Friday, March 30, 2012

how to get the advance copy of passenger

Many people have been asking me, how do I get an advance copy of Passenger?

Here's how:

Go to the American Library Association's Annual Conference being held this June. It will be in Anaheim, California.

It's just a little more than two months away now.

These are some of the places where I know I will be. There will probably be more added before the event:

  • Friday, June 22: Booklist Youth Forum 8:00 - 10:00 p.m. I will be speaking with my good friend Michael Grant, Daniel Kraus, Daniel Handler, and Jon Scieszka. Pop Quiz: Which one of the guys on that list do I ALWAYS have to Google to check name spelling?
  • Then there's the Macmillan Party afterwards... Um...
  • Saturday, June 23: Guest speaker at Macmillan's Preview Breakfast Program. 7:00 - 9:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, June 23: THIS IS IT -- Signing at MacKids booth #2534-2535. 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. ARCs of Passenger. This is real.
I am certain that there will be people who go through the convoluted and appropriate channels to obtain an ARC before June 23. They will be screened for their proclivity toward writing spoiler posts on social networking sites.

Other than that, June 23 is not that far off, is it?

Besides, you want this.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


As of now, two people in my family have read THE BEAST.

Well, it's not actually the beast, it's Passenger, which is THE SEQUEL to The Marbury Lens.

The back of the ARC says it's 480 pages, but it's actually 465. In any event, it is long, but my two readers have torn through it.

I am going to say a few things about Passenger at ALA this summer. I am also going to be signing ARCs of it at ALA on Saturday morning, June 23. Camping out in line is perfectly acceptable, since I am neither loaning out any copies of my own, nor sending any ARCs around. You'll have to get them from the folks in charge.


There are too many surprises in those 465 or 480 pages, and too many spoiler-geeks with Goodreads accounts.

So... no.

And it's kind of a long trip to October 2, which is the official release date.

Which is also a palindrome date.

If you employ the sensible, European method of numerical representations of dates, October 2, 2012 is written:


...which is a palindrome day.

And that is cool.

You know... you see it in every book I have ever written, my fascination with numbers and patterns and connections and shit like that. It is an obsession I just can't shake.

I wrote a book that is coming out in fall of 2013 (which I will probably be telling you about in a week or so) that has a chapter called Palindromes in it.

Which is also cool.

Anyway, I was talking a bit with a reader about The Marbury Lens and how it relates to Passenger the other day.

This is what I said:

Whether you just take The Marbury Lens at face value or not (as a weird science fiction-type horror story), it is ultimately about how one messed-up event in your life can screw you over forever. The Marbury Lens is about how Jack tries, arguably with varying degrees of success, to deal with that issue despite his obvious flaws and predilection toward blaming himself. Passenger examines the effect of this on others: the people who love Jack. That's the bridge between these two books, and something to think about when you finally get your hands on this 465 or 480-page beast.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

the crooked hand of reckoning

I am telling true stories this week. They have been requested.

I may have told this one before, but chances are you haven't read it. I am, after all, a bit of a hipster author. You probably never heard of me.

You know.

When I was in elementary school, it was not at all uncommon for teachers and principals to spank kids who didn't quite live up to their expectations. It wasn't actually spanking. It was, in honesty, something much worse than that.

And before I even begin, let me answer the question you are undoubtedly thinking:

Yes. I admit it. I was spanked -- beaten by teachers AND principals -- in elementary school and in junior high, too. I probably would have been beaten in high school, but it was against the law by that time.

In high school, they suspended me.

None of it changed anything.

Here is a question I am asked quite frequently: How did you get so twisted?

Hmm... Let me tell you a story.

The elementary school I attended for a while in Washington State was very much like the schools described in my novel, Stick. Same place, same systems.

And because the school was in Washington, all the classroom doors were on the inside, opening onto long, dark, linoleum-paved hallways.

Did I mention that it was perfectly okay for school staff to beat children in those days?

When I say children, I mean boys. For some reason, girls never did anything that required a beating.

The school was in the woods. During recesses, we (boys) would usually go out into the woods, which was not really allowed, but the school was not fenced, it was THE WOODS, and we were boys, also known as "children who get spanked."

So it was that just about every day after recess, one of us would be sacrificed to the paddle.

Yes, they used a big piece of wood to hit boys in those days, too. Nothing at all wrong with that idea, some wise old pedagogue probably said.

When the spankings occurred, there would actually be a sort of bizarre ceremony involved. The boy to be spanked would be taken out into the middle of the long linoleum hallway, then all the other boys in all the other classes would be called out into the hall to watch.

Not the girls, just the boys.

They made us watch.


The swats would echo, invariably punctuated with whining yelps and cries.

Pretty twisted, huh?

That's not even the bad part.

The bad part was this: The principal, the man who delivered the swats with the big piece of wood, was missing an arm. He had a prosthetic metal hook. And he held the paddle in his hook.

I am not making that shit up.

That shit was real.

This helped form us boys into the adults we are today. I think some of the boys from my school ended up murdering their parents and shit like that.

I wrote books like The Marbury Lens.

And speaking of The Marbury Lens, yesterday I received an Advance Copy of its sequel, Passenger.

It looks like this:

Nobody has read this yet.

I gave one to my son, who is home from Cal Berkeley for Spring Break. After he read about 100 pages, he said to me I think this is possibly even grimmer than The Marbury Lens.

Hmm... I didn't see that coming.

I heard him walking around at 2 in the morning. I think he stayed up all night to finish reading it.

That's what happens.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

when opportunity kicks down your door, it may be carrying a gun

This is a true story.

In my younger days, after I graduated from college and devoted my life to unemployed drifting, I lived for a while in a small rental house on the beach. If you've read my book Stick, the house that I lived in was pretty much identical to the house Stark's Aunt Dahlia has in that novel: a two-bedroom little shack with a crooked fence in the sand.

It was cheap, and I had a roommate, a surfer kid named Brad, who happened to be gone with his girlfriend the night this particular true story in which I was nearly murdered took place.

In those days, I actually had a habit of being asleep at 3 a.m.

Imagine that!

What a bum!

Those were also the days before cellphones (I know!). Well, there were cellphones then, but they were like the size of microwave ovens and only rich people who later developed brain tumors owned them. I think you actually could melt cheese with them, too.

Let me tell you, too, the little community I lived in was rather bohemian. We were surfers, musicians, kids, dope dealers, shit like that. Since then, this little community has been entirely torn down and replaced by three-story view homes that are only occupied on weekends by lawyers and doctors who work endless hours in Los Angeles to maintain their empty beach houses.

It was a much cooler place when it was shacks and poor people.

Nobody locked their doors, either. In fact, on my little street it was normal for a neighbor to just pop over, open the front door, and come for a visit. We didn't even have the degree of social uptightness that required knocking.

I know. We were fucking communists or something.

This is what happened: my front door got kicked in.

At 3 a.m.

While I was doing what a good beach-dwelling unemployed communist would naturally be doing: sleeping.

I remember hearing the door being kicked in. It sounded like this:


Because, when you hear a sound like that at 3 a.m. your immediate assumption is that you are, indeed, about to die.

And I thought, What asshole does not know that my door is always unlocked?

I also kept a baseball bat beside my bed, which, I thought, came in handy at that exact moment.

I grabbed my baseball bat.

It was dark.

I went out of my bedroom and into the living room, a brave communist.

I had nothing on but a pair of underwear. And a baseball bat in my hand.

Guess what I saw?

Four police officers with guns drawn, pointed at me.

They had an arrest warrant and lots of firepower.

I have to hand it to those four well-armed policemen. You would think that when confronted with a crazed communist wearing nothing but underwear and wielding a baseball bat, there would be an immediate hail of bullets.

They did not shoot me!

This is why I did not get shot: The first cop through the door was a friend of mine.

His name was Ron.


Ron, my friend, a cop, holding what looked like a 9mm Sig Sauer pointed directly at my forehead said to me, "Drew? What are you doing here?"

I said, "Um. Ron? What are you doing here?"

Here is a condensed version of how it was I would have certainly been murdered if any other police officer besides my friend Ron had come through my kicked-down door first:

The arrest warrant, properly executed and with MY address on it, was for a man named Danny B (I will leave out his last name so he doesn't come and kill me), who happened to be my next-door neighbor. Danny B ran an illegal gambling operation out of a local Irish pub. Danny B frequently hung out at my house and used my telephone (which had something called a cord attaching it to the wall and other lines all over the planet). Danny was a cool guy, even if he did almost get me killed because the phone at the Irish pub had been tapped (using a properly executed warrant) and traced back to my house, where the police assumed Danny B lived, but in fact found nobody home but a guy in his underwear who was definitely NOT Danny B, holding a baseball bat.

Sometimes I marvel that I ever made it out of my teens and eventually survived to breed.

Natural selection favors lucky communists.

Friday, March 23, 2012

more or less the truth

I am writing a series of true story blog posts at the request of an anonymous friend who is being held prisoner at a desolate Agricultural College where, no doubt, fishbowls with strips of paper (see yesterday's true story) are displayed like chalices containing the blackened internal organs of martyred saints upon the daises of echoing, abandoned lecture halls.

It is spring break for all the other future Doctors Moreau.

This, however, is immediately true: ARCs of Passenger, which is the sequel to The Marbury Lens, are arriving today.

I don't know much about it at all.

Well, I mean, I do know about the book since I wrote it and shit like that. It's pretty good. Kind of "out there." Big, big surprises in that story.

You will see.

It was a surprise to me when I came back from my afternoon run in the hills and I saw the email from my editor, telling me about the ARC's impending delivery. It happened very fast -- and the book is not coming out until October. I never even saw the page layout -- the "final pass" pages -- so I am as eager to actually hold and admire this thing as anyone could possibly be.

Liz [chimes!] commented something along the lines of This thing is so thick, will make a good weapon.

Well, it is substantial in content, but I doubt it would offer any significant degree of protection against a chicken the size of a fucking grizzly bear (see yesterday's true story).

So... um... yeah, I am excited.

I am more excited because my son, who is neither imprisoned at an Agricultural College nor a budding blasphemer of evolution, is coming home for spring break from UC Berkeley today. I haven't seen the kid since Christmas.

Anyway, today's immediate and hurried true story.

This photo was taken last Sunday, from my office desk, as the sun came up. I shot it with my new iPad, looking out across my backyard at the hills.

See those hills up there?

That is the Angeles National Forest.

Yesterday, my daughter and I were driving up the winding two-lane road over those hills, through the Angeles National Forest, coming home from THE BIG CITY, when we saw something that made me pull off into the dirt and snap a picture.

You ever notice how long it takes to get your phone out and actually snap a photograph when you see something really cool?

It takes for EVER.

Anyway, this is what we saw:

The reason it is hard to tell what is going on is because time expanded while I was getting out of my car and extracting my cellphone from my pocket.

There was a sheriff's helicopter dipping down into the canyon, right beside the road.

It had a long rope with a basket on it, and inside the basket there was a big pile of plants.

I thought, that was really cool!

My gardener just carries my yard trimmings away in a wheelbarrow.

I want him to start using a fucking helicopter, too!

I suppose this is what keeps Agricultural College kids busy over their spring breaks.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

lucky, squared

Chickens, again unlike cats, are also not finicky eaters.

I have never seen a chicken vomit.

And if chickens were the size of grizzly bears, I am certain they would eat people.

That would be cool.

Research geneticists at Osaka University in Japan genetically modified mice so they could chirp like birds.

Why the hell would anyone do shit like that?

I don't really want an answer to that question. It is more or less rhetorical.

I wonder if genetic engineers sometimes put little strips of paper with characteristics into a fishbowl and then get drunk and randomly draw one strip from the "creature" bowl and one strip from the "traits" bowl and then laugh, laugh, laugh!

Then they get out their little Petri dishes with sperm and egg cells and go to town!

What crazy parties those genetic engineers must have!


So I'm just waiting for them to pull out the "chicken" strip from the creature jar and the "size of a fucking grizzly bear" strip from the characteristics jar after they've knocked down a few quarts of vodka.

We already know what they did to every goddamned vegetable we stuff down the throats of our children.

But I got off track here. More or less.

Our chickens, who were happy free-roaming non-genetically-modified hens, would always return faithfully to their chicken coop every night.

Lucky, our buff Orpington hen with the broken, clawlike Richard III side-jutting foot, would always hop, hop, hop home every evening, too.

Hmmm... I've considered turning this into a picture book for kids, but I am told you are not allowed to drop EVEN ONE f-bomb in kids' picture books.

Go figure.

Who makes up such rules in this world where it is okay to just set drunken genetic engineers free to fuck with the machinery of evolution and natural selection?

That is also a rhetorical question, more or less.

If you have a big, wide-open chicken house, as we do, you are also going to attract mice.

The real kind, not the fucked-with kind that chirp like birds.

Anyway, whenever I'd go inside my buff Orpington hen named Lucky's house to feed my hens, if I'd kick around the straw, I could always stir up nests of mice and send them running around all over the floor.

My chickens used to like that very much, because they would actually chase the mice and eat them.

I am not making that up. It is another reason why chickens are superior to cats, and, believe me, I did not party with genetic engineers to elicit that particular quality in my hens.

Partying with genetic engineers would be really creepy.

Watching chickens eat mice is creepy, too.

So, this is how Lucky, my buff Orpington hen, finally died:

One morning, I went out to the barn to feed the horses, and I found Lucky, expired, a mound of ginger-colored feathers in the dust outside the henhouse.

Sad, sad, sad!

Lucky tried to swallow a mouse that was too big for Lucky's normal-sized chicken's throat.

The mouse was also dead, and its hind quarters were sticking out of Lucky's non-chirping beak.

This is how natural selection, in my estimation, will drive chickens to evolve to the size of grizzly bears.

And when that happens, genetic engineers better watch their fucking backs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

getting lucky

When my son was about 3, he had an action figure of the green Power Ranger. He named him Lucky.

This is a true story.

I don't remember how Lucky became part of the family. I think my son found him, discarded in the grass at some park. It was easy to see why he had been left there. Lucky was missing one of his legs.

My son told me he was going to name his new toy Lucky, and he explained the reason for the name was that he was lucky he wasn't missing both legs, instead of only one.

I told him, Son, that is a very William Faulkner way of looking at the world, considering you are only three years old.

At the time we also raised chickens.

We no longer have chickens because they have all been eaten by predatory animals. Now that spring is here, we are going to get some more chickens.

Chickens are good animals. They are loyal and smart, and they happily come running when you call them, unlike cats who clearly let you know that they don't really like you very much at all.

One of our chickens -- a buff Orpington, which is my favorite kind of chicken -- was attacked by a dog when it was just a chick. Well, it was actually attacked by my dog, who only wanted to play with her.

Dogs do not know how to play with baby chicks very well.

My dog playfully removed the majority of the little bird's feathers. We thought she was going to die, so we put her in a box with a lamp to keep her warm.

When she didn't die, we decided to name her Lucky.

Lucky, the buff Orpington hen, lived a very long time and laid many eggs for us, which we ate and enjoyed.

We always allowed our chickens to run free, wherever they wanted to go, all over the property.

Horses also do not know how to play with chickens very well.

One day, Lucky got stepped on by one of our horses.

She still did not die, but her leg was badly broken. After it healed, Lucky's little claw stuck out to the side at a 90-degree angle to the rest of her fluffy body, so she hopped around on only one leg and looked like an avian version of Richard III.

Isn't this a charming story?

Well, I didn't get to the end yet -- the part about how Lucky, the buff Orpington hen, ended up dying.

I'll tell you that later.

Have a lucky day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

the law of averages

Are you average?

Are you "okay" with being average?

Will you live to be 78.5 years of age, which is the average life expectancy in the United States?

Do you think that being "average" for 78.5 trips around the sun is a ride worth taking?

78.5 trips around the sun is exactly like driving back and forth across the state of Iowa 23.7 million times.

That is a lot of corn.

I think a lot of kids these days are okay with being average.

Schools, which are standardized, steer them toward the middle, the big hump of the bell curve.

They learn that just getting by equals success; that there is no need to exceed when being proficient is good enough.

Besides, Dubuque looks the same whether you drive through it heading west or heading east.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

drop your greens and blues

That was very strange. Somehow, this entire post was wiped out and I had to re-write it from the start.

It went something like this:


There is a theme today.While it seems the rest of the country is enjoying spring-summer weather, here in the mountains of California, we are getting a real whopper of a storm, with snow expected tomorrow and Monday. Nice fireplace weather for St. Patrick's Day.

I am presently not wearing anything green.

I do, however, have "green" in every book I've written, and here I offer up some little proof:

Ghost Medicine:

Beside the wood was a pile of green-glassed wine jugs, the big kind with screw-off metal tops and finger holes alongside their necks. Some were broken, some intact, most had their labels peeling away like dried leaves.

In the Path of Falling Objects:

The walls in the room came together unevenly, their yellowed paper coverings bubbling and peeling away in spots like dead skin, and the green carpet was frayed and stained with dog urine. Maybe it was dog’s.

The Marbury Lens:

Pale green scrubs, just the pants. Dark smears of blood down one leg. It was from my own hand.


I am as unremarkable as canned green beans.

Passenger (coming in October from Feiwel and Friends):

“This little green one is what does it. When you flip it over the bigger one there, that’s what brought me here.”

Winger (coming spring, 2013, from Simon and Schuster):

Joey just stood there, leaning against the pale green tiles of the wall, his arms folded, staring at me. I could tell he was mad. 

“You should have just let him punch me, Joe.”

Joey didn’t say anything.

I left and went to bed.

And the next book, which is coming out in fall, 2013, which I am DYING to tell you about, but can't. Yet.:

A narrow steel ladder hung about 6 feet down from the roof’s edge. It was impossible to reach the bottom of it, so Robby and I rolled the heavy green dumpster across the alley and lined it up below the ladder.

Then we climbed on top of the dumpster in our socks.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I posted this photo here a few months back, but I wanted to share it again.

These are my horses, running around like crazy behind my house.

I moved here about 15 years ago, right after my daughter was born.

This suddenly reminds me of something: I turned on the news last night, and during a commercial break I caught this ad by Pampers (I think) about how rugged and dependable their diapers are... and they could prove it by leaving an infant in the care of its Daddy.

Everyone knows Daddies let their kids sit in their own piss-soaked diapers all day long.

What a bunch of bullshit, Pampers.

Ha ha... that's as witty as calling a graduate student a slut.

As a matter of fact, I was the first person to ever change my kids' diapers. And, by the way, I didn't use toxic earth-tumors made of paper and plastic. I used an organic cotton diaper that I also washed.

Yes... a Daddy who knows how to use a "washing machine."

I guess some forms of gender-bias are always going to be okay, aren't they Pampers?



But I got away from myself there.

Thinking about moving in to my house makes me remember my daughter as an infant here.

I think our space here has a lot to do with why I write so much. This place hasn't changed too much in 15 years. There are more people here now, but it is still quiet and open. It is 20 miles to the nearest supermarket or traffic signal, we kayak on our little lake, and can disappear on trails into the hills and not see anyone at all.

This space invariably works its way into my work. I think you can get a sense of where I live in the way I write and in the words I use. I think all writers -- whether consciously or not -- are influenced by and express themselves through their "spaces."

Some of us could definitely benefit by getting out into theirs more often.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

maslow's compromise

Last weekend, Charles sent me a list of questions he wanted to ask me for a psychology class.

Hmm... I thought, I could come up with some good psych-type questions to ask writers, but they would probably get mad at me if I did.

I think maybe that Charles' questions were geared toward the Maslow's hierarchy, personal satisfaction kind of spectrum, though, as opposed to the kind of questions I'd probably ask that might tilt toward other, more self-compromising admissions.

In any event, I thought I'd share a couple of the questions and responses:

  • Looking back to the time when you were preparing for your current career (high school, college, or later), what do you wish you had known then that you do know now?

Buy Apple stock. That, and (not that this would have ever changed anything about my path or determination) the easiest part of this whole gig is the part that most people think is the hardest -- writing a book.

Compared to the other steps on the road toward traditional mainstream publishing, that first step -- the writing -- is by FAR the easiest.

And this reminds me, too, about why I feel so strongly about not devoting too much serious thought or energy toward asking "pros" how they got there: I don't know any two people whose paths toward "getting there" were the same. If you know where you want to go, aim yourself in that direction and go.

I was really stupid about a lot of things just starting out. And I am still pretty stupid today. I still don't know what a lot of common editing marks mean, but I'm far too egotistical to ask -- so when I see a confusing squiggle, I'll usually just ignore it and hope it goes away, just like the man who stands on the hill behind my house every night staring at my windows.

Here's another one: About a week ago, my editor used the term "blad."

I am not making that up.

I suggest if you are an aspiring author and you honestly expect to EVER succeed, you need to know what a blad is.

Or you will fail, fail, fail!


If you do know what a blad is, send me an email. I don't want to seem dumb and ask.

  • What advice would you give to someone who is exploring career options and preparing for a career today?

Be excellent. This is a competitive endeavor, and a lot of those entering the field are overly consumed with fitting in -- being "like" something else. Be more than anything else out there and you'll do fine, but you can't be lazy and you can't expect that anyone else will pick up your messes. Oh... and one more thing: EDITORS DO NOT CORRECT YOUR SPELLING ERRORS (they are far too busy dealing with blads and shit like that).

Know your language before you ever even try getting your foot in the door to the blad clubhouse.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

fitting it on the paper

In September, the paperback version of The Marbury Lens will be published by Square Fish.

If you have read The Marbury Lens, you may want to pick up this paperback, anyway.

It's going to have some "extra" stuff in it.

By "extra," I mean it is going to have a chapter or so from Passenger in it.

Passenger is coming out in October, from Feiwel and Friends.

And, while I'm on the subject, just yesterday The Marbury Lens received this most excellent eview from the folks at crunchings & munchings. This is a book blog worth following.

Monday, March 12, 2012

some other passengers

A couple nice things happened over the weekend.

My friend, Michael Grant, posted a photo he took while sitting in a Japanese restaurant in London while reading one of my new manuscripts I'd sent him.

I sent him three new books, so I'm not really sure which one he was reading. I tried blowing up the image, but I still couldn't tell. I have a pretty good idea, though.

Here is his picture:

I can guess which book he might have been reading by observing two startling clues: First, the line spacing of the text, which appears to be short and punchy; and, second, the fact that he is having not one but TWO different alcoholic beverages while reading it.

Both these clues tell me he was probably reading Passenger (yes... someone got to read it), which is probably a good book to read while sitting inside a Japanese restaurant in London.

Also, I received a very nice, handwritten (on paper) letter from a young person who'd just finished reading the prequel to Passenger, The Marbury Lens.

Two things: First, I really love it when I get actual paper-and-pen letters from readers. Also, I have had a number of them that said things very similar to this young reader's comments, too, which is pretty gratifying.

I guess books can make a difference in the lives of some kids.

Of The Marbury Lens, my letter-writer said:

"As embarrassing as it is, I can relate to Jack in various ways. Some of the things he has gone through, I have also. And most of the feelings he has are ones that I have. Relationships that he builds and destroys throughout the story are similar to mine in my life... By reading this book, I've come to realize what really happened in my past and how it continues to affect my future..."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

hyphenation anxiety

Today is World Read Aloud Day.

I wonder if the name requires hyphenation.

World Read-Aloud Day or World Read Aloud Day?

The link for the event says no hyphen.

I will have to ask c/e hellskitchen.

I suspect the hyphenated version makes more sense because read-aloud seems more of a noun form than read aloud, which seems like an imperative -- a command to the world to read aloud.

World: I command you to read aloud!

Who would act like that toward Planet Earth?


World, let's have a read-aloud.


Now I think read-aloud sounds dumb.

Like sing-along.

Okay, I'll admit it. I think too much.

The truth is, I am going to read aloud to about 200 kids today. And I am going to let them tell me -- no, command me -- to read (aloud) the book of their choice.

And they will get to choose from the following list of titles, just because I happen to want to read parts of these books (aloud):

  • Rotters, by Daniel Kraus
  • Everybody Sees the Ants, by A.S. King
  • The Raft, by S.A. Bodeen

...And then there are three of my own books from which they can choose, too:

  • Passenger (fall 2012, published by Feiwel and Friends)
  • Winger (spring 2013, published by Simon and Schuster)
  • The book whose title I am not yet going to reveal on my blog, but will gladly tell the kids (fall 2013, published by a house I will not yet reveal on my blog, but will gladly tell the kids)
If it kills you to think that I will likely be reading one of my favorite parts of Passenger (aloud) today, that is gratifying.

Now, go read aloud, please.

So... tell me, you are going to read aloud today too, right?

Anne, help me.

You know how I am with hyphens.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

in which i discuss sports

Well, sort of.

Early next year, the second Andrew Smith-sired book waiting in the delivery room will pop its head into the atmosphere.

It's called Winger.

[Note: I will have two completely different releases in 2013. That makes three books in the next year-and-a-half. Squee. The other 2013 book will be revealed here very soon.]

So, about the sports thing: The narrator of Winger is a high-school kid who happens to play rugby (Union Rugby, which is undoubtedly the most demanding, brutal, and elegant game ever invented).

The sport of rugby is far from the most important element of the story -- this is not a "sports" book -- but it does make a difference in the things some of the kids do and the way they relate to one another.

Here's why. Anyone who has ever played rugby will tell you that beneath the obvious complexities and physical demands of the game is a code of behavior that becomes an elemental character issue on and off the field of play, and this is perhaps even more important than the laws which dictate the visible manner in which the game is played. I think among those unstated features of the sport are: singing (all rugby players must sing and know songs of varying degrees of impropriety), civility (even when you don't like someone), a sense of humor, and honesty -- owning your limitations and your mistakes.

I think tennis used to have an unstated code, too.

You know what happened to tennis?

America happened to tennis.

Dear America: Please do not "happen" to rugby.

Control yourself for once in your goddamned history.

But I digress. Winger is not a "sports" book, because it isn't about athletic rivalry, the big game, or winning "State." There are a couple matches in the book, and I think it's fun to see what happens, but the real story is what happens to these kids off the pitch (Rugby is played on a "pitch"). The book is really about love and friendship, with several comics, and a couple haikus thrown in, too.

The comics in Winger are being illustrated by Sam Bosma (I have seen his sketches for the book, and they are fantastic), and the book is being delivered into this universe by Simon and Schuster.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Stick, my most recent novel, has just been named to the list of 20 titles by the Georgia Library Media Association for the 2012 - 2013 Georgia Peach Book Award.

That's sweet.

It's quite an honor to see Stick listed in such company -- alongside some great friends of mine and really terrific novels. The kids in Georgia have some good books to read over the next year.

And speaking of the next year, I thought I would spend some time talking about the books -- several of them -- I'll have coming out before the end of 2013.

First up: Later this year, we will see a paperback edition of The Marbury Lens, which should come out just before its sequel, Passenger, which is due out in October.

It's quite a relief to see Passenger in its final, pre-arrival stages. It's been a long time coming, and I'm certain fans of The Marbury Lens won't be disappointed.

Writing a sequel was tough in a lot of ways. I'm not sure if I'd ever want to do something like that again. I guess I'm not much of a series guy.

And I've seen the first iteration of the cover for Passenger. I love it. It totally works, and I can't wait to see the inside design of the book.

I will say this about the sequel: Whereas The Marbury Lens was all about Jack dealing with Jack, Passenger is more about Jack dealing with the people who mean so much to him, people whom he unwittingly trapped in the back-and-forth gap between Marbury and here, or wherever this happens to be -- Conner, Ben, and Griffin.

Whether or not Jack succeeds in getting his friends firmly planted on safe ground is a matter to be seen over the course of his adventure in Passenger.

Later this week, I'll talk about the next book coming out: Winger.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012

where i will write the history of the end of the world

Today, I write about writing again.

I suppose I do consider myself a writer, I am just not good at "being a writer," which, I think, is a different thing altogether.

I have said this before. It is not the epiphany of the moment.

A lot of people are good at "being" writers, but they can't write very well at all.  I know that's a snobby thing to say, but I also believe it is true.

If I made a list of the things that are most important to me, and then I eliminated the obvious top-tier no-brainers like respiration and taking care of my household, it is highly likely that writing excellently will be at the top of my list.

That's probably a snobby thing to say, too.

"Being" a writer wouldn't make it on the list at all.

I think it's something of a consequence of our highly connected, social-networked mentality that a lot of us buy into -- the importance of "being" a writer as opposed to the process of writing itself. I blame the watered-down sameness of product on this, too -- the collective, delusional belief that "this is what I must write because this is what Barnes and Noble will put on their shelves."

"And the cover will look like this."

This, this, this!

You know what I mean.

In human history, writing and literature have never worked that way.

And here we are.

It is why so many "writers" don't feel even a moment of self-reflective shame for sifting out nouns and verbs from existing works and rearranging their context or morphing a flawed protagonist into another flawed protagonist with fins or scales or wings or fangs.

This is the end of the world, and nobody knows anything about it at all.

Friday, March 2, 2012

dumb stuff we do [1]

Player piano scroll:

State-mandated standardized test:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

there is nothing like cup-o-noodles to calm a boy down

I have been gone for a while.

There are ten reasons why I have not been posting new blog entries lately.

The first reason was that I wrote a blog post called the ten reasons why I have not been blogging and then I decided not to post it.

The second reason is that I changed my running routine, so I am doing more miles in the morning -- at 4 a.m. when it is dark and I am most certainly going to be killed, killed, killed! -- and then running in the afternoons, too.

I run twice per day on most days.

I have not missed a day of running since the 1990s.

That is a lot of days.

I ran in an icy snowfall on Monday. I even run when I'm injured, which is dumb, but... oh well.

And that is actually the topic of the day: Doing Dumb Stuff.

I am kind of obsessed with the historical significance of doing dumb stuff.

I'll get back to that thought in a minute.

Here's what else I do: Whenever I talk to someone, I write notes.

I have a list of ten reasons why I do that, but I am not going to post that list.

One of the reasons would be this: It was helpful that one time a police detective phoned me and made threats about using his position within the Los Angeles Police Department to "fuck my life."

He was a nice man! Not at all mentally unbalanced!

To protect and to serve!

Enough of this whimsical digression.

Last night I had a conversation with a writer friend. I do not have lots of writer friends I can talk to about writing stuff due to the fact that most writers are far too busy being clever and shit like that.

Being clever takes a lot of energy.

I wrote these notes down during my conversation last night:

1. Do not ever use a [delete the clever idea mentioned] in one of your books, Drew. [Delete name of writer friend] will thumb-fuck your eye sockets if you do.

Let me say this: There is something elegant in that hyphenated verb up there.

Also, I never employ ideas from other writers or attempt a "retelling" of any "classic tale" in my work. One thing I can be fairly certain about is that nobody has ever thought, upon reading something I've submitted, "Gee, this is exactly like three other books we are listing in next year's catalog!"

Same same same. I get so bored, so easy.

2. Contact the Cup-O-Noodles corporate offices to enquire about payment for product placement.


But you know what we talked about that was particularly interesting?

No. Of course you don't. Not unless you are that crooked and out-of-control LAPD detective and you have bugged my office with listening devices.

We talked about how clueless we were when we started out "being writers," and how we easily forget just how dumb we were about so many things.

Which reminds me to talk about Doing Dumb Stuff here on this blog.

I will get to that.