In which Jeff Bezos foils me again

A sample copy of the finished Bad Monkeys arrived in the mail over the weekend. It looks great, and it also looks different. All that yellow in the cover, plus the tall and narrow dimensions—it’s 9 1/2″ by 5″—really make it stand out on a shelf.

The book’s arrival during my in-laws’ visit tempted us to an act of market manipulation. We pre-ordered ten copies of the book online in my mother-in-law’s name, hoping that this would bump my rating enough to start a chain-reaction that would rocket Bad Monkeys to the number two spot on the list (the #1 spot, as you may have heard, is taken).

Amazon ranking before we placed the order: ~41,000.
Amazon ranking an hour after we placed the order: ~59,000.

Oh well.

This frightens me

The in-laws were visiting over the weekend, and yesterday we made our usual pilgrimage to the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn. Along the way we stopped at Denny’s, where I spotted the following item on the menu:

Mini burgers — “Six mini cheeseburgers with mustard and grilled onions surrounding a mound of crisp golden-fried onion rings”

This is not a to-share platter—it’s intended as a meal for a single person. I know that “mini” probably means White Castle-sized, and that it’s not unusual for people (including my younger self) to inhale half a dozen of those at a sitting, but still… six cheeseburgers. With deep-fried onion rings. Dude.

Yet another reason to support your local independent bookstore

I got a heads-up yesterday from the folks at Queen Anne Books that the July Seattle magazine has a rave review of Bad Monkeys (“The twisting and turning action-adventure novel contains snappy movielike dialogue and enough mind-bending action scenes to make the writers of The Matrix jealous…” GRADE: A-). The booksellers found out about it when a tourist from California came in looking for a copy of the novel for her plane ride home. Of course this would be an even better story if they’d had one to sell her, but the review includes a nice shot of the cover, so she should remember it when it finally turns up in stores.


As part of my ongoing search for interesting ways to occupy myself while waiting for Bad Monkeys to be published, I’ve started playing World of Warcraft. This is not an entirely pointless time sink. I did some freelance work for one of the local software giants last year, and it’s conceivable that at some point someone will ask me to be a “creative consultant” on an MMORPG, so I figure it can’t hurt to have some actual play experience.

Before hiking over to Fred Meyer to pick up the game client, I read a bunch of player and game designer blogs, and found some interesting essays. One issue that gets mentioned periodically in game design circles, in a “We really should do something about this…someday” kind of way, is that the vast majority of computer game designers are white men who, lacking anyone to tell them otherwise, sometimes make decisions that needlessly alienate millions of potential customers.

For my first World of Warcraft character, I decided to play a troll of the hunter class. About an hour into the game I got sent on a quest to a seaside village called Sen’Jin, populated by my fellow trolls, and while interacting with the non-player characters I realized that we were all speaking with Haitian accents. A particular shade of Haitian accent, seemed like: repeatedly, as I finished an exchange with a quest-giver or a shopkeeper, I was warned to “Stay away from the voodoo, mon.” Gee, I thought, that’s odd. Why would trolls talk like black people?

Seeking answers, I turned to the racial history section of the WoW manual, and read the following: “The vicious trolls that populate the numerous jungle isles of the South Seas are renowned for their cruelty and dark mysticism. Barbarous and superstitious, they carry a seething hatred for all other races…” Ah, I thought, of course. That explains it. Trolls talk like black people because they’re superstitious jungle savages.

WoW, indeed.

Naturally, this got me curious. Was this an isolated horrible worldbuilding choice, or was there more? After leveling up my troll a bit, I started another character, a Tauren druid.

Taurens, as their name suggests, are a minotaur-like species (although my female druid looks more like a bipedal dairy cow). But they really should have been modeled on bison rather than cattle, because it turns out Taurens are actually Native Americans of the Mix-n-Match tribe. Environmentally conscious citizens of the plains, they live in both tipis and longhouses, and carve totem poles. And their signature greeting is “How!”, an expression I haven’t heard since the days of F-Troop.

Again, WoW.

Don’t get me wrong. World of Warcraft is as fun and addictive as you’ve heard, very well done in most respects. But in a game meant to appeal to a mass audience, this sort of stuff is just incredibly dumb.

News from the Old World

This morning my editor at Carl Hanser Verlag emailed to let me know that the German-language translation of Bad Monkeys will be published next spring.

Meanwhile, Fazi Editore have already finished the Italian translation and plan to have books in the stores within the next few weeks, even before the American edition is released. So if you’re in Rome or Venice, and can’t wait…

Bad Monkeys reading in Vancouver, BC

A little over a week ago I got an email from Christopher Brayshaw, the owner of Pulpfiction Books in Vancouver, BC, asking if there was any way he could tempt me into adding his store to the Bad Monkeys book tour. I and my corporate masters at HarperCollins are only too happy to please, so it’s been arranged, and I’m tentatively scheduled to appear on August 16th at 7 P.M.

There are 40 DAYS remaining…

HarperCollins has added a countdown clock to its Bad Monkeys page. The timer hits zero at midnight on the 23rd of July, and bookstores across America will of course be staying open late to await the arrival of the delivery trucks…

OK, not really. But if you’re taking the kids to B&N for Harry Potter Day, the 21st, you may want to keep an eye out in case Bad Monkeys shows up early.