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Supporting the Mead-Hall

July 15th, 2013

KGB Sign

The fantasy genre first found its voice in the mead halls, gathering places where traveling scops told tales of heroes, monsters, and adventures in distant lands.

Today, the tradition of live storytelling continues every fourth Wednesday when fantastic fiction lovers gather for Fantastic Fiction at the KGB Bar, at 85 East Fourth Street in New York City.

It’s a terrific series, and one worth supporting.

Matt and EllenLast month, hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel launched a Kickstarter campaign to underwrite the continuation of the series, and today, with eleven days left, the campaign has passed the $5000 mark – underwriting the continuation of Fantastic Fiction at the KGB for the next three years. It’s an impressive accomplishment, but Ellen and Matt would love to raise $7000 by the campaign’s end. That amount will fund the program’s next four years while also covering the cut taken by Kickstarter and Amazon for helping run the campaign.

ScopIf you love good fiction, and if you believe as I do that the art of live storytelling still has a place in today’s world, please take a moment to support this remarkable series. Pledges can be as low as $1, and some amazing prizes start at just the $15 level. But hurry. The campaign ends on July 26.

For more information, please click here to see the campaign’s press release. Or, if I’ve already convinced you, simply click here and go straight to the KGB Kickstarter page. At both links, you can learn more about the future of Fantastic Fiction at the KGB and peruse some of the amazing gifts that can be yours for supporting its continuation.

But of course the real reward will be in knowing that you played your part in supporting live storytelling in the 21st century.

The Beowulf poet would be proud.

Image Credits:

Screen cap of the KGB Sign from the Fantastic Fiction at KGB Fundraiser video.

Fantastic Fiction hosts Matthew Kressel and Ellen Datlow from the Fantastic Fiction at the KGB Fundraiser page.

“Beowulf replies haughtily to Unferth” by John Henry F. Bacon (1910).

Report from the KGB

June 23rd, 2013

KGB SignFrom the outside it looks like a redbrick townhouse, with only a small sign above the door to let us know we’ve arrived at the KGB Bar – the place that both New York Magazine and the Village Voice have named the best literary venue in New York.

The doors are likewise unremarkable, opening to a flight of stairs that leads to a dim room decorated with Soviet art. For a moment I feel as if I have arrived back in Leningrad, or possibly the upstairs gallery of the illegal artist in my story “Smuggling the Dead.”

MM DeVoe Nicholas Kaufmann Alexa AntopolEllen Datlow, one of our hosts for the evening, is already there. She shows us to our seats, and within minutes people start arriving. I recognize some of them. There’s Nicholas Kaufmann, M. M. De Voe, Rick Bowes, Linda Addison, Gordon Linzner of Space and Time Magazine (editor emeritus), Vaughne Hansen of the Virginia Kidd Agency, and Will and Meesh Horner of Fantasist Enterprises. It’s going to be a fun evening.

Tom Connair and Heather SedlakSome newer writers are also settling in, among them are Heather Sedlak and Tom Connair, MFA candidates from the graduate writing program at Seton Hill University; Andrew Alford, who’s made sales to Space and Time and Midnight Echo; and Nicholas Schwartz, a terrific young filmmaker who has recently option my story “Shooting Evil” for adaptation as a short film. Others are there as well. Too many to mention. Soon, the room is overflowing.

Matthew KresselSarah Langan is also there, of course. We’re sharing the bill. She’ll be reading an excerpt from her forthcoming novel. I’ve selected three stories from Visions. Between the two of us, we have what seems a nice mix planned for the evening.

Cohost Matthew Kressel kicks things off with the announcement of a Kickstarter campaign to help underwrite the continuation of the series. He also shares a list of upcoming readers, including Libba Bray, Lucius Shepard, James Patrick Kelley, and Thomas F. Monteleone. Listening to the list, I’m thinking I’ve got to move to New York so I can become a KGB regular.

Lawrence C Connolly Reading at KGBThen Matthew introduces me, and I’m on. The stories I’ve selected are “Step on a Crack,” “Prime Time!” and “Echoes.” I plan to deliver each from memory, a mode of presentation that harkens back to the roots of storytelling. Think Homer or the Beowulf poet, traveling scops who carried their works in their heads and presented their texts live without reliance on the printed page. I’ve blogged about this technique elsewhere, particularly in Scop 101.

The stories are a bit like songs. They’re longer, of course. And they don’t employ rhyme. But each has a vocal rhythm that facilitates memorization. The audience is wonderfully receptive, and the performance goes well.Sarah Langan at KGB

After a break, during which Will Horner does brisk business at the Fantasist book display, Ellen introduces Sarah – the three-time Bram Stoker winner whom the New York Times has referred to as one of “Shelley’s Daughters,” a strong writer of contemporary horror who carries on the groundbreaking work started by Mary Shelley.

Sarah reads the first chapter from The Clinic, and it’s clear from the delivery that she has another Stoker contender in the works.

The reading leaves us all eager for the book’s release.

will meesh heather3After the readings, about 20 of us head out to dinner at the Grand Sichuan Restaurant in St. Mark’s Place, after which Ginny and I make our way back to our Midtown digs. Special thanks goes out to our New York friend for getting us through the subway turnstiles and showing us the way. We never would have made it without them!

Our original plans were to stay in the city one more day, but a gig at another nightspot – Riley’s Pour House in Pittsburgh – sends us packing in the morning. Still, I’m amazed at all we were able to fit into our short stay.

VortexThere’s lots more to tell, including an account of my visit to GQ for lunch with former Twilingt Zone editor T.E.D. Klein. I’ll try to get to some of it in a follow up post. Look for it soon.

I’d also like to share the preliminary cover art for my forthcoming novel Vortex: Book Three of the Veins Cycle. If you were at the KGB and stopped by the book display after my reading, you got an advance look at what artist Rhonda Libby has planned for the conclusion of the series. If you didn’t, I’m going to keep you in suspense a little longer. The art warrants a blog post of its own.

In the meantime, keep reading. And, as always – rock on!

Image Credits:

Screen cap of the KGB Sign is from the Fantastic Fiction at KGB Fundraiser video.

Photos of  Milda De Voe, Nicholas Kaufmann, and Alexa Antopol;  Tom Connair and Heather Sedlak; Matthew Kressel; Lawrence C. Connolly; and Sarah Langan are © Ellen Datlow.

Photo of Meesh Horner, Will Horner, and Heather Sedlak is © Lawrence C. Connolly.

Fantastic Fiction at the KGB

June 16th, 2013

KGB“Admission is free, drinks are cheap and strong, and the level of excellence is such that KGB has been named best literary venue in New York City by New York Magazine, the Village Voice, and everyone else who bestows these awards of recognition.”

That description is right from the source, Denis Woyochuk, co-founder and president of the KGB Bar in New York’s East Village, where I’ll be reading this week as part of the Fantastic Fiction Series hosted by Matthew Kressel and Ellen Datlow.

Sharing the bill will be Sarah Langan, three-time sarahlwinner of the Bram Stoker Award and one of my favorite writers.   As Tim Pratt put it in Locus a few years back: “Sarah Langan is one of the bright new hopes of horror– an intelligent, literary, ambitious author capable of scaring the ever-loving crap out of her readers.” It’s going to be a fun evening.

Sarah Langan’s novels include The Keeper (2006), The Missing (2007), and Audrey’s Door (2009). At the KGB, she plans to read from The Clinic, a work in progress.

VortexI’m planning on reading some stand-alone selections from Voices, all tied together with an overarching vignette.  In addition, I’m planning on unveiling (with the help of Will and Meesh Horner of Fantasist Enterprises) the preliminary cover art for my next book, Vortex: Book Three of the Veins Cycle.

The art is by Rhonda Libbey, and it’s jaw-dropping. Rhonda will also be doing the interior illustrations for Vortex, and if you’re able to make it Wednesday, you’ll be among the first to see what she will be bringing to the concluding arc of the Veins Cycle.

I’m looking forward to this trip. I’ve been away from the city for too long, and I intend to make the most of it while I’m there.

In addition to the reading, I hope to visit with T.E.D. Klein, who purchased some of my early stories for Twilight Zone Magazine back in my salad days. I also plan to meet with a young filmmaker who is planning a short adaptation of one of my stories from This Way to Egress before I hurry back in time to do a Friday show at Riley’s Pour House.

Busy week.

Nevertheless, I hope to get a chance to blog about some of the trip’s highlights before heading out to Seton Hill University at the end of the month, where I’ll be giving presentations for both the Writing Popular Fiction program and the In Your Write Mind writing workshops.

No rest for the wicked!

2011 World Fantasy Awards Ballot

September 4th, 2011

The World Fantasy Convention 2011 will be held October 27-30 in San Diego, California.
Judges are Andrew Hook, Sascha Mamczak, Mark Rich, Sean Wallace, and Kim Wilkins

Life Achievement

winner Peter S. Beagle
winner Angélica Gorodischer

Novel
Lauren Beukes, Zoo City (Jacana (South Africa)/Angry Robot)
N K Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, (Orbit)
Graham Joyce, The Silent Land (Gollancz/Doubleday)
Guy Gavriel Kay, Under Heaven (Viking Canada/Roc/Harper Voyager UK)
Karen Lord, Redemption In Indigo (Small Beer Press)
Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death (DAW)

Novella
Elizabeth Bear, Bone and Jewel Creatures (Subterranean Press)
Michael Byers, The Broken Man (PS Publishing)
Elizabeth Hand, “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” (Stories: All-New Tales)
Tim Lebbon, “The Thief of Broken Toys” (ChiZine Publications)
GRR Martin, “The Mystery Knight” (Warriors)
Rachel Swirsky, “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” (Subterranea, Summer 2010)

Short Story
Christopher Fowler, “Beautiful Men” (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts, edited by Stephen Jones, Ulysses Press)
Karen Joy Fowler, “Booth’s Ghost” (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Small Beer Press)
Kij Johnson, “Ponies” (Tor.com)
Joyce Carol Oates, “Fossil—Figures” (Stories: All-New Tales)
Mercurio D. Rivera, “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us” (Black Static #18, 08/09.10)

Anthology
John Joseph Adams, ed., The Way of the Wizard (Prime)
Kate Bernheimer, ed., My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me (Penguin)
Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas, eds., Haunted Legends (Tor)
Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, eds., Stories: All-New Tales (Morrow/Headline Review)
S. T. Joshi, ed., Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror (PS Publishing)
Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders, eds., Swords & Dark Magic (Eos)

Collection
Karen Joy Fowler, What I Didn’t See and Other Stories (Small Beer Press)
Caitlin R. Kiernan, The Ammonite Violin & Others (Subterranean Press)
M. Rickert, Holiday (Golden Gryphon)
Angela Slatter, Sourdough and Other Stories (Tartarus Press)
Jeff VanderMeer, The Third Bear (Tachyon)

Artist
Vincent Chong
Kinuko Y. Craft
Richard A. Kirk
John Picacio
Shaun Tan

Special Award—Professional
John Joseph Adams, for editing and anthologies
Lou Anders, for editing at Pyr
Marc Gascoigne, for Angry Robot
Stéphane Marsan and Alain Névant, for Bragelonne
Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi, for ChiZine

Special Award—Non-professional
Stephen Jones, Michael Marshall Smith and Amanda Foubister, for Brighton Shock!: The Souvenir Book Of The World Horror Convention 2010
Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press
Matthew Kressel, for Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press
Charles Tan, for Bibliophile Stalker
Lavie Tidhar, for The World SF blog