Last week, I sat down with Callie Crossley of WGBH’s Under the Radar for a speculative fiction edition of her book club, featuring FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED with recent releases from Cadwell Turnbull and Max Gladstone. If you didn’t catch it on the radio, you can stream it here.
Listening to public radio was a big part of my childhood, so I felt like kind of a superstar. What’s it actually like?
-The room where they record is tiny, and it smelled like wine because the guy who does a regular food-and-wine segment was in there just before us
-They gave us bottles of water (but no wine)
-I probably should have used the bathroom before we started to record
-Everyone in that tiny room with me was REALLY SMART
-They edit out ums and uhs later to make everyone sound even smarter
I think you can tell from the recording that me and Max and Cadwell were having fun. Listen for yourself!
Are you too broke to buy books right now? Do you, perhaps, have too many books already? I totally get it! For most of my adult life, I’ve been a library-using, trash-picking, borrowing-from-friend, secondhand book store-patronizing cheapskate book lover. It was only when I got a publishing deal myself that I started purchasing fresh new copies like a baller.
Your author friends love it when you buy their books. But — take it from me — what they really want is readers. There are real and significant ways to support them in this pursuit without spending any money at all. I’ve listed them below:
Tell the people you know!
Having a conversation about books? Recommend your friends’ work to people who seem like they might be interested. Readers and authors alike will benefit from your good taste.
Ask for books at your library.
Public and university libraries have budgets to buy new books! Look for a request form on your local library’s website, or ask a librarian for help. Or if you use the Overdrive app, check out this article for tips. When the book comes in, you’ll get to enjoy it for free — and so will dozens of other library patrons! And the author gets paid, too.
Boost their books on Goodreads.
Goodreads is a free tool that helps readers keep track of books they plan to read, rate them, and add them to thematic lists. Using it enables new readers learn about your author buddies’ books! (Here’s where you can add my book as “to-read” on Goodreads or upvote it on the lists it’s already on.)
Leave a review online.
Have you read the book already? Dash off a review and post it. Even if it’s just a sentence or two — even if the review isn’t positive — this is super helpful to authors! Online reviews help people shop, obviously. They also encourage automated algoriths to show the book more often and rank it higher. (Here’s my book on Amazon.)
My short story “Been Fighting Since” won second place in phoebe’s 2018 fiction contest! Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs, selected it.
“Been Fighting Since” is about twins, child soldiers, the old/new city of Berlin and the mysterious liminal state of blackout drinking. But really, it’s about whether it’s ever possible for someone who hasn’t experienced trauma to talk about it with someone who has. Even if she loves him. Especially if she loves him.
Last year, the story was longlisted for the Berlin Writing Prize. Now, it’s got a home online, in phoebe 47.2. Here’s how it starts.
Myriam drinks coffee with the ghost of Joseph’s twin as dusk falls on the Love Parade passing through downtown Berlin in a storm of techno noise. From where they sit, she can hear the amplified relentless bass and the roar of an intoxicated crowd on Strasse des 17. Juni. Earlier, she swallowed one little MDMA with the word “sky” printed on it; she knows that the drug must still be in her system because of what she’s seeing now. She sips her espresso.
Across the table from her, Joseph’s brother swings his legs. He is barefoot, wearing red shorts and a clean white tank-top. His name is Agun and he appears to be about eight years old. According to Joseph, he’s been missing – presumed dead – for two decades.
“Where is he?” Agun asks. His voice is deeper than one might expect, and he speaks English with the same incongruously posh accent that Joseph picked up in provisional schools at the refugee camps of his youth.
“I think he’s with our friends.”
“Joseph can climb higher in the thorn tree than anyone,” Agun tells her. “He always climbs when Baba calls us. Only I will come. It makes me angry.”
Read the rest — and all the other good stuff from the issue — now! For free!
The Writers’ Room of Boston Fellowship named me as Finalist for 2018-2019. At the WROB reading and celebration last month, I got the chance to meet lots of the other Fellows and hear about their exciting projects! (And I ate lots of free cheese! And when I left my notebook and library book at the party, someone brought them down for me. So overall, 10/10.)
I hope to get some work done there in the future.
Check out my bio on their website.
Here’s what’s going on: I published some short stories, won some awards, and completed my thesis under my birth name, K Brattin. There are confusing traces of this on the web. But as of May, 2017, my last name — personally, professionally and legally — is Chess.
Yeah, it’s a pretty great name. It was one of the first things I liked about the woman I married. Now I get to share it!
Read my book!