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Once my niece asked me, quite seriously and with no small amount of anger, why grown-ups do things even when they know the things are bad for them or wrong to do. I tried to figure out how to communicate ideas like pleasure and impulse and transgression to a person who was in a developmentally-appropriate stage of black-and-white morality. I ended up saying something along the lines of: Sometimes, a thing feels good while you’re doing it, and that makes it hard to remember the long-term consequences of doing the thing.
She understood that — which makes sense given that she was also in a developmentally-appropriate stage of perpetual immediacy — but wasn’t satisfied. I wasn’t really satisfied either, to be honest, because it’s one of those things that doesn’t really make sense. Why would you do something when you know you won’t like the outcome? Why would you do something when you know it hurts Future You?
Anyway, I finished writing a draft of a novel this week, and it’s the first time I’ve ever written a novel without an outline. It was a lot like drinking fireball whiskey: horrible in the moment, bewildering in hindsight, and Future Gailey is going to have to deal with the wretched results. Still, I’m proud of myself and what I’ve done here: something brand-new, entirely outside my usual style, daring and adventurous.
I’m starting edits over the weekend. Cheers?
From the Archive: Wayside School
In October 2020, I wrote this piece on the Wayside School books, the golden age of slime, and why children are the perfect audience for horror:
I grew up in a golden age of slime. Sometime in the hazy years of my early childhood, some brilliant person in television programming realized that children are disgusting little monsters who love to be grossed out and decided to capitalize on that knowledge. The result was several halcyon years of goop, boogers, ooze, vibrant green muck, and fonts stylized to look like they were dripping off the page.
In many ways, this veer into transgression was a perfect partner to a bloom in horror writing for children. Kids have a strong disgust reaction, and this era of kid’s media granted them permission to safely explore the relationship between revulsion and fascination. That permission opened a lot of doors for a lot of people to play with further transgression — to explore the appeal of the weird, the frightening, the violent, the dangerous. The horrifying.
R.K. Duncan examines SFF’s Big Fat Problem
R.K. Duncan’s essay offers a blistering education on the ways in which genre media fails fat people, with fresh insights and righteous fury. This brilliant treatise on fatphobia in media is required reading for thin SFF fans and creators.
The Vampire Slayer #7 In Stores Now
In the latest issue of The Vampire Slayer, Buffy has been having some very Slayer-like dreams — and trying to deal with them is leading her into a dangerous situation. Go check out the preview and pick up the issue at your local comic shop!
Visit a Neighbor: Comfort Food by Nina Mingya Powles
A mostly monthly newsletter about the food that brings us comfort during long winters spent indoors.
I’m Reading: The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
In this exquisitely written book by the author of A Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit explores the ways we make our lives out of stories, and how we are connected by empathy, by narrative, by imagination. In the course of unpacking some of her own stories--of her mother and her decline from memory loss, of a trip to Iceland, of an illness--Solnit revisits fairytales and entertains other stories: about arctic explorers, Che Guevara among the leper colonies, and Mary Shelley's Dr. Frankenstein, about warmth and coldness, pain and kindness, decay and transformation, making art and making self. Woven together, these stories create a map which charts the boundaries and territories of storytelling, reframing who each of us is and how we might tell our story.
Featured New Release: The Scratch Daughters by H.A. Clarke
Sideways Pike is desperate. It turns out that Madeline Kline didn’t want to make out with her; infinitely worse, she was only flirting to get access to Sideways’ specter. Madeline has ripped the magical soul out of Sideways’ throat, and with it, everything that makes a witch feel whole. Madeline would know: the Chantry boys took hers, and she’s going to use Sideways’ specter to hunt them down and get it back.
Sideways Pike, lesbian witch extraordinaire, isn’t going to let little things like a treacherous crush or a brutal family of creepy witch hunters stop her, even if it means tracking down Madeline without the Scapegracers—her best friends, her coven, the girls she’s come to love ferociously above all else. But Sideways and her trusty bike are in for a bumpy ride . . .
Add The Scratch Daughters to your tbr here. Order it from your local independent bookseller, or order it via Bookshop.org to support independent booksellers throughout the US and the UK. For international shipping, you can try Barnes & Noble. You can also request The Scratch Daughters from your local library — here’s how to get in touch with them. And if you need to order from the Bad River Website, here’s a link that will leverage your order for good.
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