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The Inevitable Accumulation of Words

I realized over breakfast (coffee and ramen with broccoli), that I've not left the House since we went to East Beach on Tuesday. I can surely count on one hand the number of days in August and the second half of July I've gone Outside. And if that's not precisely true. It sure as hell feels that way. I have no idea why I've gotten this bad again. The meds have my seizures under control. The depression is in check. The weather's mostly been cooler. I just forget to leave the House. Yet when I do, I'm usually glad I did. This whole thing confounds me.

Yesterday was spent getting through an enormous mountain of email, pertaining to everything from the "Best of" project to "The Maltese Unicorn" to Sirenia Digest #57. I may have finalized the table of contents for the "Best of" volume. If so, there are twenty-nine stories (well, twenty-eight and a poem), including a novella, The Dry Salvages. The word count comes in at ~220 thousand words. For an idea of how big a book that will be, The Ammonite Violin and Others is only about 80k words. Certainly, it's by far the longest book I've ever done.

One of the more difficult aspects of this, so far, beyond simply choosing the stories, has involved dating the older stories, those from the nineties. Back then, I wasn't so good at keeping records. When you've only written maybe a dozen short stories, it's easy to recall precisely when you wrote each one. But many, many years later, when you've done over two hundred short stories, those memories fade to the point of invisibility. Much of yesterday was spent trying to date "Tears Seven Times Salt" and "Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun." I genuinely thought that the former had been written late in 1995, maybe in December of that year. But searching through old correspondence (at least I have that), I discovered, no, it was, in fact, written in the summer of 1994, late in June or very early in July. It was the first story I wrote after "To This Water (Johnstown, Pennsylvania 1889)," and the third story I wrote after moving from Birmingham to Athens. So, my memories were off by almost a year and a half. As for "Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun," I'm still trying to date it. I thought it was written in 1995, but it's beginning to look as though it was actually written during the first half of 1996.

Oh, by the way, while I chose "Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun (Murder Ballad No. 1)" over "Lafayette (Murder Ballad No. 2)," both "Spindleshanks (New Orleans, 1956)" and "The Road of Pins" made the cut.

I have tried to select at least one story for every year between 1993 and 2007, but it's starting to look as if there won't be a 1995 story. Which, given the wretchedness of that year, might be just as well.

As for a title, I've been trying for days to think of one. I certainly am not going with nothing but The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan: Volume One. Then last night, Spooky and Bill Schafer both made the same suggestion, independently, which still has me a little freaked out. Both have suggested I call the book Two Worlds and In Between (a line from the Sisters of Mercy's "Lucretia My Reflection"). The book does happen to contain my zombie story "Two Worlds, and In Between." And maybe this should be the book's title, if only by dint of the peculiar coincidence of two people suggesting that same title on the same night. Also, the title is not inappropriate, having more than a single relevant interpretation relative to the book and my work in general. So, maybe, Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan, Volume One.

I'll post the table of contents tomorrow.


We began two new auctions yesterday. Both are a bit special. The first is the auction of the first painting I have ever offered for sale, Study 1 for Yellow. The second is for a lettered copy of Tales from the Woeful Platypus (you can choose from M, R, or Z), which comes with a hand-made Beanie platypus (made by Spooky). Please have a look. Thanks.


( 8 comments — Have your say! )
Aug. 14th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
So, maybe, Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan, Volume One.

I think it suits very well.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 14th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)

I don't know the song, but it's a lyrical title - really lovely and very appropriate.

Once my favorite song. Big influence. You should hear it.
Aug. 15th, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)
I like the song and the coincidence is worth considering. Okay and I used to use it in a .sig file years ago (do people still have those?)
Aug. 14th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
Just wanted to say hi, I just read a short story you wrote aeons ago that appeared in a "Mammoth New Horror" compilation. "Houses under the Sea" was, for me the standout work in the whole thick volume, really evocative, and totally compelling: Lovecraftian but better than the original!

Thanks for the chills it sent down my spine... Great work, and now I cant sleep at night without the light on ;-)
Aug. 14th, 2010 08:18 pm (UTC)
Just wanted to say hi, I just read a short story you wrote aeons ago...

"Houses Under the Sea" was written in 2004. Does that really count as aeons? Is this yet more evidence I'm getting old?

Edited at 2010-08-14 08:18 pm (UTC)
Aug. 14th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
I guess you are not quite an Old One yet :-)....We are dealing with an "ancient evil" from the abyss here. It has waited a long time to drag down Jacova Angevine... 6 years is nothing!

Seriously big thanks for a dangerously good short story. It deserves to be a classic. Picture this: I am sat here in the North German Wald: Specifically in a near-deserted Hohne military base, a kilometer from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, on a dark and stormy summer night, reading horror stories, in a creepy building 3 doors down from the Belsen camp dentist's surgery (where the Jews had the gold removed from their teeth). My wife and kids are away for a week and the wind is whistling through my vacant attic (where I know convalescing Jews lived, slept and died following the liberation of the concentration camp). It's pretty scary, and your story might well have tipped me over the edge into total terror. I meant it when I said I cant sleep!

Aug. 14th, 2010 10:43 pm (UTC)
Two Worlds and In Between
Fine song. I have been revisiting a lot of my old music and haven't quite got around to The Sisters of Mercy, but I'm sure that it will happen at some point. Mainly been listening to Fields of the Nephilim and New Model Army. Nice and, sometimes, scary memories of drugs and the Goth and Grebo scene. I just wonder how I survived, frankly. Hot metal and methedrine... sometimes I just wonder at the difference in a person as you grow older. I won't say wiser, as that's yet to be proved.
Aug. 15th, 2010 11:50 pm (UTC)
I am already envious of whoever wins your painting. Would you mind telling us the particular color of yellow you used as a base? I might need to pick some up next time I venture out for art supplies. Also, belated thanks to Spooky for posting her tip about using a Prismacolor marker to outline her drawing on canvas. I've always used pencil and find it a bit hard to see.
( 8 comments — Have your say! )