Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Tip of the Fedora

taste of ashesI finished  more noir books the other day despite the fact I said I needed to get back to reading some  modern fantasy. All three of these books were short, which was a huge lure, seeing as how most modern fantasy weighs in decidedly on the other end of the spectrum. Also, one of them doubled as research. I suppose in a way ALL of these double as research. Hand picked as these noir books are by John Chris Hocking, who’s very well read in noir, I’m getting a real education in great writing.

First up was the poorly titled but well-written Swamp Sister, by Robert Edmond Alter, chiefly concerned with how a lost plane carrying a huge bankroll transforms the behaviour of the folk living in and around the area. Immersive descriptions, great character arcs and plenty of surprises. Also a big leg up for me as I begin contemplation of describing some swamp land myself in an upcoming Paizo Pathfinder book. Surprisingly good.

More on ConFusion 2014

michael and howard

Michael Underwood and Howard Andrew Jones at the ConFusion 2014 AMA. Photo by Steve Drew.


I participated in three panels at ConFusion, an “Ask Me Anything” session, and a Question and Answer roundtable, and I ended up pretty pleased with all of them. (Oh, and I almost ended up on several wrong panels Friday night before I learned to read the hotel map, but that’s another story.)

The first was “Why Does Bones Need to be a White Guy” on Friday at 9:00, with Christian Klaver, Seleste deLaney, and  Gretchen Ashand. It turned into a lively discussion of gender and racial portrayals on screen and in fiction. I don’t think any of the panelists expected much of a turnout at that time of night, but we had a decent sized crowd who brought a lot to the conversation. A panel can sink or swim based on its audience, after all.

Back from ConFusion

Howard Andrew Jones and Saladin Ahmed at ConFusion 2014. Photo by Al Bogdan.

Howard Andrew Jones and Saladin Ahmed at ConFusion 2014. Photo by Al Bogdan.

I’m back from ConFusion and working up a pretty detailed post about it for the Black Gate web site. Right now, though, I need to get to work, so I’ll just mention a few things in brief.

I finished Chandler’s The High Window on the way there and read most of Quarry’s Deal on the flight back. I was picked up by the mighty John Chris Hocking at the Detroit airport Friday and we had a memorable morning and afternoon wandering around Ann Arbor. Hocking is simply a princely fellow — he and his family are delightful people. Hocking gifted me with a stack of noir from his own collection (along with a Nate Heller book and Leigh Brackett’s No Good from a Corpse), and then picked up some more noir for me when we went to an award winning mystery bookstore, Aunt Agatha’s . I have additional details about all of that in the Black Gate article, which I’ll probably take live in the next day or so.

I may take a brief vacation from my noir exploration, though, as I returned from the con with a number of fantasy books. Brian McClellan and I traded volumes, and I picked up Matthew Thyer’s The Big Red Buckle and Jane Irwin’s graphic novel Clockwork Game. And I mean to read something by new friend Ian Tregillis as soon as possible, although that might take me right back into noir, albeit with a fantasy slant.

Tomorrow I’ll try to type up something about the panels I participated in and provide a link for the Black Gate essay, but for now I’ll just say that I had a fantastic time and get back to work. I am under deadline, after all.

Victory is Mine!

Howard ZebrasI am extremely pleased to announce that I’ve just signed a book deal with Paizo for two new Pathfinder novels.

Just a few months back I was finishing the outline for the first of the two at The Three Broomsticks at Universal (probably the coolest place I’ve ever finished an outline) while my wife and daughter rode roller coasters. Later that same week I was working on the second at a cafe in Epcot Center. It was a good week, as you can see from the picture on the right. Note the smile. Also note the miniature zebras. They’re small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, but they’re kind of high maintenance.

Friday morning I’m flying off to ConFusion in Detroit. I hope to announce additional cool news very soon!

Musical Interlude

tmbggrammyAnd now, the greatest TV theme show ever written for a show that never, ever existed. I bring you “Spider” by They Might be Giants.

Thank me later.

And just because I’m in a musical mood today, go check out this great retro track from Gold Motel titled “These Sore Eyes.” In case you realize that it’s awesome, realize that the guiding force behind Gold Motel (and the writer of this particular song) is the gifted Greta Salpeter of The Hush Sound. Incidentally, they have a new album out. Didst thou know? I wish I had known before Christmas…

Farewell, Something Lovely

I swear I didn’t plan this. I was recently contacted by my old friend, the talented Fraser Ronald, who’s launched a Kickstarter for a collection of hardboiled sword-and-sorcery stories titled Farewell, Something Lovely. That this post comes right after I read Farewell, My Lovely and wrote a stupid post titled “Farewell, My Fence Rail” can only mean that synchronicity is at work. It’s also a sign that you need Fraser’s collection!

If you’ve been visiting the site over the last week or so, you’ll have noted how the interconnection between sword-and-sorcery and hardboiled pops up from time to time. Charles Rutledge in particular called it out in the comments section from the More on Noir post. Fraser hits that interconnection with both barrels… er, long swords.

Anyway, I strongly urge you to take a look at Fraser Ronald’s Kickstarter, which includes some art from my old friend Storn Cook. Don’t delay — there aren’t too many days left to join in!

Farewell, My Fence Rail

Fence RepairThe writing day started out quite well. I rose without aid of an alarm clock and put in  a half hour of good work before I roused everyone else. Things got interesting after I returned from taking one of my children to school.

I have a three rail horse fence. One of my horses loves to press against the top rail to get the grass on the other side. When I pulled in this morning I found he had pressed against BOTH the top and middle rails and cracked them apart so that they hung down and a vast gap was there revealed (Our fence is old, and this happens occasionally, but usually only a rail at a time.) If he had cared to do so Trigger could have stopped munching at the grass and gone running wild and free. (And naked, but that’s not such a big deal if you’re a horse.)

In any case, Trigger’s adventure necessitated  a horse fence repair job that occupied my time until 12:30 or so, because after I fixed the broken boards I discovered three others that were close to going. I figured that as long as I was out there with all the tools I might as well head off future troubles

Despite all that, I got a lot of good work in once I finally made it back inside. And I must say, if I had to work on a fence in January, the weather THIS week is a far better time for it than say, last week when the temperature was frequently below zero. Today I ended up taking my jacket and hat off while I worked.

Link Man Returns

Copyright Darian Jones

I’ve got a lot of good news that I can’t quite share yet, and with a deadline looming I should probably keep things short this morning.

First, the illustrious Dave Gross invited me over to chat about writing and our mutual love of the works of the late, great Roger Zelazny. Drop by and see what we had to say, and then I hope you’ll poke around a little and see what some talented writers have said elsewhere on his site.

Second, a nice review of Stalking the Beast popped up on my radar the other day. Always nice to see. The tie-in work doesn’t get reviewed nearly as often.

Third, a lovely review of The Desert of Souls appeared after its UK release.

Fourth and final, I’ve updated my 2014 Appearances page. It’s about time, as I’m flying to Detroit for ConFusion this Friday! I hope I’ll see a few of you there.