order of oddfish cover order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish

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DARE TO KNOW is out at last!

September 14, 2021

The day of reckoning is here! My adult speculative thriller Dare to Know has finally been unleashed upon the world.

Is it any good? According to reviews, yes! The Guardian named it in its “Best Recent Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction” roundup, calling it “a fascinating, compulsively readable thriller.” SFX Magazine praised it as “audaciously clever and well written… [a] superb piece of storytelling: vivid, thought provoking and unsettling. After you finish it you’ll want to go back to the start and read it again.” Booklist says it “will keep readers on the edge of their seats wanting to find out the next piece of the puzzle.” And so on, and so on!

Are you in Chicago? Please join me tonight at the Book Cellar (4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave) at 7 pm. We’re doing a relaxed outdoors book release and signing thing. A chance to hang out! (Want a signed, personalized copy of Dare to Know? The Book Cellar can hook you up.)

I know, I know: it’s been a long time since my first book The Order of Odd-Fish came out. So much else has happened in the meantime: my wife and I had two daughters, I started the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, empires have risen and fallen. But I’m so thrilled to be back to writing and publishing books.

There are so many people for me to thank, but I don’t think I did it any better than in the acknowledgements section of the Dare to Know, so I’m going to reprint it below, with some amendments. THANK YOU EVERYONE for accompanying me on this weird journey. I promise it won’t be a decade before my third book!

Second chances are real! A few years ago, I was on the ropes. A book deal went south, I lost my old agent, and my confidence collapsed—though I was loath to admit it. Everlasting gratitude to my current agent John Cusick for picking me up, dusting me off, and putting me on the right track. John, your enthusiasm and wise guidance have turned everything around for me. Special thanks to Dana Spector at CAA for extending my good fortune.

Tremendous thanks to my editor Jhanteigh Kupihea and everyone at Quirk Books for taking a risk on this book. Jhanteigh, you have energized my words beyond anything I could have done on my own. I have learned so much from your editing. Jane Morley, your copyediting and proofreading have improved my prose and saved me from many embarrassing errors. Ryan Hayes, the cover you designed is perfect: something I never could’ve imagined, but exactly what I was hoping for. Nicole De Jackmo, Jennifer Murphy, and Chrstina Tatulli, your powers of marketing and publicity have been awesome to behold. I am lucky to work with such a dedicated team of pros. (Edited to add: Jamie-Lee Nardone of Black Crow and Gabrielle Bujak too, you have also been fantastic publicists! But I didn’t know you yet when the Acknowledgements went to press!)

I am also fortunate to have many smart friends and family who read early versions of this manuscript and helped with their advice, encouragement, and support. These include Christy Allen, Kate Babka, Matt Bird, Joe Cannon, Noah Cruikshank, John Fecile, Joe Fusion, Rob Goodwin, Keir Graff, St. John Karp, Rob Knowles, Sam Malissa, Chris Norborg, Chris Norborg Sr., Heather Norborg, Jennifer Norborg, Ellen Palmer, Alice Setrini, Abi St. John, Laura St. John, Freya Trefonides, Theo Trefonides, and Brandon Will. If I’m forgetting anyone, I apologize! Thanks particularly to April Osborn of MIRA Books for helpful guidance.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to meet many wonderful librarians who have been generous in their assistance and friendship. There are too many to name here, but I must particularly thank my friends Eti Berland and Betsy Bird.

I am indebted to the archeologists and scholars who have brought to light the story of the Native American city of Cahokia. I was especially inspired by Timothy Pauketat’s 2009 book Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi and the more recent work concerning Mound 72 done under the direction of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey by Thomas Emerson, Kristin Hedman, Eve Hargrave, Dawn Cobb, and Andrew Thompson. Of course, the fantastical extrapolations in this book are my own.

I have had many great teachers and professors in my life, but the ones who most directly influenced this book are James Group, J.T. Cushing, and J.B. Kennedy.

At last, I will always be grateful to my mother Priscilla Kennedy who never stopped encouraging me, and to my father James Kennedy who showed me how never to lose faith or quit. I love you both.

Finally, my inexpressible love and gratitude to my wife Heather Norborg. Without your love, support, and constancy, there would be no book. I am so happy to share my life with you and our daughters Lucy and Ingrid, who have made my life a thousand times richer than I could have imagined.