Monthly Archive: February 2011

“The Breach” & “Ghost Country”

Ghost Country RocksFriends, people always pester me to read things. Random strangers ask me if I’ve read something, and if the answer is no, they begin a campaign to get me to read it. Lawyers keep sending me suits and subpoenas I’m supposed to read. And my agent sometimes hands me copies of the books her other clients have written and urges me to read them. I am always hurt and outraged to learn she has other clients – always – and rush off in tears. But she’s so used to me rushing off in tears she doesn’t even send anyone into the bathroom after me any more. I weep alone.

Anyway, a few months ago the books she urged me to read were The Breach and Ghost Country by Patrick Lee. I accepted copies of his books and made a vague mental promise to myself to read them. As with all my vague mental promises to myself, I forgot all about them very quickly. Then I met Patrick at Bouchercon last year and immediately rectified the situation by reading The Breach. AND GODDAMN, these are good books. I was immediately jealous. It’s actually been a topic of conversation between me and other clients, how jealous we are of Patrick and his damn fine thrilling novels. DAMN YOU LEE!

Anyways, go forth and read these books.

Friday is Guitar Day

Epiphone Les Paul CustomLike a sad monkey that thinks he’s people, I keep playing guitar. Like a sad monkey that thinks he’s people and has Internet access, I keep posting them here. I CANNOT BE STOPPED. Someday alien archeologists will examine the ruins of our civilization and ask why you all did not rise up to stop me from posting the music that destroys everything. They will not understand that I cannot be stopped.



The usual disclaimer: 1. I admit these are not great music; 2. I claim copyright anyway, so there; 3. No, I cannot do anything about the general quality of the mix, as I am incompetent.

Considering Inception

Simpsons OstrichI watched Inception for the second time the other day. It remains, in my mind, a good but not great story. Certainly it is well made and I applaud Nolan’s ability to structure a complex series of layers into a coherent storyline. I enjoy the movie, but it could have been much more interesting. The real strength of the movie is the fact that people have been discussing it endlessly since it came out. Hell, I’d give a limb to write a story that people discuss endlessly. Based on that alone, I’d want to murder Chris Nolan in a jealous rage. Add in The Dark Knight and he and I are eternal enemies, even though he’ll never know it. He’s joined my list of People I’ve Never Met but Despise because of Their Professional Success, right there with Ben Affleck.

Anyways, after my second viewing of Inception I confirmed my initial interpretation of the story, which we’ll get to below. I also noticed a couple of annoying plot holes. Herewith are two plot/mechanics problems and my overall interpretation about the film.


Yay for Royalty Checks

I got a royalty check for my short story Sift, Almost invisible, Through in “Crimes by Moonlight”, edited by Charlaine Harris. And I feel great.

Getting royalty checks is rare enough in this business. Getting them for short stories in anthologies is almost like knowing the speed and direction of a subatomic particle: Theoretical, at best. Usually. Now I expect the universe to adjust the scales by dropping a piano on my head. Nice knowing y’all.

His Sins Were Scarlet, but His Books Were Read

This is an essay from the forthcoming Summer 2011 Issue of my zine, The Inner Swine.

The Don Camillo Books

Don CamilloWould it shock anyone to learn that I was something of a nerd as a teenager? It would not. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure that when each issue of The Inner Swine arrives in your mailbox, you shout “NERD!” and then throw it in the garbage. You bastards.

However, being a nerd in high school wasn’t exactly terrible. I didn’t have a negative high school experience. If you watch TV or movies, having any sort of personality or brains when you were fifteen is depicted as The Worst Possible Thing Ever because apparently the world is filled with people who were lonely, bullied, sad people in high school because they had acne or didn’t play football, or read books or something. That wasn’t my experience. Oh, I was a nerd, all right. I wasn’t exactly cool in my high school. And we had football players and such, and a definite caste system. It was just that it was a private Jesuit-run prep school and everyone there was an academic nerd to some degree, so it wasn’t so bad. I had some good times in high school.

As a child, my father had done a lot to interest my brother and me in books and reading. He read to us, and there were always books around, and Dad liked to be well-read, which rubbed off on his sons. When I was really young he brought home a tattered paperback book titled Don Camillo Takes the Devil by the Tail, left it in the bathroom, and I started reading it.

It was the least likely book ever to make an impression on a kid in the early 1980s. It was written by an Italian author in the 1950s and translated into English. It involved stories about a priest in a tiny Italian village and his antics against the Communist mayor. It involved a lot of sincere religious feeling, including direct dialogs with Jesus. It was outdated, completely foreign, and almost aggressively Catholic and sentimental.

Naturally, I loved it.


Complete Lack of Control

One of the interesting (to me) aspects of the Writing Career is the contrast between the complete, autocratic control you have over your work when it’s private, sitting on your computer or in a notebook or, god help you, in your head, and the almost total lack of control you have over many aspects of it once you sell it. Since selling your work is usually a goal of most writers (though not all, of course), it’s interesting how unprepared most of us are for the transition from being a the god of your particular written universe to being a pawn in the game of life.

Well, it’s not that bad. My limited experience with publishers is that a) they don’t buy books they don’t like, so selling your novel and then being told it needs more teenaged vampires is a pretty rare occurrence and b) they genuinely love the books they buy. Some writers worry that they’ll sign the contract and their editor will suddenly sprout demon wings, grow three times in size, and with a burst of hellfire inform them that now they will revise the novel to include thinly-veiled Scientologist themes as they laugh manically. This almost never actually happens.

However, the aspects of the book publishing experience that the author usually indeed has no control over can be a little disconcerting. When I was a wee Somers, writing 30-page fantasy epics with titles like War of the Gem, I drew my own covers. Like this one:

The War of the Gem Book 3: The Dark Tower

The War of the Gem Book 3: The Dark Tower

Jealous? Yep, I bet you are. Bet you can’t believe I was nine when I drew that. I’m also surprised I didn’t go into cover design as a career.

Then you grow up, sell a novel for money, and suddenly you’re not allowed to make your own covers any more. I mean, I showed Orbit Books the above cover and thought, well, here we go: They’re going to ask me to do all of their covers now and I’ll have to turn them down gently. Instead, I never heard from them about it. It’s like they pretended not to have seen it. Bastards.

The author’s almost total lack of control over the cover of their book is disconcerting, at least until you see the awesome covers they actually design for you. Assuming you’re lucky like me and have awesome covers. Lauren Panepinto did her Cover Launch post for The Final Evolution over at the Orbit web site today. I know I’ve posted the cover here already, but go check it out and let Lauren know she’s amazing:

KGB Lit Interview

As I am a very famous and important person, The KGB Bar’s online literary magazine has interviewed me:

“As I’ve gotten older I have become increasingly aware that my development as a person really did freeze, in some senses, when I was much younger. A love for simplistic power-punk music. A sincere belief that flannel is an acceptable fashion choice. A refusal to watch DVDs coupled with a romantic love for serendipitously finding a beloved old movie on television. A child-like distrust of vegetables or, for that matter, any food that I have not previously consumed and survived. The themes and tropes I explore in my writing haven’t changed so much either.”

Check it out!

God Love The Internets

Various and sundry mentions of my books served up to me by Google Alerts, god bless ’em:

1. Thomas Jarrett over at Suite101 names The Electric Church as one of “Five of the Best Books You Should’ve Read“:

“Science Fiction needs more writers like Jeff Somers … If you enjoy fast action against overwhelming odds, this is one of the best books you could read.”

2. Niki Bruce reviews The Terminal State and likes it. A lot:

“Somers’ version of the future is one to be wary of, true, but it’s as entertaining as hell and Avery Cates is one of those characters that you just know could go on forever. Here’s hoping.”

3. Finally, The Terminal State was voted #43 on the SFcrowsnest Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction Books Chart! Jebus, we are in some fine company on that list.

And there you have, a Sunday for the ages. And now, time for a celebratory nip of the good stuff.

The Middle of F-ing Nowhere, PA

Dan Krokos*, who you’ll all be hearing about soon enough, and who must be greeted with a gutteral war cry of “KROKOS!“, sent me this photo, and titled it “Middle of fucking nowhere, PA”:

Middle of F-ing Nowhere, PA

Rock on.

*I’d link to something, but Dan’s web site just makes me sad with all its emptiness.