Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shirley Jackson Awards

I'm happy to announce I'm a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards which honor "outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic."

Which means I'm embroiled in reading some wonderful books and some not-so-wonderful books, and open to recommendations. The book has to be have been published (or slated to be) this year.

The press release is here.

I'm also excited to see that Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle is going to be made into a film.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Red Room

One of my favorite scary books when I was a kid was Scott Corbett's The Red Room Riddle. Fittingly, right now there's a wonderful website to check up on authors. It's Red Room: Where the Writers Are.

Within the site, authors can create blog posts. I wrote one recently about my experience of Halloween. Currently, Red Room is featuring me on their home page, linking directly to that post. Thanks so much, Red Room! This is a great site to learn more about writers and to find out event dates and the like.

Speaking of events, I'll be talking to the Mayflower Society in Pebble Beach, California, this Saturday the 14th. I'm particularly excited because I just read Nathaniel Philbrick's incredible book Mayflower, which shed a lot of light on what conditions were like in 1656 Massachusetts at the time of my ancestor's first witchcraft trial.

I think I'm going to buy multiple copies for my family members this holiday season... learning how the Pilgrims and Indians very nearly were able to cooperate (and did in fact live together fairly well for decades) and then how pressures from Puritans, self-interested individuals and general mistrust led to King Philip's War was nail-biting stuff. And I don't usually say that about nonfiction, especially nonfiction whose outcome I already know.

Philbrick's book basically gives the background for every skirmish of the war. "King Philip" was the mocking name given an Indian with apparently regal bearing... his war against the Europeans ultimately spelled the doom of his people--although it so easily could have gone the other way. Philbrick relates:

In the years before the war, Native Americans had constituted almost thirty percent of the population of New England. By 1680, they made up less than 15 percent.

Another shocking statistic is that in 2002, it was estimated that 10 percent of the American population descends from Mayflower passengers. Those Colonials did their best to propogate, having huge families. My ancestor Mary Bliss Parsons (not a Mayflower passenger, but a very early immigrant) did her part, birthing 14 children, nine of which lived to adulthood. A different world, no?

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