to release this book I knew I had to ask him for a guest essay about it. I mean, c’mon. Don’t we all want to see our fantasy author heroes’ awful, derivative, early fantasy novels that they have had — until now — the sense to hide from the world? Lucky for us, rather than keep his own RPG character fiction novel closeted, Hines has shown the moxie to take his manuscript out of its safe hidey-hole in cold-forever storage, make himself read the thing, and annotate it for our entertainment and possibly even illumination.
By Jim C. Hines:
The hardest part of The Prosekiller Chronicles: Rise of the Spider Goddess (An Annotated Novel), aside from figuring out how to fit the title on the cover, was actually reading the story.
This was a manuscript I wrote back in 1995, and is pretty much the very first story I ever finished. As such, it’s also very bad. I spent years writing and learning how to craft a story before finally getting to the point where I could write publishable stories and novels. The thing is, as you get good at something, you also learn to see just how bad those early efforts really were. Read the rest of this entry »
Interview by Bill Verner:
On Friday, December 5th at 7:00, at the Regulator Bookshop in Durham, Pushcart Prize winning writer Julia Elliott will read from her debut collection The Wilds. The Wilds (Tin House Books) is a collection of genre-bending stories that, in the words of the starred Publishers Weekly review, “is a brilliant combination of emotion and grime, wit and horror.” Across the breadth of the 11 collected pieces, Julia applies her uniquely odd Southern Gothic voice to stories that range from sci-fi dystopian farce to spooky, transformative fable to the true weirdness of the contemporary real.
Threading a needle that is the intersection of the experimental and the flat-out comical, The Wilds reads like the love child of Flannery O’Connor and HAL. And if you want more incentive to make Friday’s reading, none other than the great Jeff Vandermeer has praised Julia’s book extensively, including a recent rave on his blog. Using a small stack of photos that this writer has retained from their shared getting-in-trouble years (read: the early 90’s and its attendant fashion horror), we were able to blackmail Julia into answering a few questions in advance of her reading.
Q: Hey, welcome to North Carolina! Do you feel any trepidation, given that you are from that other Carolina to the south, and as such are our sworn enemy? (Warning: flash mob-style sword battles are huge up here. HUGE.)
Back in September, Raleigh author F. Hampton Carmine launched his new young reader / young adult novel with a reading at Wake Forest’s Storyteller’s Bookstore. “Abby and the Magic Key is a young adult magical romp through time and space with thirteen year old Abigail Stewart and her royal ancestor, Princess Elizabeth of Scotland. To mend their broken lives, these princesses, one lost to fear and privilege, the other lost to fear and neglect, find each other across time and space by way of a magic key and learn to believe in themselves, and face their fears.” In this guest essay, Carmine — my fellow small-town Hoosier — writes about his point-of-view struggles, the pain of cutting out description, and “the dreaded query letter”.
By F. Hampton Carmine:
I think the hardest thing about writing Abby and the Magic Key was working through the point of view. I wanted to maintain my storytelling style while still presenting a story that would be appealing to upper middle grade and younger young adult readers. I am not fond of first person point of view and actively dislike present tense, both of which are often used in books for these age groups in response to the younger reader’s perceived mindset. I’m sure, however, that the young reader can read and enjoy stories told in a less in-your-face presentation. Read the rest of this entry »