order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish

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Odd-Fish Art From My Teaching Gig

Check out this beautifully detailed Odd-Fish ring fan art I received the other day! What? Where did it come from, you ask?

Friends of the Internet, I’ve been keeping a secret from you. For the past two weeks I’ve been teaching a class on Science Fiction and Fantasy at Northwestern University!

It’s a three-week course. This week is my last week. It’s for Northwestern University’s Center For Talent Development, a program for gifted students (the CTD first crossed my radar when my protegee Freya participated a couple years back).

My class is fifteen seventh and eighth graders, most of whom are living on-campus for the three weeks. It’s been a blast so far, although grueling―it’s 8:30am-2:45pm, Monday through Friday, for fifteen days. I realize that real teachers do this all the time, but I haven’t taught in years, so it takes some getting used to.

Still, I love the students. Why do I love them? Because these are my people. One of them wears a black cape to class every day. Another has a collection of hissing cockroaches at home and knows string theory. And how about the sweet, quiet girl who on the first day told us all about her extensive knife collection? Did I mention they can also write like angels?

Due to the program’s reasonable privacy rules, I haven’t really been able to talk about the class, or share pictures. Suffice it to say that this class is turning out to be the highlight of my summer!

Last week, I spoke to a joint class of my group and another creative writing class. The other creative writing class had read The Order of Odd-Fish, but most of my class hadn’t. (By design. It would be unforgivably Gilderoy Lockhart of me to assign Odd-Fish as required reading. And I want to be Remus Lupin. Except for getting killed part. Wait, doesn’t Lockhart end up in the insane asylum? Maybe, deep down, I’m really just Slughorn. That sounds about right.)

Anyway, I received some great Odd-Fish fan art from the other class. Look at that amazing Odd-Fish ring above, by Karen G.! It’s gorgeous! But that’s not all:

Yup, it’s the hedgehog with a gun from the costume party in the first chapter! Great job by Melinda L.!

And here’s the washing machine in which the infant Jo was found at the ruby palace, by Anna M. I particularly like that the “wash mode” is set to “dangerous baby”!

Finally, we have a model of the Odd-Fish lodge from Trize, and a picture of Fiona Fuorlini. Great art from everyone, and very much appreciated!

I’ll be back in reasonable blogging form in a week or so, once I can catch my breath from this class. It’s a thrill, but it’s exhausting!

DOME OF DOOM this Friday in Wicker Park!



This FRIDAY, July 29th, join me, theatrical spectacle rabble-rousers Collaboraction, and circus punk rock marching band Environmental Encroachment at the DOME OF DOOM at the “Polish Triangle” in Wicker Park in Chicago! That’s the intersection of Division, Milwaukee and Ashland. We’ll be there from 5-7 pm.

It’s part of Out of Site Chicago, Wicker Park/Bucktown SSA #33 and Walkabout Theatre Company’s series of unexpected performances in unexpected places.

Wait, what is the Dome of Doom? It’s a real-life recreation of the scene in The Order of Odd-Fish in which knights don costume armor and fight in a gladiatorial arena!

We will supply the geodesic Dome and the costumes (although you’re invited to come in your own costume!). Competitors―that is, anyone who walks by and wants to join in―put on a costume and dance-battle each other to the delight of judges and a raucous crowd of spectators.

You’ve got 60 seconds to show off your best moves and take your opponent down, all to the marching-band music of Environmental Encroachment. All ages! (Don’t have a costume? We’ll have plenty on hand for you to use.)

TWO DANCERS ENTER. ONE DANCER LEAVES!

Collaboraction, Environmental Encroachment, and I have been throwing these Dome of Doom dance parties since last spring, when it was the centerpiece of the Order of Odd-Fish fan art gallery show..

Since then, we’ve done it in Logan Square (that’s the video above) and in the Loop next to the Harold Washington library.

It’s always ludicrous fun. And I used to live in Wicker Park, so this will be a kind of homecoming for me.

Still confused about the Dome of Doom? The video below, made to explain the original dance-fighting costume party, will demonstrate to you what we mean:



See you Friday, I hope!

Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge!

It’s the German translation of The Order of Odd-Fish! It will be called Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge and it will be available October 11, 2011. It looks like Random House Germany used Paul Hornschemeier’s paperback cover with the background color tweaked. Details on Random House’s website here.

It’s exciting for me—my first work in translation! I’ve studied Spanish and French, and I used to get by pretty well in Japanese, but I am embarrassed to say that I have zero ability in German. It will be a strange experience to have written a book that I cannot read.

In fact, I put the title through Google translate and found that “Sonderlinge” means “nerd.” So in Germany, my book is The Order of Odd Nerds. Fair enough!

Speaking of book covers:

As a birthday gift, my protegee Freya made a special limited edition of Odd-Fish. This is her cover for it. I love the multicolored apologies whizzing out of the Apology Gun, the flaming double-sided lances, and how the fish is vomiting out the title! Along the bottom are Jo, Aunt Lily, Colonel Korsakov, Ian, Nora, and the Belgian Prankster. This is possibly my favorite Odd-Fish thing Freya has done, next to her Lily Larouche rap.

Yesterday I shot a new 90-Second Newbery film for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! with Freya and her friends at CAST, her school theater group (including the very funny Erin McCammond-Watts). Freya and Erin were in the first 90-Second Newbery film of A Wrinkle in Time (Freya played Meg Murry and Erin played Mrs. Whatsit). Look for it soon!

While we’re on the topic of different versions of Odd-Fish, here’s another exciting project that I hope comes to fruition. High school student Toby Soundara got in touch with me about creating a graphic novel adaptation of Odd-Fish. I said this would be a great idea, and that I would post the chapters on my blog as he completed them. I don’t know when the first chapter is coming, but here are some of his concept drawings, of Colonel Korsakov and Sefino:

These are marvelous, and make me excited for Toby’s graphic novel adaptation! Go to it, Toby! I can’t wait to see the first chapter.