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The Order of Oddfish


Dare to Know with Keir Graff at Exile In Bookville

October 21, 2021

When it comes to science fiction, the Brits know what’s up! This is one of my biggest reviews yet: the Times Saturday Review dubbed Dare to Know as the “Book of the Month” of their Best New Science Fiction for October 2021, saying it is “worth the cover price for sheer insolence alone… Essential reading for the gathering dark.” Insolence! Yes!!

Last night Chicago’s Exile in Bookville bookstore hosted a hybrid live/streaming event in which fellow author and friend Keir Graff and I discussed Dare to Know. It’s a beautiful bookstore in the Fine Arts building, right on Michigan Avenue. A number of people actually showed up for the event—even in a pandemic!—and many more folks watched the stream. I’m grateful! Luckily we recorded it, and you can watch it above.

It’s a really good conversation—Keir is a skillful and nimble interviewer. I’ve known him and admired his writing since for years. We’ve also built up a rapport over time, since we’ve co-hosted countless 90-Second Newbery Film Festival screenings together.

Thanks to Keir, and thanks to everyone who came and watched! Thanks especially to the owners of Exile in Bookville, Javier Ramirez and Kristin Gilbert, for putting on this event. It really was a magical night—at one point you can see, out the window behind me and Keir, surprise fireworks exploding in the sky. (Oooh, and watch all the way to the end, Keir and I have something special planned.)

Dare to Know Is Everywhere Now!

October 8, 2021

Lots of events coming up! On October 20, Keir Graff will interview me for the Authors On Tap series at Chicago’s Exile in Bookville bookstore. On November 9, I’m one of the three featured speakers at the Assistance League Chicagoland West’s 25th Annual Books & Brunch. On November 17, I’m doing a virtual event for Off The Beaten Path Bookstore in Lakewood, NY. And on November 18, I’m doing a virtual event for the Lincolnwood Public Library in Lincolnwood, IL. Complete events here.

I really loved being on the Largely The Truth podcast! Host Brennan Storr (of the popular Ghost Story Guys podcast) started it to have conversations about “life, the universe, and everything, with artists, musicians, activists, and anyone else he happens to meet along the way.” Brennan has a broadcasting voice to die for, and he’s an insightful and astute interviewer. Do give our episode a listen—we talk not only about Dare to Know, but also videogame urban legends, the ancient civilization of Cahokia, modern loneliness, and much more!

Speaking of great voices: I finally got a chance to listen to the audiobook of Dare to Know, and it’s incredible. Bradford Hastings did the voice work, and he really makes the story come alive. He absolutely sells the sometimes-exasperating narrator, making him much more appealing than on the page. Bradford also brings out the humor of some passages with a standup comedian’s timing, and nails the more dramatic parts too. I couldn’t be happier about his performance. Bravo, Bradford!

The good reviews for Dare to Know continue to roll in: The New York Journal of Books praised it as a “genre-bending thriller… Good pacing and clever plotting keep the pages turning.”

Geek Dad says it’s “like reading a kaleidoscope… mind-bending… a book well worth reading.”

And the Guam Daily Post challenges you to “imagine what would happen if Chuck Palahniuk, Enrico Fermi, and the Brothers Grimm got together to raise a child… This novel is weird, in a terrifyingly techy, could-be-so, where’s-this-going? kind of way… Sci-fi, snark-horror and futuristic thriller fans will love it.” I’m big in Guam!!

I love independent bookstores, so I was particularly excited and honored when Dare to Know was voted onto the September Indie Next Picks list. I like it especially when booksellers take pictures of themselves with the book. Thank you! Keep ’em coming!

Kat at Books Inc. in Oakland, CA

Sylvie and David at Content Books in Northfield, MN

Zach at McLean & Eakin in Petoskey, MI

Secrets of Story Episode 32: How Should You Give (And Receive) Notes?

September 24, 2021

All right, before we get into the podcast, a quick update on how it’s going with my just-released book Dare to Know.

The reviews are good! The Southern Bookseller Review praised it as “a personal and riveting horror story . . . frightening and smart.” SFBook Reviews says it is “perfect for science fiction readers who like their concepts intelligent and complex, but also like to have characters with developed personalities.” And SF2 Concatenation calls it “a mind-twister reminiscent of Philip K. Dick.” Philip K. Dick?! I’ll take it!

You can read all the reviews here. It’s available for sale everywhere, but of course I encourage you to buy Dare to Know from your local independent bookstore if possible.

On to the podcast! In this episode, Matt and I talk about how to give “notes” on someone else’s writing (that is, helpful criticism) graciously and effectively; and how to accept those “notes,” even if they make you feel weird:

The uncomfortable issue simmering in the background of this conversation is the fact that Matt and I have, as Matt admits in his blog post about this episode, “a contentious history of giving (or not giving) feedback to each other, and we reveal some big philosophical differences on the fraught topic of how to give and receive notes.” It’s a good episode!

More news: Devi Bhaduri interviewed me for the Chicago Review of Books. Read it to find out about my “Elf Theory” of friendship, and how Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard stole the girlfriend (and life savings) of one of the people who inspired Dare to Know.

We also had an outdoor book release party at the Book Cellar bookstore in Chicago:

I also got to speak on a panel discussion at the Printers Row Lit Fest with old friend Dan Kraus (The Living Dead) and make new author friends such as Stephen Graham Jones (My Heart Is a Chainsaw), Meredith Westgate (The Shimmering State), and Dan Chaon (Ill Will). Here we are after the panel:

Later on that night, Betsy Bird—wife of Matt, and author of the upcoming Long Road to the Circus—texted me to meet her at a bar, where she happened to be hanging out with . . . Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket of A Series of Unfortunate Events! And so we all hung out and drank and talked for a few hours. I was walking with gods!

Some of you might remember that I have a history with Daniel Handler. At the Chicago Humanities Festival, where I appeared with him back in 2013, I revealed Daniel Handler’s true origin: that he is in fact a SENTIENT TUMOR, a mischievous polyp that had been discovered growing out of my head when I was born. Indeed Daniel Handler and I spent a happy childhood together, a boy and his tumor, but Daniel Handler was surgically excised from my head when I had to “grow up”—if you call losing your best friend “growing up”! You can read the whole sordid story here, and gape at photographic evidence like these:

Again, you can find the whole story here.

And by all means, get yourself a copy of Dare to Know!

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