Exclusive Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

 

 

 

 

 

We’re excited to share this special Q&A with Jeff VanderMeer about his book, Borne, and something exciting he’s doing with Quarterly:

This quarter’s box is curated by Jeff VanderMeer, featuring an exclusive, annotated copy of Borne, already named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Chicago Reader, The Week, and Publishers Weekly. Also find in the box two more books, handpicked by VanderMeer that inspired him as an author, plus awesome bookish goods — perfect for book lovers. (Psst: Act fast, subscribe by April 21st to get this box and use the discount mentioned below.)

NetGalley Author Interview

Pub Date: April 25, 2017
General Fiction (Adult)
Published by MCD/FSG

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Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

It all kind of started with bird watching. I kept a bird list in Fiji, where I spent four or five years of my childhood. Kingfisher! (For example.) But I got bored with that, so I started a personal diary in the journal instead (although I never gave up bird watching!). I think I was seven or eight. But I got bored with that, too, so I started writing poems, which since I was so young were titled things like “Oh, how I love the sea!” And I also wrote down little fables, sometimes actually rewriting Aesop’s fables. At that same time, my parents were reading me things like William Blake’s Tyger Tyger Burning Bright and giving me classics new and old. From that moment on, I didn’t really think about it–I just felt like I was a writer and although I was briefly dazzled by the idea of being a marine biologist, it turned out I just loved looking into tidal pools.

In my teens I wrote and published a lot of poems, some short stories, started and edited a literary magazine, ran a community reading series, and wrote two terrible fantasy novels based on my love of Patricia McKillip and others. This all helped me very early, by about sixteen, to have a good lay of the land. I was also lucky enough to be mentored by people like the poet Enid Shomer, the novelists Jane Stuart and Meredith Ann Pierce, and in general to get a good start on a lifelong devotion to writing fiction.

How did the idea for Borne come about?

Just as with Annihilation I had put into the back of my head years earlier, “I want to write in some way about Florida,” I had also put in my head “I want to in some way write about my childhood.” But that wasn’t as easy a proposition because I had a kind of block in that direction, I think because I instinctively knew that I needed more distance and that, you know, even though I lived in Fiji, I wasn’t from there. This actually created a lot of angst early on in how to write fiction because I felt like I’d been everywhere but belonged nowhere.

But then one day I had this sudden inspiration, an image in my mind of the flank of a giant bear and entangled in it something that looked a little bit like a closed-up sea anemone…and a woman named Rachel who found it…and realized it was something more than what it looked like. And I knew that Rachel didn’t belong in the city–that she had come from somewhere else, and that, although, it’s never named in the novel, that place was the South Pacific. And suddenly, I could write about the places I knew as a child, as part of her backstory.

How has it changed since you first began writing it?

I don’t seriously start to put words on the page until I’ve thought about a novel for a long time, so that when I do most of what changes is at the level of scene or paragraph, and sometimes, of course, structure will change as a result, but not always. The story I wanted to tell didn’t change, but as time went on the relationship between Rachel and her boyfriend Wick deepened and grew and the character of the Magician, Wick’s rival, came into focus in interesting ways. But Rachel’s voice always came very naturally to me.

Do you have any specific or strange writing rituals that get you into a groove?

I used to need special pens and pencils and journals. No more! These days, I’m just as happy to scribble an idea or scene fragment on the back of a leaf while I’m hiking. I also don’t really care what time of day I write, although some books feel like night-time narratives and so I might write late at night for something like the novel I’m working on now, Hummingbird Salamander. But the key things that never change is that I write my drafts long-hand and that I get my best ideas while hiking out in the wilderness or while lifting weights in the gym. That probably has to do with having to live in the moment and not be distracted, which gives my subconscious and imagination room to operate.

Do you have a favorite character from Borne?

I know that Borne himself–shape-shifting and spectacularly tentacular!–is a big draw, as is Mord, the giant psychotic bear. But my favorite character is Rachel, the narrator, who just simply keeps keeping on and trying to do her best as she navigates a landscape both physical and ethical that’s complex and difficult. I feel immense sympathy and love for her.

What is your favorite novel of all time?

I wish I could answer this question, but there are too many. So instead I’ll tell you an anecdote about one of my favs, Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. Recently, as guest speakers at a Sigma Tau Delta conference, my wife Ann and I snuck out long enough to get some shopping in and in a men’s consignment shop, the owner (Hank Bullitt–great name!) found out I was a writer and asked what my favorite book was. For some reason I was thinking of meeting Marty Wilson-Piper of The Church on Bondi Beach, and how he’d had a battered copy of The Master and Margarita, so that’s what I said was my favorite. And Hank Bullitt just about jumps out of his skin and tells us that his late cousin was the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union and knew Bulgakov and was the inspiration for a character in the novel and told us a lot of interesting stuff about that time period and his cousin. Talk about an odd coincidence!

Which three authors would you invite to a dinner party?

From any time period? Vladimir Nabokov, Angela Carter, and Amos Tutuola. Now that would be a party!

Do you have any advice for young writers?

Go with your heart. Write what is personal to you and that you’re passionate about. Never worry about trends and be true to yourself. No trend is worth chasing and the landscape changes so frequently anyway that the most important thing is that you are happy with and proud of your writing. When you achieve success, you want it to be on your own terms.

Do you read multiple books at a time or do you focus on just one?

Usually, I focus on just one, but it just depends. If I find two novels different enough or a novel and a nonfiction book, I’ll read more than one. I was just reading Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan and Rooted: The Best New Arboreal Nonfiction at the same time, alongside Wendel Berry’s The Mad Farmer Poems.

What is your favorite thing that you have received in the mail?

Gosh, this is tough. For years, because of a prior novel, I got pounds and pounds of dried squid in the mail. I wouldn’t say that was a favorite, but it was a thing that happened. I’ve also received a stuffed-animal meerkat head glued to a plate in the mail because of another novel, along with lots of fan art over the course of my career. I guess, honestly, the heartfelt letters from readers who appreciated some aspect of my fiction have been the best, especially where it’s clear that something therein made them happy or took away their stress or in another way were of use.

Also, I’m really looking forward to getting a woodcut in the mail soon from the artist Theo Ellsworth–a 2-foot-tall illustration of Mord.

Click here to get Jeff VanderMeer’s Fiction Box, complete with an exclusive, annotated copy of Borne! (Plus! As a NetGalley member, you get an exclusive 10% discount! Just enter the code: NETGALLEY10 at checkout – expires April 21st.)

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NetGalley Author Interview: Kate Moore

Watch our author video interview, “15 minutes with… Kate Moore,” now! Here, we discuss the different genres Moore writes in, her inspiration behind writing about this American scandal and what new project she’s working on. You don’t want to miss this interview brought to you by NetGalley, Meryl Moss Media and BookTrib.com.

The Radium Girls

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Pub Date: May 2, 2017
History, Nonfiction (Adult)
Published by Sourcebooks Non-Fiction

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The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger

Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive ― until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…

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NetGalley Author Interview: Terri Blackstock

Watch our author video interview, “15 minutes with… Terri Blackstock,” now! Here, we discuss Blackstock’s If I Run series, writing in multiple genres and the inspiration behind her novels. You don’t want to miss this interview brought to you by NetGalley, Meryl Moss Media and BookTrib.com.

If I'm Found

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Pub Date: March 21, 2017
Mystery & Thrillers, Christian
Published by Zondervan Fiction

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Is Dylan hunting Casey to prosecute her or protect her?

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.

In this riveting sequel to the USA Today bestseller If I Run, evil lurks, drawing Casey out of the shadows . . . but there is light shining in the darkness. Is Dylan a provision from the God who loves her, or another heartache yet to happen?

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NetGalley Author Interview: Cara Putman

From veteran author Cara Putman, Beyond Justice weaves a tale of mystery and suspense as up-and-coming lawyer Hayden McCarthy takes on the government in a controversial wrongful death case.

Beyond Justice

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Pub Date: April 4, 2017
Mystery & Thrillers, Christian
Published by Thomas Nelson - Fiction

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Hayden McCarthy is on track to become the youngest partner in her prestigious D.C. law firm . . . if the case she’s just been handed doesn’t destroy her first.

Hayden McCarthy knows firsthand the pain when justice is not served. It’s why she became an attorney and why she’s so driven in her career. When she’s handed a wrongful death case against the government, she isn’t sure if it’s the lucky break she needs to secure a partnership-or an attempt to make sure she never gets there. She keeps the case alive through sheer determination and more than a little creativity, but then she’s fired by a partner with a vendetta.

Further complicating matters, Hayden keeps finding herself completely distracted by Andrew, her roommate’s cousin. But his father is a Congressman and she’s currently taking on the government. Could the timing be any worse?

The longer she keeps the case active, the higher the stakes become. Unknown enemies seem determined to see either the case-or her-die. Should she fight alone for the dead young man by launching her own unfinanced firm, or abandon the case in order to save her own life?

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Exclusive Interview with Jeff Giles

We’re excited to share this special Q&A with Jeff Giles about his book, The Edge of Everything, and something exciting he’s doing with Quarterly:

This quarter’s box is curated by Jeff Giles, featuring an exclusive, annotated copy of The Edge of Everything, an action-packed fantastical thriller. Also find in the box two more books, handpicked by Giles that inspired him as an author, plus awesome bookish goods — perfect for YA book lovers. (Psst: Act fast, subscribe by January 27th to get this box and use the discount mentioned below.)

NetGalley Author Interview

The Edge of Everything

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Pub Date: Jan 31, 2017
Teens & YA
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing?

I grew up in Massachusetts in a pretty loud, unhappy family, so I spent a lot of time holed up in my room with my baseball cards and my guitar and my fantasy novels. I wasn’t much of a baseball player, and I was really bad at guitar (I still play and I’m STILL bad, actually). So I guess what I’m saying is: writing was the only thing I loved that I didn’t suck at. I tried writing all kinds of things when I was young: plays, song lyrics, short stories, poems. By the time I went to college, I’d decided to try being a journalist. My dream was that I’d write articles for a living until I wrote a novel good enough to be published. That took MANY more years than I thought it would!

What is your favorite novel of all time?

Please don’t make me answer this! It’s too hard to choose!

Let me try this: My favorite YA novel right this second is Still Life with Tornado (A.S. King).
My favorite novel to recommend to “grown-ups” is Bel Canto (Ann Patchett). My favorite funny novel is Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Maria Semple). My favorite weird novel is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami). My favorite sci fi novel is Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro).

In your opinion, has there ever been a movie that is better than the book?

I know this will be controversial, but I actually think there are a lot. It usually happens with action and suspense, because those genres are just MADE for the big screen. One really old example is “Jaws.” I’m sure the novel was a fun summer read, but Steven Spielberg’s movie was the first blockbuster and changed Hollywood forever. I won’t say that Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movies are BETTER than the Tolkien novels—mostly because I don’t want all your subscribers to hate me—but I do think they’re every bit as good, and maybe even more exciting.

Which three authors would you invite to a dinner party?

J.K. Rowling, because obviously! Charles Dickens, because J.K. Rowling would love to meet him, I bet. And E.M. Forester, because I love his novels—and I think Dickens would feel bad if he were the only dead guy there.

Your debut novel, The Edge of Everything, has a leading female protagonist, how did you get into character and develop her voice throughout the novel?

I began writing the novel while I was living in Brooklyn, and I finished it after we’d moved to Montana, so Zoe is sort of a combination of what I love most about both places: the funny-smart/take-no-crap NYC thing mixed with the outdoorsy, self-reliant western thing. More importantly, my daughter is a big reader, and I knew she’d read the novel some day. There is NO WAY she would approve of a female character who wasn’t tough and brave and badass. Zoe sort of has my sense of humor, but she’s cooler than me in every other way.

Do you have any advice for young writers?

Tons! Try to write on a regular schedule. Turn off the WiFi or you won’t get anything done. Read everything you write out loud—both to yourself and others. There’s no better way to tell if something flows and makes sense and if you’re proud of it. Remember that absolutely everyone writes a lot of bad stuff on the way to writing good stuff. Make sure there are enough snacks in the house.

What was the thought process behind curating your Literary YA Box?

I had so much fun! I wanted to share books about girls with real purpose—and who were in the midst of figuring out who they were. Then I picked some cool odds and ends to make the whole reading experience a little brighter, warmer and more special.

Click here to get Jeff Giles’ Literary YA Box, complete with an exclusive, annotated copy of The Edge of Everything! (Plus! As a NetGalley member, you get an exclusive 10% discount! Just enter the code: NETGALLEY10 at checkout.)

What is your favorite thing that you have received in the mail?

I sent an advance copy of The Edge of Everything on a little “tour” of other YA authors, and they all wrote and doodled all over it and told me what they liked best. One friend, the middle grade author Melanie Conklin, even drew a great picture of my leading man X’s tattooed arm. It was the first piece of fan art I ever got, and it really made me glow.

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Exclusive Interview with S.J. Kincaid

The+Diabolic+YA+boxWe’re excited to share this special Q&A with S.J. Kincaid about her book, The Diabolic, and something cool she’s doing with Quarterly:

This quarter’s box is curated by S.J. Kincaid, featuring an exclusive, annotated copy of The Diabolic, an action-packed psychological thriller/fantasy. Also find in the box two more books, handpicked by Kincaid that inspired her as an author, plus awesome bookish goods — perfect for YA book lovers. (Psst: Act fast, subscribe by November 7th to get this box.)

NetGalley Author Interview

The Diabolic

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Pub Date: Nov 1, 2016
Teens & YA
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

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Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing?

I’m originally from Alabama, but I’ve spent most of my life moving between California and Chicago. I’ve written as a hobby ever since I was very young, mostly because my older sister was a writer, and I liked to do everything she did (and I still am! We’re both professional writers now!) Before getting published, though, I moved between several different jobs, and then went to nursing school. I was not a very good nurse.

What is your favorite novel of all time?

It has to be Legacy by Susan Kay. It was a hugely influential novel for me. This is a book I can say literally changed the course of my life, because it ignited a fascination with Tudor history that became the first of many intellectual pursuits born purely out of curiosity, not just because I was assigned research for school.

In your opinion, has there ever been a movie that is better than the book?

I think this could be incredibly subjective, but for me personally, Starship Troopers the movie was more to my taste than the book. They were drastically different, actually, and I saw the movie first. Science fiction purists will probably mock me for this, but I can take it. I just really enjoyed the campiness, and some parody aspects of it. (The good guys in the movie basically could be interpreted as pretty evil fascists vs. the book with a different theme.)

Which three authors would you invite to a dinner party?

Whoa, tricky question. There are so many possibilities. Can I choose dead people? I think I’d invite Howard Zinn who wrote A People’s History of the United States, and then Ayn Rand who wrote Atlas Shrugged, and then just stay totally silent and let them argue and maybe film it and put it on YouTube. Third author I’d invite would be my sister, so she could argue along with me.

How did you come up with this new fascinating world with Diabolics?

The primary thing I had in mind was that this future is set so far from now that the automatization we are already facing (human jobs supplanted by machines) has progressed to a point where the mechanical underpinnings of society are totally self-sustaining and self-perpetuating. That means a few things 1) it’s not critical for people to be able to understand how the machines work, once they totally sustain themselves, and 2) people are relatively extraneous, and unnecessary. Since I wanted an I, Claudius type of story, I envisioned an Empire with these conditions. Power would exist among those who ultimately had control over the machines, and the fact that most people are extraneous and unnecessary would reduce their status immensely. And if the great mass of humanity is deemed ‘Excess’ because they aren’t viewed as important, then it made sense that there’d be no compunctions about creating humans with certain qualities just for the service of ‘real’ people. Those factors, all together, sort of led to the universe of The Diabolic as I imagined it.

If you could visit one fictional world, which would you chose?

Star Trek! Their future is my idea of a utopia. Of course, in that universe, I’d probably spend all my time in the holodeck.

Do you have any advice for young writers?

Read a lot and write a lot! Also: I was a very sensitive person easily hurt by rejection—and yet I overcame that when it comes to writing by trying again and again and again, and failing over and over. My advice is, if you want to do this for a living: get used to bashing your head against the same wall time and again, because everyone gets rejected. A lot. It took seven books for me to sell one, and then several more to sell another. If you grow a thick skin, you will make it.

What was the thought process behind curating your Literary YA Box?

I gave a lot of thought to what might interest the same readers of The Diabolic, yet also prove relevant to the themes of the story. I am so thrilled, also, that I managed to get a card game in there!

Click here to get S.J.’s Literary YA Box, complete with an
exclusive, annotated copy of The Diabolic!

What is your favorite thing that you have received in the mail?

Of all time? It was when I got into the school of my choice. My dad picked me up, handed me a thin envelope and said, “Well, you got a thin letter from [this school I didn’t really care about]… And a thick one from here!” Most delightful mail of my life.

What is your longest running subscription?

Publishers Marketplace. I always vowed before I sold a book that I wasn’t going to spend any money on writing type stuff (conferences, membership to places) until I sold, because I couldn’t yet justify it. I always broke this rule when I had a book about to go on submission. I’d subscribe to PM for a month and look up all the recent sales, editors, etc. Once I finally sold Insignia, I had no reason to end my subscription. It’s not really necessary for me, but I just love checking it every day and seeing what’s coming in the book world.

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NetGalley Author Interview: Katherine Reay

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries—who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. She is the author of three previous novels, and her debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, and winner of two Carol Awards for Best Debut and Best Contemporary.

Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, and tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago. Visit her on line at katherinereay.com, Facebook: katherinereaybooks Twitter: @Katherine_Reay

A Portrait of Emily Price

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Pub Date: November 1, 2016
Women's Fiction, General Fiction
Published by Thomas Nelson - Fiction

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Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix—until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. When Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family, however, is another matter . . .

Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—finds herself in Atlanta, repairing objects damaged in a house fire. As she works to restore the home and dreams of one family, she strives to keep the pieces of her own life in perfect order and secure her own happy ending—a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.

But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to reconnect with his brother and breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccolo. And soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. Upon landing in Rome, she is enchanted with Italy. But instead of allowing the land, culture and people to transform her, Emily imposes her will upon everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.

Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?

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NetGalley Author Interview with Lis Wiehl

In her latest Newsmakers thriller, New York Times bestselling author and Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl weaves a taut and chilling story. The Candidate is packed with political intrigue and media manipulation as the lust for power turns deadly indeed.

The Candidate

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Pub Date: October 4, 2016
Mystery & Thrillers
Published by Thomas Nelson

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How far will a candidate go to become president? Erica Sparks—America’s top-rated cable-news host—is about to find out.

Mike Ortiz is a dynamic war hero favored to win the White House. Standing by his side is his glamorous and adoring wife, Celeste. But something about this seemingly perfect couple troubles Erica. Is Celeste really who she seems? And most importantly, what really happened in that squalid Al-Qaeda prison where Mike Ortiz spent nine months?

But more than the nation’s future is at stake. Erica’s relentless search for the truth puts the life of her preteen daughter Jenny in danger, even as Erica’s own dark past threatens to overtake her.

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NetGalley Author Interview with Ryan Aldred

Ben Cooper was supposed to be on his Pacific honeymoon. Not waking up in a Costa Rican prison cell with no memory of the night before. But surely his friend and lawyer Victoria didn’t need to fly down from Toronto overnight. After all, the police would let him go once he sobered up and paid his fine. Right?

Except for the little matter of a murder. And Ben’s buying a beachside bar from the victim, hours before the man’s death. With foreclosure looming and death threats piling up on the rum-soaked bar, they must turn to the wild idea that got them into this mess. But to survive, they’ll need every skill at their disposal – including those they’d rather forget they have.

Rum Luck

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Pub Date: June 22, 2016
Mystery & Thrillers, Humor
Published by Five Star Publishing

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NetGalley Author Interview

Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend Paige are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.

After an IED leaves Riley an amputee, he plans to put some distance between himself and Paige. But when he returns home, he finds his family has arranged for him to stay with her. As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?

Just a Kiss

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Pub Date: September 06, 2016
Romance
Published by Thomas Nelson

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