Friday, November 23, 2012

It's how old I feel

Here's my latest article for The A.V. Club, in which I talk about Bad Brains, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Youth of Today, and the notion of hardcore growing old. Not that, you know, I'M getting old or anything. Perish the thought.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some thoughts on introverts

As I gear up to attend another convention -- my brain a beehive of both excitement and dread -- my heart goes out to my fellow introverts. Rarely understood, often made to feel weird, we do our best to maintain our composure in the face of ridicule, social pressure, and the aggression of well-meaning extroverts. With that in mind, here are a few stray thoughts I've had about introversion over the years. And now to get ready for a weekend of fake smiles and daydreaming through conversations...

-Someone needs to coin a word for the look of disgusted confusion that extroverts give us introverts when we tell them we'd rather stay home.

-There ought to be "introvert tents" set up at all public gatherings, although I suppose that might defeat the purpose.

-Some of my friends, current and former, will vouch for this: Never jump on an introvert's back in public. It is freaky, and you will get punched.

-Introverts aren't unfriendly. They just don't need any more conversations to remember, faces to recognize, or people to keep track of.

-If you have a child who's an introvert, here's the best thing to do: Leave her alone, and if any motherfucker calls her "shy," punch him.

-The real world doesn't frighten introverts. Okay, so it kind of does. But mostly it's just boring. Inside our heads is where the action is.

-Introverts spend their entire lives making excuses and going to elaborate lengths in order to seem otherwise. Thanks, Extrovert World Order.

-One thing that will lure this introvert out of doors: a ticket to see Alice Cooper at the Paramount Theater in Denver on 11/23. You don't need to come with... :)

This weekend's MileHiCon schedule (now with more Heavy Metal)

Okay, so: This weekend I'll be at MileHiCon, Denver's own long-running SFF convention. 'Tis a noble and worthy institution, and I'm looking forward to reading, talking, and hanging out with numerous writerly friends 'n' acquaintances, new and old. Below is my schedule; note the screening and discussion of the legendary animated film Heavy Metal! Hope to see you there. FRIDAY 10/19 9pm, Grand Mesa A: Reading (w/ Mario Acevedo, Cherie Priest, Stephen Graham Jones, Betsy Dornbusch, Julie Kazimer) SATURDAY 10/20 11am-1pm, Mesa Verde B: Speed Meet An Author w/ bunches of people 1-2:30pm, The Highlands: Heavy Metal (the movie) screening 3pm-4pm, Grand Mesa A: Heavy Metal discussion (w/ Aaron Michael Ritchie)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

About a book about Bowie

My review of Peter Doggett's excellent new David Bowie book, The Man Who Sold The World, has found a home -- at my old home, Westword. Thanks, Westword.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

New story in Paper Darts

A short story of mine, "A Month Before the Sun," will be appearing in the fourth and latest issue of the fine literary/arts magazine Paper Darts. The story concerns coffee, queues, and the causal contradictions of the chronological continuum. Or something. Order now!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Interesting review...

The Adam Smith Institute -- which as, as its name implies, a free-market (i.e. libertarian) organization -- just reviewed Taft 2012. Overall, it was a fair-minded, balanced, and, um, interesting review. Final line: "In the end, Taft 2012 is a perfectly enjoyable bit of fun which is as disposable as its title destines it to be." The market has spoken!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quirk Summer Reads Sampler

Want to read the first few chapters of my novel, Taft 2012? For free, I mean? My publisher, Quirk Books, is offering a Summer Reads Sampler, a free download that contains chapters from Taft 2012 (as well as lots of other great Quirk releases: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth-Grahame Smith, Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters, and Night of the Living Trekkies by Sam Stall and Kevin David Anderson). Do it!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stellar review

Newbury Port News just gave Taft 2012 a rousing, lengthy review. Mentioned in the same breath as Vonnegut and Twain, be still my unworthy heart!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blog battle! New interview!

Couple items of note:

-Over at Fantastic Reviews, their have a battle of the books, and my novel Taft 2012 has pass the first round! Fingers crossed at it (hopefully) advances in this epic tournament. If not, well, I'm still happy it's even a contender!

-A new interview with me is up at the Odyssey Writing Workshop blog. I'm a proud graduate of Odyssey (class of '09!), and it was an honor to speak to them about writing 'n' stuff.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hey, so: I recently started writing for this new site called NSFW Corp. Lots of irreverent-to-scathing political/cultural journalism. I've written a few pieces so far on topics like Mitt Romney, Jesse Jackson Jr., SNAP cuts, Obama-nacht, the Aurora shooting, Game of Thrones, and my dream showdown between The Nuge and The Boss. However: It is not free. Subscriptions are $3/month. If you're curious enough to try it out, I'd be stoked to hear what you had to say. Hell, if you hate it, I'll give you three bucks out of my own pocket. One nickel at a time, of course.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Elric ink

I love Elric. The archetypal antihero created by fantasy legend Michael Moorcock has become iconic since his inception over 50 years ago, but he's always resonated with me in deeper ways. So much so that I've been getting a sleeve of Elric tattoos done over the past few months. Here's the centerpiece--based on one of Steve Ellis' illustrations from Del Rey's recent Elric reprint series. I'll post more as the sleeve progresses (courtesy of the incredibly talented Patrick Shackley at Monarch Tattoo Studio in Denver. And if you haven't yet had the profound pleasure of immersing yourself in Elric's rich, heady, subversive mythos, may I humbly suggest you rectify that?

Monday, July 2, 2012

New blog entry on

Jeremy L. C. Jones over at BookLifeNow had me write up a little blog entry on my novel, Taft 2012. In the blog, I call the book "a decently informed piece of bullshit"--yet I say that in a loving way! Sometimes my sense of humor falls a little on the self-deprecating side. By that I mean, I SUCK. Thanks, BookLifeNow, for letting me suck on you. Um, so to speak.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Taft 2012 review on's GeekMom column just reviewed my novel, Taft 2012. The review closes with this: "Corny as it sounds, I closed this book with tears in my eyes." I can't think of higher praise--especially seeing as how it was my goal to make the book more about the poignancy of Taft's character than just politics. Awesome.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The majesty of Moorcock

Very few things in this world inspire me like Michael Moorcock. Since I discovered his fantasy novels as a teen in the '80s (via Dungeons & Dragons, of course), I've found Elric, Corum, and Moorcock's many other complex, ambiguous creations to be a continual source of wonder and profundity. (Not to mention artwork for my tattoos.) But don't take my word for it -- or, rather, YES, please do take my word for it. Because, you see, I just wrote a mini-primer on Moorcock for The A.V. Club. I hope you enjoy reading it even one-tenth as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Let the Ballard reissues... begin

Those who know me know I love Ballard. I've been obsessed with the late J.G. Ballard -- his novels, his short stories, his essays -- since I was 17. In fact, I've declaimed my love for his prose, perversion, and prescience in The A.V. Club, Fantasy Magazine, Weird Tales, and random street corners around America. His catalog has always been criminally underserved here in the U.S., but that's finally getting rectified. The hardcover, fiftieth-anniversary edition of The Drowned World -- the best of Ballard's early apoclypse novels (note: I'm not counting The Crystal World among them, seeing as how that's a transitional novel in a subgenre all its own) -- just arrived in my mailbox. It's a beauty. Let the Ballard reissues begin.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Some recent stuff

So... I've been kind of busy over at Ye Olde A.V. Club lately. Here are a few byline highlights:

-Ruminations on the everyday otherworldliness of the late, great Ray Bradbury.

-My review of Jesse Jarnow's really good (but not great) history of indie rock as filtered through Yo La Tengo.

-A primer on one of my many musical loves: progressive rock.

-A little story about my youth told via The Dead Milkmen.

-And finally, one of the most popular articles I've ever written: a rundown of anti-Beatles songs, just in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Fab Four.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fiction: The Feast of the Night-Soil Man

Back in September of 2010, the excellent British speculative-fiction journal Polluto--which specializes in the bizarre, the grotesque, and the transgressive--kindly published my short story "The Feast of the Night-Soil Man." Up until now, it's only been available in print (and I encourage you to order a copy, if you feel the urge). However, it hasn't been available online, so here it is, for your reading pleasure. Or displeasure. Or perhaps disgust. But hopefully all of the above.

The Feast of the Night-Soil Man
By Jason Heller

Even from this distance, I can see them. Laughing, prancing, chanting. Familiar through their cruel sneers and painted faces.

My people.

They are nude. Scalps shorn. Slathered in vomit. Reddened with lust.

It is the day of their Holy Feast.

As they bend over double and disgorge the contents of their distended bellies onto the green, green earth, the smoldering remnants of burlap effigies lie scattered about them.

On each effigy is a face.

That face is mine.


No writ, no scripture, no testament nor palimpsest will tell you, but I will: The Gods relieve themselves as they sleep. And through this relief, they send suffering and waste to the lives of those who hold them most high.

I have arrived at this blasphemous truth because I am Xihu, and for many years I was their Night-Soil Man. Why the Gods chose me, I do not know. One day I shoveled corpses and manure into the brown, poisonous Swollen River for anyone in my plague-stricken village that would pay me a bowl of rice; the next, I collected the sleep-shit of Those who dwelled on the distant mountaintop, Their long, oily slicks of discharge staining the snows on which They slumbered.

Together They were known as Yu-in, and Each manifested Its face and form on the surface of a single gigantic and rumbling body at different times each day. First was fair Ith, His slim cheeks and single, dream-caked eye greeting me each morning as I cleaned up after my night's dark toil.

I was forbidden to gaze upon Yu-in in the full light of the day, so it was only Ith I came to know. Sometimes at dawn in Yu-in's cavernous chamber He mistook me for some long-dead lover, reaching toward my manhood with languid, clanking fingers. He smelled of iron and vanilla--that is, after I had finished my work with Him. With rag and shovel I scrubbed and scraped at the thick slime and barnacle-like shingles that collected around His vast and nautiloid anus. After flushing the waste down the cracks of the mountain's glacier as I had been instructed, I would return to anoint Him with a perfume of ambergris and afterbirth, spices and sperm, that Yu-in deposited in a bedside urn daily for this purpose.

But earlier--that is, when I would climb to the slumbering, snowbound Gods in the hours just after star-rise--the smell was far less ambrosial. Like a tomb cracked open and left to fester, Yu-in leaked a black and brackish feculence that stunk of rot and waste. They wallowed in their filth, tossing and turning until even Their single, blank face--for Yu-in seemed to be possessed by none of its constituent deities as it slept--was slathered in that rank muck.

To this day I shudder to think of the dreams Yu-in must have had. Ith told me once; it was morning, and I was still wiping away the last festoons of stool that clung to Yu-in's massive hindquarters. Ith awoke in a panic and told me of a nightmare He and the Others had been having.

In it, the fathers of the mothers of man left their graves and lifted their fists to the heavens. A war between God and servant tore the sky asunder, poisoned the seas, and forced Ith and his brethren into exile--leaving the men in the valley below to reap fields of disease and watch their pale, mortal shadows lengthen in the glare of the pagan sun.

"Ith," I dared utter, my insolence no doubt fueled by lingering contact with His most intimate discharges, "that is no mere dream. That is Your own Gospel, handed down eons ago. Every schoolchild in my village knows it. Before I shoveled waste and stricken flesh into the Swollen River to earn my keep--before I shaved my head in shame, became too tainted to trust with faith--I even gathered the little ones at my feet and taught them myself."

As I remembered, my blood turned to ice--not just at the abrupt and melancholic recollection of the loss of my former calling, which pained me more than I could have ever expected, but at the final and terrifying realization that the Gods were as unclean, if not more so, than Man.


That day--for I slept during those bright hours Yu-in was conscious--I had a dream of my own. In my village, infants crawled forth with an uncanny grace and began consuming their mothers. Their pink gums bruised breast and bone as they burrowed into the nourishing flesh of their procreators, each mewling babe hungrily seeking the womb from whence it had been expelled.

I tried to warn my neighbors of this horror, but my tongue leapt from my gaping mouth of its own will and began inching across the dust. As I tried to pick it up, the dry earth turned to blood and surged up my forearms in foaming torrents.

Suddenly those torrents became the familiar shit of Yu-in--and I found myself no longer in my village but drenched and wretched at the edge of the glacier atop His mountain. I bathed in the slow drip of the melting waters and watched the corruption swirl off of my body and across the ice before plunging into a river that flowed away from the mountain, down into the valley.

The river. The Swollen River.

When I awoke--writhing on the mat of straw in the modest hut Yu-in had seen fit to grant me in exchange for the execution of my duties--the sun was high in the sky. The images from my dream felt burned onto my brain.

It was then that a notion came to me.

I had once sternly warned the children of my village against acts and even thoughts of unholiness, of uncleanliness. The suffering you know at the hands of plague and famine, I had taught them, is nothing compared to the punishment Yu-in justly bestows on the impudent and sinful.

But that had been long ago. I was now a damned creature--damned by the perverse ordainment of the Gods Themselves.

And so, with my heart boiling and my soul reshaped in the flame of sacrilege, I took my ritual rag and shovel and crept toward the sunlit lair of Yu-in. To see Him as no man ever had.


As I crept near to Yu-in and hid behind a large stone near His urn of ritual unguent, He appeared no differently. He lay in his bed of snow and quartz, both substances blackened beyond my ability to clean them. Soon, though, He turned to face the place where I hid. The planes and angles of His body were folded into an almost crystalline configuration, a geometry at once sublime and grotesque. His broad face blinked and flickered as many images in passing possessed it, a feverish parade of shifting visages. Ith was but one; Others came and went, some of which I swear I recognized as the pagan idols of the ancients.

Fear scorched my throat, but I doubted Yu-in could see me where I hid. Ith's eyesight--a faculty I had never previously considered prone to atrophy in the Gods--had always been poor, and I assumed the same could be said of Yu-in as a whole. His unfocused gaze passed over my shadowed perch.

Then He began to speak.

The voices crashed into me like a physical thing, a blow like the wind driving a tree before it. Ith's whisper, lisping and sleepy, was buried within, but it was overpowered by a deafening babble of screeches, grumbles, cackles, and howls that seemed to violate all laws of harmony. Still I clung to my hiding place, an insect riding out a tornado.

Impossibly, Yu-in's monstrous voice was drowned out by a sudden and even larger noise that seemed to split my skull along with the very air. I was blinded for a moment; by pain or noise or light I could not tell. When I was able to see again, there was flooding into Yu-in's chamber, one stone wall cleft in twain by the energies that had been hurled against it.

Through that vast crack, the sky leaked in. Clouds drifted by, and a fresh breeze stirred the clots of filth that had congregated around the corners of the Gods' great nest.

Below, the valley sat. Cradled within its green slopes was my village. From this high vantage, the Swollen River--tainted, I know realized, by the waste that I myself had leaked into the glacier all these years--ran black and stinking into the village.

We the villagers had always assumed it safe to shovel our shit and disease, the rancid dung and postulant corpses of our fellows, into the Swollen River, so long as it would be swept downstream and away. I myself had long been an instrument of this disposal.

It seems Gods and men were more alike than either of us thought.

My head awash in confusion and aching with the strain of the vision before me, I turned to flee. With one last glance I saw Yu-in's might abdomen open and reach out into the air, a massive bladder twisted inside out and snapping at the air like a starving frog at a swarm of flies. Some kind of mist arose from the valley, from the village itself, a haunted fog that Yu-in's inverted guts sucked at with a greedy lust.

Within that mist were faces. Howling faces, ravaged by buboes and etched with pain, sculpted from the dung-scented gasses Yu-in gulped out of the sky. I stray tendril wafted to where I stood frozen, ready to scuttle away from the site of this repulsive gluttony.

It was then that I knew what Yu-in feasted upon. Not the damned ghosts of the villagers, nor their eternal souls. Despite our broad interpretations of the Gospels, there were no such things.

There was only pain. Pain that Yu-in ate. And shat. And that shit in turn desecrated the waters of the Swollen River, the suffering returned to its source to cause suffering again. An insidious wheel, of which I had been a willing if ignorant spoke.

Stunned and too sickened to run, I didn't feel the hot breath of Yu-in on my scalp until it was too late.


Drunk on agony, Yu-in snatched me up and held me before Him, the screams of villagers staining its teeth like wine. It seemed not to recognize me at first, and its multitude of mask-like faces blurred by faster than a hummingbird's wings. At last it settled on the incarnation that knew me best.


"Adored servant," Ith said, "why are you here? You know it is against our commandment for you to loiter in our chamber after the sun climbs into the heavens. We ask not much of you. Why do you disobey?"

Ith's voice was tender, even bruised, as if I had delivered unto him a personal affront. But even as his tone was childlike, the fist he held me in grew tighter. I felt my breath wane and my ribs creak at the force.

"Ith," I bellowed with the last lungful I could muster. I had only one chance, even though I knew it might mean the end of my life. "Listen to me. I am sorry for my sin. I… I must confess, I have long been lured by your beauty. I disobeyed you and snuck to your bed in hopes… in hopes of sharing it with you. I know you are lonely, Ith. Alone, as am I."

There was half truth to what I said, and the loneliness I had felt for many years--even before I had been chosen as the Night-Soil Man--welled up in my like infected humors. Weeping, Ith became overcome at my own show of emotion. His blubbering sounded louder than thunder. Sobs shook his body. He let his fist go limp.

In that second I drew a sharp breath, threw my rag over his eye, and plunged my shovel into it.

Ith screeched, his own gross vanity as wounded as his face. A font of ichor bathed me, and I slipped from His grasp. I landed heavily, my ankle turned, and I crawled toward the safety of the rocks as Ith thrashed and cried. Before I could escape, he let loose one last great sob and fell into a hill-sized heap before me.

He was not dead. I know I could not kill the Gods, and that I had little time before Ith and his brethren awoke.

It was then that I knew what I must do.

And so, that evening, as I prepared once more for my nocturnal trek back up the stinking cliffs and across the shit-marbled glacier to the nest where Yu-in lie dormant, I gathered more than just my ritual rag and shovel.

I took up a spoon.


It has been centuries now since I felled Ith. Centuries that I have sat in the nest of the Gods, spoon in hand, consuming Yu-in's discharge before it can seep into the ground or flow into the Swollen River. Centuries since the village--cut off from the source of its corruption and blight--has grown virile and prosperous again.

But as the village has become pure, I have become corpulent, bloated by my sacrificial repast. My face is as broad as the cliff face, gray as a corpse. Worms tunnel into my flesh, ravenous for the rich waste it senses just beyond the thin membrane of my skin. The stench is unholy.

I once called out to the villages, the descendants of my former neighbors, from my faraway perch. I bellowed at them, begged for help, explained what I did and why. I told them of their true role in the Gods' ancient circle of anguish, gluttony, and lust.

But the villagers know only their own Gospel, that of their many-faced God, Yu-in, handed down to them long ago. They call me Demon and curse me for trying to lead them astray from the path of the righteous. They credit their convalescence to the purity of their own souls, the sanctity of their own acts. The defile me in effigy--shitting into burlap sacks one day each year, drawing my face crudely in charcoal thereupon, and striking those effigies with sticks until they burst. Then they shave their heads and feast on the fruits of their fields, forcing themselves to vomit upon the green earth, laughing, mocking.

That is their Holy Day. The Feast of Xihu, the Night-Soil Man. Their own way of purging.

Still, I know I cannot cease my loathsome repast. Even now Yu-in stirs in his deep sleep, his night-soil a thin and watery trickle from rusted bowels now that the villagers provide Him little suffering to gorge upon. And so I sit, spoon to mouth, the fetid tang of undernourished dung my only sustenance. I grow ever larger, ever more horrible, to the point where my own bulk and stench threaten to drive me mad.

But as I gaze out the shriven wall of Yu-in's chamber, the Swollen River plunges sweetly and cleanly down the cliffs and over blanched rocks and into the valley, where mills spin swiftly in its churning currents and children now bathe in its clear waters without fear of pain or plague.

Empty yet full, I gaze upon that, and I am content.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

They say don't worry...

I wrote a little something about Curtis Mayfield and the apocalypse for The A.V. Club. Pretty happy with how it came out. I only wish I'd had the chance to interview Mayfield before he died... Thankfully, he said it all in his music. And then some.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tonight: Tattered Cover event

Okay, kinda last-minute, but... tonight I'll be participating in a literary event at the Colfax Avenue location of Tattered Cover in Denver. It's a pre-party for next week's World Book Night festivities. Along with my fellow Denver writers Brenna Yovanoff and Kona Morris, I'll be reading from and discussing a book that has inspired me. My pick: Christopher Priest's 1974 mind-blowing science-fiction masterpiece The Inverted World. The whole thing kicks off at 5 p.m. I think some live music is planned. I may also dance or barf or something.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More Taft 2012 Press

And since I'm on the subject of Taft 2012 coverage, here are a few cool things that have popped recently:

A review by Wes Vernon for The Washington Times.

An interview by Scott Butki for Blogcritics.

An audio review by Kristin Dreyer Kramer for PRX's Shelf Discovery.

A lengthy and insightful audio interview with the great Dave Ashton at Denver's own KGNU Community Radio.

Thanks, everyone! The kind attention and honest opinions, positive or otherwise, are all sincerely appreciated.

Interview for Rivera Runs Through It

The book blogger Nicole Rivera graciously interviewed me for her fantastic blog, Rivera Runs Through It. Unlike most of my recent interviews, it focuses more on the books that have influenced me since I was a kid. Some of them may surprise you... Others, well, you probably saw them coming! Many thanks to Ms. Rivera for reading Taft 2012 and letting me ramble on and on...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SFWA interview

Is there anything Cat Rambo can't do? Besides being a fantastic author, editor, educator, and catalyst for cool stuff, she's a rock-solid journalist. And I'm not just saying that because she conducted this interview with me for SFWA--the most incisive online chat about Taft 2012 I've done so far. Thanks, Cat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Plugged on Politico

Taft 2012 got plugged today by Politico's Patrick Gavin in a roundup of 5 unconventional political books. Big Bill is on a roll!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Presidents Day! (now buy)

I figured Presidents Day might be a good day to remind everyone that I wrote a book about a president. And also to say that you can get a signed copy -- and help support a great, cooperative, community-supporting, independent business -- from Broadway Book Mall. They will gladly ship! Ron and Nina Else of BBM, in conjunction with the Denver Area Science Fiction Association, hosted a panel discussion this last Saturday between myself, Jesse Bullington, and Stephen Graham Jones (moderated with scathing wit by the esteemed Mario Acevedo). It was a blast, despite the fact that I was dead tired and blathered on about my usual socialist nonsense. Seriously, though, it was a great time, and BBM rocks.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Interview with Sometimes Laura Reads

So one Denver-area writer and musician (Laura Morocco) interviewed another Denver-area writer and musician (me) for her blog, Sometimes Laura Reads. 'Cause that's how we roll. 'Twas a fun exchange too. Thanks, Laura!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Podcast of "The Architect"

Wanna hear a short story of mine? Over at Toasted Cake, the awesome Tina Connolly just posted her podcast of "The Occupation of the Architect," previously published by Brain Harvest: An Almanac of Bad-Ass Speculative Fiction. Thanks, Tina!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cons and events: 2012

I'll be doing some readings, blabbing on some panels, and attending some conventions this year. Here's what I have lined up so far. Holy crap, it's more than I thought! (If the stars align, I may also try to make one of the following this year: World Horror Convention, Dragon*Con, or Readercon. Fingers crossed...)

February 18: A reading with Jesse Bullington and Stephen Graham Jones at Broadway Book Mall/Who Else Books. (Denver)

March 23-25: Anomaly Con. Among the guests: Ekaterina Sedia and Genevieve Valentine. (Denver)

April 16: A reading during a World Book Night pre-party at Tattered Cover Book Store on Colfax. (Denver)

April 20-22: A reading at Wax Trax Records' 33 1/3 Party. Not sure exactly what day I'll be reading, and it'll probably be next door to Wax Trax at Kilgore Books. (Denver)

June 5: Lighthouse Lit Fest: Writing With a Gun to Your Head, a salon discussion with Julie Kazimer and Mario Acevedo at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. (Denver)

June 15-17: Denver Comic Con and Literary Conference. (Denver)

August 30-September 3: Worldcon 70. (Chicago)

October 19-21:
MileHiCon 44. (Denver)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Machine Readable interview

Here's a lengthy interview I did with Arapahoe Library's awesome Machine Readable podcast. I manage to sound simultaneously spastic and tranquilized. Topics covered: Taft 2012, my beef with steampunk, what I had for lunch. Thanks for putting up with me, Nick and Jason!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Me on Morning Edition

Here's an interview I did about Taft 2012 that ran on NPR's Morning Edition today. I haven't yet mustered the fortitude to listen to a word of it. I hope I bleat and chirp coherently.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Studio Tulsa interview

Here's me being interviewed about Taft 2012 by Rich Fisher of Studio Tulsa (which appeared on KWGS, Tulsa's NPR affiliate). We had a great chat. Thanks, Rich! KWGS: "Taft 2012: A Novel" (2012-01-20)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Taft: TwenTYTwelve

Here's an interview I did about Taft 2012 for The Young Turks Network's TwenTYTwelve. Many thanks to host Michael Shure for being patient with me and my nervous nerdiness.

Ain't no party like a Taft launch party

Tuesday night, Denver's best independent bookseller, Tattered Cover, hosted the official launch party for my novel Taft 2012. I posted about the event on the blog of Quirk Books, my esteemed and wonderful publisher. Despite my abject fear of public speaking, I somehow managed to string untold dozens of sentences together in some semblance of coherence. Or at least some pitying souls in attendance (i.e. my mom) were kind of enough to say.

Friday, January 13, 2012


A few fresh pieces of Taft 2012 press hit the webs today: a guest post I wrote for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (of which I'm a member); an interview with yours truly for Publishers Weekly; and a lovely chat I had with BBC Scotland's Comedy Cafe radio show (I come in around the 19:30 mark). And so the deluge (hopefully) begins...

2011: My year in rear-view

Every January 1, I usually work up a little list of the things I accomplished, writing-wise, in the previous year. As you can tell, I'm a bit late. I have a good reason: I've been too busy writing. No matter how busy we all get, though, it's always good to stop, take a breath, look back, and see how far we've traveled over the past twelve months--if for no other reason than to make sure our trunks haven't sprung open and our luggage isn't strewn all over the highway. So, a mere two weeks delinquent, here it is: my 2011 in rear-view, a list of some stuff I did.

1. Finished my first novel, Taft 2012. It's been getting decent reviews so far, and the advance interest from the press, fellow writers, and my mom has been overwhelming. And the best part? The book doesn't actually come out until next week--so I get to trumpet its publication again on my list for 2012. Way to milk it, right?

2. Saw the publication of my first book, The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook. Yeah, I know what you're thinking: big whoop. A Pirates of the Caribbean tie-in? Puh-lease. But here's the deal: For being a licensed Disney tie-in and all that, the book was very fun to write. I was given a lot of creative leeway. It helped me pay some bills and get my foot in a really worthwhile door (that door being Quirk Books; see above and below). And I love those dark, weird, silly, fantastical Pirates movies--yes, even the last two--so it's not like I was compromising my integrity and writing an Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel book or something. The bottom line, though, is this: It's a book. With my name on the cover. On the shelves of every bookstore in America. Without me smuggling it in and clandestinely filing it there.

3. Signed a contract with Quirk Books for three more novels. The project is still top-secret (okay, more like mid-secret), so I can't divulge all the details yet. But I will say this: They're the first three books in a kids' horror series, and they're set loosely within the mythos of one of my favorite authors of all time. (Okay, so I pretty much just gave it all away right there.)

4. Got an agent. And not just any agent: Jennifer Jackson, Vice President of Donald Maass Literary Agency, who also represents a slew of great science fiction and fantasy authors--including a handful of my favorite writers working today. I'm not worthy! But with a little luck and a lot more hard work (not mention Jennifer's kind and expert guidance), maybe I eventually will be.

5. Became the nonfiction editor of Clarkesworld Magazine. Clarkesworld, hands-down, is my favorite publisher of SF/fantasy short stories--and it's got the awards to prove just how many readers share that opinion. But the magazine's nonfiction has always been fantastic as well, providing a much-needed thoughtfulness and depth when it comes to analysis of the genres. I feel incredibly honored to be part of the team.

6. Launched Loud, my monthly column on punk and metal for The A.V. Club. For five years now, I've gotten to review all kinds of stuff for The A.V. Club, and I'm eternally grateful to them for the ongoing opportunity. But to have my own little corner of the joint that I can stink up with my unholy love of hard, heavy, dark, weird, nasty, violent, uncompromising, beautifully ugly music? Heaven.

7. Appeared on my first convention panels. Even if you know me personally, you probably have no idea how terrified I am of public speaking. That's because I've successfully avoided it for so long, you've likely never had the misfortune of seeing me sweat, stammer, and shake in front of a live audience. I knew I needed to change that, though, especially if I'm going to be an author for a living. So after attending Worldcon in Reno this summer--taking careful note of what I liked and didn't like about convention panels--I returned to Denver and signed up for three panels at MileHiCon in October. And what do you know? I actually pulled it off without making a total doofus of myself. Partial, sure, but not total.

8. At long last, found a publisher for "Other Gray Things." Let me tell you a little story: In January of 2008, I resolved to start writing fiction. The first short story I completed was "Other Gray Things"--a science fiction tale set in a world where a mysterious, omnipresent hum has led to the outlawing of any audible frequency that clashes with it. Somehow, this very first serious short story I ever wrote snagged a semifinalist slot in the Writers of the Future contest. But that didn't include publication. So I started submitting it to various magazines. It was rejected. And rejected. And rejected. But every time it came back, it was accompanied by some great constructive criticism from an editor. So I kept revising it and sending it back out. In the meantime, the other stories I'd begun to write were getting published all over the place. I could have given up on "Other Gray Things." But since it was the first story I'd ever finished, I was determined to place it somewhere. Finally, Christopher Fletcher--the editor of the excellent SF magazine M-Brane--accepted it, and it was published in January of 2011. It was a great way to ring in the year. And now, one year later, it's a great way of driving home the point that, holy hell, did I have a crazy 2011.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SST and me

I just wrote an article about SST Records for The A.V. Club -- a piece I've inadvertently spent the last 23 years of my life preparing for. If you're ever curious about some of things that help make me the whatever-it-is I am today, here's a good place to start.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taft 2012 excerpt

The A.V. Club just debuted a three-chapter excerpt of my upcoming novel, Taft 2012. If you like what you read, feel free to order yourself a copy! And don't forget: VOTE TAFT.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

And they go tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, like little birds

So I totally screwed up: I should have read Will Hermes' Love Goes To Buildings On Fire: Five Years In New York That Changed Music Forever before listing my favorite books of 2011. I'm as tired as the next guy of NY-in-the-'70s mythologizing, but this is something altogether deeper, messier, and meatier.

Post pre-press

Denver journalist and author John Wenzel wrote an article about me for the Denver Post in advance of my January 17 book signing for Taft 2012. Came out pretty good! And by "good," I mean I managed to avoid sounding like too much of a crazy person.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Questioningly yours

Do I have enough stuff to do in 2012? Of course not. Which is why I've resolved to start conducting author interviews on this here blog of mine (which will soon move to a full-blown website, honest to, um, blog). Once a month I'll tenderly interrogate some poor fuck who has a new book coming out. Those who write science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror, be warned: In the coming months I may hit you up with book requests, defamation waivers, and dumb questions sharpened by my many years of asking dumb questions for a living.