Speaking of "Houses Under the Sea," I've been promised that the anthology it was written for, Thrillers II (Cemetery Dance Publications), will be out before the end of 2006. I wrote the piece in 2004, and reading over it yesterday, realizing how much I like it, that it's one of my best short stories to date, remembering how it really should have been part of To Charles Fort, With Love — it's all very frustrating. In a way, "Houses Under the Sea" seems like the summation of so many of the other stories. I wish it could have come after the Dandridge House stories as a sort of epilogue to the whole collection. Reading through it yesterday, I was reminded how easily this long story (11,000 words) could become a novel.
Yesterday, I spoke with Liz, my editor at Penguin, regarding the unauthorized and therefore illicit eBaying of one of the Daughter of Hounds ARCs, and she's gone to legal to "see what demons of hell we can release on this mofo." Which, frankly, is the sort of talk I like to hear from an editor. I have no problem with dealers selling ARCs of my books on eBay or anywhere else, after the books have been released. Beforehand, these things exist primarily for reviewers, exist in a very limited number, and are to be dispensed at the discretion of me, my agent, and Penguin, and No One Else. No exceptions. Clearly, this is an example of someone who's somehow managing to acquire advance-reading copies for eBay, someone who's fooled Penguin's publicity department into thinking sheheit's an actual reviewer.
Oh, another of yesterday's distractions, a big box from Amazon containing an order I placed a couple of weeks back. It included Richard Ellis' most recent book, Singing Whales and Flying Squid: The Discovery of Marine Life. Ellis is one of my favourite science writers (and not just because he quoted two of my mosasaur papers at length in Sea Dragons: Predators of the Prehistoric Oceans). There was also Mark Z. Danielewski's new novel, Only Revolutions, which I've been eagerly awaiting. And In the Wake of Madness by Joan Druett, an account of "the murderous voyage of the Whaleship Sharon." And, finally, Food of the Dead: On the Trail of New England's Vampires by Micheal E. Bell, which I spotted at the Peace Dale Public Library while we were in Rhode Island last month. I really wish I'd had this book when I was writing "So Runs the World Away," but it hadn't been published yet. I also wish that, when I made the order, I'd known that Cormac McCarthy's new novel, The Road, is being released on September 26th, because I'd have added it to the batch. Cormac McCarthy does post-apocalyptic, with cannibals. You know it's gonna be on beyond drad.
We made a pizza for dinner, then took our walk right at twilight. We walked past L5P, where some crazy brouhaha involving a fire truck, police car and paddy wagon was going down at Sevananda (the coop grocery), and a jazz band was playing outside A Cappella Books. We followed Sinclair Avenue past the dinosaur, southwest almost to its end. There was a hint of autumn in the air, almost sweater weather, which makes Spooky very happy. We spoke with unfamiliar cats, admired the houses and trees, and watched dusk fade to night. On the way back, Spooky spotted a snake on the sidewalk. It quickly slithered between us, and I snapped a photo (behind the cut, below) before it vanished under a car. Another Storeria dekayi (DeKay's brown snake). Since moving to this part of Atlanta, we've spotted five or six snakes. One was a Diadophis punctatus (Eastern ring-necked snake), and all the others have been S. dekayi. Back home, we watched Jean-Jacques Annaud's Enemy at the Gates, with Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Ed Harris, Ron Perlman, and Bob Hoskins as a very convincing Nikita Khrushchev. It's one of my favourite films of 2001, and Spooky hadn't seen it. Stalingrad in 1942, the Soviets and Russians deadlocked in a landscape straight out of Dante. The opening scene, with terrified Soviet soldiers being herded directly from railroad cars to boats that will, with luck, ferry them across the Volga, through a hail of bullets and mortar shells, to the burning, besieged city is one of the most stunning and gruesome depictions of war ever filmed.
Okay. 12:20. Time to nail the door shut and write. Here's the pretty little snake (8-9 inches):
Dekay's brown snake