Sunday, June 28, 2009

Internet Sabbatical

I'll be taking a sabbatical from the internet (not a sabbatical on the internet, that would just be weird) for a couple weeks beginning on Tuesday. As I very painstakingly moderate all of the posts, none will appear until I get back no matter how many times you try. Sorry!

But if you are surfing and looking for things to do, you can check out Joe Frawley's music, which I referred to in my last blog. You can take the zombie quiz at You can go buy some beautiful comic book art from my good friend Matthew Dow Smith at his blog matthewdowsmithoriginalart. A surfeit of wonders, that Internet.

See you later!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Phoebe's Playlist Part II

A few blogs ago I linked to my guest spot on, where I was able to write about some of the music that I listened to when I wrote Generation Dead, music that coincidentally would likely be on Phoebe's iPod. Pretty much everything in that column is uptempo, loud music. So what does Phoebe like to listen to when she's in a quiet, reflective mood? When she's pensive, thoughtful, or relaxing? (Phoebe, for the record, never "chillaxes", btw. Well, yes, she listens to that loud stuff when relaxing, but she also has moments that create a more soothing aural space. The three This Mortal Coil albums help create that space, especially the unbelievably good Filigree and Shadow, and there's an album called Space Age Freakout by Glide (Will Sergeant of Echo and the Bunnymen) that we quite like. During the editing of Kiss of Life I was introduced to a recording artist by the name of Joe Frawley, and he's recently released a CD with called Emperor of Daffodils with an ensemble that I (and thus, Phoebe) have fallen in love with.

Joe's solo work defies easy description, drawing from a number of genres and styles, usually incorporating "found sounds" to create amazing sound collages. This is music that takes you places; often to places you've likely never been.

Here's what Joe has to say about the inspiration for the album:

Artist's Statement
I came across this You Tube video- and apparently there are others like it- of a young woman doing her makeup, talking about which eyeshadows she likes, how she puts on lipstick, etc. And then people would comment back saying "you're so pretty", "that shade looks good on you". It occurred to me that a web cam functions something like a magic mirror to some people, as in: "Who's the fairest of them all?" And it wasn't just one video, she had dozens of them. A lot of the samples you hear on this project come directly from that source. This was the initial fascination, which then lead to further explorations of the idea, from slightly different angles, including the male perspective. I have always found it fascinating, for example, to watch a woman put on makeup. It's a whole world I know nothing about, and have no place in- the world of feminine beauty rituals. This is what lead to the idea of an Emperor of Daffodils (that is of narcissists- the flower in French, narcisse, is named after the mythic figure). I imagined it as a fantasy for a man to have dominion over an empire of self-loving beautiful women, a fantasy which could easily turn dark, as you can imagine. This CD has been the most strictly programmatic work I have made, and I found working within the limits of the concept to be creatively liberating. I am encouraged by the results of this recording and hope to do more collaborative work in the future. –JF

Definitely something Phoebe would want to check out. You can check it out and listen to excerpts of the music at Joe's site Eight bucks gets you the new limited edition CD--only fifty made! And I have one of them, so you might need to hurry!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Introducing...Puddin' Tater Jones

We received over 100 suggestions, but my kids have decreed that Puddin' Tater Jones is our zombies' name. Many thanks to thedarkone443 for the suggestion. Send me an email, thedarkone443, and I'll send you the UK edition of Generation Dead!

One of the suggestions was George, after the "old school" zombie introduced in Kiss of Life. We couldn't use George because the kids named this guy George years ago:

"Dad, we're going to ride our scooters!""Okay, put George out.""Dad, we're going to play basketball!""Okay, put George out." We live on a...heh-heh...dead end, and sometimes cars zip in and out at fearsome speeds, but the sight of that faithful protector, George, usually encourages folks to slow down.

I wonder if the sight of Puddin Tater Jones will encourage them to speed up?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Life Continually Provides New Metaphors

Or would that be, like, similes?

Awhile ago I wrote a blog about how no one ran in the same direction I did at the park, evidence of me living clockwise in a counter-clockwise world. Well, after a brief hiatus from running, I was back at the park this weekend, and this time there were a pair of joggers running the same route I was--and they passed me like I was standing still!

There's a lesson there too, I think.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Phoebe's Playlist

I'm sometimes asked via posts to my blog or at book events to talk about what I like to listen to (or, even more often, what Phoebe and Margi like to listen to) when I'm writing. My usual answer--"almost anything"--may seem like a cowardly dodge, but considering that there are currently 33,422 songs on my iPod, I assure you it is a true statement.

That said, I tend to have certain things on in a heavier rotation during certain projects. I'm listening to a lot of Miles Davis and Flying Saucer Attack for something I'm working on now, for example. GD and KOL were written while under the influence of a number of specific songs and albums, and I got the chance to write about a few of them for the wonderful blog LARGEHEARTED BOY, which, in addition to reviews and news about music and literature, also has two great sections, "Book Notes" and "Note Books", featuring authors writing about songs, and songwriters writing about books, respectively.

Click the link to read about what I listened to at the start of writing the GD series--I guarantee that both Phoebe and Margi have these songs on their iPods!--but budget your time, because you are going to want to click around and read what all of the other great writers and musicians have to say about the works that inspired them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Three Cheers for Necromancy

Necromancy Never Pays, that is, one of my favorite literature blogs. I first came across the blog when I was obsessively googling myself (insecure egomaniac that I am) in the months that followed the publication of Generation Dead. Jeanne wrote an essay/review of the book entitled Fiction and Lies. I've been a fan of Jeanne's commentary ever since. I think I'd even enjoy her blog if she slammed my books, she's so interesting.

Okay, that's a lie. The enjoying it if she slammed me part, not the part about her being interesting. I'd probably start sniveling and have to jog an extra mile the way I always do when someone sends me a lousy review (I really don't google myself anymore!). But check out Fiction and Lies; she doesn't let me completely off the hook but then again she accurately nails so much of what I was trying to do I don't mind.

She's also written a review of Kiss of Life that you can find by clicking the first link above, but don't stop there--click around and discover some of the best writing on writings available out on the blogosphere.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Supercool Art of the Day

This was sent to me by Trad Chik, and I love it! I think that she has captured essential elements of each character's personality, don't you?

Name that zombie! A week from today the judging will take place!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

And This Concludes The Tour...For Now

The final stop on the Spring Kiss of Life Tour was in one of my favorite towns, Salem, Massachusetts. I had an excellent time at the excellent Cornerstone Bookshop. A personal highlight was meeting Michelle, a librarian who writes Tempting Persephone, one of my favorite book blogs. Michelle, although she didn't realize it, was very dear to my heart because A). she wrote one of the first, and kindest, reviews of Generation Dead to hit the web and B). she picked on an intricacy within the book that few before or since have commented on, and as I am a shameless egomaniac that really meant a lot to me. Turns out that she is as cool as her blog, which is to say very, very cool indeed.

And she's giving away a signed copy of Generation Dead at her blog now, if you know anyone that wants one! Read about it HERE

Speaking of contests, Zombie Waters is still without an official your suggestion to the blog for your chance to win the U.K. edition of Generation Dead!

Despite having been to Salem about 72 times in my life, I'd never visited the House of the Seven Gables, which is odd because the book that bears its name is one of my favorites, as is the author of the book, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Well worth the trip if you find yourself in Salem and are looking for something a little less witchy to do.

There's still some witchy connection there, though. Nathaniel changes his name from "Hathorne" to "Hawthorne", because he wanted to dissociate from certain relatives, especially John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials, as he was ashamed of his family's role in the trials.

You know who else was involved with the Salem Witch Trials? A minister by the name of Increase Mather. His son Cotton Mather, also a minister, had influence on the trials as well.

Wouldn't it be weird if Reverend Nathan Mathers also changed his name, adding the "S", to distance himself from his illustrious ancestors? Hmmm.