what the cool kids are talking about

The Clarion West 2022 fundraiser auction is open…

The Clarion West Writers Workshop 2022 After Dark Gala & Auction is open for business. You can register here and help Clarion raise money by donating or bidding on various prize packages, including a Meet & Greet featuring myself and Kelley Eskridge:

Bidding is open through Friday, October 21, at 9 PM Pacific. The virtual Gala will be livestreamed on YouTube starting at 7 PM Pacific, and will feature a reading by Daniel Abraham, co-author of The Expanse series. Hope to see you there!

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My next novel will be The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country

We’re going back in.

In interviews over the past couple of years, I’ve been teasing the possibility of a sequel to my 2016 novel Lovecraft Country. I’m happy to announce that earlier this week I delivered the edited manuscript for the book to HarperCollins.

The new novel is called The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country, and it’s scheduled to be published early next year. I’ll have more to say about it soon, but for now, here’s the current version of the catalog copy, to give you some idea of what you’re in for:

In this thrilling adventure, a blend of enthralling historical fiction and fantastical horror, Matt Ruff returns to the world of Lovecraft Country and explores the meaning of death, the hold of the past on the present, and the power of hope in the face of uncertainty.

Summer, 1957.

Atticus Turner and his father, Montrose, travel to North Carolina, where they plan to mark the centennial of their ancestor’s escape from slavery by retracing the route he took into the Great Dismal Swamp. But an encounter with an old nemesis turns their historical reenactment into a real life-and-death pursuit.

Back in Chicago, George Berry fights for his own life. Diagnosed with cancer, he strikes a devil’s bargain with the ghost of Hiram Winthrop, who promises a miracle cure—but to receive it, George will first have to bring Winthrop back from the dead.

Meanwhile, fifteen-year-old Horace Berry, reeling from the killing of a close friend, joins his mother, Hippolyta, and her friend Letitia Dandridge on a research trip to Nevada for The Safe Negro Travel Guide. But Hippolyta has a secret—and far more dangerous—agenda that will take her and Horace to the far end of the universe and bring a new threat home to Letitia’s doorstep.

Hippolyta isn’t the only one keeping secrets. Letitia’s sister, Ruby, has been leading a double life as her white alter ego, Hillary Hyde. Now, the supply of magic potion she needs to transform herself is nearly gone, and a surprise visitor throws her already tenuous situation into complete chaos.

Yet these troubles are soon eclipsed by the return of Caleb Braithwhite. Stripped of his magic and banished from Chicago at the end of Lovecraft Country, he’s found a way back into power and is ready to pick up where he left off. But first he has a score to settle…

One other piece of news is that artist Jarrod Taylor, who did the original cover art for Lovecraft Country (and for my novel 88 Names) has come up with a cover for The Destroyer of Worlds as well. It looks fantastic and I can’t wait to share it with you.

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I’m not sure how I got invited to this party

To celebrate Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s 100th birthday, Roddenberry Entertainment invited a hundred former and current cast members, other celebrities, and “notable fans” to record themselves quoting Gene Roddenberry. While I definitely qualify as a fan, I would not have thought of myself as “notable”—but there I am, somehow, in the same lineup as Gloria Gaynor, Tim Russ, Whoopi freaking Goldberg, Julie Benz, Ronny Cox, and Paul Sorvino.

The full gallery of party guests is here. You can watch me recite my quote here. (The quote was chosen for me by Roddenberry’s people, but assuming Lovecraft Country is the reason I ended up on the guest list, I can see why they picked it.)

Happy Birthday, Gene!

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Lovecraft Country earns 18 Emmy nominations

Per the official Emmys website (complete nominations list):

Outstanding Drama Series — Lovecraft Country

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series — Misha Green for episode 1, “Sundown”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series — Jonathan Majors as Atticus Freeman

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series — Jurnee Smollett as Letitia “Leti” Lewis

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series — Michael K. Williams as Montrose Freeman

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series — Aunjanue Ellis as Hippolyta Freeman

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series — Courtney B. Vance as George Freeman for episode 2, “Whitey’s on the Moon”

Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series — Kim Taylor Coleman & Meagan Lewis

Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) — Tat Radcliffe for episode 1, “Sundown”

Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes — Dayna Pink, Zachary Sheets & Terry Anderson for episode 7, “I Am.”

Outstanding Main Title Design — Patrick Clair, Raoul Marks & Ken Taylor

Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup — J. Anthony Kosar & Anna Cali for episode 1, “Sundown”

Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) — Laura Karpman & Raphael Saadiq for episode 9, “Rewind 1921”

Outstanding Music Supervision — Liza Richardson for episode 5, “Strange Case”

Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) — Tim Kimmel, John Matter, Paula Fairfield, Bradley Katona, Brett Voss, Jeff Lingle, Jason Lingle, Jeffrey Wilhoit & Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit for episode 1, “Sundown”

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) — Marc Fishman, Mathew Waters & Amanda Beggs for episode 1, “Sundown”

Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Season or a Movie — Kevin Blank, Robin Griffin, François Dumoulin, Pietro Ponti, Grant Walker, J.D. Schwalm, Robert C. Rhodes, Kevin McAllister & Paige Prokop

Outstanding Stunt Performance — Janeshia Adams-Ginyard for episode 7, “I Am.”

* * *

Congratulations all around, and best of luck on awards night!

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Call of the Dreamlands

Back in the Before Time, when booksellers and authors could hang out in enclosed spaces without wearing masks, Phil Bevis of Chatwin Books asked if I’d write an introduction to an H.P. Lovecraft collection he was planning on publishing.

The book, Call of the Dreamlands, is out now. In addition to my intro, it contains seven stories drawn primarily from Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle: “The White Ship,” “Beyond the Wall of Sleep,” “Polaris,” “What the Moon Brings,” “Hypnos,” “Ex Oblivione,” and “The Strange High House in the Mist.”

Call of the Dreamlands is available in two formats: a paperback edition for $8.95, and a limited, numbered hardcover edition, signed by me and illustrator Dean Kelly, for $85. You can order from the Chatwin Books website, or pick up a copy from Chatwin’s retail store, Arundel Books, in Seattle’s Pioneer Square.

Signing books in the plaguelands.

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A quick and dirty guide to the Matt Ruff oeuvre, or, what to read after you’ve read Lovecraft Country

I’ve gotten a number of requests from readers who’ve finished Lovecraft Country and want to know which of my novels they should try next. Because my books are so different from one another, this is always a tough question to answer, so I thought it might be useful to post a quick rundown of the options. If you see something here that looks interesting, you can click through to the main page for that novel and learn more about it:

The Mirage — An alternate history novel that came out of the same TV pitch session that produced Lovecraft Country. The story is set in a reality where the U.S. and the Middle East have traded places. The United Arab States is the world’s last superpower, and the “11/9 attacks” involve Christian fundamentalists flying planes into towers in downtown Baghdad. It’s not just the geopolitical situation that’s turned on its head; so is the sense of who matters. The novel’s protagonists—a trio of Arab Homeland Security agents—and the principal villains—the gangster Saddam Hussein, and a corrupt senator named Osama bin Laden—are all Arab Muslims. The Americans in the story are mostly nameless third-worlders, with the exception of a few high-profile terrorists like Donald Rumsfeld.

If you’re looking for another mix of history, genre tropes, and moral/social commentary with a similar tone and style to Lovecraft Country, this is probably your best bet.

88 NamesMy most recent novel is a near-future cyberthriller/twisted romantic comedy. The protagonist, John Chu, is a paid guide to online role-playing games who suspects his latest client may be North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The first two-thirds of the novel are set entirely in virtual reality, and most of the characters Chu interacts with, including his coworkers and his ex-girlfriend, are people he’s never met in the flesh, so he’s constantly forced to question how well he really knows them.

This book also came out of the aforementioned TV pitch session, and as such it forms a loose trilogy with The Mirage and Lovecraft Country, but despite the North Korea angle it’s much lighter in tone. If you’re up for a fun masquerade with video games and cybersex, this could be your ticket.

Bad MonkeysMurder suspect Jane Charlotte claims to belong to a mysterious organization that fights evil. Her division, the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons—Bad Monkeys for short—is an execution squad, though the man she’s accused of killing wasn’t on the official target list. The jailhouse psychiatrist assigned to Jane’s case gets her to tell the story of her career in Bad Monkeys: how she was recruited, what she did for the organization, and how it all went wrong.

I call this my Philip K. Dick novel. It’s a short, fast-moving mind-bender. Jane is the ultimate unreliable narrator: Catch her in an apparent lie or contradiction and she just throws another twist into the story, ratcheting up the weirdness while continuing to insist that it’s all true. If you like paranoid thrillers, you’ll probably like Bad Monkeys.

Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls The story of a relationship between two people who both have multiple personalities. Andy Gage manages his unusual condition by means of an imaginary house in his head where his various “souls” all live together in relative harmony. He meets Penny Driver, an undiagnosed multiple who still struggles with periods of lost time; when some of Penny’s more self-aware souls ask Andy for help, they end up destabilizing his house and force him to confront personal demons from the past.

This was my first fully mature novel, and I still think it’s one of my best. If you liked the family and interpersonal drama from Lovecraft Country but weren’t so sure about the supernatural aspects of the story, this might be a good pick for you. Despite the wild premise, it’s a fairly grounded narrative with no overt fantasy elements.

Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works TrilogyA science-fiction satire of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, written in the 1990s and set in the distant future year of 2023.

Rather than try to summarize the plot of this novel, I will direct you to the description of how I came to write it. If you find this origin story intriguing, then Sewer, Gas & Electric may be your cup of tea; if you are puzzled or appalled, you should probably read something else.

Fool on the HillA comic fantasy set on the Cornell University campus circa 1987. The cast of characters includes a retired Greek god, a lovesick writer-in-residence, a dog and cat in search of heaven, a group of modern-day knights, a race of magical sprites at war with an army of sword-wielding rats, and a giant wood-and-canvas dragon that comes to life in the novel’s climax.

This was my first published novel, and I think it holds up pretty well, especially as a time capsule of the era and the place in which it was written. If you’re a Cornell alumnus, a nostalgic adult of a certain age, a current college student who doesn’t mind dated cultural references, or a Matt Ruff fan curious about how I got my start, this could be for you.

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Lovecraft Country: Sanctum

It seems like years ago now, but back in March I published a new novel, 88 Names, that is set largely in virtual reality (you can read more about the book here and listen to the official podcast here). My real-world book tour fell victim to the pandemic, but because of 88 Names’ subject matter, I ended up doing a number of events in VR, including a virtual book reading, an interview in Sansar, and a couple of visits to the Second Life Book Club (April 8, July 1).

Tonight, VR comes to Lovecraft Country. HBO and The Mill have created Sanctum, a series of three virtual reality events that will be hosted on VRChat. The first event, “Garden of Eden,” features afrofuturist art installations by David Alabo, Devan Shimoyama, and Adeyemi Adegbesan. Attendance in-world is invite-only, but the event will be livestreamed on YouTube, here, starting at 7 PM Pacific/10 PM Eastern.

And on a semi-related note: Lovecraft Country is once again on the New York Times trade paperback fiction bestseller list, climbing to the number 4 spot this week. I’m in good company, too, as Octavia Butler appears on the list for the first time ever—her 1993 novel Parable of the Sower debuts at number 14!

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