Durham author Mur Lafferty already had a handful and a half novels out in the world when, last year, she both had her “debut” novel published by Orbit, The Shambling Guide to New York City, and she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the Hugo Awards at the World Science Fiction Convention. Not a bad year, eh? Still, after all the books and the stories, she had to go back to the drawing board — again and again — to get a particular plot point right for book 2 in her Shambling Guides series, Ghost Train to New Orleans, out earlier this month.
By Mur Lafferty:
In Book 1 of The Shambling Guides, the love interest, monster hunter and plumber Arthur, gets bitten by a zombie. They find someone who can give him magic herbs to hold off the curse, so long as he takes the herb for the rest of his life. But heck, diabetics have to do something similar, only insulin isn’t magic, so it’s not a big deal, right? Read the rest of this entry »
The Exploding Spaceship Reviews Some Recent Good Urban Fantasy Reads: The Cormorant, Black Arts and Ghost Train to New OrleansPosted: 15 March, 2014
The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig (Angry Robot, January 2014)
This urban fantasy/hard-boiled thriller stars Miriam Black, a woman with the paranormal talent of precisely predicting the date, time, and circumstances of anyone’s death. She does some illegal things to survive, usually conning or stealing from the unfortunate who wants to know about his or her demise.
Miriam and the people she encounters all get gleefully skewered, folded, spindled, stapled, and mutilated by Wendig; there is kidnapping, torture, and a paranormally-sensitive cormorant (yes, the bird.) in this story, as well as an appearance by Miriam’s mother, who is supposedly one of the reasons that Miriam left home. Miriam has one ally who genuinely likes her and helps her out, and since he manages to survive the story we may see him and his run-down Florida hotel again.
Miriam Black is a bad-girl heroine who has some serious issues because of all the morbid and gruesome imagery she has seen in her head. Her primary goal is survival, so she tends to follow the money, which always seems quite elusive. And when the con is on the other foot, Miriam does not react well at all, because people she likes are getting hurt, not just her.
Wendig has set his tale in a world of thrift-store shopping, seedy motels, fast food, public or stolen transportation, petty theft, and repeatedly experiencing messy and painful death; this is a far cry from the usual middle-class apartment, nice car, nice wardrobe and steady paychecks usually seen in urban fantasy. It’s action-packed, has a heroine who is best described as bat-shit crazy, and an engaging, twisty plot, but it isn’t for the faint of heart: Wendig pulls no punches, and some of the vile imagery he describes may have you reaching for the brain bleach more than once.
The Cormorant is Wendig’s third Miriam Black novel, and Your Humble Reviewers are sure that he will be gleefully torturing his protagonist in another volume. Wendig’s urban fantasy is much like his blog posts: well-written, profane, irreverent and hilarious, and never fails to keep you coming back for more.
Friday Quick Updates: Mur Lafferty tomorrow, Deborah Johnson next week, a Book Club Moveable Feast this weekend, Jeremy L.C. Jones writes about Manly Wade Wellman, and morePosted: 7 February, 2014
Friday, February 7, 2014: Three “NEW-NEW” events this weekend, added to the calendar since sending the February newsletter barely a week ago, including Mur Lafferty’s Durham County Library (Southwest Regional Library) event on Saturday and a “Bookmarks Book Club Moveable Feast” event on Sunday in Winston-Salem, for which very, very limited tickets remain. Several more new events were added further down the line, including the 15th Nevermore Film Festival at The Carolina Theatre of Durham on Feb 21-23 and a really intriguing-looking panel on H.G. Wells at the Orange County library in early March.
Speaking of Lafferty, more news there including:
- Her novel The Shambling Guide to New York City is a newly announced Orbital Drop, meaning her publisher Orbit has dropped the ebook price to $1.99 for the next three weeks; a fantastic time to pick it up and get ready for The Ghost Train to New Orleans which “drops” in early March, and speaking of The Ghost Train to New Orleans…
- Lafferty is hosting a contest for the best drink recipe for her fictional “Captain Spaulding”, which is gin with (purportedly) demon blood. She’s planning to video taste test the entrants and award the winner(s) a prize pack drawn from “copies of Shambling Guide, Ghost Train, and more necklaces from Surly Amy“
Meanwhile, South Carolina writer Jeremy L.C. Jones’ tribute to Manly Wade Wellman (“Dark Hearts and Brilliant Patches of Honor”) was published in this month’s Clarkesworld Magazine. It features an essay by Jones as well as his in-depth, round-robin interview of eight additional writers on Wellman’s work and influence, including Pittsboro author David Drake and Hertford, NC author David Niall Wilson, as well as Mike Resnick, John R. Fultz, Kenneth Hite, Darrell Schweitzer, James L. Sutter, and even yours truly. Do go check it out.
I hope you took in some of the fantastic events in a packed first week of February, including Wendy Webb at Flyleaf Books, George Saunders at Duke University (no, I didn’t even know about this one until it was too late, either), and Sheila Turnage at Quail Ridge Books just yesterday. And Turnage’s The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing wasn’t the only highly-anticipated sequel out this week from a regional author, as Megan Miranda’s Vengeance continues where her 2012 debut Fractured left off — and Miranda will be in the area later this month as part of the “Lovestruck” tour. See you out and about!
UPCOMING EVENTS, FEBRUARY 2014
8 (Saturday) 3 to 5 pm — Durham County’s Southwest Regional Library hosts a “Meet the Author” event with Durham author Mur Lafferty. More info: http://durhamcountylibrary.org/events/meet-the-author-mur-lafferty/
8 (Saturday) 10 am to 3 pm — The High Country Festival of the Book hosts a special February event in Boone, NC, bringing fiction authors Deborah Johnson and Ed Williams to the area. More info: http://www.highcountryfestivalofthebook.com/
9 (Sunday) 3 pm — Bookmarks NC “Book Club Moveable Feast” in Winston-Salem, NC with authors Wilton Barnhardt, Arien Djanikian, Deborah Johnson, Wendy Welch, and more changing tables every 10 minutes to meet with and discuss with readers. Tickets (4 remaining at last check) are available at: http://bookmarksnc.givezooks.com/events/book-club-movable-feast
10 (Monday) 7:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Deborah Johnson – The Secret of Magic [Facebook event link]. Johnson’s novel is amazing; it’s an historical fiction set in Mississippi in the late 1940s as a black GI returns home from WW2 to the segregated South, built around an actual NAACP Legal Fund case and a fictional fantasy novel within the novel. (Fiction.)
11 (Tuesday) 7 pm – Flyleaf Books hosts Deborah Johnson discusses her novel The Secret of Magic. (See above for my brief thoughts on this fantastic book.)
16 (Sunday) 2 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Joyce Allen launches her young adult novel The Threads of Earth, part two of the Threads trilogy.
17 (Monday) 7:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Alice Hoffman – ‘The Museum of Extraordinary Things’.
19 (Wednesday) 6:30 pm — McIntyre’s Books hosts Alice Hoffman for The Museum of Extraordinary Things.
20 (Thursday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts The Lovestruck Tour – Four Passionate Authors. (See below for list.)
21 (Friday) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts The Lovestruck Tour, featuring YA authors Megan Hansen Shepherd (Her Dark Curiosity), Megan Miranda (Fracture), Kasie West (Pivot Point), and Robin Constantine (The Promise of Amazing).
Friday Quick Updates: The Manly Wade Wellman Award’s prospective eligibility list is announced, and the many things I missed in the January newsletterPosted: 3 January, 2014
Friday, January 3, 2014: As usual, as soon as I click “publish” and “send” on the newsletter all manner of books and events and news come flying in or are finally finalized. Finally. Ish.
First, the North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation is proud to announce the prospective eligibility list for the 2014 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy, adding more than 10 novels to the preliminary list announced in December. Thank you very much to those who wrote in with additions and corrections. There’s still a (very) little amount of time to get additional corrections ahead of publishing the final list, so please do send those corrections ASAP.
Meanwhile, The Guardian‘s top 10 sf books to read in 2014 include Durham author Monica Byrne’s forthcoming debut novel The Girl in the Road, with Damien Walter calling it “a work harvested from the author’s true experience of our radically changing world. And congrats to Durham author Mur Lafferty as The Shambling Guide to New York City made Cory Doctorow’s list of best debuts of 2013 on Boing Boing.
Lastly, those new events:
NEW-NEW: 5 (Sunday) — Mike Acosta wrote with a call for extras for a local film. “Just wanted to let you know that I’m shooting a film locally. It is a social commentary on the devaluation of artists & creatives in our society. Very artsy. We are presenting local artists, writers etc… to play extras in the film. Our first extra call is Sunday 1/5 at 4:00 – 12:00. Location is Hillsborough, NC. Let me know if you have any that may be interested and I’ll send you the address. The project’s e-mail address is email@example.com. They can contact us through there for any further info.” There’s also a Facebook page with info on the casting call.
NEW-NEW: 30 (Thursday) 7 pm — Urban Fantasy/paranormal romance author Jeaniene Frost (who lives in the Asheville area) has two NC tour stops of note for Up From The Grave‘s release on January 28th. The first is January 29th at Malaprops Book Store in Asheville, NC at 7pm and the second is January 30th at the Barnes and Noble of Cary, NC at 7pm. The Cary event also includes VA author Pamela Palmer. More info: http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/82525
As we turn the page on 2012, and all of its local and regional books, it’s time to take a look at 2013 in terms of local and regional authors. While there are always surprises — particularly later in the year — here’s what I know about so far. Meanwhile, I’m going back on Carolina Book Beat on Monday, January 7th at 10 AM to talk about this list and whatever else comes up. So! On to 2013: Read the rest of this entry »
This evening (Thursday, Dec 13) at 6 pm the Orange County Main Library in downtown Hillsborough will host the storytelling event of the winter season, “Winter Tales” [Facebook], featuring original stories, poetry, and songs composed for the event by five local authors. (Along with cookies and hot cider!)
“Join authors Mur Lafferty, Alex Granados, Gray Rinehart, Becca Gomez Farrell and James Maxey for an celebration of the holiday season with original stories, poetry, and song.”