order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish


Odd-Fish Art: Two Views of Jo Hazelwood


The Odd-Fish art show on April 17 is fast approaching, and the art has been piling up! Today I want to honor two different takes on our heroine Jo Hazelwood.

The portrait above is by Britnee Berman, who goes by the name Slimyfrogz on DeviantArt. It’s a knockout! I appreciate how Britnee’s packed it with symbolic heft—Jo’s mask, hood, and finger-to-the-lips indicating her secret life, the ingenious candlestick that is a fish vomiting out a building (I especially love that), the fish ring, the subtle fish barrette. The atmosphere of hushed secrecy is cunningly reinforced by the muted blues and grays. It’s beautiful. Thanks, Britnee!

Here’s another view of Jo, by collage artist Carol Mollica, whose work I’ve shared on the blog before:


I like the goth look of Jo here—worthy of a Tim Burton character!—and how Carol runs the gold thread alongside the prophecy about being “the bride of the apocalypse” and Ian lurking in the margin. The Chinese (Japanese? Eldritch City?) coins are a nice touch as well. Carol’s got a totally unique collage style of arranging illustration, text, and emblems, and it’s a very welcome addition to the show! You can visit her blog “Artist In Progress” here.

A few more links: I wrote an essay for the Guide to Literary Agents about the Odd-Fish fan art show about collaborating with readers. And here I do an audio interview with Nancy Carpentier Brown of the American Chesterton Society. I’m fascinated by G.K. Chesterton’s work (especially The Man Who Was Thursday and The Club of Queer Trades, so how could I resist the invitation? (The interview itself is about 20 minutes in.)

Odd-Fish Art: Guns and Dolls!


Whoa! Imagine my delighted shock when I got this entry for April 17’s Order of Odd-Fish art show spectacular: the Apology Gun from Sir Festus’ collection of ludicrous weaponry!

The gun is four and a half feet long. I love the bristling spikes, the flared end, the threatening ferocity of it!

I had the honor of meeting the artist Amanda Baylie (a.k.a. Hollywood Horrorz) at a recent high school visit. She made the gun purposely beat up and aged looking (spot welds, rusted metal, etc.), since the weapon has been handed down through generations of squires. Not visible in this photo is the detail she built onto the top of the gunstock: a switch for setting the intent of the apology from “sincere” to “sarcastic”. Brilliant!

Amanda says that future models of the “Apology Gun of Epic-ness” might include an actual way to fire apologies. OH YES PLEASE DO THIS. Thank you, Amanda, for an amazing piece!

Going from totally fierce to totally cute, here are two beautiful chibi dolls of Jo by the impressively talented Kenta-Rin of DeviantArt. First, Jo in her waitress uniform from the Dust Creek Cafe:


And Jo in costume armor as Aznath, the Silver Kitten of Deceit. Hold on to your hats:


These are beautiful, beautiful! I love the idea of chibi-fying characters; especially how the Aznath Jo is both cute AND fierce! (And is that wind-blown hair?)

That elaborate silver kitten armor rocks my socks—the paw gauntlets, the beaded chain mail and helmet, the silver crisscross mesh, the chest plate, the lance—it’s really a triumph. Kenta-Rin wrote, “This is the most complicated doll I have ever done.” Thank you, Kenta-Rin, for an amazing job!

The waitress Jo has this innocent look to her that’s a great contrast to the armored Jo. I like the idea of two dolls of the same character in different clothes. It gives a great sense of how Jo has changed throughout the story.

I’m table-poundingly proud to have three-dimensional art like these dolls and the Apology Gun for the art show. The response I’ve received from so many artists has been beyond any reasonable expectation. Thank you—stay tuned for more Odd-Fish art to come.

Dome of Doom at 826CHI

826CHI is a great nonprofit organization that provides free tutoring, workshops, and creative programs for students from 6-18 years old. It’s part of Dave Eggers’ empire of similar programs in New York, San Francisco, Michigan, Seattle and Boston. Eggers, of course, is the whirlwind writer / impresario behind A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, McSweeneys, the Where the Wild Things Are movie, The Believer magazine . . . really, too many projects to count.

The front of 826CHI is disguised as “The Boring Store,” a kind of ersatz emporium for spy equipment. A clever facade, for it’s in back where the real action happens: creative writing workshops. When Mara O’Brien gave me a chance to do a Dome of Doom writing workshop at 826CHI in February, I happily accepted!

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First I read out the scene from The Order of Odd-Fish in which Jo and Fiona, as part of a dueling ritual, dress in costume armor as gods from the Eldritch City pantheon and exchange bombastic threats and insults before fighting.

Then the students invented their own Eldritch City gods, rummaged through chests of costumes to put together costumes to look their their god, and wrote their own baroque, ludicrous Eldritch City-style insults.

We then put on our own “Dome of Doom” style tournament in which the students paired off, announced the name of their god, exchanged their threats, and then dance-fought each other to insane fighting music!

I’ve done this exercise at many other schools and libraries, but I never thought to videotape it. Special thanks to fellow Brother Delacorte Adam Selzer, who kindly helped out with the video and interviewing of the fighters! Adam’s latest of many, many books is the paranormal-romance satire I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It, which I’m in the middle of reading now, and apparently caused a bidding war for Turkish rights! Thanks also to Julia Brenner and Julia Lobo for assisting and for jumping into the ring.

And, of course, thanks to all the brilliant fighting gods of 826CHI who rose to the challenge! Check out the video above, especially if you like to watch insane costumed gods insult each other and then battle-dance to the likes of Deerhoof, Hot Snakes, Crystal Castles, Polysics, Igor Stravinsky, and Bollywood soundtracks.