Sunset 4/11/16

It’s dramatic!

In other news, I’m back from LA, where I had a lovely time and saw many fabulous friends and fans. How was your weekend?

A View From A Hotel Window, 4/7/16: Los Angeles

There’s construction going on, the president arrived today, there was a car chase that locked up the freeways and it was raining. All of this explains why it took me a better par of an hour to travel fifteen miles from the airport to my hotel, and why it would have taken longer if I hadn’t taken surface streets. Los Angeles, I’m telling you.

Anyway: Hello, LA! I am here, for three days. My first order of business: A nap.

Doing the Travel Thing

I’m on the road as of tomorrow morning through Sunday so it’s likely I won’t update here until I get home. Sorry. Hopefully this picture of a kitten will be suitable compensation:

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And remember, if you are in Los Angeles, I will be among you soon!

The Big Idea: Alethea Kontis

“TEHETHJO” is one heck of an acronym, but Alethea Kontis knows what it means, why it’s important, and how it relates to her new novel Trix and the Faerie Queen

ALETHEA KONTIS: 

In my fairy tale books of Arilland, Mama Woodcutter always says, “Everything happens for a reason.” She does that because my own mother has always said, “Everything happens for a reason.” (We writers do tend to write what we know.)

But we all know that’s a load of crap, right? People say, “Everything happens for a reason” in an attempt to make you feel better about The Exceptionally Horrible Event That Has Just Occurred (TEHETHJO). Like, for instance, when you splatter turmeric all over your vintage white shirt with the handmade Belgian lace, but the red top you’re forced to change into is the one that catches Prince Harry’s eye and WHAMMO. You’re sipping tea and eating eggs with the queen because reasons.

Yeah. Right. No. Things in life just happen—good or bad—and those things become the reasons for whatever happens after. It’s plain-old scientific cause and effect. Now, how you decide to act in the aftermath of TEHETHJO is the sort of thing that defines you as a person. There’s fate, and there’s free will.

I am all about forging one’s own destiny.

Maybe it’s because I started out as a child actress, or because I did a lot of improv in high school, but all my TEHETHJOs typically turn out pretty great. I don’t make lemonade, I make limoncello. Unfortunately, knowing that doesn’t automatically turn life into sunshine and baby otters while I’m standing at ground zero during global thermonuclear war.

Like, for instance, when my boyfriend and my publisher dumped me in the same 24 hours a couple years ago. (Small spoiler: Prince Harry doesn’t show up at the end of this, so don’t hold your breath.) You know that thing where a person’s soul metaphorically shatters into a million pieces? That. TEHETHJO. All over the inside of my poor Firefly-class Volvo.

But if TEHETHJO hadn’t occurred, then the book that’s releasing this week would never have existed. NEVER. And it’s the best book I’ve ever written.

Trixter was meant to be a stand-alone novella that told the story of what happened to Trix Woodcutter while his sister Saturday was questing about in Hero, since the publisher had politely asked me to remove his entire subplot. At the same time, it was my tribute to Andrew Lang’s Crimson Fairy Book. It was not meant to be Volume One of The Trix Adventures. That fey scamp of a little brother was not meant to find a companion and traverse continents and chat up all sorts of legendary beasties and save the world. He was not meant to become my fairy tale Doctor Who.

And yet…there I was, writing a scene at the end of Trix and the Faerie Queen that was not in my outline, giggling and weeping over my keyboard at the same time. Because reasons.

The Trix Adventures are beautiful books, and the rest of the Woodcutter Sisters will be better for me having written them I have become better for having written them. I have been made whole again, regenerated, and Alethea 3.0 is fantastic. I did that. TEHETHJO might have been the inciting incident, but I’m going to stand up and take credit for this one.

If everything really does happen for a reason, the reason Trix and the Faerie Queen exists is me.

And I am so incredibly proud of that.

—-

Trix and the Faerie Queen: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Google Play|Kobo

Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.

And Now, an Incomplete List of Women Writers Who Inspire Me

Click on the picture to be taken to the story on Jezebel.

“Incomplete” because I’m doing it off the top of my head. Also, in no particular order. Ready? Here we go:

Dorothy Parker
Molly Ivins
Elaine May
Madeleine L’Engle
Nora Ephron
Susan Cooper
Hannah Arendt
Ursula Le Guin
N.K. Jemisin
Beverly Cleary
Sheri Tepper
Jenny Lawson
Kelly Sue Deconnick
Emma Thompson (Yes, she’s a writer. Won an Oscar for it, too)
Caroline Thompson (no relation to above)
Amy Wallace
Melissa Matheson
Erma Bombeck
Mallory Ortberg
Pauline Kael

There are more, but as I said: Off the top of my head. And these are just the ones I find inspiring — that is, the ones whose work I looked at some point or another in my life and came out of the experience wanting to write and/or to have my own work to be better. If you were to ask for the list of women writers who I like, enjoy or admire, well. We’d be here all day. And that, again, would be for the ones I could list right off the top of my head.

Which is the point. Gay Talese couldn’t think of a single woman writer who inspires him or whose work he loves. That unfortunate man. Maybe he needs to read more widely. For a start.

Update: Mr. Talese attempts a clarification.

What I’m Doing in Los Angeles This Next Weekend

Los Angelenos! This next Saturday — that’s the ninth — I will be in your fabulous town, not just to eat all the In-N-Out animal style Double Doubles that I can shove down my gullet but also to do a few events tied into the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. What are they and when can you see them? Well, let me answer those questions right now.

11:30 AM, Ronald Tutor Campus Center, USC Campus: I and Charlie Jane Anders are in conversation. Among the things we’ll no doubt talk about are Charlie Jane’s fantastic new book All the Birds in the Sky, the new things I am working on, the state of publishing, life, the universe and everything, and of course cupcakes vs. muffins. Our conversation is ticketed, and the tickets have a $1 service charge (sorry) but otherwise it’s free. Here’s where to reserve your tickets.

Immediately after our conversation, Charlie Jane and I are signing books! And probably anything else you want signed. So bring your signables!

3 PM, Mysterious Galaxy booth: Miss the signing right after my conversation with Charlie Jane? I’ll be here to sign some more books — and as it happens Mysterious Galaxy will have lots of my books on hand to sell as well. Convenient!

7 PM, Nerdmelt Showroom, 7522 Sunset Ave, Los Angeles: I’m one of the featured performers at The Objectively Hottest Authors On Earth LIVE!, which is being presented in association with the Festival of Books. During the show, hosted by artist and comedian Sara Benincasa, I, Maris Kreizman, Cecil Castellucci and Isaac Fitzgerald will be saying and/or doing funny things, and being interviewed by Sara. It’s going to be fantastic. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door, and if you want to show up, don’t wait — the room is, uh, not huge, as I understand it. I can’t say what anyone else has planned but I will be reading an recently-written funny piece that hasn’t been published anywhere yet (although I’ve read it in a couple of places and it killed), so the only place you’ll be able to enjoy it is live, and the only place I’m planning to read it live in the foreseeable future is here, at the Nerdmelt Showroom.

See you there! I apologize in advance for the Double-Double breath.

The Tesla 3 (and Why I Probably Wouldn’t Get One)

Like nearly every nerd I know, I’m excited that the Tesla Model 3 has been unveiled and that in about 18 months it will be a reality. Between it and the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt, reasonably affordable all-electric cars are becoming an actual thing and not just a weird quirk for eco-geeks, and/or status symbols for rich people. The nation needs electric cars that can go reasonable ranges, aimed at people who have less than six figure incomes. Now we’re on that path, and it makes me happy.

But this doesn’t mean I’ve plunked down $1,000 to reserve my own Model 3, either. For as much as I like the idea of the Tesla 3 (and the Bolt, and other electric cars), I’m not their market, their market being people in relatively dense urban/suburban areas, whose driving needs allow them to do all sorts of things within the 200 mile recharge radius of the car. I live in rural America, and my driving needs are generally a) almost nothing because I work from home, b) long trips because I’m going somewhere far beyond my usual environs. I have almost nothing inbetween. Also it means that right now, “fast-charge” stations near me are very few and very far between.

Which means that a car like a Model 3 or a Bolt, both with an about 200-mile range (longer if you pay more, less when it gets cold), fits perfectly into my “range anxiety” sphere. Driving the thing would probably make me twitchy all the time. In ten or fifteen years, when the average electric car has a 450-mile range (i.e., enough to get me to Chicago and back, Chicago being the furthest I would drive before buying a plane ticket instead) and fast charge outlets are at every gas station, this won’t be a problem. Right now, though, it’s a big nope for me.

Here in 2016, the perfect electric car for me isn’t a Tesla model or the Bolt, but the Chevrolet Volt. It has an electric engine with a range of about 50 miles and then fires up a gas powered generator for a 400+ mile total range, which means that it works perfectly as an electric car for my local travel, and then doesn’t make me freak out about finding a place to charge when I’m on a long trip. I’m not going to get one of those right now either — we have two cars and they run just fine — but I’m pretty certain the next car we get won’t be gas-only. Unless something else comes out to fit our driving profile, the Volt’s in pole position for the car I’m most interested in next.

Which possibly means I need to turn in my Nerd Card, as Tesla is the official automobile manufacturer of the Nerd Nation. But that’s fine. I’m a nerd, but I also live in the non-nerd world, out in the sticks. Here in the sticks, for how I live, the Tesla’s not practical. Until and unless it is, I might be a Chevy man.