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The Order of Oddfish

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Secrets of Story Episode 33: How Do Today’s “Nice” Shows Change The Rules?

October 29, 2021

More great reviews for Dare to Know keep rolling in! The Financial Times put it on their “Best In New Science Fiction, October 2021” list, calling it “an entertainingly mind-bending read.” But it’s not just the big-time newspapers that are getting behind Dare to Know—I’m finding astute and perceptive reviews cropping up on personal blogs too, like when The FanFiAddict Blog wrote, “You get something entirely different to what the blurb promises, but in the best possible way… I won’t spoil anything but those last 60 pages are truly pulse-pounding. Kennedy grabs you and just runs, his sentences become snappy, what should be leaps in logic make perfect sense and my god I loved it. This is spec fic at its finest. If you love a story that starts weird and gets WEIRD, this is for you.” Thank you!

Now folks, you don’t have any excuse, go buy Dare to Know!

In other news, Matt Bird and I have a new episode up of our Secrets Of Story podcast:

What is it about? Well, four years ago, way back in Episode 4, I was was bemoaning how most of the “Golden Age of TV” shows, like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and so on, had a similarly dour worldview: that the world is a relentless place consisting of the dominators and the dominated, that you’re a sucker to place your faith in other people’s better nature, etc. I predicted that the worm would turn, and that soon we would start getting shows that were more hopeful: stories in which people cooperate, and want the best for each other, in which villains can be redeemed, in which there is something in human interaction that is beyond rituals of domination and submission.

Well, I nailed it, didn’t I? Whether it’s Ted Lasso or Schitt’s Creek or Stephen Universe or She-Ra, the cultural mood has certainly shifted. But here’s the problem: most of Matt’s storytelling rules were forged in the smithy of that previous era. Which of those storytelling rules might feel misguided now? And what are some of the characteristics, strengths, and even weaknesses of today’s “nice” shows?

Matt posts about the episode here, and I imagine there might be a discussion there too.

See you later—gotta get ready for Halloween!

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

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