Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

Change Gamer

I’ve recently quit Tweeting and shut down my LiveJournal as well. I pulled some of the longer pieces out of LJ (such as my 1989 Earthquake Journal) to archive here on my website. Twitter was fun but distracting–and, I mean, distracting a hundred times a day. LJ had pretty much ground to a halt for me. I’ve decided that I might as well consolidate whatever I do online and put it here, where I don’t automatically lose track of it. Although I guess if I ever want to read my old Tweets, I just have to visit the Library of Congress.

Modest Proposal #37: A Novel Kind of Trailer

I think book trailers are dumb.  Partly it’s due to the fact that most are badly done (although they seem to be improving), partly it’s that the experience of watching a trailer is nothing like reading a book.  A movie’s trailer at least gives you scenes from the movie it advertises.  A book trailer gives you nothing of the experience, which is that of reading a written word.  When I think about what attracts me to a book, it is usually a jumbled impression of fleeting sentences gained by flipping through the pages, catching sight of stray, disconnected sentences, and wanting to know more.  Since the books themselves already contain these sentences, what is needed is a way of simulating that experience of skipping through pages as you’re standing in a bookstore or a library.  As more of us buy from online dealers, and spend less time in bookstores, the act of riffling pages has become endangered.  So trailers seem like a decent form for catching the attention of internet readers–except for the fact that, for me, they just don’t work.

What I’d like to see is something closer to a written trailer–a heavily edited, chopped-up, artfully scattered and rearranged, breathless set of passages from the book itself.  Stray sentences, evocative names, intriguing set-pieces–spoiler free, or at least extremely misleading.  Something that gives you the flavor, the scent of a book; sentences that convince you that you’ve got to dive in and find them in context.

Someone, some publisher, should have a contest.  Encourage readers of some of your recent books to put together clever text-only teasers.  Use the winning entries to promote those books.

(I tried this in the preface for my novel KALIFORNIA, which seemed justified then because the book was about TV.  But really this approach, if it worked, wouldn’t need any meta-justification.)

World Fantasy Convention 2009

At the end of this month, I will be attending the World Fantasy Convention for the first time in many years.  I am scheduled for two events:

Friday, 5 P.M. – A Reading.  Location TBD.  I will probably read “Songwood,” before its appearance in the Jan.-Feb. issue of F&SF.

Saturday, 8:45 PM – 10 PM.  Crystal Room.  Group reading to celebrate the publication of Lovecraft Unbound, with Ellen Datlow and the following authors reading selections from their stories:  Laird Barron, Amanda Downum, Brian Evenson, Nick Mamatas, Michael Shea, Anna Tambour, and me.

Eerie Memories

Some things change everything.


Summer of 1972.  On a camping trip with my grandfather, staying in a cabin on Bass Lake in the Sierra Nevadas.  I found this on the magazine rack of the general store, and in it was Steve Ditko’s “Deep Ruby.”

It all came to fruition here.