Linky Business

Still on deadline(s) so just dropping in here with a few quick things.

First off, SFX has a great preview of the Strange Chemistry imprint today by way of a fab interview with editrix-in-chief Amanda Rutter. It includes some newsy-ness, including that the imprint will be going to two titles per month starting the second half of next year. Check it out.

My sadness at the news that Margaret Mahy has passed on is immense. What a brilliant, beautiful genius of a writer she was. I wrote about two of my favorites of her books a few years ago; I sense a reread coming on. (I actually just reread her Alchemy a week or so ago, and was reminded of the fabulous strangeness that permeates her work.) I also highly recommend Karen Healey's Strange Horizons column about her. I hate folding this into a post about other things, but I didn't want to let it go uncommented on. R.I.P.

And, finally, switching gears completely–I'm SO excited to be part of the Summer YA Scavenger Hunt, coming your way very soon. Like all the other authors, I'll be contributing a signed copy to the prize package. My special content will be some information about my next book, a reveal of the title (yes, it actually has one now!) and a little draft front matter. Behind the cut you can get a glimpse at the details on all the participating authors, courtesy of Colleen Houck. What company to be in!

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The great, cranky genius Maurice Sendak has died at age 83.

Excerpt from a letter by Sendak's editor Ursula Nordstrom to a writer at the New Yorker on Where the Wild Things Are in 1964:

You asked me how "revolutionary" Where the Wild Things Are is. There have been a good many fine picture books in the past. (Some by Margaret Wise Brown, and illustrated by one of two or three or four talented artists.) But I think Wild Things is the first complete work of art in the picture book field, conceived, written, illustrated, executed in entirety by one person of authentic genius. Most books are written from the outside in. But Wild Things comes from the inside out, if you know what I mean. And I think Maurice's book is the first picture book to recognize the fact that children have powerful emotions, anger and love and hate and only after all that passion, the wanting to be "where someone loved him best of all."

And another from her letter responding to a librarian angry about The Night Kitchen's nudity in 1972:

I am indeed distressed to hear that in the year 1972 you burned a copy of a book. We are truly distressed that you think it is not a book for elementary school children. I assume it is the little boy's nudity which bothers you. But truly, it does not disturb children! Mr. Sendak is a creative artist, a true genius, and he is able to speak to children directly. For children—at least up to the age of 12 or 13—are usually tremendously creative themselves. Should not those of us who stand between the creative artist and the child be very careful not to sift our reactions to such books through our own adult prejudices and neuroses? To me as editor and publisher of books for children, that is one of my greatest and most difficult duties. Believe me, we do not take our responsibilities lightly! I think young children will always react with delight to such a book as In the Night Kitchen, and that they will react creatively and wholesomely. It is only adults who ever feel threatened by Sendak's work.

And, finally, some words from Sendak himself in a 2011 NPR interview:

"I have nothing now but praise for my life. I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more. … What I dread is the isolation. … There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready."

May we all be so lucky.

R.I.P. Read More »


This time for Kage Baker, who won't get nearly the amount of ink of other writers who've passed away recently, and whose work I love more dearly than any of theirs. I first read her in 2004, it turns up through a little googling, and immediately became a devotee. It does not feel just that there won't be anything more, after her next book publishes in March. I can only hope her books continue to find the new readers they deserve, and she lives on in that way.

Her work will always be the best kind of alive for me. I expect I'll go back and reread the Company books sometime soon. I just ordered The Hotel Under the Sand, her only novel for children, from last summer, which I managed to not read yet somehow. 

I feel this frustratingly inexpressible sadness–for those who knew her, because she must have been amazing and I'm sure she will leave a large hole in their lives, and for all the books and stories we will not get now that she might have written, and for the fact she was not more feted while she was here. 

Discover her work, if you haven't.

R.I.P. Read More »

The Glove Is Off

Some of you who've been reading this blog so long you recall its previous homes on blogspot and journalscape might also remember a great number of "Glove Monster" posts during a certain time period. I find it hard to mourn such a problematic personality, but I certainly mourn the kid who gave us some great music, and then grew up too damaged and famous to quite be a whole person. 


R.I.P., kid. 

*Yes, I know. I used to be a much better blogger type. If only there'd been tags back then, it'd be a lot easier to find old posts.

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Madeleine L’Engle has died. Her acceptance speech for the 1963 Newbery Award for A Wrinkle in Time is up at her official site; here’s an excerpt:

So how do we do it? We can’t just sit down at our typewriters and turn out explosive material. I took a course in college on Chaucer, one of the most explosive, imaginative, and far-reaching in influence of all writers. And I’ll never forget going to the final exam and being asked why Chaucer used certain verbal devices, certain adjectives, why he had certain characters behave in certain ways. And I wrote in a white heat of fury, “I don’t think Chaucer had any idea why he did any of these things. That isn’t the way people write.”

I believe this as strongly now as I did then. Most of what is best in writing isn’t done deliberately.

Do I mean, then, that an author should sit around like a phony Zen Buddhist in his pad, drinking endless cups of espresso coffee and waiting for inspiration to descend upon him? That isn’t the way the writer works, either. I heard a famous author say once that the hardest part of writing a book was making yourself sit down at the typewriter. I know what he meant. Unless a writer works constantly to improve and refine the tools of his trade they will be useless instruments if and when the moment of inspiration, of revelation, does come. This is the moment when a writer is spoken through, the moment that a writer must accept with gratitude and humility, and then attempt, as best he can, to communicate to others.

A writer of fantasy, fairy tale, or myth must inevitably discover that he is not writing out of his own knowledge or experience, but out of something both deeper and wider. I think that fantasy must possess the author and simply use him. I know that this is true of A Wrinkle in Time. I can’t possibly tell you how I came to write it. It was simply a book I had to write. I had no choice. And it was only after it was written that I realized what some of it meant.

RIP Read More »

Sadness (updated)

And now word is starting to spread that one of the victims of this terrible, unthinkable tragedy may be SF writer Michael Bishop‘s son, who apparently teaches/taught German at Virginia Tech. I hope it’s not true. I don’t know Michael Bishop at all, but E Bear is right: the field is small and we’re a family in some odd, real way. And my heart goes out to the Bishops’–if it’s not true, for believing that it was, even for a little while–and to all those who are hurting tonight because they lost someone important to them.

I always have nightmares after a school shooting and I can’t imagine tonight will be different.

Updated: And Locus has now confirmed that Jamie Bishop was among the victims. There is really nothing to say in the face of such senseless tragedy. If you visit the site at that link, you can see some of his beautiful artwork.

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On NPR this morning, Gore Vidal was suddenly there, calling Kurt Vonnegut a "good science fiction writer," and so I knew he was dead. His work was very important to me growing up and I got to see him read once. I’m grateful for the work, and the reading, and his life. But, boy, does his dying suck.

Here he is on The Long View, judging the state of modern society.

Updated: Christopher’s Vonnegut stories — that’s the same reading I went to that he describes in part 2.

And see Karen Meisner’s post too.

And Ed has a ton of good links.

As does Maud.

R.I.P. Read More »

R.I.P. Molly Ivins

D8n0k49g1 My hero. I can’t quite deal with this one yet.

When Ann Richards shook off this mortal coil last year, the only way I could quite find to deal with it was by calling on the words of Molly Ivins.

It makes me angry that she’s gone, and sad beyond reckoning. A real remembrance to come when I can be a bit less maudlin.

What a lady.

Here’s a bit from her last column in mid-January:

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous.

Raise hell. Now that’s a legacy.

Updated: Some memorable quotes here.

AND how lame is it that the NYT apparently still refuses to run "gang pluck"? You’ve got to be kidding!

Best tributes, of course, to be found at The Observer.

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