lovecraft country

76 days and counting

Shortly before Thanksgiving I signed off on the final version of the Lovecraft Country cover, so the novel is now locked and on its way to the printers.

In the meantime, the book tour is starting to come together. The launch event will be at Elliott Bay Book Company on February 16, starting at 7 PM. Paul Constant of the Seattle Review of Books has graciously agreed to come interview me onstage; I’ll also be reading, taking questions from the audience, and of course signing books. For other confirmed events, check my appearances page.

I’ve also gotten some nice blurbs from fellow authors and a couple of good advance reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews.

More news soon!

It’s (almost) a book

Last week I finished looking over the galley proofs for Lovecraft Country—my last chance to catch typos and other mistakes before the novel goes to press. Per my usual m.o., I spent some time fretting that I’d missed some minor factual error that would ruin everything, but there really wasn’t much to fix, mostly just punctuation issues that survived copyediting.

Anyway, after rereading the entire text more times than was strictly necessary, I sent off my handful of corrections, and as a reward got my first look at the bound galleys. I really love the design (those wear marks you see are simulated, as if the book were an old pulp novel you found in grandma’s attic). I think it’ll be even prettier as a hardcover. Soon.

In other news:

* I’m still 50 years old.

* I have a new editor. Maya Ziv, who saw Lovecraft Country safely through copyediting, has left HarperCollins to go work for the Dutton imprint at Random Penguin. From here on out, I’ll be in the capable hands of Jennifer Brehl.

* There will be a new edition of Fool on the Hill soon. For a while now I’ve been getting emails complaining that the ebook edition of Fool is riddled with typos. Because the original novel was published back when the state-of-the-art computer was a Macintosh IIx, there were no electronic files to convert, and the ebook had to be generated by scanning physical pages. It turns out that even in this century, OCR technology is not perfect, hence the typos. It’s taken me way too long to deal with this, and I apologize, but I finally got in touch with Grove/Atlantic about fixing the ebook, and they figured as long as we were doing that, we might as well reset the print edition as well. There won’t be any changes to the text (other than fixing a couple of 30-year-old spelling errors), but it’ll have new fonts and a new layout. I’ll post a notice here once the new edition goes to press—and, more importantly, when the corrected version of the ebook is available for download.

To my Chicago readers: Is it the L, the ‘L,’ or the “L”?

Yesterday I got back the copyedited manuscript for Lovecraft Country. Most of the corrections are straightforward, but one of my copyeditor’s notes has raised the question of how to properly refer to Chicago’s elevated transit system.

I know that Chicagoans traditionally call it the L, not the El, but what I’m having a harder time deciding is whether “L” needs to have quotation marks around it, and if so, whether they should be double- or single-quotes. My instinct is to omit the quotes, as I think L tracks looks cleaner than ‘L’ tracks or “L” tracks, but then again, as a native New Yorker, my instinct would be to call it the El. A survey of the CTA website, the Encyclopedia of Chicago, and various other sources suggests that L-with-quotes is more common but not universal, while the choice between single- and double-quotes is largely a matter of personal preference.

Any fans from Chicago want to weigh in, or better yet, point me to a definitive monograph on the subject? Note that the novel is set in the mid-1950s, if that matters.

Almost there

Over the 4th of July weekend I finished up the final revision of Lovecraft Country. This week it goes to the copyeditor. We’re still on track for a February 16 publication date.

I’m tired but happy. The book reads well and there were no major changes this time through; this revision was about polishing, fixing a few minor lingering issues, and, as much as possible, trying to make the copyeditor superfluous.

Of course you can never catch everything yourself. At one point, glancing over a scene I must have read dozens of times since I first wrote it, I realized that I had a character calling out his own name in an attempt to get someone else’s attention. It’s an error a first-time reader would likely have caught right away, but because I’ve essentially got the text memorized I was blind to it—the only reason I noticed it is that I was skimming, looking for something else.

And even in these days of computerized spell-checking, you can still get words wrong, especially if you’re a little too quick to hit the “ignore” button. “Dessicated” is actually spelled “desiccated,” and the plural possessive of the surname Burns is “Burnses’,” not “Burns’s.” Who knew?

Lovecraft Country will be in bookstores on February 16, 2016

Lovecraft Country now has an official publication date: February 16, 2016. The book will initially be available in English-language hardcover and ebook editions. I’ll post information about foreign language translations on the Lovecraft Country main page as it becomes available.

The manuscript is due in copyediting at the end of this month, so I’m about to start one last revision pass. All of the heavy lifting is done and I’m very happy with the way the novel has turned out, so at this point I’m just polishing the story and getting ready to let it go.

More news soon.

Lovecraft Country cover

Hey folks. As you can see, we have a cool cover for the new novel, designed by Jarrod Taylor.

And here’s the current book description:

A novel of Jim Crow America that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, twenty-two year old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.

We’re still working on a publication date, but Lovecraft Country will probably be out sometime in early 2016—as soon as have an exact date, I’ll post it here.

I shall be returning to Earth presently

Just about to hit ‘send’ on an email to my editor containing the finished first draft of Lovecraft Country. The usual apologies to everyone I’ve been ignoring in the lead-up to my deadline.

P.S. The last WordPress update broke my blog comments; fixing that is on my to-do list once my brain cools down.

Three months to my deadline

No, it’s going well, really. The last bits of Lovecraft Country are coming into focus and the stuff that’s already finished, works. Now I just gotta stick the landing.

Last weekend I left the house for the first time in days and went with Lisa to see Guardians of the Galaxy. The early trailers made it seem like a Marvel version of an Adam Sandler comedy, so I really wasn’t expecting much, but after all the good buzz and reviews we decided to give it a shot. We ended up really liking it. Feels more like a (good) Star Wars movie than a Marvel superhero flick, but that’s fine.

Meanwhile, back at Marvel HQ, studio president Kevin Feige is twisting himself into knots over the question of why he hasn’t yet greenlit a film centered on a female superhero like Black Widow. My guess: When you’re responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars of studio money and you like your job, even minor deviations from established formula can seem terrifying. I’m sure they’ll come around on this eventually because the potential profits are just too big to ignore, but in the meantime there’s a niche here for somebody who can figure out how to do a superhero film on an indie-film budget.

Late spring, when the shoggoths start to bloom

Still hard at work on Lovecraft Country.

This week I finished a section of the novel called “The Narrow House,” in which my protagonist’s father, in the course of parleying with a ghost, tells the story of how his own father was murdered during the 1921 Tulsa Riot. Next up is “Horace and the Devil Doll,” in which corrupt members of the Chicago PD wage an unusual campaign of harassment against a 12-year-old boy.

In other news:

* Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic article “The Case for Reparations” dropped a couple weeks ago. I found it particularly interesting because it covers a lot of the same historical ground as Lovecraft Country, albeit with fewer Necronomicon references.

* On Netflix streaming, Lisa and I stumbled across The Loving Story, a documentary about Mildred and Richard Loving, who were convicted in 1959 of violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws and given a choice between prison and leaving the state. While in exile in D.C., Mildred Loving wrote to Bobby Kennedy asking for help, and he directed her to the ACLU, whose lawyers eventually argued the Lovings’ case all the way to the Supreme Court. The story is fascinating, but what really makes the documentary is the archival footage of the Lovings themselves, which gives you a sense of who they were and how deeply they cared about each other.

* In the idle diversions category, I’ve been having a lot of fun with Dream Quest, an iOS game app that combines elements of a Rogue-like RPG and a deck-building game. Review here. Strategy tips here.

The German translation of The Mirage is finally here

It’s available in both hardcover and ebook editions. As you can see, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag did a really nice job on the jacket design. The German translation, as with my previous novels, is by Ditte and Giovanni Bandini.

Unfortunately I won’t be coming to Germany on book tour this time around. Maybe for the paperback.

Meanwhile, I’m still hard at work on Lovecraft Country, currently writing the “Jekyll in Hyde Park” portion of the story. More news soon…