“An Absolutely Delightful Book”

Wed 27 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The River Bank cover - click to view full sizeMichael Dirda is delighted by Kij Johnson’s The River Bank — as you can see in his new review just posted in the Washington Post:

“If you’re going to write a sequel to one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, you’ll need to be pitch perfect, hit all the right notes and, at its end, leave your reader shouting “Bravo!” Or in this case, “Brava!” and “Encore!” Kij Johnson has brought out an absolutely delightful book, as charming and funny and rereadable as Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows” itself.”

Yay! There are a couple of Kathleen Jennings’s illustrations included in the review (they “add just the right extra magic”) and a comparison to Georgette Heyer. Not bad for a Wednesday morning!



The Story Spilling Over

Thu 14 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The River Bank cover - click to view full sizeOccasionally I read a review of a book we’ve published and it makes me want to pick up the book and read it all over again. I just had that experience reading Amal El-Mohtar’s review of The River Bank on the NPR website. Amal begins her review writing about fan fiction and reading that made me wonder if fan fiction was labelled something else, would it be more acceptable to those who don’t like it? Much of the time fan fiction can pass me by but then Kij sent us a book that Amal accurately labels fan fiction and I love it. I love a book in conversation with another but sometimes, ach, you know how it is. There’s no one rule that describes even one reader’s preferences. I know a good book when I see it! Right? Sure.

Enough of me, here’s a part of Amal’s review. I urge you to read the whole thing:

I was never less than delighted with this book. From beginning to end, it thoroughly charmed and engaged me, speaking the native literary language of my childhood. Like a river, it is in places languid and broad, in others narrow and rushing, the story spilling over sharp rocks of incident before pooling in afternoon sunshine, smelling of lilies and mud. I loved the sweetness of its pace, which spoke of a deep, abiding love not so much for the source material’s specific contents as their tone: a wistful, enchanted melancholy that walks hand in hand with summer’s end.

There are passages here that I treasure, that take up the timbre of Kenneth Grahame’s voice to speak of new things that feel timeless: the joys and pains of being an author at work; the changeability of a summer’s day from possibility to exhaustion; the quiet loneliness of a home half-dwelt in, a home asleep until woken by occupation, activity, presence. Sentences like “an animal lives in the long now of the world.” So much of this book dwells deeply in that long now.

In addition to its many native felicities, the text is embellished by Kathleen Jennings’ beautiful incidental illustrations, grace notes sounded in E. H. Shepard’s mode with a line reminiscent of Beatrix Potter and a sensibility all Jennings’ own.



Return to the River Bank

Tue 12 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The River Bank cover - click to view full sizeToday, five years or so after we published Kij Johnson’s collection At the Mouth of the River of Bees we are delighted to be publishing her new novel The River Bank.

The River Bank is a sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows and, given Kij’s recent stories such as “Ponies” and “Spar”) you would not be the only one surprised that Kij had chosen this as one of her next projects. For us, the first illustrator who came to mind was Kathleen Jennings. Her detailed lines and light sense of whimsy combined with her deep knowledge of illustration made her the perfect choice and we were quite enchanted when she started sending pencil sketches for chapter and incidental illustrations.

So today the book comes out in a lovely paper-over-boards hardcover — we’ve never done that before, what fun! — and ebook editions. People seem to love it as much as we do and as much as we’d hoped, especially once they have it in their hands. It’s very different from Kij’s other work but as ever her love of the natural world and for animals shines through.

If you’re in the Kansas City environs, Kij is launching the book at the Raven Book Store tonight (so you can order a signed copy if you’d like) and she has a few more readings planned:

Sept. 12, 7 p.m. Raven Book Store, 6 East Seventh St., Lawrence, KS
10/14, 1 p.m., Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore, Minneapolis, MN
11/2-5, World Fantasy Convention, San Antonio, TX
11/20, 7 p.m., Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR
11/21, 7 p.m., Elliot Bay Book Co., 1521 Tenth Ave., Seattle, WA



SBP @ WFC 2014

Wed 29 Oct 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

What’s going on? Too much to say! We have tables (and, hopefully, you know, books for sale on those tables) in the dealer room, and many, many Small Beer authors will be there including (although to paraphrase what The New Yorker always says at the start of their gig listing: authors live complicated lives and sometimes plans don’t work out):

Nathan Ballingrud, Ted Chiang, Andy Duncan, Jeffrey Ford, Eileen Gunn, Kathleen Jennings (all the way from Australia, wooee!), Kij Johnson, Nancy Kress, Ellen Kushner, Kelly Link, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Delia Sherman, Sofia Samatar, Ysabeau S. Wilce.

Here’s some of what I saw on the program list the other week. If you’re going, drop by and say hi!

Thursday

E. Nesbit and Her Influence
Time:  4 p.m.-5 p.m., Thursday,  Regency F
Panelists:  Benjamin Rosenbaum (M), Ginjer Buchanan, Robert Knowlton, S. T. Joshi
Description:  E. Nesbit published over forty children’s books, from the beloved The Railway Children to The Stories of the Treasure Seekers and Five Children and It. She also had a darker side, as seen in Something Wrong and Tales told in Twilight, collections of horror stories for adults. A writer of many sides, Nesbit had an influence on many writers, including C.S. Lewis, Michael Moorcock, and J.K. Rowling. The panel will discuss her work and why it continues to have an impact today.

Friday

Derived Myths: Making it Original
Time:  10 a.m.-11 a.m., Friday,  Regency F
Panelists:  Sandra Kasturi, Nick DiCharo (M), S. P. Hendricks, Ellen Kushner, Melissa Marr
Description:  There is no denying that the influence of various mythologies on fantasy, which have been inspiration for Lord Dunsay, Elizabeth Hand, Barry Hughart and many more. With a wealth of examples, the panel will discuss when the myth inspiration is the center of the work to when it has lead to a whole new mythos.

Language and Linguistics in Fantasy
Time:  10 a.m.-11 a.m., Friday,  Regency E
Panelists:  Lawrence M. Schoen (M), C.D. Covington, Matthew Johnson, Sofia Samatar
Description:  Foreign languages are often used in fantasy literature to add atmosphere, to show cultural backgrounds, and to bring a richness to the world, as can be seen in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange and Richard Adams Watership Down. Some works rely on real languages. Others, such as Tolkien, have invented entire tongues of their own. Which stories incorporate other languages successfully, and where have authors stumbled, making too much of the work incomprehensible to the reader?

Reading: Nathan Ballingrud
Time: 10am-10:30am, Nov. 7, Fairfax

Adoption and Fostering in Fantasy
Time:  12 p.m.-1 p.m., Friday,  Regency F
Panelists:  Susan Dexter (M), Tina Connolly, Delia Sherman, Edward Willett
Description:  Adoption or fostering is often used in fantasy and horror literature, from Oedipus to Jon Snow, from young Wart helping in the kitchens before that fateful day when he pulled a sword out of a stone in Londontown, to the most famous orphan of them all, Harry Potter. Dozens of fantasies feature young orphans who do not know their parentage, from Richard in Wizard’s First Rule, to Will from the Ranger’s Apprentice series, who is a ward of the state, to even Frodo, who was an orphan, albeit an older one, at the beginning of his adventures. There is even one beloved character, Taren from the Prydain Chronicles, who never learns his parentage, and this mystery itself proves to be his key to assuming the kingship. How does adoption, bastardy, mixed parentage, long-lost relatives all contribute to epic quests for self-knowledge in literature?

Beyond Rebellion in Young Adult Fantasy
Time:  2 p.m.-3 p.m., Friday,  Regency F
Panelists:  Ysabeau Wilce (M), Gail Carriger, Sarah Beth Durst,
Description:  We all know the story of teen disaffection and rebellion, but there are plenty of Young Adult fantasies that maintain strong family ties, with rational adult role models, such as L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Stephen Gould’s Impulse, or even Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games. A look at books that don’t always have the hero with an unhappy home, discussion why this can also make an intriguing story.

Reading: Jeffrey Ford
Time: 5pm-5:30pm, Nov. 7, Arlington

Saturday

Fantasy Artists That Take Up the Pen
Time:  11 a.m.-12 p.m., Saturday,  Tidewater 2
Panelists:  Charles Vess (M), Kathleen Jennings, Greg Manchess, Ruth Sanderson
Description:  There are authors who are know for doing artwork, such as Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling and Neil Gaiman, so it should be no surprise that artists can also be drawn to writing. The panel will discuss the impact of being both artist and writer and how these two creative forms interact.

Reading: Andy Duncan
Time: 11am-11:30am, Nov. 8, Fairfax

Reading: Kelly Link
Time: 11:30am-12pm, Nov. 8, Fairfax

Historical People in Fantasy
Time:  1 p.m.-2 p.m., Saturday,  Tidewater 2
Panelists:  Eileen Gunn (M), David B. Coe, Jack Dann, Jean Marie Ward, Rick Wilber
Description:  When using Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, or perhaps on of the most used names, Nikola Tesla and other real people as characters in fiction, what liberties can an author take and what holes do they have to fill? How close to the real Jack Kerouac does Nick Mamatas get in Move Under Ground? What do creators owe to history, especially if the players are in a new world as in Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series. The panel will discuss where historical truth meets literary license.

Lafferty as an American Fantasist
Time:  2 p.m.-3 p.m., Saturday,  Tidewater 2
Panelists:  Andy Duncan (M), Carrie Cuinn, Andrew Ferguson, Gordon Van Gelder, Don Pizarro, Cat Rambo
Description:  R. A. Lafferty was known for his original use of language and metaphor. Drawing on storytelling traditions of the Irish and Native Americans, but with his own twists, as in The Devil is Dead and The Flame is Green. The panel will explore how Lafferty used American history, American landscapes, and American folklore/mythology in his work.

Reading: Nicole Kornher-Stace
Time: 2:30pm-3pm, Nov. 8, Fairfax

Sunday

Young, Middle-Aged, and Older Writers
Time:  11 a.m.-12 p.m., Sunday,  Washington
Panelists:  Catherine Montrose (M), Nancy Kress, Kevin Maroney, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Description:  Some writers’ best work is the first thing they ever published. Others, like George R. R. Martin, get better with age. Others, such as Terry Pratchett, have maintained their quality over a span of decades. How does the age and/or generation of the writer affect the story? Also, does the age at which authors began to write matter? The bestselling Eragon was published by a young man of not yet twenty, while Tolkien did not get his first work published until he was forty-five. How does getting older affect an author’s work? How do they feel about their earlier works when they look back? Have our opinions, as readers, changed on this subject over time?

 



Publication Day for A Stranger in Olondria

Tue 30 Apr 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Yay! Which makes it extra nice that the cover artist, Kathleen Jennings, posted her cover process sketches for A Stranger in Olondria. And did you see the cake one of Sofia’s friends made for her for the launch reading party at A Room of One’s Own? Nice! There will also be a party of some sort at WisCon next month. Wish we were going!

You can of course read an excerpt on Tor.com or download a pdf of the first 70 pages; read Sofia’s The Big Idea, and an Interview on the Qwillery. More reviews—yours?— will be coming soon. It’s a big beautiful book and we’re very happy to see it out there in the world being read. Raul M. Chapa of BookPeople in Austin, TX, gave us a great early boost when he sent us this note from reading a galley, thanks Raul!

If you’re curious for some of the inspirations for this huge book and the deep love of reading that thrums all through it, check out Sofia’s What Were They Reading post.

 



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.



Steampunk! ToC

Wed 19 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Today Kelly and I are handing over the final copyedited manuscript of the anthology we’ve been working on for the last year or so: Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories to our editor, Deborah Noyes at Candlewick. Yay!

It’s been a huge amount of fun getting the stories (and two comics!) from the writers who hail from the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. There was the usual amount of last minute hijinks trying to corral 14 authors (including Kelly!) to go over the copyedits in superquick time, luckily for me none of them were on internet sabbatical.

But that it all done. The introduction is written, the bios are in, the stories are copyedited (and the copyediting arguments are over!) and so out the door it goes. Now we get to put together a website (although getting back to the 19th century and doing a website is harder than I expected it to be) and at some point soon we’ll get to post the cover. Candlewick showed us a couple of exciting cover roughs—more on that when it’s finalized.

And now: the table of contents!

Cassandra Clare, “Some Fortunate Future Day”
Libba Bray, “The Last Ride of the Glory Girls”
Cory Doctorow, “Clockwork Fagin”
Shawn Cheng, “Seven Days Beset by Demons” (comic)
Ysabeau Wilce, “Hand in Glove”
Delia Sherman, “The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor”
Elizabeth Knox, “Gethsemene”
Kelly Link, “The Summer People”
Garth Nix, “Peace in Our Time”
Christopher Rowe, “Nowhere Fast”
Kathleen Jennings, “Finishing School” (comic)
Dylan Horrocks, “Steam Girl”
Holly Black, “Everything Amiable and Obliging”