News & Blog

Readercon 24: My Schedule

Readercon 24 is only a few weeks away! I’m psyched because Readercon is one of my favorite literary sf/f/h conventions. (For completists, my other favorites are NECon, World Fantasy, and World Horror. There, now you can win your next game of Trivial Pursuit!) Even more exciting — for me, anyway — is Readercon’s Memorial Guest of Honor this year is Roger Zelazny, one of my all-time favorite authors. Zelazny had a lasting influence on me as a writer. Look for a personal essay I wrote about it in this year’s souvenir book.

Readercon 24’s programming schedule has been announced. Here’s where you’ll find me:

Friday July 12

5:00 PM    ME    Writing (Hot and Heavy) Action. Elizabeth Bear, Nicholas Kaufmann (leader), Margo Lanagan, John Shirley, Cecilia Tan. Good action scenes and good sex scenes have a surprising amount in common. This panel will discuss the best ways of approaching both. Expect the discussion to get raunchy and specific.
Proposed by Wesley Chu.

[I’m a little nervous about leading a discussion with such powerhouse authors, but I think this is going to be a really fun and informative panel. If nothing else, come to hear us talk dirty.]

7:30 PM    VT    Reading: Nicholas Kaufmann. Nicholas Kaufmann. Nicholas Kaufmann reads an excerpt from the forthcoming novel Dying Is My Business.

[This is prime dinner time, so my reading will probably be a ghost town. Come anyway if you’re around! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it’s better than Cats, better than E.T….]

Saturday July 13

9:00 PM    RI    Writing in Shared Worlds. Jim Freund (moderator), Nicholas Kaufmann, Barry B. Longyear, John Shirley. Writing in shared worlds presents a unique set of pitfalls and opportunities. Each writer added to the mix brings additional nuances and complications, and keeping the expanding canon straight can be hard for both writers and readers. But when done well, it has produced some brilliant series (e.g. Bordertown, the Cecelia and Kate books). Our panelists discuss the challenges, solutions, and examples of the best shared-world works.

[9 p.m. is late for me! I’m going to show up in my pajamas. Also, what does “when done well” mean? Isn’t that subjective?]

Sunday July 14

10:00 AM    F    Workshopping as a Lifestyle. Jedediah Berry, Richard Butner, Craig Shaw Gardner, Theodora Goss (leader), Nicholas Kaufmann, Gregory A. Wilson. Writing is often a lonely process, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that workshops and critique groups are as popular as they are. But Junot Díaz has suggested that due to “workshopping as a lifestyle,” many writers have shifted their focus “away from the organic orientation of readers and towards a really mutated, very narrow idea of writing for other writers.” How can writers overcome this drawback of frequent workshopping while still enjoying its advantages? And when the assumption is that all your readers are writers, where does that leave readers who aren’t?

[I founded one of the most successful workshops in New York City, if we can judge success by how well its members’ writing careers have taken off, so expect me to be on the “workshops are great” side of the argument. Provided I’m not just joking around with my good friend Craig Shaw Gardner the whole time. That’s a serious possibility.]

There’s lots of other great programming happening throughout the convention (programming is Readercon’s strong suit), so look for me at any number of events. Or just chilling in the lobby with friends. Yes, I said chilling. I guess it’s the ’90s again or something. But if we don’t know each other and you’re going to be at Readercon, please feel free to say hello. I’m really quite friendly and outgoing. Unless I’m saying things like “chilling in the lobby,” which, understandably, only drives people away.

Publishing Update

Book #2, tentatively titled Die and Stay Dead, has been delivered to my editor at St. Martin’s! Now we wait for his response and notes, if any. He already told me he’s so swamped it could be a couple of months before he has a chance to read it, so the wait could be a substantial one. In the meantime, I will keep myself from going crazy by focusing on other projects that are waiting in the wings, such as a short story set to appear in a forthcoming PS Publishing anthology, and a 10,000 word novelette for a project with IDW that hasn’t been announced yet. My agent has also asked me to run some other book ideas by him in the meantime.

I’m also going to start sketching out book #3, which I’m thinking of calling Only the Dead Sleep. It’s a tad premature, as my existing contract is only for two books, and we don’t know yet how well Dying Is My Business and Die and Stay Dead will do. Dying Is My Business doesn’t even come out until October (though you can pre-order it from Amazon for nearly 20% off!), and Die and Stay Dead likely won’t be out until the fall of 2014. Still, it’ll be good to have Only the Dead Sleep ready to go if I’m given the green light.

Speaking of Dying Is My Business, I had a pleasant email exchange with the St. Martin’s Press publicist assigned to my book. He seems nice and competent, both of which are excellent character traits in a publicist. He told me the ARCs have been sent off to the long lead time review organs like Publishers Weekly and Locus. Apparently he also sent it to some men’s magazines! Intriguing! I’m looking forward to working with him.

In somewhat related news, it looks like we’ve secured a great venue here in Brooklyn for the book launch in October. More news as it develops!

Richard Matheson, R.I.P.

I feel like I’m writing too damn many of these remembrances. Word came yesterday that Richard Matheson died on Sunday at the age of 87. Matheson’s influence on science fiction, fantasy, and horror cannot be overstated. Before Stephen King, who claims him as a major influence, Matheson was the most successful writer working outside literary fiction. But long before I knew about the genius of I Am Legend and Matheson’s copious backlist of novels and short stories, I knew him from his work in film and TV.

Matheson wrote the screenplay to most of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe films, including two of my favorites, The Fall of the House of Usher (above) and The Pit and the Pendulum. (My absolute favorite Corman-Poe film, The Masque of the Red Death, was written by Matheson’s friend and contemporary Charles Beaumont.) Matheson was responsible for writing some of the most memorable Twilight Zone episodes of the classic era, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” based on his own short story (below).

Matheson wrote for William Shatner again when he penned the classic Star Trek episode “The Enemy Within,” which you might remember as the one where a transporter malfunction splits Kirk into good and bad versions of himself. He wrote the screenplay for the early Spielberg film Duel, based on another of his stories. He wrote the scripts for The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler for producer Dan Curtis, two TV movies that launched the Kolchak: The Night Stalker TV series. He would work with Curtis again soon after on the classic TV film Trilogy of Terror, best remembered today for the segment where Karen Black is chased around her apartment by a living Zuni fetish doll. And this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the extent of Matheson’s filmed entertainment that reached me as a Monster Kid and stayed with me to this day. I’m hardly alone in that. In fact, Matheson’s reach was so long that a recent Family Guy episode was inspired by his story “The Splendid Source.”

But for me, reading I Am Legend was a seminal turning point in my career as both a reader and a writer. Its impact on me was as strong and lasting as Clive Barker’s Books of Blood and David Martin’s Tap, Tap. The world lost one of its greatest talents this weekend. Rest in peace, Richard Matheson. I hope your work is remembered for generations to come. It deserves to be.

Ghost Tour of Greenwich Village

Last night, Alexa and I enjoyed the beautiful weather by taking a very fun and very education ghost tour of Greenwich Village, put on by the fine folks at Ghosts of New York. Here’s good friend and tour guide Gordon Linzner standing outside the beautiful Jefferson Market Library.


The library used to be a courthouse. It was here that millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw, who shot architect Stanford White in a sleazy underage sex scandal (the trial of the century!), became the first man to use the defense of temporary insanity. He claimed a ghost made him kill!

You can see more of my photos from the tour here. It was a very fun evening. I highly recommend these  tours to anyone who enjoys history, architecture, and of course ghost stories!