Hugos add award for video games

Locus reports. I’ve been saying for years that there’s a distinct possibility we’re headed into a world where the novel and the game merge. And to be frank, there are a few games I’ve played that are better-written, more engaging, and deeper than many novels I’ve read. My dream job, frankly, is writing for a large sandbox videogame like Cyberpunk 2077, Skyrim, Fallout, etc. But alas, I am not in my 20s and can’t do 14 hour days. I’ll just do my part and consume the art. OG Twitter thread below.

Since early 2020, many of us have spent more time gaming than we ever expected. This award will offer fans an opportunity to celebrate the games that have been meaningful, joyful, and exceptional over this past year. Video games draw from the same deeply creative well that has fed science fiction and fantasy writing and art for so many years. This innovative and interactive genre has brought us new ways of story-telling as well as new stories to tell and we are glad to honor them.

Royalty-maker editor interviewed

LitHub talks to Peter Blackstock, the editor behind the last two Booker Prize winners. When you’re hot, you’re hot.

I love having a list that reflects the world, and you don’t have to sacrifice on quality to do so, in fact, quite the opposite. I want my list to reflect both the American experience, particularly of people who are marginalized by societal power, and the broader world beyond the States. I can’t imagine not publishing books in translation, or not publishing novels that take chances in their form or style, from Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater to Jean-Baptiste del Amo’s Animalia to Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.

Regarding editing, each book requires a different editorial approach, sometimes I suggest quite a lot of work, sometimes less, but one constant is that all of my edits are just suggestions for the author or translator to consider. I don’t acquire pieces of fiction that I wouldn’t be proud to publish in their current form, but I do feel that the editor’s role is in part to act as a counterpoint to the author and suggest things (including stupid ideas—I make at least one of those every edit!) that might spark a different direction or help underline a resonant moment of the story. I don’t write myself, so consider each manuscript a little miracle, and worry sometimes about somehow spoiling the magic with an edit. But in my experience the author always knows what is a good edit and what is a bad edit and takes only the good (and forgives the editor for anything stupid!)

Tuesday newsday

Well, you could see it coming, especially with the rest of Canada on fire, virally-speaking, but our wall of good policy and public engagement with the process around keeping Covid transmission low is starting to crack. That said, the province has pulled itself from the much lauded “Atlantic Bubble” (along with PEI, Nova Scotia must feel terrible right now), and we are thankfully going back into stricter measures around rotational workers, etc. (I’d say Alberta was feeling bad, but I would imagine I’d have to stretch for that). That said, it means I have two teens home from school today with sniffles (Covid test came back negative) who are ARGUING TO GO. What a topsy-turvy time to be alive.

Books are essential, yes, but….

Indigo and PRHC are asking for bookstores to be deemed essential services during the burgeoning shitshow lockdown that is Covid Wave 2 in Canada, and while I agree that reading will be essential, I’m not sure having an indoor gathering place where people finger the merch before buying is a great idea. I would point to the many indie bookstores who provided delivery, curb-side pickup, and other innovative ways to ensure readers were kept busy during the last lockdown as a model for others to follow. I realize this means Heather et al. won’t be able to sell as many candles, novelty textiles, porcelain garbage, and cheap plastic impulse items to people who enjoy pretending to be readers but who really just want to live a spread from Martha Stewart’s Living, but I super don’t care about Heather et al. Right now, this is an argument for the continuation of the slash and burn capitalism Indigo/Chapters wreaked on the Canadian bookselling landscape, not reading. Tough times for sure, but look what remaining-open-for-money has already wrought and tell me staying open during a spike is a good idea?

Won’t somebody think of the knick-knacks and my sales?!?!

Retailer Indigo Books & Music Inc. and publisher Penguin Random House Canada both say bookstores should be allowed to remain open as COVID-19 restrictions are tightened because they provide resources that educate and contribute positively to communities coping with the pandemic.

“A shut down of physical bookstores would have serious consequences on the well-being of Canadians young and old, as well as the livelihood of authors and booksellers, across the country,” Indigo said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

An 11-year-old’s Instagram account that’s worth following

Having had four 11-year-old pass through this house, I can tell you most of what gets posted at that age is bizarre and only funny to people in grade 6. That said, this kid wanted to share books in which she sees herself with her peers and she’s knocking it out of the park. Way to go, Ms. Alleyne. Follow her here or see video below.

“I would never be able to see a Black girl doing something really cool, being an astronaut or something like that. And the only time I would ever see Black people in books in the library would be Black History Month, and it would all be about slavery … or hurtful stereotypes,” she said.

“I wanted kids to actually be able to see themselves in books and believe that they can do amazing things too.”

On craft: Where does the story happen?

A thoughtful interview with short story author Danielle Evans explores where the story happens in a short story. In this way, as well as sales, short stories are closer to poetry than novels.

I think my craft obsession is that gulf between what we think we’re saying and what we’re actually saying, or who we think we are and who we actually are. And that is something I come back to again and again both for context and for characterization. Because I think most possibility for narrative happens in that space. The space between how we feel and what we say, or who we thought we were and who we actually were when we had to make a choice makes narrative surprise possible.

Friday news fun

Well, here we are. It started snowing for the first time last night and a thin later stayed on the ground for a few hours. I felt my panic rising the whole time and realized I must have PTSD from the so-called Snowmaggedon last January: Post Traumatic Snow Distress. That said, it’s all gone and it’ll be 8 degrees here tomorrow, so we’re back to normal. I hope you also find some silver lining in your day/week/month/life this weekend.

On writers loving bookstores

I’ve had a few great bookstores in my life, in which I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time, to the point of making lasting friendships with the staff (or cultivating derision from the snotty ones who gave me dirty looks for hanging around too much). Some of them have been so influential in my writing I sometimes wonder if I should thank them in the books I write. Some have survived, some haven’t. Book City on Bloor in the Annex (where I researched lit journals in the 90s), Three Lives in the W Village in NYC (where I met friends and famour writers), St. Mark’s in the East (same), The Strand up Broadway (for the penniless years), The Bookshelf in Guelph (where I wrote my fourth book upstairs), etc etc. There’s something about being surrounded by all those books that gives you a sense of awe similar to what I get looking up on a clear night. So many. I’m so small. But it’s also inspiring, and bizarrely adventure-like. Like you’re a nerdy Indiana Jones, hunting for treasure. Anyway, nice essay on the subject at LitHub.

Before books nourished the library in Alexandria, before sellers on the hoof sold books at Europe’s inns, before literary criticism and the novel and the printing-press were invented, before Diderot wrote, in his Letter on the Book Trade, that the “stocks of a bookseller are the base of his business and his fortune,” before the Roca bookshop opened in Manresa (we’re in 1824), or the Calatrava religious bookshop opened in Madrid (we’re in 1873), before Adrianne Monnier and Sylvia Beach opened and shut their legendary bookshops on Rue de l’Odéon in Paris, before—even—George Orwell worked in Booklover’s Corner in London on the eve of the Spanish Civil War and that bookshop turned into a café for chess players and then a pizzeria, well before all that happened, I went into the Robafaves bookshop in Mataró.

Because the others wouldn’t exist without our first bookshops. And if as a youngster you didn’t turn into a lover of bookshops, into a book junkie, it’s unlikely you’d then decide to pursue them on your travels and research their histories and myths and—in a word—read them.