A Moon Shaped Post

Radiohead. Santa Barbara Bowl. April 11, 2017.

What does this have to do with anything?

I was there. So was Wes. We were there, and it was awesome.

Not too shabby, right? The place we stayed at was freaking GORGEOUS.

It all started in February. Radiohead had just announced an additional bunch of tour dates, most of which were along the west coast, and I emailed the link to Wes as a kind of, “Ha ha, wouldn’t this be amazing?” thing. Radiohead was coming to Seattle, and while it most definitely would have been awesome to see that show, I knew tickets would sell out in an instant so I figured it would go nowhere.

Wes is not a going nowhere kind of guy, so he plotted. And planned. And prepared. The moment tickets were available, he worked his magic and actually managed to score a pair of tickets. In Santa Barbara.

When he called me to tell me he’d achieved the impossible, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to think. The importance and significance of Radiohead’s music in my life can’t be overstated. I gave birth to my first child while listening to Hail to the Thief on repeat. “How to Disappear Completely” helped me survive election season last year. I more of less wore out my copies of OK Computer and Amnesiac in high school as I drove the hour-long route to and from school.

If I’m ever stressed or scared or anxious or happy or calm or introspective or relaxed, Radiohead is my go-to. Every time. This band means something to me, but they’re so immensely popular (for good reason) that I’d resigned myself to the likelihood I’d never get the chance to see them perform live.

But Wes doesn’t accept impossibilities when it comes to me. He knew this would be the trip of a lifetime, so he made it happen. I was so nervous before the band came out, Wes says I was shaking a little. I couldn’t talk. I could barely remember to breathe.

I took this of us while 15 Step was playing.

And then there they were. And the music was even better live, if you can believe that. They played the song Wes most wanted to hear (“15 Step”), and too many others to name, and then left the stage.

I was crestfallen. As much as I loved the songs they’d played, they hadn’t played “Nude,” my favorite of their songs.

The show, it turned out, wasn’t over, and they ended up playing “Nude” during one of their four encores. The feeling when the song crested and then receded was indescribable, which is really saying something because I describe things for a living. The closest I can come to explaining how it felt is to say overwhelming, searing joy, the kind that consumes you and leaves you in a daze afterward.

It really was a true fan’s show. Many of the songs they played were obscure, and there was even a song that I think was completely new that I’d never heard before. It was pure magic. A perfect show in a perfect location with a perfect man by my side to enjoy it with.

Are there any other Radiohead fans reading this? What’s your favorite Radiohead song?

Throwing Fellow Writers Under the Bus

I’m reading an interesting book right now called Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction by Benjamin Percy. It’s interesting as it deals with many of the concerns in my genre: Violence (how and when to do it), set pieces, designing suspense, etc. Percy’s writing is fun to read for the most part (though I will admit to getting frustrated while reading the beginning of the book. He waxes long and poetic about his childhood, which has little to do with the purpose of the book).

I read something last night, however, that genuinely surprised me. He was explicating the restraint writers should use when inflicting violence on our readers, and the fine line between authenticity and gory indulgence when he mentioned the writing of both Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis. To wit:

“That’s what the work of Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis occasionally feels like: a special kind of CGI meant to sour your stomach…Their flamboyant style aestheticizes the mayhem, as if the authors love what we are meant to despise. They linger on the violence, wallow in the gore, celebrate it to such a degree that I can almost see them smirking, hear them snickering, and they essentially become that kid we all went to middle school with – Cody: big ears, buzz cut, braces – who would fake a punch, and then, when you startled, would screech, “Two for flinching,” and sock you twice in the shoulder. Don’t be a Cody. Nobody liked him.”

Why did this surprise me? It’s not because I disagree. I haven’t been able to stomach Palahniuk’s writing since Survivor for precisely this reason, and I despised American Psycho so much after watching it that I’ve never agreed to watch it again despite many impassioned pleas for me to give it another chance because the violence is symbolic and a commentary and blah blah blah.

No, I was surprised because it’s quite rare for an author to publicly disparage a fellow author in this way. There’s an unspoken code of honor amongst authors that our critics are hard enough on us, so if you can’t say anything nice, keep your mouth shut and change the subject. (With the notable exception of Dan Brown. For some reason, it’s always fine to make fun of his writing, which doesn’t bother him in the slightest as he laughs at all of us plebes from his castle).

In a book like Percy’s, there’s plenty of room to use various authors’ work as an example of what to do, instead of what not to do, and up until now that’s almost exclusively what he’s done. That was why I was so surprised to see these two getting singled out. It’s possible they write their stories in precisely such a way as to elicit this kind of disapproval, in which case this was a smashing success.

I thought I’d open this up to all of you and see what you think. How do you feel about violence and gore in storytelling? Any pressing thoughts on either Chuck Palahniuk or Bret Easton Ellis that you’d like to share? Hit me up in the comments section!

Return of the Auntie

At long last, I have returned from my adventures in the sunny wilds of southern California. I spent a lovely week taking care of my sister in law and brand new nephew which, if you’ve ever taken care of a newborn, you know means hundreds of tiny tasks that don’t seem like much and yet, somehow, still take up an entire day. The fatigue didn’t catch up to me until Sunday afternoon, when I quite simply ran out of gas and had to collapse into bed for a two-hour nap.

My husband was incredible in my absence, however, and managed to work his full-time job while also keeping our children alive and on time for school. I came home to a house that was freshly vacuumed, swept, and scrubbed. The laundry was done, the trashcans were empty, and my car was washed, vacuumed, and full of gas. It was the absolute best way to come home, and I felt truly loved. Those of you who know me well know that I’ll take a clean house and car over flowers and chocolates any day.

Somehow before I left, I was able to submit the final edits to my editor for Take the Bai Road, and I’m thiiiiiiiiis close to finishing the short story I’m submitting to the anthology that’s coming out in the fall. Good thing, too, because the deadline for that is on Friday.

Gulp.

In other news, my book cover designer is almost done with the cover for Take the Bai Road and it is sweeeeeeeeeet. Oh man, this series is looking pretty darn slick, if I do say so myself. I’ll share it as soon as she’s put the final touches on it and hopefully we can start offering pre-orders.

Stay tuned!

Edits, Revisions, and Babies

From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

This is going to be a fast, to-the-point blog post so strap in and hold on.

I’m in the thick of several things right now, which feels exactly like drowning if instead of water you substitute edits, revisions, and deadlines.

For some mysterious reason (read: because I’m a masochist who loves being busy and until I’m actually busy, at which time I regret all my life decisions) I signed on to participate in an anthology at the same time I was working on a full-length novel. As you can imagine, the revisions are all hitting the fan at the same time, and I’m under deadline for both, which means I have mountains of fun, engaging, excellent work to get through before the end of the month.

Now, to make things even more fun, I’m heading down to California on Saturday for a full week because my brother and his wife had their first baby last week and 1) I needs must hold my tiny nephew and 2) she’s going to need some help when my brother goes back to work.

This is a very good thing I’m excited to do, but it’s rather unexpected as her due date was not until April. So wish me luck this week, I’m going to need it. I have a month’s worth of work to do, and one week here, and another week there to do it.

Thoughts on Passengers

I’m sure that everything that’s needed to be said about the movie Passengers has already been said, but I finally had the chance to see it this weekend and simply had to get some thoughts down on digital paper about it. It spurred a discussion between Wes and I that spanned two days, which I think makes it remarkable because really, how many movies do that?

For those unfamiliar with the story, SPOILERS Continue reading