FULL BLEED: DOWN TO THE MEDICINE SHOW
First things first. I have a release date for QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS. That being December 11, 2018. Pre-order now or wait until the last minute. Makes no nevermind to me. Now, onto our regularly scheduled content. Which I'm finding less and less satisfaction in writing these days.
Digging out after the recent trip to Portland for the HP Lovecraft Film Festival and family stuff and my birthday all collapsing in on last week. Have gotten quite nearly nothing done, but that's about par for the course. Lots of little stuff that doesn't even add up to big stuff. Which is how books get done, really. Just keep tossing pages onto the pile until you can't anymore.
But I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about the Film Fest and that experience. It's weird, since it was my first dedicated weird fiction sort of show, this odd genre/mode that I find myself in and making traction in after all these years of writing stuff and chucking it into the Howling Pit. It's not a path I'd have necessarily chosen, nor would I wish it on anyone. It's been long and inefficient and slow. But still, here I am, with a book being published by an actual entity not myself with my name on it and maybe even in bookstores to boot.
So thanks first to Scott Gable of Broken Eye Books who asked if I'd write a longer piece for him, and that turned into QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS, even if it didn't necessarily start that way. Don't worry, I won't turn this into a process post about how the book happened; that'll be later on when I need an infusion of that sweet, sweet content to get people to come back here. I was also Scott's guest (and featured attraction) at the Broken Eye Books table over at the Film Fest this year, so got to hang with him the whole weekend.
Of course, it started rocky, with me marking down the wrong flight time for my reminder. Which meant that I got there and thought that I'd have a little more than an hour, which is still cutting it close. Instead, I looked at the flight time after the attendant mentioned that my bag was a late check in and maybe wouldn't make the destination. Then I swore a lot and ran to the security gate and the flight gate. Second time this year, too. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now.
But I made the plane, just barely. As did my luggage.
Once there, I wandered the streets of downtown Portland for a bit, on my way to Powell's Books. Yeah, that's a dangerous place. I was able to at least keep it to just used books and to things I hadn't seen anywhere else, at that. Mostly research stuff. You never know where your next idea or indelible detail that sounds crazy but actually happened is going to come from, you know?
Had a late lunch and got a lift back to my friend's place, and once again, thanks Jeff, for letting me crash and disrupt plans for the next few days.
Portland was pleasantly cool after the long Sacramento summer, enough so that I didn't mind the rain that continued on Friday and into Saturday then all over again on Sunday. Really, kind of a nice change of pace, but I can see why that would wear a soul down after a long enough time. And coming back is always a little weird, as I used to visit my aunt there every summer from say 1976 to 1986 or so and while the place hasn't changed so much, it's changed a lot since then.
Late wake-up on Friday and breakfast at Pine State Biscuits, which managed to keep me from thinking about food for the whole rest of the day. Make that breakfast count. Oh, and I mailed back about half the books I bought because there was no way I was going to make the weight limit on my flight out if I hadn't. Did a little work at the Helioscope Studio while waiting for the show to start up on Friday night. Planned out the next two long works, with the tentative titles of CINDY SAYS FOLLOW and THAT BLACK RADIANCE (more on those later.) Basic spines got worked out, but I'd been noodling on them for a little while now. Which is a problem with me. I'll think about things for far too long before committing anything to the page, virtual or not.
The show itself was being held primarily at the Hollywood Theatre, a lovely old cinema in the Hollywood district of Portland (and walking distance from where I was staying.) I'm not a fan of the white on black lettering/marquee, but these aesthetic issues are minor when comparing not having a theatre like this in the neighborhood versus having one. If I lived there, I'd go to the Hollywood (and the other revival theatre over across town) a whole lot. And yes, the Hollywood was showing MANDY.
Starting the day I left town. My luck.
Now I mentioned that the show was "primarily" at the theatre. There they were showing the films and had a handful of vendors around the lobby and the like. The official dealer's room was across the street at a senior center. It also served as the primary panel room. Which was both good and bad. Please note that I had, overall, a very positive experience at the show.
That said, putting the panel room in the dealer room means that business all but comes to a halt when someone is conducting a panel. Now, we can argue about how much business was lost over that time frame, if people would have been at the dealer room or at the panels were they somewhere else. But social niceties kept voices to a whisper, when words were even spoken at all.
But hey, I got to catch a bunch of really cool programming this way. The ladies from Necronomidol (basically Babymetal plus Lovecraft, only done as a more traditional pop presentation) and their manager, as well as Chiaki Konaka talking about Cthulhu mythos fandom in Japan; director Richard Stanley (of the legendary HARDWARE, as well as DUST DEVIL and the 2000s-ish ISLAND OF LOST SOULS adaptation) talking about film and magic and Clark Ashton Smith and his upcoming adaptation of THE COLOR OUT OF SPACE; and Lee Moyer's Bad Cover Art panel were all highlights. Yes, that was a very long sentence, sorry. I'm glad I caught all these, but wouldn't mind if they had a dedicated panel room. Yes, given their resources, that's a tricky issue. You need a venue with multiple screens as well as meeting rooms and the like and unless you take over a convention center, that's tricky stuff.
Back to the show. Copies of QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS moved pretty well. I guess having the author on hand to sign things helps out. Weird, right? Surprisingly, there was a bit of interest in the books that I'd written which were not specifically mythos-related. Particularly in RAGNAROK SUMMER, which sold out (yeah, I only brought a couple copies, but now I have to make more.) Go figure. And I even managed to fool more than a few convention attendees into thinking that the flyer I'd made for "The Shadow Over Los Angeles" show flyer was a real-deal thing. I'll take that as a win.
Broken Eye's table was pretty busy when things were moving. And there was a definite ebb and flow to the crowd. When there were big features over across the street, things got quiet in the dealer room. Not a shock. And while the crowds were not huge, they were laser-focused on what they were interested in. Granted, I'm not going to convince any HPL purists to pick up QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS. I'm not doing what he did. I'm not even trying to. Sure, the work owes a debt to him, but certainly not in style or construction or outlook. And while there were quite a few straight-edge weird fiction fans, there were lots of people who were open to anything in a similar vein, not simply replicating or trying to add to the Lovecraftian canon. I'm sure you all know my thoughts on that particular endeavor. If not, find me at a convention bar and ask me sometime. Short form: I'd rather do something new.
One of the amazing things that I saw at the show and kind of regret not buying on the spot (I'll plead limited baggage room for one) was PROBLEM GLYPHS by Eliza Gauger (and anonymous glyph requesters). It's easier for you to go check out the website than it is for me to explain it other than visualization of avenues of attack in order to take back one's life. It's a gorgeous book, and the bold gold emboss on black fabric alone is a raid-boss-level design move. That one's going on the Christmas list for sure. All the books from Strix Publishing looked beautifully designed and constructed. Meant to get in touch with them to ask about their printer and the like, should I ever go ahead on some higher-end presentations of my own work sometime.
The Word Horde crew was there as well, but I had to pull back simply because I'm swamped in new fiction as it is (and really should be reading for my new project instead.) Oh, I guess I can informally talk about that, but I'm not going to give out a whole lot of details.
The project name is SOLARCHY as of now. It may change, mostly because even I don't know how to pronounce it consistently in speech. It writes out just fine. The picture above? That's kind of the whole story in a single image, so go ahead and use that as a meditation target for your next session.
SOLARCHY is a more traditional science fiction project, but with a lot of weird fictional elements and setting. It's an unnamed time from now, far-ish future, at least a millennium off at a guess. It's about a human society and their path towards re-unifying a scattered culture spread across the stars. Mostly it's about the disgraced court musician Merinna and the equally-disgraced Consolar Althule. It all spun out of a story that I'd contributed to an anthology in the last couple years, but I couldn't wrestle it down to the length they needed. So I'm instead going bigger. I'm fine with that. I don't have a press date or anything much else to say about that, other than I'm researching it and not what I thought I would be right about now. Having to be a little more heavily structured than I have been in the past and I'm kinda curious as to how that's going to play out.
Honestly, a lot of the rest of a show is kind of a blur. You can't catch it all unless you're there. But I do know that I'll be planning on going back next year.