No, we don’t have Joan Aikens to give out, but we are giving away 5 advance copies of The People in the Castle: Selected Strange Stories on Goodreads!
Hope you will consider backing this if you can!
So next month we’ll try and take it back to where it all began: the zine, in print!
I’ll post the table of contents soonish. The cover is by none other than Kathleen Jennings. There are excellent stories. There will not be blood. There will be poetry. There will not be political posturing. Wait, there may be. We may misspell the acronym: LCWR, CLWR, MEHH, WHUT, LWRW, WWLCD? (She’d marry another younger man, start a fannncy lit mag, join a hospital ship, get a tattoo, have some fun.)
Being the internet age, I’ve learned as much about Mary Rickert from her Facebook feed as I have from the biography on her website.
These are the facts I am confident are true: Mary Rickert dislikes the Distraction Culture of smartphones and loves flowers, she is open to new adventures and has spent many hours hiking the Sequoia National Park, she is generous and gracious and deeply appreciative of her friends.
As this is also the Fragmentary Age, I also “know” some facts that are likely some percentage of wrong: she is a serious practitioner of yoga, she spent years working and reworking her critically-acclaimed first novel, she has a dog.
Finally, there are the facts I gleaned from her writing itself. No external proof is required; her stories are the proof. Mary Rickert sees the darkness inside all of us and still cares. She loves children, real children, the kind who are selfish and volatile and loving and oh-so vulnerable. She understands that people often fail to be their best selves. Mary Rickert doesn’t flinch. That’s what makes her fiction so powerful. But beneath the disquiet and darkness, or intertwined with it, her stories contain an intense belief in the redemptive power of human caring. Her stories are immersive and beautiful and full small human kindnesses.
The story I chose for this podcast, “Cold Fires,” is about pirates, and strawberries, and enchantments, including the enchantment of love. It is also about what happens when people love too much and what happens when they fail to love enough.
Mary Rickert earned a MFA from Vermont College of Fine Art. Her novel, The Memory Garden, won the Locus award for best first novel and won rave reviews from such places as io9, NPR, and Publishers Weekly. Her stories have won or been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, the Nebula, the Crawford Award, and the International Horror Guild Award.
Episode 21: In which Julie C. Day reads Mary Rickert’s “Cold Fires” from her collection You Have Never Been Here.
Subscribe to the Small Beer podcast using iTunes or the service of your choice:
How is this book doing? The second printing is flying out so we’d better start working on the next printing (such happy words). But how will we fit all this on the cover??
Kirkus Reviews: Best Teen Books of 2015
Book Riot: Best of 2015
Buzzfeed: 32 Best Fantasy Novels of 2015
ABC Best Books for Young Readers Catalog
Flavorwire: The 10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels of 2015 So Far
LA Times Summer Reading
Locus Recommended Reading
Those lovely people who turned all their swords into ploughs interviewed Kelly and me. Read all about it here.
We’ve just spent a week or more with no website. It was surreal! Anyway, hello 2016!
From Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link of Small Beer Press: “We are immensely sorry to hear of Peter Dickinson’s death. Publishing his collection Earth and Air: Tales of Elemental Creatures was an honor and we considered ourselves very lucky to have been able to bring four more of his titles back into print in recent years. Working with Peter, who had published so many good books, won so many awards, worked with so many publishers, was nerve wracking at first but he was so calm, dry, and funny that he soon put us at ease. He will be much missed.”
From Peter Dickinson’s family: “We are devastated to have lost him, but very, very grateful to have known him. He gave us so much, in his love for us and his stories which inspired us. He has left us with many memories and we will treasure them all.”
From The Guardian: “He was admired for the originality and range of his stories and the variety of settings he explored in them.”
From The Telegraph: “Dickinson’s stories combined riveting plots with a deep historical awareness and insight. Philip Pullman observed that they carried “a charge of excitement, and a restless exploration of large ideas, which I find unfailingly thrilling. . . . Dickinson had an unusual gift for putting himself into the shoes of his youthful protagonists — imagining how it feels to be a missionary’s son, orphaned in the Boxer Rebellion and lost in the mountains of Tibet (Tulku, 1979); describing what it would be like to be a 13-year-old girl in an over-populated future dystopia, whose memory has been transplanted to the brain of a chimp (Eva, 1989); portraying the life of a child guerrilla in a fictional African country (AK, 1990) or a Byzantine slave boy, fleeing rampaging Huns in the company of a tame bear (The Dancing Bear, 1972). “It is not part of fiction’s job to tell the reader what to think,” he explained. “But it can be fiction’s job to show the reader how it feels, because that can only be done through the imagination.”
From The New York Times: “Mr. Dickinson’s appetite for arcane knowledge and his taste for unusual situations, often those from the past, made him a highly unpredictable genre writer. . . . Although well plotted, Mr. Dickinson’s mysteries appealed to readers looking for something besides ingenious clockwork mechanisms. As often as not, his puzzles offered an excuse to explore deeper human and scientific issues.”
From Publishers Weekly: “His eldest daughter Philippa, the former managing director of Random House Children’s Publishers U.K., shared this remembrance: “There are so many images I have of my father, but perhaps the one which shines brightest at this moment is of him at the wheel of the family car, driving us all somewhere — to visit relatives, perhaps. In the days before radios in cars, the amazing stories he would tell us all the way there, and all the way back, was our ‘in-car entertainment.’ It was an extremely effective way of keeping four lively children amused during a long journey,” she said. “Some of these stories eventually became the beginnings of books which were published. Others never made it. I vividly recall a hilarious space adventure with giant spiders that had us all, including Dad, in fits of laughter — luckily there were fewer cars on the roads in those days. It was brilliant — and he did eventually get it down on paper but somehow it never quite worked as well . . . If it wasn’t a story, it might be an epic poem that he had learned by heart as a child. He also read to us every night at bedtime and continued to do so until we were into our early teens.” ”
Peter’s family has suggested that rather than sending flowers, donations in Peter’s memory may be sent to his nominated charities: Save The Children; The Alzheimer’s Society; Medecins Sans Frontieres.
From the website of Peter Dickinson, 16 December 1927 – 16 December 2015:
It is with very great sadness that the death is announced of author and poet Peter Dickinson O.B.E. Peter died in Winchester on 16 December 2015 (his 88th birthday) after a brief illness. His family was by his side.
Peter Malcolm de Brissac Dickinson was born in Africa, but raised and educated in England. From 1952 to 1969 he was on the editorial staff of Punch, and then earned his living writing fiction of various kinds for adults and children. He wrote almost sixty books and has been published in 53 languages around the world.
Amongst many other awards, Peter Dickinson has been nine times short-listed for the prestigious Carnegie medal for children’s literature and was the first author to win it twice: Tulku (1979) and City of Gold (1980).
Peter Dickinson was also the first author to win the Crime Writers’ Association Golden Dagger for two consecutive novels: Skin Deep (The Glass-sided Ant’s Nest) (1968), and A Pride of Heroes (The Old English Peepshow) (1969).
His books have been nominated for and won many awards, including: The Boston-Globe Horn Book Award; The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize; The Whitbread Children’s Fiction Prize; The Michael L. Printz Award.
Peter Dickinson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He has also served as chairman of the Society of Authors. He was awarded an OBE for services to literature in 2009.
Peter is survived by his four children from his first marriage, six grand-children and his second wife, author Robin McKinley.
Peter’s family has suggested that rather than sending flowers, donations in Peter’s memory may be sent to his nominated charities: Save The Children; The Alzheimer’s Society; Medecins Sans Frontieres.
Take a minute to admire that cover design. Notice how, through the magic of perspective, this woman seems to fly right at you with a pair of hands serving as wings. (The photo by Emma Powell is called ‘Angel.’) It’s the kind of off-putting, and yet beautiful, reaction one can get from reading Rickert’s fiction, short stories designed to scrape the skin from within.
It is weirdly warm in Western Massachusetts, many degrees above the norm, no snow on the ground — no real snow yet at all in fact, just as few of the lightest flurries one day and then nothing since — and people have been walking around without jackets. It is very strange, I hope it’s not the new norm. It seems odd to wish for cold weather but here in the northern hemisphere in mid December it’s what we’ve known for many years and unseasonal changes are getting more common.
So here’s a story from You Have Never Been Here about cold to remind me (weather-wise, at least!) what is to come.
“Cold Fires” by Mary Rickert:
It was so cold that daggered ice hung from the eaves with dangerous points that broke off and speared the snow in the afternoon sun, only to be formed again the next morning. Snowmobile shops and ski rental stores, filled with brightly polished snowmobiles and helmets and skis and poles and wool knitted caps and mittens with stars stitched on them and down jackets and bright-colored boots, stood frozen at the point of expectation when that first great snow fell on Christmas night and everyone thought that all that was needed for a good winter season was a good winter snow, until the cold reality set in and the employees munched popcorn or played cards in the back room because it was so cold that no one even wanted to go shopping, much less ride a snowmobile. Cars didn’t start but heaved and ticked and remained solidly immobile, stalagmites of ice holding them firm. Motorists called Triple A and Triple A’s phone lines became so congested that calls were routed to a trucking company in Pennsylvania, where a woman with a very stressed voice answered the calls with the curt suggestion that the caller hang up and dial again.
It was so cold dogs barked to go outside, and immediately barked to come back in, and then barked to go back out again; frustrated dog owners leashed their pets and stood shivering in the snow as shivering dogs lifted icy paws, walking in a kind of Irish dance, spinning in that dog circle thing, trying to find the perfect spot to relieve themselves while dancing high paws to keep from freezing to the ground.
It was so cold birds fell from the sky like tossed rocks, frozen except for their tiny eyes, which focused on the sun as if trying to understand its betrayal. read on
A reminder since we are getting lots of lovely orders: here’s a link to the holiday deadlines.
We have signed books available and will ship them until they’re gone:
Alan DeNiro · Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead
Eileen Gunn · Questionable Practices
Kelly Link · Stranger Things Happen
Benjamin Parzybok · Couch
Geoff Ryman · The King’s Last Song
Howard Waldrop · Horse of a Different Color
Howard Waldrop · Howard Who?
I am swamped with Cyber Monday and Holiday Sale emails (I am unsubscribing to as many as I can!) and they weigh me down so much I can’t get it together to do our own promo. Hey, it’s the holidays soon and, you know, we publish books, and, argh!
So here’s to one of our authors speaking for himself: this past weekend at Malvern Books in Austin, TX, Brad Denton interviewed Howard Waldrop “on JFK, George R. R. Martin ‘and stuff’.”
During the interview — really a diverting conversation between old friends — Howard mentions that two of the stories in Howard Who? (“The Ugly Chickens” and “Mary Margaret Road-Grader“) plus “Night of the Cooters” have been turned into screenplays and will either be episodes in a TV show parts of an omnibus film produced by . . . George R. R. Martin. Excited, yes I am. More exciting: we just bought a story by Howard for LCRW: a story that brings together Ben Hur, Truman Capote, Billy the Kid, “and stuff.” There’s only one Howard!
ETA: Longtime Waldrop readers (including my wife, Kelly, who introduced me to his stories!) will be happy to know that I talked to him recently and he is once again promising to get back to work on his much delayed novel The Moone World.
The question above comes from the pen of Mary Rickert, who unquestionably is keeping the world alive with her words. We’re publishing a new collection of stories by Mary today You Have Never Been Here and in writing this post I am frustrated that I have to put words in front of you at all as all of Mary’s are better and more worth your time.
“Gothic literature, diluted, over time, into its architecture of moors and castles, is actually an exploration of the human experience as cohesion of the beast and the divine.”
“I try to remember that in every culture, in every age, there were things believed as universally true that later were proven false. We are all victims of the illusion of our time. I try to look beyond the veil, and I’m sure I fail. I try to remember the veil exists.”
— from “Process as Photosynthesis” An Interview with Mary Rickert by Annie Bilancini on SmokeLong Quarterly.
You can also read Mary’s letter to a young writer on the Story Prize blog:
Dear Young Writer,
I know many people have told you to make the language invisible, but what if they are wrong? Consider the possibility that words are not mere instruments of description but tools of alchemy.
This is Mary’s fourth book after publishing two collections and an amazing novel last year, The Memory Garden. Of herself she writes:
“Mary Rickert grew up in Wisconsin but moved to California as soon as she was eighteen. She still has fond memories of selling balloons at Disneyland and learning to boogie board in the ocean. Sometimes she would go to the beach early in the morning, before any one else was there, sit in the lifeguard’s tower and write poetry. After many years (and through the sort of “odd series of events” that describe much of her fiction) she got a job as a kindergarten teacher in a small private school for gifted children. She worked there for almost a decade before leaving to pursue her life as a writer. Her first novel, The Memory Garden was published in 2015. There are, of course, mysterious gaps in this account of her life and that is where the truly interesting stuff happened.”
I have no idea what went on in those mysterious gaps. I know she sold her first painting before her first story. I know that her stories have won awards. I know that when Mary writes a story I have no idea where it will go. I have no idea what the spaces will be. What the rhythms, the rhymes will be. I know I’ll have to get off this treadmill. Push aside the idea that I’ll get stuff done. Push aside the world as I know it. Step into the world as Mary sees it.
Yep, Ayize Jama-Everett has a great short personal essay on Electric Lit:
“Yo, Dudley a faggot!”
“What happened?” . . .
That’s what my childhood friend got out of the very special two-part episode of “The Bicycle Man” on Diff’rent Strokes. I’m going from memory, rather than re-watching the episode on YouTube because I want to talk about how the show impacted two black kids living in the city where the show itself took place. Diff’rent Strokes often put episodes in front of us we were supposed to watch as a family. But not all families are the same. . . .
Tor.com want to give you a fab book and all you have to do is go post a comment to enter!
What’s the book about?
Why, here’s a handy review in Booklist!
“Rickert’s latest collection contains haunting tales of death, love, and loss. In stories that are imbued with mythology, beasts, and fantastical transformations, Rickert captures the fanciful quality of regret and longing. . . . Rickert’s blend of dark and whimsy is reminiscent of Angela Carter. Perfect for readers looking for something unique, melancholy, and fantastical.”
Dear H.P. Lovecraft fan who are upset that the World Fantasy Award statuette will no longer be Gahan Wilson’s bust of HPL: you have my sympathies. It’s hard to see the cultural assessment of someone you love and respect change as time passes.
But: being rude and insulting writers? That can stop now, thanks.
Winners returning the award seems a bit over the top to me — I just got one and I’m not giving it back! — especially as the HPL publishing biz seems to grow and grow and no one is saying don’t read his books. He’s taught all over the country and there are so many of his books out there that even if all his titles were . . . by some eldritch and unspeakable pact . . . (sorry) taken out of print right now there are so many copies in used book stores there is no way people would stop reading him.
I’m curious what the new design will be, although I don’t envy the board the choice. But this was never the Lovecraft award, it’s the World Fantasy Award. Who knows: from now on it may change every year, every 40 years.
I’m proud of — and grateful to — everyone in the writing, reading, and publishing community who worked towards this change and for the World Fantasy Convention Board for recognizing the need for change.
Peace in our time!
- This is why I never write these things. There’s too much I’ll miss and that’s an hour I should have been
napping after the weekendworking working!
- The book room was a huge, great well-lit space with tons of space for the crowds of eager readers ready to snap up hot hot books. Sadly said readers seemed to be seduced by Saratoga Springs’s lovely streets and great restaurants and mostly did not appear. Or they couldn’t get memberships or something. Darn it.
- That said, Ninepin Press sold tons of copies of The Family Arcana from our table. People love Jed’s story-as-pack-of-cards.
- Lovely restaurants: Karavalli (Indian, wow); Hattie’s (all the sides = dinner for this happy vegetarian); Four Seasons (very handy for a box lunch for still happy parent and child); Cantina (Mexican: can you sit 10 people with no reservation for Sunday lunch? No problem — nice, thank you!).
- Out-of-con experiences: taking a 6-year-old to a con immediately changes everything. There are too many people, it’s chaotic, it’s an unfamiliar space — and, yes, that’s just me. But she made half a dozen books and met some friends so it was not all bad. And: hotel swimming pool, of course! Kid’s museum: high five for pre-arranged play dates! Another of course: the park. Hooray for finding the Triton’s pool and the statues of Pan, Dionysus, and the Maenads as well as leaves, man, leaves. You can do a lot with leaves and a bit of Greek mythology goes a long way.
- Meanwhile: Gary K. Wolfe reviewed Mary Rickert’s new book You Have Never Been Here in the Chicago Tribune. All right!
The Three Ps:
- Panels: they were epic! I suppose as I did not go to any, see out-of-con-experiences above, previously mentioned (and sometimes coldly abandoned) table in book room, and the theme was Epic Fantasy. There were some people I’d have loved to see on panels but I did not. C’est la vie.
- People: it is great to see friends and meet people only known online or . . . once-were complete strangers. I had one meeting at the con with Ron Eckel of Cooke International who does a fab job of selling our books abroad (dammit, that reminds me I have a list of things I have to send him) and otherwise “relied” on happenstance, which worked out mostly ok but for everyone I did not actually see. Oops.
- Parties: I got to two (er, I think), Kickstarter and Ellen Kushner et al’s Tremontaine, and they were both busy and well supplied, yay! The latter was such a happening that I ended up sitting on the floor outside chatting for a long, long while with many good people.
- The art show was great! We got a tiny skull with crown papercut by Kathleen Jennings and a fantastic painting we’ve admired for years by Derek Ford.
- I sneaked a galley of Sofia Samatar’s forthcoming novel The Winged Histories to one of the happiest people I know, Amal El-Mohtar. Yay!
- Chatted with Jeffrey Ford and Christopher Rowe. Why pick those two out of the hundreds? Because we like to transmute art into commerce and 2016 will see Jeff’s new collection A Natural History of Hell coming out and 2017 will see Christopher’s debut collection for which you should put in an extra pair of socks because it will knock them right off you and fortunately he is a much better writer than me so his book is actually good while my blog posts are, well, here we are, it never will end, will it?
- The bust of H.P. Lovecraft is done and gone as the World Fantasy Award. Well done Gahan Wilson for making it in the first place and the board for making the decision. The world changes and we change with it and everyone I know is happy about this change.
- On Sunday we went out to lunch with friends rather than taking the kid to the banquet. At 1:30 or so I got a phone call from Gordon Van Gelder (one of the award administrators) who asked if we’d be at the award ceremony later as he was wondering if our kids could have another play date while the adults droned on about awards. I thought this was a great idea so we made a play date.
Which made sure we were back at the hotel.
In time for the awards ceremony.
In which we received an award.
I swear I am not usually this dense (um, honestly . . .) but since the kids had had such a good time on Friday I figured this was legit. Ha again! I’ve even been party to wrangling unknowing award winners in the past. If anything I thought, hey, maybe Kelly’s story . . . ? but I really thought, ooh, playdate = happy kid. Hats off to Gordon, nicely done.
And the awards!
Congratulations to all the winners — and the nominees — especially Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory at ChiZine whose work ethic and determination to push great, dark books into the world is unequaled. It was fantastic to see the collection award shared between Angela Slatter and Helen Marshall. I hate awards because it is silly that not everything gets the prize. I was happy to remember Kathleen Addison’s The Goblin Emperor had won the Locus Award and I cannot wait until Kai Ashante Wilson starts racking them up. I wish Life Achievement award winner Sherri S. Tepper had been there because some of her books blew me away and I’d have liked to thank her but I see I can send her a card here, so I will.
It is an honor to have been nominated and a surprise to win. I did not have a speech — not hubris, I just thought the jury would go for something else as these awards tend towards the darker side of fantasy and as ever it was a very strong category. But afterwards I realized how silly I was: the book had a decent chance: it is called Monstrous Affections, the stories are bleak, amazing, dark, scary, fantastic. Of course I think it should win all the awards (hello Mr. Nobel Prize, do you do YA anthologies? Have you read Alice Sola Kim’s story that ends the book? Dare you to read it all alone late at night . . .) but still. And. Also. Anyway.
Thanks to the writers and artists in the book — this award is obviously really all about their stories. Thanks to Deborah Noyes our editor at Candlewick Press as well as Nathan Pyritz the designer and everyone at Candlewick who have made working on this book (and Steampunk!) such a joy. Thanks also to cover artist Yuko Shimizu and as always to Kelly’s fabulous and steadfast agent Renée Zuckerbrot. We’re grateful to the judges for their hard work and to the readers everywhere who have allowed us to keep living the dream.
This is our annual post about holiday mail dates: like the zombies, they’ll be here slightly faster than expected. As usual, our office will be closed over the holidays, this year that’s from December 24 – January 3, 2016. It is unlikely we will ship over that period. (Weightless is always open.)
Here are the last order dates for Small Beer Press — which, in case you’re thinking about waiting until the last minute to order some chocolate Christmas trees are about the same as every other biz in the USA. Dates for international shipping are here.
All orders include free first class (LCRW) or media mail (books) shipping in the USA.
But: Media Mail parcels are the last to go on trucks. If the truck is full, Media Mail does not go out until the next truck. And if that one’s full, too, . . . you get the idea. So, if you’d like to guarantee pre-holiday arrival, please add Priority Mail:
|Domestic Mail Class/Product||Cut Off Date|
|First Class Mail||Dec-20|
|Priority Mail Express||Dec-23|
Or, at least, the WFC in Saratoga Springs this weekend. (It’s not the town, it’s just some of the panels.) We’ll be in the Dealers’ Room with a tower of books so high you can see the present from the top. We have deals! Come on by! (Ok, if you’re not there are are in the US and want the same deals, Send Money by Paypal and you’re on.)
Also on the plan for the weekend: swim (maybe not in the Springs . . . ), visit the new Northshire Books, visit the kids museum, visit the bar, visit the bar, you know how it it. We are also transporting secret whiskey for someone who is not us, very exciting. Say hi if you’re there! I’m the one arguing with the 6-year-old while Jedediah Berry and Emily Houk of Ninepin Press sell our books and their cards!
This is what GooglePlay advises publishers who get pirated copies of their books taken down:
This message is to inform you that the book you reported, “TITLE”, provided by PIRATE, has been removed from Google Play and should no longer be available for sale within approximately 48 hours.
You have the choice to allow customers to keep copies they already purchased. Alternatively, you may choose to revoke customers’ access to the book. We urge you to consider allowing customers to keep copies already purchased because, in our experience, revoking access creates a poor user experience.
Right. How about the poor publisher experience? That’s right, no one cares. Yay.
I think that’s my new favorite description, a t-shirt or a mug waiting to happen. When people ask what kind of books we publish they often have an idea already: short story collections that resist easy categorization — except Ben Rosenbaum’s collection, The Ant King, it being what it says on the label: Plausible Fabulism. But while that thing about short story collections is true, it’s only one part of a whole that changes half a dozen times or more every year when we publish another book.
Last week Charles Yu used that phrase to describe Ayize Jama-Everett’s The Entropy of Bones in the New York Times Book Review. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like books that consistently defy being stuck in a category, give it a shot:
“Jama-Everett’s book consistently resists easy categorization. Chabi’s mixed racial background offers a potentially nuanced look from a perspective that seems underserved. And by setting the book in a weird, if recognizable, Bay Area, Jama-Everett captures something about the way it feels to live so close to so much money and yet so far; he traces the differences between postindustrial East Bay towns, the gray melancholy of an older city, the particular feeling of struggling while surrounded by otherworldly wealth. If the book veers among different approaches — now a philosophical kung fu master story, now a seduction into a rarefied subculture, now an esoteric universe made from liner notes and the journal entries of a brilliantly imaginative teenager — there’s nevertheless a vitality to the voice and a weirdness that, while not always controlled or intentional, is highly appealing for just that reason.”
Read the first chapter on Tor.com.
“Adulthood brings more demanding critical standards and many a childhood favourite has been booted off my podium of most cherished books, but my admiration for Le Guin’s artistry has only grown with every rereading.”
I imagine that many people I know feel the same way.
Read the whole thing on the Guardian.