The Secret History of Moscow

…is a very good, fascinating book by a new star up-and-coming author, Ekaterina Sedia. She’s also the editor of the forthcoming urban fantasy anthology Paper Cities, which promises to be an exciting publishing event (full disclosure: the publisher of that anthology is in my writing group, and I slush for his zine, Sybil’s Garage).

But I have no connection to Prime or to Sedia, so consider the review I now have out in the latest issue of Behind the Wainscot the product of unfiltered admiration. (And it’s not just me. She even got herself a great blurb from Neil Gaiman).

And I apologize about the utter lack of bloggy content lately. I’ve given myself the ambitious goal of writing 60,000 words in 30 days, so it’s going to be spotty for a while.

all things go, all things go

Back from Chicago. Great city (what little I saw of it, anyway). I went to a bar and my awesome friend Mariel treated me! (Very adult-like, I swear, though it’s a little weird when a 21-year-old college senior thinks she should treat you for drinks). Met a fanfic-friend AND a spec fic friend. Bill Shunn apparently did the public transportation equivalent of hiking the Himalayas to see me read, and for that I can only be grateful. I need to buy him a drink the next time he comes back to civilization (a.k.a. NYC).

All of which means…

Chicago has 32 points! I had about 31 people at my reading, which is cool beans in my book of small fries.

(btw: omigod, my picture is actually in an issue of a glossy magazine. Please ignore the girl having a tizzy.)

ETA: Forgot to mention that you should all go and check out K. Tempest Bradford’s very well done interview with me and Carole McDonnell, author of Wind Follower (out now from Juno books). And no, I don’t think that Neil Gaiman actually wrote an elf fantasy. It’s just that the trickster aspects of Anansi remind me of elves (a la Puck, not Galadriel).

I love you too, Chicago

How cool are you, Chicago? Let’s do some arithmetic (everything I need to know about math I learned from the quizzes in Seventeen Magazine, apparently…)

— You have a marvelous magazine (of the Time Out variety) that just so happened to give a really GREAT review to my novel, Racing the Dark. And an interview! Where I sound vaguely intelligent! (+10) (Shut up.)

— You are the host city of my publisher and editor, which is one smooth small publishing operation. (+5)

— You are going to be hosting yours truly at an event in one of your local bookstores. However, I reserve judgment on precisely how cool this makes you, since you had better rustle up a few people to actually sit in the audience. (+4 for the event, +8 if people actually show – 7:30 pm, Wednesday November 14th, Women and Children First)

— I could have gone to school in you, if you weren’t so fucking cold. Though, actually, when I visited my would-be alma mater, it was warmer there than it was in New York, where I ended up going. Maybe that should have told me something… (+4 for probably being much better than the school I ended up attending)

— But you still are fucking cold. (-5)

— But while I’m at it, Chicago, your school districts have some serious issues. Like, some school administrators who seem to think we are living in a proto-facist state. Hell, I think we’re living in a proto-facist state, but at least I’m not trying to speed along the process. Listen up, Superintendent Ben Nowakowski: the right to non-violent protest is one of the foundations of this country. These students cut class to protest a horrifying, illegal war. If you want to give them detention for cutting class, knock yourself out. But you want to expel them for exercising their constitutional rights, after administrators had already promised them that they would only be given detentions? Then I think that you, and your sorry, clueless school board needs to lose your damn jobs. What’s particularly sad about this, to me, is that these kids are using their education in a profoundly relevant manner. When I went to high school, you would have thought that the only purpose of the grinding hours of classes and homework and after-school activities was to get into the right college. That’s all I heard anyone talking about, anyway. “My Dad’s legacy, but I still have to be president of at least three clubs my senior year so I can get into Yale.” Community service was rarely about serving the community, it was about ticking off a box on an application. And apparently this soul-numbing view of education and its ultimate purposes has infiltrated the thinking of the highest officials in our school system. I can think of no other reason why these protesting students would be punished so harshly, vindictively and stubbornly (in the face of such public outrage). It’s a message: education is not about learning, or following your conscience, or applying your intellect to current problems. No, it’s about the personal essay, the supplementary materials and the teacher recommendations. Why else would they have given the “better” students more lenient punishments?

I admire these Morton West students more than I can say. I never did anything like that in high school. I’d caught the prep school bug, I guess. Kids these days? About a hundred times cooler than I ever was.
(-15 for a lousy school district, and +20 for kids with the guts to stand up to them).

(btw, if you support what these students did and are horrified at what’s happened to them, please take a moment and sign the petition in their support. The school board is apparently going to decide on their fate in December).

— And, finally, you are the subject one of my favorite songs on earth: Chicago by Sufjan Stevens (+5)

And if you add it all up…

Chicago is 28 whole points of very, very cool. 32 if I don’t just give a reading to the bookstore staff. (And any scale that gives Chicago a 28 gives New York at least a 40 and DC about 38).

Look, now I’m all excited about going there tomorrow. Chicago, here I come!

Taking care of business

So, World Fantasy. Fun. Maybe a little too much fun. Moral of the story: avoid Australian wine and hard liquor. I think we can all do without my con report. (Though: Scott Westerfeld, Doselle Young, Ekaterina Sedia and Kristen Janz are incredibly cool people. And I met Guy Gavriel Kay! And Saladin! And a bunch of other awesome people! No…must…resist…)

Better news: you can now listen to the live stream of my interview and reading with Jim Freund on Hour of the Wolf. I don’t seem to be on the TOC yet, but if you go here and search for “Hour of the Wolf” you can find the raw audio. Jim is a very gracious host and interviewer, and has edited me to make me sound much cooler than I was 🙂

And some other news, for any New Yorkers (among the three people who read my blog), I’m doing a reading in the East Village tonight at the Tompkins Square Library. Info:

6-7:30, the Tompkins Square Branch of the NYPL, 331 E. 10th Street, off of Ave B

Alaya Johnson, Racing the Dark
Kristen Kemp, Breakfast at Bloomingdale’s
Louise Plummer, Finding Daddy
Abby Sher, Kissing Snowflakes
Scott Westerfeld, Extras
Jake Wizner, Spanking Shakespeare

And, just for the sake of completeness, I’m going to Chicago on the 14th to do a reading there, also:

Women and Children First. The listing for the event is here. Wednesday, November 14th at 7:30. If any of you happen to live in the Chicago area I hope you can make it.

And that, I think, is that. Back to regularly scheduled programming when I feel slightly less blown out.