Muses: Vaughan Oliver and Alistair Gray

The mysterious arty graphics of 23 Envelope actually influenced my aesthetic sense. The late Vaughan Oliver (September 12, 1957 –  December 29, 2019) instinctively knew how to combine text and image into visually arresting collages. I’ll even admit that I bought some albums just because of the cover art. His designs grace some of my favorite albums. The lace shrouded mannequin on Cocteau Twins’ Treasure. The erotic elegance of the Pixies first album, and the haloed monkey on their Doolittle album. The blurred out naked man dancing and/or swaying with a phallic object on The Breeders’ Pod. His album covers are works of art, and his unique style has influenced the graphic arts.

I read Alistair Gray’s epic novel Lanark around the time of my 4AD/Cocteau Twins fandom. The two of them are indelibly linked for me. That novel, which mixes a bildungsroman with a surrealistic dystopian novel is a classic of Weird Fiction.  It was one of the books where I had an epiphany: much of life does happen in our private alternate realities and using fantasy and allegory are valid ways to talk about the human experience. Plus, the book was illustrated with his amazingly complex drawings that hinted at a personal mythology.

Rest in peace, Vaughan Oliver and Alistair Gray  (December 28, 1934 – December 29, 2019).

Book Birthday: Nowhereville, ed by Scott Gable and C. Dombrowski (Broken Eye Books)

Happy Book Birthday to Nowhereville: Weird is Other People. Gable and Dombrowski have amassed a whole lot of talent for this anthology of contemporary Weird Fiction.

From the back cover copy: Nowhereville: Weird Is Other People is an anthology of urban weird fiction. These are stories of the city, of people interacting with the complexities that are other people. These 19 short stories explore the genre of weird fiction, tales not quite fantasy and not quite science fiction, tales blurring the lines between genres. These are the strange stories of the strange decisions we make and the strange ways the city affects us.

Authors include: Nuzo Onoh, Maura McHugh, P. Djèlí Clark, Evan J. Peterson, S.P. Miskowski, Lynda E. Rucker, Tariro Ndoro, D.A. Xiaolin Spires, Mike Allen, Jeffrey Thomas, Erica L. Satifka, Kathe Koja, Leah Bobet, Ramsey Campbell, Wole Talabi, Stephen Graham Jones, R.B. Lemberg, Cody Goodfellow

It’s also been getting some stellar reviews!

“Taken together, these stories create an uncanny, unpredictable hall of mirrors. These wonderfully strange takes on modern living are sure to resonate with fans of speculative fiction.” (STARRED review from Publishers Weekly, and a PW Book of the Week)

“Readers will be enchanted by this collection and eagerly anticipate what the next entry will bring. The stories here are disconcerting, ambiguous, and sometimes confusing—but always intriguing and genre-bending, digging into the ways we connect to those around us.” (Booklist)

“What’s more, they complement one another in a way that’s rare even for collections by single authors, much less an anthology delivering 19 disparate voices. Indeed, the effect of this collection is not so much that of a set of loosely comparable episodes but of a kaleidoscope: variegated and multifaceted yet all of a piece. Remarkably powerful urban tales, each one brilliantly in harmony with the others.” (STARRED review from Kirkus)

My piece, called “Underglaze,” takes its inspiration from the Flow Blue plates my late aunt Evelyn collected.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: good reviews & hate mail.

A SPECTRAL HUE made it on a couple of other lists. The Mary Sue included ASH on this list: Books off the Beaten Path: 15 Small Press Reads If You Want Something Different. Venacular Books crowned my book the Best Horror Novel (!!!!) in its year-end Books to Give Thanks For list.

Of course, it’s not everyone cup of tea.

And some people thought that a book that features black and queer characters shouldn’t even exist. On the release day, Word Horde put up an ad that highlighted the cast of the novel. Trolls came a’ trolling. Most of the negative comments were nuked. But one slipped through

Honestly, the sentiments expressed in this bit of hate mail are why books with minorities,–sexual, gender, racial–are so important.

#awardeligibilitypost

I’m really proud of my debut novel A SPECTRAL HUE. It’s been getting some amazing reviews. I’d love for it to be considered for awards (in spite of being promotion shy).

Nomination committees can contact the publisher, Word Horde, at publicity[at]wordhorde.com for info about the book.

52

51 was a year of firsts. I published my first adult novel. I read in New York City (twice!)

52 will be even better. Another major project will be announced shortly.

Thanks to everyone who edited, published, read, posted reviews and/or came out to see me.

Scenes a from quasi-book tour

Here are some pictures from the whirlwind quasi-tour promoting A SPECTRAL HUE. 3 cites (DC, Baltimore, New York), a variety of venues (from the Library of Congress to a DIY performance space plus a Skyped book club visit in Dallas) and a whole lot of meeting readers and other writers. I’m open to talk to classes, book clubs and readings. Thanks to everyone who set up the events, and those who attended!

Nnedi Okorafor and me at the Baltimore Book Festival
Reading at Club Cumming in NYC
Reading at Club Cumming in NYC
Bureau of General Service-Queer Division Bookstore

Mini Book Tour, New York City Edition

Reading at Club Cumming. Photos by Christopher Herrmann

Thanks to everyone who came out to hear me read at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division bookstore and at the Enclave Reading Series at Club Cumming this past weekend. A special thanks to my co-reader Trebor Healey (who set up the BGSQD reading) and Jason Napoli Brooks, who curated the Enclave reading series.

BGSQD Reading. Photo by Christopher Herrmann

“A Spectral Hue” is featured in this Tor article on Queer Communities in Fiction….

The talented Ginn Hale included my book alongside work by Kai Ashante Wilson, Lara Elena Donnelly, Laurie J Marks, Alexis Hall, Alex Acks and Sarah Gailey. You can read the article here.

A reminder: I will be in NYC this weekend for two events: Friday at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division and Sunday at Club Cumming as a part of the Enclave reading series.