Aletheia edit done and gone!

I write this in bed. I am reviewing books, having a look at courses I’ve been invited to teach, waiting on a call-back, and on a submitted story. And did I mention that I’m in bed?

I mean, specifically, bed at 1 pm, surrounded by cords and open laptops and phones and legal pads and my kindle and a stack of other books, including the wonderful Patricide, by D. Foy?

But getting back to my first point. In bed.

When my son was in junior high he and his friends would add, “in bed,” to the end of every sentence. Like the old guy at the pub who does the ‘Said the actress to the bishop.’ So (and thanks TP for the prompt), someone’d say, ‘I hate it when you get here early and you have to wait for Mr. Weiss,’ and the kids’d be all, ‘IN BE-ED!’

That kind of thing. Which is where I am. In bed. Because the edit’s in—and the visionary Ben Baldwin is working on the cover—this is a novel about memory, about a woman who returns home to her lake-town and gets bitten by the beast of memory. I read Borges of course, for inspiration, but also Kandell’s work on memory, more McCarthy (in fact, my agent-angel emailed me after reading a draft and said I am to Gila Monsters what Cormac is to watermelons—bless him) and Bronte and watched and finally abandoned American Horror Story at “Hotel.” My husband stepped up again as beta-reader. My son helped with spread-sheets, concept art, and comments like, ‘novel writing looks really fun.’ And sometime toward the end of the process, one of the people I love most in the world died, and I got shortlisted for a residency and a couple of prizes, and sold a new story, and have been asked to teach at a prestigious workshop and one best friend is miles away across this adopted country of ours, and another lost her job, and a sister went to Spain and tracked Don Quijote for me, and another was at the bedside of the person who died, as he lay dying, and kissed him for me, and he smiled.

New article up at LitReactor: Six Killer Death Scenes

in which I talk about Laird Barron, Don DeLillo, Shirley Jackson and others. Here is a taste but you can read more at LitReactor. Image courtesy of LitReactor.

When my kids were little we had a family fun game called “Death Scenes.” We’d gather in the back yard or in the playing fields behind our house—the same fields, by the way, where Peter Jackson shot his matricide movie, Heavenly Creatures—and we’d compete to see who could die the best. Enter alien sniper, medieval archer, Zombie-werewolf, or evil wizard/giant/ogre guy, and… action. My son’s death scenes were of the running start-spiralling-fall-anguished-yowl-false-alarm-staggering-second-wind-high-pitched-screech-down-but-not-out-oh-wait-feotal-curl-is-it-over-yet-maybe-not variety. His four year-old sister in contrast went for a speedy demise followed by an unsettling open-eyed stare, and my death involved much thrashing and gnashing and pounding of fists. As the, um, adult I had to make sure that I went for just enough dramatic effect to win my son’s wide-eyed admiration, but not enough to make my daughter cry.

Thing was, I sometimes failed. I mean I failed not to make my daughter cry. I’d try to wink or smile or get up at exactly the right moment to make sure that she knew I was okay, but it was often too late. By which time her mouth would be quivering, and her brother’s eyes would be clouded over with concern (for her, not me) and Eugene the Killer Dog would be at her side and I’d be lying alone on the grass beneath the great pink expanse of New Zealand sky, just another drop-dead mom.

I talk dirty at LitReactor – Palahniuk, Cormac McCarthy, Proulx and more.

guts-illustration-guardian1My professional writing career began as a book reviewer for Time Warner Publications. To qualify for the job I had to review a pot boiler about sleeping your way to the top in Hollywood. I know, right? It had lines like, “Please Tom. I can’t wait any more,” and “His swollen thickness was drawing pleasures out of her she had never imagined existed.” Every sex scene was more or less the same, a kind of caricature of itself. Cue “swollen thickness.” I, um, had a ball with the review and it got me the job and it made me think about sex scenes. A lot.

Read more at LitReactor here