I haven't sent a newsletter since last November, so belated wishes for a very happy new year. The holiday season seemed to pass very quickly. Why do they call it "holiday" season, when everyone's so busy?
MaryAnn and I have been sticking close to the home front, trying to meet deadlines and catch up on various projects. In December, I turned in The Blue Girl—my young adult novel—to Sharyn November at Viking. I hadn't written specifically for the YA audience since The Dreaming Place (1990), but I get a fair bit of correspondence from young people who read the adult books, so it was to fun to spend time writing for that audience. The book will probably be released next fall. When I have an exact publishing date for it, I'll let you know.
Speaking of release dates, Subterranean Press will soon be publishing Medicine Road. Their Web site news says, "The book is fully designed, and being proofed by Charles. As soon as that's done, it will head to the printer for an expected April release."
It's true. I am proofing it at the moment. It's great to be (vicariously) back in the southwest with some of my favourite characters. To learn more about Medicine Road, view Charles Vess's wonderful art, and even read an excerpt (but that would be peeking), go to:
I've just received a few bound uncorrected proofs of the book and even they are gorgeous, with a full cover colour and black & white art inside. This is going to be one beautiful book, and given that it's set around Tucson, my favourite part of the world, I have a special affection for it. Speaking of those proofs, MaryAnn (with Sub Press's permission) immediately snaffooed one and put it on eBay. Her auctions are here:
She has some other nice books in her stash (mine and others') and expects to auction them soon. If you'd like to be on her private mailing list (she sends a list of the items she puts on eBay), drop her a note at:
For those of you who just want to check in from time to time, go to her Web site, and scroll down to the store.
Speaking of Web sites, ours are both horribly out of date, but we hope to update them in the coming months. I hope this isn't the same as our ongoing goals to put out a set of the Weirdin, record the CD… We really do have the best of intentions and may surprise even ourselves one of these days by getting these projects finished.
I would also be remiss to not mention that Refinerytown, one of the Christmas chapbooks from a few years ago, is now available in a new edition from Subterranean Press. You can read about it here:
It features MaryAnn's original cover, spruced up by Sub Press designer Gail Cross, and has our pal Nina Kiriki Hoffman as a character—who better to show up in Newford?, albeit she phoned in her part. Nina also provided a new introduction for the piece.
And we finally have a release date for The Wild Wood, one of my own personal favourites of my books. Maybe because most of it is set in the countryside around our cottage in Bouchette, Quebec (cottage being our old schoolbus with the attached kitchen—and no, we didn't do it; we bought it that way). It also has my first fictive foray into the Sonoran Desert outside Tucson, Arizona. Sadly, using the original Froud art is impossible due to contractual reasons, but Irene Gallo at Tor has done a lovely job with the interior design, which is all I've seen to date. I'll post a cover on the site as soon as she sends it to me.
The other thing I wanted to share with you (months ago, when it was more timely), was the new Endicott Studio site. I provide poems for some of the issues that they post and there's a new issue going up soon with a winter theme in which they'll be using a handful of my winter haiku, culled from the ones I write every day. That said, there are far more reasons to visit the site: stories, essays, gorgeous art, poetry, all provided by some of the best folks we have working in the mythic arts today. While the winter issue is probably still a couple of weeks away, it would certainly be worth your while to have a look at the current and past issues. You can find them at:
I've been so busy finishing off The Blue Girl and some other projects that I haven't had nearly enough leisure reading time. Or even music listening time—by that I mean when I can actually listen to the music, rather than have it on in the background. Mind you, with all the snow we've been getting, I do get to go out with my iPod while I'm shoveling.
But I'd be remiss not to mention a couple of titles. I did get the chance to read Gene Wolfe's The Knight (Tor), one of those rare high fantasies where I didn't know how the story was going to go after only five pages in. Wolfe has caught a wonderful voice for the first person narrative (a young boy in a man's body) and best of all, the book is seeped with that delightful sense of wonder that started so many of us reading this material in the first place. But while there are scenes that sing, it remains an earthy book as well, the first of two, but happily Wolfe leaves us at a breathing point so we don't have to go by his place, banging on his door to demand what happens next.
I was also lucky enough to get an advance galley of Andrew Vachss's forthcoming novel, Down Here (Knopf). Vachss is my favourite of the hardboiled writers (actually, he's a fav writer period) and this book shows him off to fine form. What really amazes me about writers such as him (with long-running series that follow a single character) is that how, after so many books, he can still keep it so fresh. For other long-time time fans of his work, let me just say that Wolfe (no relation to Gene mentioned above) gets arrested for murder; you know how Burke's going to take that. The book's out on April 16th.
Lastly, I'm thoroughly enjoying Bernd Heinrich's non-fiction book Winter
World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival (Ecco) which just came out in trade paperback. This time out he's exploring how animals survive in winter—and considering our weather at the moment, it makes for most apropos reading. The book, liberally illustrated with Heinrich's sketches, is beautifully written as well as informative. Some of his other books include The Trees in My Forest, Ravens in Winter, and A Year in the Maine Woods, all of them wonderful examples of nature writing.
Musically…well, we've been all over the map, as usual, myself a little more than MaryAnn. A real find for me is the complete recording of Miles Davis's quintet playing two nights at the Blackhawk Club, in San Francisco in 1961. It's melodic and swinging and reminds those of us who need reminding that for all his postures and attitude, Davis was a real player, first and foremost. (In Person at the Blackhawk, Columbia).
The other box set I can't stop playing is Cash Unearthed (American Recordings). This one is made up of four CDs of previously unreleased material that Johnny Cash recorded for Rick Rubin's American Recordings label (including a gorgeous reading of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" which is done as a duet with Joe Strummer). Also in the package is a single CD of highlights from the four official CDs and a hardcover book with great photos and Cash (and others) talking about each and every song.
Some other treats include Ani DiFranco's Educated Guess (Righteous Babe) in which the l'il folksinger goes back to her solo roots; Damien Rice's O
(Vector) a tremendous debut from this Irish singer-songwriter, lo-fi recorded in his home and the booklet sports some fascinating art; Greg Brown's Honey in the Lion's Head (Trailer Records) in which Brown tackles the American traditional (mostly) songbook, including a duet with his new wife Iris Dement (and they really need to do an album together); Natalie Merchant's killer take on (again mostly) American traditional songs on The House Carpenter's Daughter (Myth America); Feels Like Home (Blue Note) in which Norah Jones proves she's no one-CD wonder; Martyn Joseph stripped down to pretty much just voice and guitar on Whoever It Was That Brought Me Here Will Have To Take Me Home (www.martynjoseph.com); and…well, there's just a lot of great music out in the world, isn't there? So let me leave you with those for now.
Except…as I was putting this together, MaryAnn and I have fallen in love with a new CD by a somewhat local fellow—I believe he's based in Perth, Ontario, or at least the album was recorded there. His name is Brock Zeman, the CD is Cold Winter Comes Back, and it's a wonderful collection of narrative songs along the lines of Steve Earle, Chris Knight, Matthew Ryan and the like. I went looking for a Web presence, to let you know where you could order a copy or find out more about him, but unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any. So I went into my favourite local record store Compact Music and asked my pal Ian Boyd (who co-owns it with his brother
James) if he could make it available to those of you who might be interested. He said he would and promises to have it available at his Web site by Tuesday, February 17th. Check them out here:
Tell them MaryAnn and I sent you, and don't be shy to put in requests for some of that other hard-to-find Canadian music you might be looking for. They carry music from all over the world, of course, but where else are you going to find, under one roof, music by Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, Fred Eaglesmith, Ian Tamblyn, Jim Bryson, Kate Maki, the Sadies, the Fiftymen, Christine Graves, Michaela Foster Marsh, Luther Wright & the Wrongs, Sarah Harmer…well, you get the idea.
As I write this, you folks are 3449 strong and if that isn't cool, I don't know what is. I can't tell you how much MaryAnn and I appreciate your friendly support and interest.
Until again, take good care of each other.