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somewhere between here and there

There's something that I hate more than phones — answering machines. That just needed to be said.

Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press called last night to tell me that The Dry Salvages is currently 80% sold out and that it may be entirely sold out by the time it ships. So, if you've been meaning to order a copy, you really might want to do it now, either directly from Bill or from Amazon or whatever. This has happened before with my subpress editions, a book being sold out before publication — with Waycross, for example. I'm very pleased, for obvious reasons, but mostly because it means that Bill will want me to do more SF novellas, and I have a good one stewing in my skull right now.

My comp copy of Steve Jones' The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 15 arrived yesterday. It includes a reprint of "Waycross," along with stories by Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, John Farris, Christopher Fowler, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Marshal Smith, Gene Wolfe, Simon Clark, Susan Davis, and many others.

Someone wanted to know what I read at Fiddler's Green. It wasn't a terribly focused reading (a hangover was involved), but I read part of Chapter One of Murder of Angels (Niki's trip from the house on Alamo Square to the museum) and a few pages from The Dry Salvages. And I talked a lot.

So far, we've moved more than fifty boxs out of my office and into the new place, and that's only about a third of the books in my office (and doesn't include the hundred or so volumes I'm discarding). I spent all day yesterday on this and will likely do the same tomorrow. Our goal is to begin setting up the new office on Saturday and have it mostly functional by Sunday, computers and file cabinet and all. I've learned that I'll have to go back to frelling dial-up until just after the first of the year, when DSL becomes available in the new neighbourhood. I briefly considered going with a month of cable internet, but it was too much expense and trouble to set up for only five or six weeks. Somehow, I shall survive.

I'm really loving Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal. This may be the best game in the series so far, even though that bit where you have to speak in Tyhrranoid is tedious as all hezmana. But otherwise, it's great so far. I think the Lombax are officially my second favourite alien species, right after the Nebari. I may have to do something terrible, like write some Ratchet/Nar'eth slash fic...

This from an e-mail which I received yesterday from Kenny Soward:

I was very moved by the book. I think it is your most commercial work yet, but that in no way reduces its value. You are the same Caitlin Kiernan I’ve always loved to read. Whenever I start reading one of your books, I’m always initially aggrivated by the constant bitching of the characters…they spend a lot of time arguing and cursing their way through their troubled lives but do not seem to really talk to one another. Not to say they aren’t good characters…but sometimes I just want to say…”look, you tell her what’s happening to you, and you tell her what’s happening to you, and we’ll work out a solution.” But in retrospect, that is a part of the friction you create, and so it is essential to how you tell a story. It is all a part of the mystery and so, in the end, I appreciate it and understand.

I am really amazed (but not insulted) that anyone would find Murder of Angels my most commercial work to date. I'd have said that was definitely Low Red Moon, but this just serves as further evidence that I cannot second-guess readers. I don't know how readers will see my work. I honestly thought Murder of Angels was so far out there that it would flop, but sales are showing it may be my most successful novel thus far. So, go figure. Maybe people are more open to the Weird than I'd thought. As for the arguing thing, the way people in my books often communicate (or, rather, fail to communicate), all I can say is that this is born of years of tumultuous relationships and peoplewatching. It has been my experince that, in stressful and contentious situations, people too often are unable to see beyond themselves and their positions, so bickering and short-sighted passive-aggressive bullshit is a lot more common than constructive dialogue. This problem is compounded when the people involved have serious problems — in this case, Niki's "schizophrenia" and loneliness and Daria's stress, exhaustion, and addiction. And, as the writer, the author of both these women's predicaments, I can sympathsize with both "sides." You know, there were readers who complained that Chance was "a bitch" in Low Red Moon, and I was always stunned at this assertion. Come on. She's eight months pregnant, her husband's an unemployed alcoholic of questionable sanity, her career is suffering, and she's scared out of her wits. Anyway and besides, the source of good literature is conflict. Conflict is mandatory (resolution is optional). In the absence of conflict there is no drama (many of the postmodernists seem to have forgotten this). Thanks for the e-mail, Kenny. I would quote more, as it was a very fine letter, but I've gone on here for the better part of an hour and need to write some e-mails and make some calls and then I have to go back to packing books. I hate cardboard....

Comments

( 6 comments — Have your say! )
jack_yoniga
Nov. 18th, 2004 04:49 pm (UTC)
"Conflict is mandatory (resolution is optional)."

This is the truest thing in the history of the universe.

I wish more people wrote fiction that was less obviously resolved. Life just ain't like that. Things will always be left unresolved, in everyone's lives, everywhere on the planet. When we die, everything is not miraculously wrapped up, so such should not be reflected in every piece of literature. It is not an honest reflection of life.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 18th, 2004 05:28 pm (UTC)
This is the truest thing in the history of the universe.

I wish more people wrote fiction that was less obviously resolved. Life just ain't like that. Things will always be left unresolved, in everyone's lives, everywhere on the planet. When we die, everything is not miraculously wrapped up, so such should not be reflected in every piece of literature. It is not an honest reflection of life.


Damn.

You may be the reader I've been looking for all these years.
jack_yoniga
Nov. 18th, 2004 05:48 pm (UTC)
Ha! Could well be. I'll admit I haven't read any of your novels yet, but I've read a handful of your short fiction (including the reprint for LAST PENTACLE OF THE SUN that Mike Anderson and I took, obviously), and I like how you're a writer who doesn't need to wrap everything up in a tidy little bow at the end. To be frank, I fucking hate that shit. Sometimes it works in a story, sometimes it doesn't, but mainstream publishing's seeming fixation on the idea that there has to be conflict and resolution is, to me, shortsighted and insulting to its potential audience.

By the by, I plan to read your longer works soon and, based on the short stuff I've read, am looking very forward to the experience.
robyn_ma
Nov. 18th, 2004 05:18 pm (UTC)
'Maybe people are more open to the Weird than I'd thought.'

these are Weird times.
numisma
Nov. 18th, 2004 05:46 pm (UTC)
You know, there were readers who complained that Chance was "a bitch" in Low Red Moon, and I was always stunned at this assertion.

I still need to finish Threshold before attempting LRM so I am not familiar with how Chance does come across to me, but one thing I have noticed all across the board is that sometimes it IS difficult to make characters, particularly the female ones, seem more justified in their gripes and not come out as "bitchy."
styggian
Nov. 19th, 2004 12:58 am (UTC)
I've never even heard of a book being sold out before it is even published.
I love the first two Ratchet games but didn't know the third was quite out yet.

( 6 comments — Have your say! )

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