greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
Okay. It's sort of a nasty one, and I want answers in the spirit of Sirenia Digest: that is to say they must be weird, erotic, and respecting no boundaries of "decency."

Question: You're a scientist, of any stripe. Geneticist works nicely. I'm the subject of an especially unpleasant (but fascinating, yet perhaps pointless) experiment. You, as a scientist, have no scruples whatsoever. The experiment is all that matters. Science! Mad scientist science! These things said, what would be done to me? Describe the steps and the end result. My reactions. Only rules, it can't prove fatal, and I must remain conscious through almost all of it, and no writing or tea brewing or foot massages can be involved. Other individuals (or parts thereof) may be employed.

Get your hands dirty! No minimum or maximum word limit; write as much or as little as you wish. The answers I like best will appear in Sirenia Digest #72.

Same rules apply as with the previous questions: All comments are screened.* That means, no one but me can read your replies. That's an extra incentive for you to leave the inhibitions behind. Only I will read these. The answers that are selected for the digest will appear without their authors' names attached, so there's complete anonymity from everyone but me. Be outlandish. Don't be afraid to step Outside.

* If you're reading this via Facebook, obviously I cannot screen your comments, unless you post them to LJ. However, I will be taking private messages through Facebook. Same with Twitter.
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)

Spooky just quoted the Agricultural Commissioner of the state of Florida to me. "This snail is one bad dude," she said. Well, she said, he said. These are our mornings.

Yesterday, I didn't work. My body isn't exhausted. I've actually been getting more sleep than I did for a long time (finally having discovered the effective anti-insomnia cocktail...for me), but I've been working so much. For a long time, I was truly too ill to take on more than...this gets sort of funny. Even when I was very ill, I was working a lot. I'm making a living as a freelance, and so there's no choice but to work. Health is not relevant, not really. Regardless, about a year and a half ago, I began getting better, and taking on more work, and conceiving new ideas, and, at this point, I go to sleep working out problems in my fiction and wake up doing the same thing. Okay, more the former than the latter. But it's catching up with me, and my mind and nerves are tired. All thus fucking work. So, I didn't work yesterday.

I suppose autumn is here. I haven't spent much time outside, but it must be here. I feel it. It isn't looking in. Why would it bother? But I feel its dry brown eyes upon me, if only because I'm in the way. Not that I believe the autumn is something that can literally have eyes. And speaking of the autumn, and Hallowe'en, Spooky is having a Hallowe'en Sale (!!!) in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries. 20% off on everything! And if you don't buy something, she'll get sad, and when she gets sad.... Well, trust me. You don't want her sad. So, something. The necklaces are truly amazing.

Actually, I hate that word. Sad*, I mean. It's a child's word. There at least twenty synonyms in the English language that are far more suitable to mature vocabularies. Of course, if you are a child, by all means, good word. Use it till the wheels fall off.*

I'm having a great deal of frustration as regards futurism at the moment. I don't mean the artistic movement that arose in Italy about 1910 (including Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, Antonio Sant'Elia, Tullio Crali and Luigi Russolo, plus the Russians Natalia Goncharova, Velimir Khlebnikov, and Vladimir Mayakovsky). I mean futurism in the many senses that it is employed by those who wish to analyze trends and then forecast. But I don't mean those looking for better futures (there are none), and I don't mean those who believe the future can be accurately forecast (that's almost impossible; not quite, but almost). What I have in mind is far simpler: communicating to people that the future will be alien, just as the past is alien. That is, alien to us, from the Here and Now. And convincing people they do not currently live in some incarnation or portion of the future (excepting that this came after that; well, that's bloody obvious, and now you're even older). I mean, the future will be different, and the farther you move into the future, the stranger (less like now) it becomes. That everything evolves, and not just technology, but culture. SF writers have an especial problem with evolving culture, economics, biology, medicine, politics, and especially with evolving language. But...I'm not actually concerned here with writers. Even the worst SF writer is ahead of the curve in this regard. I'm talking about...oh, never mind. You can lead a horse to a fine Bordeaux, but it's just gonna want the oogy, muddy, stinking water in the drinking through, where all the rodents poop. Some will know of what I speak; others will not.

Did I mention that Spooky is having a Hallowe'en Sale (!!!) in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries. I did? Just checking.

Last night, we happened to see a rather good movie, Christian Alvart's Case 39 (2009), with Renée Zellweger, Ian McShane, and Jodelle Ferland. I went in not expecting much, and was pleasantly surprised. You could call this a "horror movie," and maybe it is. But I find it more interesting to think of as a film about terror and horror (and those aren't the same emotions, you know, regardless of how linked they may be). Also, while this film clearly comes from the demonic child/possession tradition, it immediately struck me as a story about a fairie changeling, and (though the word demon is tossed about a couple of times, and we see a crucifix and a Bible, the Xtianity thing is almost absent). So, it may be Alvart had something far less concrete than a "demon" (sensu Xtianity) in mind. It may only be that he understands the American mind, needing something familiar, would fix on "demon." Anyway, Case 39 is not a particularly original movie, so if you're that sort (and I hope you're not), don't waste your time with it. It plays old tropes, but it plays them well. It's not brilliant, but it is good, and it's stuck with me. There are elements it borrows from better films, but it borrows them well. And, even in an ending that might seem hopeful, step back, and you'll see the overwhelming bleakness and horror still in play. It's streaming free on Netflix.

Later, I read a truly awful story in the Halloween anthology, Lyllian Huntley Harris' "The Vow on Halloween." Never heard of Lyllian Huntley Harris? Well, neither had I, and with good reason. The anthology's editor (who freely admits this tale is "pure pulp and quaintly romantic") notes that the story was, in a 1985 anthology, mistakenly attributed to the Irish novelist Dorothy Macardle. Turns out, though, it was published in Weird Tales in 1924, by a Georgian woman (that is, Georgia, USA), and her name was Lyllian Huntley Harris, and she couldn't write for shit. Virtually nothing else is known about her. She died in 1939.

Oh, we saw the first episode of Season Four of Fringe, More, please. I am impressed and pleased. There are points I could get picky about, but I'm not going to, because the show is just too much fun.

Also, here's an interesting bit of trivia. My first rejection slip ever came from the late, lamented Twlight Zone magazine in 1982 (at least, I think it was '82). The story was a stinker, and it deserved the rejection, believe me. Anyway, at the time, the editor was T. E. D. Klein, who wrote the excellent and surprisingly (to me) successful Machenesque novel The Ceremonies (1984) and the shorty-story collection Dark Gods (1985), and, sadly, very little else. But, yeah, my first rejection slip came from T. E. D. Klein, who, turns out, wrote the introduction of the forthcoming Hippocampus Press collection of Arthur Machen stories, which will feature the afterword I wrote in 2008 for a different collection of Machen stories. It's an odd little twist of fate.

Um...well...I have gone on haven't I?

Aunt Beast

* Then again, there's really nothing wrong with the word sad. Not intrinsically. The problem is people who use it childishly, habitually, with marked naïveté. Usually, these are people with a stunted world view.
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
A rare alignment of cranial discomfort. Parallel lines of eye-bleeding hurt. I'm not sure Spooky and I have ever before had multi-day headaches at the same time. But we have now. And it sucks rancid weasel ass through a crazy straw, and it needs to fucking stop. My scalp feels like there's broken glass just beneath the skin.

This is a day on which there must be comments. I won't survive without them.

My thanks to Joah, who sent me a link to someone's list of "The Six Creepiest Abandoned Places." I'd argue the list isn't definitive, but it's still a pretty good list. I'm especially taken with Gunkanjima, Japan and Hellingly Asylum. The latter is genuinely exquisite. I would live there in a heartbeat:

On the sheets and pillow case,
In my bed for heaven's sake,
The devil's dancing until late in my head there.
But I could sleep with you there.
I could sleep with you there.

That's interesting. Firstly, that while thinking of Hellingly Asylum the lyrics to a Catharine Wheel song occurred to me. Secondly, that they apply so aptly to last night's insomnia (which was Nigh Unto Monumental, no sleep until after six ayem) and also apply to my emotional reaction to the photographs (follow the link from the article) of that place. Rabbit hole. Subconscious association. Pink Freud. 5 and 1/2 minute hallways. It's all the same thing in here. Anyway, I loved this bit from the article (about another asylum, one in New Jersey):

Listen, because this is important advice: If you ever start a sanatorium, you need to tear that shit down once you’re done with it. Not repurpose it or leave it empty or something; that is just begging – literally begging – for a group of stupid teenagers to sneak inside of it to have illicit sex, where they will inevitably get murdered by the ghosts of madmen. It’s like a Roach Motel for horny morons. You may as well put an “Idiots Fuck Here” sign out front and start up a mortuary next door; you’d make a killing.

See, I don't get to genuinely laugh – that sort of laughter that makes you hurt yourself – that often. That paragraph made me laugh. Oh, in particular, I was soothed by this photo from Hellingly. I'm not bullshitting you. I'm not being sarcastic. That's just...soothing. I think I look like that inside. If you cracked me open, you'd find that room.


On this day in 1900, Aleister Crowley broke into and took over the Golden Dawn temple in London, providing the catalyst for the demise of the original Golden Dawn.


Yesterday, despite the black mood and the headache, I wrote 1,072 words on "Fake Plastic Trees" while Spooky drew ravens. The story seems to be coming together. After reading yesterday's pages, Spooky said, "This makes me feel so bad. Really, really bad. The complete wrongness of it, of that whole world." I'm taking this as a compliment, because I know she meant it as one.

Intention isn't everything, kittens, but it carries a lot of weight with me.

After working on the story, I wrote an actual Wikipedia entry on Hauffiosaurus, because when I linked to it yesterday there was just a sad-ass, one-sentence stub. That took about another hour.

We saw the latest episode of Fringe last night. Jesus fuck, this show is brilliant. It's gone from a dull first season, all monster-of-the-week nonsense, to sheer fucking wonky universe-warping brilliance. Last night's episode, "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide," has to receive an Emmy nomination. If the Emmy's mean anything (and we already know they don't). This is the first series since Farscape that truly isn't afraid of being as weird as it needs to be, but which isn't just being weird for weird's sake. Pushing Daisies tried to be this brilliant, but was murdered long before it achieved this level of supremely masterful weirdness.

Spooky's doing the tax thing today. Taxes, taxes, we all fall down.

Gods, I just realized I've been wearing the same T-shirt for four days. "Reynolds/Washburne 2008: You Can't Stop the Signal." Dirty fucking nerd. Take a bath and change your damn clothes.

Oh, hello. How long have you been standing there?

You know, for kids,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
The postman just brought me two copies of Weird Tales #357, which includes [ profile] readingthedark's (Geoffrey H. Goodwin) interview with me., this is just sort of cool. In February 1928, "The Call of Cthulhu" appeared in Weird Tales— and, for me, the magazine will always be Lovecraft's —and now here's me, eighty-three years later. The interview looks great. The coolest thing about it, they used the alternate cover for The Red Tree created by [ profile] scarletboi (Christopher Lee Simmons). So, that just ladled a fat dollop of extra cool on top of the already cool. Anyway, it's the Spring 2011 issue, and if it's not out now, it soon will be. Oh, and the cover is one of Lee Moyer's exquisite paintings. Oh oh, and there's a very nice little review of The Ammonite Violin & Others, too. I should always have something this cool before breakfast.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,824 words on the ninth chapter of The Drowning Girl. This morning, I was speaking with my editor, and she doesn't want the book running any longer than 115,000 words at the most, so I find myself very, very near THE END. I have maybe two weeks of writing left until THE END, and maybe less. Which leaves me with mixed feelings. This has been, by far, the most difficult novel I've ever written, and it will be a bittersweet relief to see it done. But, on the other hand, I have fallen so deeply in love with Imp that setting her behind me and moving on to other stories will be very strange.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, if you've not already. Also, I've a favor to ask. Lately, I feel like I'm constantly asking favors of my readers, and the favors are almost always favors involving money. This I find distasteful in the extreme. But. It's been a longtime between checks again, and I have a doctor's appointment on Friday that's sort of hit us out of nowhere. And I've not yet paid my dues to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology for 2011. As of March 1, I'll be facing a steep late fee on top of the $130 annual dues. I was nominated into SVP in 1984 and have been a member for twenty-seven years. So, there's a PayPal button below, and if you can donate a few bucks, I will be extremely grateful.

After the writing, Spooky and I proofed "La Peau Verte" for Two Worlds and In Between. And them, last night, I had a long nap before dinner. Writing at this pace, and coughing, I find naps unavoidable. Then, after dinner, we watched the new episodes of Fringe and Spartacus, and both were excellent. And then I played WoW and finished all the Thousand Needles quests and started in on the Un'Goro Crater ones. I hate Un'Goro Crater. And then we read more of [ profile] blackholly's The White Cat. And then, finally, I slept.

Spooky has just inspired me to write a song titled "Heroin Slug," about a huge banana slug who lives in Portland, Oregon with a bunch of junkies. It will be very William S. Burroughs. I wonder if Weird Tales would publish it? Or maybe I know a musician who might set it to music and record it....

greygirlbeast: (Shah1)
The weather seems to have turned cool again. It was warm enough yesterday in the House that we had to crank up Dr. Muñoz for the first time in weeks.

Almost all of yesterday was spent working on the interview for Weird Tales. How is that possible? Because I have an almost ironclad rule about live interviews, which is simply that I almost never agree to them. Almost. So maybe it's only tinclad. My ability to be articulate has an annoying tendency to wink out when I'm having to answer questions "live." The live interviews I've given over the course of my writing career can likely be counted on one hand. Or two. One, if it has a lot of fingers. There was one I did on the telephone with Publisher's Weekly in, I think, 1996. I was still living in Athens. I did a couple of live radio interviews after Silk came out in 1998, and one to the Birmingham Post-Herald. After that, there's a big gap. In 2007, after much reluctance, I finally agreed to be interviewed for Frank Woodward's documentary, Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown. But I'm not sure that even counts as live. There were about a bazillion takes, and it took all day to get through it, as I was allowed to get answers just right. In 2008, I gave a live interview to Locus during ReaderCon 19. A month or so later, I gave one to a reporter from the South County Independent about The Red Tree; we met at the Peace Dale Public Library for that one. So, yeah. Not many at all, especially considering I've probably done more than a hundred interviews since 1996 or so.

Today, I go back to work on Sirenia Digest #58. Last night, I saw Vince's first sketch for the illustration he's doing to accompany "John Four," and I loved it.

"Faces in Revolving Souls" will be reprinted in the November 9th issue of Lightspeed. Also, "The Pearl Diver" is being reprinted in a forthcoming anthology of dystopian science fiction, details TBA. "The Melusine (1898)" is being reprinted in a forthcoming anthology of steampunk fiction. Lots of good reprints.

And speaking of my science fiction, I really will be writing The Dinosaurs of Mars, finally, and it's scheduled to be released by Subterranean Press late in 2011. Bob Eggleton is still onboard for the project.


Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks. Also, [ profile] catconley, please, please, please contact Spooky about your recent eBay purchases. It's very important.


Here's a picture I took of Jupiter and the Moon back on Wednesday night. I've been meaning to post it, and kept forgetting. But here it is. It's all a blur, because our camera sucks for this sort of thing. With my naked eye, the moon was the moon, and Jupiter was clearly a planet. But at least the smudgy lights are pretty. That's the closet Jupiter's been to Earth since 1951, a mere 368 million miles (592 million kilometers) away. It won't be this close again until 2022.

Jupiter and the Moon )


No Insilico roleplay last night. Instead, Spooky and I did two Outland dungeons, both in Terokkar: the Mana-Tombs and Auchenai Crypts. It was good to switch off the brain and be Shaharrazad. I know the armory page says she's Shaharrazad the Diplomat, but that's really just a way of catching people off their guard. Last night, she rained fire upon the heads of ornery Dranei necromancers. After WoW, we read more of Kristin Hersh's Rat Girl. Recording the first 4AD album, vicious dobermans, Liverpudlian sound engineers, preganancy, and Betty Hutton. We're coming to the end of the book, and I'm not wanting it to be THE END.

Anyway. Those doughnuts won't make themselves, and the mothmen are casting a baleful eye my way. Yeah, just one eye. They're sort of stingy. Or maybe they're mocking me.
greygirlbeast: (Walter1)
Yesterday, [ profile] anaisembraced reminded me of a quote from one of Anaïs Nin's published diaries (1931-1934). It manages to say much more eloquently what I was trying to say yesterday about my need for a public persona:

"There were always in me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was drowning and another who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage, conceal her true emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, despair, and present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest."


Yesterday was spent, work-wise, beginning the layout of Sirenia Digest #58. I have to set that aside today for the aforementioned Weird Tales interview, which I'm doing after all. Part of me is so done with giving interviews. Another part of me recognizes it's always going to be something I have to do.

If you want truly secure online passwords, create your own language. It works wonders.

The weather has turned warm again.

People have started asking me questions about the H. P. Lovcecraft Film Festival. What I will and won't be doing, my schedule, how many books will I sign, when's my reading, what will I be reading from, how long will I be in Oregon, am I going to Powell's, and so forth. I'm going to post my schedule for the festival and CthulhuCon here in the next day or so.

As for signing, I'm not going to have an actual signing session scheduled, I don't think, so you might want to plan on bringing stuff you want signed to my reading, or catching me before or after a panel, something like that. But not if I'm eating, or something like that. I'll sign as many books as you want signed. No limit. I'll personalize them. I won't write stupid shit like, "To my best friend" or "For a kindred spirit" or poetry or anything like that. I won't inscribe my books with passages from my books. I bring these things up because from time to time they've been an issue in my eBay sales. I'll sign books, and I'll sign books to you or to whomever you want them signed to, but that's about it. Sometimes, if the mood strikes me, I throw in a monster doodle, but the mood rarely strikes me.

Also, I am declaring this con "Be Nice to Spooky Weekend." Which means, well, be nice to Spooky, because if she weren't coming along, I wouldn't be able to be there. Please feel free to bring her doughnuts from Voodoo Donuts (I think she's especially interested in the bacon-maple bars, voodoo dolls, and apple fritters). Or a vial of Escential's "oak moss." These things will make her smile.


So far, I've completely avoided seeing clips and trailers from Matt Reeves Let Me In, which is a remake of Tomas Alfredson's superb and perfect Låt den rätte komma in (both based on John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel, Låt den rätte komma in). I hate the things that Reeves has said, with a straight face, about making the story more accessible for Americans. I hate that he's gutting the novel and original film's gender issues by simply making Eli a genetic female. How can that not come across as pandering to homophobic and transphobic filmgoers? And this is all confusing, because I very much loved Reeves' Cloverfield, and want to see more from him. I'm not especially fond of American remakes of foreign language films, but I also don't hate them on principle, as some seem to do. Usually, I'll give them a chance. But this time, I don't see how I can.

Oh, and I'm very pleased to see that [ profile] docbrite is finally reading House of Leaves.


Some smart, moving, exquisite rp in Insilico last night. Lately, my rp has involved very few people, which I have found, through trail and error, to be the best approach. Two people is ideal. Four is usually my limit for a scene. More than that, there's too much chaos. This story began back in January and February, with a long hiatus from April into July. At this point, it's mostly the story of two people, one of whom happens to be an android. It's like the middle of a good sf novel, one for which I know I'll never get to read the beginning or ending (which makes it rather like a dream). It demonstrates the marvel that Second Life can be, but almost never manages to be. Anyway, my thanks to Fifth and Molly.

Earlier, Spooky and I watched the latest Project Runway (good riddance, Ivy) and the first episode of Season Three of Fringe, which I though was an especially strong episode.

And now, there's the interview (though internet porn sounds like more fun)....
greygirlbeast: (newest chi)
And here it is Friday, and only seven days until we leave for Portland (and that's counting today). So things are getting weird and hectic. I've never been to Portland, but Spooky lived there for three years, 1996-1999, and has tremendous trepidation about returning. So, we're coping with that, too. But I am not a traveling writer. There seem to be so many traveling writers these days. By "traveling writer," I mean writers who spend a lot of time on business-related trips (i.e., workshops, conventions and conferences, expos, and book tours). I love to travel, if it's purely for the sake of traveling, but I'm really not one for writing-related travel (except in the sense that any given trip may inspire stories). So, this sort of thing is rare for me. And it makes me very anxious.

I also don't know how writers who spend so much time engaged in writer-travel get anything written. I wouldn't be able to get anything written.

I was wondering, the other night, why people seem resistant to the idea of writers having public personae. It's perfectly normal (and common) for actors and musicians. But with writers it seems to piss people off (including other writers), or at least annoy them. I sort of have a public persona. The person you see at a con isn't precisely the person I am in private. I found it necessary a long time ago, both to alleviate my anxiety about public appearances and because the person I am in private is terribly anti-social. So, for cons and signings and readings I have this other Caitlín persona I put on. I wear her (though she's changed over the years). Trust me, she's much nicer to be around.


Yesterday, I decided, we needed one last day off before the mad rush to the trip. One last day just for me and Spooky to be calm. So, about three p.m. we headed to Conanicut Island (the right way round), out to West Cove, our favorite beach for sea glass. When we arrived, there was a large group of scuba divers. It's a popular spot for scuba, but I'd never seen so many at once before. Most left shortly after we arrived, but some lingered in the cove, occasionally rising to the surface like strange aquatic hominids. The weather was good, warm and only a few clouds. We found some good glass, but some really spectacular bones. West Cove is also a good bone beach, mostly bird bones. Yesterday, I we found an assortment of wings bones and vertebrae from cormorants, gulls, and other birds, and I also found a spectacular gull jaw, complete with yellow-orange keratin sheath. Really gorgeous. I also found three bones I'm fairly certain belong to a seal, which is a first.

I've often imagined, while at West Cove, carrying out a weird sort of "future paleontology" study there. I mean, imagining what the sandy, pebbly deposits there would be like ten or fifteen million years from now. And trying to reconstruct the local fauna, assuming the bones I'm finding would be preserved as fossils. A diverse avifauna would dominate the assemblage, with lots of fish and very rare mammals.

Yeah, I'm a science nerd.

Anyway, we stayed until it was almost dark, and the tide was coming in. We watched two mallards, and a sad sort of sea gull that seemed to be following them around. We tried to decided if a cross between a gull and a mallard would be called a "gulk" or a "dull." We finally, reluctantly, headed back to the van about six-thirty p.m. I wanted to stay all night, listening to the lapping waves and watching the sky and hearing the birds. There are photos, at the end of this entry, behind the cut.

Oh, I read Richard Bowes' short story, "Knickerbocker Holiday" (from Haunted Legends), on the way down to the island.


I think I have to do an interview for Weird Tales before we leave.


In all this discussion of eReaders, one thing in particular strikes me as absurd. And I'm honestly not trying to pick on anyone, I'm just being honest. What strikes me as especially absurd are the people who tell me they absolutely could not live without their Kindle or Nook or whatever. They are fervent in this claim, and I assume they truly believe what they're saying. I'm just not sure they've thought very much about what they're saying. I mean, they got along just fine without these devices a year or two or three ago, right? And now they can't live without them? I kind of have to assume this is hyperbole, that they're very enthusiastic and overstating their case. Because, otherwise, it's absurd, and I like to think people aren't absurd (though clearly most are).

I think about recently acquired tech that is very dear to me. Say, my iPod (I'm still using a sturdy old fossil of an iPod from early 2005). Or my very low-tech mechanical pencils. Or the PlayStation 3. Our digital cameras. Or certain programmes, like Second Life and World of Warcraft. These things are dear to me, to varying degrees, and I use them a lot. But can I live without them? Sure. I did just fine before they came along. So, it's hard for me to imagine these eReader users keeling over from shock or wasting away if they were ever suddenly deprived of their Nooks. Or Kindles. Or whatever.

When they say, "I can't live without my eReader," they must surely mean, "I don't want to live without my eReader," or even "I can't imagine living without my eReader."

Rarely does it help an argument to overstate your case.


At Eastside Market, I saw a book with the excruciatingly embarrassing title Wuthering Bites, and a cover that was clearly meant to look like one of the Twlight covers. And the book's exactly what it sounds like, Emily Bronte's novel rewritten with vampires. Can we please stop doing this? It was never very funny, and at this point these parodies seem like parodies of parodies. Which is to say the gimmick is on beyond tired. Stop milking it. Please.


I almost forgot, there's a very nice review of The Ammonite Violin and Others at The San Francisco Book Review (review by Ariel Berg). I love this bit: "Those whose imaginations flourish best in the dark will find a great deal to love in The Ammonite Violin."

Okay. Here are the photos. I need to get to work, and Spooky has to go to the post office.

23 September 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (fight dinosaurs)
Sunny today, only a few clouds, and the highs are going to be somewhere in the mid eighties. Which means the House will become uncomfortable. But I have too much work to do to go any place cooler. I could take the laptop with me and hide out at the Peace Dale Library, for example, but I know, from experience, I'd not get any work done. There would be too many distractions. I can only write at the desk in my office. Spooky's going to wheel Muñoz in a little later, to keep the office cool. Of course, we do that at the expense of the rest of the House. But, hey, the words must roll.

Though, they didn't roll very far yesterday. And it wasn't because of the heat. Friday night, it was time to increase my Lamictal dose again, and yesterday the side effects (mostly fatigue and nausea) hit me hard. But I sat here, anyway. I spent an hour tweaking and revising what I wrote on "The Maltese Unicorn" on Thursday and Friday— the opening scene in an interrogation cell at the Drancy Transit Camp in the Paris suburbs, October 1941. This is so much about achieving authenticity— of period and place and culture —every word counts even more than usual. Then I spent two hours beginning the first section of the story proper, which is the narrator recalling events that unfolded six years earlier, in the Manhattan of 1935. But I was ill, as I have mentioned, and as I likely shall be again today, and in two hours I managed only 312 words. I'm fairly certain they are 312 good words, but still. This will be an 8,500-10,000-word story, and I don't have time to write it in 300-word increments.

This story is far more concerned with plot than my stories usually are. Usually, plot is something I allow to accrete while I'm tending to things like characterization and mood and theme. Usually, I go into a story with a vague idea of what "will happen," and allow those events to unfold organically. But this isn't that sort of a story. Occasionally, a story is not the sort of story that is amenable to my usual process, and so I must adapt and work out the plot in great detail beforehand and also as I write. Which, though it seems extremely artificial to me, is necessary with a story like "The Maltese Unicorn." And so, this story feels very much plottier than most of my stories.

And, over breakfast this morning, a thought occurred to me. When a reader complains to a writer that a story did not "satisfy" them, or that it "didn't make sense," or they found the characters "too unsympathetic," this is in no particular way different from telling a painter that his or her painting is not pretty, or that you cannot tell what "it's supposed to be," or that you really prefer the color blue to the color red and why can't they use blue more often. It's the same thing, pretty much.

Anyway, yesterday while I worked, Spooky went out into the world to get me a new walking stick. Two, actually. The one I used for the last two years blew out on me a few weeks back. It had this shock-absorption feature, and that's what blew out. Damn fancy-ass stick. This time, we've opted for a lower tech walking stick, and one with a five-year guarantee, at that.

If you've not yet ordered your copy of The Ammonite Violin & Others, there's no time like the present.

Yesterday, Dennis Hopper died.

Last night, we watched Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep (1946). I love this film, which I've seen times beyond counting, even though it has one of the most torturously convoluted plots I've ever encountered in film. I adore the snappy dialogue. As Roger Ebert said of the screenplay, "It's unusual to find yourself laughing in a movie not because something is funny but because it's so wickedly clever." There's a moment, in Marlowe's office, when Vivian Rutledge has called the police, and the whole thing devolves into Bogart and Bacall passing the phone back and forth, bedeviling the cop at the other end of the line, a scene that would be at home in Marx Bros. film. I love that Faulkner worked on the screenplay (though he probably loathed the job). I love that we never find out who killed Owen Taylor, the Sternwood chauffeur, and that neither the screenwriters nor Raymond Chandler knew whodunit. And sure, the Hays Office made it necessary to muck about with Chalder's story, so we don't know the nature of "the racket" Geiger is running, that he's using the antique bookshop as a front for a shop that sells pornography, or that Lundgren and Geiger are lovers (the Hays Office wouldn't go for homosexuality), or that those photos of Carmen are pornographic. Etc. and etc. It's still a fine film.

I mentioned Pontypool, right?

Mrs. French's cat is missing. The signs are posted all over town. "Have you seen Honey?" We've all seen the posters, but nobody has seen Honey the cat. Nobody. Until last Thursday morning, when Miss Colette Piscine swerved her car to miss Honey the cat as she drove across a bridge. Well this bridge, now slightly damaged, is a bit of a local treasure and even has its own fancy name; Pont de Flaque. Now Collette, that sounds like "culotte." That's "panty" in French. And "piscine" means "pool." Panty pool. "Flaque" also means pool in French, so Colete Piscine— in French, Panty Pool —drives over the Pont de Flaque, the Pont de Pool if you will, to avoid hitting Mrs. French's cat that has been missing in Pontypool. Pontypool. Pontypool. Panty pool. Pont de Flaque. What does it mean? Well, Norman Mailer, he had an interesting theory that he used to explain the strange coincidences in the aftermath of the JFK assasination. In the wake of huge events, after them and before them, physical details they spasm for a moment; they sort of unlock and when they come back into focus they suddenly coincide in a weird way. Street names and birth dates and middle names, all kind of superfluous things appear related to each other. It's a ripple effect. So, what does it mean? means something's going to happen. Something big. But then, something's always about to happen.
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
There are many reasons that I love Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," but perhaps the thing I most love about it is that it feels like a prologue, and then ends with the beginning of a story.

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view,
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
Outside in the distance, a wildcat did growl.
Two riders were approaching. The wind began to howl.

I am tempted, someday, to write that story...


Yesterday, I didn't write anything. I have been, for over a week now, beset with an especially black, foul mood, with depression and despair. With more anger than usual. There are more reasons to account for this emotional state than I can (or should) go into here. This strange autumn isn't helping, but the seasons are not to be chided for hindering. This is just what is, at this point in my life.

There were some tiny bright spots in the day, though I can't discuss most of them yet. I did have a nice conversation with Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press early in the day. I was brushing my teeth and he called. We talked about very many things, including The Ammonite Violin & Others and if I'll ever actually be able to write The Dinosaurs of Mars.

I should remind you that there are still copies of the trade hardback of A is for Alien available. This is, without a doubt, in my opinion, my best short-fiction collection to date. And if I do say so myself, and I do —— for never have I cared very much for modesty, false or otherwise —— if this were a fair world, A is for Alien would be garnering all sorts of sf awards this year. All those shiny Nebulas and Hugos and what the fuck ever. But it shall not even be nominated, mostly because I am not (and never shall be) one of the Popular Kids of SF. I inhabit this liminal wilderness that lies at the threshold of all genres, and so may never belong to any one of them. But I like the knotty old trees here, and the wreck of abandoned industry, and the sound of the sea in the near-distance. Me and my books, we know that the price of our beloved wilderness is that the Popular Kids won't come near these woods.

The Red Tree continues to garner praise, and I am doing everything I can not to let myself be fooled into thinking it might still have a shot. It doesn't, but I still appreciate the kindly words.

Spooky showed me a first cut of the book trailer yesterday, which I liked parts of, but sent the whole back to editing. Pull it apart, and try again. Yes, this really has become the Heaven's Gate of all book trailers. The book's been out now since early August, and the trailer is still in post.


Night before last, Spooky and I saw a genuinely brilliant film, Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel's Deadgirl (2008), which I urge you to see. Jenny Spain was particularly amazing in the title role. The film's brilliance lies in understanding that the very best weird fiction, and the best "horror," arises from simplicity. And that the real story lies not in some goofy exposition, or tiresome plotting, but in the reaction of human beings to an encounter with something that cannot possibly be, and yet there it is. Really, "brilliant" is not too strong a word. But, I do caution the faint of heart. And if I have any very minor complaints, they are merely that there was a little too much gore. Not because gore is bad; it certainly isn't. But it must be handled as one handles high explosives, or horror becomes comedy, and there was a scene or two that showed just enough too much that the mood was spoiled. But this is a very small criticism. The film is a must-see.


And now it's time to try, again, to make the words come when I call.
greygirlbeast: (tentacles)
On this day, 118 years ago, H. P. Lovecraft was born. So, we'll likely be at Swan Point Cemetery this evening, sometime before dark. If you should see me there, just be kind and don't ask me to sign anything. We haven't been to Swan Point since arriving in Providence in June. Since the Lovecraft Tree was felled by a storm two years ago, the thought of visiting HPL's grave makes me sort of sad.

A decent writing day yesterday, though it was fuck all getting started. Days when the words swirl about just out of reach. Taunting me. That sort of day. But, still, I did 1,151 words on Chapter Four of The Red Tree. I should only be two or three days from the end of this chapter.

Yesterday, I was flipping through the new issue of Weird Tales, and found that the last page was devoted to the opinions of those who agreed and disagreed with the recent list the magazine published, "The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years." Personally, I was fairly pleased with the list, though a number of people I'd have included were not on it. But this would be true for anyone, right? Anyway, I digress. Looking at the last page of Weird Tales yesterday, I was admittedly delighted to read the following, written by Magan Rodriguez:

Where is Caitlín R. Kiernan? Surely she deserves to be on this list. She's written some of the best "weird" this side of Lovecraft!

Thank you, Magan.

After the writing yesterday, I was too wiped out to even go to the market with Spooky. Thank you, Monsieur Insomnia. I collapsed on the sofa in the front parlour and drifted in and out of sleep for an hour of so. Later, we watched an episode of Angel, just because. There was V:tM in Second Life, some better than average rp in Corvinus with Nareth the Ravnos antitribu (thank you, Ania, Sev, and Morgdah), and it was all really too complicated to put into a synopsis. There were dealings with the Lambrosa, and now Nareth has been given a haven in the cathedral, and a shiny new collar studded with rubies to let everyone know that a Sabbat Templar is her Master. Yeah, I know. I'm a dork. But insomnia with vampires is better than insomnia without. As for Howards End, we are set to "break ground" tonight —— which means that Jessica will begin the terraforming. And what an appropriate date for it to begin on. Also, please note (because the question was asked yesterday): voice will not be permitted anywhere in the Howards End sim. Ever. No exceptions. It only causes lag and destroys the suspension of disbelief.

By the way, the aliens over at Ziraxia, makers of the Stiff Kitten T-shirt, are now offering a RL shirt by one of my favourite SL designers, Hyasynth Tiramisu:

the disquiet of lapins

Okay. Short entry today. More caffeine. But, if you have not, please do pre-order A is for Alien and the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds. Danke. And my thanks also to everyone who took part in the latest round of eBay. Spooky says she'll begin new auctions today.
greygirlbeast: (Western Interior Seaway)
Erm....yeah, so....I'm not even pretending to be awake. I got to bed sometime after five ayem. Do I have a good excuse, I mean besides the tooth ache. No. Except that I discovered that Vampire: The Masquerade is loads more fun when played in Second Life than with pencil and paper on a tabletop. A new Nareth splinter came into being —— this time a wealthy, young Vietnamese woman dying of an incurable disease. She'd been an assassin, and had learned much of the art of torture, before the illness. She used the last of her fortune to find the Sabbat. Accompanied by her bodyguards (thanks Pontifex and Misi), she entered the city, and contact was made, thanks to a nervous little man, some sort of private investigator. Much time was spent sitting in the painfully over-lit lobby of the Lincoln Hotel, vomiting onto the powder-blue carpet between her feet because the morphine she'd just injected was making her sick. She speaks in French about half the time. She told the bodyguards that their final checks were in their rooms and dismissed them, then sat and waited for the Ravnos woman she been promised would find her. Every moment the dying assassin waited was agony. But the vampire came, finally, the woman named Mara, and the assassin was led to the back room of a seedy little nightclub, where she was questioned, then allowed her first taste, and promised the embrace. She was given a slip of paper with an address, and ordered not to return to her hotel room. Then her typist went the hell to bed.

That's why I'm not awake. What noisy cats are we.

After the minute brouhaha which led to my entry on Saturday, I just keep thinks (as Ceiling Cat would say), "But aren't authors supposed to be critics?" No, not book reviewers. Critics. Isn't that one of the things authors are supposed to do, comment on the work of other authors? Hell, if anything, I think I've been neglectful of that duty. Aren't we supposed to try to keep one another honest by saying what we think about the State of Literature, including the State of Genre Literature? To quote the ever quotable Dorothy Parker, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." (quoted in The Algonquin Wits [1968] edited. by Robert E. Drennan). Is that not a duty that we have, as authors, not merely to make shows of empty, token support but when something's shit, to say so? And so when I see these followers of a hack like the wildly successful and admittedly deceased Robert Jordan, when I talk to people who can quote his The Wheel of Time chapter and verse, but who have never even read Tolkien, is it not my responsibility to get pissed off, and to say so? I think it is. Though, I should add, before hurling one of Jordan's books anywhere with great force, the reader should acquire a trebuchet, lest a shoulder be dislocated in the process.

Spooky did the Day in the Life (didl) thing a couple of days back. You can see the fruits of her labour, and quite a bit of Providence and Casa de Kiernan y Pollnac here.

Yesterday, in preparation for writing my introduction on Arthur Machen today, I read "The White People" (1904) again, my second favourite story by him. And re-read much of Wesley D. Sweetser's 1958 thesis on Machen (published in 1964), along with various other bits of criticism. I suppose that far fewer people these days read Machen than read Robert Jordan, or even Tolkien, but its their loss. "The White People" is sublime. And it has such an exquisite opening line —— "'Sorcery and sanctity,' said Ambrose, 'these are the only realities. Each is an ecstasy, a withdrawal from the common life.'"

I was saddened this morning to learn of the death of illustrator Pauline Baynes (1922-2008). When I was a teenager, it was her wonderful map of Middle Earth that adorned my bedroom wall. When I first found Farmer Giles of Ham, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and Smith of Wootton Major, she was the artist whose work accompanied the text.

Spooky has relisted several items on eBay, so please have a look. Also, if I fail to shill both A is for Alien and the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds, the platypus will be showing me those venomous spurs.

More coffee....
greygirlbeast: (new chi)
It's probably a sad comment on my likelihood of ever obtaining "bestseller" status that I'm honestly much more pleased with a good review from Weird Tales (Daughter of Hounds) than I am with one from Entertainment Weekly (Murder of Angels). But what the hell ever. Scott Connors, in the forthcoming Weird Tales #346, writes: "Daughter of Hounds is a testament to Caitlín R. Kiernan’s status as one of the most consistently interesting writers working in the field of weird fiction today."

Sirenia Digest #20 has gone out to subscribers. If you're an acolyte of the platypus, you should have it waiting in your inbox. I'm very happy with this issue, and I hope you will feel the same.

Yesterday was spent pretty much as I thought it would be: writing the prolegomena for #20; laying out the digest; reading aloud "In the Dreamtime of Lady Resurrection" and then "Anamnesis, or the Sleepless Nights of Léon Spilliaert"; making minor corrections/edits to both stories; catching up on email; checking over the page proofs for the new mass-market paperback of Silk (December 2007) before Spooky sent them back to Penguin; and so forth. I think I finished up about 6:45 p.m. And I think that yesterday it finally occurred to me what a thoroughly daunting prospect it is to have to simultaneously promote seven books. Yep, seven books. First, there's Daughter of Hounds and Threshold, both already on shelves. Next week, the mass-market paperback of Low Red Moon will be released. Subterranean Press is already taking orders for the third edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder, due out in Spring 2008. The Beowulf novelization is due out October 1st. The new edition of Silk will be along on December 4th, and then the Murder of Angels mmp in April 2008. So, yeah. Seven frelling books. I figure Beowulf will mostly take care of itself, and my subpress books invariably sell out. But that still leaves five. And I have hardly even been trying to push any of them. I am a lousy saleswoman. It's just not something I do. And, even if I were good at hawking my wares, there are precious few effective means open to authors for the promotion of books. Cons? Too expensive and time consuming (and I always get sick, which makes them even more expensive and time consuming). Signings and book tours? Not unless the publisher lines them up and pays my way, and not unless the bookseller promotes them — none of which is going to happen. Print ads? Expensive, and mostly a waste of money. Reviews? Book reviews only occasionally help sell books. You can't count on them. And sadly, at best, my LJ/MySpace blogs reach only a few thousand people, when I need to be reaching a hundred thousand, at least. I need books that sell themselves. I need word of mouth. I need a really successful screen adaptation. The last is the only surefire cure, and the longest long-shot of all.

But I do have meetings with both my film agent and Producer D this afternoon.

Last night, very late last night — which means it was actually this a.m. — Spooky pointed me towards [ profile] mech_angel's comments on Danny Boyle's Sunshine. I hope she will not mind me reposting them here:

Holy shit.

Think of light.

No, think of Light. As in 'Let There Be'. Think of a light so bright that four percent of its brilliance will irreparably blind you. So bright that unshielded, you won't burn from the heat, you'll just burn from the Light.

It's mostly a study both of how fragile life is, and simultaneously how fucking tenacious it is. In the face of ice and fire and the void, and that light, the roiling surface of the sun, what people will do, how it drives some mad and tempers others into steel.

Puts my comments on the film to shame. See it on a big screen with a good sound system while you still can. Yeah, platypus, I'm coming...
greygirlbeast: (Default)
I woke this morning from red-orange dreams filled with apocalypse. Is it any wonder? The one image that most stands out in that mad rush of terrible things, the thing I most remember, was turning to watch a bloated white moon rise and then set again only a minute or so later. The world was ending. This world. I wish I could convey the things I felt inside that dream without resorting to the narrative. There was sorrow and regret, more than any sort of fear.


A good writing day yesterday. I did 1,025 words on the new story for Sirenia Digest #17. As predicted, it has become a full-fledged short story. Right now, the total word count stands at 5,942, and I think it's going to come in at about 7,000 in the end. THE END, which I do hope to find sometime later today. If you liked Low Red Moon and/or Daughter of Hounds, you will probably be pleased with this piece. It's set in January 1999. A couple of years before the events of Low Red Moon, about eleven years before the events of Daughter of Hounds. Just a little while after the events of "So Runs the World Away," and it provides an intersection for all three (and, no doubt, numerous others). But it needs a title. Usually, I find the right title before I start the story, but not this time.

Yesterday, the postman brought me my contributor's copies of Weird Tales #344, which includes my non-fiction piece, "Notes from a Damned Life." It also includes a very amusing Darrell Schweitzer review of the gawdsawful Eragon film.

Kid Night last night. We walked to Videodrome, getting the night's movies and the day's exercise both at once. We watched Joe Carnahan's deliriously violent Smokin' Aces (2007), which probably shouldn't have qualified as a genuine Kid-Night movie, but being who we are, it worked that way for me and Spooky. I don't know what critics thought of this film, but we both loved it and I sort of wish we'd seen it in the theatre. We followed it with a 1959 Swedish sf gem, Terror in the Midnight Sun (aka Rymdinvasion i Lappland). Truly, this movie is almost as charming as Reptilicus (1961), and for almost all the same reasons. The gigantic furry alien steals the show, calling to mind some bizarre ur-Muppet and the abominable snowman of Rasputina's "The New Zero." Virgil W. Vogel later added a lot of superfluous footage and John Carradine, and re-released the film in America as the far less charming and utterly nonsensical Invasion of the Animal People. A very good Kid Night, indeed.

Before bed, I read two by Edward Gorey — The Other Statue and The Headless Bust.

Okay. Now I must find coffee. And then, THE END. And a suitable title.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday was somewhat all over the place, workwise. I had to make a trip to the library at Emory for more research on The Dinosaurs of Mars (which will easily be the most researched book I've ever written). I sent "In View of Nothing" to Vince to be illustrated. E-mail to [ profile] docbrite trying to locate the current e-mail address of my first agent (who was also her first agent). E-mail with Liz, my editor at Roc. Having recently remembered that my website has been languishing since the theft of Spooky's iBook waaaay back in December, I e-mailed the second page photo to [ profile] scarletboi so he can make an image map of it. Stuff like that consumed yesterday. But mostly the library. Trips to the library are one of the better parts of being a writer. Jeez...still groggy. Finally, I seem to be catching up on my sleep. More than seven hours last night. Anyway, I came back from Emory with only a very modest stack of books:

Howard Philips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside by Frank Belknap Long (1975)
A Guide to Barsoom by John Flint Roy (1976)
Recent Vertebrate Carcasses and their Paleobiological Implications by Johannes Weigelt (1927;1989)
Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan by Irwin Porges (1975)
An Agenda for Antiquity: Henry Fairfield Osborn and Vertebrate Paleontology... by Ronald Rainger (1991)

Today I have to write the piece for Locus, which, predictably, I've let go until the last minute. And speaking of my my occasional snippets of non-fiction, the next issue of Weird Tales (#344) will include a short essay regarding a peculiar experience Spooky and I had during our month in Rhode Island last summer. Another damned experience (sensu Fort), and one I have not previously discussed. Also, note that from now through April, you may score a one-year subscription to Weird Tales, newly redesigned, for 66% off the newsstand price. That six issues for a paltry $12, just two bucks per. But the offer is only good through April 31st. Oh, here's the cover for #344:

Last night, after the library and a quick Thai dinner, we watched Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), a film I loved when it was first released and which I still find delightful. Sure, there are flaws. For example, far too many things happen for no reason whatsoever other than that they serve to drive the story forward or set the stage for the familiar adult Holmes. But, like I said, still delightful. Also, the film was scripted by Harry Potter director/producer Chris Columbus, and you can see that he brought much of the look and feel of Young Sherlock Holmes to the Potter films.

[ profile] papersteven asks, "Quick question regarding the four editions of Silk: I only have the Roc tpb and the Gauntlet hc. Which is the third?"

Here are the three editions of Silk so far:

1) Silk (Roc, mass-market paperback; May/June '98)
2) Silk (Gauntlet, limited-edition hardback; August '99)
3) Silk (Roc, trade paperback; November '02)

I see it's already after one p.m., and I need to wrap this up. But I did want to pass along this link: David Roberts' ("The Huffington Post") response to The New York Times' recent attack on Al Gore and the science behind An Inconvenient Truth...or rather, the NYT' attack on the claim that the scientific consensus is that yes, global warming is real, and yes, human beings are the primary culprit. I admit, I do tend to expect better journalism from The New York Times.


greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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