Books and more books

Last week I attended the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s fall trade show in Portland, Oregon. I was a guest at the Tuesday morning author breakfast and got to pitch 88 Names to a ballroom full of friendly indie booksellers. I also scored complimentary copies of the other guest authors’ books—the new Joy of Cooking, revised by Ethan Becker (grandson of the original author) and Megan Scott; Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel, about a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme, with ghosts; and Ruta Sepetys’ The Fountains of Silence, a historical novel about Spain under Franco.

Before heading home I made the obligatory pilgrimage to Powell’s City of Books, signed some stock, and picked up a few more presents:

That’s How to Disappear, by former skip tracers Frank M. Ahearn and Eileen C. Horan; The H.P. Lovecraft Book of Puzzles by Dr. Gareth Moore; and Julio Cortázar’s Literature Class, a collection of lectures on writing Cortázar gave a Berkeley in 1980.

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Tomorrow: Speculative Fiction panel at the UW Bookstore

Tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day, and to help celebrate, I’ll be appearing on a Speculative Fiction Panel at the University Book Store, along with authors Greg Bear, Robin Hobb, and Elliott Kay. The panel starts at 6:30 PM; feel free to come by and heckle us.

In other news:

* Romona Williams interviewed me for the Women Write About Comics online magazine.

* For its upcoming Dr. Strange movie, Marvel reportedly replaced a Tibetan character with Tilda Swinton in order to avoid offending Chinese government censors.

* Clickhole: We Put a GoPro on a Sparrow.

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I’m home from my overnight visit to Portland. I had a small but enthusiastic group of fans at the Powell’s on Hawthorne event, and while I was there I scored a hardcover copy of Joe Coomer’s Kentucky Love. (If you’re not familiar with Coomer, a good novel to start with is Apologizing to Dogs, or, if you can find it, A Flatland Fable.)

I signed stock at Powell’s on Hawthorne and at the main Powell’s location downtown. The downtown store had a German-language hardcover of Bad Monkeys.

The one sad note of the trip came when I stopped in to sign copies of The Mirage at Murder by the Book, which hosted one of my events during my last visit to Portland. It turns out the store is closing in April after thirty years in business. I’ve only known them a short time but the staff are really nice folks, so I’m sorry to see them go.

The Powell’s appearance was my last scheduled paperback publication event. It’s time to get back to work on novel #6. More details about that shortly.

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In Portland on Tuesday

This Thursday night at 7:30 PM I’ll be reading and signing books at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon.


* If you’re in the Queen Anne area, you should check out the new Queen Anne Book Company. They’ve got signed copies of my novels as well as signed books from all the other local authors who attended their grand opening weekend. They’ve also got the world’s sweetest bookstore dog, Tali.

* Signed copies of The Mirage trade paperback are also in stock at the University Book Store, the Elliott Bay Book Company, the Secret Garden Bookshop, and the Seattle Mystery Bookshop.

* Today’s New York Times has a piece on the difficulties of training cats to perform in live theater, but the best anecdote in the story involves a dog and some KFC: “Bill Berloni, an animal trainer who cast the dog Sandy in the current Broadway production of ‘Annie,’ remembers when a family in the front rows of ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ brought a bucket of chicken, and the Chihuahua he had cast abandoned its role to hover at the edge of the stage.”

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Coming up for air

I’ve been making good progress on the new novel, hence the lack of recent posts, but with The Mirage paperback publication coming up in two weeks, it’s time for me to come out of my little room and practice talking to people again. (I also need to shift gears mentally from 1950s Chicago and New England, where I’ve been for the last six months, to alt-universe Baghdad; I expect some culture shock).

I’ll be doing readings in Seattle and Portland in conjunction with the publication; my current schedule is here.

In other news:

* The late, lamented Seattle indie bookstore Queen Anne Books is being reincarnated as the Queen Anne Book Company! It’ll have a new owner and new management (and is, technically, an entirely new bookstore), but it’ll be in the same location and at least some of the old Queen Anne Books staff will be returning. The grand opening is March 1. You can follow the new store on Facebook and Twitter.

* I’ll have a separate, longer post about this soon, but the National Endowment for the Arts is currently accepting applications for their 2014 Literature Fellowships in Prose. These are grants of $25,000 for fiction and creative nonfiction writers who are either citizens or permanent residents of the United States. The deadline for applying is February 28.

* Iran is claiming it launched a monkey into space. No word on which monkey, but I have my suspicions. In semi-related news, Bigelow Aerospace is partnering with NASA to test an inflatable space module. The prototype will be attached to the International Space Station, but the long-term goal is to develop a line of standalone orbital bouncy castles for rich people. Warren Ellis is skeptical.

* Rat City Rollergirls season 9 has started. The next bout is February 9 at Key Arena. Grave Danger will be going up against the Throttle Rockets, and the Sockit Wenches face visiting Terminal City Rollergirls team the Bad Reputations.

* Livestream kitten cam!

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In the home stretch

Fun fact: The men’s room stalls at KUOW have posters telling you exactly what to do to survive in the event of an earthquake. I don’t know if it was that or just the generally laid-back National Public Radio atmosphere, but I was relaxed and comfortable during my Tuesday afternoon conversation with Ross Reynolds, and I think it was my best live interview about The Mirage so far. You can listen to it here.

Tuesday evening Lisa and I went back to our old neighborhood indie, Queen Anne Books. Despite some bad weather we had a nice turnout for the reading, and Tegan Tegani gave me a wonderful intro. I also signed a ton of stock, so if you’re near Queen Anne Hill and looking for a signed first edition of The Mirage, give the bookstore a call. (N.B. Queen Anne Books itself is still for sale. Limited quantity! Act now!)

My next event will be a reading on Saturday at the Tumwater Timberland Regional Library in Tumwater, Washington, starting at 2 PM. Then on Monday I fly to San Francisco for a final series of readings and signings in the Bay Area—the full schedule is here.

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Reading at Queen Anne Books tonight at 6 PM

Just a reminder, I’ll be reading from The Mirage and signing books tonight at Queen Anne Books on Queen Anne Hill, starting at 6PM. This will be my final Seattle-area appearance on my current book tour, so if you live in the city and have been meaning to catch my act, don’t miss this last chance!

Also, as noted previously, Queen Anne Books is looking for a new owner, so if you come by tonight you can check out the property, meet the staff, and get a personally inscribed Matt Ruff novel. Bonus!

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Queen Anne Books is looking for a buyer

Patti McCall, the owner of Queen Anne Books, one of my favorite Seattle independent bookstores, has just announced that she is planning to sell the store:

Almost 14 years ago, Cindy Mitchell and I met with Randy and Alice to discuss the possibility of buying Queen Anne Books, sealing the deal July 31, 1998.  It has been an amazing ride: Borders Books and Barnes & Noble were the ‘big, bad, box stores’; Amazon was a new and far-reaching idea just beginning to take off; Tower Books was our nearest competitor; and there was no such thing as an e-book. After a couple hundred book club meetings, four amazing Harry Potter parties, countless author events and 14 Holiday Magics, I have decided it is time to turn over Queen Anne Books to a new owner — someone who will bring fresh energy and ideas to a business undergoing a radical and exciting transformation.

During the five years Lisa and I lived on Queen Anne Hill, Queen Anne Books was our local indie, and in addition to just being a wonderful bookstore, they were incredibly supportive of my career, handselling literally hundreds of copies of Set This House in Order and Bad Monkeys. Unfortunately, even with their help, I haven’t quite reached the level of success where I can afford to buy the store myself, but hopefully somewhere out there is a well-heeled investor—Bill? Paul? Nathan?—looking for a new opportunity. It’s a great business in a great neighborhood.

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