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Author Archive: "Jeff VanderMeer"

Annihilation: Sometimes It’s Better to Wake Up

Sometimes inspiration comes to you not just from what you visualize, but what you can't, or don't want to, see. It may also arrive because you're distracted... like, say, by a bad case of bronchitis after dental surgery. It may take over your life so powerfully that you wake up one day and find you're the author of something called The Southern Reach trilogy, the first book of which is out February 4 — Annihilation, with the second and third out later this year. Narrated by an expedition biologist, Annihilation details an expedition sent by the government into a strange pristine wilderness protected by an invisible border, where over 30 years before an unexplained Event caused the deaths of everyone inside. This is the 12th expedition, and to say the prior expeditions haven't gone well would be a colossal understatement. As the biologist finds out, however, the secrets Area X contains are matched by the secrets that the expeditions bring with them.

The core of Annihilation came to me in a dream, which isn't that unusual for writers. You start thinking about something that interests you — ...

Is it a Book Tour or a War of Attrition or Some Kind of Literary Circus?

[Editor's Note: Don't miss Jeff VanderMeer's reading at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing on Saturday, November 7, 2009, at 4 p.m. Click here for more information.]

Last week, I turned to my wife Ann and said, "Look at my book tour for Finch and Booklife27 events in 35 days in 14 states, no breaks!" To which she replied, "No brains, you mean." Well, she might have a point, even though it should be a blessing, not a curse, to have two major books out at once, which is what's allowing me to do this in the first place.

Still, it does seem at times, looking at the schedule, that I might have bitten off more than I can chew. Events include everything from traditional readings and signings like the one at Powell's (well, okay, so I'm also telling the "professional cockroach" story) to workshops, lectures, kaffeeklatches, impromptu storytelling, panel discussions, and unholy hybrids of all of the above. I'm hitting bookstores of all sizes ...

The Search for Balance in Your Booklife

[Editor's Note: Don't miss Jeff VanderMeer's reading at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing on Saturday, November 7, 2009, at 4 p.m. Click here for more information.]

My new writer's manual Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer is a unique blend of advice on sustainable creativity and careers in our new media age. It's perhaps the first book to incorporate the modern paradigm for writers, i.e. the Internet, into a discussion of topics that have interested writers for centuries, like dealing with success, envy, and despair. For this reason, you won't find a section on the Internet in my book — instead, every section integrates that discussion into the text.

Because it's interested in looking at a writer's life from a strategic level, Booklife also doesn't waste time telling you how to set up a Facebook or Twitter account. Those are administrative details that you can find easily on the Internet. Instead, when I engage new media, it's to tell you, for example, where and when using certain tools like Facebook or Twitter ...

Three Cult Detective Series

[Editor's Note: Don't miss Jeff VanderMeer's reading at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing on Saturday, November 7, 2009, at 4 p.m. Click here for more information.]

Killers are like mushrooms; the deadly ones look like the ones you have for breakfast, unless you happen to have the sense to turn them over and look at the funny underneath.
— Derek Raymond, Dead Man Upright

If killers are like deadly mushrooms, then detectives are also like mushrooms, but of the non-poisonous variety. This analogy is more literal than you might expect in my case, as I have a new noir-thriller-fantasy detective novel out, entitled Finch, in which mushrooms play a somewhat important role. Finch is set in the imaginary city of Ambergris, which has been occupied by bizarre creatures called gray caps who have subjugated the human population using their advanced fungal technologies. Indeed, their spores have infected detective John Finch's partner, Wyte, who is disintegrating. Against this backdrop, Finch must solve a difficult double murder without getting killed by his masters or by the rebels who oppose ...

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