By willalex

VanderMeers & Interviews

Two new interviews just went up today. The first is by Laura Given at The Nerdy Book Club, and includes both a book giveaway and a brief video of myself reading and babbling about mask-related things. It also includes the Dust Bunny Theory of Novel Writing. The second is by Jeff VanderMeer at Omnivoracious, and includes both my astonishment at becoming a National Book Award Finalist and my further astonishment at being interviewed by Jeff VanderMeer.

I only just met Ann & Jeff a few weeks ago at the Twin Cities Book Festival, but I’ve loved his writing, her editorial vision, and their combined work as anthologists for many years. I got to introduce their presentation at the festival. Here’s what I said:

Ann VanderMeer is a prolific editor, publisher, and anthologist. During her too-brief tenure as the Weird Tales editor in chief the magazine was nominated thrice for the Hugo Award, and won that Hugo in 2009. 

Jeff VanderMeer is an equally prolific editor, anthologist, and fiction writer. He is twice a winner and twelve times a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. 

The two have collaborated on several anthologies, none more ambitious than The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories. Damien Walter calls it “an anthology of writing so powerful it will leave your reality utterly shredded,” and he implores us not to read it.

Definitions of the Weird are, of course, varied and contradictory, but the VanderMeer’s is the most rich, expansive, international, and compelling approach to an unsettling and uncanny literary tradition for which the rules are not known, and cannot be known. 

The companion website to the anthology, Weird Fiction Review .com, has grown into its own institution–if the anthology is too heavy for you to lift, I encourage you all to direct your browsers there. You’ll be fine. Really. It’s perfectly safe. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored to present Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

It’s been a long while since I posted bedtime stories on this blog. Embarrassing, since keeping a record of notable bedtime stories is ostensibly the purpose of the blog. However, I am now honored and privileged to present the first remembered bedtime stories of the VanderMeers.

Ann remembers Briar Rose and Winnie the Pooh first and foremost. As the eldest child, Ann soon transitioned from audience member to reader and performer of bedtime stories. This gave her a considerable amount of power over her younger siblings, who could be bribed or threatened with the promise, or lack, of stories. Ann never abused her powers, of course.

Jeff remembers an illustrated book of “The Tyger” by William Blake. This explains much. He remains productively obsessed with fearful symmetries.

Ciao for now!






National Book Award Finalist


So this happened.

I’ve known since Tuesday morning. But Tuesday was my birthday, so I had suspicions that this was all a birthday prank–an astonishingly cruel and elaborate birthday prank. I didn’t even tweet one of those “I have magnificent news, but I’m not allowed to tell you yet!” sort of tweets, just in case it was a prank. But now they’ve announced the finalists on TV and the internet and I’m listed as one of them and everything on TV and the internet is true, right? So maybe this is true.

My very first novel is a National Book Award Finalist.

Right now I feel as though all of my blood has been replaced with some sort fizzy, carbonated drink. My face is in a state of permanent blushing. My hair might catch fire at any moment.  My book gets to wear a medallion on the cover.

I need to rent a tux.


Twin Cities Book Festival

This is just a quick post to let local Twin Citizens know that I’ll be at the Twin Cities Book Festival on Saturday. My reading is scheduled for 3:40 in the Children’s Pavilion, but you really should come for the full day. This is an amazing event, one that celebrates literature in all of its wildly diverse forms, and it’s free to attend. Come celebrate with us.

Of Festivals & Kelly Barnhill

Yesterday I read from both Goblin Secrets and Ghoulish Song as at a festival of children’s authors and illustrators. The reading was fun, the festival was marvelous, and the Anderson Center has a tower in it. 

Next month I’ll be reading at the Twin Cities Book Festival, which will have a Children’s Pavilion in it.

Kelly Barnhill, author of The Mostly True Story of Jack and the forthcoming-very-soon Iron Hearted Violet, read from both books at the very same festival. She’s as good with words spoken as she is with words in ink–which is very good–and after her reading I asked my favorite question.

Her very first bedtime stories came from the Checkerbook. It was actually a well-loved and badly worn copy of fairy tales that her father rebound with a checkerboard, but she didn’t find that out until later. For years it was the Checkerbook, and the stories inside it were Checkerbook stories.

What a grand and dangerous thing to do. I wonder what sort of games the tales played inside that book.