This past week the Washington Center of the Book released its list of finalists for the 2017 Washington State Book Awards. Lovecraft Country is nominated in the novel category, and it’s in good company: the other finalists include The Solace of Monsters, by Laurie Blauner; Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang; Barkskins, by Annie Proulx; and Daredevils, by Shawn Vestal.

The full list of finalists in all categories can be found here. The winners will be announced on Saturday, October 14, at 7 P.M. at a ceremony at the main branch of the Seattle Public Library; the awards ceremony will be followed by a reception and book signing. I hope to see you there!

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Virtual Memories

by Matt Ruff on August 1, 2017

This week I am a guest of Gil Roth on the Virtual Memories Show podcast. Gil’s been trying to get me on the show for a long while now—we live on opposite coasts, and he only does in-person interviews—so I really wanted to bring my A-game. And because I’ve been doing a lot of podcasts lately, I was a bit worried about repeating myself. Gil told me not to fret: He prides himself on asking unusual questions and getting his subjects away from their standard riffs. So while we do spend some time talking about Lovecraft Country, the conversation is wide-ranging:

Had I known there would be subject tags, I’d have tried to work in a reference to ferrets. But there’s always next time.

You can listen to the podcast here or here, or download it from iTunes here. Thanks, Gil!

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The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

by Matt Ruff on July 31, 2017

As longtime blog readers know, in 2011 I was invited to serve on the selection panel for that year’s NEA Fellowships. It was a great experience that introduced me to the work of Porochista Khakpour, Tayari Jones, and lots of other great writers.

In 2013 I was again invited to participate in the process, as one of a group of “expert readers” assigned to screen the manuscripts that the final selection panel would have to consider. One of the submissions that most impressed me that year was a work of creative non-fiction about a convicted pedophile and child murderer named Ricky Langley, written by a woman who had interned at the law firm that defended him. The manuscript combined a story of Langley’s crimes with a personal memoir about how the author and her sisters had been molested by their own grandfather.

It was powerful stuff. What I liked about it, beyond the strength of the writing, was the combination of psychological insight and moral clarity. Given her own history, it would have been easy for the author to paint Langley as a one-dimensional monster. She didn’t do that: She really wanted to understand him. But her attempt to humanize Langley didn’t extend to excusing or minimizing what he’d done. He was more than a monster, but he was still a monster.

The NEA uses a blind judging process, and one of the pitfalls of being a selector is that if you like a submission that doesn’t win a Fellowship, you may never learn who the author is, much less get to read their finished work; I’m still tantalized by a number of pieces whose anonymous creators didn’t make the cut. But in this case I got lucky: when the 2014 Fellows were announced, one of the names on the list was Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, a one-time intern at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center.

Marzano-Lesnevich’s book, The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir, was published in May. After spotting this review in the New York Times, I bought a copy and burned through it in two long reading sessions. It’s fantastic—every bit as good as I’d hoped it would be, based on the excerpt I’d already read. I know some readers may be leary of the subject matter, but Marzano-Lesnevich writes with great sensitivity, so if you are at all interested, I’d highly recommend checking it out. It’s an amazing book.

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More good news this week: Lovecraft Country is a finalist in the Best Novel category for this year’s World Fantasy Awards.

The other finalists for Best Novel are Borderline, by Mishell Baker; Roadsouls, by Betsy James; The Obelisk Gate, by N.K. Jemisin; and The Sudden Appearance of Hope, by Claire North.

I also note that Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom is nominated for Best Long Fiction, and L. Timmel Duchamp, Neile Graham, Kelly Link, and Joe Monti are all up for special awards.

Congrats, everybody!

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My visit with the Fan Bros

by Matt Ruff on July 27, 2017

This week I am a guest on the Fan Bros Show podcast. I was a bit nervous going in that I might be out of my league—other recent guests have included Ta-Nehisi Coates, Allison Williams, and Orlando Jones (y’know, actual famous people)—but my hosts DJ BenHaMeen and Tatiana King-Jones made me feel right at home, and we had a great conversation. You can listen to it here.

Many thanks to Ben and Tatiana, and to Greg W. Brown, aka Mellow, for inviting me on!

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Some good news to start the weekend: Lovecraft Country is one of five finalists for the 2017 Endeavour Award, which recognizes science-fiction and fantasy books by Pacific Northwest authors.

This year’s other finalists are Arabella of Mars, by David D. Levine; Dreams of Distant Shores, by Patricia McKillip; Eocene Station, by Dave Duncan; and Waypoint Kangaroo, by Curtis C. Chen. Congrats all around!

In other news:

* This week I am a guest on the Unreliable Narrators podcast. You can listen to it here.

* On Wednesday, August 30, at 7 PM, Third Place Books in Seward Park is holding a book club discussion of Lovecraft Country, and I will be there to answer questions (and to sign books, if anyone’s interested). The event is open to the public, so feel free to drop by.

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Locus Awards Weekend

by Matt Ruff on June 23, 2017

A reminder that I’ll be attending the Locus Awards tomorrow (Saturday, June 24). My official schedule is as follows:

11:00 – 11:45 AM — “How Much is that Trope in the Window? Repurposing Genre Elements to Tell New Stories.” Panel discussion with me, Nisi Shawl, Seanan McGuire, and moderator Daryl Gregory.

Noon – 12:30 PM — Signing books at the Locus autograph session.

12:45 – 3:30 PM — Locus Awards Banquet and Ceremony. (Lovecraft Country is a finalist in the horror novel category.)

Hope to see some of you there!

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Father’s Day

by Matt Ruff on June 18, 2017

This is the oldest surviving photo of my Dad, with Grandma Mabel, taken in Port Huron, Michigan, in 1922.

Bonus ancient Ruff pic:

From left: Oscar, Lydia, Albert, and (my grandfather) Walter Theodore Ruff. Early 1910s. Happy Father’s Day, kids.

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The surprise sales spike following the announcement of the Lovecraft Country HBO series led to a brief paperback shortage, but a reprint has now made its way into the distribution channel, so the novel should once again be available from your local indie bookstore or your favorite online retailer.

Also:

* A new event has been added to my Locus Awards Weekend schedule. From 11:00 to 11:45 AM on Saturday, June 24, I’ll be joining Nisi Shawl, Seanan McGuire, and moderator Daryl Gregory for a panel discussion titled “How Much Is That Trope in the Window? Repurposing Genre Elements to Tell New Stories.” Following the panel, from noon to 12:30, I’ll be signing books at the official autograph session. Then it’s on to the Locus Awards ceremony, where Lovecraft Country is a finalist in the best horror novel category. Hope to see you there!

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liberal horror show
Thanks to everyone who sent congratulations about last week’s big news, and a special high-five to Salon.com, who had my favorite headline on the story. “Liberal Horror Show” is the name of my next band.

A few Tuesday morning notes:

* Lovecraft Country is a finalist for best horror novel in the 2017 Locus Awards. To the extent that it is possible for me to be even more excited, I am psyched about this. If you are attending the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle, I’ll be signing books at the noon autograph session on June 24, so come by and say hi.

* The Nebula Awards were announced last weekend. Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky won best novel, and Arrival, the film adaptation of Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life,” won the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation. Congrats, Charlie and Ted! (Full list of winners and nominees here.)

* The German translation of Lovecraft Country will be published early next year by Carl Hanser Verlag. I should have an exact publication date soon.

* If you’re in the UK or some other part of the British Commonwealth and are wondering why you can’t find an ebook of Lovecraft Country, this is an unfortunate side-effect of the way English-language publishing rights are divided up. English ebook rights in Britain, Australia, etc. are typically reserved for the UK publisher, so if a book doesn’t have a UK publisher—as is the case right now for Lovecraft Country—there’s no way to get the ebook. I’m hopeful that the novel will eventually find a British publisher, but for now, your best bet is to order a print copy of the American edition from the Book Depository.

* And finally, last Friday I had a nice chat with Robin Shantz for the Invaders from Planet 3 podcast. You can listen to our conversation here. It’s also available (free) on iTunes, here.

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