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.
I’m a half century old today. I was going to add a joke about how I was a teenager only yesterday, but it’s not true. When I look at the above photo—that’s me at 15, in my bedroom in Queens with my old IBM Selectric typewriter—it feels like a long time ago. It sounds weird to say I’m 50 but I can’t say I didn’t earn it.
One way you know you’re getting older is you start noticing more and more what a different world the current generation is coming of age in. I feel like I have an advantage over my parents in that I expected this to happen. My dad, born in 1922, was amazed and a little dismayed by how much American society had transformed during his lifetime, and for my mother—born in Brazil, raised in Argentina, emigrated to the U.S. at age 23—life was one long culture shock. I grew up knowing the future would be different in ways I couldn’t predict, so I’ve found the changes more fascinating than anything else. And I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.
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.
While I was finishing up Lovecraft Country, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag released the paperback edition of the German translation of The Mirage. I got my complimentary author’s copies in the mail yesterday, and they look great. (The cover design, by Michał Pawłowski, was also used on the Polish-language edition.)
In other news:
* Paul Constant, who used to write roughly half the content of the Seattle Stranger, has teamed up with novelist Martin McClellan to found The Seattle Review of Books.
* Ex Machina is out on DVD. If you missed it in the theater, it’s a really clever and thought-provoking A.I.-meets-Bluebeard’s-Wives story.
* It’s not as good as Ex Machina, but It Follows is an entertainingly creepy horror film that reminded me a lot of a recurring nightmare I used to have as a kid.
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 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.
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.
Just a reminder that signed copies of my novels make great holiday gifts.
I’m selling signed first editions of Sewer, Gas & Electric, Set This House in Order, and The Mirage; email for details.
Signed paperbacks of all of my novels are available from Secret Garden Bookshop in Seattle. You can contact them by phone at 206-789-5006 or via email; tell them what books you want, and they’ll order them, have me sign them, and ship them wherever you like.
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.
I have survived another trip around the sun.