Saintly Traces: Recs & Readings, with a pinch of Salt, and other Beastlings

I did a little list of book recommendations over at recently:

My favourite kind of book is bigger on the inside, the kind that drops you into a world too big and too weird to really get a handle on, a world that’s strange in ways you feel you recognize, like how sometimes you wake up from a dream and think, I’ve dreamed about that place and those people before, but you can’t tell if you have, or whether you dreamed the memory, too. You read the book and look at the world and you ask yourself: Did I dream those people, that place? Or is this the dream?

The best books that will make you feel lost and obsessed by a haunted world

The recommendations are probably not surprising if you’ve been reading me for a while, but I’ve tried to briefly explain why those books matter to me, so the above-linked post also works as a mini-review-roundup. In the list title, the “best books” part is obviously hyperbole; it’s just the format of all their list titles. But I like the back half of that title, which I came up with in trying to describe something important that all those books do, and which I feel is characteristic of my work as well, the short fiction and all the novels to come.

Speaking of novels—what a subtle segue—if you haven’t yet, you can preorder The Saint of Bright Doors in ebook, hardcover, or audiobook! It comes out July 11, and if you were intending to buy it anyhow, I highly recommend preordering it now, because I hear publishers rather like it when that happens lol. As I understand it, preorders have become a kind of early signal of Readerly Interest, as yet another set of dubious entrails in which the publishing industry attempts to foresee the famously unpredictable. But no worries if you’d rather wait and just buy it when it comes out. Or, you know, don’t read it at all. Become ungovernable! Let no one corral your heart. And so on. We roll the dice. A writing career does feel like a huge gamble, and I want to say that I am not, as it were, a gambling man. But I suppose that I am, if not at the level of the roulette wheel at least at the samsaric one. This isn’t even my first time throwing myself headfirst into a weird life/career choice of questionable predictability. (It’s my third, or possibly fourth.)

Update I may not have mentioned before on the blog: Saint will also come out in French translation from Éditions Bragelonne, I believe this very year if all goes well. I look forward to finding out how they say “saint of bright doors” in France.

Bookstores visited since last update: Unnameable Books, Greenlight Bookstore, Quimby’s Bookstore, Book Thug Nation, the Centre for Fiction, and Desert Island Comics, all in Brooklyn (this was the Brooklyn Bookstore Crawl for Independent Bookstore Day; here’s a partial book haul) and most recently, the Barnes & Noble in Tribeca.

That last one was to see Cass Khaw talking to Danny Lore for The Salt Grows Heavy release, and now I have a signed copy of Salt. You should buy a copy! I started reading mine in the signing queue and kept reading on the train back, and it is beautiful; I am savouring it. Cass very kindly gave me and Saint a shoutout from the stage, which was lovely and heartwarming, and also very strange because I realized in that very moment that this was the first time I’d heard anyone say the name of my book In Public, in front of an actual real-life audience, which scrambled my brain a little. Cass also recommended books by two other authors who were present: Dark Breakers, a 2022 collection of novellas and short stories by World Fantasy Award winner C.S.E. Cooney, and Nestlings, a horror novel by actor-playwright-writer-musician Nat Cassidy. Obviously Cass has excellent taste, so I’ve added both to my to-read list as well, and you should too. Also popped by the most recent Fantastic Fiction night at the KGB Bar to hear Paul Tremblay and John Langan read. Paul Tremblay read from what I believe is the title novella from his forthcoming collection The Beast You Are—which comes out the same day as my book!—and John Langan read a delightful excerpt from a typically metafictiony story that I could have sworn he said was from Wide Carnivorous Sky except I feel like I’ve read most of that and don’t remember it, so possibly it is from his more recent collection Corpsemouth? I expect I shall find it sooner or later in one of these. These were great, and I feel this event was a good choice for my first-ever English-language readings.

I’ve been (naturally) trying to imagine what it would be like to be doing events like this—readings, signings, in-conversation events—as I will in fact be doing from mid-July to mid-August. There will be a small book tour for Saint, details yet to come, of course: definitely something in NYC, and with any luck a few other cities, and I will be attending Readercon, which will be my first-ever convention (I nearly made it to a virtual FiyahCon once, but was foiled by technical difficulties at the last minute, so the record of absence remains unbroken) and probably a relatively rare convention appearance for me in general. I continue to find the thought of Book Events quite stressful (I am assured this is so normal as to be extremely normal) and envy all these writers their easy grace and good humour on a stage. So far I feel only that I will freeze up like an angry porcupine before all the staring eyes, quills quivering. This is all so much more difficult than mere writing, lol. To attempt to keep myself on an even keel, I have begun work on a new novel. It’s a tough one and very slow going, but I find the work calming, and returning to it every morning reassures me that I chose the right world to wake up in.