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Due to boring circumstances beyond my control, I will not be online much in February. Fortunately I’ve been able to line up a number of stellar guests to fill in for me. Most are writers, but I also thought it would be fun to get some publishing types to explain what it is they do, teach you some more about the industry, and answer your questions, as well as one or two bloggers.
Today’s guest blogger, Doselle Young, is not only one of my favourite people on the planet, he’s also every bit as opinionated as me. (Though frequently wrong, like his love of Madmen and Henry Miller. Ewww.) I enjoy Do holding forth on any subject at all. He’s also a talented writer of comic books, stories, movies—anything he turns his hand to. Enjoy! And do argue with him. Do loves that. Maybe it will convince him to blog more often? I’d love to hear about the strange connection between Elvis and the superhero Captain Marvel Jr. Fingers crossed.
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Doselle Young is a writer who hates the whole cliché about how writers ‘lie for a living.’ He thinks it’s boring, pretentious, and only meant to promote the author’s self-image as some kind of beast stalking the edges of the literary establishment. Whatever. Get over yourselves, people! Please! We’ve all gotten exceptionally lucky and you know it! When the meds are working, Doselle writes film treatments for Hollywood directors, comics like THE MONARCHY: BULLETS OVER BABYLON, the upcoming PERILOUS, and short crime stories like ‘Housework’ in the anthology The Darker Mask available from Tor Books. Read it. It’s not bad. And, after all, how often do you get to see a black woman with a ray gun? If, on the other hand, the meds aren’t working he’s probably outside your house right now planting Easter Eggs in your garden. Bad rabbit. You can follow him on twitter. He’d rather be following you, though. It’s lots more fun that way.
Before we begin, I feel there’s something I must make clear: while I write a lot, one thing I am not is a blogger.
Not that I have no respect for bloggers. Hell, some of my best friends are bloggers (and I mean that with a sincerity that borders on relentless). It’s for that reason I’ve lurked here on Justine blog pretty much since the day I met her.
This is a good place, this here blog o’ hers. A smart place and a place with personality, wit, snark, truth, and, when appropriate, outrage.
Kind of like a good local pub without the hooligans, the gut expanding calories and that obnoxious bloke at the end of the bar who smells just like the sticky stuff on the floor just outside the men’s toilet; although, there may be analogues to all those things here. It’s not my place to judge.
What I’ve noticed when trolling though the blogs of authors I know is that, as far as I can, what people fall in love with aren’t so much the personality of the authors but the personality of the blogs, themselves; the gestalt created in that grey space between the author and the audience. An extension of what happens when you read an author’s book, maybe.
And so, as I’m currently sitting here beside a roaring fire in lodge somewhere in South Lake Tahoe and bumpin’ De La Soul though a pair of oversized headphones I paid waaay too much money for, I feel a responsibility to engage with the personality that is Justine Larbalestier’s blog; which is not Justine, but of Justine, if that makes any sense.
On the subject of sports:
I don’t know a lick about the sport of Cricket. Justine loves it (almost as much as she loves Scott, I suspect) so there must be something of high value in the poetry of the bat and the ball, the test match, the teams and the history; some inspiration and beauty to be found there.
The sport that makes my blood race, however, is boxing.
Yeah, that’s right, I said it: brutal and beautiful boxing. Corrupt, questionable, brain damaging, violent boxing.
Maybe it’s a cultural thing but growing up black and male in the 1970s here in the U.S. of A. meant that Muhummad Ali was practically a super hero. Hell, there was even a comic book where Ali fought freakin’ Superman and won (and, yes, I still got my copy, best believe.) Like most everyone, I loved Ali’s bravado, his braggadocio, and his genius with extemporaneous word play. All that, and Ali’s unmistakable style, in his prime it seemed that Ali’s neurons fired to the best of jazz rhythm and when he got older, jazz slowed down to the Louisiana blues tempo—a little sad and melancholy, sure, but nonetheless beautiful.
Update: Image supplied by Doselle in response to Diana’s question
In each of the best fights I’ve seen since, I’m always looking for a hint of those rhythms that make my skin tingle to this day.
On the subject of chocolate:
Not a big fan, myself. I love the taste of vanilla bean and the scent of cinnamon. I love bread pudding and oatmeal cookies and the unholy joy of a well-executed Pecan Pie, but beyond that, whatever.
Screw chocolate. Chocolate still owes me money, anyway.
On the subject of LIAR:
If you’re reading this, I prolly read it before you did, so, nah-nah nah-nah and half-a-bazillion raspberries to you and you and you over there in the corner with that absolutely awful Doctor Who t-shirt.
I loved Liar when I read it and loved it even more when I re-read it. I loved every question and every turn. I loved Micah and her nappy hair and would love to see her again and again. If LIAR were a woman in a bar, I would approach her slick and slow, and be proud be as hell when she took me out to the alley behind the bar and stabbed me through the heart.
In short, LIAR is a killer book and that’s all I have to say about that. Nuff said.
I think Patricia Highsmith, as awful a person as she was, would be proud of LIAR and hate Justine for being the one to have written it.
On the subject of RACE and IDENTITY:
There is no monoculture among people of color or people, in general. Sure, there are tribes, cliques, groups, social organizations, concerns, movements, etc. and I can speak for absolutely none of them.
I can only speak personally. Will only speak personally. Could never speak anything but personally on something so emotionally charged as race and identity.
Like Steve Martin in The Jerk, “I was born a poor black child.”
For the first eleven years of my life, my favorite TV shows were super hero cartoons, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, My Favorite Martian, All in The Family, M.A.S.H. Sanford and Son, Good Times and The Jeffersons. Even if you’re not Usian (as Justine likes to say), the U.S. exports every piece of television we have so I’m sure most of you will be aware of some of those shows, if not all of them.
I listened to Rick James, Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Louis Jordan’s Jump Blues, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones.
Most of my friends growing up were Jewish and the most horrible acts of racism I personally experienced growing up were perpetrated by other people of color.1
All of which should be considered prologue to finding myself at last year’s World Con in Montreal sitting on yet another panel about race (as an African American author I somehow find myself on race panels even when I haven’t requested them on the programming).
I’m sitting there, halfway through a sentence, when I have an epiphany, of sorts: one of those moments where everything comes into a different kind of focus.
The truth is: I don’t have anything to say about race that I can put in a short blog post. I don’t have anything to say about my experience with race and the perception of race that I can tweet. I don’t have anything to say about race on a sixty-minute panel at a science-fiction convention.
My personal thoughts on race and identity (ethnic or otherwise) are just that: personal, and as complicated, convoluted and tweaked as the catalog of experiences that shaped them.
How about yours?
On a related note, when I requested to NOT be put on the race panel at World Fantasy 2009, I ended up on the queer panel and had a blast.
Life’s funny that way.
On the subject of Buffy The Vampire Slayer:
The show’s over, homey! You really need to move on!
On the subject of writing:
Have a life that feeds you. Lead a life that challenges you. Write what you know. Write what you don’t know. Research. Steal. Invent. Be brave. Be honest about what terrifies you. Be honest about your regrets. It also helps if you can spell.
On the subject of God:
Sorry. I still can’t get that jerk to answer the phone.
On the subject of Zombies Versus Unicorns:
Honestly, I make it a rule to never discuss pornography in public.
On the subject of books:
I’m reading Megan Abbot’s QUEENPIN. The back of the paperback dubs Abbot “The Queen of Noir” and, honestly, I couldn’t agree more. Her books are violent explorations into the ruthless worlds of film noir and crime fiction, delving into the cold hearts of the grifter gals and femme fatales who, until now, have only existed at the grey edges of the genre.
If you like books like LIAR, I think you’ll like Abbott’s stuff, as well. Pick up QUEENPIN or BURY ME DEEP. You won’t be disappointed.
Another book I’m reading now is a biography: THE STRANGEST MAN – THE HIDDEN LIFE OF PAUL DIRAC, MYSTIC OF THE ATOM.
If you don’t know, Dirac was a theoretical physicist, one of Einstein’s most admired colleagues and, at the time, the youngest theoretician to win the Nobel Prize in physics. Dirac made numerous contributions to early work in quantum mechanics and was the first to predict the existence of anti-matter (the same stuff that makes The Enterprise’s engines go ‘Vroom.’) Dirac was, as you might expect, also a bit of an eccentric and a very private man who shared his tears with very few if any of the people closest to him. Written by Graham Farmelo, ‘The Strangest Man’ a meticulously researched piece that, nevertheless, maintains its focus on the often-enigmatic heart of its subject, Dirac. If you’re a science fiction fan, take a peep. After all, if a couple of social misfits hadn’t put chalk to chalkboard, we never have split that atom. Boom.
The last book on my nightstand, for the moment, is John Scalzi’s THE GOD ENGINES, published by Subterranean Press. Before I go any further, I should disclose that this book is dedicated to me but I didn’t know that until after I got a copy of the book. So, with that in mind, attend.
THE GOD ENGINES is a dramatic departure from both his Heinlein-inspired military SF and his more tongue-in-cheek material. While using SFnal tropes, the story is, at heart, a dark fantasy; one set in a world where an oppressive theocracy uses enslaved gods as the power source to drive their massive starships. Brutal, fierce and tightly laced with threads of Lovecraftian horror,
this is Scalzi’s best book by leaps and bounds. I hope to see more of this kind of work from him—even if I have to beat it out of him, myself. I’m calling you out, John Scalzi. Remember, I’ve still got the whip!
Well, I guess that’s more than enough for now. Nine subjects. One post.
Guess that means the caffeine’s working.
As I said: I’m not a blogger. I have no idea how this stuff is supposed to work. I’m sure this post is way too long. I mean, I didn’t even get to address why the show Madmen doesn’t suck just cause Justine says it does; why Henry Miller looks cool standing beside a bicycle on Santa Monica Beach; The Terrible Jay-Z Problem or the strange connection between Elvis and the superhero Captain Marvel Jr.
Oh, well, maybe next time.
In the interim, let’s be careful out there and remember: just because its offensive doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
P.S. Those boots look fabulous on you, Justine! Absolutely fabulous!
Posted by Justine at 19:36, 10 February 2010 under Bloggery/Internetty Stuff, Cons & Other Gatherings, Frippery, Guest post, Ideas, Liar, Reading, Sport, State of the World, Words & Language, Writing life, Zombies v Unicorns | 12 Comments »
Diana Peterfreund Says:
Tell us more about the comic book where Ali kicks Superman’s ass.
February 10th, 2010 at 7:52 PM
This was hilarious, but my Doctor Who shirt is lovably awful.
Also, Buffy isn’t actually over, since Joss Whedon is still writing the season 8 comics. Buffy will never be over.
February 10th, 2010 at 8:01 PM
“Just because it’s offensive doesn’t mean it isn’t true.” LOL!! Doselle, you’re so friggin’ cool! I’ll be honest and say I’d never heard of you before this, but I’m gonna go hunt down your work now. *__* Thanks for the infectious, caffeine-fueled cheer!
February 10th, 2010 at 8:53 PM
That panel is awesome. Thanks, Doselle!
February 10th, 2010 at 9:11 PM
A. Grey Says:
Okay. So my week was just made immeasurably better. This post kind of reminds me of that bit in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation where Chevy Chase is swigging eggnog and listing all of his boss’ attributes. You know, that part that EVERYONE rewinds like fifty times so they can watch it again and again? That’s what I did here. And I’m still sure I missed something and I’ll catch it later.
Best part? The mention of grey space between author and audience. This is because my own blog is called Grey Places. Which is pretty close to ‘spaces’ so hopefully I’m doing alright with the blog thing. Even if all my posts are absurd, and most of them involve falling down, horses being a pain in the ass, something breaking or a chicken named Towanda… Occasionally I throw in something about writing. You know, just to keep face.
Oh, and the Zombies vs Unicorns. There’s millions in a t-shirt somewhere in that.
Love your position on race. That’s a huge topic about now. And I’m not sure what’s worse, everything that’s being said, or that everyone wants to say something. It’s not a subject you can just ‘discuss and then move on’.
Alright, off to fetch some coffee, and maybe reread this post just to keep myself smiling.
February 10th, 2010 at 9:16 PM
kristin cashore Says:
But! Buffy isn’t over if you’re only watching it now for the first time! IATW, find me a truly kickass female I can watch every week on TV, and maybe I won’t *need* Buffy so much anymore.
February 10th, 2010 at 10:11 PM
Ah Yuan // wingstodust Says:
Okay, so I was reading your post, got to the Muhummad Ali > Superman part and was like LAWL and stopped reading for a moment to text my brother to tell him about this (He’s big into boxing and superhero stuff) and he was like “Of course! He’s the Greatest!” And I was like “So you knew about the comic then?” Him: “No, but it’s the obvious outcome” lol-ing forever.
*coughs* Anyhow, so that aside, word on everything you said about LIAR. =D And
Being called ‘The N-Word’ by another PoC felt just as crap as being called the same by a white man.
That is true, and awful. I’m sorry to hear that happened.
And I do understand having nothing to say about race that will fit into a nice tidy written up post or essay. Hmm, to reflect on this on my own personal level – Certainly I would never be able to fit in my thoughts on Race and Identity into a tweet, and everytime I take a deep breath and decide to make a post about it, there’s always something I choose to leave out, and I always find myself editing the heck out of these posts before I put them up, because it is a personal issue with me and will be messy and full of tangents and all that stuff, and one written up post will never be able to sum up all my thoughts on this. I have in the recent years though, choose to try my hand and write them out anyways, to sort through the hurt in my head, the large and messy confused thoughts and hoping to find that clarity to understand, so that maybe it’ll stop hurting me so much on a personal level on day. I hate feeling inarticulate and flustered and angry every time I experience acts of racism, and this is the only way I personally know how to deal. [/tangent]
Your post made me grin, and if anything, it’s not long enough. I’ll be looking forward to any future posts you decide to make!
February 10th, 2010 at 11:26 PM
I’ll get THE GOD ENGINES some day. I keep telling myself that one can only justify spending so much money on books in the last month or so when one still has over a dozen waiting around for one to read them. As for the book recommendations I haven’t heard of before, I’ve filed them away for the future.
February 11th, 2010 at 3:24 AM
Malinda Lo Says:
Doselle! How awesome to see your guest blog here. I loved being on that WFC panel with you. It was a load of fun. Also, I have fond memories of the scotch.
February 11th, 2010 at 12:16 PM
Doselle, blog MORE. Love, G
February 11th, 2010 at 2:33 PM
Doselle Young Says:
1. Hey there, Diana:
I’m pretty much a fan of Superman vs. ANYONE, really. Muhammad Ali happens to be among my favorites because he is ‘The Greatest’. Taschen books actually did this beautiful Ali volume GOAT (as in “The Greatest of All Time”) that I’ve been flirting with getting for years. The problem is the book is physically IMMENSE. So thick, in fact, I suspect it could stop a neutrino dead in its tracks.
A truly massive book. That being said, if anyone out there can get their hands on a copy of GOAT (you will notice it from the tremendous gravitational pull it exerts), then please shrink wrap the sucker, attach a warp drive to the spine and send it my way.
2. Dearest Rebekah:
My heartfelt sympathies, darlin, but BUFFY is really truly dead. What you’re reading is a puppet show; little more than four color Slayer porn meant to keep the feelings alive until the ‘real thing’ comes along and, like most porn, it’s just never gonna be as good as the real thing.
You’re welcome. Someone should enjoy this stuff before the shakes settle in, right?
Yes, I’m responding to you, again, because, from everything I’ve heard about you, you’re the kinda girl who would enjoy such a thing. It really IS an awesome panel.
From what I hear, SUPERMAN vs. ALI will be reprinted later this year in a gorgeous hardcover edition. Now I just wish someone had done a few companion books…
SUPERMAN vs. JAMES BROWN
SUPERMAN vs. RICK JAMES
SUPERMAN vs. MIKE TYSON
SUPERMAN vs. PRINCE
Sigh, now I wanna collect ‘em all.
5. A. Grey:
I’ve always been fascinated with how art exists in somewhere between the artist, the product and the viewer/reader/audience member like a kind of transmission. I was talking to an aunt involved in research on human color perception who mentioned that fact that color doesn’t doesn’t actually exist, so to speak. It’s how our brains interpret frequencies of light radiating from the objects around us. Its not the object that has intrinsic color, nor the light, but how our brains interpret the interactions of energy moving from one object to another, blah blah blah.
Art…I think is kinda like that.
6. So, Kristin.
You’re saying that the BUFFY comics are kinda like methadone? If so, I think that’s prolly as good an analogy as any. I can see it now, all those Buffy fans lined up outside a comic store waiting impatiently for their next fix.
Brings a smile to my face, that.
Yeah, it blows to find yourself feeling inarticulate at any time but especially when it comes to discussing the subjects of race/class/identity and how they intermingle.
It was Justine, actually, that mentioned a concept in social theory that I feel would really benefit such discussions and the word is: Habitus.
Cribbing from Wikipedia because I’m feeling lazy and need to finish this treatment so I can move onto my novella:
“Habitus refers to those aspects of culture that are anchored in the body or daily practices of individuals, groups, societies, and nations. It includes the totality of learned habits, bodily skills, styles, tastes, and other non-discursive knowledges that might be said to “go without saying” for a specific group. In that way it can be said to operate beneath the level of rational ideology.”
I think very often in the midsts of these heated discussions, Habitus likely comes into play far more often than is discussed (if it’s discussed at all).
I think it would be an interesting exercise for people to begin to take stock, to catalog what, for them, as individuals and groups, amounts to Habitus, and then to, perhaps, examine older discussions beneath this light. I don’t know what, if anything, it might accomplish, but any attempt to elevate a discussion in some manner is usually a good thing, right?
Any alternative to what sometimes seems more like out takes from The Tower of Babel After School Special than a rational discussion.
8. The best thing about THE GOD ENGINES, for me, is the blistering terminal velocity of the ending.
L.A., baby! You know where we be! There’s always Scotch waiting for you when you step off the plane. Tell me when. Tell me where.
I’m your Huckleberry.
Your hero Elvis Presley was, himself, a big fan of one of my favorite superheroes: Captain Marvel Jr. (protege of The Big Red Cheese Captain Marvel).
The King styled his trademark haircut after Captain Marvel Junior as well as some of his more colorful stage outfits including all those lovely half-capes and his TCB logo lightning bolt-style insignia. From what I hear Elvis’ childhood collection of Captain Marvel Jr. comic books still sits in Graceland.
Its all pretty common knowledge amongst comics folk and even inspired artist Alex Ross to do an adult Captain Marvel Jr. ( known as King Marvel) modeled after Elvis, himself.
Pop will eat itself, indeed.
February 11th, 2010 at 3:23 PM
As the ‘Mirror Mirror’ Spock said to Captain Kirk:”I SHALL consider it!”
February 11th, 2010 at 3:25 PM
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