Norwich University Writer’s Series: John Crowley

Norwich University has a major author stopping by today: John Crowley, who’s written books like Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, and others. The series was founded in 2012, and brings major authors to speak at the school about writing.

Crowley has written a number of SF/F works beginning in the 1970s, andKa: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr is his latest. I haven’t personally read it, but the friends of mine who have have raved about it.

Here’s what the book is about:

Dar Oakley—the first Crow in all of history with a name of his own—was born two thousand years ago. When a man learns his language, Dar finally gets the chance to tell his story. He begins his tale as a young man, and how he went down to the human underworld and got hold of the immortality meant for humans, long before Julius Caesar came into the Celtic lands; how he sailed West to America with the Irish monks searching for the Paradise of the Saints; and how he continuously went down into the land of the dead and returned. Through his adventures in Ka, the realm of Crows, and around the world, he found secrets that could change the humans’ entire way of life—and now may be the time to finally reveal them.

Crowley will be speaking at the Chaplin Hall Gallery at 4PM on Norwich’s Northfield campus. The event is free and open to the public.

 

New YA Horror: Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden made a name for herself with her debut fantasy novel The Bear and the Nightingale, as well as its sequel earlier this year, The Girl in the Tower. The third installment of that trilogy, Winter of the Witch, isn’t due out until January, but she does have a middle-grade horror novel, Small Spaces, which hits bookstores today.

Here’s what it’s about:

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”

You can read an excerpt here. Arden earned a starred review for the novel from Kirkus Reviews, which says that it’s “atmospheric horror at its best.”

New Fantasy novel: Laurie Forest’s The Iron Flower

Vermont fantasy author Laurie Forest has a new book out: The Iron Flower, the second in her series, Black Witch Chronicles.

The first novel, The Black Witch, hit bookstores last year, about Elloren, a young woman believed to be the heir to Carnissa Gardner, legendary mage — The Black Witch —prophesied to save the world.

But Elloren begins to realize that her world, society and dreams — including study at the prestigious Verpax University, are … problematic. The book generated some controversy on Goodreads, after reviewers took issue with Forest’s approach to race and bigotry, saying that it was “racist, ableist and homophobic.”

This new installment continues Elloren’s journey, as they’re brought into a resistance movement. Here’s the full description:

Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs when they rescued a Selkie and freed a military dragon. The last thing they expected was to be thrust into a realm-wide underground resistance against Gardnerian conquest.

While the Resistance struggles to fight back against the harsh rulings of the Mage Council, more and more Gardnerian soldiers descend upon the University…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the nearby military base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to tie himself to her, still convinced that she is the heir to the power of the Black Witch, a legacy of magic that will decide the future of all Erthia. As his own magic calls out to her, seeking to awaken a dark force within, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

She just did a pair of events in Vermont, and will be embarking on a tour that sees stops in Chicago, Salt Lake, San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, and New York City in the coming weeks.

F. Brett Cox’s End Of All Our Exploring is now out!

Norwich University professor and speculative fiction author F. Brett Cox has a new book out this week: The End of All Our Exploring. It’s a collection of his short fiction, along with some historical notes.

The stories in F. Brett Cox’s debut collection move through multiple genres and many times and places, from the monsters of the 19th century to the future fields of war, from New England to the South to the American West, from the strange house at the top of the hill to the bottom of your childhood swimming pool. But whatever the time and place, and whether utterly fantastic or all too real, all of these remarkable fictions pose the fundamental question: what’s next? The End of All Our Exploring features 27 stories, and it also includes Cox’s unique historical notes.

The book is now in stores. He’ll also be stopping by Bear Pond Books on September 17th to discuss the collection.

F. Brett Cox event at Bear Pond Books

Norwich University professor and science fiction / fantasy / horror author F. Brett Cox will be holding a reading event for his upcoming collection of short stories, The End of All Our Exploring. The book will hit stores this month, and Bear Pond Books of Montpelier will host Cox on September 17th as part of its Sci-Fi Plus book club. He’ll read from the book and answer questions at 6:30PM.

RSVP here.

Archer Mayor’s 29th Joe Gunther novel: Bury the Lead

Fall is coming, and that means that Vermont mystery author Archer Mayor will have a new book out in a couple of months. His next is called Bury the Lead, and it’ll be the 29th installment of his long-running Joe Gunther series.

The book will be released on September 25th, and will follow Gunther and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation as they investigate the death of a young woman found on a trail of a ski resort. At the same time, a local grocery distributor is being attacked by vandals — resulting in another death — while a local hospital deals with a potential case of Ebola.

When the body of a young woman is found near a trail at a popular ski mountain, the case falls to Joe Gunther and his team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI). They quickly have a suspect, Mick Durocher, and a confession, but not everyone on the team is convinced. Despite Mick’s ready admission, investigators quickly sense there might be more going on than is immediately apparent.

At the same time, a large local business is being targeted with escalating acts of vandalism―a warehouse fire, a vandalized truck, a massive cooling system destroyed―resulting in loss of life. And either by coincidence, or not, Mick Durocher, the self-confessed murderer, was once employed by this very company.

These two puzzling cases―now possibly connected―are further complicated by the sidelining of a key member of VBI, Willy Kunkle, who undergoes surgery at a hospital that appears to be having an unlikely―and suspiciously timed―outbreak of Ebola.

Joe and his team pursue these cases, uncovering motives that might link them, while proving that trust betrayed can be a toxic virus, turning love into murderous loathing. Indeed, behind the mayhem and murder, Joe must uncover a tragic history before another victim dies.

As is to be expected, Archer will be touring around Vermont to a variety of bookstores throughout the fall.

John Goodrich Signing

Local author John Goodrich will be holding a signing for two of his books, Dark Draughts and Hag, next month at the Bennington Bookshop.

The signing will take place on Thursday, August 9th from 7PM to 8PM.

Here’s what the books are about:

Hag:

All David wanted was to rest and get better. He moved from Vermont to Boston to beat his cancer. Even before the boxes are unpacked, he and his best friend Sam notice an eerie presence in his new apartment building. The emaciated haunt is a roiling storm of fury with black iron claws and jagged metal teeth. She attacks David without reason or pity, leaving him in agony. Hag is a dark, brooding novel set in a blighted personal landscape. A story of deathless rage terrible love.

Dark Draughts:

Culled from nearly a decade of work, Dark Draughts is the first collection of John Goodrich’s short fiction. Discover a terrifying new god, and an old, well known one just as malicious. Encounter horror tropes broken and remade; dead and undead pharaohs, a compassionate ghoul, and a serial killer who discovers something darker than himself. Find out what happens to a man literally at war with himself. With stories set in Arkham, ancient Egypt, the blood-soaked battlefields of World War One, rural Vermont, and a hideous apocalyptic future, these stories encompass the terrors of the past as well as our fears for the future. Dark Draughts: Strong medicine for what ails us all.

RSVP here.

Here are the finalists for the 2018 Vermont Book Award

Vermont College has announced its finalists (via VPR) for the 2018 Vermont Book Award, an award that honors “work of outstanding literary merit by Vermont authors.” Winners for the award include poet Kerrin McCadden (2015), Major Jackson (2016), and Jensen Beach (2017).

This year’s finalists are:

  • The Bear and the Nightingale (Fiction) by Katherine Arden
  • Breaking Bread: A Baker’s Journey Home in 75 Recipes (CNF) by Martin Philip
  • Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray (CNF) by Adam Federman
  • Grand Canyon (Children’s Lit, Picture Book) by Jason Chin
  • Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time (Children’s Lit, YA fiction) by Tanya Lee Stone
  • Event Boundaries (Poetry) by April Ossmann
  • Selected Delanty (Poetry) by Greg Delanty

The books are nominated by a committee of independent bookstores in four categories: Children’s Literature, Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, and Poetry. Their suggestions are whittled down by a panel of judges, and the winner of the award will be announced at the Vermont Book Award Gala in September. The winner gets a $5,000 cash prize.

Phoenix Books Rutland To Open September 28th

Join Phoenix Books in Rutland on September 28th for their grand opening at Center Street. It’s fantastic to see the store grow and expand into a new location. Here’s their full press release:

Phoenix Books Rutland, borne through a community-supported pre-buy program and local investment, will celebrate its grand opening Sept. 28, followed two days later by an event with arguably Vermont’s most successful author, Chris Bohjalian.

“We’ve been blessed with incredible community support, so we wanted to do something big to mark the opening,” co-owner Michael DeSanto said.  “Few Vermont authors are more successful than Chris. His appearance is kind of a ‘thank you’ to the community for the amazing reception we’ve received.”

Rutland resident Tricia Huebner, who will manage the store, and with her husband, Tom, is a co-owner, said her excitement has been building for weeks as space was renovated and inventory began to arrive.

“We’ve created a spectacular space that will be welcoming and warm, and will fill a need not just for books, but for discussion and debate and connecting with one another,” Huebner said.  “This is a dream fulfilled for me personally, and for a lot of people in Rutland County.”

Phoenix Books plans a reception for pre-buyers and other key supporters on Sept. 27, with the official grand opening set for 10 a.m. Sept. 28 – though the owners hinted that the store might open a little sooner.  “We are considering a soft opening, like restaurants often hold, to whet the appetite,” DeSanto said.

Because Bohjalian is expected to draw a big crowd, the reading and signing event will be held at the Green Mountain Power Energy Innovation Center – where the idea of Phoenix Books Rutland began last November.  GMP, with support from the Downtown Rutland Partnership, Mayor Chris Louras, and a variety of local residents, organizations and businesses, recruited DeSanto to Rutland.  GMP Vice President Steve Costello enlisted more than 50 people and businesses to pre-buy $1,000 worth of books each last fall to support the store.

“I thought he was kidding when we met for the first time and he said he already had $30,000 committed,” DeSanto said.   “I’ve never seen a community rally like Rutland has rallied around us.  It is humbling.”

Mayor Chris Louras said the Phoenix opening was symbolic of larger efforts to revitalize downtown, and address broader issues in the region.  “Every success we have had has come through collaboration,” Louras said. “Collaboration is bringing Phoenix to life, rejuvenating the downtown, and improving quality of life in Rutland.”

The Sept. 30 Bohjalian event will begin at 7 p.m. at the EIC, at 68-70 Merchants Row.  Bohjalian will read from and answer questions about his new book, “Close your Eyes, Hold Hands,” a New York Times Best Seller.   “‘Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands,’ Chris Bohjalian’s terrific new novel, could serve as a master class on how to write the thinking reader’s bestseller,” according to a Washington Post review.

We can’t wait to check it out.