order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish

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New art, and Odd-Fish paperback is out!

February 9, 2010

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Jaw drops to floor.

Brain explodes with awe.

Eyes joyfully melt.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hailey McLaughlin’s contribution to the Order of Odd-Fish art show: a double triptych of Lily Larouche, Colonel Korsakov, and Commissioner Olvershaw, both in their prime and in their old age. WHAT A DOOZY!

It’s accompanied by dialogue between the characters, also by Hailey:


“Oh the good old days! I remember when I took down a Segregating Cyanide Serpent with nothing but a half broken biscuit sword and a Christmas cactus!”

“Ah yes, I heard about that when I first came to the city. I had just arrived, you know. I was so fortunate to have been rescued by the eel-people, but if worse had come to worse, I knew my digestion would have gotten me through!”

“YOU TWO ARE THE MOST COCKAMAMIE CADS I’D EVER HAD THE UNFORTUNATE COMPANY TO SHARE OZONE WITH! WHEN YOU WERE STILL POOPIN’ IN YOUR HUGGIES I WAS OUT SHANKING THE FIENDS OF THE UNIVERSE WITH NOTHING BUT MY THUMB! I BET YOU THINK YOU’RE SO CLEVER TO HAVE ALL YOUR LIMBS BUT ONE DAY YOU’LL WAKE UP AND ME AND MY THUMB WILL BE THERE WITH BELLS ON! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME!?!?!!”

When this art first arrived in my email, I was so blown away I couldn’t write back at first—I had to get up and walk around the room, my heart beating in excitement, my eyes twirling.

I can’t decide what I like best: the vivacious Audrey Hepburn feel of young Lily Larouche, the dashing figure Korsakov cuts as a young KGB agent, or the terrifying decrepitude of Olvershaw as he reaches out to demolish you with his thumb (and if you zoom in close enough to the hi-res version, you can even see his crinkly nose hairs!). A visual feast!

Choice details: Korsakov’s teeny-tiny teacup, Olvershaw’s thumb fluttering on the edge of a stringlike arm, and the nonplussed cockroach assistant. I could go on and on. It makes me so happy. Well done, Hailey! I’m honored and ecstatic.

Remember, everyone’s invited to contribute to the Odd-Fish fan art show, which opens the weekend of April 17. Deadline is March 15!

Odd-Fish PB

The good news doesn’t stop there. Today is the release day for the paperback of The Order of Odd-Fish, with this new cover by Paul Hornschemeier!

I’ve mentioned Paul before on the blog. What I haven’t yet shared is that he designed the brilliant invitation for Heather’s and my wedding. It’s a map of our relationship, mashing together all the places Heather and I have lived and traveled into one vast Pangaea. The name of this land is a combination of our names, James Kennedy and Heather Norborg: NOREDY. Click for a closer view:

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Personal favorite detail: that distance is measured in “Kenneborgs.” I’m lucky to know Paul, and I’m thrilled to have his cover for the paperback.

I’m having a paperback release event at 57th Street books in Hyde Park this Thursday (2/11). I’ll also be reading at Claire Zulkey’s Funny Ha Ha series at the Hideout tonight (Tuesday, 2/9) with stand-up comedian Cameron Esposito, author Kate Harding, writer Fred Sasaki, writer Robbie Q. Telfer, and filmmaker Steve Delahoyde. And of course, Claire Zulkey herself. If you’re in Chicago, swing on by!

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It was a busy weekend. On Friday I went to see Newbery award-winning Rebecca Stead (and her editor Wendy Lamb) speak at 57th Street Books. I thought Rebecca’s book When You Reach Me was brilliant in every way; I’m shocked something this quirky and unclassifiable snagged the Newbery. 1970s lower middle class New York City coming-of-age story AND a time travel mind-blower? Playful appropriation of A Wrinkle in Time AND game show fairy tale? Laser-accurate diagnosis of junior high school friendships AND page-turning mystery? All this in about 200 pages? And she makes it all look easy? YEP.

To my startled pleasure, Rebecca knew about me—Betsy Bird of the indispensable Fuse #8 blog had recommended Rebecca read my cri de coeur against the secret bloodthirsty rituals of the American Library Association, which she enjoyed. It’s not every day your writing is complimented by a Newbery award winner. What an honor!

During the Q&A, Rebecca and Wendy mentioned the various ways Rebecca wove When You Reach Me closer together with A Wrinkle In Time—in a way When You Reach Me is a kind of sly rewriting of Madeleine L’Engle’s book. Anyway, along those lines, I mentioned how clever I thought it was when, after Sal broke off his friendship with Miranda, he started playing basketball alone, and Miranda could hear his basketball constantly bouncing. This immediately brought to my mind the creepy basketball-bouncing boys on Camazotz in Wrinkle. It was, I thought, a deft parallel.

I got halfway through saying this and then stopped. Both Rebecca and Wendy were staring at me in surprise. That detail, which I had thought was a masterstroke of subtle counterpoint, was completely unintentional—it hadn’t occurred to Rebecca or her editor until that moment! Rebecca shared other stories of unintentional parallels that were spotted by readers. It was a fascinating talk.

Saturday, fellow Brother Delacorte and author of paranormal romance spoof I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It Adam Selzer helped me with a Dome of Doom writing workshop at 826CHI. More about that later—this post is already too long, and Adam filmed the whole thing. Video coming soon!