Welp, so it’s May, huh? I haven’t posted much here, other than maybe to don a mustache for a bit of fun tribute. So, that can mean one thing, and one thing only: MASSIVE UPDATES!
Ah, but updates on what? For the most part, existence at the Bas Bleu Zombie headquarters has been like this:
Despite 2016 trying to be more of a royal fucker than 2015, or 2013, I have been writing like a fiend. A lot of it has been freelance stuff to supplement my Lush Bath Bomb habit, most of it has been for STEAMPUNK PARIS, and the rest of it is miscellany slowly trickling into the world.
Today is Numbers of the bEast, a lovely blog-o-sphere tribute honoring/roasting/ultimately celebrating the King in Yellow himself, Joesph S. Pulver, Sr.
Joe is one of my favorite writers, editors, and people all around. A bridge between the symbolist, beat, and weird movements, Joe wields words on the page like Jackson Pollock and I can’t think of anyone else writing right now that utilizes space akin to Mallarmé and Apollinaire. How does he do it? I think it’s all in the mustache, whose magical wonders I tried to unleash in this Cindy Sherman-esque tribute. I’m not really sure it works, after editing these portraits, I tried my hand at the Selectric II and all that kept coming out was:
Anyway, it just so happens Molly Tanzer will be in Tallahassee (if you didn’t know, she’s got roots here, y’all!) this week and is having a book-release bash at Fermentation Lounge, May 12, at 7 pm. She’ll be reading from the book, while giving Jesse Bullington and I a tiny-bit of limelight with short readings of our own.
If you happen to be in the area, we’d love for you to come by, experience some weird lit, drink some brews, and help us toast Molly and Lou Merriwether into the glory hours. Details and updates can be found at our Facebook event page here.
THE STEAMPUNK CHRONICLE’s Annual Reader’s Choice Award (what I call the Steampunk Hugo) is now open for voting. I am pleased to see that Sarah Hans’ awesome STEAMPUNK WORLD anthology, which I’ve discussed quite a bit in this space is nominated for excellence in Fiction. A thousand congrats to Sarah, Alliteration Ink, James Ng who illustrated all of the stories, and to all my fellow contributors in the book.
If you enjoyed STEAMPUNK WORLD, please take a moment to vote for it here: http://www.steampunkchronicle.com/SPCAwards/Voting/tabid/513/Default.aspx
I am very excited to be returning to my second Anomalycon as a guest along side such Steampunk/SF luminaries like Cory Doctorow, Ay-Leen the Peacemaker (a/k/a Diana Pho), Madeline Foxtrot (a/k/a Ashley Rogers), Christine Rose (formerly a/k/a O.M. Grey), Carrie Vaughn, Jason Heller and Molly Tanzer to just name a few of the awesome line-up, which you can see here.
The programming looks great, and I submit my own schedule below as just a sampling as to what con-goers can expect this coming weekend.
Fri 5pm–The Future of Steampunk: Steampunk isn’t dead, or even plateauing. New fiction, exciting ideas and where the genre is going beyond the world of written words. S. Chambers, M. Tanzer, S. Ficklin, S. West. Fiction
Fri 7pm–Closing the Loop: Editing and re-editing and outlining and reviewing and getting your book out to an agent…you have so much to do now that you’ve finished your first novel draft. Where do you go from here? B. Dornbusch, S. Chambers, J. Brawner, Ay-leen the Peacemaker
Fri 8pm–Why Are We Still Talking About This?: No, seriously. Aren’t you tired of hearing about angry minorities? Why are we still talking about feminism and equality? Isn’t it here yet? C. Doctorow, S. Chambers, M. Fowler, J. Heller, C. Rose (M) SATURDAY
Sat 10am–Tropes and the Victorians: Did they really all wear corsets? And what’s with the layers? S. Holl, S. Schafer, S. Chambers
Sat 11am–Steampunk, Anarchy, and Socio-political Activism: Steampunk is on the rise and fans of the genre enjoy more than just the aesthetic. But what about using the core of a movement to bring about positive change in the political or socio-economical climate? C. Doctorow, S. Chambers, J. Heller, A. Rogers.
Sat 1pm–Author Free-For-All: Don’t miss this wild answer to every question you never thought to ask your favorite authors! Twitter meets steroids. S. Chambers, C. Doctorow, K. Seibert (M), J. Nye, S. Litore, G. DeMarco, J. A. Owen, M. Tanzer, M. Mohanraj, J. Koyanagi, Ay-leen the Peacemaker, L.J. Hachmeister, T. Heermann
Sat 3pm–Steampunk Paris: Travel Paris in real style. Only Steampunk will do. S. Chambers
Sat 5pm–Steampunk World Interview with S.J. Chambers and Molly Tanzer: Beyond the Tropes talks Steampunk with S.J. Chambers and Molly Tanzer
Sat 6pm–Steampunk is Taking Over The World!: When people think “Steampunk” Jules Verne and Wild Wild West often come to mind. But the last 50 years of media have been full of hints of Steampunk. It’s everywhere, and there are things you need to see and read. J. Heller, S. Chambers, M. Acevedo
Sun 12pm–The Grand Tea Hosted by Psyche Corporation and S.J. Chambers, featuring a special painting demo by Aria. Tickets are only available ahead of time (before pre-registration closes). Featuring glorious afternoon tea fare and hours of wonderful company and entertainment. An AnomalyCon special event! S. Chambers, Aria, Psyche Corporation, C. Rose 12th Floor Ballroom
Sun 2pm–Beyond the 19th Century Steampunk Fiction is often categorized as analyzing the future by looking to the past. Explore works that go beyond this past concept and apply Steampunk ideals to other timelines. S. Litore, S. Chambers, M. Tanzer History (Or Fiction)
Sun 3pm–New Fiction Now Writers Reading Cool Stuff that just came out. Pick up a new favorite. M. Tanzer, S. Chambers, S. West, S. Ficklin Fiction
Kevin D. Steil’s brilliant Valentine initiative to Steampunk’s legacy and future rides again. I will be participating–still brainstorming on the how there–so I will blog more about this as it gets underway. Meanwhile, for details on what you can expect and how you can participate in this year’s STEAMPUNK HANDS AROUND THE WORLD, check out the deets at Kevin’s awesome blog, AIRSHIP AMBASSADOR, here.
When I sat down to write this, I had the impression I hadn’t done a whole lot this year. But once I started putting things in bullets, I realized how jam packed and awesome it was.
Things I Did:
–Faced my fears and cut all my hair off.
When I was a child, my father kept my hair short. He was a barber and so only knew how to cut dude hair, and so guess what kind of cut I had? I hated it. People would mistake me for a little boy. One time I was denied access to the little girls room at a school function. Now that is just kind of funny, but at the time it was the beginning of a whole bunch of weird beauty/image issues I’d deal with as a teenager and in college. So, as sort of a fuck you to all that, I got a Pixie and really had fun with it.
–Stayed at the McFarlin House Bed and Breakfast in Quincy, FL
My husband and I wanted to get away for the weekend for our anniversary, and did so at the McFarlin. It’s a gorgeous Victorian mansion with porch swings and a deck side hot tub. Quincy is a weird place, full of old ass southern money, so apparently the B&B is hub to a lot of historians and reporters. While we were there, a reporter from Buzzfeed, Amy Saunders, was working on a story about Jerrie Mock, who was the first woman to fly around the globe, who lived right next door, it seems. It was a really neat breakfast getting to hear about Mrs. Mock, who sadly just passed away in October.
–Drank Bordeaux and learned about the Teen Mom show in a trailer park/camp ground in Lake City, FL.
Clarendalle 2006. Really delicious. But it was the company that was truly the best.
–Saw my first real Burlesque show in Ft. Lauderdale with my great friend Peter.
It was Dita von Teese’s Strip, Strip Hooray! It was absolutely transcendent and I am in love with Burlesque now. While in Miami, I had my first Caipirinha and my first authentic café con leche. Also saw Versace’s mansion with the beautiful gold Medusa head gates, and snuck into the Ritz’s pool. Everyone talks shit about Miami, but I really liked it.
–I liked Ft. Lauderdale so much I went back for the Hukilau to help ATLRetro editor and friend Anya Martin cover the tiki event for her online magazine. Met a lot of cool people and felt right at home.
–Tried to change my diet.
Ha, ha, ha. Yes, I did. I am trying to consume less animal for health and ethical reasons. Some weeks I am better at this than others. More often than not, cheese is the deal breaker.
–Reunited with old childhood friends at one of my favorite bars ever, Alchemy, and shut it down forever–may it rest in peace.
–Hung out with a baby armadillo and skate kids.
My dad had a brood of baby armadillos that were hanging out in his garden during the spring. I followed one around one day just because he seemed so alien but approachable. Did you know they snort like pigs? Cute little sniffy snort. I think they all had a sad end though: hawks.
My husband is a skater, and there were a few awesome tournaments in Tally that I went too. I hate sports, especially spectator sports (except the world cup), but I can get down with sitting on the street and watching board races and making Archer jokes that are appreciated, like “you just skated into the Danger Zone.”
–Almost died of dehydration in New Orleans.
That’s pretty self-explanatory, I think. The revolving bar at the Hotel Monteleone didn’t help, but we survived thanks to the power of falafel, room service, and the World Cup. Apparently, NOLA’s idea of a vegetable is crab. Seriously, the vegetable of the day at a particular old school restaurant we went too was crab.
–Was blissfully unemployed during the World Cup.
Caught almost every game at the pub. It ruled.
–Celebrated my birthday in the Gulf with some of the best girls in the world, and had one of the best bottles of champagne in my life.
–Then I got a job. Wonk, wonk.
–Went to NYC and did a lot of shit, as previously posted.
–Went to…[counts on fingers]…5 weddings.
All beautiful, unique, and full of friends I hadn’t seen in ages. Everyone is growing into such cool adults. Best of luck to them all!
–Found like the one thing in Florida that feels like Brooklyn or Paris, the Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL.
Had a great breakfast with my Lucie and met her awesome beau.
Publications and other things I wrote
So this year has seen the most fiction from me yet. Some of these stories were written years ago and are just now appearing for various reasons; others I wrote this year. This is a direction I am very proud of and hope to continue in.
“Of Parallel and Parcel.” A Dunsham Manor Press limited edition micro-chapbook. Copies still available here.
I did not reach my goal of 50 books this year, and I also failed at upping my lady writers quota. However, I read some really great stuff, and my top 5 favorites were:
Whitman Illuminated by Allen Crawford
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers
Careless People by Sarah Churchwell
Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry
Well, now that I look at it, it’s been a pretty ok year. Next year is proving to be as equally jam-packed with more words, friends, and adventures that I can’t quite discuss yet. But until then, I wish you all a great holiday and Happy New Year. Thanks for hanging out with me here and on the other social media places, and for your support and friendship. It really means a lot.
So, this week is a big week for Nirvana fans. Today marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s death and on April 10, the band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I don’t know if y’all realize, but I’m really into Nirvana. IN UTERO came out just in time for me to throw my twelfth birthday money at it. It, along with BABES IN TOYLAND’s PAINKILLERS and Hole’s PRETTY ON THE INSIDE and later LIVE THROUGH THIS, was one of those albums that changed my life in the way that only music and books and arts can do. Nirvana even came to my town with the Breeders in December ’93, and being at that concert is pretty much on my list of life achievements.
“I’m not too worried about whether this collection redefines the field. What I can tell you is that editor Beth K. Lewis and the team at Stone Skin Press have selected a terrific set of stories. They hang together, despite disparate elements; each tale hints at the darkness lurking in urban neighborhoods, in old houses, on desolate roads, and in our hearts. Cue Vincent Price’s menacing laugh echoing down a black corridor. There are no castles here, but there’s no sympathy for the devil either.”
Sounds pretty hardcore, right?
The story Jesse and I wrote is called “Dive In Me,” and is about three adolescent girls in the early 90s and their friendship that leads to staring into atramedous pits of both the literal and figurative senses. Jesse has described it as “Daria goes to Hell,” and I’ve called it a “grunge-nightmare.” It is definitely a period piece, and that hasn’t been more apparent to me than today, on the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, in which I am definitely feeling kind of bored and old.
The title, of course, refers to my personal favorite Nirvana song “Dive,” which is on Incesticide, and provides something of the “soundtrack” to the ramblings, froggings, and chain smoking antics of the girls in this story. As a Nirvana fan, I didn’t really want to do anything celebrating death or hype or whatever, I kind of wanted to celebrate how expression can lead to other forms of expression, and so because of the connection with “Dive In Me,” I thought it’d be fun to do a THE NEW GOTHIC giveaway during this big Nirvana week.
Stone Skin Press is throwing in two copies to my one for a three book giveaway! Deets below.
THE RULES: All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post about either Nirvana or the Gothic–it is entirely up to you. Comments will be open from now until April 10 at 12 EST. I will choose the best three comments and announce the winners Friday, April 11th at 8 am EST.
I do have one tiny request. The kind i09 review aside, THE NEW GOTHIC hasn’t had many reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, etc. Obviously, it’s a free country, but if the winners of this contest would be so kind as to give their thoughts, even if you hate it, at some bookish reviewer thing, even if it is your blog, that would be lovely.
I read Nick Mamatas’ LOVE IS THE LAW in one sitting, and have been mulling over what to say about it for months. This book– just like Mamatas’ other books BULLETTIME, MOVE UNDER GROUND, and all of his short stories–stick with you. I don’t think it is because of off-beat characters or novel mash-up concepts, all of which are very good, but it is the authenticity of the voice he uses.
Dawn (the LITL protag)’s voice is so authentic that what I have been preoccupied with since reading it is whether to believe her or not. Obviously, the unreliable narrator is a trope of confessional stories, but what makes Dawn interesting is her voice reminds me of a certain kind of conviction found in sociopaths, schizophrenics, and religious zealots. They believe what they perceive, and don’t even consider convincing anyone of the truth (usually) because they see it before them–the truth is already there. You don’t see it, but they sure do, and they develop a genius for describing and understanding it.
Have you ever spoken to someone convinced of their beliefs? For example, someone who says they talk to God, and further more God responds. When I ask people what this is actually like—do they really have JC or Yahweh on speed dial?–the explanations are always different, and are always found in the reading of the mundane. A sign can be two missionaries approaching a farmer on his land just as he prayed to God for some extra hands, or words that unfolded from the unconscious brain lobes like a fortune cookie. One woman I’ve met who claimed herself a medium told me you could invoke spirits of loved ones (even living ones) by imitating their mannerism until the mannerism became natural….
And I believe all of them. I don’t believe that circumstances are what they think they are, but I believe they believe it is so.
I don’t get this conviction from other dubious narrators I’ve read in the past. With characters like Bateman and Humbert, I feel like they are just screwing with the reader. I feel like Dawn sincerely wants you to know her tale, as delusional as it may seem to us on the outside.
And whether we recognize it or not, we all talk a little crazy. We all read the world formed by our own language. For example, Freedom is a concept like Magick—who is to say either or both exists or don’t—we make them exist by transmuting the abstract into the concrete—we believe.
So, the book made me think about that, and I thought that was pretty cool.
I also really liked the juxtaposition of socialism, punk, and Alistair Crowley not because it is novel, but because I think that is another truth to the character and about any individual belief system. We’re all mash-up characters. A person is composed of her own private belief system comprised of myriad ideas. Having a complex and polyamorous marriage of ideas and beliefs is what makes us complex and hard-to-pin down creatures. For some reason, it is almost impossible to write characters true to life because of this–it is believed readers want it short and simple. But Dawn has a very developed conviction and it makes her background and psychology quite complex among fast-paced plotting.