Apr 16, 2012

When I was 8 I wrote and illustrated a book called "The Mystery at the Dallas Zoo" about a group of kid detectives investigating the case of a stolen tapir. Here is one of the extremely evocative not to mention enviably fashionable drawings which I believe truly captures the terror alligators inspire around the world.

Apr 5, 2012

So I still do not really write here anymore, since I have too much to do keeping up with mermaids, and I admit I am a bit behind in that regard as well.... But I did just come out with my first middle-grade novel, The Next Full Moon, and I'm about to finish my next novel, The Fairest of Them All, which is about Rapunzel growing up to be Snow White's stepmother and will be out in 2013 some time. AND I'm putting the finishing touches on Mermaids, a special-issue annual magazine I'm doing with Kim Cross, who publishes Faerie Magazine. And I'm doing lots of events in the next couple months, including lots of visits to schools to speak with middle-school and high-school kids. Email me if you want me to come to, or Skype with, yours!

April 14, 12 to 2pm: signing with Nora Roberts at Turn the Page Bookstore, 18 N. Main St, Boonsboro, MD

April 15, 2pm: Barnes & Noble, 421 Arena Hub Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, PA

April 22, 1pm: Webster’s Bookstore, 133 E. Beaver Ave, State College, PA

May 4, and Sunday, May 6: Spoutwood Fairie Festival, Glen Rock, PA

May 5, 11am to 2pm: From My Shelf, 25 Main St, Wellsboro, PA

May 18, 7pm: Barnes & Noble, 2590 Citiplace Court, Baton Rouge, LA

May 19, 1pm: Barnes & Noble, 6646 Youree Drive, Shreveport, LA

May 21, 6:30pm: Beauty and the Book, 608 North Polk St, Jefferson, TX

May 22, 6pm: Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St, New Orleans, LA

June 6, 5pm: Barnes & Noble Tribeca, 97 Warren St, NYC

Jan 24, 2011

So I have been horrible writing on here, mainly because I have been working on a new mermaid blog, which I shall now urge you to peruse as I just posted my first interview, with one Mr. TIM GUNN, whom I love and adore and who was incredibly, incredibly gracious.

Look: http://iamamermaid.com/

Later this week I'll put up interviews with Alice Hoffman and Michael Kaluta, and I have a ton more interviews and articles standing by. Just you wait. If you likes it, please tell more people. Thank you! MWAH!

Oh and here is a video I made for Mermaid (the book is out March 1st):

Nov 8, 2010

So MERMAID doesn't come out till March 1 but it got its first two reviews in the past week. Plus I have my first reading scheduled: March 16 at the KGB Fantastic Fiction series (in NYC), curated by Ellen Datlow and Matt Kressel. !


From Publisher's Weekly:

Carolyn Turgeon, Three Rivers, $14 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-58997-2
In Turgeon's surprisingly dark retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, two women pine for the affections of a prince: mermaid Lenia, who pulls Prince Christopher from the sea, and Margrethe, the princess of the rival kingdom, who witnesses the rescue from the convent where she hides from the war raging between their two kingdoms. Lenia, who falls instantly in love with the prince, sacrifices the sea, her voice, and her health to be with him on dry land. Meanwhile, Margrethe believes that marrying the prince would unite their kingdoms, but when she arrives to arrange it, she finds him already enraptured with Lenia. While he remains unaware that the girl he loves is also the mermaid who saved him, Margrethe recognizes her rival immediately and puts into motion a plan to send the ailing mermaid back to the sea and save her own ravaged kingdom. Turgeon has done a superb job of creating compelling characters and conflict from a story already familiar to readers. (Mar.)

And from Kirkus:

A Twist on the Classic Tale
Author: Turgeon, Carolyn

Review Date: November 15, 2010
Publisher:Three Rivers/Crown
Pages: 288
Price ( Paperback ): $14.00
Price ( e-book ): $14.00
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
ISBN ( Paperback ): 978-0-307-58997-2
ISBN ( e-book ): 978-0-307-58998-9
Category: Fiction

Two princesses (one earthbound, one aquatic) vie for the heart of a prince in this new twist on the classic fairy tale.

For 18-year-old mermaid princess Lenia, the world of men could not be a more exotic or fascinating place. Although her experience with humans is limited to the shipwrecks and dead sailors she comes across in her ocean-floor kingdom, she yearns for more. She gets her wish when she is finally permitted to go up and explore the surface, and has to save a young man from drowning during a storm. She delivers him to the shores of a convent and into the arms of a young novice. That girl, Margrethe, is actually the daughter of the northern king, hiding at the convent for her own protection. And, as luck would have it, the rescued sailor, Christopher, is the son of her father’s arch nemesis, the southern king. The two royals share an attraction, without knowing each other’s identity, and Christopher leaves without knowing Margrethe’s secret. Back with her merpeople family, a smitten Lenia pines for the prince and strives to find a way to be with him. Her quest takes her to the sea witch, Sybil, who informs her that becoming human is indeed possible, but comes with a steep price. Lenia has to give up her beautiful voice, and her lovely new legs will cause her chronic pain, like walking on knives. Also, Christopher must marry her if she is to survive and acquire a human soul. No matter. Lenia takes Sybil’s potion and goes to her beloved, who is indeed charmed by the mute otherworldly creature Lenia has transformed into. They become lovers, but she has competition. In order to stave off an almost inevitable war, Margrethe hatches a plan to marry Christopher herself, and unite their kingdoms. But while that might be good politics, it does not bode well for Lenia, who is unable to explain her situation to anyone. Faithful for the most part to Andersen’s dark fable, Turgeon’s (Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, 2009) version wisely gives voice to the mermaid’s rival, making the prince’s ultimate choice—and Lenia’s sacrifice—even more poignant.

A gothic love triangle with two equally matched heroines. This isn’t kid’s stuff.

Nov 3, 2010

So yesterday I met the fabulous Kitty Von Sometime, who does this amazing Weird Girls visual art series in Iceland. They've done 11 videos so far including this massive gorgeous Busby Berkeley style mermaid video you can watch below (along with an interview w Kitty). She is fundraising for episode 12 now. Go look!!! Give her some moolah!!

Kastljos Interview about The Weird Girls Project from kitty von-sometime on Vimeo.

Nov 2, 2010

Those Youtube videos really are very unwieldy and run right into my gorgeous right-hand column I see. They are so rood. Yet awesome so please forgive them and watch them immediately.
So I am in Iceland now, I got here Sunday and am on my way back to New York, after spending a couple more weeks in Berlin and a couple days around Heidelberg visiting my old friend Erika and her family and seeing some amazing creepy castles, including CASTLE FRANKENSTEIN which supposedly the Shelleys and Lord Byron visited and which inspired her to write Frankenstein (though we went on Saturday night and thus were chased around by vampires and werewolves and men with chainsaws), and MESPELBRUNN CASTLE, which is old and weird and full of deer heads and weapons and creepy portraits of everyone who lived there including a woman stylishly yet unoriginally named Marie Antoniette who hosted the Grimm Brothers regularly and helped them select which versions of various tales they were going to use. Oh, and not just deer heads but heads of every animal you can think of, stuck on the walls.

Anyway, in Iceland yesterday I took a trip out to see GEYSIR and GULLFOSS and THINGVILLIR national park and I think I might be in love with the weird weird alien landscape here, all volcanic rock covered in bright green moss and snow, big rifts where the earth is pulling apart, giant wounds and huge mirrory lakes and this weird pearly soft sky you could tip over and drink out of, and I feel like I'm in Alaska mixed with Mars. I was supposed to go out last night to see the Northern Lights but sadly it was too cloudy, so I shall have to let the sky dazzle me NEXT TIME around, and then slip me into some Blue Lagoon.

But those geysers blew my mind a bit. Look:

And here is Gullfoss and me almost blowing away:

I would write more but I have to go interview a fabulous artiste named Kitty Von Sometime for my new MERMAID BLOG which will probably change your life.

Oct 14, 2010

So I've been meaning to update this and now it's been many weeks since I have and I've been to all these lovely places I would like to show you, but first look, here is the UK cover of Mermaid, which it seems will also now be the USA cover (in place of the fishtail one which I also love) since it is so so beauteous and possibly more commercial:

Isn't it looovely? The book comes out in the US and UK in March 2011 but I have galleys now in case you are dying to REVIEW it or blurb it or something similar.

So, since the book is based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, last month I took a little trip by myself up to Copenhagen and Odense, Denmark (from Berlin, where I've been since mid-August), to visit all these Hans Christian Andersen sites. Like, the house where he was born and the house he grew up in (both in Odense), several places he lived later in Copenhagen, the very weird "Wonderful World of Hans Christian Andersen" in Copenhagen, the very awesome museum about him in Odense, his grave in Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens where a copy of the little mermaid statue is right now since the real one is roodly on loan to SHANGHAI, and so on. I tromped all around with map in one hand and Flip camera in the other and took many many teeny videos of myself talking about HCA (who was extremely weird and awesome) whilst obnoxiously glowing-with-health Danes sprinted or biked by (I think some might have flown) staring and laughing at me and occasionally waving to the camera. You'd think they'd never seen an authoress filming herself in front of random buildings before!! Or maybe they were just amazed and appalled at my relative unhealthfulness. Really, they are very obnoxious.

Here are some photos here. On Facebook, as I am very lazy. Later, when I am less lazy, I shall post videos, too.

So then last week I flew to Italy to meet up with my mama and sister for five nights in Florence and one in Siena, and that was all awesome (and photos are here), but I already loved Florence and Siena, and so what blew my mind was WARSAW, POLAND, where I turned around and went on Saturday after returning from Italy Friday night.

I went to Poland because I wanted to see Leonard Cohen in concert, finally, after loving him for so long, since I was a teenager, but never seeing him, and because I was mad that I missed him in Berlin. He played here in August, like the day after I got here, but I had no idea! So my choices were Warsaw, Hannover, or Bratislava, and Warsaw was the cheapest and seemed most interesting, I thought, and then my friend Jen in Dresden decided to come, and so we planned two nights at a Holiday Inn and got our tickets and met Saturday morn on the train platform at Hauptbahnhof in romantical and even cinematic fashion.

Now the whole trip was amazing and we both fell madly in love with the city, which I'd heard was sort of fugly and uninteresting but is in FACT totally gorgeous, but what really astounded me is that Warsaw is full of MERMAIDS. I even thought to myself before I left that maybe I should bring my Flip camera, maybe there was some Polish or Warsaw mermaidly thing I didn't know about and then I thought that was ridiculous and left said camera behind. So imagine my surprise when Saturday night, Jen and I walk into Old Town, which is very very charming and cobblestone-y, and then into the main square, at the center of which is a statue and a fountain, and I almost don't even go look at them but then I do and then suddenly realize that this sword- and shield-carrying figure is actually a mermaid.

A twin-tailed mermaid with the name SYRENKA (which means little mermaid, I would discover) carved below her.

So this is pretty weird, I think, and I take a bunch of photos, and then we randomly walk down one of the smaller streets shooting off the main square and we pass some televised window display and we stop and realize that we are looking at tons and tons of photos (the screen changes every several seconds) of mermaids. And we realize we are in front of the city archives and this is a whole show about the history of mermaids in Warsaw and how the mermaid has been the city's symbol since the 1400s or something and has appeared in all kinds of historical documents and on the city's crest and there are old Mucha drawings from old Warsaw newspapers and all KINDS OF THINGS which really leave me feeling quite astonished.

So that night I glamorously sit in the lobby of the HOLIDAY INN with my laptop reading and reading about the Warsaw mermaid and about all these myths about how she swan down the Vistula River one day many moons ago (after parting, in the Baltic Sea, from her sister, who went on to Copenhagen) and fell in love with the city and then, after being caught by some evil merchant and rescued by some lovely brothers, vowed to protect the city from then on. And she's everywhere. I mean, on every street lamp, every bus, every little thing on every sidewalk, like this:

Or under business signs, like these:

And there are more statues, like these:

And honestly, the whole thing was really quite STRANGE and amazing.

Many other things about Warsaw were amazing, and I put up more photos here. But in brief: WWII is everywhere in a way I've not seen before, and that was pretty fascinating and intense; the city is really beautiful though it was almost entirely destroyed in the war (but you wouldn't know it, with how it's rebuilt itself); Leonard Cohen completely wrecked me, was amazing, and the Polish president was in the audience, too; and oh my God pierogies. Baked. With bacon and green peas and vats of sour cream on the side. I mean really.

So we're going again next year and will see us some Krakow, too, unless of course fate has other plans which it sometimes does.

For now, though, I have two more weeks in Berlin, and then I head back to NYC via Heidelberg and Iceland, and I'm working on my children's book and my book that will follow Mermaid, and I hope to be able to talk about both projects in a more official manner very very soon.

Also, look at this totally weird statue in Berlin from 1907 of a merman spying on a sleeping naked lady:

Never, never fall asleep when there is a merperson around.

Aug 31, 2010

So a few writing-related things I've meant to mention here...

1. As part of the University of Alaska at Anchorage Low-Residency MFA Program, all us faculty gave public readings almost every night of the program. Everyone in the program attended these readings--usually, all the faculty and all the students, which I think was something like 60 people total though I'm not sure...--as well as a bunch of people from the community.

On my night, I was scheduled to read with Craig Childs, another new faculty member and this amazing, wild, wonderful adventurer type who's written at least a dozen books and lord knows how many articles and does things like get dropped onto ice caps and salt deserts to explore the terrain while scribbling furiously the whole time in these little notebooks he carries and, if they're not available, on whatever's handy, including his own skin. For me, writing usually means isolation and not writing means being out in the world  and having adventures, and so I think my usual pattern is to constantly swing back and forth between the two, but for Craig every moment seems to be about adventure and about writing, at the same time. He seems quite inexhaustible, and in fact observing him staying out late with students every night and attending all activities during each day probably made me more tired and I secretly blame him for the 50000 naps I took during the residency...

Anyway, knowing we were reading together, we talked about it beforehand, and he was even suggesting that we might coordinate our reading, going back and forth.... I told him I would be reading from Mermaid, and ended up giving him the first two chapters to look at, since he had an endless supply of writing to choose to read from...  I think he was surprised to end up liking the chapters so much, and finding that he could relate to them, even. And he ended up deciding we should read separately but that he would go first and lead into mine, and he decided to just improvise, showing all these wonderful slides and talking beautifully and passionately about water.... always being drawn to water, wherever he is, in all different kinds of climates and worlds. He talked for almost an hour, and it was totally mesmerizing, and then I got up and read a chapter from Mermaid which was all about this creature from the sea longing for the earth. (Mermaid is based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, right, and I read a chapter that follows the plot from it fairly directly, when the mermaid takes the potion from the sea witch and gets her tongue cut out in exchange, then goes to the prince's kingdom and drinks the potion so that her tail turns to legs...). It was a really cool combination, I thought. The writing being so fantastically different--and our personalities, Craig shouting and practically beating on his chest, me reading quietly from my book--and yet all these common themes emerging, about water and earth, being drawn to the end of the world...

It was a very cool, unique experience. Here is a podcast of it.

By the way, Craig's latest book, Finders Keepers: A Tale of ­Archaeological Plunder and Obsession, just came out, and here's the NY TImes review.

Many of the other readings, by the way, were spectacular. I became quite close to the poet Anne Caston while I was there, and her reading absolutely knocked me out and had me in tears practically the whole time (she is devastating, amazing, and she reads in this soft, sweet, hushed voice, and the most heartwrenching things come out of her mouth... I felt like I was listening to someone out of Greek myth...). She read with Rich Chiappone, who is unbelievably funny--what a combination, those two!--and then Sherry Simpson ended that night with a reading from her new book about bears, which was really lovely and sad and eye-opening. Anne and Rich's readings are here, and Sherry's is here. And of course there was Jo-Ann Mapson, who is this incredibly charming, wonderful storyteller (her 10th novel, Solomon's Oak,  is about to come out) and wonderful lady, and I will love her forever for plucking me up and bringing me to Alaska in the first place. I became close to a lot of people in Alaska, but Jo-Ann and Anne really made the experience warm and lovely for me. The three of us went out to lunch on the first day of the program and again on the last, and I miss them! Anyway, Jo-Ann read with Judith Barrington and program director David Stevenson, both of whom are wonderful but if I keep saying that word I am quite sure something bad will happen to me; the link is here.

Here is a photo of me with Anne (sitting) and Jo-Ann (behind us):

Aren't they lovely??

There were many other great readings and they are all on podcast on that same site (include Kim Addonizio's, which I mentioned before).... I have not listened to any to any since I was there, and have not listened to my own because I would surely faint away and die. But you should listen, this minute!

I am not even mentioning all the students I came to love, including my four lovely mentees, all women writing really cool and really different novels that I will be working with them on all year from afar....

2. I must ALSO mention the anthology of fairytale stories which I am roodly NOT IN but which Kim Addonizio is in and the amazing Timothy Schaffert is in (amongst may others), My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales, which comes out next month. Timothy, whom I met a couple times in Omaha, the first time during his literary festival there, which was so much fun, emailed me to ask if I would join him and Terese Svoboda in a conversation about mermaids for the Prairie Schooner blog. (That will happen in a month or so I think). He said that his story in the anthology is called "The Mermaid in the Tree" and is also a based on "The Little Mermaid" and I demanded that he send it to me right then and it is totally, totally stunning and weird and gorgeous and macabre and AWESOME.

Listen to the first few paragraphs (which he said I could post, lest you think I am being uncourteous)!:

Desiree the child bride, and her sister Miranda, had gone grave-robbing for a wedding gown. In the north end of the cemetery, among the palatial mausoleums with their broken windows of stained glass where the ivy crept in, was the resting place of a young woman who’d been murdered at the altar while reciting her marital vows. The decaying tombstone, among the cemetery’s most envied, was a limestone bride in despair, shoulders as slumped as a mule’s, a bouquet of lilies strewn at her feet. Though her murder, by her groom’s jealous mother, had been long in the past, everyone knew that her father had had her buried in her gown of lace and silk.

“Can you believe we’re the only ones to have ever thought of this?” Miranda said, her knuckles bloodied from shoveling dirt, as she undid the delicate whalebone buttons lining the back of the skeleton’s dress.

Desiree, however, was less inclined to be enthused, and she climbed from the hole, distracted, to light a cigarette on the flame of the lantern. She uncorked a jug, gulped down a few fingers of whiskey, and squinted at the horizon of plains burnt black by old prairie fires, the setting sun leaving behind a thin ribbon of violet. His heart isn’t mine, she thought.

Admit that is one of the best openings ever.

3. SPEAKING OF "The Little Mermaid," and inspired by a conversation I had with Timothy, I have been reading a couple of biographies of Hans Christian Andersen, who is so gorgeous and so weird and dark--and that's just in his stories! in real life he was so over the top, so always falling on love with everyone and never being loved back--and have scheduled a trip for myself to Denmark in late September. I'll be staying in Copenhagen for two nights but taking a day trip to Odense, Fyn Island, where HCA grew up and where he wrote his mermaid story.... 


(I hope.)

The end.

Aug 30, 2010

I am so behind in writing on here and have much much to update... Since writing last I left Alaska, returned to Pennsylvania for a week, then took the Queen Mary 2 from Brooklyn to Southampton, England (very very romantical and wondrous), then spent a day in London and a day in Paris with Olivier before getting myself to Berlin, where I arrived almost two weeks ago and where I am now...

I love this city, and love all the fabulously decadent and elegant events like Boheme Sauvage, which I'd been to last fall and which I went to again on Saturday. I will post photos later, of that and all kinds of other things, but for now here is a little video I took of Coco, the host, tapdancing furiously and gorgeously in front of the decked-out crowd. I first met this boy at his "Oskar Wilde party" last fall, where he read "The Selfish Giant" to a room full of guests sitting around a super-decadent candelabra and rose petal covered long table. I believes I just sat there struck down with awe.

Jul 18, 2010

So tonight at the residency we saw a reading of a new play by faculty member Zack Rogow, who is amazing and lovely and brilliant and speaks like 500000 languages and during his own reading a few nights ago read his own poems as well as unbelievably gorgeous poems he'd translated from French and German and Urdu (working with someone else), and then, just to be more annoying, he sang a damn song.


Anyway, his play is called Things I Didn't Know I Loved: The Life and Work of Nazim Hikmet. It was great.

Here is Zack (on the right) sitting with the actors afterward, answering questions:

And I had never heard of Nazim Hikmet before, and his poems were so gorgeous, and after the reading I bought a book of them as well as a novel by Colette that Zack had translated.

Listen to this:

Things I Didn't Know I Loved

it's 1962 March 28th
I'm sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
night is falling
I never knew I liked
night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain
I don't like
comparing nightfall to a tired bird

I didn't know I loved the earth
can someone who hasn't worked the earth love it
I've never worked the earth
it must be my only Platonic love

and here I've loved rivers all this time
whether motionless like this they curl skirting the hills
European hills crowned with chateaus
or whether stretched out flat as far as the eye can see
I know you can't wash in the same river even once
I know the river will bring new lights you'll never see
I know we live slightly longer than a horse but not nearly as long as a crow
I know this has troubled people before
and will trouble those after me
I know all this has been said a thousand times before
and will be said after me

I didn't know I loved the sky
cloudy or clear
the blue vault Andrei studied on his back at Borodino
in prison I translated both volumes of War and Peace into Turkish
I hear voices
not from the blue vault but from the yard
the guards are beating someone again
I didn't know I loved trees
bare beeches near Moscow in Peredelkino
they come upon me in winter noble and modest
beeches are Russian the way poplars are Turkish
"the poplars of Izmir
losing their leaves. . .
they call me The Knife. . .
lover like a young tree. . .
I blow stately mansions sky-high"
in the Ilgaz woods in 1920 I tied an embroidered linen handkerchief
to a pine bough for luck

I never knew I loved roads
even the asphalt kind
Vera's behind the wheel we're driving from Moscow to the Crimea
formerly "Goktepé ili" in Turkish
the two of us inside a closed box
the world flows past on both sides distant and mute
I was never so close to anyone in my life
bandits stopped me on the red road between Bolu and Geredé
when I was eighteen
apart from my life I didn't have anything in the wagon they could take
and at eighteen our lives are what we value least
I've written this somewhere before
wading through a dark muddy street I'm going to the shadow play
Ramazan night
a paper lantern leading the way
maybe nothing like this ever happened
maybe I read it somewhere an eight-year-old boy
going to the shadow play
Ramazan night in Istanbul holding his grandfather's hand
his grandfather has on a fez and is wearing the fur coat
with a sable collar over his robe
and there's a lantern in the servant's hand
and I can't contain myself for joy
flowers come to mind for some reason
poppies cactuses jonquils
in the jonquil garden in Kadikoy Istanbul I kissed Marika
fresh almonds on her breath
I was seventeen
my heart on a swing touched the sky
I didn't know I loved flowers
friends sent me three red carnations in prison

I just remembered the stars
I love them too
whether I'm floored watching them from below
or whether I'm flying at their side

I have some questions for the cosmonauts
were the stars much bigger
did they look like huge jewels on black velvet
or apricots on orange
did you feel proud to get closer to the stars
I saw color photos of the cosmos in Ogonek magazine now don't
be upset comrades but nonfigurative shall we say or abstract
well some of them looked just like such paintings which is to
say they were terribly figurative and concrete
my heart was in my mouth looking at them
they are our endless desire to grasp things
seeing them I could even think of death and not feel at all sad
I never knew I loved the cosmos

snow flashes in front of my eyes
both heavy wet steady snow and the dry whirling kind
I didn't know I liked snow

I never knew I loved the sun
even when setting cherry-red as now
in Istanbul too it sometimes sets in postcard colors
but you aren't about to paint it that way
I didn't know I loved the sea
except the Sea of Azov
or how much

I didn't know I loved clouds
whether I'm under or up above them
whether they look like giants or shaggy white beasts

moonlight the falsest the most languid the most petit-bourgeois
strikes me
I like it

I didn't know I liked rain
whether it falls like a fine net or splatters against the glass my
heart leaves me tangled up in a net or trapped inside a drop
and takes off for uncharted countries I didn't know I loved
rain but why did I suddenly discover all these passions sitting
by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
is it because I lit my sixth cigarette
one alone could kill me
is it because I'm half dead from thinking about someone back in Moscow
her hair straw-blond eyelashes blue

the train plunges on through the pitch-black night
I never knew I liked the night pitch-black
sparks fly from the engine
I didn't know I loved sparks
I didn't know I loved so many things and I had to wait until sixty
to find it out sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
watching the world disappear as if on a journey of no return

19 April 1962

Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)

Jul 16, 2010

Oh! I don't think I have mentioned that I will be crossing the Atlantic on the glamorous old-time ocean liner the QUEEN MARY 2 on August 8, arriving in Southampton England on August 14, with the romantical French scientist (from the French Alps!) with whom I am currently smitten and who shall be returning to LYON, France, indefinitely after a two-year postdoc in the U.S. that ends this month.

Here I am with him at SHANGHAI MERMAID a few weeks ago:

I will then be in England and France and back in Berlin and then in France again and maybe Italy to meet up with my mother and sister who will be there the first week of October and I will probably come back after that but then again maybe I will stay FOREVER.

The end.
So I am writing from my dorm room in Anchorage, tired after days of reading student work and leading workshops (my first! Monday I co-led one with Jo-Ann Mapson, yesterday I led one alone) and giving talks (one so far, a "craft talk" on retelling fairy tales) and, last night, giving a reading to the public--and I will write about that later, about how cool the reading was, how I was paired with another new faculty member Craig Childs, who was AMAZING....--and there are readings every night of this program, every night from 8 to 9:30pm, and I have not been to so many readings in so little time ever... and then the days are filled with talks and workshops and panels and lunches and dinners and I am going to them all--well, almost--and getting to know everyone and I would say more than half of these students are coming from various parts of Alaska and they tell me about mushers and dogsleds and native villages and tundra and abandoned railroads and it is all SUPER COOL and I LOVE EVERYONE or at least LOTS OF THEM and that is a lot of love and it is exhausting.

SO really, before falling into bed right now at 9:30pm when it is still broad daylight and will be for another couple of hours, I just wanted to quickly copy in this little snippet of writing from Anne Dillard that the wondrous Judith Barrington, who is faculty here, read to us in her talk this morning, which was about memoirs and ghosts.

I was blown away.


I was running down the Penn Avenue sidewalk, revving up for an act of faith. I was conscious and self-conscious. I knew well that people could not fly--as well as anyone knows it--but I also knew the kicker: that, as the books put it, with faith all things are possible.

Just once I wanted a task that required all the joy I had. Day after day I had noticed that if I waited long enough, my strong unexpressed joy would dwindle and dissipate inside me, over many hours, like a fire subsiding, and I would at last calm down. Just this once I wanted to let it rip. Flying rather famously required the extra energy of belief, and this, too, I had in superabundance.

There were boxy yellow thirties apartment buildings on those Penn Avenue blocks, and the Evergreen Café, and Miss Frick's house set back behind a wrought-iron fence. There were some side yards of big houses, some side yards of little houses, some streetcar stops, and a drugstore from which I had once tried to heist a five-pound box of chocolates, a Whitman sampler, confusing "sampler" with "free sample." It was past all this that I ran that late fall afternoon, up old Penn Avenue on the cracking cement sidewalks--past the drugstore and bar, past the old and new apartment buildings and the long dry lawn behind Miss Frick's fence.

I ran the sidewalk full tilt. I waved my arms ever higher and faster; blood balled in my fingertips. I knew I was foolish. I knew I was too old really to believe in this as a child would, out of ignorance; instead I was experimenting as a scientist would, testing both the thing itself and the limits of my own courage in trying it miserably self-conscious in full view of the whole world. You can't test courage cautiously, so I ran hard and waved my arms hard, happy.

Up ahead I saw a business-suited pedestrian. He was coming stiffly toward me down the walk. Who could ever forget this first test, this stranger, this thin young man appalled? I banished the temptation to straighten up and walk right. He flattened himself against a brick wall as I passed flailing--although I had left him plenty of room. He had refused to meet my exultant eye. He looked away, evidently embarrassed. How surprisingly easy it was to ignore him! What I was letting rip, in fact, was my willingness to look foolish, in his eyes and in my own. Having chosen this foolishness, I was a free being. How could the world ever stop me, how could I betray myself, if I was not afraid?

I was flying. My shoulders loosened, my stride opened, my heart banged the base of my throat. I crossed Carnegie and ran up the block waving my arms. I crossed Lexington and ran up the block waving my arms.

A linen-suited woman in her fifties did meet my exultant eye. She looked exultant herself, seeing me from far up the block. Her face was thin and tanned. We converged. Her warm, intelligent glance said she knew what I was doing--not because she herself had been a child but because she herself took a few loose aerial turns around her apartment every night for the hell of it, and by day played along with the rest of the world and took the streetcar. So Teresa of Avila checked her unseemly joy and hung on to the altar rail to hold herself down. The woman's smiling, deep glance seemed to read my own awareness from my face, so we passed on the sidewalk--a beautifully upright woman walking in her tan linen suit, a kid running and flapping her arms--we passed on the sidewalk with a look of accomplices who share a humor just beyond irony. What's a heart for?

Jul 12, 2010

So I am now in Alaska, as part of the Low-Residency MFA program at the University of Alaska at Anchorage, as FACULTY no less, in a part of the world where one can get off a plane at 10:30pm on a Thursday and be met by bright, glaring sunlight. It is very odd, very gorgeous, and I am surrounded by Alaskans who mention strange little towns one must get to by plane and use the mysterious, up-to-no-good word "Arctic" with a shocking regularity.

My program didn't start till yesterday--a 12-day intensive residency that kicks off an academic year during which students are mentored over email from anywhere in the world and just to be clear i hope to be doing my mentoring from as many places in the world as possible--but I got here on Thursday night and was picked up by a fabulous lady named MARY who is a Pulpwood Queen extraordinaire and who, on Friday, took me to see the Portage Glacier, drove me through a conservation center at which I saw ELK and GRIZZLY BEARS, took me to meet with ladies from the book club chapter located in the WOMEN's PRISON--wonderful, aching-for-knowledge women who read and discussed Godmother last year and treated me like I'd swooped down straight from heaven, even making me a little welcome sign and signing it one by one and breaking prison rules to give me and Mary hugs--and THEN took me to dinner with a bunch of un-incarcerated book club ladies and THEN to a drag queen show at which I was brought on stage and, amongst other atrocities, examined for a tramp stamp. It was what I like to call A FULL DAY.


Then yesterday I checked into my DORM ROOM where I shall spend the next 12 days participating in and/or leading/giving many many workshops and lectures and readings and generally being up to no good with all kinds of suspicious writer types. I had lunch with Jo-Ann Mapson, who is the fairylike authoress who done plucked me up and brought me here--and the poetess Anne Caston, and then today was chock full of events including a keynote lecture this morning and reading this evening by the poet Kim Addonizio, who was FABULOUS and gorgeous and hysterical and who played harmonica and also surprised me by dedicating the following poem to yours truly, which I just done went and found for your reading pleasure:

Snow White: The Huntsman's Story

* * *

I took out my knife and held her head back. She closed her eyes. A deer crossed the clearing, stopped and turned. I thought it watched me, I think it watches me still ... I swore an oath: to follow orders, without mercy or pleasure. Even the part you think might have been pleasure- She wasn't a creamy girl. She wasn't a girl at all. She was my assignment. When I took the lung and liver they were warm. I brought them bloody in a bag to the queen, who thanked me and mentioned a medal. That night I left my quarters, crouched in the weeds and got sick. Think what you like: that I spared her, that she sang while keeping house for seven little men. Believe in the apple, the glass coffin without its covering flag, where she lay as perfectly preserved as Eva Peron until the prince came to carry her away. Of course he didn't carry her; the servants did. And when they stumbled over a tree stump- if you believe the story-the piece of apple, caught in her throat, popped out, a magical Heimlich. I can see it so clearly now: she sits up, the prince takes her soft little hand, and the evil queen trades her Ferragamos for cast iron sneakers. And I remember my place in the story. I let the girl go into those fabled woods, in winter, while the snow fell around us, white on her black hair, white on her blue Aryan eyes, white on her pretty, open mouth.


I would say more but I am completely jetlagged and will now collapse until the morrow, or possibly next week.

The end.

Jun 25, 2010

So yesterday I met Tink's brand new baby girl Clodagh (clo-duh), and witnessed Aoife holding her new sister for the first time. As you can see, it was QUITE RIDICULOUS. I held Clodagh for a while and Aoife cautioned me to be careful as "SHE IS VERY SMALL."

Jun 23, 2010

I have a bunch of things I've been meaning to write about, like for example the rest of Tink's book tour in DC, NYC and Boston, a gorgeous workshop my sister and I are taking with Ms Veronica Varlow in NYC, many ravishing plays and shows and movies, and a romantical sojourn or two including my recent summer solstice BIRTHDAY this past Monday which has shockingly left me less than one year away from becoming the NEW 30 and was spent with a wondrous French scientist at a haunted Victorian b&b in a town famous for its elk viewing and chainsaw art. Oh, and I'm not sure I mentioned that Godmother has been optioned for a second time, by a fancy old studio in France which is in no way related to said scientist. Oh! And I am leaving soon for ALASKA and will, among other things, visit with a Pulpwood Queens book club chapter in the Anchorage women's prison (a club that read and discussed Godmother last year!), after going to a glacier that morning and before spending the evening at dinner and a drag queen show with those Anchorage Pulpwood Queens not currently incarcerated.

But for NOW I would just like to share with you the recently unveiled COVER of this wondrous collection of retold ghost stories that yours truly is in and that is edited by Ms Ellen Datlow and Mr Nick Mamatas and available for your purchasing needs in early September.

Look how awesome it is:

And you can pre-order it here.

I know!


Jun 2, 2010

Today was the launch of Ms Jeanine Cummins' new book THE OUTSIDE BOY, about which I sagely and reflectively once said:

"The Outside Boy will charm you, fascinate you, delight you, snake into your heart and bust it wide open. I’m hard pressed to think of a narrator more lovable than Christy Hurley, who describes his lost, beautiful world — that of the Irish travellers in the late 1950s — in prose that’s as profound as it is funny. What a graceful, perfect book."

And I totally didn't even get paid to say that, even though I used snake as a verb.

Look at this byoooteous cover:

Not to mention this byeeeeteous article that came out in the Huffington Post today.

I know.

And then tonight was a reading and party involving CHAMPAGNE and STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE at Mr. Dennehy's in the West Village. Beforehand, I met Ms. Elyssa East for red wine and vanilla cupcakes just to ensure I had an adequate sugar intake for the day, and then my sister came and lots and lots of people came and it was all Irish gypsies and merriment and lives being changed forever. I think alliances were formed and babies made tonight, too.

I mean look at that cake:

And because I am like the best friend ever in this world, and because Jeanine AKA Tink is like 50000 months pregnant, and because this book was a long time a comin and I was there watching said comin for said long time, and because I enjoy partaking of free booze, I am driving with her to DC tomorrow for two readings/parties there and then attending her Queens reading on Saturday and then driving with her up to Boston next week for yet another night of unbelievable glamour.

Here, let me be more specific so that you might alter all of your plans and attend all the following events with me:


Germantown, MD @ 7pm

Borders at Milestone

Reading & Signing for The Outside Boy


LAUNCH PARTY! Bethesda, MD @ 7 pm

Flanagan’s Harp & Fiddle on Cordell Street


Reading, Signing, & Toasting The Outside Boy


Glendale, NY @ 5 pm

Borders at Atlas Park

Reading & Signing for The Outside Boy


Boston, MA @ 7 pm

Boston University Barnes & Noble

Reading & Signing for The Outside Boy

That is all for now, even though I did many exciting things this weekend, like for example I went FROG HUNTING. I have also magically switched to italics now and there is no way to stop them, and they have ruined everything.

In a last act of despair, I leave you with the following photos:

The end.

May 27, 2010

So today I went to a Book Blogger cocktail party with Anton Strout and Jennifer Belle and Jeanine Cummins -- the one thing I did at Book Expo tho I am in NYC this week and COULD have done more things -- but oh my goodness. I hate networking! I pictured cocktails and dresses and whores derves and even maybe some DANCING, but sadly it did not involve any of the above, just much peering at nametags and exchanging of business cards and an occasional moment of amore between author and blogger, or mermaids (I met the author of this book, for example), or authoress and marshmallow-topped brownie. I was also very happy to receive a copy of this book, which could possibly save my life. Overall it was not unpleasant, but I suppose that when it comes to yours truly, as much as I love all humankind, not to mention all animalkind, when put in a room and expected to mingle, my wide-open heart begins to falter in its love-in with the world at large. Oh, but I did meet some lovely bloggers who read and reviewed Godmother, even if one of them roodly hated the ending despite it being, like, the perfect ending. I'm just saying. Overall tho, I am not the best mingler in this world, though I might possibly be in the next, since really, you never know.

We did all have a gorgeous dinner afterwards, the four of us, some fancy Cuban food in a place with sparkling tiles and dim lights and flickering chandeliers, and Anton even showed me an ARC of Haunted Legends, which I have a story in.

Speaking of Jennifer, honestly: this might be the best video ever.

The end.

May 25, 2010

So I am at Tink's house in Queens for a few days, visiting Tink and my best friends Aoife, who just turned 3, and Shameless, the Dog without Shame. I spent the weekend upstate with my friend David, his wife Julie, and their four crazy boy children, ages 2 to 11, who almost killed me by making me play baseball and badminton non stop and, in brief moments of respite, reciting the plots of my books to them. We also spent much time traipsing around ponds.


In other news, today I have a guest post up at Random House's sci fi/fantasy blog.

And today Tink and I visited Penguin for her to do bookly things related to the imminent launch of her NEW BOOK, and said visit included some quality time with nerdly author extraordinaire Anton Strout:

The end.

May 18, 2010

I came up to NYC today for the launch of Jennifer Belle's new novel The Seven Year Bitch, which I can't wait to read after hearing her totally hilarious and charming reading tonight.

Here's Jennifer, Tink (whose own book The Outside Boy comes out in two weeks) and me at the party after:

And how gorgeous is this book!

Obviously, you should go buy it immediately.

May 17, 2010

So on Saturday I drove to Philly for the final performance of Curio Theatre's steampunk version of Twelfth Night starring, amongst others, actress extraordinaire Trillian Stars AKA Jennifer Summerfield. Curio Theatre has this amazing space in this old church and the play was staged right up against the old organ pipes, around which steam billowed in a gorgeously atmospheric fashion while actors scuttled up and down stairs and fireman/stripper poles. And so fashionably! Look!

Here are a bunch of photos from the byooteous program photographed by Mr. Kyle Cassidy: http://www.jaredaxelrod.com/main/2010/05/12/your-last-chance-to-see-twelfth-night-is-fast-approaching

Speaking of which, I caught said photographer extraordinaire, and husband of Ms Trillian Stars, in the act, post-performance:

So romantic! They are really the most romantical couple ever. Like Dietrich and Sternberg! But more nice and less German.

My old friend Sue came as well, and after we all had drinks at an awesome Indian bar with mirrored walls and Christmas lights, and then I stayed over at Sue's lovely lovely tree-and-garden-surrounded house where I was awoken by what I thought was a baby crying but was actually a very boisterous and ill behaved BIRD, and then I met her dashing husband and totally sweet son Duncan and we all had bagels and sat on porches but due to my discombobulation I forgot to take any pictures at all and then I went back to the middle of the state where I visited one Ms Vivienne Coco Lee Witmer, who roodly fell asleep on my lap whilst holding my hand, as if yours truly has nothing better to do in life but act as a BED to lazy children with drag queen names:

Look at her and her mama, I mean really:

Oh, and I had lunch today with my friend Hannah who told me about many wondrous things including The Great Skedaddle which I believe is the best name for anything ever.

The end.

May 14, 2010

So today I went with my friend Jay to visit his friend Chantelle, who works as a "rod wrapper" or "winder" for this man Jim who makes world class fly fishing rods by hand in Coburn, Pennsylvania, which is this totally charming little town right on Penn's Creek, one of these famous famous fishing spots around these parts, about 40 minutes from State College. It is also the town in which yours truly had the misfortune to work as an artist's model for one afternoon last year, in an art studio in a converted church, thinking I could read or otherwise occupy myself but then realizing with growing horror that I in fact had to sit completely still for 50000 hours -- and nearly died in the process. Anyway, so today was just the loveliest day, warm and breezy and verging on storm, and we sat leisurely around Jim's sweeping, bamboo-fishing-rods-in-various-states-of-creation-all-around, cluttered, old-timey workshop talking with him and Chantelle about their craft and fly fishing generally while Chantelle's dog Tater lounged shamelessly at our feet. It was totally lovely. I have only been fishing a handful of times, as a kid with my grandfather in Florida, and I've never been fly fishing, but man, the people who love it are so passionate about it. It's so cool to slip into another way of life, just for a few hours... Jim's workshop is right behind this store, The Feathered Hook, which is also this cool B&B where you can come and stay and learn about fly fishing and be taken around to all the best spots, etc etc. You can also come and take rod making workshops with Jim at his workshop, and spend like a week making a rod of your own. Anyway, I thought it was super cool and I sorta want to build my own rod now (I wonder if Jim would approve of some... glitter?) and stay at The Feathered Hook and step into some highly fashionable waders and pick out some sparkly lures and go catch me and release me some FISH.

Anyway, here's the shop sign:

And inside were a million lures (and some other things I SUPPOSE) laid out like jewels:

And pretty nets!

And then you step out of the shop and Jim's workshop is in back, across a parking lot and in front of a big farm upon where some nosy horses were hanging out and eying us suspiciously, to the left of what you see here. Horses! But how awesome is this building? Complete with a finger pointing you to the rod shop.

Here is the workshop:

And there were cool things everywhere!

I love tiny boxes jam-packed with colorful things, like in those zipper and button stores in NYC's Garment District and apparently like in fly fishing rod making workshops:

I would post more but that might be EXCESSIVE.

Check out my new best friend Tater tho (not to mention my fashionable footwear, obviously up in front):

AND THEN, afterward, Jay, Chantelle and I walked down to Penn's Creek, and as we gazed reflectively into its waters some young lads obligingly came along and began to fly fish in a most Tom Sawyerly manner:

AND THEN Jay and I drove along the creek a little bit, out to this old train trestle stretching over the water, where the train used to run over it:

We even walked over it tho we could have DIED:

AND THEN we saw, in the distance, a portal into other worlds:

And we got very close to it... getting right up to the entrance, picking across the wet rocks...

... but we knew that if we went inside we would never, ever come back.

So we turned around and went to the Whistle Stop Cafe in Centre Hall and had crab cakes and truffle peanut butter pie instead, dreaming of what might have been, trying to fill the great void in our hearts.