The UVU Forum of Horror

October 28th, 2014

Tomorrow, October 29, is the inaugural UVU Forum of Horror, and I’m delighted to be the keynote speaker! It’s a student event, but it’s open to everyone, and it’s free.

UVUforumofhorror

My Keynote presentation will be primarily about John Cleaver, including a reading from the new book, The Devil’s Only Friend, which comes out next year. The film presentation will be Cabin in the Woods, followed by a group discussion of the film as a critique on horror cinema. We’re planning to wrap up around 9pm or so.

It’s going to be an awesome event, and I’m honored to be a part of it. I’ll be available throughout to sign books and answer questions and whatever else. I’ll see you there!

The Devil’s Only Friend: Cover Reveal

September 30th, 2014

I was hoping to get this post up last week, so I could scoop Tor.com and post the cover before they did, but I was so busy actually writing the book that I wasn’t able to write about it. But! I have finished the copy edit, and the book is turned in, and all that’s left is the proofing and the long, long months of painful waiting. The Devil’s Only Friend, the first of an all-new John Cleaver trilogy, is coming in June.

And this is the cover:
DevilOnly-2[2]

I love this cover. Like, really, really love it. It’s designed by Peter Lutjen, who did all of my previous Tor covers; for the first trilogy he did a “destroyed paper” motif that was pretty cool, and for this one he’s taken a new direction that I think works great. I love the type treatment, and the way the colors seem to reverse very subtly on the words. I love the stationery thing in the corner, and the medical illustration of a heart at the bottom. It’s beautiful, and it fits the book perfectly.

I can’t wait for you guys to read it.

Performance Art

September 8th, 2014

I went to Salt Lake Comic Con last weekend, and I have many stories to share about it, but first I need to tell you about this awesome dream I had the second night of the show.

It started with a group of four artists: me, Jessica Day George, and two others I can’t remember. Probably you–let’s just assume it was you. So you, me, and Jessica Day George decided to stage a continent-spanning piece of performance art. Step 1 was to copy the Internet onto a hard drive, and I know that sounds silly, but remember that it was only the European Internet. Apparently that’s smaller? In dreamland? So anyway, it fit into a little box about the size of a swamp cooler, and we put it in Portugal, right by the coast. You may be wondering why we had to use a copy of the Internet instead of the actual Internet, and the answer, obviously, is that Step 2 of our plan was to build a track from Portugal to Estonia, start at the top, and then slide down on the back of a genetically engineered turtle, about the size of a small car, all the way from Estonia to Portugal where we would smash into the box and destroy it. We didn’t want to destroy the actual European Internet, so we made a copy.

Now, as you may have noticed, our plan had certain holes in it. Most prominently, the genetic engineer we were working with didn’t have any car-sized turtles, only car-sized pugs–the genetic engineers in the audience are probably nodding their heads right now, because they saw this coming a mile away. Oh well, lesson learned, we’d use a giant pug. This brought problems of its own, though, such as the fact that a dog, not having a shell, would not slide along the track as smoothly as a turtle, so we needed to think of something else. Fortuitously, it turned out we couldn’t use the tracks either, because apparently it’s prohibitively expensive to build a specialized turtle slide all the way from Estonia to Portugal. Who knew? We got about five four-foot sections completed (around 0.00000117% of the total distance) before we realized that it just wasn’t going to work. Back to the drawing board.

The giant pug, we decided, was strong enough to just run the whole way, which was a pretty good substitute (though it might give a different artistic message), but it could only carry one person at a time. You and I and Jessica Day George decided to take turns riding the dog, with the rest of the group following in a car. This would take longer, but it might make for a more interesting journey, so we decided to bring my brother, Rob Wells, on board as our videographer. We’d take a week or two (depending on the running speed of a giant riding pug), documenting our progress as we went, and then when we got to Portugal we’d just run up and kick the Internet copy really hard, instead of slamming into it–if we timed it right, it would still kind of look the same, plus it would save the poor pug’s face, which was already pretty flat and which we didn’t really want to slam at full speed into the Internet.

I woke up before we actually carried out the plan, which is probably just as well considering how many artistic compromises we had to make. I guess the lesson is for esoteric performance artists to choose their geneticists carefully.

My Comic Con schedule!

August 31st, 2014

It’s time for Salt Lake Comic Con!

I have a full schedule this year, and I would love to see you there. I may or may not be dressed as Jayne from Firefly at some of these events…

Thursday September 4
3:00 pm: Creating a Compelling RPG Campaign, Room 255F
6:00 pm: Breaking Bad, Room 151G
7:00 pm: Han Shot First: Character Defining Moments, Room 255E

Friday September 5
1:00 pm: Build a Story, Room 255B
3:00 pm: Signing, Shadow Mountain Booth (#111, Main Expo Floor)

Saturday September 6
12:00 pm: Battlestar Galactica: 10th Anniversary of the Reimagining of the Classic Science Fiction Series, Room 251A
4:00 pm: Signing, Shadow Mountain Booth (#111, Main Expo Floor)
6:00 pm: Supervillain Smackdown (The Game), Room 255C
7:00 pm: Writing Excuses: The Panel, Room 250A

Yes, I did an Ice Bucket Challenge

August 21st, 2014

Youve almost certainly heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge: someone challenges you, and then you have to either a) donate in support of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), or b) dump a bucket of ice water on your head, or c) both. Then you get to challenge two other people. I’ve heard some rumblings online about how this is a useless campaign, or “slacktivism,” in which people on social media pretend to be involved with a cause without actually doing anything to help, but let’s be real: the ALS organization reports that their donations have spiked from one million dollars (typical for this time of year) to four million dollars, which eagle-eyed readers will recognize as being four times higher. If a social media campaign can raise donations by 400%, to the tune of three million extra dollars, while also generating this much awareness, calling it “slacktivism” seems pretty stupid.

*UPDATE*: The article I got my numbers from was both out of date and wrong. According to the ALS organization itself, their typical donations for this time of year are $2 million, and the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised that to more than $40 million. Slacktivism shmacktivism.

But how about I cut the crap and show you the video?

The video quality is poor, and I’ll do what I can to improve it, but for now there you go. Ive donated ALS, and because it’s a cause close to my heart I’m donating to a mental health organization as well.

Brandon Sanderson challenged Howard Tayler and I, so I will pass the challenge along to our fellow podcaster Mary Robinette Kowal, recognizing that it might be hard for her because she’s traveling. Don’t worry, Mary, there’s an ice machine right down the hall from your hotel room :)

And as long as we’re challenging authors, let’s bring some YA into this. Claudia Gray, I choose you!

The great and wonderful John Cleaver contest!

July 3rd, 2014

The time has come, and tomorrow is the official launch day for Next of Kin, the new John Cleaver novella. This novella is a great way to get a head start on the new John Cleaver series, which starts next year with The Devil’s Only Friend, but you know what’s an even better way to get a head start? How about just reading the whole novel a year early? This sounds like a job for: a contest!

Here’s the deal: Next of Kin is on sale pretty much everywhere books are sold, and you can even get it Print on Demand if you really love paper. Buy a copy, take a screenshot of the receipt, and email it to NextOfKinContest@gmail.com, and you’ll be entered in a drawing; the winner, to be determined on July 11, will be chosen at random from among those emails, and I will send that winner an electronic copy of the manuscript for The Devil’s Only Friend.

Kindle: 2.99

Smashwords: 2.99

Nook: 2.99

Print on Demand: $6.99

If you happen to be in our near Salt Lake City, come to the live launch party at WesterCon, Friday morning at 11:30, in the con suite (room 1508). We’ll have free pizza, a reading, and several hard copies for sale which I will lovingly sign just for you. And if you really know your John Cleaver trilogy, you just might win another copy of The Devil’s Only Friend….

Spread the word! Tell all your friends! Buy fifty-seven copies and get your Christmas shopping done early! This new series is awesome, and I can’t wait for you to read it.

The cover for NEXT OF KIN

June 25th, 2014

Want to see the cover for Next of Kin? Yeah, me too. It’s beautiful, and I can’t stop looking at it.

 

NextOfKinCover-front

The cover was designed by Chersti Nieveen, and assembled for production by Ben Crowder. The book will be available on July 4, with specific purchase info coming soon.

A New John Cleaver Story Coming NEXT WEEK

June 24th, 2014

As I announced a few months ago, I’ve started work on a new John Cleaver trilogy. The first book is called The Devil’s Only Friend, and it comes out next year, but I have ALSO written a novella, called Next of Kin, that leads in to the new trilogy. Next of Kin will be released next week, on July 4.

The Devil’s Only Friend picks up one year after I Don’t Want to Kill You, with John still struggling to deal with the horrible things that happened in the first trilogy. On the plus side, he’s working with a group of FBI demon hunters, but on the down side, that’s not actually a plus side: he’s spent his whole life trying not to think about killing, and now it’s his job. He feels trapped, he feels desperate, he feels his control slipping away, and then…well, I’d better not say anything else. There’s a war brewing between humans and monsters, and John’s trapped in the middle, and it’s not going to end well for anyone.

Next of Kin gives us a brief look at the other side of that war: a demon’s-eye view of what it’s like to live in our world, and hide in our shadows, and prey on our weaknesses. Elijah Sexton lives on other people’s memories, and does his best to stay out of trouble, but his fellow monsters are trying to recruit him, and his stolen memories are calling out, and then there’s that quiet young man he keeps running into….

Next of Kin will be available in all ebook formats, and in Print-on-Demand, starting July 4. If you’re online, keep your eyes peeled: I’ll be doing a giveaway with some fun prizes, including an advance manuscript of The Devil’s Only Friend. Better yet, if you’re at WesterCon or FantasyCon in Salt Lake City you can come to the launch party at 11:30 am, where I’ll be giving away free pizza, reading from both stories, and doing a bunch more awesome giveaways. You probably have the day off, and you’re family barbecue doesn’t start until the evening, so come on down and grab an awesome new book. I will even compliment your shirt.

People have been asking me for years to tell the rest of John’s story. This is it. The time has come. Kiss a corpse and smile sweetly at a cat: John Cleaver has returned.

I Am Not A Serial Killer, coming soon to a non-prose medium near you

May 5th, 2014

Let me tell you a funny story.

Back in January I was going through my spam folder, as I do every few days, and found an email with the subject line: “A Stage Play? John de Lancie.” John de Lancie, as you probably know, is the actor who played Q on Star Trek, and Jane’s dad on Breaking Bad, and a ton of other awesome things. I’m a fan, and have been for a while, and I figured I must have signed up for a John de Lancie newsletter or something. I do this a lot; I’ve been on a Barenaked Ladies mailing list for sixteen years, for example, and I don’t think I’ve read a single one of their emails. So I deleted it.

Yeah.

Two days later I got the same email again, and thought “This is a pretty aggressive mailing list. I’m delighted he’s doing a stage play, and I wish I could go see it, but I live in Germany and there’s no way.” So I deleted it again.

And then immediately I felt bad, because the email was just too weird to completely ignore. I don’t typically get a lot of emails from famous people, but I get just enough rights questions from Hollywood studios that I couldn’t let this one slide. I dug into my deleted folder, pulled out the email, and read it.

Turns out it was from the real John de Lancie, and he’s a big fan of the John Cleaver books, and he wants to turn I Am Not a Serial Killer into a stage play. So that’s pretty awesome.

I emailed back and forth with him for a few weeks, and then on my RUINS book tour I stopped by his house on my way through LA, and we talked about the possibilities and challenges of bringing IANASK to stage. He’s an incredibly nice, extremely intelligent and funny guy. The first half of the story would be easy–very minimal adaptation required–but the second half, where it starts to get really supernatural and action-y, will take a lot more work. He’s found a theater in LA that has the right facilities (run by Gates McFadden, who you may also know from Star Trek), and we’re taking a look at what we can do to make it happen. I have no idea how long it will take, or what will be involved, or anything–I did a ton of theater in high school and college, but it was all little stuff, community and black box things with friends, and I’ve never written for stage before so I’m going in completely new. Unlike a movie, where you sell the rights and the studio takes over, this stage play is something I’ll be doing in collaboration with John, working together to make this the best thing we can make it.

The other big difference between movies and stage is that movies are incredibly secretive, and I’ve been involved in the we-hope-it-happens IANASK movie production for five years now and there’s still nothing I can really tell you. That’s why I haven’t said anything about this stage play thing for four months: not because I couldn’t, but because I’ve been conditioned not to. John, on the other hand, has been talking about it at conventions all year, and most recently on the Nerdist podcast, which was pretty awesome. So yeah: this is a thing, and we’re working on it, and it might happen and it might not. I have high hopes. My sister and brother-in-law are also theater people (he runs the theater department at a college in Tennessee) and are working on adapting my ebook A Night of Blacker Darkness to stage, so if all goes well I could have two stage plays next year. We’ll see what happens.

Anti-Jump Muscles

April 21st, 2014

Let’s talk about OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A lot of people say they have OCD because they, for example, like to keep things ordered or do things in a certain way every time–the kind of people who separate all their M&Ms by color before they eat them, that kind of thing. That’s not OCD, that’s just “being really organized.” Actual OCD, the mental disorder, is crippling and dangerous and potentially deadly.

When my brother was first diagnosed with OCD, and described the symptoms to me, I was shocked. His brain would tell him to do things, like throw himself down the stairs or punch the wall until his hand bled, and he was literally compelled to do it–as in, manipulated by an outside force. When your brain tells you to do something it’s every bit as un-ignorable as when your body does it. Imagine that you have to pee, and you try to ignore it, and it just gets worse and worse until you’re squeezing your legs together and dancing in place because if you don’t go pee RIGHT NOW you’re going to explode. Now imagine that instead of peeing, you get the same urge with the same intensity about making your head bleed. You have to make your head bleed RIGHT NOW or your entire life will be a disaster, and come on what are you waiting for you’re miserable and horrible and your head needs to bleed and why won’t you let it because it would make everything better just do it. You know, objectively, that making your head bleed is wrong, and harmful, and a bad thing. But your brain is sick, and it wants what it wants, and you have to live like that for the rest of your life.

I remember an old comic by the cartoonist R. Kliban, who did a lot of stuff in the 70s and 80s, including several about cats that you may have seen somewhere. The one that always stuck in my mind was “Anti-Jump Muscles”:


The idea of muscles that work in reverse is funny, but this is the reality that people with OCD live with every day. When my brother’s brain tells him to break his hand, or hurt himself or (on a couple of terrifying occasions) his family, it takes all his willpower to not act. His Anti-Jump Muscles are fully flexed, day in and day out, just to live a normal life. It is scary and lonely and utterly exhausting, and he is only one of millions of people in the world who have to suffer through that.

If you know someone with OCD, give them a hug or send them an email, and tell them you love them. Tell them you support them. Do what you can to help.

And if you’d like to help my brother, and to raise awareness for other people with mental health issues, take a look at our Altered Perceptions campaign that just opened today. Dozens of amazing authors have contributed alternate versions of their published works to an anthology, and none of us are getting a penny from it–every cent goes to help Rob and, if we reach our goals, others like him.