the lost girl at the bottom of the quarry

Hey you.

Man I have been a little overwhelmed, working on a couple of writing projects and my freelance editing (need to put those services up on this site: remind me!) and opening a show. Well: it hasn't opened yet, we're still in the muddy depths of tech week. But it does open this Thursday, September 24 , and runs through October 24 at Hyde Park Theatre, if you're near Austin and interested.

A Vermont marble quarry.

A Vermont marble quarry.

Tired of posting selfies! Here are Chase Brewer and Jess Hughes, who are also in  The Quarry.

Tired of posting selfies! Here are Chase Brewer and Jess Hughes, who are also in The Quarry.

It's called The Quarry, by Greg Pierce, and it's about a crusty, antisocial New England widow--think Olive Kitteridge, if you read or saw that--whose decision to "off myself" gets derailed by mysterious events in the marble quarry she loves. The play begins as a quite funny comedy, turns a little heartbreaking, then wraps up with magical, surreal loveliness.

In some ways it's a play about following the vein that leads deep back into your own heart, where the vulnerable, abandoned girl you once were sits waiting for you to care for her again. Isn't that lovely, and moving, and hard to do? 

Hard to even believe that girl is there. I think she is though.

Anyway! If you're around come see our show!

Oh by the way: we've put the Cabinet of Curiosities on hiatus for a while until the curators get their acts together. We'll be back.

new book gorgeous cover hi how are you

argghhh I broke my own rule about posting monthly and missed June AND July! But it was a mad July with visiting and visitors and lots of work and ANYWAY.

The main thing, Danny, is two things (<---quote from a long ago play I was in): 1) my new book, The Radiant Road, has a gorgeous cover with art by Scott McKowen; and 2) there will be an audio version, recorded by the Listening Library, which does all the best young-reader books. To say I am psyched doesn't even.

Try to tell me that is not magnificent. I am the luckiest author with covers EVER.

Try to tell me that is not magnificent. I am the luckiest author with covers EVER.

It's about adventure and making art and finding courage and figuring out love maybe possibly? (or maybe just liking a lot?) and saving worlds and all that. Read all about it

In less giddy news, I've also written a couple more Cabinet of Curiosities stories this summer: one very short one about tiny creepy crawlies that are ALL OVER YOU! RIGHT NOW! called "How It Feels When They Come"; and another about hikers who don't get back before dark, like they were warned to do, called "Night Walkers."

And I'm working on some other stuff, and oh I just started rehearsing an excellent play called The Quarry, by Greg Pierce, which will go up at Hyde Park Theatre late next month.

But more on that and other things next post. For now let's all just sit around and stare dreamily at that cover.

 

 

Spring Mishmash

I have so many projects, small and large, going on right now. It's splendid, but I keep intending to come back here and Comment Wisely on some current topic but you know what? Then I don't.

Also: spring is lovely in Austin but, as ever: ahhhhCHOO.

So this will be the typical listy mishmash of stuff, sorry. 

First off, I wrote a Cabinet story this month inspired by this Ralph Meatyard photo.

(Terrifying) photo by  Ralph Meatyard .

(Terrifying) photo by Ralph Meatyard.

I had also just come from visiting my father, where he lives in a cabin out in the woods, and that may have influenced this piece as well, which is more eerie and autumnal than EEK SCREAM FRIGHT.  

Anyway! Also the play I'm in here in Austin, The Christians, is still playing through March 28. We've been selling out, and it's a lovely, thoughtful show, about how we make walls and shields and moats out of our beliefs so that we don't have to open ourselves to other people. If you're around, come see one of the last three shows.

Also, for the Fusebox Festival's 100 Year Flood piece,  I've written and recorded a very short, odd little piece inspired by this site:

This is on the Lady Bird Lake hike &amp; bike trail in Austin, on the north side of the river just west of the Lamar pedestrian bridge.

This is on the Lady Bird Lake hike & bike trail in Austin, on the north side of the river just west of the Lamar pedestrian bridge.

Several other excellent local writers also did pieces, which you can (beginning April 1) download and listen to in that spot, if you like.

I am also now one of the Yellow Bird Editors and am really enjoying the work, so if you're a writer interested in critique or editing services, YB is the place. I recently wrote a blog for them about banishing stick-figure writing (and getting readers to feel your words in their bones) by using concrete sensory details. A lot of it I kyped from a workshop I taught last month for the Writer's League of Texas.

As usual I'll be blogging again for the Fusebox Festival (April 1-12)--it is absolutely one of Austin's Best Things, much more exciting than SXSW. Don't miss it.

 

not for the cool

I had a revelation about social media the other day--I realized that none of the truly cool people I know are any good at Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr. Usually they are too cool even to try--they would never expose themselves so casually, or be so unconsidered, or waste their time so obviously.

And maybe this is the GREAT THING about social media--cool people don't get it! So it's the happy playground of the uncool: the slightly excited, the earnest, the nerds and geeks, the goofy jokers, the hearts-on-their-sleeves.

Myself at age 7-ish, being massively uncool. Already a potential social media genius!

Myself at age 7-ish, being massively uncool. Already a potential social media genius!

I am just glad all the cool people haven't tried to come and ruin it for us.

In other news: I am about to open another play, called The Christians, by Lucas Hnath. It runs February 26-March 28 at the tiny Hyde Park Theatre, which we're turning into the smallest megachurch in North America for the occasion. It's a beautiful play that I feel lucky to be in, but it's been a long time since I did back-to-back shows and I. Am. Tired.

Also I wrote a new Cabinet of Curiosities story, about a school with an urban legend about a dangerous gift. This is one of the creepiest ones I've done in a while, and I am pleased with it. I borrowed the name and personality of one of my own sisters, and then gave her a terrible fate (what is wrong with me? good question).

But guess what? She'll never know, because she is too cool to read blogs or Twitter etc. WINNING.

a happy bloody beginning

Selfie as Clytemnestra&nbsp;at the Long Center, mid- Deus Ex Machina . You get tousled slaughtering your husband then swanning off with your psychopath boyfriend.

Selfie as Clytemnestra at the Long Center, mid-Deus Ex Machina. You get tousled slaughtering your husband then swanning off with your psychopath boyfriend.

For me the new year began with a nice bloody smash in the play Deus Ex Machina, a quite mad updated choose-your-own adventure version of the collection of Greek tragedies known as the Oresteia. The audience directed us like puppets and it was scary, hilarious, and fun.

And I just got some nice news: my second novel is headed into line edits--it doesn't matter what those are, just: YAY.  It will definitely be on the Dutton Winter/Spring 2016 list. And it still doesn't have a dang title.

I also wrote a story for the Cabinet of Curiosities--we're definitely back. This one traces my curator's adventures monster-proofing a spooky window that hangs from the sky, feeding nightmares into the world. It was inspired by this photo I took in Austin's Hyde Park neighborhood a year ago--whoever you are, lovely & creative homeowners, I regret killing you off so unpleasantly in the story. 

new year and it will be new, it will

Hello my all. I've broken my own "at least monthly" rule here, sorry for that. My life's been a bit mad and a bit seasonally sad*; but now it is almost the new year, and I will begin all new and brave and calm.

My resolution, in case you're counting, is to stop myself when I reach for the anxious response. It's like reaching for a bow & arrow every time you hear leaves crunch in your front yard. My arms are getting tired, and anyway it's usually just a cat.

Meanwhile two other things. First, The Cabinet of Curiosities was chosen as one of the New York Public Library's 100 Best Children's Books of 2014. YES, that crazy little muppet monster of a book chugs on.

We've neglected our Cabinet storytelling in the latter half of the year, but plans are afoot to pick back up next month. Meanwhile Stefan Bachmann wrote a perfectly lovely holiday story last week--I really urge you to read it, it will fix what ails you, with humor and sweetness.

Fuzzy selfie as Clytemnestra. She's in a bad mood! You'd be too under the circumstances!

Fuzzy selfie as Clytemnestra. She's in a bad mood! You'd be too under the circumstances!

Also: one of the things keeping me busy has been the craziest theater project I've ever worked on--a choose-your-own-adventure version of the Oresteia, in which the audience votes at crucial moments to turn the story in entirely different directions. It's funny, it's tragic, the design is fantastic and full of surprises, it's UNBELIEVABLY BLOODY, I kill and get killed in multiple ways, depending on how the audience votes -- lots of fun. 

So if you're in Austin, please come see Deus ex Machina--it runs at the Long Center January 3 through January 18, 2015.

More next month. Yes.

*As I have written in the past, I think the sadness so many people feel around Christmas and the solstice is part of the point of the holiday, so I don't mind it, but it takes up a lot of mental space.

oh no I forgot to post

I've been finishing up (like it is ever finished up) a big revision, and that's been making my brain all faint and easily confused. So I forgot my July blogging, which meant I didn't even mention my Cabinet of Curiosities story about maps. It is called "X Marks the Spot" and in it we learn that sisters are not all bad; ditto brothers; also, if you find an old map on which someone has written in blood DON'T GO, consider not going.

I was obsessed with maps and treasure maps in particular (OBVIOUSLY) as a child.

I was obsessed with maps and treasure maps in particular (OBVIOUSLY) as a child.

What reminded me to blog is that I wanted to say that today Summer and Bird comes out in paperback, hurrah! Hurry, stock up!

Also, we have had a couple more awfully nice reviews for The Cabinet of Curiosities. Booklist says "While a few [of the stories] contain lessons that can be learned, the majority exist simply to give readers a fright or chill. And this they do quite well. Not for the faint of heart, this curious collection of stories will haunt and, at times, horrify and are best read by flashlight."

Quite right! I often enjoy killing off the children at the end of my stories. OR WORSE.

Horn Book said "The stories are remarkable both for their uniformly high quality and for their distinctness from one another; the abundant atmospherics, including occasional stark black-and-white illustrations, provide a unifying sense of dread. The framing device—the curators send letters from the field introducing their latest discoveries—adds depths of mystery, danger, and idiosyncrasy to a book already swimming in each."

Woot! So that's happiness.

Meanwhile, doing some arts pieces for the Austin Chronicle while revision percolates.

Oh and! I'm in a play that opens next week--it's one of two one-act adaptations of Chekhov short stories produced by Breaking String Theater. The one I'm in is based on "The Fiancée," as adapted by Eliza Bent (and wittily called "The Beyoncé"), but the whole piece is called We Play Chekhov. Only two weekends, get your tickets now!

 

burn it down

A smorgasbord, as these monthly posts tend to be.

Fir0002/Flagstaffotos. No idea what that means but Wikimedia Commons asked me to put it there.

Fir0002/Flagstaffotos. No idea what that means but Wikimedia Commons asked me to put it there.

We're doing scary fire stories this month at the Cabinet of Curiosities, and mine, called "The Bone-Fire," went up this week. Immodestly (or maybe irrelevantly) I say I found it unsettling to write. See what you think.

That&#39;s Jason Phelps, who&#39;s marvelous in this, and me.

That's Jason Phelps, who's marvelous in this, and me.

Also -- I'm in a terrific play called There Is A Happiness That Morning Is, by Mickle Maher, produced by Capital T Theatre. It's been going so well (the Austin Chronicle review for one called it "a bizarre, brilliant play that is capable of reordering your brain a bit") that we've extended it one more weekend, through November 23. We've also added a pay-what-you-can industry night this Tuesday November 19. It's at the central-Austin-located Hyde Park Theatre. Tickets here or call 512-479-7529.

Also! This deserves a whole, thoughtful, not smogasbordy post, but -- you should go read Anne Ursu's blog post "On Gender and Boys Read Panels" -- it's really good, and brought some issues to the surface for me that I didn't realize I had so many big feelings about. (Also if you haven't read her beautiful book Breadcrumbs, do that right away. She has a brand new one out, too, called The Real Boy.)

masks make you do things

For Austria and its neighbors, this is a CHRISTMAS mask. This guy takes care of the naughty kids by dragging them to hell. So, you know: Merry Christmas!

For Austria and its neighbors, this is a CHRISTMAS mask. This guy takes care of the naughty kids by dragging them to hell. So, you know: Merry Christmas!

I think they possibly do make you do things, masks. I am very interested in masks--Keith Johnstone's chapter on masks in his brilliant book Impro has really stuck in my head in the many years since I first read it.

Anyway, I explored this a bit in my latest Cabinet of Curiosities story, which is called "What the Mask Wants," and which is creepy. 

 

I have always wanted to work with masks in a theatrical sense, but I've never gotten to (yet). Still, any role you take on is a kind of mask, and I've taken on a good one I think in Capital T Theatre's production of There is a Happiness that Morning is by Mickle Maher. It's about two English professors who accidentally have sex in front of their students (long story!) after reading a poem by William Blake. When the play opens, they're supposed to be apologizing to their classes, and one will, and one very much won't. It's tremendously funny and also quite thoughtful--about Blake, about marriage, and about how we bounce back and forth between "everything's so beautiful!" and "we live in HELL" and how the more we do that, the farther we get from "that slow sea and shore inside of us: that strand forever calm and wide where we might wade, breathe, and linger, fusing life with the Real." 

So it runs October 24-November 16, 2013 at Hyde Park Theatre, and you should come! 

delicious delicious fusebox treats

I am still blogging faithlessly but unstoppably for the Fusebox Festival, and holy crap I've experienced some fantastic stuff this year, and written about most of it. The blogs so far:

The downtown alleyway "20 Foot Wide" installation.Forest of Future Pigs: Austin's multi-group collaboration River of Gruel, Pile of Pigs (they give you dried cranberries, pistachios, and lapsang souchong tea! and later miso soup! and later -- well, just see it), plus The Future Show and Motor Vehicle Sundown via the Edinburgh Festival's roguish twin, the Forest Fringe.PIg Pile attendees feted with tea and treats.

Sitting Inside Seven Dreams: Ant Hampton's fascinating three-day "Fantasy Interventions" workshop, about sparking a site-specific flash.

 

I Self-Flagellate Over Stop Hitting Yourself: in which I wrestle the the Rude Mech's marvelous and worrisome latest.

Deborah Hay: A View from the Security Camera: ergh don't ask, but some gorgeous dance

…oh my GOD I loved the Wellman….: Steve Mellor KILLS the Mac Wellman story Muazzez. (I forgot to send a title with this piece, so my editor took the title from the subject line of the email I sent it in. It is a good summary, I'll say that.

More to come, will post then, just so you don't think I'm being lazy about blogging. PS if you're in Austin, don't be ridiculous, go see some of the Fusebox. It runs through April 28.