Monday, May 25, 2015

Tuskers II is out!

It's finally here.

I hope everyone likes it.  I really tried to up the ante with this one, as well as the next.  Go to the logical extreme and have fun with it.

At least, I had fun with it!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Master Todd.

Spent four days in Portland for Todd's Master's graduation from the Oregon College of Art and Craft, where he got the MFA Applied Craft + Design Program Award.

A year's worth of socialization in four days.  I will now go into a coma for a week.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Art show people.

Went to an art show last night.  Todd is getting his Masters.  So a real arty crowd.  Great for people watching and completely out of my experience.

Got to be too much at one point. Linda and I were sitting on a bench outside and a couple of women came up and said, "Can we take your picture?  You are the cutest couple here."

"You mean the oldest, squarish couple, don't you?"

So they took a picture and walked off in a swirling of gypsie scarfs and peaked hats.  Heh.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mad Max: everything I should hate.

So went to a movie that had everything I hate.  Revving engines, monster trucks, explosions every few seconds, car chases, overblown spectacle.  Every red flag.

Of course, I loved it.  Going to see it again.

Mad Max: Fury Road.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

My wife the continuity hawk.

Linda read The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders for me.

She liked it, but she always notices anything that doesn't fit, anything which isn't consistent.

Which is good, you know.  There are so many things she could criticize me for, but she usually reserves her comments for when I describe a character wrong, or for a plot hole, or anything that doesn't ring true.

I've now written enough books that I've dedicated them all to just about every member of the family, as well as significant friends.  So now what?

Well, I could just as easily dedicate every book to Linda.  She is incredibly supportive and helpful.  For those who don't know, we actually met in a writer's group 33 years ago.  So she knew what she was getting...

I hear so many stories of spouse's who don't understand the time-sink, but Linda totally gets it.  In fact, she does the same thing, disappearing into her room for days at a time.

I was very serious about my writing back when we met, but with a new family, I had to compromise and get some real work, which turned out to be owning a bookstore.  I thought I'd get back to writing one of these days, but 30 years went by...

Linda actually took up serious writing again before me.  She's working on the third book of her series, after being waylaid by changes at the Bookmark.  I'm hoping that she's back on track and that she'll finish her trilogy.  She has a wonderful imagination and empathy for her characters, and I think it gives her joy.  When she finishes, we'll get some physical copies to sell at our stores.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Middle of the road music.

Without trying, we've accumulated over 500 music CD's at the Bookmark, which we sell for 5.00 each. Every once in a while, I check them out.

So I'm not going to be judgmental here, everyone has their own taste.  But the selection is the most middle of the road pop you can imagine.  Susan Boyle, Kenny G, Indigo Girls, and on and on.  Not one of them I need to have.

I found an REM album yesterday, a greatest hits Elton John, a Bruce Hornsby, a Willie Nelson standards album, and two Who albums.  (I think the Who CD's where the only ones that rocked in the entire collection, unless you believe Air Supply rocks.)

Anyway, I found it fascinating.  It goes to show, if you will, that our clientele at the Bookmark isn't looking for edgy stuff, apparently.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

To coin a phrase: 'Uncanny Mountain.'

I've noticed in several reviews of Tuskers there is a criticism that a Wild Pig Apocalypse wasn't believable. 

At first, this criticism made no sense to me. So hyperintelligent pigs on the rampage is less believable than, what?  Vampires, werewolves, or zombies?

Not to mention, books like Watership Down or Duncton Wood.  I mean, would you write a review that said: "Intelligent bunnies?  How far fetched."

So why did this book face this criticism?

I think I've kind of figured it out.

There's a theory in robotics, and it applies to animation as well, called "The Uncanny Valley." Here's the Wikipedia definition:

"The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of aesthetics which holds that when features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some observers. The "valley" refers to the dip in a graph of the comfort level of beings as subjects move toward a healthy, natural likeness described in a function of a subject's aesthetic acceptability."

So we can give life and believability to stick figures, but have a harder time accepting figures that look almost like humans.  We can accept Invader Zim easier than Polar Express. 

We just notice what is wrong more...or if you will, what is far fetched.

So Charlotte's Web can be inhabited by talking pigs and spiders but it's understood that it is fantasy, it's a fable.

In other words, in a totally paradoxical way, you can accept Wilbur as real because you understand he isn't real.

But even try to explain why there are such things as "hyper-intelligent pigs" and suddenly the believability bar is raised.  Letting The Force be vague is preferable than going into Mitochondrial DNA.

I'm going to call this Uncanny Mountain....

I've written Tuskers and The Vampire Evolution Trilogy and The Virginia Reed Adventures as realistically as I know how.  I tried to have 'real' people interacting with make-believe creatures -- and by so doing, I've probably made things more difficult for myself. 

Personally, (of course) I think it works to the benefit of the books, but I realize I am asking people to set aside their demand that things be realistic in every way.  This is Dark Fantasy I'm writing.  Horror.  I just assume that if the readers are picking up a speculative genre, they've already shown their willingness to suspend disbelief.

 I've just tried to set it in the real world.  By doing so, I've created a Uncanny Mountain.