Demon Hunting and Tenth Dimensional Physics: 2020

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Chat About Our Country

 Hey, folks. I think it's time we sit down and have a little chat, you and I. And it's not going to be one about writing or reading or publishing today.

I know some of you aren't in the US, but a lot of you are in the US, so you're dealing with *gestures all around* the same way that I am. So I just want to have a conversation.

First of all, wear a mask when you're going to be around people you don't live with.

Okay, now that all the idiots have been driven away, we can have a real conversation.

I know that I'm just a fantasy author, but trust me, there are few non-political professions out there that seem to be more concerned with politics than SF/F authors. So we're going to lay this out.

Things are scary right now. Especially if you're a PoC, queer, or a woman, but all of us have been living with a generally heightened level of anxiety since at least March. For some of us, a lot longer, stretching back to Election Night 2016. Those are valid emotions.

And while I think there are a lot of places to look for hope, we have to do the hard things. Right now, today, we have to make preparations. Cis-women might need to start getting prescriptions for birth control, or even getting their tubes tied if they're willing to take that drastic a step. Queer couples need to get their paperwork in order, as if their marriage is going to be legally dissolved. Quadruply so if you have children. PoC...keep doing what you've been doing since forever, what you shouldn't have had to do in the first place. Trans folks need to get their paperwork and procedures and prescriptions in order yesterday.

If you know any of these people, then help them. And if you're not in any position to help them, at the very least, don't tell them that their worries are unfounded.

This is the kind of go time that nobody wants to be in. But it is go time nonetheless.

The polling is good. A lot better than 2016. Our fascist would-be dictator has not only shown his hand, but has described it in detail. The available procedural levers, few as they may be, are being pulled. Coups don't have a great history of success, as a rule. We're not only more aware that we could lose, but we're halfway convinced that we could lose, so we won't be blindsided. There is hope.

But we have to take care of ourselves, and we have to do it while the law still allows. Even though it's scary. Even though all of us wish we could stop fighting for two seconds and breathe. Today is not the day for that.

Vote blue. Volunteer. Canvass. Get your house in shape. Make sure you're protected, and fight tooth and nail for a functioning society going forward.

And for those of you not in the US...hi. I guess offer us thoughts and prayers?

Back to our regularly scheduled programming next time, but this was too important not to put out, too vital not to say it.

First of all, wear a mask.

Second of all, fight.

Third of all, breathe.


Friday, July 10, 2020

On Books and Expectation

So I've been reading a lot more, since I'm now in a book club (Online, of course, because I'm not an asshole and I want this pandemic under control.), and part of the way our book club works is, each month, a different person gets to select the book we're all going to read. It leads to a lot of variety in what we're choosing. We started with The Island of Dr. Moreau, then went into Weetzie Bat, the The Night Circus, and then continuing forward into Ben Bova and Anne Rice and Josh Lanyon and on and on.

This, all to say that we read a lot of different books, and not everything is to everyone's taste. Even when we all like a book, we're obviously not all going to be taking it the same way, bringing the same baggage to each title we go through (Not to mean baggage in a negative connotation.).

As such, I want to talk about reader expectations, and specifically my expectations going into the last book we read. Anne Rice's The Wolf Gift. Now, I liked this book. I don't recall that anyone in the club disliked the book, in fact.

But the member who chose it and I, specifically, had very different expectations for this novel than I did (Mild spoilers for the title mentioned. Or major. I'm writing this in one go, so...just spoilers.).

I can't speak entirely to her expectations, but what I saw going into this book was a young man, disaffected, interested in art and the finer things, and all those things unappreciated by the remainder of the people in his life.

So that was set up, for me, as the story of a man finding his place in the world, coming into his own confidence. And so I was disappointed when it immediately turned into a story of him...being a werewolf superhero. It ended up as a satisfying experience, all said and done, but it was quite hard for me to get into the more interesting part of the book because it didn't live up to the expectations that the author had unknowingly set for me.

There was no reason for Anne Rice to know or care how I would take the opening of her novel. I very easily could have taken this character more like the person who selected it. She thought the main character was just a rich whiny kid. An "affluenza" victim, more or less. So her expectations were clearly very much different than mine, so she didn't experience that dissonance that I went through with it.

That's something worth remembering as you read, and as you recommend books, and as you go through conversations about books. Something as simple as expectation can change the reading experience of reading a book, sometimes completely.

I don't know precisely what the point was for this, but I've been thinking about this a lot lately and wanted to get it out. Hopefully I wasn't too boring for you.


Monday, April 13, 2020

New Release: Elemental Disturbance

Yes, at long last, the next Office of Preternatural Affairs is finally available. Say hello to Dash and the other spooks in Elemental Disturbance!

World-ending poison snake? No problem.
Illegal drugs filtering out of the Hidden Kingdoms? Piece of cake.
Bureaucracy? Even the Office of Preternatural Affairs has limits.

Dashiel Rourke: just another FBI agent, except he happens to work for the Office of Preternatural Affairs. Full-time now, too. Not exactly the career trajectory he'd charted for himself, but about the third time you get poisoned with the same group of people, you’re obligated to stick around. And honestly, Dash couldn't think of anyone he'd rather get poisoned next to.

A series of mysterious, elemental explosions draw Dash and the OPA up to Vermont, and down into an ancient conspiracy so deep it threatens the very balance of the Hidden Kingdoms, and possibly the fate of the Mundane as well. All this, plus the FBI director breathing down their collective necks, watching every move they make. It's a bitter cocktail, and Dash was never much for drinking anyway.

If there's an answer to fix all of this, the OPA needs to find it. Fast. Or else millennia-old fury will break through, and there won't be a dam to hold back the flood.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

2020 Plans for The Voss

Hey everyone.

In my last post, I said that I'd tell you what I'm working on at the moment, and I do my best to be a man of my word, so thus I present: the plan.

Now there's no reason to think this plan won't change. I'm nothing if not easily distracted, so if a new idea becomes shiny enough, who knows whether I'll actually stick to this or not. It's just the reality of living up inside my braincase. However, this is my moderately ambitious set of plans for the coming year. Want to start the decade off strong, after all.

I will be putting out Elemental Disturbance in early 2020. It's currently next on the editing queue for another pass, and I've already been in contact with my cover artist. While I can't share any actual images at the moment, I have seen the preliminary cover for book two. She got so excited that she just made me one before I ever asked and said "Does this work?"

And it works. I'll share it out as soon as I can.

I also have OPA book 3 incoming. I haven't settled on a title quite yet, but right now it's called Sovereign Malpractice. That's written, but hasn't seen a lick of editing.

I also have a couple of novellas, including one set in the same world as The Psychic, that are tentatively on the list. But really, 2020 is the year of the Office of Preternatural Affairs over here. However, I also do a lot of short stories. I have one that's already due to come out in 1st quarter 2020 (I'll give more details once the publisher makes the announcement.), and several more making their way through. There's also a pretty good chance that I release another collection of shorts at long last, so stay on the lookout for that.

And now, if you'll allow me to get aspirational, there are a handful of things on my "I really want to do this" list for this year as well. For starters, I'd like to take a crack at editing an anthology. I would also really like to put out a non-fiction title. I've resisted that for a long time, but I think there's finally something I feel comfortable enough writing about, something I have enough experience with that I won't feel like a complete and total fraud if I try to act like an expert.

And in my heart of hearts, I want to write an epic fantasy. Really badly a lot I want to write an epic fantasy. I doubt any that I write this year would see the light of day before December, but it's itching in my veins.

So that's my 2020 plan. What about you? What exciting projects do you plan to tackle to start the decade off right? Let me know so we can support each other…or drink vodka together. Whichever reaction is appropriate.