The Devil’s Alphabet: Launch Day

The freaky-deaky cover
Click it to flip it

It’s November 24 — the official publication date of my second book, The Devil’s Alphabet. I’ve gotten word from pal Jack Skillingstead that it’s already on the shelves in Seattle—it must be the time difference. And two people just emailed me (it’s 1Am Tuesday morning as I type this) that their order just shipped from Amazon.

The latest reviews, the first chapter, and links to buy are all on the Devil page.

Meanwhile, here’s a party game to play for the launch: go to your friendly neighborhood bookstore, find the book on the shelf… and flip it over. It’s freaky fun for the whole family.

There are a raft of people who were a great help in writing this book. I’d tell you to read about them in the acknowledgments, but what if you never buy the thing? Or if the cover scares you, and you never even look inside?

Better to thank all those people here, in front of God and everybody. Here’s a copy of what you’d find if you opened the front cover:

Many people helped make the book you’re holding (or viewing, or listening to) and I owe them my sincere thanks. Chris Schluep, with a deft hand on the editorial stick, guided this book the final miles over the chilly Hudson. Many more people at Del Rey worked to get these words in front of you, including some–Fleetwood Robbins (who acquired this book when its title was “Work to be Named Later”), and SueMoe! (one word, with exclamation mark)–who’ve moved on and are greatly missed. Deanna Hoak signed up for a second tour of copy editing. And David Bowie–well, he has no idea how much he helped me write this thing.

My gratitude goes as well to the early readers: Charles Coleman Finlay, Sarah K. Castle, Cathrynne M. Valente, and the rest of the Blue Heaven workshop crew who critiqued the first draft; Heather Lindsley, who fine-tuned the second; and Kathy Bieschke, Gary Delafield, and Elizabeth Delafield, who marked up hundreds of pages in between. Emma and Ian Gregory read none of it, but informed all of it.

And to all the Gregorys, Barbaras, Meyers, Riddles, and Heatons, the multitude of aunts, uncles, and cousins — so many cousins! — scattered over the Smokies: thanks for feeding your Yankee relation every time he came to town. Even more than the bizarre residents of Switchcreek, the lonely boy in this book is a creature of pure imagination.

Last, I want to point out that the book is dedicated to my parents, Darrell and Thelma. You wouldn’t believe what they had to put up with.

I’ve been Yeti-Stomped

My interview with Patrick Wolohan of the Stomping on Yeti blog just went live. Patrick’s been running an interesting interview series called “Keeping an eye on….” Here’s how he explains it:

In June 2008, there was a SF Signal Mind Meld entitled Who Are Tomorrow’s Big Genre Stars. Basically, a group of genre superstars involved in editing, publishing, and writing weighed in on who they thought were going to be next genre heavy hitters in the years to come.

They were 21 names on the list, and Patrick’s been trying to follow up with each of them to hear what they’re working on now and to ask a few off-the-wall questions.

In this one we talk about the ghettoization of genre, the highlight of my career so far (emotionally speaking, I peaked early) and my favorite word. Patrick will also be publishing his review of The Devil’s Alphabet this week.

Oh, here’s the list of the other folks on that SF Signal list that he’s been keeping an eye on:

  • Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Jay Lake
  • David Moles
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Ted Kosmatka
  • Chris Roberson
  • Vandana Singh
  • Daniel Abraham
  • Laird Barron
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Alan DeNiro
  • Alex Irvine
  • Paul Melko
  • Naomi Novik
  • Tim Pratt
  • M. Rickert
  • Jason Stoddard

This is not the swine flu!

Okay, I love World Fantasy, but I came back with a head cold, which today blossomed into fever, body aches, and massive sinusoidal activity. I went home from work and crashed hard. As I type this I’m riding a wave of ibuprofen and sudafed. Also, the ringing in my ears sounds like Jethro Tull. I’m hoping it will pass soon.

It was a great convention, though. I made new friends and kept the old, one is silver, the other is… hey aqualung…. Okay, I’m back.  While in San Jose I got to hang out with Team Pandemonium: my first editor, Fleetwood Robbins, my second editor, Chris Schluep, and my copyeditor, Deanna Hoak. Only cover artist Greg Ruth was absent (but I was on a panel where the moderator asked me to talk about the cover).

Speaking of covers, Chris brought along the first printed copy I’d seen of The Devil’s Alphabet. A very nice moment, getting to hold that first warm copy.

I also learned this weekend that Publisher’s Weekly named it one of the top 100 books of 2009 — one of only five in the science fiction/fantasy/horror category. They said:

This subtle, eerie present-day horror novel mercilessly dissects and reassembles the classic narrative of a man returning to his smalltown birthplace, where the familiar folks have become strange creatures.

So dissection and reassemblage — that’s pretty cool. And to be in such good company: China Mieville’s The City and the City (also edited by my man Chris Schluep),  The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (he’s a friend o’mine), Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, and Ellen Datlow’s anthology Lovecraft Unbound (which my Lovecraft-obsessed son will undoubtedly get). Buy them all for Christmas.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon Pandemonium lost the best novel award to Jeff Ford and Margo Lanagan, two stellar writers. I’m getting used to losing to Jeff, and if he wasn’t so good, and a nice guy to boot, it might start to bother me.  But as my daughter pointed out, Neil Gaiman also lost. So that makes Neil and me, like, equals, right? (Right….)

Okay, off to take more pills and lie down. Just as soon as this flute solo dies down.