News & Blog

My Readercon Schedule

I will be attending Readercon 23 in Burlington, Massachusetts, July 12 – 15. I love Readercon, even though I’ve only been once before, last year (I visited for an afternoon a few years back, too, but that doesn’t really count). This year, I’m part of the programming because I am, as the Readercon emails say, an “estimable literary personage.” (I want that on a t-shirt.) Anyway, here is my schedule for the conference:


12:00 PM    RI    At School with Peter Straub. Andy Duncan, Jack Haringa, Nicholas Kaufmann (leader), Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Langan, Paul Tremblay. For the generation of horror writers who came of age in the seventies and eighties, the fiction of Peter Straub has exerted a profound gravitational pull. Glen Hirshberg has spoken of the importance of If You Could See Me Now to his development as a writer of ghost stories. Lee Thomas has acknowledged the influence of Ghost Story on his novel The Dust of Wonderland. Kelly Link has noted the significance of Shadowland to her stories. Laird Barron has written the afterword to the recent Centipede Press edition of Koko, in which he details that novel’s importance to his work. This panel will bring together several writers who have benefited from the example of Straub’s fiction to discuss some of the ways in which his work contributed to theirs.

6:00 PM G What Writers Want. Suzy McKee Charnas, John Crowley, Nicholas Kaufmann, James Patrick Kelly (leader), Nicole Kornher-Stace, Peter Straub. Genre writing is not a career known for its well-defined path. There are goalposts—bestseller lists, movie deals, inspiring reams of fan fiction—but do they sum up all that genre writers aim for? This panel dares to go deeper and uncover authors’ true ambitions, whether they dream of exemplifying or transcending the genre, turning genre itself into art, being named a Grand Master, outselling everyone, or all of these—and to examine how those ambitions might be achieved.


11:00 AM NH Group Reading: ChiZine Publications. Gemma Files, Nicholas Kaufmann, Nick Mamatas, Yves Meynard, Paul Tremblay. Authors published by ChiZine Publications read from their works.

6:30 PM NH Reading. Nicholas Kaufmann. Nicholas Kaufmann reads from a new fantasy novel that takes place in, around, and under New York City.

Wow, two readings in one day! I’m going to be hoarse on Sunday. Totally worth it, though. I can’t wait for Readercon. Not only is it a great convention filled with “estimable literary personages” and offering one of the best, most interesting and diverse programs in the business, but I have a lot of friends I don’t get to see very often (Jack Haringa, Paul Tremblay, John Langan, F. Brett Cox, JoAnn Cox, Brett Savory, Sandra Kasturi, and so many others) and they’ll all be there. If you’re looking for me and I’m not at one of the events listed above, schmoozing in the bar or the lobby, or hanging out in the dealers room, I’m probably at one of their events.

I will also definitely be at the Shirley Jackson Awards on Sunday at 11:00 AM. The SJA has quickly become my favorite literary award, so I’m always excited about the nominees and winners.

Lastly, I don’t have a scheduled autograph session, but I’ll be happy to sign copies of anything you bring (even things I actually wrote!) after the ChiZine group reading or my own reading on Saturday. Or just catch me anytime in the dealers room, the bar, the lobby, the hallways, wherever. Don’t be shy. I’m friendly, and easily flattered by requests to sign books!

Coming Soon


Exciting new book news coming soon! Keep watching this space for details!

Second-Hand Books Are Treasures

Look what I found for 50¢ on the Used Books shelf of a bookstore in Cape May:

In hardcover, no less! Score! When I excitedly brought it to the register the clerk asked me if I’d ever seen the movie, and I felt like I was in the presence of a kindred spirit. (Full disclosure: I have seen the movie, but not in a very long time. Decades, probably. All I remember is the creepy hand of the old family patriarch reaching out from within the heavily curtained bed.)

Inside the book is an adhesive book plate that reads:

From The Library Of . . . . . .


Alas, a quick Internet search comes up with no interesting links for a Cass Broder. Whoever she is (and I assume Cass is a she, though I could be wrong), I wonder why she chose to give up the book. Culling her shelves of books she didn’t like? Bought but never read? I’ve been in those shoes myself. There’s likely someone out there right now with my unread copies of Cold Mountain or The Corrections or the first Thomas Covenant trilogy wondering what possessed me to get rid of them. Sometimes you buy books with the best of intentions, but then you don’t get around to reading them, and suddenly it’s ten-fifteen-twenty years later and you realize you never will. But one reader’s loss is another reader’s gain, and that’s what makes second-hand books such a treasure.

That, and amazing finds like this one. Now I want to see the movie again, too…

R.I.P. Caroline John

The BBC is reporting that British actress Caroline John has passed away at the age of 72. John was known to me and millions of other fans as Liz Shaw on the original Doctor Who.

(Above, the Brigadier, Liz Shaw, and the Doctor stare at something in the distance that will be added later with shockingly bad special effects.)

Liz Shaw only appeared in one season, Jon Pertwee’s first as the Doctor, plus a one-off appearance in 1983’s 20th anniversary special “The Five Doctors.” She was a brainy scientist who assisted the Doctor in the lab at UNIT headquarters during his exile on Earth just as ably as she did in the field against the Autons, Silurians, possessed radioactive astronauts, and other threats. Frequently exasperated with the Doctor, she famously told the Brigadier that all the Doctor really needed was someone to pass him his test tubes and tell him how brilliant he is. Eventually, Liz returned to her home base of Cambridge to focus on her own work, and was replaced as the Doctor’s UNIT assistant by Jo Grant (played by Katy Manning), who passed the Doctor his test tubes and told him how brilliant he was. And also wore short skirts.

Because Caroline John’s time on the show was so brief, she never achieved the iconic status of Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) or Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), both of whom also passed away recently. But as a member of the Doctor Who family, and as a female companion in particular, Liz stood out as someone who never screamed or tripped over a tree root while running away from something. Believe it or not, in the world of classic Who, that made her different from pretty much every other female character.

Rest in peace, Caroline John. You may not have been among the most beloved companions, but some of us still remember you fondly.