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Stuff I Wrote in 2014


Ambassador_featuredThis is my first science fiction novel. I babbled about it on John Scalzi’s blog. Kirkus gave it a starred review. The great Héctor Tobar reviewed it for the New York Times. You can find a few sample chapters here.

Short Stories

“The Only Known Law,” Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2014. I chat about the story with C.C. Finlay here.

“Welcome,” Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction & Fantasy Stories, August 2014

Death Comes Sideways to the Mall,” Apex Magazine, March 2014

“The War Between the Water and the Road,” Unstuck #3, February 2014. The Minnesota Center for Book Arts just reprinted this one in an absurdly gorgeous, handmade edition illustrated by Amanda Ritchie, Chan Chau, and Amaya Goldsmith. Here’s a woodblock print of the ghost.


This picture might show up sideways in your browser. I don’t know why. It’s probably haunted.

So far the only thing I know about 2015 is that Nomad, the sequel to Ambassador, will be out in September.

Happy New Year, everybody. I hope this next circuit around the sun treats you splendidly.



“We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality…Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.” – Ursula K. Le Guin, 2014 National Book Awards


“I love how much love there is in the world of young adult and children’s literature, and how much deep respect we have for each other, how we know the world wouldn’t be complete without all of our stories in it.” – Jacqueline Woodson, 2014 National Book Awards 


This mission is what’s been passed down to me — to write stories that have been historically absent in this country’s body of literature, to create mirrors for the people who so rarely see themselves inside contemporary fiction, and windows for those who think we are no more than the stereotypes they’re so afraid of. To give young people — and all people — a sense of this country’s brilliant and brutal history, so that no one ever thinks they can walk onto a stage one evening and laugh at another’s too often painful past. – Jacqueline Woodson, “The Pain of the Watermelon Joke”



Book Launch Countdown

Ambassador will launch at the local planetarium! Join me for stargazing and snag a copy of of the book before anybody else does.

Wednesday, September 17th @ 6:30 pm at Como Elementary Planetarium

The official publication date is the following week, at which point I’ll celebrate further with Addendum Books and the splendid Stu Gibbs.

Monday, September 22nd @ 7:00 pm at Addendum Books

Addendum is an excellent place to find books for kids. Come find books if you happen to be a kid, or if you know any kids, or if you’re wise enough to remember your own kid-hood and still savor such stories.




July was a month of mostly teaching, and it was good.


First I joined the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. The on-campus residency was an intense fortnight full of warmth, welcome, and an exacting dedication to literary craft. Writers need community, and VCFA is an amazing place to find it.

Next I taught at Shared Worlds, a writing camp for teenagers. Students create worlds in the first week and write stories set in those freshly minted places during the second. My classroom of kids came up with a brilliant setting and a nuanced way to write about violence. I wish this workshop had existed when I was fourteen. Writers of all ages need community. You might find yours here.





After Shared Worlds I went on a virtual classroom visit with journalist and 6th grader Grace Clark. The video is here. (Scroll down a bit.) Don’t miss the Kathi Appelt interview on the same page.

Now July is over. The next thing on my calendar is the Mythopoeic Award Ceremony, though sadly I won’t get to be there in person. Myth-makers, world-builders, and scholars of the Inklings will be honored. One of the following novels will win in the kidlit category:


Shadows by Robin McKinley,
Conjured by Sara Beth Durst,
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac,
Doll Bones by Holly Black,
or Ghoulish Song by me.

This is thrilling and intimidating. Holly Black is a friend, mentor, and one of my Clarion instructors. Joseph Bruchac has written approximately a bazillion badass books. Sara Beth Durst has won the Mythopoeic Award before. And I’ve read and loved Robin McKinley’s novels since eighth grade.

Feels good to stand in such company.




Everybody go tell Twitter that #WeNeedDiverseBooks, and why. If you don’t know why then please click the hashtag and start reading. You’ll find out.

(My Twitter handle is @williealex, by the way.)


Here’s Junot Díaz with more reasons why:

“You guys know about vampires? You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections. But what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror—it’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. Growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me was this deep desire that before I died, I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back, and might not feel so monstrous for it.”

A few recent and forthcoming anthologies have stepped up to champion diversity, challenge the literary monoculture, and foster a more flourishing narrative ecosystem. Long Hidden is one. Here’s an interview with editors Rose Fox & Daniel José Older.

“These stories haven’t been “long hidden” because a mountain happened to fall on them. They were deliberately buried, and we are deliberately digging them up and bringing them to light.” – Rose Fox


Kaleidoscope is another such anthology. I’ll be in that one.


Read widely. Some of these stories will be strange to you. As strangers, give them welcome.

EDITED TO ADD: Just spotted Diverse Energies on my bookshelf and slapped my forehead for leaving it out of this post.