The Book Of Accidents: An Ask, And An Update

It’s been a really nice launch week so far for the book — I’m honestly in awe of how many people are reading the book and sending me photos of it and who are tweeting me their excited responses as they get through it. (I’ve had a few people DM me their read-throughs as they happen and it’s kinda awesome to watch people wriggle around in the story, trying to figure out just what the sweet hot hell is going on.) So, thanks, folks. It means a lot.

It means a lot in part because… this isn’t one of those easy books to describe, at least not for me. I’ve never really gotten a grip on how even to talk about it. Some books are very, very easy to give a snap-your-fingers pitch for — Grady Hendrix’s novels, for instance, come with a catchy logline that pops like the bubble from bubblegum — “It’s a horror novel written inside an Ikea catalog” is like, what the fuck, I’m in. Buying the ticket, taking the ride. My middle grade coming out in October, Dust & Grim, is blessed I think with an easy way to pitch it: a girl inherits a funeral home for monsters and has to share that inheritance with a brother she’s never met. Hell, you could cut it to, “a girl inherits a funeral home for monsters.” And that’s your open door. That’s the hook sunk into the meat of your cheek. The Miriam Black books: “Miriam Black* can see how you’re going to die by touching you.” Easy. You could add, “But if she wants to change fate, she’ll have to defy the stars” or something, but you don’t even have to say that — you get the hook or you don’t and that’s that.

But The Book of Accidents resists that kind of… logline characterization, which is ostensibly a no-no in Fiction Land. You bring this book to a writing conference and try to expound on it and they’ll spritz you with a water bottle like you’re a cat on the counter, fttz, fttz, BAD KITTY, YOU NEED A THREE-SECOND ELEVATOR PITCH OR NEW YORK PUBLISHING WILL TURN YOU INTO POTTED MEAT. I have ways, of course, of selling TBOA in a quick beat — “It’s a haunted house story that isn’t a haunted house story,” and that’s true, even though it doesn’t tell you a lot, it might be enough to get someone interested. “It’s about a family’s love in the face of evil,” or “A family moves back to the father’s childhood home and finds that something worse than ghosts haunt them,” or whatever. All fine. And you could get deeper, too, saying oh it’s about the pain we carry, it’s about being haunted generational trauma and cycles of abuse, it’s about bullies, it’s about empathy as our ultimate weapon against evil, it’s got ghosts and a serial killer and an evil tunnel and a boy who can do dark magic and a woman whose artwork comes alive and a father haunted by the ghost of his abuser and, and, and. It’s all of those things and even there, it’s not quite right, and now I’ve gone and spent a whole paragraph trying to tell you what the book is about.

Part of me thinks, well, that’s fine. Or it should be. Not every story should be “easy to pitch.” Certainly one of my favorite horror novels in recent years is Library at Mount Char, which… defies description, and even now I’m not going to tell you what it’s about, only that you should read it. You could probably quick-pitch a book like Cabin at the End of the World or The Only Good Indians (or The Three or Annihilation or, or, or), but… you also shouldn’t, I don’t think. Part of your willingness to buy those books is because you trust the author or you trust people telling you about the book, and sometimes it comes with a whispered entreaty like, “Don’t read anything about it before you start.” A warning not to look deeply. Don’t try to figure out what it’s about. Just read the book.

Hopefully, this book, TBOA, is that kind of book.

But, who knows?

What I will ask you is this: books like this really thrive in the light of love from readers. What that means is, anything you can do will help the book a lot more than anything I can do. That means, telling people about it. Yelling about it. It means leaving reviews somewhere (Goodreads, Amazon, and no you don’t have to buy the book at Amazon to leave a review there). It means ideally buying from an indie bookstore or at least a physical bookstore like B&N, because indie bookstores will hand-sell books in a way that a giant online-only space-dong retailer cannot. It means requesting from local libraries, because libraries are a fundamental community good, and there is no harm in using them, there is only goodness. It means you carrying a torch for the books you love, be it this one or another book. I think there’s a sense that authors are somehow above readers, like we’re on a stage and you’re in an audience, but it’s really that we’re down in a hole, and you’re all standing above it, and the only way we get up out of this darkness is by you reaching down and taking our hand and pulling us up. Readers matter in this way a whole, whole lot.

Especially with this kind of book. A weird book. Weird books need love.

So, that’s my ask: check the book out, share it, review it, duct tape the book to a rock and throw it through a neighbor’s window, let lightning strike the book and when it becomes animated by primal forces you begin to worship the Living Book as a brand new god in this realm. Or something, I dunno, I’m just fuckin’ spitballing over here.

To re-up, your procurement options include:

Indiebound | Bookshop | The Strand | Powells

B&N | BAM | Amazon | Apple | Kobo | Google

Audible | Libro.fm

So, there we go.

A quick news-scented update mist for you —

Reminder that tonight I’m virtually chatting with wonderful friend and amazing author Delilah S. Dawson at the University Bookstore in Seattle — but you don’t have to be in Seattle, you can stream our chat into your home via the magic of ALCHEMY I mean THE INTERNET. Details here. It’s 7:30PM EST (4:30 PST).

Also, Fountain Bookstore has been kind enough to put up my chat with Stephen Graham Jones last night for free to watch, if you’re interested — and you should be, because it was really fun and goddamn, he’s just a sharp, funny guy about writing and horror and everything. I should note that in the talk he asks me about my favorite haunted house movie and novel, and I completely whiffed it — my brain evacuated any haunted house media I’ve ever consumed, and I was left with only the howling void. (The other day I couldn’t remember Christopher Walken’s name either, and all I could come up with was, “He played Whitley Streiber.” WTF, brain.) So! Let me answer here — my favorite haunted house movie is probably The Changeling, or maybe The Orphanage. Best haunted house novel, besides Shirley Jackson’s Hill House, I’d say — nnnmmmngh, it’s tough, but Beloved is it, probably. And Hell House, by Matheson.

Tor.com posted a great review by Martin Cahill:

The Book of Accidents really does live up to those memories of summers spent between the pages of enormous tomes, horror or fantasy or science fiction, that gripped me by the throat and wouldn’t let me go until their tale was done. I finished this mighty book in two and a half days. Wendig has written a huge horror story with a surprising amount of heart that he earns with each page. It gets dark, it gets scary, and at times, it can seem like there’s no way forward. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s no accident. I think readers are going to love this, especially if they’re craving that big summer read.”

And the Daily Mail reviewed it thusly:

“…what a ride.”

Okay, that’s the spoiler-free version. If you want the spoilery version, I’ve posted it here.

Let’s see, what else?

I’m gonna be on Brandy Schillace’s new show, Peculiar Book Club, on August 12th, 7pm. We will talk weird science and science fiction and how to make fiction feel real and feel true and all that stuff.

If you missed it, I got to hang with my buddy Steven Spohn, and talk about… well, anxiety and what makes us all tick and how we can be good to ourselves. A mental health booster. Check it out.

Oh, and finally, though I don’t think I’m supposed to care about this sort of thing, yesterday the signed hardcover of THE BOOK OF ACCIDENTS was #5 (!) in all of B&N (!!) so I dunno what the heck that’s about but I’m very excited, and thanks to B&N for putting the book out there with such gusto and prominence.

ANYWAY, I think that’s it for now.

Thanks, all. Have a wonderful weekend. Go watch Ted Lasso.

* I note that Blackbirds is on sale in e-book for $1.99 for the rest of the month.