Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Race, the final frontier?

Vanessa E Jones just published a piece on race and sci-fi/fantasy in The Boston Globe. I'm happy to say that Acacia: The War with the Mein is mentioned throughout and that I'm quoted a few times. It's a good piece as such things go, but as with any newspaper article on a complex subject I'm left aware of how very much wasn't discussed. They've got such limited space to work with, I guess, so it's to be expected. Looks like the content got picked up in abbreviated form in The Wall Street Journal Online also.

Hey, these are pretty nice mentions. I do have the final quote in The Globe piece also. Only thing is that the words I'm quoted as saying don't quite make sense to me. I know what I meant and what I think I actually said, but that's not exactly what's written there. Again, though, that's not much of a complaint. All in all I'd thank Ms. Jones for including me. (See how easy-going I am?)

As to what the article says, any thoughts?

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Signed Copies

Hey, I wanted to give a shout out to a few places that have signed copies of Acacia: The War with the Mein in stock. They're easily ordered from any of these folks. In the US they are:

Adventures Underground (Actually, they don't have the books yet. There sitting here before me on the floor. But I'll sign them and turn them around lickety-split.)

Mysterious Galaxy Books also has some. (They have a lot, actually. I signed them at Comic-Con and took great pleasure in. They're a very cool store worked by great folks - and they clearly have good taste.)

There are also couple of dealers with signed copies in the UK, if you happen to be on that side of the pond. You could try Carl Marsh (whose eBay name is Bigfootcomic), or Graham Littlefield (also know as Gralat on eBay and as Witch Spell Books at ABE).

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Sunday, July 29, 2007


...was pretty great. I know I should post a bunch of stuff about it, but I actually feel a bit tired, fatigued. What can I say? I saw a lot of people, costumes, buxom anime vixens, Hollywood folks, video game promotions, authors, oh, and a few comics. All the stuff you'd expect. I realized now that I didn't even take any pictures. Sorry about that. (Mel Odom was kind enough to send the one below.)

Highlights? Umm...

The panel with Bob Salvatore (very friendly), Harry Turtledove (great wry sense of humor), Mel Odom (generous and funny), David Keck (continuous humor machine) and Peter David (who apparently lost enough weight recently to constitute another humor being). Jacqueline Carey didn't show (and when this was announced a troop of readers jumped ship).

(That's Mel in the front, followed by Dave Keck, myself, Bob Salvatore and Harry Turtledove up top.)

My signing-hour giving away Acacia: The War with the Mein samplers. That was fun. The Bantam/Del Rey handlers managed to rope in a continuous line for the entire hour. Sign, smile, sign. Remember humor. Smile again. Sign, sign... At the end of it I felt like my face was frozen in demented greeting ala the Joker. Good stuff, though.

People gazing. Yep. That was good fun. Some folks take the costume thing very seriously.

And there was my Hollywood taster evening. Hooked up with a producer (who I won't name and whom I know for reasons I can't yet divulge) and got into the 300 DVD launch/Blade Runner Director's cut event. Crazy stuff. They booked an entire stadium for the event and showed 300 amidst lots of fan fare. I, luckily, got a little badge that meant I could sojourn in the VIP area. That basically means free drinks, lots of torch-like things, muscle-bound guys in Spartan gear and exotic dancers writhing atop podiums to some sinuous rhythms. Very interesting.

Had an absurdly expensive dinner (by my standards) and shared the table with Sean Young (looking very good and still, well, freakishly young). I do mean "shared the table". We didn't talk or anything because I caught on quick that there was an invisible barrier that separated the two halves of the table. It could've hurt me if I tried to breach it.

Then spent the later hours of the evening at a William Morris (the talent agency) rooftop party. More music and torches. More free drinks. Contingents of shockingly young studio execs (and frighteningly old ones, also, for that matter) amidst small flocks of hot chicks.

I must admit that everyone I met that evening seemed to actually have made a movie or written a screenplay or dated Winona Ryder or something equally distinguished. Overall it seemed pretty strange stuff, punctuated by a lot of standing in lines that are set apart by a rather complicated caste system. I was temporarily one of the chosen, yes, but still I felt the stares of sad folks in the plebeian lines with a certain amount of empathy. (There but for the grace of my producer friend go I - that sort of thing.) Very interesting.

Anyway, I'm home now and working on returning to normal. I'm actually off to buy a bread machine. That should aid the return to domesticity.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Off to Comic-Con!

That's me. Off to check out Comic-Con and be checked out a bit too, I hope. If I get a chance I'll post some progress reports. There are some potentially very interesting things to come out of this.

Perhaps I'll see you there? Please do track me down among the throng if you are in attendance. We'll have great fun!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

USA Today Reviewed Acacia

Listen to Acacia!

Okay, this is a post in two parts. First I wrote this...

SFFAudio mentions the audio version of Acacia in an announcement about a lot of new audio titles. It's nice to see glimpses of the reality of this thing, especially as I haven't heard the finished product myself. I did gasp at the info, though. 29 hours and 30 minutes? Yikes. Really? Reminds me that the book is actually a lot longer than it looks. The typeface and the paper make for a lean hardback. I like that, although I also think it accounts for why some readers find it takes them a lot longer to finish than they'd have thought...

Anyway, I really look forward to hearing it. Nothing like having someone else bring your words alive...

And then I wrote this...

Wait, scratch that. I have listened to it! I just went over to the Tantor Media Website and found it. Here's a link to the page, and there's a MP3 clip from early in the novel. It's the second half of the first Leeka scene! I love it. Thank you, Mr. Hill, for bringing your voice talents to the Known World.

Have a listen, folks, and let me know what you think.


Monday, July 23, 2007

The Washington Post

Rachel Hartigan Shea (a senior editor of Book World, no less) wrote a lovely review of Acacia. It was a great pleasure to read (at high-speed the first time; more carefully thereafter). She managed to focus only on the plot points of the first part of the book, while finding lots of ways to say good things about the entirety of it.

Early on she writes... From the first pages of Acacia, Durham, a respected historical novelist, demonstrates that he is a master of the fantasy epic.

I'd never say that myself ("master", heehee), but I don't mind repeating it if somebody else says it. Interestingly, though, she closes with... How will it all end? If the first volume of this projected series is any indication, in brilliant -- and brutal -- defiance of fantasy conventions.

I love that too. On one hand firmly a writer of fantasy; on the other working in defiance of fantasy conventions. That's a groovy balance, and I'm happy if some out there think I'm making it work.

You'd almost think this fantasy stuff can have some substantial bite to it.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Down from on Top

Yikes. We had a great time in the mountains, but I'm hobbling around now like an old geezer. You would be too - well, I'd like to think so, at least - if you'd driven up from flat Fresno to 7,500 feet, and from there hiked up to camp at a high, alpine lake at 10,000 feet! It was kinda epic, the first time we've done this sort of thing as a family. The kids were great. Absolutely great. It was decidedly the workout of their young lives, but they ate up the trail. (Granted, at some point during the second night they both hurled. Reaction to the fatigue and the altitude, I figure. But beyond that they honestly didn't complain.)

I won't go on about it here, but if you'd like a glimpse of things Durham you could click over to Girl Cat Snoozing, where my wife will be posting about the trip as well - with pictures! (Try clicking on the last photo. It looks like it's just a boulder field, but my son and daughter are in there somewhere.)


Friday, July 20, 2007

Heading for the Top...

No, not of the bestseller charts. Not yet, at least. This is just a wee note to say that the Durham family is about to embark on a fabulous weekend. The car is packed and we're heading into Sequoia National Park for a backcountry camping trip! We'll be hiking in to a high lake at around 9000 feet, close to the stars. Yes, this does mean I'll be missing up-to-the-moment Potter updates. I'm okay with that, though. Instead, we'll read aloud from The Hobbit and enjoy alpine silence, play cards and talk and go marmot spotting. Awesome. I'll check back in when I get back.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harry Potter and the Death of Reading?

I've been thinking a lot about Harry these last few days, but not as a gushing fan-boy. (I hope that doesn't come as a terrible surprise to anyone.) My kids love Potter, so I'm happy enough to see them get hours of enjoyment from Rowling's work. (Even more important - I'm proud to say they also read and listen to lots of other writers as well: Roald Dahl, Cornelia Funke, Ursula K LeGuin, MI McAllister, SF Said, Jonathan Stroud, for example.)

When I think of Potter these days, though, it's as a novelist with a new book out. That's a fortunate place to be in many ways, but it's not easy staying on your feet with the Potter juggernaut eclipsing all other books in terms of press, marketing and review attention. An awful lot of books aren't going to be getting the attention they might have this summer because there's simply not enough space for Harry and everyone else in the dwindling slots still available for book-talk. Honestly, there's never enough space and it's just getting worse, but the release of a new Potter book is a perfect storm of a media event that not all authors are going to be happy about. I'm not sure all readers should be happy about it either.

Am I jealous? Naw, forget about that. Rowling's success is so enormous that I've absolutely no inkling of how to measure it, no feeling at all that I'd want it. I'd love to be a bestseller, sure. Love to see a movie of my work made, you bet. But I dream of these things for a specific purpose: to provide me the security to just write for a living and know that I'm connecting with a good number of people. That, in itself, escapes most people who aspire to it. The heights that JK has reached seem a bit like outer space to me, and I've no desire to be an astronaut. (There's no oxygen up there, for one thing.) A much, much more modest level of bestsellerdom is a lofty enough goal for me.

With that modest desire in mind... I am happy to say that I'll still be garnering some attention even within this tumult. The Washington Post will be reviewing Acacia: The War with the Mein this Sunday. Will they be kind? I'm hoping, but I haven't seen it yet.

What I have seen, though, is an essay by Ron Charles (the senior editor of the Post's Book World) from a few days ago. It's called "Harry Potter and the Death of Reading". He says some interesting things. There's lots of quotable stuff, but this just jumped out at me. In arguing that Harry Potter doesn't seem to have led to any increase in reading, Charles writes...

The vast majority of adults who tell me they love "Harry Potter" never move on to Susanna Clarke's enchanting "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," with its haunting exploration of history and sexual longing, or Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials," a dazzling fantasy series that explores philosophical themes (including a scathing assault on organized religion) that make Rowling's little world of good vs. evil look, well, childish. And what about the dozens of other brilliant fantasy authors who could take them places that little Harry never dreamed of?

Hmm... Take a look at the whole thing and let me know what you think.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Revolution Science Fiction

RevolutionSF has shown me love in several ways. They made Acacia: The War with the Mein the front page feature! At the moment it's HERE, with the Acacia map used prominently. If you click on the map it takes you to the "Baker's Dozen" interview I did with Rick Klaw. Nice. This would've been cool enough, especially as I think their site is great, smart and witty and well put together. It gets better, though.

They have a review up by Peggy Hailey. She talks about approaching the book warily, thinking she was largely done with epic fantasy quests and Book One's of new series, and especially with long Book One's. That is, of course, a scary way to start a review - from the author's perspective...

Ah, but what gratification follows! She liked the book, quite a bit it seems. Among other generous things, she writes...

"David Anthony Durham has pulled off something remarkable: a huge, sprawling epic that manages to weave together history, politics, intrigue and thunderous action scenes without ever losing track of the multitudes of finely-drawn characters."

Double nice.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Interview on The Dragon Page

My first podcast interview is up now on The Dragon Page. It was good fun to do a few weeks ago, although of course as soon as I got off the phone I thought of all sorts of smart stuff I should've said... But such is always the case. I'm brilliant after-the-fact.

If you're interested, though, please listen. Actually, The Dragon Page is doing double-barrelled interviews. I'm paired with Anne McCaffrey, no less! You can check it out here.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Anne Groell Interview

Noticed this on The Swivet. It's an interview with Bantam editor Anne Groell at SF Canada. She talks about the genre, about publishing in general, about being an editor. By the way, I've long thought aspiring writers should know something about the lives of the people that get their books into print. I don't mean get bogged down in only being focussed on the business, but I do think it's a mistake - one our MFA programs often make - to ignore the realities of the publishing industry. Anne dishes out a little reality, among it...

"Yeah, but the problem is that publishing is a business and, as such, requires profits. People aren't buying books like they used to, and we have to reflect that in our staffing, and in the decisions we make... Our decisions are based on the market, and - in many ways - the market is tough out there right now."

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fantasy Debut

Tia Nevitt has a very cool blog called Fantasy Debut running. It features works by new fantasy authors. Tia's smart, and it's a fun and informative blog. Okay, sure, at the moment she's reading Acacia: The War with the Mein. That's nice, too. But even after that I encourage you to check it out.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Swivet

Speaking of La Gringa (which I often find myself doing), she's hosting an Acacia giveaway on her blog, The Swivet. It's a great blog, filled with wit, publishing insider stuff and a fair amount of La Gringa adventures. Oh, the trials and tribulations...

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Comic-Con is a Definite

Yep, I'm going. Got plane tickets and hotel lined up. Even have a daily allowance from Doubleday of... Oh, I forget how much, but surely it'll cover my needs. Michael Chabon once gave me this bit of advice regarding touring/going to events. He said, "Mini-bar". At the time I just smiled and nodded, not even sure what he meant. Never in my upbringing had it occured to me that I'd ever crack the seal on that little fridge and drink from the lovely little overpriced bottles and munch those enormous cashews... But times have changed. I've learned.

But anyway, yes, I'm going to the massive event that is Comic-Con in San Diego, and I am going to be on that panel with some heavyweights. Here's the description...

Friday 11:00-12:00 She/He Who Understands History Gets to Rewrite It - Authors discuss how an appreciation of world history and modern events as well as mythology influences and colors their worlds of fantasy, science fiction, and alternate realities. Panelists Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel's Legacy series), David Anthony Durham (Acacia: Book One: The War with the Mein ), David Keck (In the Eye of Heaven), Harry Turtledove ( Settling Accounts: In at the Death), Peter David (Darkness of the Light), R.A. Salvatore (The Ancient), and Mel Odom (Quest for the Trilogy) adapt and build on world events for their own purposes. Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy moderates. Room 8

Cool. And funny, actually, that even while I was firmly an "historical" novelist trying to follow the facts as best I could I still felt there was an element of fantasy in it. For that matter, though, I think there's an element of fantasy in all fiction. It's all make believe, yes? I sense in this the seed for what I might have to say...

Oh, and I'll be going to Random House dinner that evening. I won't quite believe it until it happens, but I may be sitting at a table with a writer I greatly admire, one that you'll surely recognize by name... Ah, perhaps I should refrain from naming said author. It may not even happen. But if it does I'll let you know.

By the way, if you happen to be there please come by and see me. I'll be at the Bantam/Dell Booth #1230 on Thursday from 3:00 to 4:00 PM. I'll be signing copies of a free collector's edition sampler of Acacia: The War with the Mein that Doubleday had made up specially for ReaderCon and Comic-Con; it contains the first third of the book and a wee letter from me. I've never seen the thing, but I've been told it's lovely. (La Gringa, don't I merit a copy?)

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Sunday, July 08, 2007


As promised, La Gringa, a photo of the new kitten...

Friday, July 06, 2007


The Rocky Mountain News has Acacia: The War with the Mein as one of it's Picks of the Week. Very kind. What really sounds interesting, though, is one of the other picks: Raven Black by Ann Cleaves. It's a crime novel set in the Shetland Isles, with the main detective being of Spanish origin. This is of interest to me because my wife and all her siblings were born in Shetland. Her parents live back there now and I've had the pleasure of visiting a couple times. Such an unusual place, and a very interesting setting for crime! Laughton, do you know this book/author? Curious as to an islander's take on it.

You might want to check out Kirkus Review's special edition on sci-fi and fantasy fiction. Yes, Acacia is mentioned, but it's a well put together collection of reviews, interviews and recommendations. The tone is quite upbeat in terms of arguing that sci-fi and fantasy is in a good place right now, with lots of new, young authors joining the mix. Amen to that.

Also, Gray Hunter wrote an Acacia review for Blogcritics Magazine.

Other than that, we're settling in to Fresno. Temps around 115'. Killed a Black Widow yesterday. Picked up a new kitten. Life goes on...


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July Fourth

Hello and Happy Fourth of July!

I've not blogged for a few days because we were in the midst of moving house again. (No, I wasn't just fleeing the Black Widow!) I'm in Fresno now, and there are plenty of Widows here. We decided that we needed to be in town in preparation for my teaching in the MFA program here at Cal State. So the move has taken up a good bit of my energy these last few days. But we're here now, and we're gonna stay put for a while.

As for Acacia: The War with the Mein news, I was pleased with a kind mention in the Contra Costa Times. It was a bit of a fantasy/sci-fi roundup, lead by Patrick Rothfuss and with the likes of Harry Turtledove and John Scalzi in there as well.

I also came across a heartfelt blog post by a guy named Joey Clifton. He's not a reviewer or author or anything like that. He's a reader, though. He writes about Gabriel's Story as a sort of life changing book for him. That's wonderful to hear, and wonderful to be reminded that these books have lives and interactions of their own that are happening daily. Coming across Joey's post was a glimpse into that reality, and I'm thankful for it.

On another note, a review I wrote of Clare Clark's The Nature of Monsters appeared in today's Washington Post. You can check it out here. For my part I had quite mixed feelings about the book, which I discuss in the review. I'm happy to say that lots of others like her work unreservedly, though. Why am I happy to say that? Because I know how hard it is to write novels, and I hope that anyone who manages to do it also manages to connect with some readers.

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