Friday, November 30, 2007

My Wild Life

I live in a New England city of about 36,000 people. I can walk to the hospital where my kids were born, or turn a different direction and amble on over to a supermarket and a strip mall. My city has factories, on-ramps to major highways, old mills, cemeteries, history, and fast food chains. Lots of fast food chains.
Also animals. So many cool animals I sometimes feel like a character in one of the Thorton Burgess stories I read by the bushel when I was younger.

My wife called the kids and I to the window this morning because there was a fox loping across the neighbors' yard, a beautiful orangey-amber colored animal, a bit larger than our dog Bonny. We always get a little nervous when we see animals in the yard because we live on a very busy street. Sureenough, the critter wanted to cross--and this was just before school, where a seemingly endless parade of buses comes barreling down our hill to distribute children throughout the city's school system. We held our collective breath as the fox ran across just as a large furniture truck zoomed past. I'm happy to report it made it to the other side safely, and hopefully is ignoring the neighborhood cats along its way to the woods beyond.

A note about our dog Bonny before I go on: she is fourteen years old. She was an abused dog that my wife adopted from an animal shelter as a Valentine's Day gift to ourselves. We've had her thirteen of those fourteen years and we love her even though she's a little cranky as a senior canine than she was as a young dog. I invariably compare the size of any animal I see to Bonny, so from here on out I will use a new standard of measurement: the bonny. The fox was approximately one and a quarter bonnys. To help illustrate just how big a bonny is, here's a picture of Bonny:

Other critters I have seen in recent weeks in my yard include a woodchuck (one bonny, but fatter), a six-point deer, his wife and their fawn(nine bonnys, six bonnys and three bonnys, respectively), and the neighbors' cat Lucky (3/4 of a bonny). The woodchuck was around a lot in October, when our two apple trees were laden with fruit. He was a pretty regular customer, and I'd see him running along the hedge with a big apple in his mouth. The deer came because they apparently like the buffet we prepared just for them with our garden. I didn't mind losing the vegetables as much as I did the morning glories, the buds of which the deer seem to love the way I love Chinese food. I literally chased them out of the yard at midnight a couple times, waving my arms and hooting like the gorilla I'm said to resemble, trying to save my favorite flowers.

Lucky just comes because she likes to tease Bonny.

I also saw a ring-necked pheasant earlier this week, a few days after the holiday. I made a joke about it to a friend of mine who hunts, saying I was glad he hadn't been around lately. He told me that ring-necked pheasants don't inhibit our state. When I presented photographic evidence (seen below), he theorized that the bird was an escapee from a "stocking" program, wherein a buch of pheasants and turkeys are released prior to Thanksgiving for hunters. The one I saw must have been the wiliest of birds, because he'd survived past turkey day and he hauled tail ( a long, beautifully feathered tail, by the way) when I tried to shoot him with my camera.

Here he is, fleeing down Woodchuck Row:

I wish you well, friend pheasant. I wanted you to know you can hide out in my garage until the trouble blows over, if you want.

I love working at home.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How Cool Is This?

A big shout out of thanks to everyone at Hyperion, who sent me a box of shirts (pictured at right) that they created for their sales conference. Thank you! Your enthusiasm and support for Generation Dead are greatly, greatly appreciated!
I'm wearing mine for the fifth day in a row, but my family are telling me that actually smelling like a zombie is taking the enthusiasm bit a little too far.

Friday, November 16, 2007

May Day

Generation Dead is now available for preorder on in anticipation of a May 6th release. I think it would make the perfect Mother's Day gift.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

World Fantasy Convention

I attended the World Fantasy Convention for the first time last weekend, which was held in Saratoga, New York. I had a wonderful time, most of which I spent with my good friend, the writer and artist Matthew Dow Smith. Matt recently completed his work on the Supernatural Origins comic series, and the sixth and final issue should be hitting the stands just about now and you should buy it. Matt and I are hoping to do some comic book projects together soon, and the ideas were flying fast and furious between us.

Also flying fast and furious: the money out of my wallet in the dealers' room. Man, I love books, and this convention had all of the beautiful rare and out of print stuff right alongside the newest and noteworthiest releases--and the cool thing is that many of the authors and artists that created those works are right there at the convention.

Two of my major weaknesses are gently used paperbacks from the sixties and seventies and art books. The paperbacks are cool because you can usually get them on the cheap; I loaded up a number of great fantasy and horror paperbacks at the show (Fritz Leiber novels with the Jeffrey Jones covers!)and at a great local bookstore called The Lyrical Ballad. Not so economical are the art books, which unfortunately have the tendency to become Must Haves upon sight. The 2 volume Barry Windsor-Smith collection Opus was one such Must Have. I could have bought a lot o' paperbacks for what I paid for the set, but it is gorgeous beyond belief and what is money anyhow but a less attractive form of paper?

Buying books to get signed is always cool too, even though I am still prone to geeking up around people's work I admire. I totally geeked up when talking to Kelly Link, for example, who I think has one of the most unique and wonderful voices in fiction today, and also around Peter Straub, who consistently produces some of the best supernatural fiction ever written. I may be a professional writer, but I think I'll always be a fan first.

The panels were wonderful--I'm always amazed at how many story ideas I get from listening to creative people talk about subjects they are passionate about. Sometimes all it takes is an offhand comment to get the synapses firing.

I think they are firing now, in fact. Either that or I put too much sugar in my coffee again