Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The undecided voter speaks

Late in every presidential election cycle, pundits begin to fret openly about those mysterious undecided voters: Who are they, how can they possibly still be undecided, are they just lying to reporters in hopes of meeting Campbell Brown, how will they make up their minds, and when, and should we even expect them or want them to vote? Now we have some answers, courtesy of the invaluable Onion columnist Jim Anchower. When political analysts talk about "low-information voters," it's Anchower they have in mind.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"The Dragaman's Bride"

I have sold my first sequel, a 12,000-word novelette titled "The Dragaman's Bride," to co-editors Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann for their original anthology The Dragon Book: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy, to be published by Penguin Putnam in 2009 (I think).

The protagonist and narrator is Pearleen Sunday, who also was the protagonist and narrator of "A Diorama of the Infernal Regions; or, The Devil's Ninth Question," my contribution to the Dozois-Dann anthology Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy (Berkley, 2007); that book was a World Fantasy Award finalist this year. Since The Dragon Book is something of a follow-up to Wizards, I thought checking in again with Pearl, to see how her magical education is progressing, would be a good idea.

Set in the Virginia mountains in the 1930s, "The Dragaman's Bride" is partially inspired by the traditional Jack tales of the Appalachians, especially the one Richard Chase called "Old Fire Dragaman" in his great 1943 book The Jack Tales. Tina L. Hanlon's fine AppLit site devotes a page to the tale's variants and ancestors. Traditionalists may not like my version, which also is informed, oddly enough, by my hero Jeffrey Ford's fine novel The Girl in the Glass. My most obvious debt, as with many of my stories, is to the Appalachian stories of the late Manly Wade Wellman, especially the Silver John series.

The rest of the anthology's contents haven't been announced, to my knowledge, but I know "The Dragaman's Bride" isn't the longest story in the book, because Jane Yolen notes in her journal that her contribution, "The Tsar's Dragons" (co-written with Adam Stemple), is nearly 15,000 words.

I'm delighted to be included in the book, and to have gotten such a long story finished -- in mid-semester, at that!