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Friday, March 03, 2006

Ambergris by the radiant O of moon

Last month I met Jeff Vandermeer at KGB Bar in New York, where we did a reading together. Now the paperback of his City of Saints and Madmen is coming out from Bantam.

If you click on the banner, you can find all sorts of zany things the likes of which my publishers have never dreamed up for the likes of me: click on the author's head, and get koalas and Jeff drinking absinthe from a skull and his wife, Ann; soundtrack; screen savers; a quiz, a trailer for the movie (okay, it's just a trailer for the book, but it's highly suggestive of movies to come, isn't it?), grey caps, squid, etc. Click on the moon to hear strange sounds. Click on the spire that points the way to Ambergris...

Jeff also has a blog with smoking bunnies and mushroom dwellers and other wonders (

Now I want a trailer, too!

I'll take a tiny silver one, suitable for use as a hovel in the Southern mountains.

Just set it down in a patch of cardinal flower, with a view of mist and ridge, and give me some iced tea and okra and crowders and a tomato from my mother's garden. I'll need an ear trumpet to be able to hear my children who are clambering down the mountainside (or maybe they don't work for distant sounds--a magic ear will do), a sufficiency of sun, and a low tech pencil and a pad of paper.

You come, too--and bring your own fantastical trailer...


  1. Ooooh. What fun. You are sounding homesick for your southern clime, Marly. I'd love to bring my own tiny Airstream (it exists, alas, in mind only) and snuggle it near some wild meadow. Rain and rain and rain and rain here. Drear.

  2. What fun, this Ambergris website! Compelling trailer. It hooked me. Then I took the quiz and was turned into an abstract work of art. Now, that sounds good. If I can’t create, I’ll become. Good answer.

  3. Ms. J--
    January, February, and March are three windy, icy, snowy, raging reasons to be terribly, terribly homesick. Sigh. Yes, a wild meadow sounds just dandy. Maybe a laurel hell with a stream and rubies.

    Connie, did you try "How Would You Fare in Ambergris" as well? My fate seems rather dull, except that it exactly matches one's fate on earth--and that seems a little disturbing:

    You've obviously read the guidebooks, but how long can you rely on other people's wisdom? You must strive to survive on your own, but it is probably a futile struggle - your luck will run out in the end. Ambergris has few survivors.

    Now, if I'd answered in a fictional mode, I'd have been dead in an instant!

  4. Man, you keep talking like this and I'm coming up north to facilitate a reeelocation, if you catch my drift.
    Btw, I ordered your first book from amazon and they've now put me on hold. What should I order next, do you mind advising?
    Seriously though, the next time you're in this part of the world, please let me know!

  5. Hi Laura--

    Am I talking too much about weather? It would be boring were it not so extravagant. I try to grit my teeth through the dead of winter, but this year it has been a weird one. Warmed up for a week and gave me hope, yet I knew it wasn't done... Back in the deep freeze.

    On hold? I think that "Little Jordan" is now available only directly through Godine, so that's why it takes them longer to fetch up a copy. It's not at a book distributor any more, and that's the usual path.

    If you look on my blog roster, there's a link to "Jarvenpa's Notebooks." She recently wrote an entry about some of my books. (She has a bookstore in California and writes poetry and two blogs. That's all I know, except what I have learned from the blogs--a lot, actually.)

    Or you can go look at my website (see link) and read the review clips and get an idea.

    "Catherwood" is out of print but is the one that writers seem to know the most often. That one's about a woman and child lost in the wilderness. 17th century. It's relatively short, and FSG did a lovely job on the hardcover.

    I suppose that "The Wolf Pit" is a much crueler and darker book, because it's a Civil War story. But I hope it has plenty of streaks of joy. It came out of my eldest son's long obsession with the war and his distress at finding that his ancestors in the war (mine) were on the wrong side. And that one just now went out of print, though I hope to have it back in soon, if I can nab the rights. It won the Shaara award, and people have talked about it being accurate--a great relief to me.

    You might find it locally where you are, as the Bull's Head has been good about carrying my books. In fact, you can call E. Eisdorfer there and ask her what to read!

    If you want to try some that feel very "Carolinan," you can read the ones that were marketed as young adult (though they've been reviewed as crossovers--I really dislike categories of all sorts, but that's the game.) That would be "The Curse of the Raven Mocker" and "Ingledove." They're both fantastical, but they're grounded in my years in Cullowhee. They mix Celtic folk ways from the early settlers with Cherokee legend and the landscape and plants and so on of the region. "Ingledove" is the new one. I think that it got all good reviews except the librarian's review that's up on Amazon (thanks) and the also-not-terrific though barely quotable Kirkus one. And that's the other one Amazon picked (more thanks). You can see clips from a lot of the good ones on my web site.

    Also, there's my book of poems, "Claire." That's in print in both hardcover and paperback.

    Right now I'm fooling around with a new collection of poems and one or two of stories. (Why this insanity? And for what outlet? After all, the rule is that publishers want novels. Or, better yet, nonfiction.)

    I make it to Chapel Hill now and then, since I still have friends there. I do readings around the Triangle, but I didn't read there for the last book--last year was a minefield. And I go to Cullowhee for a week or so at least twice a year. I will let you know--it would be fun to hold one of your notebooks in my hot little hands!

    Speaking of those, I really liked the start of your "tree" month--the star magnolia and the little broken but still living stub standing with its arms out between the two sheltering boles. Amazing how we insist on telling stories about images. And then you went to the Arboretum! Just think: I know those trees. So much fun. In fact, I think it may be my slow realization that you were drawing my own territory that has made me so homesick! (I don't know why I didn't think of it in the first place, since Jeffery Beam told me about the site. A recommendation from a poet is good.) I'll go back later and see where you went today--right now I have a deadline and shouldn't be doing this very thing! So I'll stop.

    Off to the jolly grindstone--

  6. Laura, any Marly read is an experience to savor, but if you want recommendations: I love Little Jordan but since it’s difficult to get, I would suggest you go right to The Curse of the Ravenmocker. This fantastical journey is billed for Young Adults, yet I think you’ll find the beauty of Marly’s language luring you into her magical land. And since you’re an artist, I wouldn’t be surprised if those word images don’t send you directly to your journals. Ravenmocker is simply packed with a poetic imagery.
    I’m thankful to Marly, too, for introducing me to lauralines. Journals—word or art—hold a certain allure for me, perhaps that’s why I’m enjoying blogs. I'm allowed peeks into another’s creative world. I’ve only had time to peruse your site, yet the quick journey was divine.

  7. Thank you so much, Marly and Connie. I guess I'll just have to order everything I can get my hands on. No, Marly, you haven't been talking of the weather too much. I just wanted to rescue you. Connie, I'm thrilled you like Laurelines. Thanks for telling me so.

  8. I get it. You're Laura and your site is Laurelines. How laurgical!

  9. Hi Marly,

    I was in Borders for a date with my hubby on Sat. and saw City of Saints and Madmen, right out there in plain sight on the paperback table.

    You do need a trailer. That would be interesting. What would an Ingledove trailer be like? What would you put on a website, where you click on your head? You need to get your website elves working.

  10. Hah, Blog Queen!

    I am the Website Elf! What you could do is click on my head, then be dumped straight into undifferentiated CHAOS!

    An Ingledove trailer would be fun, but the only kind that I could master would be the kind that streams through my imagination...


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.