Monday, December 14, 2009

Washington Post Best Books 2009

Angels of Destruction is on the Washington Post's list of Best Books of 2009! Scroll down to Fantasy & Science Fiction, though of course, the novel is neither, but who's complaining?

Just in time for the holidays, and Amazon is offering a threefor special. You can get Angels, Stolen Child, and Audrey Niffenegger's new novel Her Fearful Symmetry for around $35.

Monday, November 30, 2009

More Internetavision

Fast Forward TV has an interview up on Angels of Destruction.

Pretty cool stuff, and you could easily get lost in the archives of interviews.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book Studio

Book Studio interview is now online at It's television on the Internet. It's Internetavision.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

13 Ways of Looking at the Novel

On my website,, I've got a new series called "13 Ways of Looking at the Novel" which has some tips for aspiring novelists, drawn from the F. Scott Fitzgerald conference and a writers' workshop.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Stolen Child: The Film

Marc Platt, the producer of such films as “Nine” and “Rachel Getting Married,” has purchased the film option for The Stolen Child. I’m over the moon and am looking forward to the adaption.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Richard's Poor Almanack

From time to time something truly funny turns up in the Washington Post. Usually it is a Richard Thompson satirical cartoon. Like this Literary Calendar.

Richard Thompson is also the artist behind the fabulous Cul de Sac strip and blog. He's got a new book out, a collection of the best comic strip going, called Children at Play.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Angels have landed

Angels of Destruction has landed in bookstores today, with the mysterious girl in the woods and the lovely green cover. Stock up today for the holidays.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Children's Book Review

A Sterling 'Book' of a Golden Age is my review of A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book, nominated for this year's Booker Prize. The winner will be announced the evening of October 6.

It was a great treat to review this novel, and in another decade, the whole thing will probably end up on Masterpiece Theatre as a six-week saga. But read the book first. It's always best in the imagination.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Paper Angels

You have been waiting. The paperback edition Angels of Destruction arrives October 13, just in time for you to pass out copies to all the Trick or Treaters.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Washington Independent Writers Conference

The American Independent Writers 30th annual conference is June 13 at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and I will be giving the keynote address.

The theme of this year's conference is "The Business of Writing in a Changing World," and if you want to write and publish, or if you already tweet, blog, and tell stories in print and electronic media, this is a wonderful opportunity to meet and network with agents, publishers, and other writers.

Included on the program are:
  • Michael Shilling, author of Rock Bottom, a novel to give the plenary speech
  • Authors from around the region and across the country
  • Top freelance journalists
  • Leading literary agents
  • 16 How-To panels with more than 80 presenters
Hope to see you there and that you'll stop by after to pick up a signed copy of my novels. More info at

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fiction Nation

They say you never forget your first time. Or your 100th.

My first radio interview was with Kim Alexander and "Fiction Nation," and it turns out Angels is the subject of her 100th show. Where does the time go?

All you Satellite radio listeners, tune in to Book Radio, Sirius 117 and XM 163 for Kim Alexander and Fiction Nation, with yours truly.

And if you don't have one, get yourself a satellite radio. And don't forget to pick up a good book for Mom for this Mother's Day.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nether, netherland

The internets are abuzz that President Obama is reading, of all things, a literary novel--Joseph O'Neill's Netherland.

Things are going to get better.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wheaton Hills Book Club

The Rivards hosted the dinner, and the neighborhood came out in full force for the Wheaton Hills Book Club discussion of Angels of Destruction last night, the birthday of William Shakespeare, Shirley Temple, and my dad. These are the folks who see you out mowing the lawn, walking the dog, or cracking crabs on a hot summer day, and so it is passing strange to switch identities and be writer and readers for a few hours. But these conversations are often the most interesting part of the whole publishing process, the chance to hear others' reactions and questions, and to realize the great leap from imagination to the page. What begins as a stray thought turns into a very public display, one that is slightly uncomfortable yet gracious and warm and downright neighborly.

Robert Frost famously said that fences make good neighbors, but perhaps books can sometimes hurdle fences?

Thanks to one and all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Book Jackets

photo Bodelian Library, University of Oxford
Since they're running out of the hardcover edition of Stolen Child, I've put up the paperback over there. In so doing, I got curious about the whole history of dust jackets. Seems the first one - dating from 1829. More info from the blogs of the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


A magazine from Germany -- Phantastische -- arrived yesterday with an interview and a review of The Stolen Child. The German paperback comes out in May. One of the fun parts of the whole publishing experience is seeing the different interpretations by cover designers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Madrid in New Mexico

A couple of years ago I revisited the little town of Madrid, New Mexico with my sister, and we walked down to the old ballfield. The grandstand was in danger of collapsing in on itself, cacti grew in the outfield, and the bones of some mice littered the floor of one of the stone dugouts. I had known that the field once was home to the Madrid Miners, a farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1920s and '30s. Standing out on the empty field, you could almost see the ghosts of the ballplayers running across the diamond.

I stumbled across Midori Snyder's blog The Labyrinth the other day and was pleasantly surprised to learn about the archives of Pinky Werner, whose grandfather ran the Madrid Coal Mine. Photos of old Madrid, the Miners, and the ballfield in its heyday!

Part of Angels is set in the little town, and one of the characters has a Madrid Miners jersey framed in her living room. Now I know what they look like.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Strange and Dubious Angels

A lot of people (well, one person) have been asking about the origins of the strange and ambiguous angels in Angels of Destruction, and several works were the inspirations for the book.

There are the angels in the poetry of Wallace Stevens, the transcendental moment in Emerson where, when crossing a bare common in the snow, he becomes one with infinite space, and the thing with feathers in Emily Dickinson's poem.

Late in his life, the painter Paul Klee also did a series of very unusual angels which strike me as charged images. And the song "Strange Angels" from the album of the same name by Laurie Anderson with the angels who "clean out the refrigerator..." Note the resemblance between one of Klee's angels and Ms. Anderson.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Is it about a bicycle?

April 1 is the day of fools, but also the feast day of the late St. Myles na gCopaleen, AKA Flann O'Brien, AKA Brian O'Nolan, who passed through the mortal veil on this day in 1966, leaving the world a sadder place. Myles is the patron saint of acerbic alcoholics, the nom de guerre of the author of "Cruiskeen Lawn," a daily column that ran in the Irish Times for a quarter-century, and the person responsible for Flann O'Brien. Quite possibly the funniest writer going, he can be reached through his three classic novels: At Swim-Two-Birds, The Third Policeman, and The Poor Mouth (available in The Everyman's Library edition) or through the The Best of Myles, a collection of his newspaper columns.

I spent a lot of time with Myles in the 1990s, working on my dissertation, and this blog is named after a character in The Third Policeman, and it isn't often that one can refer to a bicycle as a character, having a discernible personality and so forth, but there you go. Myles is a funny fella and a damned fine writer.

Lift a glass in his honor down at the snug, for his like will not be seen again.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Virtual Reading

Rick Kleffel, out in Northern  California, runs one of the most interesting websites and does  just a wonderfully thoughtful job at interviewing, that the whole experience becomes like a virtual reading.  In his Agony Column, Rick reviews Angels.  The first section is a reading from the novel--the same chapter I read in bookstores--and the rest is an intelligent chat about the book, the writing process, and the meaning of it all.  

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Eye on Books

Eye on Books, hosted by Bill Thompson, did a Q&A recently about Angels -- click below for a listen.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What's Next?

Conversations and Connections, the third annual conference for writers will be on April 11th in Washington. Sponsored by Johns Hopkins University, Montgomery College, and others, the one-day event is designed for writers looking to be published (that's all of us). I'll be on a panel called Juggling POVs in which I promise to levitate angels and/or faeries.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Politics & Prose

Angels was #1 in Fiction at Politics & Prose this past week, thanks no doubt to everyone who came to the reading on Sunday. Gwen Ifell's new book was #1 in Non-fiction, so good company indeed. A hundred thousand thanks.

There's no place quite like an independent bookstore, and P&P is especially labyrinthian enough to get lost in, a little like dreamland.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


So the Washington Post reviewed Angels the other day, and thanks be for Liz Hand, a perfect stranger, who did the right thing.

Back from Pittsburgh and the reading at Joseph-Beth where a few of the clan showed up. I heard for the first time, the story of my grandfather's Irish wake, back in 1936, when they still laid out the body at home. Seems a couple of the lads had a bit much to drink and wanted to raise a glass to Doc, so they took him out of the casket and sat him up in a chair, and properly toasted him. Now, I can't vouch for the story, but the aunties insist it true, so be it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Long and Winding Road

Catching my breath after a few days on the West Coast and meeting the marvelous people of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Iowa City, and Milwaukee. Whew.

My old stomping grounds in Pittsburgh are next--tomorrow night at Joseph-Beth on the Southside. I love coming back to the hometown, seeing the old crowd, visiting the old school. Angels is set, in part, just outside of the city in a mythical place along the Monogahela River. Back in the day, I could see the river flow far below my dorm room and off to the west catch the orange glow of the steel mills. The people there were always strangely friendly, angels almost.

Hope to see you at the bookstore!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Snow Man

Angels of Destruction arrives tomorrow, but the snowstorm came last night. Perfect timing since the novel begins in the middle of winter and snow falls frequently in the pages (be careful to shake out the book before reading). Puts me in mind, again, of Wallace Stevens's poem "The Snow Man."

The new web site for Angels of Destruction is up and running. Everything is ready to go. Now, if I can just get to the airport...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vanishing worlds

This Sunday I went to fetch first thing, as always, the Book World section from the Washington Post, but it was not there. I knew the newspaper had ended the section as a stand-alone, and I even had a review in the final edition, but old habits die hard. In the Outlook section, a spate of non-fiction books were reviewed, as promised, and in the weekday issues, novels fall under scrutiny. But it just isn't the same.

I had heard earlier in the week of the loss of another cherished institution: the International Poetry Forum in Pittsburgh. Since 1966, it has been bringing world renowned poets to my old home town -- from Seamus Heaney to Richard Wilbur to every one, and for an aspiring writer, it was a heady experience to sit in the dark and listen to these great poets say their poems and have the words settle on the audience like warm snow. The Forum, like Book World, is a victim of the damn recession and the vanishing reader.

We miss you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Correct Book Tour Dates & Times

Tuesday March 3
Queen Anne Books
1811 Queen Anne Ave North
6:30 pm

Wednesday March 4
Powell's Books
1005 W. Burnside
7:30 pm

Thursday March 5
Book Passage
1 Ferry Building #2
6:00 pm

Friday March 6
Prairie Lights
15 S. Dubuque
7:00 pm

Saturday March 7
Harry Schwartz
17145-D W. Bluemound Road
2:00 pm

Sunday March 8
Spring Writers Festival
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
12:30 pm

Tuesday March 10
Joseph Beth
2705 E. Carson Street
7:00 pm

Thursday March 12
Barnes & Noble
4801 Bethesda Avenue
7:00 pm

Friday March 13
Quail Ridge Books
3522 Wade Avenue
7:30 pm

Saturday March 14
McIntyre's Fine Books
2000 Fearrington Village
11:00 am

Sunday March 15
Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW
5:00 pm

Friday, February 13, 2009

In the Mail

A couple of weeks before the actual publication date, the finished book arrives in the mail. Angels were waiting when I came home. It is a beautiful thing.

The audiobook (a link below, right)arrived earlier this week. Cassandra Campbell, the reader, does a wonderful job, and is already garnering listeners.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Publication Date - March 3 2009

Angels of Destruction is to be published on March 3, 2009, and the publisher is sending me on tour right away.  Here are the dates:

March 3 Queen Anne Books Seattle
March 4 Powell's Portland
March 5 Book Passage San Francisco
March 6 Prairie Lights Iowa City
March 7 Harry Schwartz Brookfield, WI
March 8 U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Milwaukee
March 10 Joseph Beth Pittsburgh
March 12 Barnes & Noble Bethesda, MD
March 13 Quail Ridge Books Raleigh, NC
March 14 McIntyre's Pittsboro, NC
March 15 Politics & Prose Washington, DC

More details to come, but save the dates.  I'd be thrilled to meet you or see you again.