It is my considerable pleasure to announce that there will be a Subterranean Press hardcover edition of Daughter of Hounds! I don't have a lot of details yet, but it will be published well prior to the Penguin edition. Details TBA.
Though yesterday was supposed to have been spent resting (sometimes, I almost recall the meaning of that word, then I forget again) and helping Spooky do some work on the kitchen, I wound up wasting much of it resolving a disagreement with Penguin over what I would be charged for copies of the trade-paperback edition of Silk, which, you will remember, is nearing the end of the brief reprieve it was granted in November, when the remaindering was shifted from December to February. In December, when I offered to purchase 500 copies of the book, someone in Paperback Operations quoted me a discounted price — let's call it Price X. They did this by phone, and I had no written record. Yesterday, when I tried to order, the price had inexplicably risen to what we shall refer to as Price Y. Now, I'd not have been able to purchase any of these but for the assistance of a patron who will, for the present, remain nameless, but I certainly wasn't about to go to that patron and say, "Look, it'll be $Y instead of $X." So, a minor tussle ensued. By day's end, after the intervention of my editor, Operations had agreed to lower the price from Y to something more acceptable, which I shall refer to as N. I reluctantly called the person who would be footing the bill, and the increase was approved. Next week, 500 copies of Silk will be appearing on my doorstep. I have no idea where we will store the frelling things, but, this way, I can continue to make the book available to readers and continue to make some income off it until another edition is, someday, in print.
Late in the day, Spooky and I finally started editing To Charles Fort, With Love, beginning with "Valentia." This will be the first story in the book, and it was, I believe, the first story that I wrote after completing Tales of Pain and Wonder. It was written in July 1999, just after I'd done some work in the collections of the American Museum of Natural History in NYC and my head was filled with paleontology (this is evident in the story). It was originally published in Stephen Jones' Dark Terrors 5 (2000). Though set in Ireland, in many ways this short story presages Threshold, which I'd yet to write. Anyway, yesterday was likely the first time I'd read through it since 1999, and I was a little shocked at how much my voice has changed in the last five and a half years. Editing this collection, I'm faced with the unenviable task of deciding to what degree I will allow the stories to be reprinted as they first appeared and to what degree I will correct and rewrite. I thought I'd figured out a compromise, but yesterday I found myself doing quite a bit more rewriting on "Valentia" than I'd expected. I'm very conflicted about this. On the one hand, I don't want the book to be released and regret not having made changes I feel should be made, and, on the other, I don't want the book to be released and not reflect, to some degree, the evolution of my short fiction work over the last half decade. This is an important book for me, and I want to get it right. One thing I was doing yesterday was mercillessly splitting my old "compounderations," which I don't use anymore — "autumnlong," "greygreen," etc. were split apart yesterday. The sundering of collided words. Should I be doing this? Would it be better to let them stay — the compounderations, as well as the sentence fragments and disregarded commas — and allow the reader to see how they gradually fade from my stories over time? Or should the stories reflect more of my present aesthetic? I just don't know, and the editing has to proceed quickly, so I have to make a decision, one way or the other, very soon.
We stopped by Borders last night, where I bought a copy of an anthology in which one of my more recent stories appeared. One of the least things that any editor can do for their writers is to be sure that they receive complimentary copies of books. But the editor of this particular volume, and one other I am still lacking, has apparently decided otherwise. It is a great indignity, I think, to be forced to buy a book that exists, in part, because you contributed to it. Were this a charity project, such as the book to benefit the West Memphis Three to which Poppy and I contributed a story, it'd be understandable (though, those editors saw fit to send me comp copies). There's simply no excuse for neglecting your authors this way.
And here's a thought — perhaps the reason that bad reviews and negative comments seem to affect me more than good reviews and comments, even when they're far less common than good reviews, is that bad reviews are often written so much more bluntly. They often seem almost bloodthirsty. They may, I think, even be written with more passion. This is just something that occurred to me last night while reading someone's online comment that they considered me "the poor man's Kathe Koja." It was funny, at first — silly, even — but then it sort of dug in and hung on. Anyway...
Oh, the cold weather has backed off a bit. We'll have high fifties today, low sixties tomorrow. The mammoths have headed north again.
I learned yesterday that Elizabeth Nicholls, a paleontological colleague at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, died back in October. I've been so out of touch with that part of my life the last couple of years, I wasn't even aware that she'd been seriously ill now for some time. Betsy was a great inspiration when I was starting out in paleontology back in the '80s, and we shared at least one discovery (the taxonomic synonomy of the mosasaur Platecarpus tympaniticus with both P. ictericus and P. coryphaeus, with the binomen P. tympaniticus having seniority). She reviewed the original draft of my mosasaur biostratigraphy paper in 1989 (published in 2002) and made many helpful suggestions. In her own work, she published on marine reptiles (mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, turtles, ichthyosaurs, thallatosaurs, etc.) and, most recently, was instrumental in recovering what might be the largest-known ichthyosaur, from a very remote region of British Columbia (see the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 24(4), pp. 838-849), a specimen that the Discovery Channel aired a special about a few years back. I'd not corresponded with Betsy since 2000 or so.
As I said last night, after this week, we'll be taking a few weeks away from eBay, so please check out the auctions now. And congrats to Eric, who gets a dinosaur for his troubles.