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.

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