Small Beer Podcast 13: Julie Day Interviews Jennifer Stevenson

Thu 27 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Julie

Trash Sex Magic cover - click to view full sizeJennifer Stevenson is a fantasy author, a romance writer and a former roller derby queen, so it should be no surprise that our interview veered into a discussion of sex and sexual politics. When you add in the fact that we were discussing Jennifer’s book, Trash Sex Magic, the topic of sex became more than an expectation, it became a necessity.

Course, as fun as sex is, there’s always more to the story. The real-life analog of the book’s magical Fox River, the connection between the author’s mother and Raedawn’s mother, Gelia, and even Jennifer’s role in cofounding the Book View Cafe all found their way into our conversation. An interview with Jennifer Stevenson travels fast. Fact is, Jennifer is as much a force of nature as the characters in her novel.

Trash Sex Magic is now available as an audio book through Iambik. (Iambik distribute their audio books out through all the usual channels but for the best price you can’t beat their own site.) Listen to an an excerpt here.

The print edition is available through Small Beer Press and the ebook can be found at Weightless Books. Pick your poison. It’s a great read no matter how you chose to imbibe.

Episode 13: In which Julie Day interviews Jennifer Stevenson, the author of Trash Sex Magic.

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In the mails recently

Tue 25 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Here are pics of a few things that have arrived at the office recently:

  1. Galleys of A Stranger in Olondria — booksellers, meet Sofia and get your copy at the Heartland Fall Forum.
  2. Daniel A. Rabuzzi’s The Indigo Pheasant (read his guest post here).
  3. J. Boyett’s novel Brothel, which arrived with a nice note.
  4. Bike cards from the fabulous artists at Cricket Press in Lexington, Kentucky
  5. Galleys of the two volume Selected Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin.
  6. The first issue of One Teen Story: “The Deadline” by Gayle Forman (subscribe!)
  7. A stack! Made up of . . .
    1. Donny Smith’s new translation of Wenceslao Maldonado’s If Cutting Off the Gorgon’s Head.
    2. A galley of the Subterranean Press edition of Kelly’s Stranger Things Happen with the lovely cover and interior illos by Kathleen Jennings.
    3. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 23, edited by Stephen Jones, which includes Joan Aiken’s story “Hair”
    4. Fantasy & Science Fiction‘s September/October issue featuring Peter Dickinson’s “Troll Blood” as well as stories by Andy Duncan and Richard Butner.
    5. Finished and actual copies of Kij Johnson’s At the Mouth of the River of Bees.


Finished and actual copies of Lydia Millet’s new middle grade novel, The Shimmers in the Night, whose publication day is TODAY!

The Shimmers in The Night

Tue 25 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Big Mouth House, Books, Lydia Millet | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

September 2012 | 256pp · 978-1-931520-78-2 · trade cloth · $16.95 | 978-1-931520-79-9 · ebook · $9.95

December 2016: Special offer prices as we prepare for the final book in the series The Bodies of the Ancients.

The Fires Beneath the Sea
Hardcover: $16.95 $9.95
Paperback: $12 $5.99 $5.99

The Shimmers in the Night
Hardcover: $16.95  $9.95

The Fires Beneath the Sea
The Shimmers in the Night
2 Hardcovers @ 50% off: $33.90 Buy now: $16.95

The Fires Beneath the Sea
The Shimmers in the Night
The Bodies of the Ancients
Hardcovers: $50.85 Buy now: $24.95

This might be the worst weekend of Cara’s life. Her mother is still missing and her brother Jax is off at “smart kid boot camp” in Boston. When he texts Cara asking to be rescued, she and her two best friends, Hayley and Jaye, go into action. The so-called boot camp is actually a front for Cara’s mother’s organization, which is fighting a force which brooks no dissent against its wish to make the planet over in its own image—to “clean it up,” leaving no space for anything else, animal, insect, or human.

And human doesn’t really mean what everyone thinks it does. . . .

The three girls have to escape a new elemental threat, “Burners,” and learn about the enemy’s horrifying plan to “hollow out” people and use them as weapons.

Tension ratchets up as Cara and her friends learn more about the threat their mother is fighting, about how unusual Cara’s mother really is, about how some of the people they’ve known all their lives might be their enemies, about what it means to be human, and most strange and wonderful of all, about the mysterious band of rebels they have suddenly joined.

The Shimmers in the Night is the second thrilling novel in the Dissenters series following The Fires Beneath the Sea.

Lydia Millet on “Where I Write
Lydia Millet interviewed by William Blake on The Nervous Breakdown.

“It is the week before Halloween and Cara’s younger brother, Jax, is off to Cambridge for a two-week stint at a “genius-kid” camp. He has special abilities that allow him to read minds (or in other words, “ping” them). Cara is busy herself, leaving to go out of town for a competitive swim meet with her friends. She is there when Jax texts her for help, “SCARED TELL NO 1 PLZ COME!” She finds a way to secretly leave, going unnoticed by her coach and Mrs. M. Cara soon enters a world of men with fire in their mouth; people with angel wings; and a brother that has been hollowed to be used as a weapon. Fortunately, Cara recruits her friends and they all work together in fighting the dark forces. This second book in this new fantasy series will not disappoint. Characters are given enough dimension that the fantasy elements are believable. Readers will identify with Cara’s strong ties to her family and friends, who find out that people they might have known for most of their lives are closer to being their enemies. Readers will want to leave the lights on well after finishing this book as the detail depicted will create similarities in your mind to Clive Barker’s Abarat books. Readers will likely want Cara on their team as they jump, like Alice down the rabbit hole, through the guide book that turns into a window through another world.”

“The seemingly three-tiered conflict that emerged in The Fires Beneath the Sea (2011) coalesces into a single war. . . . Cara and her brothers (though not their oblivious dad) know their mom’s involved in a confrontation that connects murderous mythical creatures with global warming. Cara leaves Cape Cod for a Boston swim meet, but a frightened text from Jax (a classic genius-younger-brother archetype–think Charles Wallace from A Wrinkle in Time) says he’s endangered at his Cambridge genius-kid camp. She sneaks off to fetch him, and a man with flames inside his mouth accosts her on the subway. He’s a Burner, an elemental who belongs to the army of the Cold. The Cold steals people’s consciousnesses (including Jax’s) and uses their bodies as “hollows” to serve his Carbon War, which is acidifying oceans and extinguishing species. . . . Nicely serious eco-fantasy. . . .”
Kirkus Reviews

Upcoming Appearances

Lydia Millet is the author of many novels, including My Happy Life (PEN-USA Award winner), Oh Pure and Radiant Heart (shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award), and Ghost Lights. Her short story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She works at an endangered-species protection group and has just been named a Guggenheim fellow. The Shimmers in the Night is the second book in the Dissenters series. The first book, The Fires Beneath the Sea has just come out in paperback.

Cover by Sharon McGill.
Author photo by Ivory Orchid Photography.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Millet, Lydia, 1968-
The shimmers in the night : a novel / Lydia Millet. — 1st ed.
p. cm.
Summary: “Cara’s mother is still missing. When her brother Jax texts her from “smart kid’s boot camp” in Boston, Cara and her two best friends go to the rescue. But the camp is a front for Cara’s mother’s organization who are fighting against a force who wants to make the planet over in its own image, which will leave no space for anything else, animal, insect, or human”– Provided by publisher.
ISBN 978-1-931520-78-2 (hardback) — ISBN 978-1-931520-79-9 (ebook)
[1. Supernatural–Fiction. 2. Brothers and sisters–Fiction. 3. Psychic ability–Fiction. 4. Missing persons–Fiction. 5. Family life–Massachusetts–Fiction. 6. Cape Cod (Mass.)–Fiction.]  I. Title.
PZ7.M5998Shi 2012

At the Mouth . . . on NPR

Mon 24 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Quick: click and read Alan Cheuse’s lovely allusive review of Kij Johnson’s collection At the Mouth of the River of Bees:

Ursula Le Guin comes immediately to mind when you turn the pages of Kij Johnson’s first book of short stories, her debut collection is that impressive. The title piece has that wonderful power we hope for in all fiction we read, the surprising imaginative leap that takes us to recognize the marvelous in the everyday.

You have a few more chances to catch Kij at a reading or on the radio—Twin Cities folks please note the new reading just added:

9/26    Writers Voice interview air date
9/29    7 p.m. Ad Astra Books & Coffee House, 141 N. Santa Fe, Salina, KS 67401
10/9    Quail Ridge Books, Ridgewood Shopping Center, 3522 Wade Avenue, Raleigh, NC
11/24  1 p.m. Uncle Hugo’s Books, 2864 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis MN 55407

In other news, the Goodreads giveaway for Peter Dickinson’s Earth and Air was very successful—now we know how to increase our traffic x 10! Give away great books. Winners’ books will be going out early this week.

What’s the connection between these two books? Cover artist Jackie Morris! Jackie painted both the bee for Kij’s book and the minotaur’s head for Earth and Air. Her blog is fascinating and I strongly recommend you take a look at this recent post which shows a piece of art in development.

What else? Lexington, Kentucky, is a city full of fabulous people! (Although flying Delta was a huge mistake. Urk.) More on that later. For now: bees!

Lastly, coming tomorrow: Julie Day posts a new podcast interview with Jennifer Stevenson, author of Trash Sex Magic.

Joan Aiken, new Wolves editions

Thu 20 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Joan Aiken’s Dido Twite series is celebrating its fiftieth(!) anniversary this year.

There are beautiful new editions coming out in the US and the UK as well as a new audio book, read by Joan’s daughter, Lizza. (You can see all the international editions here!)

There will be events in the USA (at the Bank Street College Auditorium on Oct. 26th) and in the UK (at the Cheltenham Festival, Saturday, October 13.

Peter Dickinson’s new book: Free!

Tue 18 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Ch Ch Ch Check it out! 15 copies. Yes, it is US only for postage reasons, sorry. We will do a LibraryThing give away of ebooks which will be international. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Earth and Air by Peter Dickinson

Earth and Air

by Peter Dickinson

Giveaway ends September 21, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Elephants on the website

Mon 17 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

LCRW may appear next month. We are optimistic. Determined. But we have been all those things before and other deadlines have pushed it aside like a saddle-stitched zine before a three hundred page book, if you get my drift.

SO. While we are considering whether to just publish the next issue of LCRW as a flavor or perhaps a scroll, in the meantime, here is a story, “Elephants of the Platte” by Thomas Israel Hopkins, from a somewhat recent issue, N0. 25, to be precise:

North from New York City up the Hudson; west out the Erie Canal through Utica and Syracuse; transfer at Rochester from a long, thin packet boat to one of the grand old Great Lakes passenger ships across Lake Erie via Cleveland to Toledo; up through Detroit, Lake Saint Clair, and Port Huron; farther north across Lake Huron to Mackinaw City; down the shores of Lake Michigan to Milwaukee and Racine; transfer again at Chicago; down the Tippecanoe to the Wabash to Terre Haute; out through Saint Louis and Kansas City on the Transcontinental Canal along the ruins of Interstate 70; turning up toward Casper and points west on the Nebraska Canal along the ghost map of the old Oregon Trail. The night this happened, that was as far as we’d come.

Read more

Great Lakes Cider & Perry Festival

Thu 13 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Michael

Hi all, I’m Michael. If you fit into the same tiny cross-section of sword/pen/pint-slinging we do, maybe you’ve come across Literary Beer, a blog series on homebrewing I used to write for Small Beer Press. Who knows, maybe I’ll write it again. In the meantime, what you need to know about me is that I really, really like cider, mead, cyser, lager, stout, an ancient style of herbed beer known as gruit, tequila, mezcal, bourbon, scotch, and all kinds of weird things in between, and may here subject you to ruminations on any of the above. I hope you enjoy.

I went to the Great Lakes Cider and Perry Festival last weekend. It’s held at Uncle John’s Cider Mill, among the farmlands just north of Lansing, Michigan. I brewed my first batch of Michigan cider, a cyser I bottled in January, with apples from Uncle John’s orchards. This year they lost their entire crop after the freak (read: new normal) 80 degree weather in March. The trees flowered prematurely, then the buds were all killed by frost–a tragedy. Cider made from this year’s crop will come dear, though that won’t stop me. 100_1325Last year’s crop, anyhow, spent all this year maturing and was present and abundant in all its glory.

My old favorites Farnum Hill, West County and Albemarle were represented. I sampled ciders from Wisconsin, Oregon, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Spain, France, the UK. It was awesome.

I got cheery with a British expat cidermaker living in Ohio (that’s him on the right in the silly hat) whose ciders were really satisfying, a classic English style I’d been looking for since I moved out here. Griffin Cider Works is his label–”Burley Man” was my favorite, 7.5-8% alcohol with rich mouthfeel and sweetness to balance.

I tasted a hopped cider from the much-touted Wandering Aengus in Oregon, which I expected to dislike (hops are for beer!) but turned out to be quite a pleasant, gently bitter reprieve from all the sweet and dry.

Maybe the best American cider I tried was a bourbon barrel aged maple cider from Crow’s Hard Cider in Michigan–a single keg made just for this event, not available in stores.

I sampled a whole bunch of Spanish ciders all from one importer, a most eye-opening experience. They were peppery and funky like Belgian farmhouse ales, but light and richly tart, like nothing else I’ve tasted. Of course! Because they’re made from apple varieties I never knew existed. I drool at the thought. I can’t really get excited about wine or hop regions, but something about cider apples does it for me. Comes of once having lived next to Clarkdale Orchards in Deerfield, MA. I will never eat better apples, unless maybe I go to Spain.

100_1321For me, there is no buzz so heady as a hard cider buzz. There might be, but I’ll never be able to drink enough champagne to find out.

I hear after the tastings are over, the orchardists and cidermakers hang around until the next morning boozing and talking shop. That sounds like a pretty good time. Maybe next year I’ll try to crash, if there is a next year. I hope so.


Elephants of the Platte

Wed 12 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Free Stuff to Read, Short Stories | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

North from New York City up the Hudson; west out the Erie Canal through Utica and Syracuse; transfer at Rochester from a long, thin packet boat to one of the grand old Great Lakes passenger ships across Lake Erie via Cleveland to Toledo; up through Detroit, Lake Saint Clair, and Port Huron; farther north across Lake Huron to Mackinaw City; down the shores of Lake Michigan to Milwaukee and Racine; transfer again at Chicago; down the Tippecanoe to the Wabash to Terre Haute; out through Saint Louis and Kansas City on the Transcontinental Canal along the ruins of Interstate 70; turning up toward Casper and points west on the Nebraska Canal along the ghost map of the old Oregon Trail. The night this happened, that was as far as we’d come. Read more

Peter Dickinson in F&SF; Robert Reddick @ the library

Wed 12 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

How cool is this? Peter Dickinson’s story “Troll Blood” is the above the headline story in F&SF this month. As Gordon points out in the story intro, Peter was last in F&SF in 1955! “Troll Blood” is one of six stories in Peter’s new collection Earth and Air, forthcoming from Big Mouth House. It’s at the printer as I type so it won’t be too long until you can get your hands on it.

Next Saturday, Sept. 15, at 10:30 am one of our fave local authors Robert Redick (have you read The Red Wolf Conspiracy? It’s fab!) is doing a panel this weekend at the Florence library: Writing Fantasy: Reflections on Craft. More info on the Straw Dogs Writers Guild page.

Go read this interview with the one and only Kathleen Jennings by Rowena Cory Daniells. There’s also a giveaway you should enter: “A little ink drawing of a famous quote with a word replaced by “duck” (artist retains right of veto/negotiation on quote, because I don’t have time to draw 14 ducks again – you don’t realise how many ducks that is until you have to draw them, but it is a lot of ducks).”

Top Shelf Comix is having a huge sale.

And that’s it for the open tabs. Ok, there was this crazy NYT story (which I read because I was reading a follow-up story about a restaurant whose owner, Lucy, I worked with nearly 20 years ago(!) in a restaurant in California). The tech story is about a business owner whose CTO apparently tried to start a competing company while still working at the first place, then when he was fired, he tried to take down the company through all the software backdoors he’d built into the system, and when the police, etc., tried to track him down they found he was living off the grid: no taxes filed, no credit cards, etc. Wow.

Kij Johnson on tour

Wed 12 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

At the Mouth of the River of Bees coverThis week we’re celebrating readers all over the world enjoy Kij Johnson’s first (print) book of short stories, At the Mouth of the River of Bees, we’re happy to say that Kij is going to be out there doing some readings.

Should you not happen to be in Minneapolis, Lawrence, Salina, or Raleigh, you can listen to Kij chat with Jonathan Strahan and Gary Wolfe on the Coode Street Podcast and with Patrick Hester at SF Signal and later this month on the Writers Voice.

9/14    DreamHaven Books, 2301 East 38th Street, Minneapolis MN 55406
9/18    7 p.m. The Raven, 6 East 7th St., Lawrence, KS, 66044
9/29    7 p.m. Ad Astra Books & Coffee House, 141 N. Santa Fe, Salina, KS 67401
9/26    Writers Voice interview air date
10/9    Quail Ridge Books, Ridgewood Shopping Center, 3522 Wade Avenue, Raleigh, NC

Don’t have the book? We’ve got all your indie acquisition options here:

DRM-free ebook on Weightless

Support your local bookstore! Find this via IndieBound

Guest post: A Raffle of Laughter on Solemn Occasions by Daniel A. Rabuzzi

Tue 11 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Cover of The Indigo Pheasant: Longing for Yount Volume 2We’re pleased to have this guest post from Daniel A. Rabuzzi to celebrate the publication of the second and concluding novel in his Yount series!

“For the appearance and names of these gods, there is a humorous as well as a serious explanation…for the gods are fond of a joke.
—Socrates in Plato’s Cratylus.

Humorists are not absent from modern fantasy fiction written in English:­ Terry Pratchett and Fletcher Pratt spring immediately to mind, followed quickly by Robert Asprin, Piers Anthony, Martin Millar.  There are others.  The main forms of humor, at least as practiced by those named above, are broad, even when elegantly executed: the farce, the parody, the screwball drama larded with puns and episodic slapstick.  I have a weakness for such modes, but I wonder why the genre in general seems wary of humor and (for the most part) ring-fences the comic from the mainstream of fantasy’s serious purpose.

Of course, the comic sidekick is prevalent in modern fantasy, with Sancho Panza as one of several models.  (“Samwise,” Tolkien tells us, means “half-wise, simple.”)  And we have knaves, wisecrackers and tricksters a-plenty, drawing on traditions from around the globe.  I am particularly partial to Cugel the Clever myself.

A few authors – Ursula K. Le Guin, Nnedi Okorafor, Neil Gaiman, Maurice Sendak, Ray Bradbury­ suffuse their work with mirth and whimsy, no matter that events described may be grim.  Sparrowhawk and Vetch, Zahrah the Windseeker, Coraline (and Richard and Door), Max (and Mickey), Uncle Einar and the other Elliotts in the October Country…they are, as George Meredith in “An Essay on Comedy” wrote about Moliere’s Jourdain and Alceste, “characters steeped in the comic spirit. They quicken the mind through laughter, from coming out of the mind; and the mind accepts them because they are clear interpretations of certain chapters of the Book lying open before us all.”

Otherwise, fantasy hews strenuously to an epic mode that seldom admits humor, except for a dash of rustic or burlesque to highlight the seriousness of the main endeavor.  The diction is high, the tone earnest­there is, after all, a world to save, evil (“Evil”) to be destroyed or, failing that, banished for eons to come, sacrifice to be endured and salvation attained.  When confronting the Sublime, the sacred, the mysterium fascinans, the genre brooks little laughter, certainly not of the mocking kind, no matter how gentle (except when clearly marked and marketed as such, with a sort of invisible disclaimer shrink-wrapped around the cover: “this is a parody, thus acceptable; file it separately, so as not to pollute the noble volumes it lampoons.”).  The agon must be preserved in its purest, most noble essence.

For the genre tends to the conservative: order must be restored, history set right, the king must return.  (Michael Moorcock critiques these tropes effectively in the chapter entitled “Epic Pooh,” in his Wizardry and Wild Romance; A Study of Epic Fantasy ­which also contains sharp insights on wit and humor in fantasy).  Core elements of conservatism, alloyed or half-buried though they may be, run through newer variants of fantasy as well, e.g., urban fantasy or steampunk.

I miss the fantastical equivalents of the comedy of manners, the satire and the absurd, and  the humor implicit in the morose and the somber.

The comedy of manners would seem an ideal theme for fiction of the fantastical.  I was reminded of this by another passage in Meredith’s essay:

“Politically, it is accounted a misfortune for France that her nobles thronged to the Court of Louis Quatorze.  It was a boon to the comic poet.  He had that lively quicksilver world of the animalcule passions, the huge pretensions, the placid absurdities, under his eyes in full activity; vociferous quacks and snapping dupes, hypocrites, posturers, extravagants, pedants, rose-pink ladies and mad grammarians, sonnetteering marquises, highflying mistresses, plain-minded maids, interthreading as in a loom, noisy as at a fair.”

Sylvia Townsend Warner mined this milieu for her Broceliande stories.  I catch a similar droll sensibility, an archness, in the work of Theodora Goss, and that of Diana Wynne Jones, and more distantly of Angela Carter and, in yet another vein, J.K. Rowling.  Oh, and Joan Aiken, about whom Farah Mendlesohn wrote in Rhetorics of Fantasy:  “The acknowledged master of the fantasy of irony must be Joan Aiken, whose short story collections use irony to construct cryptic riddles and English comedies of manners.”  But we need more such, decanters of Erasmus and Moliere, of Dickens and Austen and the Shakespeare of Much Ado and Winter’s Tale.  The tradition is rich outside of our genre (to name just a few: Anne Tyler, Richard Russo, Alison Lurie, Gary Shteyngart…Shteyngart probably qualifies as a genre writer with his Super Sad True Love Story), if that might act as a spur to writers from Within The Tradition.

The absurd and the satirical sit even less comfortably within fantasy, perhaps because the genre does not want to acknowledge the propinquity, for to do so would mar the image of high seriousness that the genre strains for.  I think that is why works such as White’s Once and Future King, Crowley’s Little, Big and Brunner’s Traveller in Black stories are oddities­ like Gargantua and Pantagruel or Tristam Shandy, like The Man Who Was Thursday or Jurgen — honored in the breach but directly followed by few.  China Mieville and Jeff VanderMeer each have a leg in this field, likewise Kelly Link, Karen Russell, Vandana Singh, Nathaniel Mackey, Steven Millhauser, David Nickle, Jedediah Berry.

Finally, a plea for a more Peakean approach within the genre, and praise for the absurdist,  grave and melancholy humor epitomized by the Gormenghast trilogy.  The ruler does not return in the Peakean world-view, in fact he abdicates, he flees.  Chaos does not so much win as it is revealed to be the mainspring of the very Order upon which everything appeared to rest­the sacrament reduced to dust, a bright carving in a neglected upper hallway of a castle that may or may not exist.  That is cosmically funny, a folly, the lifted eyebrow of the gods, even if it is also possibly tragic.


Daniel A. Rabuzzi [blog] studied folklore and mythology in college and graduate school, and keeps one foot firmly in the Other Realm.

ChiZine Publications published his first novel, The Choir Boats: Volume One of Longing for Yount, in 2009, and in 2012 brought out the sequel and series conclusion, The Indigo Pheasant: Volume Two of Longing for Yount, described by reviewers as “Gulliver’s Travels crossed with The Golden Compass and a dollop of Pride and Prejudice,”  and “a muscular, Napoleonic-era fantasy that, like Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series, will appeal to both adult and young adult readers.”

Daniel’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in Sybil’s Garage, Shimmer, ChiZine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Abyss & Apex, Goblin Fruit, Mannequin Envy, Bull Spec, Kaleidotrope, and Scheherezade’s Bequest.  He has presented at Arisia, Readercon, Lunacon, and the Toronto Speculative Fiction Colloquium. He has also had twenty scholarly and professional articles published on subjects ranging from fairy tale to finance.

A former banker, Daniel earned his doctorate in 18th-century history, with a focus on family, gender and commerce in northern Europe. He is now an executive at a national workforce development organization in New York City, where he lives with his wife and soulmate, the artist Deborah A. Mills (who illustrated and provided cover art for both Daniel’s novels), along with the requisite two cats.

Novel preview links:

The Choir Boats [pdf]

The Indigo Pheasant [pdf]

At the Mouth of the River of Bees

Tue 11 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Books, Kij Johnson | 5 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

trade paperback: 9781931520805 · ebook: 9781931520812
September 11th, 2012
Second printing: November 2012
Third printing: October 2013
Fourth printing: November 2017

  • World Fantasy & Locus Award finalist
  • Best of the Year: Publishers Weekly, Guardian, Shelf Awareness, Omivoracious
  • Chosen for the One Campus, One Book program at the University of Alaska Southeast.  [video]
  • Interview: Locus

The wrenching and provocative debut collection from the author of The Fox Woman and Fudoki. Johnson’s stories have won the Sturgeon and World Fantasy awards and, for three years running, the Nebula Award.

Johnson’s stories range from historical Japan (Sturgeon award winner “Fox Magic”) to metafictional explorations of story structure (“Story Kit”). Nebula award winners “Spar” and “Ponies” are perhaps most shocking and captivating, but each of the seventeen stories here is a highlight selected from Johnson’s more than two decades of work.

These stories feature cats, bees, wolves, dogs, and even that most capricious of animals, humans, and have been reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and The Secret History of Fantasy.

At the Mouth of the River of Bees is one of the most anticipated debut science fiction short story collections in recent years.

“These stories are filled with new ideas, new structures, and new ways of looking at the world. Kij Johnson has a singular vision and I’m going to be borrowing (stealing) from her.”
—Sherman Alexie

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2012
PW interview.

SlateDan Kois’ 15 Favorite Books of 2012
Wondrously strange and sinister stories of other worlds, future times, and everyday life gone haywire. Plus: A cat walks 100 miles through Heian-era Japan in the loveliest short story I read all year.”

The Guardian: Adam Roberts, Christmas gifts 2012: the best science fiction
“The best short-story collection I read this year was Kij Johnson’s At the Mouth of the River of Bees (Small Beer Press). She is a writer who is always fresh, always dazzling.”

Shelf Awareness: Reviewers Choice 2012 Favorites
“Three Nebula-winning stories anchor Kij Johnson’s collection of stories, where psychological realism and hallucinatory vision combine to masterful effect. Johnson shifts easily from domestic dramas to conflicts on alien worlds, touching on small emotional moments that will linger in your memory as vividly as her fantastic imagery.” —Ron Hogan, founder of

Omnivoracious: The Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Collections of 2012
“Ranging from the more traditional to tales that push buttons and boundaries, from fantasy to science fiction and beyond.”

“Ursula Le Guin comes immediately to mind when you turn the pages of Kij Johnson’s first book of short stories, her debut collection is that impressive. The title piece has that wonderful power we hope for in all fiction we read, the surprising imaginative leap that takes us to recognize the marvelous in the everyday.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR

“For all the distances traveled and the mysteries solved, those strange, inexplicable things remain. This is Johnson’s fiction: the familiar combined with the inexplicable. The usual fantastic. The unknowable that undergirds the everyday.”
—Sessily Watt, Bookslut

“In her first collection of short fiction, Johnson (The Fox Woman) covers strange, beautiful, and occasionally disturbing territory without ever missing a beat. . . . Johnson’s language is beautiful, her descriptions of setting visceral, and her characters compellingly drawn. These 18 tales, most collected from Johnson’s magazine publications, are sometimes off-putting, sometimes funny, and always thought provoking.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[The] stories are original, engaging, and hard to put down. . . . Johnson has a rare gift for pulling readers directly into the heart of a story and capturing their attention completely. Those who enjoy a touch of the other in their reading will love this collection.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“When she’s at her best, the small emotional moments are as likely to linger in your memory as the fantastic imagery. Johnson would fit quite comfortably on a shelf with Karen Russell, Erin Morgenstern and others who hover in the simultaneous state of being both “literary” and “fantasy” writers.”
Shelf Awareness

“The book overflows with stories that, sentence by sentence, scene by scene, can never be taken for granted; they change in your hands, turn and shift, take on new faces, new shapes. Their breathing grows heavy, soft, then heavy again. You lean in close.”—James Sallis, F&SF

“Kij Johnson has won short fiction Nebula awards in each of the last three years. All three winning stories are in this collection; when you read the book, you may wonder why all the others didn’t win awards as well. “Ponies”, to pick just one, is a shatteringly powerful fantasy about the least lovely aspects of human social behaviour… and also about small girls and their pet horses. Evocative, elegant, and alarmingly perceptive, Johnson reshapes your mental landscape with every story she writes.”
—David Larsen, New Zealand Herald

“The bizarre and persnickety tales, like bottled ships, in Kij Johnson’s At the Mouth of the River of Bees include old Asian fables (a fox woman seduces a human) and future planets (though of backward cultures), often testifying to the survival of women in the face of random violence. . . . Apparently, Johnson publishes in fantasy and SF mags because they’re the only ones who’d have her, though New Yorker should be so lucky.”

“Kij Johnson’s writing is sometimes elegant and graceful; sometimes deliberately raw. These stories range from the human to the frightening to the complicated to the self-referential to the moving, and some even manage to be all these things at the same time. At the Mouth of the River of Bees is an excellent reminder of what short fiction at its best can do.”
Things Mean a Lot

“‘Ponies’ . . . reads like the sort of thing that might have happened if Little Golden Books had inadvertently sent a contract to Chuck Palahniuk. . . . It’s not surprising that [“The Man Who Bridged the Mist”] won the Nebula Award and garnered Hugo, Sturgeon, and Locus nominations, since it’s a stunning example of what Johnson does best – using the materials of SF, fantasy, myth, and even romance not as genres to inhabit, but as tools for building or, you could say, as a kind of story kit. ”
Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

“A wonderful collection…. I was entranced.”
San Francisco Book Review

“Speculative fiction at its unnerving best, as well as an illuminating lens on the tradition of folklore and its power.”
The Ohio State University Journal

“It is in the stories of love and loss that Johnson writes her finest work.”
Nerds of a Feather

Radio and podcasts:

Kij Johnson on Writer’s Voice: Writer’s Voice Drew Adamek spoke with Johnson about her new collection, the challenges facing women in science fiction and what new writers should do to break into the business.

Kij Johnson, Jonathan Strahan, and Gary Wolfe on the Coode Street Podcast.
Kij Johnson returns to Jonathan Strahan and Gary Wolfe’s Coode Street Podcast.

Kij Johnson and Patrick Hester at SF Signal.


“Award-winning NCSU alum Kij Johnson returns to Triangle with new book”

Early Readers Responses

“The variety is tremendous, exhilarating. “26 Monkeys” is as different from “Chenting” as “Names for Water” is from “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” and each one is differently excellent.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin

“This collection is a landmark. I can’t think of any other writer whose stories terrify me the way Johnson’s do. But they’re so intelligent and human and weirdly perfect, I can’t stay away.”
—Lev Grossman

“Kij Johnson’s first collection is a marvelous gift to the reader. Her stories are simultaneously playful and melancholic; expansive, but also finely detailed. They take us many places—to the past, to the future, to imaginary and exotic worlds. In each, Johnson shows us things we never dreamed of, but won’t now forget. A writer of range, originality, precision, and power. Enthusiastically recommended.”
—Karen Joy Fowler

“Nobody writes like Kij Johnson. Nobody. Nobody finds the interstices of a story the way she does. Nobody dives down into the deep pockets of a story, coming up with the change for the ending. Nobody.”
—Jane Yolen

“Not only has Kij Johnson mastered the tools of her craft but she has forged a few that the rest of us haven’t yet got. Read, for instance “Ponies” or “Story Kit” and ask yourself what other writer could have conceived them, much less carried them off. These wise, sometimes sad, always magical stories linger long after you turn the page. At the Mouth of the River of Bees is very possibly the most important collection of the year and Kij Johnson is a writer you need to know.”
—James Patrick Kelly

“Kij Johnson is one of the three or four best short fiction writers of the past quarter century. She is not, however, one of the most prolific, and she’d damned well better do something about that.”
—Mike Resnick

Table of Contents

At the Mouth of the River of Bees
26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss [read listen]
The Horse Raiders
Spar [read or listen]
Fox Magic
Names for Water [listen]
Schrodinger’s Cathouse
My Wife Reincarnated as a Solitaire
Chenting, in the Land of the Dead
The Bitey Cat
Dia Chjerman’s tale [read]
The Empress Jingu Fishes
Wolf Trapping
The Man Who Bridged the Mist [read or listen]
Ponies [read or listen]
The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles [read or listen]
The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change

About the Author

Kij Johnson’s stories have won the Sturgeon and World Fantasy awards. She has taught writing; worked at Tor, Dark Horse, Wizards of the Coast, and Microsoft; worked as a radio announcer; run bookstores; and waitressed in a strip bar.

Previous Events

9/14    DreamHaven Books, 2301 East 38th Street, Minneapolis MN 55406
9/18    7 p.m. The Raven, 6 East 7th St., Lawrence, KS, 66044
9/26    Writers Voice interview air date
9/29    7 p.m. Ad Astra Books & Coffee House, 141 N. Santa Fe, Salina, KS 67401
10/9    Quail Ridge Books, Ridgewood Shopping Center, 3522 Wade Avenue, Raleigh, NC
10/25  7 p.m. The Big Tent at The Raven, 6 East 7th St., Lawrence, KS, 66044
11/24  1 p.m. Uncle Hugo’s Books, 2864 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis MN 55407


Under the Poppy

Mon 10 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Books | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

October 26, 2010 · 9781931520706 · trade cloth / 9781931520881 · ebook
September 2012 · 9781618730275 · trade paperback
November 2015 · Out of Print.

Gaylactic Spectrum Award winner (see the award here.)
Longlisted for the IMPAC Award.

FROM A WARTIME BROTHEL to the intricate high society of 1870s Brussels, Under the Poppy is a breakout novel of childhood friends, a love triangle, puppet masters, and reluctant spies.

Under the Poppy is a brothel owned by Decca and Rupert. Decca is in love with Rupert but he in turn is in love with her brother, Istvan. When Istvan comes to town, louche puppet troupe in tow, the lines of their age-old desires intersect against a backdrop of approaching war.

Hearts are broken when old betrayals and new alliances—not just their own—take shape, as the townsmen seek refuge from the onslaught of history by watching the girls of the Poppy cavort onstage with Istvan’s naughty puppets.

With the war getting too close, Istvan and Rupert abandon the Poppy and find a place in high society where they try to avoid becoming more than puppets themselves in the hands of those they have helped before and who now want to use them again.

Under the Poppy is a vivid, sexy historical novel as delicious and intoxicating as the best guilty pleasure.

Kathe Koja on The Big Idea behind the novel:

The theatre is the locus of ultimate fiction: the one place on earth where normal everyday people, people you might run into at the café or the grocery store, people you might even know (their names, their fears and loves, the way they toss their underwear not quite into the damn hamper)—people like you, in fact—become indisputably someone else, someone completely different, right before your very eyes.  Change the lights, put on a mask, and voila: instant strange.Read More

Read interviews with the author: Detroit Free Press · BookPage · Friskibiskit · The Outer Alliance · Pride Source

Read an excerpt on Scribd (embedded below).

“Koja can pack a lot Dickensian humor into a sentence . . . [she] takes a page from Victorian lit in her writerliness, and she reveals human nature like someone slipped her the manual.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“This book made me drunk. Koja’s language is at its poetic best, and the epic drama had me digging my nails into my palms. It’s like a Tom Waits hurdy-gurdy loser’s lament come to life, as sinister as a dark circus.”
—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

Under the Poppy is unlike anything I’ve ever read, a world unto itself, spun out of fevered, sensual prose and vivid, compelling characters.”
—Lewis Shiner

“Koja has a ventriloquist’s skill when it comes to inhabiting the voices of her characters . . . A gothic, glam-rock take on love and sex and death that reads a little like what would happen if Sarah Waters and Angela Carter played a drunken game of Exquisite Corpse in a brothel, Under the Poppy will make you want to get out your very finest crushed velvet, drink a couple bottles of wine, and do something a little bit illegal with someone very good-looking. In other words, it’s a winner.”

“All the elements of a great novel are present in Koja’s work: from suspense and intrigue to undying love and toxic jealousies, this highly developed read is brimming with imaginative flair and originality.”
Lambda Literary

“This book is different, magical, seductive, and strange. However, there are books to which “Poppy” has ties, however wispy: think The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera mixed with The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek lightened with Fanny Hill by John Cleland and layered with The Satanic Verses, A Passage to India, and Mrs. Dalloway.”
—Bethanne Patrick, Beyond the Margins

“People will probably love this book or hate it–possibly both. But let me just say that it would take an author of extraordinary talent to open with a scene of a woman being sodomized by a ventriloquist’s dummy and make me want to keep reading.
“And Kathe Koja is that talented. Five stars.”
Speak Its Name

“The velvet and brocade, the rips and tears, the music and theater, you see it all as you read about what the denizens of the Poppy do to stay in business, stay ahead of the tide, stay alive.”
—Colleen Mondor, Chasing Ray

“Frequently changing viewpoints and fluid segues in and out of flashback illuminate actions readers have already witnessed. Part of the fun is heading into the past after knowing the future; even when you know where the story will go, you wonder what will happen next.”
Ann Arbor Observer

“The brothel of Kathe Koja’s Under the Poppy requires no time and space coordinates. It is a fictional universe unto itself—rich and bawdy and violent and sad, with a beating human heart underneath. I love Koja’s daring and flair.”
— Louis Bayard (The Black Tower)

“I loved Under the Poppy. It pours like chocolate—laced with brandy; sexy and utterly compelling!”
—Ellen Kushner (Swordspoint)

“Throughout the story there is an undercurrent of darkness. I can think of no better way than this to describe it and it keeps you reading, pulls you on and on through the narrative. Tied into this sense of the creeping grotesque is the fact that Koja is skilled at depicting how close to insanity art can come. I have fond memories of the mad genius of Skin—how far Koja was willing to push her story and her characters for the sake of their art and there is a similar feeling here. Istvan is driven and he cannot be anything other than what he is—a player, an actor and puppeteer. At the same time, he is drawn to Rupert and Rupert to him. Their relationship is painfully real—nothing is perfect or sugar-coated. They hurt each other, they try to mend their rifts, attempt forgiveness and do their best to accept the other as they are. It’s superbly done.”
Girl on Book Action

“I can highly recommend this novel to everybody who likes historical fiction and wants to read a bit different kind of a story. It can also be recommended to speculative fiction readers and readers who love literary novels. This novel will appeal to everybody, who’s willing to immerse himself/herself in a dark, erotic and entertaining story.”
Rising Shadow

“Few books I’ve read about the theater capture its dazzle as luminously as this one does. The performances are integral to the plotline; one cares about the performances because one cares about the characters, and one cares about the characters in part because of how they perform. Intelligent descriptions and a compelling cast make reading Poppy an intense, lingering experience…. Each section was a burst of images. I wanted to read it as slowly as I might eat a rich meal—savoring each bite before taking another.”
—Rachel Swirsky, Cascadia Subduction Zone

“Despite all the trappings of puppets, sex shows, stabbings, and drawing-room treachery, this is a love story about how, sometimes despite themselves, Rupert, Istvan, and their friends have created a family. . . . she creates an atmospheric tale for those who like their historical fiction on the dark and lurid side. Those readers who enjoyed Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin or Sarah Water’s Fingersmith will find similar themes.”
Library Journal

“A page turner with riveting language and close attention to sensory detail. Set in late 19th-century Brussels, the story follows the adventures of puppeteer Istvan and brothel owner Rupert who bond as friends and lovers.”
Publishers Weekly

BoingBoing Gift Guide.

Kathe Koja’s books include The Cipher, Skin, and Extremities; YA novels include Buddha Boy, Talk, Kissing the Bee, and Headlong. Her work has been honored by the ALA, the ASPCA, the Parents’ Choice Award, and the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. Her books have been published in seven languages, and optioned for film. She’s a Detroit native and lives in the area with her husband, artist Rick Lieder, and their cats. Under the Poppy is currently being adapted for the stage.

An Under the Poppy story at a price

Thu 6 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

. . . of one photograph of you with your copy of Under the Poppy! Here’s Kathe’s full post:

As a celebration of the publication of the paperback edition of Under the Poppy,  due out on 9/10 (and available now for preorder from Small Beer Press, B&N and Amazon, among others), I’m offering a PDF of never-before-published Poppy fiction, called “An Interlude of the Road”: the tale of a young Rupert and Istvan, and their encounter with Herr Nagler, the smiling herring-monger in the satrap’s robe.

To receive the story, all you need to do is send a picture of yourself and your copy of Under the Poppy: whether it’s in your hands or on your nightstand, you holding your e-reader, you waving a preorder paperback receipt (or the actual paperback). . . And if you’re somewhere sexy or singular, so much the better.  Are you on the winding road? Or sipping some highbrow tea? Sporting at the gentlemen’s club (wink wink)? Hanging out with a puppet? Or, like acclaimed writer Sarah Miller here, reclining at your ease?

If you give permission, the picture will be happily posted here, and on the Under the Poppy Facebook page; otherwise your privacy will of course be respected.

This fiction will be available only through the Under the Poppy site, until 11/11/12, as a special thank you to those who have journeyed along with these two inseparable gentlemen of the road and their friends, and me.

Send your JPEG to underthepoppy AT

Blackwood, Indigo Pheasant, Electric Velocipede

Tue 4 Sep 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Hey,we have some books coming soon. Wooee! We are excited. And busy! So. In the next couple of weeks we will have a couple of guest posts. Our own Dear Aunt Gwenda, under her other name, Gwenda Bond, has her first novel, Blackwood, coming out this week. It’s all about the Roanoke disappearances and is getting great reviews. Gwenda has a Big Idea piece at Scalzi’s Whatever today. At some point in the next week or two we’ll have a post from Gwenda and meanwhile we are celebrating that we’ll be able to get our own copy signed in a couple of weeks when we’re down in Lexington for the Kentucky Women Writers Conference.

A second post is set for next week from our friend Daniel A. Rabuzzi whose second novel—and sequel to The Choir BoatsThe Indigo Pheasant comes out this month from ChiZine. Here’s an interview with Daniel from when The Choir Boats came out. I’m looking forward to seeing the book itself, too, as Daniel’s wife, woodworker Deborah Mills does beautiful work and with luck more of her art will be included in this edition.

Need another good thing to do with your hard earned cash? Back Electric Velocipede! John Klima and the EV team are doing a Kickstarter (with lovely Thom Davidsohn calendars available) and this is your chance to ensure their zine has a long and fruitful life!