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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!