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Author Archive: "Heidi Mager"

Summer House with Swimming Pool

Deliciously nasty, gritty, and strangely redemptive, this will be the best thing you read at your summer house. It's murder mystery entwined with medical maleficence, warring ethics, and a storyline that will barely allow you to blink as you read obsessively long into the night.

Jen Van Meter: The Interview

Jen Van Meter writes comic books, which is quite possibly one of the most amazingly cool jobs that anyone can have. Her multi-volume hit series Hopeless Savages, from Oni Press, was nominated for an Eisner Award, otherwise known as the Comics Industry's equivalent of the Oscars. She also writes for Marvel, has a deeply hidden desire to write for the Hulk, and brought new life to a little character you might have heard of named Black Lightning (DC Comics).

In honor of the second annual International TableTop Day and Geek Week, I caught up with Jen to talk about geeks, geeky stuff, and what being a geek means to her.

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Heidi: What's the geekiest thing you've ever done or participated in?

Jen Van Meter: It's such a funny word, "geeky," because — given what it meant around me when I was growing up — I can't think of anything I've done that's geekier than becoming a professional comics writer.

But I think it's come to mean different things in different communities and contexts; what's sticky about it for me is the sense of having a driving personalized passion for some aspect of pop/sci-fi/fantasy/gaming culture that extends somehow past casual consumption or enjoyment. It's hard to pin down because there are so many ways to be that passionate and to express it, I think.

But here's my gut answer to your actual question: When I started graduate school, I was thrown into the teaching pool pretty quickly. I wasn't much older than many of my students, I was very shy about public speaking, and I didn't feel a great claim to much authority up in front of the room at first — I was intimidated. At the time, the role-playing game we were spending the most time with was White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade; my character was all tough and mean and wore leather and got into bar fights and wasn't intimidated by anybody. So on teaching days, I dressed like her. I didn't tell anyone, but for about a year, I worked up the nerve to go teach by secretly cosplaying this fictional character.

Heidi: I love that. I used to play an elf named Selenium. I spent a month crafting a magic bow with a +2 to hit.

Mage Knight

This is one of the best games I've ever played. Complete with epic fantasy and plenty of strategy, and long enough to satisfy your gaming urges for at least 3 to 6 hours.

The Interestings

Occasionally, you encounter a book that devastates you just because it has to end. The Interestings is one of those remarkable books that you start living in... and, emerging, you are all the richer for the resultant, uncomfortable reflection.


Panic, though rife with classic dystopian plot points, isn't just another thrilling young adult romance novel. It's beautifully written, with superbly drawn characters, and a thoughtful look at love, loss, and a rite of passage in a heartbroken little town.

All Joy and No Fun

Through case studies and scientific profundity, All Joy and No Fun delivers a thoughtful, in-depth look at parenthood rather than parenting. It's relieving, like being patted warmly on the back and hearing, "Chin up! We know it sucks, and here's why. But you're doing amazingly well. And here's a cookie."

Red Moon

As a hearty enthusiast of paranormal fiction, good and bad, I'll be the first to admit that the genre's often less-than-literary acumen can be discouraging. Benjamin Percy's newest novel, Red Moon, takes the supernatural thriller to a higher level, managing with brilliance both the smarts and the paranormal thrill. I hungrily devoured page after page without feeling the least bit guilty about the pleasure.

The Age of Miracles

As if facing the everyday insecurities and turmoil of adolescence isn't enough, 11-year-old Julia lives within the reality of a post-apocalyptic situation as the earth's rotation begins slowing by measurable degrees each day. Relationships, personal and official, fracture, torn apart by the uncertainty of living in a world where time — night, day, schedules — no longer holds much meaning. In a tale that is as graceful as it is intelligent, as realistic as it is fantastic, this haunting debut creates a snapshot of a world changing beyond recognition. What effect will it have on you?

The 2012 Puddly Awards Sweepstakes

It's time for the 2012 Puddly Awards! These yearly ceremonies are our version of the Oscars — though we do without the red carpet and designer vestments. Instead, one fiction and one nonfiction title earn the right to display their very own pair of golden wellies.

As the award's cachet has been steadily rising for over a decade, it's a decision not arrived at lightly. Thousands of discerning readers spend the month of January casting their votes by posting a comment on the best book they read in 2011 — which will, undoubtedly, influence generations of readers to come! After the voting phase, we here at sequester ourselves in a closed room, arduously working through the complicated tabulations until we arrive at the aforementioned duo of winning titles.

But, you, too, may be a winner! (You do have great taste, after all!) By casting a ballot, you will be entered for a chance to win a $250 Powell's Card or one of four $50 cards!

So, go ahead, let your voice be heard — tell us about the best book you read in 2011! And stay


Seriously… I’m Kidding

It's hard to imagine there are people in the world who don't have a tiny, secret crush on Ellen DeGeneres. And for those who are still in denial, $20 says that will change by the time they finish this book. Dripping with her particular brand of endearing, cheek-busting humor, Seriously... I'm Kidding blithely trips down just about any Ellen path you would want to explore. Witty anecdotes, secrets of life (kale), serious cultural and personal issues, and gambling tips (If you're not winning, switch games. Seriously.), it's all here.

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