Archive for March, 2012

HorrorCon

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

HorrorCon

WHC 2012 is once again at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.

215 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, 84101

5pm: Panel “What horror authors need to know to write YA”

8pm: Signing (open to public)

Find our more here: http://www.whc2012.org/World_Horror_2012.html

What you should be watching on Netflix

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Netflix’s instant streaming selections are pretty much the only reason I have a TV these days; if it wasn’t for Community and it’s fellow Thursday night comedies, I’d never watch TV at all. Netflix has an awesome array of both blockbusters and weird little things you might never have heard of before, and I’m going to recommend two of them today.

The first is RIVERS AND TIDES, a documentary about artist Andy Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy uses nature as his medium, creating pieces out of rocks or twigs or leaves by arranging them, slowly and meticulously, into breathtaking works of art that sometimes last for only a few seconds before time and weather and nature reclaims them. At one point in the film he builds a cairn of stones on the beach, well below the high tide line, because he wants to watch it get swallowed by the ocean; it takes him all day and (if I remember correctly) five tries, but he finally makes it, and the tide rises, and the cairn disappears, and there’s something incredibly moving about watching it happen. You might start the movie wondering why this weird guy spends so much time on something that can’t possibly last, but by the end you’ll get it. As the movie’s subtitle suggests, his other artistic medium is time, and watching the interaction of man and nature and time made this one of the most fascinating documentaries I’ve seen in a while.

The second movie I want to recommend is MONSTERS, which I talked about two years ago but not enough of you listened, which I know because it wasn’t even nominated for the Hugo last year despite being the best SF movie of 2010. INCEPTION was a worthy winner, I agree, but MONSTERS was my main nomination and, I admit, my write-in vote for the final. I loved it. MONSTERS is about a journalist hired to retrieve a rich man’s wayward daughter from Mexico, several years after a meteor landed in the Mexican wilderness and deposited the seeds of alien life: giant tentacled creatures that do not exactly get along with humans. Much of northern Mexico is now a quarantine zone, which our heroes eventually find themselves trekking through in a desperate attempt to get home, but this is not an action movie, and the aliens are not so much evil as incomprehensible; they are different, and we don’t really know how to deal with them, and that’s not a situation humans tend to respond to very well. There are some obvious immigration metaphors here, but it’s not a political movie either. It’s a near-future cultural study, a suspense-filled character drama, and my hands-down favorite ‘alien invasion’ movie. Check it out.

I Am Moving to Germany

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Yep. I’m moving to Germany, sometime this summer, for one year. The most likely schedule is that I’ll leave in late July, after finishing the US tour for THE HOLLOW CITY, stay for a year, and then return to the US sometime in August of 2013. My wife and kids, of course, are coming with me, and we’re all incredibly excited.

Why are we doing this? Why not? My wife and I are both very adventurous, and we’ve wanted to move somewhere for a while, but we didn’t know where. We’re not tied to a physical location, because I’m fully self-employed, so we started looking all over the world; we considered England for a while, but slowly shifted to Germany for a lot of reasons. First, of course, we love the country: we’ve been there a few times and adore it. Second, as many of you know, that’s my biggest market. My books sell better in Germany than any other country, probably any other two countries, and living there will allow me to do a lot of the stuff my US fans take for granted, like readings and signings and con appearances. I’ve also long been tempted to write a book set in Germany, or a made-up place very similar to it, and living there would be the perfect research opportunity. The third reason we chose Germany is simply that we love to travel, and we want to give our children a cool cultural experience outside of the US. Travel is the single best way, in my opinion, to widen your view and gain a new perspective on life and the world and the people in it, and we want our kids to have that. Living in a new culture, eating different food, speaking a new language, and making new friends are going to be things they look back on and love for the rest of their lives.

The process of moving to Germany is tricky, and we’ve been working on it for a while. We hired a relocation agency to help with the arrangements for a residency permit, and so far that’s gone much better than we expected. All the preliminary stuff has gone through now, and all that remains is an in-person interview where I’ll have to fly over and prove that I’ll be earning plenty of money through my writing; since I won’t be getting a job there, they want the very reasonable assurance that I won’t be a drain on their economy. This shouldn’t be an issue: we’re not rich, but we earn enough to support ourselves handily. After the interview they’ll stamp the permit and we’ll be in.

My interview will likely happen in late April, which means I have about a month to figure out which part of Germany we want to live in. We honestly don’t know. My publisher’s in Munich, so we’ve looked at that, and I really like how central Frankfurt is–it would be easy to spread out from there to take small trips all over Europe, which is definitely a part of our plan. We’ve also looked at Hamburg, since my wife has a lot of ancestors from there, and it would be a good place to explore her family history. I’ve even looked at Essen, just because I’m a boardgame geek. Honestly, I don’t know: I am open to suggestions. If you live in Germany, or have lived there in the past, PLEASE take some time in the comments to sell me on your particular part of it.

In fact, let’s open this up to even more comments. Tell me where in Germany you think I should live, and why. Tell me about the book fairs, bookstores, and SF/Fantasy conventions you think I should go to. Tell me about your local reading group, or gaming group, or whatever. Help me decide exactly which part of Germany will be best for me and my family.

And for everybody not in Germany: don’t worry. I’ll be back in November for a conference, and again in March for the PARTIALS 2 book tour, and probably at least one other trip. I want to connect better with my readers in Europe, but I definitely don’t want to forget about everyone else.

Media Dan Has Consumed: Books I read on tour

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I haven’t posted here in a while, mostly because I’ve been touring like a madman for PARTIALS. Thanks to everyone who,s come to see me, and for everyone else, don’t forget that there’s still plenty of touring to come. I have a signing in Ogden, UT this Friday, the SLC Nerd part this Saturday, the World Horror Conference next week, and another Dark Days tour in April. All the info’s in my calendar on the left.

All this time traveling has given me the chance to read a ton, and today I want to recommend two of the books I loved the most. VODNIK by Bryce Moore is one of the best YA fantasies I’ve read in ages, and THE MIRAGE by Matt Ruff might be one the best books I’ve read in any category, ever.

VODNIK
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from VODNIK; it’s a YA urban fantasy based on Slovakian folk tales, yes, but what does that even mean? I don’t know anything about Slovakian folk tales. Well, let me tell you what it means:

1) VODNIK has a unique and quirky group of monsters, and a “magic system” you haven’t seen anywhere else. In a market horribly oversaturated with the same old vampires and werewolves and fairies and whatnot, VODNIK shows us elemental spirits, a sea monster, an agent of Death, and of course the vodnik himself–a cheerful, friendly little killer who drowns people and stores their souls in teacups, not because he’s evil but because that’s how he is. He’s goofy, neurotic, helpful, deceptive, and deadly, and the most interesting urban fantasy villain I’ve read in ages.

2) VODNIK is about a clash of cultures. I’ve never lived in Slovakia, but I have lived outside of the US, and VODNIK captures perfectly the stages of culture shock, fascination, acceptance, and love that comes from discovering a new country. There’s a scene partway through where the main character sees a group of Americans after already becoming accustomed to Slovakia, and his unsettled reaction feels very real. This book made me want to visit the country.

3) VODNIK takes this culture clash, and the classic YA search for identity, and ramps them up with a full-on exploration of racism. The main character has some Roma (gypsy) heritage, which never mattered in the US, but becomes a very big deal in Slovakia, and this out-of-nowhere plunge into racism really opens his (and the readers’) eyes. More importantly, the author handles the topic expertly, explaining how the characters’ lives change because of it, and how they learn from it. I was honestly very surprised by this facet of the novel, expecting little more than the simple surface story about the magic creatures, but the Roma plot gave it a depth and power that really brought it all together.

4) VODNIK is actually funny. I’ve read so much YA that thinks it’s funny but isn’t, and even worse, YA that tries to use pop culture references and fails horribly. Nothing’s worse than an author trying way to hard to seem clever and cool. The author of VODNIK pulls it off almost effortlessly.

I loved VODNIK, honestly much more than I expected to. It’s well-written, unique, and clever. It’s a breath of fresh air in a very popular genre, andI can’t wait to see what Moore gives us next.

THE MIRAGE
Holy crap. Here’s the quick pitch: this book is about the War on Terror, but in a mirror universe where the United Arab States is the world superpower, and America is group of feuding, sectarian mini-nations. On 11/9 a group of Christian terrorist crash airplanes into the World Trade Center in Baghdad, and that brief description completely sold me on the book. It’s an ambitious, treacherous, wildly subversive idea that Ruff pulls off with incredible aplomb, showing what is essentially a police procedural about Baghdadi Homeland Security agents tracking down terrorists, and frankly that by itself would have been enough for a great book, but THE MIRAGE takes it to the next level. See, in the course of their investigation the HS agents find a newspaper from our world, describing the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, and suddenly this fascinating thought experiment becomes a full blown interdimensional fantasy.

I can’t imagine what a gamble it must have felt like to write this book, walking a vicious tightrope between clever and offensive, real and imaginary, political charged and completely bipartisan. Reading it certainly gives you that tightrope thrill, alternately holding your breath and laughing in delight at each new crazy reversal of the “truth.” Osama Bin Laden is a senator of questionable character; Al Qaeda is a branch of the secret police; Saddam Hussein is a Capone-style mobster; the Gulf War is fought in the Mexican Gulf, as the United Arab States led a Coalition to protect the oil-rich nation of Texan from the invading American army and its power-mad dictator LBJ. Even the agents of the CIA, when we finally meet them, are shockingly appropriate for a nation of Christian extremists. As a fan of audacious ideas, I found something to applaud on nearly every page.

As with VODNIK, though, what really keeps THE MIRAGE grounded are the very real, very human characters at the center, dealing with personal issues both larger and smaller than the world-spanning mayhem they fight against in their jobs. The story and the setting are wonderful, but it’s the characters that make you care.

If you love good books, you’ll love these two. Go out and get them NOW.

Teen Summer Reading program

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Provo Library
2PM

part of the Teen Summer Reading Program
Media Auditorium

Details TBA

Orem Writes

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Orem Library

7 PM in the Storytelling Wing

Author Dan Wells will speak on the Publication Process.

Find out more about other Writing Presentations taking place in March at the Library Website: http://lib.orem.org/

OFFICIAL INFO:

Do you have a novel manuscript collecting dust?  Join us at the library for a discussion with Dan Wells, bestselling author of I Am Not a Serial Killer.  Mr. Wells will present the practical side of writing, from finding an agent to getting your work published, and address that age old question, can you make a living from writing stories?

 

LunaCon

Monday, February 27th, 2012

LunaCon 2012

The 55th Annual Convention of the New York Science Fiction Society

March 16-18, 2012

Hilton Rye Town, Rye Brook, NY

New York’s Oldest Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention!

Find out more information at their website here: http://2012.lunacon.org/.

PANELS

• What’s Hot – Podcasts (Panel), Sat 10:00 – 11:00, Westchester Ballroom A2

• What’s Hot – Young Adult (Panel), Sat 13:00 – 14:00, William Odelle

• RPGS: Better to Burn Out than Fade Away? (Panel), Sat 15:00 – 16:00, Westchester Ballroom A3

SLC Nerds

Friday, February 24th, 2012

SLC Nerds will be very cool. RPGs, bands, cosplay and more. Starts at 2pm.

Writing for Charity

Friday, February 17th, 2012

I will not be able to attend Writing For Charity this year, but it is a fantastic event and you should all go if you can. I will be contributing where I can, including putting an ARC of THE HOLLOW CITY (my new thriller that comes out in July) into the charity auction.

March 17, 2012

Provo City Library

9:30 am to 6:00 pm

What is Writing for Charity?

In 2008, Author Shannon Hale held a professional writing conference at the Salt Lake City Library in hopes of raising money for those in need. She invited other local authors to come and lend their support. The event was a success, and WRITING FOR CHARITY was born!

On March 17th, 2012, the ROCK CANYON writers of Utah and the CHILDREN’S LITERATURE ASSOCIATION OF UTAH are hosting the fourth annual WRITING FOR CHARITY event at the Historic Provo Library. Yes, it’s on St. Patrick’s Day, and we hope you’ll consider yourself lucky to attend!

Learn more about Writing for Charity at their website: http://writingforcharity.blogspot.com

Dark Days Winter: Partials Book Tour – California

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Dark Days Winter: PARTIALS Book Tour
With Lauren Oliver (PANDEMONIUM), Claudia Gray (BALTHAZAR), and Dan Wells (PARTIALS)

March 11th @ 4:00pm: Vroman’s (Los Angeles, CA)