Making History

Victoria Schwab’s new book, THE ARCHIVED, comes out on January 22, and to celebrate, she is hosting a project called MAKING HISTORY, wherein you share a story about a time or event that shaped you. This is mine.

Lullabies for Girls Who Read (or, The Last Thing I Wrote Before I Became A Writer)

*twirls*

A Year in Blogging

Last January, when I decided to start blogging, I thought I would follow a pretty distinct schedule: a post about writing, a post about me, a book review, a short story, (possibly a guest post, if the month allowed). I did not do anything like that, but at the same time, I think I did manage to blog enough, and say what I wanted to.

When I began, I was thinking of editing and querying. Since I sold THE STORY OF OWEN in May, my goals have shifted a bit. I probably won’t post too much more often this year, but I am hoping to have a significantly more dragon/music/story themed posts when I do. Also, I hope to not fall off the wagon so dramatically once the summer rolls around. But I guess we’ll see.

My most popular post is still THE SHARPIE PENCIL, and my most popular day is the WoW when I was reblogged by Sarah Rees Brennan. I get a lot of searches for cupcakes, my own name, and “i often wonder if more girls were willing to be ladies”. I am happy to see that “LOW LIGHT”, my only short story of the year, is one of my top five in terms of hits.

There’s been a lot of talk about writing blogs this year, and whether or not they are of particular merit. I really, really doubt that my “how I got published” story will ever be of use to anyone, for example, which is why I have never detailed it here. I’ve also not talked about my process, which is largely “open computer, type”.  I’d much rather talk about other stuff, which is mostly what I do (though I try to be somewhat more professional than I am on my livejournal).

Speaking of that, I have no plans to continue my book reviews at this point. I’ll still read a lot, but I think I’ll limit them to Twitter. This year, I want to LOVE more books instead of READ more books. After three years of counting, I think I am ready for that. Also, there are a lot of things I wish to re-read, and I am very much looking forward to that.

Oh, and also I really liked The Hobbit. REALLY, REALLY. So there will also probably be a lot of posts about that, ranging from the writing to the music to my unexpected love of the dwarves to…well, everything. Ten years ago, I went head over heels with the Lord of the Rings online community, and it looks like I’m about to do the same with The Hobbit*.

As for books, well, that would be telling. I am very excited to work with my 2014 debut group (though I confess that with the insanity of Retail Christmas, I kind of forget what I promised to do), and I am looking forward to finding good pictures to use for the promotion of THE STORY OF OWEN. And, of course, there will be new books. I’m not sure of their shape yet, but I have a few things that I’ve been waiting to poke at, and I am very excited to finally get started.

January is kind of an arbitrary time for promises. There’s no real reason why you can’t do all of this in, say, July. But after working at the stores so much after Thanksgiving in October, I’m…ready to start over. I’m going to take a week-long nap (and maybe go see The Hobbit two or six more times), and then, well, Further Up and Further In!

 

 

 

*I’m not kidding. During the writing of this, I spent approximately 3 hours reading THE APPENDICES and some more time on tumblr, because that is where the gifs are.

Waiting on Wednesday

That awkward moment when you go back through you blog posts and realize that while you did promote THE ASHBORN BOY, you forgot to talk about how excited you are for Victoria Schwab’s THE ARCHIVED.

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Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

Books and Histories and dead people? I’m so, so in. I love the idea of Histories being set up like that, of something that…might be able to move and talk for itself? I have no idea, but if the cover is anything to go by, we’re in for something creepy and fierce and bookish, and that sounds like something I will love.

THE ARCHIVED is available for pre-order, and will be released on January 22, 2013.

Retail Christmas

True Story: I’ve had excellent blogs planned out of the last two weeks, written in advance on scraps of paper…and then put through the washing machine. It’s retail Christmas, and I don’t have time to check my pockets, apparently.

I remember the first time I had to work on Christmas Eve. It was 1998, I worked at the Egmondville Country Market, we closed at 6PM, and EVERY PERSON IN THE TOWNSHIP seemed to come in to buy something. This was unusual because, with the exception of Summer Ice Cream Sundays*, the store was usually very quiet. By the time the owner came in and sent me home for dinner (30 minutes early), I was kind of in awe. Until that day, I don’t think I’d ever left the house on Christmas Eve, at least before dinner, and CERTAINLY not to go shopping.

Ah, the innocence of youth.

Since that time, I’ve worked a lot of Christmas Eves. Heck, since once of my jobs was at a nursing home, I’ve worked a lot of Christmas DAYS. But there’s just something about retail Christmas that really gets me excited. Or sad. But mostly excited.

I am what might be called the opposite of a cynical person. When I worked at the Toy Cabal, and one of the customer service people told me that I would come to hate Christmas, I looked her right in the eye and I said “That will never happen.” They laughed at me, but I stuck to my guns. I weathered swear words** and physical threats***, and I focused on the little kids who had drawn Christmas lists (Grandparent: Do you have any idea what this is? Me: *squints* I think that’s a picture of Iron Man. Right this way!), the grown-ups who are SO HAPPY when you find what they’re looking for, and the kids who are old enough to think they’re over it, but really, really aren’t.

My favourite Christmases, though, are the ones I’ve spent at the Book Cabal. There are so many people and so many things, and so much happening, and every shift is a rush. I’ve had days where a customer called in to put a book on hold, told me they’d be right over to pick it up, and then beat me to the front of the store, because I’ve been stopped by so many other people. I’ve told the same joke fifteen times in a row, gotten uproarious laughs each time, and sent people out the door smiling. I’ve danced with little kids, conspired with grown-ups, wrapped a million oddly shaped boxes, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

There’s a dark side to retail Christmas, of course. There are always going to be people who are stressed and take it out on the unfortunate, minimum wage kid who happens to be cramming in one shift between final exams. And it does make me angry. But I’ve seen so much more GOOD of people than I have of bad, and it really makes me feel better about the whole thing.

Some Tips (kind of book store relevant, but also a good general guideline):

1. Call ahead. I don’t care what it says on the computer. Call me. I love to put things on hold. I do not love being yelled at for stock problems I can’t solve.
2. Don’t ask “Well what am I supposed to do now?” when you haven’t called and we don’t have what you’re looking for. There is nothing I, nor my manager, can do about that.
3. Plan for time. Look, we’re doing the best we can. We move the cash line as quickly as possible, and we have people whose whole job is to talk to people in the line in case they’ve forgotten anything.
3a. Especially plan for time if you want us to wrap things. I encourage people to go get coffee while they’re waiting, but give us an extra 30 minutes to wrap if it’s busy and you want a good job done.
4. Don’t bring your kids unless you absolutely have to. I speak here of the “too big to carry, too young to amuse themselves reading Wimpy Kid” segment. We have to pull a lot of our playing stations off the floor to make room for product, so there might not be a place for your kid to play when you get them here.
5. Let the computer figure out the best sale price. Seriously. There are a lot of promotions, but the computer will give you the best one.

And most importantly…
6. BE NICE TO THE SALES PEOPLE. They’re making minimum wage. They’re going to have to work up to close on Christmas Eve and then be right back in on Boxing Day morning. They’re probably not getting a bonus or turkey money from the company for this year. But if you smile at them and act nicely, they will bend over backwards to make sure you leave with exactly what you came for (and maybe something you hadn’t thought of, because we are really good at our jobs).

I’ve been watching the store get busier and busier, and it’s making me happy. Customers have already started to wish me “Merry Christmas!”, and the carols and songs are creeping into our playlist. Some of my co-workers roll their eyes and sigh, but I love it. Right now, I’m working from 5AM until 9:30PM most days (sometimes with a couple hour break in between). It’s been 65-70 hour weeks. It’s busy and it’s crazy and I have nowhere to put half the things in the stockroom, but I am determined: it’s Christmas, and there’s always magic at Christmas, if you’re willing to take a breath and look.

 

 

 

 

*Sunday evenings in July when ENTIRE BASEBALL TEAMS would come and buy ice cream, and I’d be working by myself and just DIE OF BUSY.
**For a 30 cent savings on hot wheels.
***For a stuffed robotic hamster that we weren’t allowed to sell until December 21.

Waiting on Wednesday

I’m pleading exhaustion and skipping my Monday post altogether, but I think I have my head in the game enough to write a Waiting on Wednesday post, so LET’S DO THIS THING!

Today’s WoW book is THE GENERAL’S MISTRESS, by Jo Graham:

Admittedly, it doesn’t look like my usual fare. Except it’s about LOVE and MAGIC and GENERALLY BEING AWESOME during the Napoleonic era (ish). I got to test read this book when it was called something else, and when it was in another format, but I haven’t read this version and I’m not entirely sure what happens in it, so I can’t wait to find out.

Jo Graham has become one of my favourite writers since I started reading her stuff in 2010, and I am excited to go back into the Numinous World with her. I love trying to figure out who everyone is (true story: I am really bad at it! Except with Sigismund!), and even though I could easily look up what happened on wikipedia, Graham’s storytelling is so amazing that sometimes I forget stuff in her books happened in real life!

THE GENERAL’S MISTRESS comes out on October 23rd, and would be a great way to tide yourself over while you’re waiting for Les Miserableto come out in theatre. In the meantime, also check out Jo’s other books, particularly STEALING FIRE, which is beautiful, and THE RAVENS OF FALKENAU, which is…just stupendous (and $3.99 on ebook).

The world is a numinous place, for those who have eyes to see it…

Dating Advice From Maggie Stiefvater

I haven’t been to a lot of book events.

Part of this is because of geography. I grew up in a very small town, and the closest big bookstore was an hour away. Also, I didn’t realize that book events were a thing.

That changed in university. I was living two blocks from a Chapters, and one day there was a sign: AUTHOR SIGNING WITH TAMORA PIERCE AND J. FITZGERALD McCURDY! I was absolutely over the moon. I really liked JF-M’s books*, and my love of Tamora Pierce knows no bounds. So I got my boxed sets, and I went to the Chapters, and it was ABSOLUTELY PACKED.

Now, I have a slight fear of crowds, and also I was terrified at the idea of actually talking to Tamora Pierce, so I convinced myself to leave without even joining the line up**. So much for my first book event!

The next time I went to a book event, I had a year of working for Chapters under my belt, and I was also marginally less afraid of people. It was Cassie Clare and Holly Black, at Yorkdale. I got there an hour before it was scheduled to start, and the line-up took up the entire floor. I sat next to a lovely 14-year-old kid and his mother for three hours, unable to hear anything that was going on downstairs, and then at around 5PM, the line finally began to move.

We got downstairs by 5:30 (because they’d cleared the ground floor before they brought anyone else down), and there were Cassie and Holly. I had a couple of questions I wanted to ask, but when Cassie said “Oh, you’re from livejournal!” I completely blanked on what they were. She signed my book, and I stepped away to wait for the boy and his mum (we had decided to go for ice cream at about hour two***), and the boy held himself together much better than I did, asking very smart questions while Cassie signed.

At this point, Cassie and Holly had been there since 2 and it was almost 6. And yet both of them were still signing everything (which, at the time, was three books for Cassie and EIGHT, I think, for Holly), and they both talked to that boy like he was first person they had seen all day. I was very, very impressed.

On the drive home, I thought about my first book****.

The next book event I went to was the launch for R.J. Anderson’s WAYFARER, which was amusing because she invited me to her launch, didn’t tell me where it was, and I managed to find it anyway, because I knew the town where it was being held. I’ve been to a bunch of events with Rebecca since, both for her own books and for other authors. One of those people was MEGAN CREWE, whose THE WAY WE FALL is guaranteed to bring out your inner hypochondriac.

The other person is Maggie Stiefvater.

I missed Maggie and Tessa Gratton in the summer of 2011, because I was in Jordan. When Maggie announced her dates for Canada for THE RAVEN BOYS, I was determined to go, even though it was a Tuesday. Rebecca was on board, and we ended up with a whole carload of people.

Every book event I’ve ever been to is different. Sometimes it’s small, and you really get to talk to people. Sometimes it’s huge, and you bond with the people in line near you because you’re there for a long time. Usually, I’m by myself, but going with friends was way more fun. Plus, Maggie is really funny live.

Oh yes: dating advice.

There were a bunch of stories that Maggie told, some of which I knew from reading her blog (all of which were better spoken). But when someone asked who her favourite character in FOREVER was, she said:

“YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DATE HIM! You are not allowed. Don’t do it. Don’t date someone like that. Find a Sam.”

Everyone laughed, but I really thought it was worth saying. “The Bad Boy” gets so much credit in fiction, and it was nice to hear someone say “Girls, just, please, don’t.”*****

What I have learned from book events is not to have expectations. That way, whether they end with frozen yoghurt, a pizza party or a very much abashed retreat to the bus stop without even getting anything signed, you’ve still have had a good time. Remember, meeting the author is nice, but meeting the fans, those people you share this great Thing with, can sometimes be much, much better.

Someday, I will be that author. I can only hope that I turn out to be as well-spoken and attentive as the women I have seen. I certainly can’t say I haven’t seen good examples!

 

 

 

*They’re hard to find, but if you or your kids would be interested in fantasy set in Ottawa, it’s worth it. Also, there’s a hilarious side-story to the books, which involve the Library of Parliament getting trashed at one point. Shortly after the release, the ACTUAL Library was closed to reconstruction and a huge dome was put on it and everything. Apparently Jean Chretien got a lot of letters from concerned children, asking if dwarves were helping with the work.
**Don’t think I haven’t regretted this ever since. Because I definitely have.
***There wasn’t ice cream, but there was a Yogen-Fruz, so it wasn’t a complete wash.
****Completely unDrafted, so you know. I have the idea and some names, but that’s it.
*****Except way more articulate than that.

Waiting On Wednesday

Originally, this was going to be kind of a fluffy, vaguely sarcastic WoW entry, but then the internet happened, and it turns out I have opinions. Who knew?


Yeah, I’m excited for THE CASUAL VACANCY. I have no idea what it’s about, which is kind of great in this world of “you can find spoilers anywhere”, and I’m almost positive that I’m not going to love it, but gosh darn it, I am going to buy it tomorrow. That’s not really what this post is about, though. This post is about the person who is probably the MOST excited for THE CASUAL VACANCY.

That person? J.K. Rowling.

(Sidebar: I adore her. I really, really do. Not only has she written a bunch of books that helped define a large part of my college years, she’s also become fabulously wealthy and stayed possessed of common sense. She gave away so much money she dropped a tax bracket, for crying out loud, and should I ever have enough money to build that kind of tree house for my kids, I am totally building one for myself. So I love her. And I am so…HAPPY for her. And, you know, also angry, because people are mean.)

Thing is, she didn’t have to write this book. She could have just faded away (publicly, anyway: I believe Harry Potter is with us forever), but she decided she wasn’t done. She decided she had other stories to tell, and, so help her, she was going to write about British politics.

She could have done it under a pen name and avoided all the flack she’ll catch for daring to publish something that’s not Harry Potter. She would have avoided all the “graduated to adult lit” shenanigans that will undoubtedly ensue. She could have, just like she could have stopped paying British taxes all those years ago.

But she didn’t.

Say what you will about J.K. Rowling, the woman knows her damn path. And I admire her all the more for walking it. It doesn’t matter if THE CASUAL VACANCY is something you (yes, you) like. J.K. Rowling likes it, and she’s put herself in a position where she can get it published.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be the one who builds the display at work. And when the tills open, I’ll be one of the people in line. Congratulations, J.K. Rowling. You can write whatever you want. Well done.

Un-Stories

Back when I started watching Star Trek (professionally, so about fifteen years ago), I had a long talk with OB-Wan about how it would be fun if there was an episode where nothing happened. The warp core didn’t fluctuate. Nothing got its polarity reversed. The turbolifts operated perfectly. The holodecks didn’t malfunction. No one discovered anything new. No one made first contact. No one had a deep and meaningful conversation wherein they redefined the meaning of life. Nothing.

The closest they ever got (on purpose) was the episode LOWER DECKS, where it feels like nothing is happening because for a long time the characters can’t talk about it with each other. But there’s still a WHOLE lot going on*. As a thought experiment, though, it has really stuck with me, and there are elements of it in most of the stories I’ve written. What do you write about if nothing happens? Where does drama stop being manufactured and start being real.

I have to say, it’s freaking hard. In the first draft of THE STORY OF OWEN everyone was a completely reasonable human being all the time. No one fought. No one missed their homework. Everyone ate their vegetables. It was kind of dull.

It drives me crazy in fiction when TRAUMA happens just to move the story forward. Women in Refrigerators are the most obvious example of this, and nothing, NOTHING** will get me angry faster than a poorly written fridging. There’s a lot of talk about MANPAIN*** on the internet. It’s the one and only reason I broke up with Supernatural mid-season (mid-episode, actually. I was really angry), but it happens all the time. The Poor Hero is Stricken With Woe because one of the (usually female) people in his Woeful Life has been killed or kidnapped or something, and now he has All The Pain.

Drives. Me. Bonkers.

Oh, poor Arthur Pendragon! His mother is (often) dead! That must really be hard for him. And not, you know, HER. I’m sure dying in childbirth is a piece of cake. Oh, poor Luke Skywalker! His uncle and aunt got burned up by Storm Troopers. I BET THAT DIDN’T SUCK AT ALL FOR THEM! Oh, poor poor poor Sam and Dean Winchester*****. Don’t even get me STARTED.

But how do you tell the difference? What sets apart something like Buffy episode THE BODY? Or the West Wing episode TWO CATHEDRALS? How could Game of Thrones been less ludicrous? At what point does a story cross from “edgy and dark” to ridiculous?

(Confession: I cut female characters a lot more slack than I cut male ones, in terms of motivation-by-grief, mostly because I’m just so thrilled to SEE them. What turns me off a female character is too much time spent worrying about her looks, endless descriptions of how pretty The Boy is, and negative views of other women. But my point is that I am EXCEPTIONALLY biased. And I’m okay with that.)

Obviously, everyone is going to have a different answer to that question, but for me, paying attention to the Un-Stories makes all the difference, and if your (often male) character is motivated solely by the death of a tertiary (often female) character, we are going to have problems.

It’s challenging to write a YA novel with good parents. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. YA novels rely almost entirely on kids making their own choices and decisions, while finding and/or making their own families. It makes sense that orphans, neglected waifs and rebels make up the bulk of the protagonists. Grown-ups have this distressing tendency to SOLVE PROBLEMS, or at least drive you where you need to go. And maybe pack a lunch for the road.

What I like to see is an author who really digs for it. In SERAPHINA, by Rachel Hartman (which you should all read), there is a Step-Mother and several Step-Siblings. They have exactly one scene with the protagonist, and in that scene, Rachel fought to use every inch of space for character development. I was very, very impressed. The family dynamics in Kristen Cashore’s books, especially FIRE, are nothing short of disastrous, and yet everything about them feels earned.

I guess what I’m saying is that I have trouble buying easy motivations. I bounce off of characters like Spike (Buffy), Logan Echolls (Veronica Mars) and Regina (Once Upon A Time), because they had so many opportunities to right their lives and took NONE of them (for draaaaama!). I prefer emotional depths to be plumbed and developments to be unraveled. That’s why I managed to read four versions of Cinderella, almost back to back in January without hitting Evil Step-Mother Overload: every one of them was real, and that made Cinderella’s reaction real too.

I really struggled hard with the characters in THE STORY OF OWEN, because I wanted them to like one another, but I didn’t want the story to be boring. Two of them in particular almost killed me, but focusing on the stories we don’t get to see, the stories that aren’t interesting enough to get published, got me through. I was able to play up the “boring” parts enough to keep them real, and not get sucked into the vortex of Disney Moms and Refrigerators.

How do you feel about draaaaaaaaama in stories? Do you love angst for angst’s sake? Would you prefer a quieter, slightly less turbulent string of developments? Do you prefer romance or family tension? Or something else?

 

 

 

 

*The Buffy episodes FLOODED and LIFE SERIAL don’t count because they’re making a point, and DOUBLEMEAT PALACE doesn’t count because it’s just awful TV.
**Few things.
***Watch this video. ****And then read all the notes.
****Careful, though. It might lead to the most inappropriate laughs you’ll have all day.
*****Seriously, there was ONE PERSON on that WHOLE SHOW who Hunted because it was the Right Thing To Do. And he was already dead so that his wife and daughter could be all We Too Have Suffered about it!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is an idea borrowed from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Since I have kind of forgotten about Waiting on Wednesday these past couple weeks, I thought I would do a bonus TWO FOR ONE.

So recently I started working at Chapters again, and one of the cool things about that job is that they want you to read books. I mean, they encourage it. One of the ways they do this is by distributing ARCs to their staff, even at smaller stores like the one I work at. That is how last week I got my hands on an ARC of SCARLET, and this week I got an ARC of THE RAVEN BOYS. Obviously, ARCs don’t have great covers, but fortunately both of those books DO have great covers, and here they are:

I knew by the end of the prologue that waiting for all four books in this series is going to be hard. But, oh, so worth it!

 

This book, on the other hand, was everything I never knew I wanted. I had no idea what to expect (like with CINDER, actually), and OMG, AMAZING.

THE RAVEN BOYS comes out on September 18,  2012.

SCARLET comes out on February 5, 2013.

You Drew Me A Map, Right? (Part II: You Can’t Get There From Here)

In which I (eventually) review MAPHEAD, by Ken Jennings.

I work at a large format bookstore. And I love it. Some people complain that it’s soulless and corporate, and sometimes they’re right, but mostly I love the idea of this ENORMOUS STORE that is mostly books*, and that you can walk in on almost any given day and find almost any given book**.

Of course, sometimes FINDING that book is hard. We do our best, but books invariably get shelved wrong. We are, I hasten to add, somewhat hobbled by the system. Alexander McCall Smith, for example, has titles that scan both as “McCall Smith” and “Smith”. Anne McCaffrey is split almost evenly between sci-fi and fantasy. And God help you if you’re looking for Arthur Conon Doyle***. I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking just put the book in the right place. Except then it won’t be in the “right” place when you’re counting. It’s a vicious cycle.

Outside the fiction section, problems increase. Turkey and Russia scan in both Asia and Europe****. Books about the War of 1812 are in Military History and Canadian History. Even the book I am gradually working my way up to reviewing gets screwed over and consigned to the Community and Culture section, where genuinely interesting books go to die.

(This is because books in that section are not old enough to be history, not controversial enough to be poli-sci, not science-y enough to be science, not boring enough to be business, and, though thanks to Alanis Morissette I’m no longer sure is this is irony, BECAUSE THERE IS NO GEOGRAPHY SECTION.)

The fact that Ken Jennings’s MAPHEAD ended up in the Comm and Cul section is why it took me so long to find it. I mean, it’s in trade paperback now, which means it’s been out for a while. I was excited to see it, though, because I adore maps and also I have vague memories of Ken Jennings being legitimately witty on Jeopardy (he did do those interviews for a REALLY LONG TIME, after all), so I decided to give it a whirl. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, mostly because I don’t have TIME, but when I noticed that all of the chapter titles are very clever puns, I was pretty much sold.

Jennings’ doesn’t so much write about the history of maps as he write about why he loves them and how, in writing this book, he has come to understand how differently people love maps in different ways. In the “Age of the Geek”, this is not entirely news, but I have to be honest and say that I never get tired of seeing it. The reason I keep diverting into lengthy anecdotes about my own experience with maps is because Jennings does that himself in the book, and every story he tells makes the picture clearer.

I love maps because they show you how people thought, how they adapted, how they grew and how they learned to take advantage of their situation. I love big maps and small maps, but I am mostly drawn to maps of people. In this, I am very much an archaeologist. Maps of the ocean floor or Jupiter don’t really intrigue me that much, but I’ll stare forever at a map of a made-up place, because you can learn so much about the people who lived there*****. There’s a reason my proposed PhD thesis is about landscape use and defense.

I’ve lived in two very confusing towns, which I love because it means that my idea of where I am is tied to the shape of the city. I’ve lived in a grid, measured carefully and numbered in a way that makes no sense (and then renamed when we got 911 coverage). I’ve see the survey cheat lines from the air, and I’ve driven through Saskatchewan, down a straighter road than I thought was humanly possible.

I really, really enjoyed MAPHEAD, even though I keep talking about something else. It just made me THINK so much, about all my favourite maps and all my favourite stories and all the times I’ve rolled my eyes at my parents’ newfound inability to find ANYTHING without the friendly Australian who lives in their GPS telling them where it is. Jennings tells a detailed story, personal and technical and funny, and I even learned a few things along the way! It is, to put it bluntly, exactly the kind of book a person should write after they win a lot of money on Jeopardy!: brilliant, funny, full of information that is mostly useless, and oddly useful at the same time.

In closing, here is my favourite map story of the moment (probably because it involves a creature we used to comedic and heart-wrenching effect in the SANCTUARY fandom…): semi-intelligent slime mold proves efficiency of US Interstate system******.

 

 

 

 

*There is a growing “lifestyle” section, which is frustrating, but at least it’s pretty! And, most importantly, it keeps the bookstore alive, so I’m a fan.
**OH GOD, it’s funny when we sell out of something! People get SO ANNOYED! They’re all “But…you THE BOOK CABAL! You’re supposed to have EVERYTHING!” and I’m all “Trust me, you didn’t want to read Fifty Shades of Grey anyway! Read FIRE instead.”
***Two last names AND he’s split between three sections? THERE IS NO EASY WAY! Well, there is. But tell that to the guy who programs the computers and my co-workers and the “helpful” customers, all of whom keep putting THE LOST WORLD in the MYSTERY section!
****Remember how I mentioned Turkey and Russia earlier? Well it gets worse. The travel section is divided into Canadian (provinces in geographical order), American (states by region: NE, SE, NW, NE, which would be fine, except for the Mid-West), and then the other continents, divided alphabetically by country. Which, again, is fine. Because most people know that Berlin is in Germany, and therefore not shelved between Belgium and all the books about Prague. But when you get to places like The Amalfi Coast or books with more than one country/city, it gets kind of ridiculous. Also, just this morning I found out that Cyprus scans both as its own country in Europe AND as a Greek Territory…which might be fuel for an international incident of some kind.
*****Like, for example, the fact that neither Celeborn NOR Thranduil ever looked out a window.
******In hindsight, most of these footnotes could have been their own post…