Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Notes From Elsewhere, and a Booksigning

First, and this is very important, expect to see me on Saturday at The Twig Bookshop!

Joe McDermott Book Signing - The Twig Book Shop - Current

I hope to see you all there!

I don't make a lot of public appearances, so do try to get the most out of this one, if you can. (Some authors can manage to do lots of signings all over, but they probably don't also have very time-consuming day jobs and a family!)

Guest posts have appeared here, there, and everywhere:

Beauty in Ruins:

Art feeds your dreams. Dreams feed your art.

I was pushing my head against the walls of the maze, writing Julie Station's sad story, and thinking about what it was I was writing, what it would become and the appropriate form for the maze-like halls. Tangled love affairs, certainly, but what else could capture this boundless unknowable space? To solve a maze is to destroy it. The puzzle must remain locked up in plain sight. Instead of lines fiddling and squiggling through the maps, the plot would follow the flight of birds over the walls. Alexander solved the Gordian knot with a single swipe of sword, How else to capture the unsolvable knot?

Wagging the Fox

Have you ever been lost at night in an unfamiliar city without a GPS? I was in Wiesbaden, Germany, and staying at my sister's apartment in Erbenheim. I was cat-sitting. I had gone to midnight mass for Easter at the cathedral, from the bus. I had to hurry to catch the last bus home. I missed the bus. Alone in the dark, then, in an unfamiliar city on foot. Germany has enough foot paths, and the cities were small enough, it could be done, and though it was as dangerous as you can imagine, it also wasn't as dangerous as all that. I walked through empty neighborhoods of mansions and industrial parks. I walked along the empty highway, oriented around a tall tower with neon lights. I walked alone.

My Superpower at Skiffy and Fanty

I am old enough, or young enough, to have played Street Fighter II in arcades without an inkling of expectation that it might enter the home console market at some point. I remember this well because the only place I ever had a chance to play it was at a local movie theater. If you were any good at it, you’d miss your movie. My friend, Ben Drake, was very good at it. I was not. I looked over his shoulder while he took on kid after kid, pounding them into virtual submission, while one of our mothers nagged us about how we were going to miss the movie we went there to see.

The Troubled Scribe

Traveling through most major cities outside the East Coast on foot is a terrible idea. I lived in Fort Worth for a while and I tried to walk and ride a bike as much as I could, but it meant dressing in long jeans and a denim jacket even in high summer for the brambles and trickling weeds. There aren’t safe paths for foot traffic since everyone drives. Pedestrians are dangerous. They must be vagrants and criminals and folks that don’t belong.
Midnyte Reader

Remember the scene in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth when the two doors stand side-by-side, one leads to the castle and the other to *dum dum dum* certain dooooom! and the guards are two entities. One lies, and one tells the truth.

All right, there's a couple things I want to point out. First, one of them lies, the other tells the truth? But, they both tell the truth before the whole riddle begins. Also, there's four of them, not two. If the one on the bottom is lying about the ones on top, than he knows which one it is, and it sort of alludes to that when the one on top gives the answer by consulting with the one on bottom.


The end of genre is at hand. It did not die in a massive burst, and there was no single moment to point to that nails the coffin shut. No, it is the way things die when the demographics shift. The radios that play that song dwindle into the AM bands, go out like little lights, with a few hanging on a while, for old time’s sake. This is happening. This is our future. Genre existed to create a space for the marginalized dreamers, the outsiders, and the strange. But, everyone is strange now. Our biggest movies are genre. Our biggest musical acts are bisexual aliens. Everyone loves comic books, now. The conventions make the front page news all over the world. Like all good, American things, our young people love it more when it comes back to us made strange by a foreign culture. It’s not the Beatles, this time. It’s Anime.
Writing a book in this climate, a genre book, is a grand shrug against the tides of time.

One of the Artists on the Book, AnnGee, the amazing and beautiful and amazingly talented illustrator - also known as Mrs. McDermott - posted clean versions of some of the interior ornamentation she drew for the books. Go check out some of her other work while you're there!

Right, so, remember: Book signing on Saturday at the Twig. On Saturday. This Saturday. Noon.

I will have all six books for sale, so come by and see what you're missing.

(I have an excellent relationship with the Twig, FYI, and if you ever are in need of a signed copy of anything by me, contacting them is the easiest way to do it, and I know they can take mail orders!)

I am lying fallow, working and reading. Lots of reading. Lots more working.

Be at peace while in my absence, fair intertubes.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

winter lie fallow

I was sitting on my back patio in the brief respite between the Canadian fronts, today, watching the birds sweep over the lawn for scraps.

Despite the severity of winter, it is not winter itself that is the most deadly time for the creatures of the world. Spring is the worst, right at the beginning of it. Food stores run out. Acorns stored for winter sprout and break through the grass green and alive and inedible. The end of winter and the beginning of spring is the worst moment, the darkness before the dawn, and the flush of loquats and mulberries feed the world until the rest of the world wakes up.

Winter is still here, still passing through. I watched the brazen animals desperately scrounging through my raised beds and pots. I realized that the seeds I had planted must no longer be present in the soil. I would have to plant again, something else. Maybe I should spread birdseed and gruet out in the grass and cover the pots and growing places with wires or tarps until germination comes.

Another storm, another miserable flush of winter, in a day or so, and then quite nearly spring.

The winds blow out all the world. The terrible winds blow down from the north.

I would rather think of these things than anything else.

The preorders struggled to arrive in all this terrible weather, but they arrived. They are signed and sent away.

I have guest posted.

Let me rest. Let me lie fallow a while and watch the earth pass out of the worst times, that early spring, where there's nothing out there, and everything is fighting to start.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Growing on Mars

I have an ambivalence about agricultural technology that comes from how pointless it mostly looks. The things we do to improve yields come at such a high price. But my moral foundation - outside of my religion - comes from my belief that we need to abandon this rock to the birds and step out past the darkness in the sky. There is so much room for life.

So, to proponents of genetic engineering, and our destructive system of agriculture, I offer this response.

Someday this planet will be a vast, wild wasteland. The people will be gone. We will have stepped into the starlight. So, perfect your technique of genetic manipulation and the malleability of the organisms that evolve and evolve, but do not pollute this pristine mother with your experiments here. We are all only on one rock. A single outbreak could kill us all. One nuclear winter would be enough to wipe away all known life in the whole universe. Let us step into the stars, first.

Mars appears to be an amazing laboratory. The long growing season there, the water, the seemingly limitless supply of isolated spaces, and the gap between worlds all paint a picture of what could be done with man and beast and living green cell. There, build your organisms from scratch. Here, leave the ancient preserve alone.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

San Antonio, come to the TwigBook shop on February 1!

I will be signing books at the Twig on February 1, in the neighborhood of noon, give or take. All 6 will be present and for sale, (I hope!) so you can fill out your collection if you are so inclined. For folks who missed the early 50 deal at Apex, this is an excellent opportunity to show up in person or call in and snag a signed copy of MAZE.

View Larger Map

I hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winter Orchard

Down south spring is weeks away. Things that don't mind a cold snap must be pruned like wild books that don't know their own best scenes. Do it now before the winds come, to protect them from damage. The spring winds will blow through soon, clear out all the world. The polar vortex did some damage, and I'm surveying that, too.

Dead lemongrass. Dead ginger.
Polar Vortex ate them all.
The grape vine is a mess. I let it grow wild one year, get established, and get a few good canes growing.

Time to cut.
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Dead japaleno:
The peaches and pear are next, in February
The cold snap and the warm, wet day woke up the bud on the pear:
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Every time I fix it, the wind breaks it again. ->
Don't let fig clippings go to waste. That might become a tree.
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<- a="" and="" canes="" compost="" mess="" of="" p="" what="">

Friday, January 3, 2014

MAZE at Amazon...

Hey, look:

Naturally, my preferred vendor would be straight from Jason at Apex Books, but if you have a gift card burning a hole in your pocket, this would be a lovely thing to use it on, right? Now would be a great time to post a review, if you have read it already. Just sayin'... ;)