Archive for April, 2012

Stuff and Things

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

I’ve been deep in PARTIALS-land the last few weeks, first writing the sequel and then touring with the first one, and my website maintainence has faltered. I apologize. I have now gone through and approved all the pending comments, and I stand forth now to write for you a blog post. We have a lot to talk about, so strap in:

1) The Partials sequel, which for a while was called FRAGMENTS, and then FAILSAFE, and is now back to FRAGMENTS, is progressing nicely; it’s not as done as I’d like it to be, but it’s good. My editor is working on the first part while I work on finishing the second part, so don’t worry, you WILL have it by next year, presumably end of February. And yes, I will be back in the US to tour with it, at least for a few weeks.

2) If you absolutely CANNOT wait until February/March for more PARTIALS, I have good news: during the last week I took a break from FRAGMENTS and wrote a piece of short fiction in the PARTIALS universe, and you’ll be getting it sometime this fall. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will cryptically say this: it’s kind of a flashback-y thing about one of my very favorite minor characters in the book, and gives some interesting hints on the topic of “how did we get from here to there?” You will get more info on this soon, possibly this summer.

3) Speaking of touring, and of not being in the US, offers have already started to roll in from some places in Europe, and I’ll be doing a lot of touring while there. I’ll post more details soon, but if I’ve got a book debuting in your market anytime in the next 14 months, I hope to be there in person. We’ll see.

4)BIG NEWS: my Twitter buddies noticed a few weeks back that I changed my username from @johncleaver to @thedanwells. This was the first step of a very broad re-branding of my online presence, which is marketing-speak for “I have a new website and Facebook page.” The reason I was @johncleaver instead of @danwells, and the reason you’re currently reading instead of, is that there’s a very web-savvy actor who shares my name, and he already owns that name pretty much everywhere. I made do, but I didn’t do it very intelligently; all of my various web platforms used different names, and some of the most visible ones, like Twitter, were married too closely to my first book series. That was fine when I only had one book series, but now that I have BLACKER DARKNESS and PARTIALS and (in about two months) THE HOLLOW CITY, I needed to tweak a bunch of stuff to make it about me, and by extension ALL of my books, instead of just one of them.

So: I now have a new website, I chose TheDanWells because a) it wasn’t taken anywhere yet, so I could use the same name for everything, and b) I’m totally self-confident enough (my Mom uses the term ‘arrogant’) to call myself ‘The’ Dan Wells. All you other Dan Wellses are pretty awesome, too, but there you go. I got the idea from Kevin J. Anderson, who goes by @theKJA on Twitter, so thanks for the cool idea, Kevin. I also have a Facebook fan page by that name, which I’ll be trying to send people to, and which will include a lot more of my business-related stuff to help spare my poor family who couldn’t possibly care less about my signing in Houston or wherever.

What this means for you: possibly nothing. This website will continue to exist, and I will continue to blog on it, and the two websites will link back and forth freely. Some of the stuff here will migrate more permanently there (such as the book pages and bio) and some of the stuff there will migrate more permanently here (such as, maybe, the event calendar), but for all practical purposes you can think of it as a single website where half the pages have a different domain name. People looking me up for the first time will end up there, and old-timers who want to read the blog and such will end up here. If you’re already my friend on Facebook, you may or may not want to subscribe to the fan page as well; we’ll see how that pans out as I use it more. We’ll also be updating a lot of other online portals, such as Goodreads, to use TheDanWells as well, but that won’t really affect any current users. For now, go check out the new website! It’s awesome.

5) I have MANY books and things to blog about, notably Mary Robinette Kowal’s awesome new GLAMOUR IN GLASS, but this is too long and unfocused already, so you’ll probably get that tomorrow. For now, I’ll end with a hearty “What You Should Be Watching on Netflix” recommendation: PAUL SIMON: GRACELAND, a very detailed documentary about the creation of one of my favorite music albums ever. Simon wrote the album in collaboration with a bunch of singers/musicians/dancers from South Africa, and there are some cool interviews with most of them and of course with Simon and his producers as well. My favorite sequence shows Simon sitting at a mixing board listening to the title track (which he calls “the best thing I ever wrote”) and responding to it, calling out little bits here and there, explaining why he did it one way or how they arrived a final bit of background music, and it’s awesome. If you’re interested in music and/or the creative/collaborative process, I think you’d get a kick out of it even if you’ve never heard the album before. (And if you’ve never heard the album before, seriously: it’s one of the all-time greats. When I posted a playlist a few months ago, of music that defines who I am, one of the tracks was from Graceland. Check it out.)

A new PARTIALS tour, and other notes

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Sorry about the wait; I’ve left you guys hanging for two weeks without a new blog post, mostly because I’ve been buried up to my armpits in the manuscript for PARTIALS 2. It’s turning out to be one of the hardest books I’ve ever written (the other hardest was MR. MONSTER–I think book twos are just hard for some reason). Never fear, though; I feel like I’m wrestling a crocodile with this book, but when it’s done it will be that much better. Since everyone’s asking, book 2 will be on shelves and ready to be devoured next spring, in late February/early March of 2013. And yes, I’ll be flying in from Germany to do a US tour. Huzzah!

Speaking of tours, I’m starting a new round of book signings TODAY, beginning at 6:30pm in West Jordan, UT, at the Barnes and Noble in Jordan Landing. I’ll be signing, reading, answering questions, and then going out to eat afterward, and anyone who wants to come hang out is welcome to join me for all of it. If you want to ask me about Partials, about John Cleaver, about how to get published, or about anything at all, this is a perfect opportunity.

On Wednesday I’ll be doing pretty much the same thing, except I’ll be doing it in Dayton, OH, and I’ll be accompanied by super awesome authors Kimberly Derting and Jill Hathaway as part of a HarperTeen DARK DAYS tour. If you like my books, you’ll love theirrs, so come on by at 7pm at Books & Co.

Thursday, Kimberly and Jill and I will be in Chicago, or technically in Naperville, at Anderson’s Bookshop at 7pm.

Friday, all three of us will be in Boston (actually nearby in Burlington) at the Burlington B&N at 7pm.

If you live in or around these cities, please come say hello! I’m excited, because I’ve never signed in any of these places before, so I need shouting and support and recommendations of good restaurants. Somebody in Atlanta last month had me sign five glossy pictures OF MYSELF–can any of you beat that? (Note: I’ll actually sign glossy pictures of anybody. I’m not picky.)

After this week, I’ve got two local conventions in Utah and then a giant 3-week megatour in July for the launch of my upcoming novel THE HOLLOW CITY. More details on that when we get closer.


I Want You To Want Me

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

This weekend I heard one of my favorite songs on the radio, “I Want You To Want Me” by Cheap Trick, and it occured to me that I’d heard several covers of the song, perhaps more than any other song I know–I don’t by any means claim that it’s the most covered song ever, just that’s it’s been covered a lot. Which version, I wondered aloud on Twitter, is the best? I’ve since listened to approximately 25 versions of the song, which I don’t necessarily recommend to anyone unless you really, really love it, and I can say with some finality that the answer is not in any way surprising. Let’s take a look.

The first version of the song, which most people have never heard, is the studio version. This version was okay, but kind of boring; the band itself said the song “lacked any kind of balls,” which is a pretty fair assessment. The one you’ve all heard is actually from a live concert a few years later, at the Budokan stadium in Japan, and the reason you’ve heard that one instead of the original is because that song, in that performance, is the reason Cheap Trick is famous. They were never very big in the US or UK or really anywhere but Japan, where for some reason they were huge, so they very wisely capitalized on that fame with a live concert, blew the roof off the place, and the rest is history.

Cheap Trick became one of those bands that every other band in existence cites as an inspiration, especially (and oddly, since their styles don’t match at all) a lot of grunge and alternative bands like Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins. The Pumpkins have an okay cover they do in some of their live shows, but it’s not my favorite. Of the straight rock/metal covers I have to give the prize to Warrant, which best captures the energy and guitar-y-ness that makes me love the song so much. Punchline does a pretty good version, too.

Thanks to the movie 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, which heavily featured the band Letters to Cleo singing the song, it’s become popular with a lot of “chick rock” bands, and I love me some chick rock bands. Cleo’s version is awesome, definitely in the top 5, but I was surprised by how much I liked the version from KSM, a manufactured girl-pop band from Disney. I also really like Aly Michalka’s version–another pre-fab Disney creation–but she kept pronouncing “me” as “may” and it drove me crazy. Lindsay Lohan did a live performance of the song somewhere, but coming from her it felt like a cry for attention. Maybe that’s my own prejudices speaking, I don’t know. I couldn’t get into it.

It’s a pretty popular country song as well, with versions from Dwight Yoakam and Chris Isaak. I’m not a country guy by any means, but I have to say I preferred Isaak’s bouncy, rockabilly take on it. Yoakam gets extra points for SLING BLADE, though, for whatever that’s worth.

After listening to 25 versions of the same song, it should come as no surprise that the ones that most impressed me were the versions that adapted the crap out of it, changing the style and the genre and really shaking it up. Damhnait Doyle sings a very soft, sweet version unlike anything else out there, and I highly recommend it. Rob and Fab (the two dudes who pretended to be Milli Vanilli, in their post-Milli Vanilli incarnation) did a wacky pop/reggae/rap version that could have been amazing, but ended up feeling (ironically) very artificial. The wildest and craziest cover I found was a Nortena version from a Mexican movie called RUDO Y CURSI, in which Gael Garcia Bernal does an ‘obviously intended to be terrible‘ video of it. Nortena is basically bad-A cowboy polka music, which sounds ridiculous until you remember that every drug dealer in the world thinks it’s the coolest thing ever. You don’t want to mess with Nortena.

The best version I found anywhere, and the only one that could rival the Budokan version for sheer awesomeness, was another cross-genre adaptation by the Holmes Brothers, a gospel group, which took the hard-rocking “I Want You To Want Me” and turned it into a soft, slow, heartbreaking song about lost love. It’s gorgeous. I wasn’t familiar with the Holmes Brothers before, but you can bet I’ve listened to a lot of their stuff in the last few days.

So. Overall, the best version available is none other than the version that made the song famous in the first place: Cheap Trick live at Budokan. It’s hard to argue with the classics, though I think you’ll agree that I gave it a pretty good effort. For a top five, I’d rank them thusly:

1. Cheap Trick, Live at Budokan
2. The Holmes Brothers
3. Damhnait Doyle
4. Letters to Cleo
5. Warrant

(With a special prize for Gael Garcia Bernal’s “Quiero Que Me Quieras,” because it is insane.)

If you’re looking for a list of most of the versions I watched, and some more detailed info on the song itself, the wiki article is, as always, a great place to start. That’s also where you’ll learn that my Sunday morning tweet was a very timely one, since apparently April 1 is Cheap Trick Day in Illinois. That seems like an appropriate choice, all things considered. Also, I’m just glad somebody shares my obsession.

Signing at Jordan Landing-Utah

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Signing at the Barnes and Noble in Jordan Landing

6:30 pm ~ West Jordan

More information here:
Jordan Landing
7157 Plaza Center Drive
West Jordan, UT