Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Reality Behind Fantasy Fiction

Is it just me, or does it seem like fantasy is getting more air time in the mainstream world? Michael Chabon, Lev Grossman, Margaret Atwood have all been on NPR recently. And today I was very pleased to hear Ann and Jeff VanderMeer chatting with Rick Kleffel. Have a listen...

Love it. Makes me want to check out their house in person!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Neth on The Other Lands

Neth Space has just put up a review of The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2).

It's a rather nice one, and it's HERE.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankful For Stuff

I'm still walking around feeling thankful, but I'll resist the urge to list all the reasons why here. But just know that I am... thankful... for stuff. Really.

And now, random things...

The Crotchety Old Fan has a rather exhaustive collection of video from the reading I did with Jeff VanderMeer and Paul Tremblay. I'm not saying you should, but if you wanted to talk a look you could do so HERE. For another angle on the same thing, you could check out Paul Tremblay's post on the same material HERE.

And then there's the random old bit of news that I come across on the internets some time... Like, this piece in Screen No, it's not film news on Acacia. It's film news on my first novel, Gabriel's Story. But don't get me wrong. It's not new news. It's like a year and a half old and there haven't been any new developments (that I'm aware of) since. It's just that I never saw it before.

It did provide me with a new tidbit: the working title. Yes, friends, Gabriel's Story isn't what they're calling it. Instead, it's The Horseman!

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Odyssey Bookshop Reading

Another reading in the not too distant future...

I'll be at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley Massachusetts on Dec 3rd, at 7pm. That's a Thursday. If, by any chance, you're local enough to make it out please come by and say hello!

Here's the Bookstore's Calender.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009 on Terres Etrangeres has just reviewed the French edition of The Other Lands!

You can read the review HERE.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Two Things For Today

One (weeping) I'm going to be dropping Gudrun off at the airport in Boston this afternoon. She's off to Scotland for two weeks to visit with her brand new niece, Georgia. That means I'm the dad with two kids for a while. Advice welcome, of course.

Two (smiling) while I'm still in Boston I'll be slipping over to Borders to read with Jeff VanderMeer and Paul G. Tremblay! It'll be great fun, a night on the town and all that. Join us if you're nearby!

(Hey, anyone seen my kids? I seem to have misplaced them already...)

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interview, Part Two

The second part of my interview with Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen has just gone up. It's HERE!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Babel Clash Post

I just put up a new post at Babel Clash, about genre hopping this time. It's HERE if you're interested.

Posting it reminds me to mention that my reading with Jeff VanderMeer and Paul G. Tremblay is coming up. It's this Friday in Boston. (Details are in this post.) If you happen to be in the area, please stop by!

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Monday, November 16, 2009


I've been a George Pelecanos fan for a few years now. After reading exclusively "literary" fiction as a graduate student, it was reading crime novels that first reintroduced me to the genres. Very glad it did, of course, since sff wasn't far behind.

Writers like George Pelecanos helped me make the transition. His novels are always set in and around Washington DC, featuring black characters. He's got quite a few novels to his name now, most recently The Way Home, The Turnaround, The Night Gardener, and Drama City. He's also one of the cats behind the HBO series The Wire, which I enjoyed each and every season of. I met him a couple months ago, and was pleased to hear he's working on a new TV series. I forget what it's called, but I'll keep an eye out for it.

Anyway, that's all part of my introduction to talking about a scene from The Night Gardener. The other part is... Remember that panel from hell I was on back at Worldcon? One of the many unfortunate aspects of that panel included a woman from the audience who - after claiming that she didn't "see" race - then goes on to talk about what she does when she sees a thug-looking kid "jive walking" (I can't swear she said that, but her body language at that moment came pretty close). What she does is to cross the street.

Now, part of what I wanted to say in response is that I don't believe she does see body language and reacts to it, but somehow doesn't see or react to a person's color. What I did manage to say on the spot was that I thought she was making some huge assumptions there. For one, she was assuming that a ghetto walk indicates a predilection to crime. Two is that such a walk is at all intended to send signals to her. I'd argue that a young man's walk - and his hair and his clothes and his music - is part of a survival dialogue between him and other young men. It can all mean a lot of things, but none of it means you can know (or should assume) what's going on in that young man's head.

That's why I was so pleased when I read this scene from The Night Gardener. The book is full of scenes in which Ramone, a white cop, worries about his teenage son - who is mixed race. We see them at home, with mother and father offering all the love and support they can, but we also get glimpses of the son, Diego, having to survive among his peers on the street and in school. Give this a read. Ramone has just stopped off to talk to his son briefly at a basketball court, where Diego was playing with his friends...

Ramone put his arm around Diego's shoulders and the two of them drifted down to the street. Diego returned to the court a few minutes later, and Ramone got in the Tahoe and drove off.

"Detective Ramone," said Shaka. "Man looked serious today."

"Thought he was gonna take you down to the station, something," said Ronald Spriggs.

"What he want?" said Richard.

He told me to get home before dark. He asked me how school went today. He told me he loves me. The same way my mom always does before she hangs up the phone.

"Nothing much," said Diego to Richard. "He just told me to beat you Bamas to within an inch of your lives."

"You mother's a Bama," said Ronald.

Diego said, "Lemme see that rock."

And then the play ball again. It's characteristically brief, straightforward, and more insightful than it may seem. Blink and you'll miss how much Pelecanos is really delving into.

See why this scene means so much to me? It's exactly the kind of thing I was talking about, wishing that person at Worldcon would consider. Diego may have a family and inner life that's about love and support, but outside of his home he needs to act, talk, move in a certain way, with body language and attitude that's likely to look aggressive. You can't glance at him on the street and know what his inner life is like. You can't know if he's thinking about crime and drugs, or about how much he loves his parents, or about being late for band practice...

That's all, but I think it's a lot.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

IBT Delivered

Just a small note as I exhale...

Today, I delivered my three part story about my character, Infamous Black Tongue, to George RR Martin and Melinda Snodgrass for the upcoming Wild Cards novel, Fort Freak. I'm kinda pleased with it: glad to be done and to deliver on exactly the assigned delivery date, and also feeling pretty good about what I came up with. It's still me, but it's me writing in a modern world for once, with a little bit of humor, quite a few scales and tales, some gang fights, jail time, some reptilian romance, and a flamethrower...

Pretty good fun. And now my slate is clear again. Back to Acacia 3!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Babel Clash

Just wanted to mention that some of my blogging this week is happening over at Babel Clash, the Borders Scifi blog. I'm a guest for the next week or so, along with Jeff VanderMeer, Paul Tremblay and Annalee Newitz. Jeff, Paul and me are reading in Boston next Friday, and this is part of the build up to that.

The blog is HERE. Pop over and say hi!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Guardian on Waterstone's

Interesting article in the Guardian. It's about book selling in Britain. There are, of course, a lot of parallels to the US industry. This is particularly interesting for me as I have fond memories of Waterstones. I wrote a bit of Pride of Carthage in one on Prince's Street in Edinburgh...

The article is HERE. Lots of comments follow it, and by no means do they all commiserate with the author!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I just got my first invite to Boskone, the regional sci-fi conference based in Boston. I've never been, but I'd been thinking I was going to go, especially since I'm now based in Massachusetts. So the invitation is very welcome. I'm thinking I'll be there. It's on February 12-14th, at the Westin Waterfront.

My friend John Picacio, artist extraordinaire, will be on hand as one of the guests of honor. Alastair Reynolds will be there as the writer guest of honor. Looks like Lois Mcmaster Bujold will also be in attendance. I'll just be there as me, but I'm cool with that. If you happen to be in the Boston area consider stopping in. I'll post here when I know what panels and/or activities I'll be involved in.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

A Revelation

I had one. I've been writing, folks, working on Book Three. I've a long, long way to go still. I mean a long way to go. But that's not anything I haven't budgeted for. I'm still planning on delivering this one with about the same gap as I had between books 1 and 2. Consistency, that's what I'm going for. But in this case that also means I'm in the fairly early stages of cranking this one out.

Thing is, I've been living with something of a conundrum for about the last nine months. I knew one thing that was meant to be the climatic event of one of the story lines. It's solid. It's there. It's the culmination of three book's worth of character and plot and history work. It's big.

Other thing is... I had this other plot element that in introduced in the first chapter. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Had an idea for how it tied in to the very end of the book, but the problem was that tie-in clashed with the previously mentioned conclusion. Seemed like I couldn't have them both. Until last night.

I gave my wife some stuff from the new book to read. She did. We were in the kitchen talking about it, and I got to mentioning this clashing plot idea problem. I opened my mouth and said, "So obviously it's not going to work to have both. I've tried but I ca..."

I literally paused in mid-sentence. Why? Because for no good reason at all I'd just figured out how I could have both things. Between beginning that sentence and getting four words into it the answer jumped out of hiding and starting do a shimmying hula hop victory dance right in front of my face. Just like that.


And that, friends, is a bit of my creative process. I kissed the wife and danced around myself, and then stood at the sliding door staring out at the backyard for a while, amazed at how this whole process works.

I got my doubled-barrel ending. I'm very, very pleased about that.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Amazon's Top 10 Books of 2009: Science Fiction & Fantasy just released it's editor's choices of the top books of the year. (Credit goes to io9 for alerting me to this.) Within that, they have a list featuring their top SFF books. Guess who's on it?

Well... Ah... Cherie Priest. (Lovely person with what sounds like a terrific book.) Catherynne Valente. (Wonderful.) Jonathan Strahan. (Very nice chap.) Caitlin R. Kiernan. (Don't know her, but I'm sure she's lovely.) Peter Straub (Just heard him on NPR, sounds cool enough.)

Ah... and David Anthony Durham! The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2) is at number 3 (not that the numerical order necessarily counts). I'm rather chuffed about this. I don't know if I'll be making any other end of the year lists, but I've made one - and a rather substantial one! I can now kick back and sit on my bum and enjoy my success for a year or two...

Not! I've got work to do. Don't worry, I'm on it!

Check out the list. It's interesting. A number of titles I hadn't heard of at all...

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Thank You Mr. Riordan

My kids have gone mad. They've turned into glazed-eyed zombies. They've shut out the physical world and ventured into a realm in which shouts, prods, invitations to dine and threats of punishment cannot reach them. What's caused this?

Rick Riordan and his creation Percy Jackson. They're the culprits. Because of them my kids have spent the last three weeks inhaling tales of Greek gods run amuck in the modern world. It's been wild, and very cool to watch.

My kids have always had books read to them. Pretty much everyday of their lives, starting with picture books and then early chapter books, and then stuff like Harry and Eragon and Kay Meyer's series. They've listened to tons of audiobooks, and Maya (age 10) has been reading on her own for awhile now, starting with Lily Quench series, into the Mistmantle Chronicles and Varjak Paw (one of her favorites). But there's something about Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series that clicked for them in a different way.

Perhaps part of it is that Sage (age 8) is right there behind her, sharing the same series with her. Sage was somewhat more hesitant coming to reading. He still remembers and talks about when he feared he'd never be a very good reader. We're homeschooling them, but we make sure to check the school curriculum to see what they'd be doing in school. Looking at the books he'd be reading in school this fall was a bit depressing. They didn't look very... interesting, fun, challenging. They looked dead boring, really. I'm sure that's not the case in total, but it was the impression that we walked away from - and I think it's the impression Sage himself had.

Fast forward a few months, put a book in his hands that 1) he sees his sister enjoying and 2) is filled with action and adventure and 3) he makes the breakthrough. He reads! He doesn't even notice that the series is for 6th to 9th graders, while he's the equivalent of a 3rd grader! He just devours the rather large books like he's starving and they're just the food he's been dreaming about.

Which I guess they are, really.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

TOL Available At Audible!

Yes, it's finally there. The Other Lands is now downloadable at! I'm very happy about this, as it seems like a lot of the folks that enjoyed The War With The Mein did so by listening to Dick Hill's narration. They can now continue to do that with the new book!

If you're interested, please check it out HERE.

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