Friday, September 14, 2007

Val / Orson

"Alice was now tall enough to reach the top of the little glass table, and so at last she picked up the book. The neatly printed label attached by grocer's string read, 'Buy Me.'" --from Alice's Secret Adventures in Wonderland

My limited edition novella, Val / Orson, is forthcoming from Peter Crowther and Nick Gevers' P. S. Publishing in the U. K. (Thanks to publisher and editor for requesting a manuscript!) Although the book won't be out until the end of 2008, now would be a splendid time to order, because the first class or international shipping costs will be free until the end of this month:

Val / Orson page:

Special Offer: Free Postage on all pre-orders until September 31st
To mark our major schedule update announcement we're making this special offer until the end of September 2007: Free Postage on all pre-publication orders placed before October 1st 2007! That's right, if you pre-order any items from our list of forthcoming titles and complete your order by September 31st (full payment has to reach us by that date to qualify) then we won't charge you our usual postal rates for those books. The book(s) will be sent out as soon as they're published by our usual first class / international airmail carriers.

I'm thinking about changing the title back to Valorson.... That combines the names of the twins into one and also makes a pun.

This novella or short novel (whichever you please) is planted on the boundary line between what's commonly called realism and the realm of irrealism. That is, though the setting is contemporary--the story takes place among (and on, very much on!) California redwoods--and events take place in the realm of possibility, the tale has an aura of the marvelous because it makes use of legendary materials by borrowing threads from the story of a pair of famous twins, Valentine and Orson.

Of course, I don't believe in realism; there's nothing about a book that's not the sheerest fabulation, because the fabric of words is such very different stuff from a yard of muslim or velvet. It may feed me, but it will never be an egg.

Want to know more about the legendary source? Here's a brief introduction: that mentions source and uses by other writers. I snagged the Nancy Ekholm Burkert poem-and-picture book when it came out from FSG, and it's quite lovely. (One of my former editors there, Robbie Mayes, told me that the model for the handsome twin boys was her son.)

Two of my long stories are also forthcoming from P. S. Publishing's magazine, Postscripts. Drunk Bay will be out by Christmas; Rain Flower Pebbles will appear in 2008.

Photo credits are due and the following: for the sequoias in snow, Vlad Romascanu of Montreal, Quebec, Canada; for sequoias in mist, Marcin Jochimczyk of Sosnowiec, Slaskie, Poland. Many thanks!


  1. How exciting! i will zip off and order my copy right away.

  2. Hey Marly,
    Just want you and your other fans to know that it's super easy to order from the publisher...they even let us use Paypal which i appreciate, being the Nervous Nelly i still am about online shopping (dinosaur that i am). i love it that they gave us this opportunity.

  3. I hope there will be more reminders closer to publication date, I most certainly will not be living in the same place at the time of publication. But I am very much interested... not only because redwoods are important creatures to me, but because I know the author (a little bit), too.

  4. from Z to A

    A Nervous Nelly dinosaur?

    I prefer to think of you as a garden zephyr!

    Redwoods are fantastical creatures; it was fun to imagine living in one.

  5. ah well
    you know how it is
    every now and then we zephyrs
    get a little wound up and gusty
    over the littlest things

    by the way, have you read or did you hear the author of The Wild Trees interviewed on NPR?
    Were they (those remarkable redwoods discussed in the book) by any chance part of the inspiration for living up there in those remarkable trees?

  6. No, I wrote it well before that book came out but hadn't done anything with it till P. S. asked for a novella. In fact, I had to look it up to see what you were talking about. But I did read about the trees, plus one book by a tree sitter.

    Well, it is fall--I think it started today, judging by the air and the garden--so a zephyr has every right to get a bit gusty.

    The tax assessor man turned out to be a sculptor.

  7. Twins and free international shipping - incentive enough for me. Do you know your cover artist yet? And what is this of a tax-assessor-sculptor-man?

  8. Hi Amanda--

    Twins, of course! Near and dear a topic.

    No, I don't know about the cover artist as yet; I haven't known them for long. They asked for the novella, and I love to be asked. In the past year Nick and Pete also have asked me for stories for the magazine, as well as for several anthologies they're editing for U. S. houses.

    Solicitations for a piece of writing are interesting, particularly when they arrive as requests for things you don't think you ever would or could do. But when you, they transmogrify into something else. It's like writing formal verse--the shape forces you into unplanned territory.

  9. Oh, I forgot about the sculptor. It was Albert Keck, who has taken on the job of tax assessor in the wake of a botched job. Evidently he is also a sculptor.

    He is the son of the well-known art restorer, Caroline Keck. She lives around the corner from me, and I hear interesting things about her but have never met her. I believe she is 99 now.

  10. too soon the chill cometh?
    The cold air that swept over you arrived here today.

    You made me laugh, by the way:
    Nervous Nelly Dinosaur...sounds like some one who simply must audition for a spot on Sesame Street.

  11. this is wonderful that you have so much coming out this year. Soon you will be on book tours, meeting all the people digginf on your books and listening to lectures. Maybe you will get to stay in a confrence center an all.

    How cool is that.

  12. Wow you have been a busy lady!

    Congratulations on everything. I am again up and around after a sinus infection relapse, so I shall be visiting this blog more.

  13. zephyr,

    Yes, my knees are knocking and I was tempted to turn on the newly-refurbished furnace. But refrained. My nose is cold, and I'm going to go drink tea to warm up.


    You are hired as my personal fortune-teller!

    b. q.,

    I'm glad that you're feeling better and no doubt drawing more.

  14. Congratulations Marly!
    I just ordered myself a copy too...looking forward to this and agree with is quite easy though I found it easier to have a few windows open at the same time.

  15. Halloo, Clare--
    That was sweet of you! I am glad to be up-to-date in the Dudmania Library.

  16. i confess that i dialed up the thermostat for about half an hour, just to take the chill off this old drafty place. Today has dawned sunny again and the thermometer is already much closer to 70. While i love the change of seasons, i'm crossing my fingers that we get a long, gentle autumn and that the true cold waits until December, or maybe Thanksgiving, when it seems a chill fits the day for this neck of the woods.

    How soon does cold arrive in the Carolina Mts? I am correct in remembering that's where you grew up...aren't i?

  17. Not yet! Well, that's not true. My mother has already reported a cold day, although a cold day there is considered a good one here.

    Yes, though I didn't move to Cullowhee until I was 13, at the start of 9th grade. I've spent at least a few weeks there every year since. Before that I lived in Aiken, South Carolina and Gramercy, Louisiana (loved, loved the place and my neighbors, and evidently I spoke Cajun French to some degree) and Baton Rouge, Louisiana (also swell) and Hays, Kansas (phoo! they had never seen a Southerner) and Wilmington, Delaware (they also had never seen a Southerner, and the collision between me and suburban, privileged them was excruciating, as I recall it.) I was gloriously happy about moving to North Carolina. The only constant through all those moves was an annual trip to family places in Georgia--Lexsy, Collins, and sometimes Savannah. I also went back to Aiken frequently.

    To my surprise, my husband turned on the heat the same way you did. Far Northern flower that he is! I usually hold out to the last possible moment, since the oil bill for my old house is so very formidable.

    And now back to "The Salamander Fire." I am almost to the point where I shall put in a comma I took out last time around, so the end is in clear sight.

  18. what a rich and varied experience!
    Although i'm not forgetting that one of those places (Delaware?) tried to kill your southern voice...
    Heavy Sigh.
    But here you are! And, you take your kids with you back to the South, i imagine annually at least.

    mmmm, sounds very intriguing: "The Salamander Fire"

  19. Ah, well, things always seem more interesting from a more distant point of view, don't they? Perhaps that's one reason to write stories.

    Yes, I must get my heat-and-accent-and-food fix once a year. I go home and gain seven pounds, and then have to come home and race it off again. My deep-South roots mean that I like a lot of things to eat that you just don't get often, even in the mid-South. But my mother has her ingenious ways and is a mad gardener like you. She grows all sorts of Southern hot-weather peas and peanuts despite the climate.

  20. Ain't that the truth!
    i grew up in the desert Southwest and
    i'm always struck speechless when someone who did not grow up where i did calls the place beautiful, since every time i visit i'm overwhelmed with the realization that it looks and feels to me even more desolate than i remember--apart from two hours every morning and two hours every evening--before and after the intense, overwhelming hours of unrelenting sunlight.

    i mourn the fact that i cannot enjoy my mother's pomegranate jelly anymore...and that most of the pomegranates grown in that valley are now the ones that are too sweet for me (and my one niece who also remembers mom's jelly). And, twice in the last 30 years i have actually yearned to visit the place in order to photograph there...and i have...and it was a meaningful experience...but i can not stay more than 3 days.

    Peanuts and hot-weather peas!
    i would love someday to visit someone who lives, gardens and grew up in the South you talk about. It has the attraction and feeling of visiting a foreign country, i must admit.

    i often feel totally out of place, still, here on The East Coast...particularly since i've not really had a desire to assimilate myself into this culture. i came for the Landscape and the Architecture...and yes, people who did not have a clue about my native culture. While i could never live where i grew up, it defines who i am and i finally discovered (in the company of my students who could not understand why on earth i would chose to live in NJ and not Colorado) that it's a rich part of me and is why this home ground still means so much to me, and also why i can see it and write about it the way i do.

  21. I know perfectly well why people live in New Jersey, and it is because they took the wrong ramp on the freeway and never found their way out of the state again! How I have managed to repeatedly escape the place (particularly Newark), I do not know.

    All that was very interesting. Deserts are fascinating--my mother recently went on an Elderhostel trip, "The Desert in Bloom"--but I don't know that I'd stay forever. When I was a small child, I became convinced that I had swallowed my tongue during a trip to the Painted Desert. Tongue-swallowing was a thing that I had learned about in some horrible slide show from school. I can still remember the panic. And my parents just kept walking blithely on. Perhaps I was very hot and thirsty.

    Back to work--well, I'm picking out a winter coat for N. I suppose that qualifies as labor, since one has to sort through a forest of the dratted things to find one with a texture acceptable to Himself.

  22. Yes, well
    we used to enjoy our once-quiet corner of NJ because most people held the very same opinion. And...i almost always go south via PA, avoiding the thruway and parkway all together.

  23. If that opinion is disinformation, I shall do my best to spread it--perhaps that will keep your garden from being trampled. I can't quite figure what idea would keep the tourists from flooding the village here. But it would be nice to have a bit fewer.

    Off again--

  24. have just put in my order and written a cheque to post, it was nice to be able to pay so easily in sterling, I hope there are still some left!
    When I was a little bitty thing I had a comic called 'Treasure'. It was a bit precious and girly for my tastes but one thing I loved was a picture serialisation of the story of Valentine and Orson. Later it was rather conflated in my mind with Enkidu and Gilgamesh.
    I look forward to reading.


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.