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Game On!
Exclusive Preview of a New YA Adventure

February 22nd, 2021

Yes, it’s been a while. But I’m back. Blogging again.

I’ve never been one to balance professional writing and webpage management. When the two compete, the latter goes untended. Not that I’m complaining. The past two months have centered on some exciting projects. And now that most of those deadlines are either met or within reach, I’m hoping to drop a few long-overdue posts.

At left: Concept art by Jeffrey Harris for YA novel Game On! 

First up is the latest news on Game On! – my new YA novel that’s part of a franchise entitled The Minutemen that’s being developed by brother Christopher Connolly and film producers Jonathan Sanger and M. Jones (whose recent film Marshall stars the late Chadwick Boseman). The book is being illustrated by artist Jeffrey Harris, and many of his preliminary drawings are featured in an animated preview to be screened next month at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts.

Although usually held in Orlando, Florida, this year the conference will be an all-virtual event, featuring readings, presentations, and panel discussions hosted by some of the top names in the fantastic. Special guests include Jeff VanderMeer (author of Annihilation) and Stacy Alaimo (professor of English and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon).

Other participating authors include Tobias Buckell, Ted Chiang, Joe Haldeman, John Kessel, Nancy Kress, James Morrow, Nalo Hopkinson, Sarah Pinsker, and Cat Rambo.

Authors will be presenting works in a variety of formats, including live readings, PowerPoints, and prerecorded video presentations. In addition, the program will feature live Q&A sessions for discussing the works. I’ll be taking part in one of those, where I’ll be joining Dana Chamblee Carpenter, Bryan D. Dietrich, and Rick Wilber in a session moderated by James Patrick Kelly.

Among the conference’s attending scholars will be Gina Whisker of the University of Cambridge, who will be presenting a discussion of “Margaret Atwood’s Feminist Eco-Gothic Challenges to the Anthropocene.” Dr. Whisker also co-edits the literary journal Dissections, where I’ve been honored to serve as a member of the editorial board since 2006.

I’d love to be able to share the video preview of Game On! with you here, but for now, the only way to see it is to become a virtual member of this year’s conference. To that end, I hope you’ll consider joining us next month when ICFA goes live. More information about the event and how to join are available here.

I hope to post additional updates about Game On! and the MinuteMen project in the days ahead … as soon as I report on a few of the other things that have been keeping me offline since November. Among them: the long-awaited English edition of Nightmares from Gauntlet Press, an all-new audio novelette at The Wicked Library, a new book exploring the life and stories of Ambrose Bierce, the upcoming release of Season Two of Prime Stage Mystery Theatre, and pre-production of my new adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  Yeah, I’ve been busy … but I’m blogging again, and I hope to return with a new post tomorrow. Check back then and see if I make it. I’ll hope to meet you here.

Scop 101

June 25th, 2011

scop (skop)  — n

(in Anglo-Saxon England) a bard or minstrel

an Anglo-Saxon minstrel, usually attached to a particular royal court, although scops also traveled to various courts to recite their poetry. In addition to being an entertainer who composed and performed his own works, the scop served as a kind of historian and preserver of the oral tradition […]. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008.

ScopBack in the days before printed books, when the live reading was the primary means of getting literature to the public, storytellers appreciated the connection between music and narrative. They knew that delivering a story was more than just reciting words, but today that seems to have been forgotten.

Have you attended a reading lately? Did the author bring a backup band? Keyboard? Boombox? Probably not. It’s easier to just bring a book.

I remember Lawrence Ferlinghetti at a performance sponsored by the now defunct (and sorely missed) International Poetry Forum. It was April 3, 1968, and Ferlinghetti was reading from his collection A Coney Island of the Mind.

I was young and The cover of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's collections Coney Island of the Mindimpressionable, studying the performance, learning from the master. For an hour it was just Ferlinghetti and his voice, but then, for his final piece, he produced a tape player, adjusted the podium microphone so that it hung midway between his face and the machine. I remember the pose. He held it like an harp, for a moment recalling a classic pose of Florence Farr. Then he hit play.

And then – in the tradition of the Anglo-Saxon scop – he read “Moscow in the Wilderness, Segovia in the Snow” while guitar music played beneath his words.

IFarrPsaltryn the years that followed, I heard others do the same. Most notably Patti Smith, who gave spoken word performances accompanied by guitarist Lenny Kaye in the early 70s, and four-time Bram Stoker Award winner Michael A. Arnzen, who released AudioVile, a CD featuring some of his stories read to original music, in 2007. But live meldings of music and spoken word remain relatively rare, even though modern technology makes it easier than ever to bring quality sound to a reading. Indeed, full multi-media accompaniment – laptop, PA, projector, and screen – can fit easily into the backseat of a Cobalt.

In 2008, as Fantasist Enterprises was preparing to debut my novel Veins at GenCon, I began working on a studio CD of music inspired by the novel. Part of the impetus for the project was a CD that Poe had produced based on Mark Z. Danielewski’s novel House of Leaves. But also in the back of my mind was that long ago performance by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. If all went well, I figured the new music might enable me to score live readings from the book.

The resulting CD, Veins: the Soundtrack, was released by Fantasist in 2009, and that summer I took music and book on the road, giving readings at the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts, Confluence, GenCon, Context , and PAISTA, a gathering of educators at the Kiski School in western Pennsylvania.

Naturally, writers needn’t produce original CDs in order to score their readings. There’s a lot of music out there. More than ever before. And the technology needed to arrange and edit a playlist is probably already on the computer you are using to read this blog.

With 21st-Century Scop, I’d like to talk about bringing live readings back to their roots and employing new forms of media. There’s a lot to consider as we move headlong into the future. Let’s follow the road together, see where it leads.