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.

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Mirage German paperbackWhile 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.

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Almost there

by Matt Ruff on July 14, 2015

lovecraftblogcovOver 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?

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lovecraftblogcovLovecraft 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.




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Lovecraft Country cover

by Matt Ruff on March 10, 2015


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.

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Signed books for the holidays

by Matt Ruff on December 1, 2014


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.

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I shall be returning to earth presently

by Matt Ruff on November 3, 2014


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.

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I’m 49 today

by Matt Ruff on September 8, 2014

hedgebirthdayI have survived another trip around the sun.

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Three months to my deadline

by Matt Ruff on August 7, 2014

Guardians of the deadline

No, it’s going well, really. The last bits of Lovecraft Country are coming into focus and the stuff that’s already finished, works. Now I just gotta stick the landing.

Last weekend I left the house for the first time in days and went with Lisa to see Guardians of the Galaxy. The early trailers made it seem like a Marvel version of an Adam Sandler comedy, so I really wasn’t expecting much, but after all the good buzz and reviews we decided to give it a shot. We ended up really liking it. Feels more like a (good) Star Wars movie than a Marvel superhero flick, but that’s fine.

Meanwhile, back at Marvel HQ, studio president Kevin Feige is twisting himself into knots over the question of why he hasn’t yet greenlit a film centered on a female superhero like Black Widow. My guess: When you’re responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars of studio money and you like your job, even minor deviations from established formula can seem terrifying. I’m sure they’ll come around on this eventually because the potential profits are just too big to ignore, but in the meantime there’s a niche here for somebody who can figure out how to do a superhero film on an indie-film budget.

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Late spring, when the shoggoths start to bloom

by Matt Ruff on June 6, 2014

It involves road maps

Still hard at work on Lovecraft Country.

This week I finished a section of the novel called “The Narrow House,” in which my protagonist’s father, in the course of parleying with a ghost, tells the story of how his own father was murdered during the 1921 Tulsa Riot. Next up is “Horace and the Devil Doll,” in which corrupt members of the Chicago PD wage an unusual campaign of harassment against a 12-year-old boy.

In other news:

* Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic article “The Case for Reparations” dropped a couple weeks ago. I found it particularly interesting because it covers a lot of the same historical ground as Lovecraft Country, albeit with fewer Necronomicon references.

* On Netflix streaming, Lisa and I stumbled across The Loving Story, a documentary about Mildred and Richard Loving, who were convicted in 1959 of violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws and given a choice between prison and leaving the state. While in exile in D.C., Mildred Loving wrote to Bobby Kennedy asking for help, and he directed her to the ACLU, whose lawyers eventually argued the Lovings’ case all the way to the Supreme Court. The story is fascinating, but what really makes the documentary is the archival footage of the Lovings themselves, which gives you a sense of who they were and how deeply they cared about each other.

* In the idle diversions category, I’ve been having a lot of fun with Dream Quest, an iOS game app that combines elements of a Rogue-like RPG and a deck-building game. Review here. Strategy tips here.

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