Because we’ve all been enjoying my Russian covers lately, I want to show you one of the paintings without any clutter, like my name and the title.
So here’s The Last Days (sequel to Peeps) from our Russian brothers, pure and unadulterated:
Not sure how YA this looks, given how much it ups the ante on the bondage-y look of the first cover. And points are subtracted because no cat, but that’s made up for by Brooklyn Bridge bonus points!
Here’s the cover with the title and stuff, which for some reason I can’t find except in low-res form.
If anyone finds a bigger version with type, please let me know.
And now, three other things:
1) If you want to check out more of my foreign covers, Michael Grimm is building a site with all the Westerfeldian foreign covers he can find. It’s not done yet, but it has a ton of covers, including ones I’ve never received copies of. (Serbia, I’m looking at you!)
“This smart and entertaining novel—part Nancy Drew with vampires, part thoughtful and provocative story about assumptions—fully blooms in the second half. Themes of honest friendship and freedom of choice mix with zombies, accidental romance, a diverse and complex cast, and sharply funny dialogue to create a thoroughly enjoyable read with a core of unexpected depth.”
3) Sticking with Justine, last year she gave a Guest of Honor speech at Sirens, a fantasy lit conference in Colorado, about monsters, feminism, and Elvis. (And about being raised on an aboriginal settlement, being a fan of problematic songs, movies, and many other things.) She’s just turned it into a lengthy post on her blog, which can read by clicking here.
Okay, that’s it. No FAF this week, because we are on the fortnightly schedule at the moment. But I’ll have a new Manual of Aeronautics art reveal voting thread up soon!
I give you the Russian cover of Peeps . . .
Post-apocalyptic streetscape? Check.
Rock and roll girlfriend? Check.
Parasite-positive kitteh? Check.
Baleful moon of balefulness? Bonus check!
That is all. See you on Friday for FAF.
Yesterday at 2PM, me and a hundred-ish fans from the WesterForum hung out for about an hour and a half, and I answered many questions. For those of you who weren’t able to attend, I’ have compiled them into this blog post, typos and all! (So. Many. Typos.)
“What kind of juice do you like?”
There are many juices I love. Mango! Pear! (Especially pear cider.) Apple!
“So Scott there’s been a rivalry going on (on the forum obviously) , based on the question : If the crew of the Leviathan got in a fight with Special Circumstances who would win? What’s your opinion?”
I think in a close-quarters fight the Specials would win, because they’re too quick. But in a proper battle, the Leviathan could mess them up with strafing hawks or bat-poo without ever being in danger.
“WHATS GOING ON WITH CROY?! CAN YOU GIVE US ANY INFO ON HIM?! ”
That info will be released at Leaky Con and Comic Con. THAT’S ONLY A FEW WEEKS. But I can’t tell you anything now, except maybe . . . you will SEE HIM.
“Did you use the same models on the cover of Goliath that you used on Leviathan and Behemoth?”
Yes. Same models, same photo shoot on the same day. Sometime I’ll show you guys the unaltered photos.
“At any point in Behemoth, does Dr. Barlow know that Deyrn is a girl? It has been a topic of great debate.”
Hah! Not saying now, but you WILL learn the answer to that in Goliath.
“Have you ever met someone in real life who reminds you of your characters?
Or vice versa.”
Hmm, not really. Although sometimes I see someone and say, ‘Whoa, he/she’s a total pretty!’
“Nice to meet you, btw. (and tell hi to Justine (Mrs. Larbaleister (sp?)) for me, please!)”
It’s Dr. Larbalestier, in fact.
“Can Justine cook?”
She’s a great cook of Thai food, and she wants me to add that she’s a good boxer too. (She’s been taking lessons.)
“What TV shows do you watch?”
Game of Thrones, Treme, just finished Vampire Diaries,
“This isn’t really a question, just a comment. I thought you’d like to know that I used to like history, and Leviathan made me love it again. I might even try writing something historical-ish myself. ”
“Is Lilit lesbian/bi? (Please say yes.)”
They didn’t really have those categories for women back then, but she would be if she was alive today. (Strange but true fact: Male homosexuality was illegal in England back then, but female homosexuality wasn’t because lawmakers REFUSED TO BELIEVE IT EXISTED.)
“In Uglies, there are many messages, some obvious, some not so much. What messages/lessons do you want readers to take away from Leviathan?”
Hmm. I think that the big theme is about how different sides of a conflict (war or just ideological/technological) see each other, and how that can change when people are forced to work together.
“What kind of music do you like? (Do you like Florence+and the machine?)”
I like minimalism and trip-hop, and I don’t know of this Florence person.
“What is your opinion on the Hunger Games? (Will you see the movie?)”
Want to see the movie. Liked the first book, but didn’t read the others.
“When will you go on tour?”
September 17. DON’T KNOW WHERE YET! NOT MY CHOICE WHERE.
“Would you like to join my band of Ninjas?”
I have already infiltrated your band of ninjas!
“Do you like writing about diseases? Peeps was about parasites, Innoculata had to do with a virus and in So Yesterday the main characters dad is a Epidimiologist (I think).”
I love all kinds of biology, like beasties too. Studied philosophy of biology in college. (Yes, that’s a real thing.)
“Scott-la, in the Uglies series who was the most interesting character to create?”
Hmm, maybe Mr. Simpson Smith, because he talked funny and had a very different view of the world from everyone else.
“Is there a ball, wedding, or some other formal scene in Goliath?”
“Will we ever see Deryn in a dress in the final book?
I need some hope.. 3″
“Were you annoyed with my pie questions at the last meet up? xD”
” I love Eddie is he important in Goliath?? ”
Hmm, this is spoilery, but yes he is important in Goliath. In fact, no one just disappears.
“Is Goliath the end of the Leviathan universe? I know you are writing the Manual of Aeronautics, but that won’t have any stories in it. Is there an Extras style book planned?”
Nothing planned, but I have a “prequel” to Goliath, sort of. It was a short story I was writing and decided to dump because I wanted to do a whole trilogy. And I mean to publish it sometime.
“Any Leviathan movie news that you would like to share?”
A contract is being written. Until it is signed, I can say no more!
“Have you ever tried fencing? Would you take lessons from Count Volger?”
Yes, in college. He sounds mean as a teacher, though. I’m a lazy student at physical stuff.
“Did you name Volger Ernst because that was the name Archduke Ferdinand named his son?”
Yes! Bonus points to you! He is the Ernst I erased from history.
“And how close was Volger and the Archduke exactly? Did he name his son after Volger?”
Volger’s not historical, so your second question is a no. But in my world they were very close, though they went through a bad patch when Volger told the Archduke not to marry Sophie.
“I’m Hungarian. Do we go to Hungary next?”
Sorry, no Hungary stuff in Goliath.
“What’s Lilit’s last name?”
I don’t know. (Naming varies a lot back then, however. She probably just would have been known as ‘Lilit, daughter of Zaven.’
“Do you find it interesting when we ship characters?”
YES! I love all the fan fics.
“Oh yeah, and how’s that bloke in your closet doing?”
He’s almost done with his master’s degree, and then I think he’s getting a PhD.
(This is an inside joke at the Forum. Do not be alarmed.)
“Ok, so since the Leviathan series is almost over, do you already have another series in mind? Or is the new Croy project the next big thing?”
Not a whole series, yet. But a standalone novel is in my head and there’s the Cory project and a graphic novel I’m writing.
“What kind of copyright it the leviathan trilogy and who holds it? will there eventually be a creative commons version?”
Not sure about more short stories. Leviathan is under normal copyright, held by me, but write all the fan fiction you want.
“Any advice on worldbuilding?”
Pay attention to how THIS world works, and how complicated it is.
“And, has anyone in real life been an inspiration for a character in the Leviathan series?”
Hmm, not really, except for those historical women who really pretended to be boys.
“Scott can you imagine that if you came to our houses we’d freak out and be like the lady in ‘Misery’ the movie/book?”
Thanks for the warning!
“Oh, and are Dr. Barlow and Volger in love? Us fans would die of happiness if they were!”
Barlow is married! (But they have a special bond.)
“Will you be coming to Texas any time soon?”
YES, I’m booked at the Austin Teen Book Festival, and therefore other TX cities are probably on tour.
“Okay, I HAVE to ask–will there ever be an Uglies movie?”
Maybe! New deal in the works. Will post news when contract signed.
“Are you going to see the last harry potter movie in the theatre?”
Yes, at Leaky Con, with Maureen Johnson.
“What was the weirdest thing you’ve ever been asked to sign?”
Answered that at the last meet-up, and I can’t remember what. Does anyone else?
(Further research revealed the answer to be, “A bra.”)
“On Justine’s website she says that she doesn’t drive cars. Do you drive cars? If no, does that have anything to do with Uglies?”
True, we don’t have a car or even licenses. And it KIND OF has to do with Uglies, in that I have environmental issues with them.
I never live anywhere where a car is essential.
“Ok, guys why don’t we just wait and let him answer all the questions we’ve already asked.”
Hah! Good luck with that.
“Are we going to see some sword fighting from Alek, Deryn, or particularly Voger in Goliath?”
Yes! There are swords! And a thing that’s not QUITE a sword.
“How many chapters are in Goliath?”
Um, 44 or 45.
“Have you eaten any pie lately?”
Not lately. But I will today IN YOUR HONOR.
“Can you give a vague description of the setting of the book after Goliath?”
Contemp US and a sort of mystical afterworld.
“Will you come to Europe?”
Yeah, but no plans at the moment. France wants me to come in a couple of years.
Where i really want to go is Brazil.
“Do you watch any anime or read any manga???”
Nana, Blood+, Monster, Princess Tutu, Moribito, Full Metal Alchemist, Pluto, 20th Century Boys.
“Why did you choose today as the meetup day? Do you like having meetups on the two year anniversary of MJ? xD”
“Do you have a pic of the cool shoe lacing from So Yesterday? I hvent been able to find a pattern like that anywhere…”
One of my foreign editions has it. Search for So Yesterday on all my blog posts and go through them.
(I looked for this ,but still can’t find it.)
“Shuffling through some old blog posts I saw that you had posted about the possibility of a ‘So Yesterday’ movie. Is there still a chance it might be a movie?”
No, that fell apart. (But I got some money. Yay!)
“Do you like emilie autumn? muse?”
Don’t know them
“What is your favorite book you wrote?”
Hmm, Peeps was the most magical experience. Like, every time I had a plot problem, parasites solved it!
“Is Lilit gonna get married as a part of a plot in Goliath? (guessing this due to the April Fools joke pic). The plot due to the knife and the fact that Lilith obviusly wouldn’t get married for love anyways (i don’t think). ‘Specially since we know now she’s gay/bi. (not saying gay/bi people shouldn’t get married, just saying I hihgly doubt it was legal back then).”
Heh, I will say that she’s a part of the book, but THAT IS ALL.
“Do you like the television show House?”
Never saw it. I don’t watch much realism.
“Have you ever watched A very Potter musical???”
“Does the Leviathan have a tail?”
Yes! You will SEE it and we will GO back there in Goliath.
“(If no one disappears in your books) what happened to Croy?”
He is saving himself for May/June 2012.
“will there be any good makeout scenes in goliath ??”
Yes there will be kisses . . . BUT WHO?
“Will volger die ‘cuz his first name meens fight to the death?”
EVERYONE DIES IN GOLIATH. (Not really.)
“My twinbrother would like to know: will there be new awesome warmachines or beasties?”
“Last time, you mentioned Newkirk doesn’t have a first name. Can you make one up now?”
Um, I leave that to you guys.
“We know that ‘Hearst’ from the Goliath Word Cloud is William Randolph Hearst, but who’s ‘Rogers’?”
Um, I can’t remember.
“I want deryn to tell alek so badly… you dragged it out for so long! why? why?”
The tears of my readers keep me young.
“My brother also wants to know if we’ll see anything with the clanker dirigibles?”
“How do you feel about people torturing your characters in fan fics and fan art, i.e. making them stupid, confused, killing them, and/or maiming them?”
Go for it.
“Ok, so is that Goliath prequel your next big thing or is there another new series?”
Like I said, there’s a standalone novel, and the Croy project, and a graphic novel.
“Is the Croy project really about Croy? Or is that just what you’re calling it?”
That’s just what I’m calling it. BECAUSE YOU ARE ALL OBSESSED WITH CROY.
“Eugene William Newkirk for the win! *fistbump*”
IT IS DECIDED.
“How did David get his eyebrow scar? Or is that one of those questions that you leave for the fans to decide? (I have already written a fanfic on it )”
Revealed in the Croy project!
“Will there ever be a Leviathan video game?”
I hope so, but no plans yet.
“Do you want a pet message lizard?”
Hmm. Hard to take care of, going back and forth between Sydney and NYC.
“Do you like Berry Burst Icecream Oreos?”
THEY SOUND INTRIGUING!
“Will there be a Russian revolution in the Leviathan-verse?”
We don’t get all the way to 1917, so not in the books.
“ALSO ….. my mother wants to know if there is another Risen Empire coming soon???”
“And if you have: Can you tell us just the last word? Not the last sentence, just the last word.”
It is . . . ‘allies’
“Will anyone go to the US?”
“Will there ever be a Leviathan Lego kit? ”
This came up in my last marketing meeting, and I said I will sign any paper necessary to make that happen. But nothing brewing yet.
“And have you ever tried the ‘real’ Bovril (the edible kind)?”
No. I’m a vegetarian.
“Have you finished Goliath yet?”
“How do you feel about this forum as a whole?”
I think it’s great how big it is! But I haven’t read that much of it. It’s kind of you guys’s thing, not mine.
“If you could have one machine/beastie from Levi exist in our would, what would It be?”
The Leviathan itself. I would fly on it!
“Do you have skype and so would u like to come to our after meet up skype party?”
I don’t skype much, and I must do WORK.
“Do you ever base your characters off yourself or family members? (My first serious question beside the Croy questions!)”
Not really. Maybe little bits of them, like not liking chocolate or a turn of phrase.
“Will there ever be a creative commons attribution non-commercial share-alike license?”
Maybe if I ever get around to it. I’d almost rather throw it all into the public domain. Simpler that way.
“Thanks, Scott!!!!!!! I can’t wait for all these new projects. Will the graphic novel be from the same illustrator that does Levi?”
No. Keith’s too slow and complicated to do a graphic novel.
“Will this place ever have feeds or something like identi.ca.”
I don’t know what that is.
“Who do you like better, Alek or Deyn?”
Deryn’s more fun to write, because she’s basically happier and better adjusted. But Alek’s a bit more thoughtful.
“Is there any reason that I couldn’t request a friend of a friend to make me a t-shirt to be made that said ‘Team Cable’ or ‘Special Circumstances’ or ‘I don’t want to hurt you but I will if I have to’ or other quotes from Uglies on it?? Because I don’t want to get in any trouble for making one if it’s not legal–so is it okay to make an Uglies themed t-shirt for myself?”
Rock out! For personal use is okay with me.
“will this forum ever be in real-time?”
Hmm, I don’t know exactly what that means, so not soon. I’ll ask my webmistress.
“Would you consider writing another steampunk novel?”
Not for a while. Wouldn’t want to repeat myself.
“What is your favorite type of Leviathan Fan fiction?”
The more weird and unexpected, the more I like it.
“is the Goliath a beastie or a clanker machine?? dying of curiosity here!!”
“Do you like bugs?”
Yes, but not in my food.
“Are you heading to the MA area anytime soon?”
“Have you ever used an IRC?”
Not for a long time.
“Has anybody ever recognized you and freaked out?”
An elevator full of librarians did once at ALA (a librarian conference) and they screamed!
“If I mentioned pie if I ever saw you, would you recognize me as Allie-wa?”
Lots of people ask me about pie, but I would still know it was YOU.
“Scott. MOST important question EVER…….Do you…own a blue bucket?”
I did, but it was stolen.
“Okay, so when Volger said that Dr. Barlow was an ‘interesting woman,’ he wasn’t declaring his undying love for her?”
He’s cagier than that, I think.
“does anyone important in the series die in goliath?”
People die, and I bet THEY think they’re important.
“Do you look at xkcd comics?”
“I’m eating a kiwi gummy.”
“How tall Is Deryn?”
Rather tall for her time. 5’10″ or so.
“What color are Deryn’s eyes?”
Don’t know. Brown, I think. (Further research revealed that they are BLUE.)
“Will you come to central Europe?”
Would love to. Let’s hope Leviathan does well in Germany.
“Are you a Nerdfighter?”
Not really. But I know and love many, and I try not to forget to be awesome.
“And how much shorter is Alek??? (than Deryn)”
“In all your books and short stories, what scene was the funnest one you’ve ever written and why?”
Peeps. See earlier answer.
“What was the most annoying question you’ve ever been asked?”
Argh. Maybe this one.
“I know you are team zombie-but if there was a zombified Unicorn……..would you be team Zombicorn?”
I’d still be Team Zombie. I don’t want to shoot a horsey.
“Would Eddie use a camera kinda like this? [photo attached]”
Yes. But his camera’s in an illustration in Goliath, isn’t it?
“Will there ever be a live meetup??”
How would this work? Suggestions?
“What was your favorite part of Leviathan?”
Tossing out the gold.
“What was your favorite part of Behemoth?”
Maybe the sultan’s palace? Or the kiss.
“What was your favorite part of Goliath?”
The part where everyone DIES. (heh) Or maybe a certain KISS.
“What is your favorite Beastie?”
Bovril or the poo-bats.
“What is your favorite machine?”
“I did my shoes with the lacing pattern from So Yesterday!! Ill have to post it.”
Okay, that’s it! Hope some of you Forum-shirkers come to the next one.
Because I wrote Peeps, everyone emails me the latest news on parasites. Thanks to writing Uglies, I’m always up on hovercraft and tattoo technologies. And thanks to the Leviathan series, I get a lot of mail about walking machines.
Being the author of Extras means I hear a lot about Klout.
Klout is a company that generates face-ranks of Twitter users. They have software that constantly scries the “Twitter firehose”—the sum total of everyone’s tweets—and boils them down to a set of rankings. Basically Klout behaves like the city interface in Extras. People following you, retweeting you, mentioning you, and using twitter to converse directly with you makes your score go up. People ignoring you makes your score go down.
Unlike Aya’s city, Klout doesn’t give everyone their own unique number, but gives everyone a score between 1 and 100, with higher scores representing more influence. The scale is logarithmic, like the richter scale, so the distance from 10 to 30 doesn’t mean a lot, but the distance from 80 to 100 is vast.
Here are some examples of Klout scores:
Scott Westerfeld: I bounce between 60 and 62
Youtube Magnate John Green: 71
YA Twitter Queen Maureen Johnson: 74
US President Barack Obama: 88
Genuinely Famous Person Lady Gaga: 94
As you can see, Twitter Klout and real-world clout don’t necessarily match up. I mean, Lady Gaga can’t dispatch Navy Seal teams . . . yet. And possibly running the federal government doesn’t leave a lot of time for @replying with your pals. But a high Klout score is a measure of one sort of celebrity, notoriety, fame, and influence. And the idea of scoring everyone in the (online) world is so inherently Extras-like that I knew you guys would be interested in it, so I took a closer look at what Klout were doing.
Last week I had a short phone conversation with the Klout CEO and Co-Founder Jed Shearer. Here are some interesting factoids he unleashed on me:
1) The Twitter firehose that goes into your Klout score includes direct messages. (Note to self: DMs aren’t as private as I thought.)
2) The overall scores listed above are the tip of the analysis iceberg. Klout also scores people with regard to specific subject matter. For example, you could have a big sports or literature score, but a crappy cooking or politics score.
3) Klout keeps that more specific data secret, and then sells it to marketing companies, who want to find Twitter “influencers.” For example, if you are the biggest manga expert on Twitter, you might get invited to the opening of Akira. (This is actually more So Yesterday than Extras.)
4) There’s only ever one person at a time with a Klout score of 100. Basically, they’re like Nana Love in Extras, or Christopher Lambert in Highlander. And at the moment that person is . . . Justin Bieber. (Of the clan McBieber.)
There’s obviously a lot to talk about here, but it’s nice (for me) how the themes in Extras keep popping up. I’ve seen articles about people with higher Klout score getting hotel upgrades, and of some tech parties only allowing in people with a certain Klout score or above. This is a very mild equivalent of what happens in Aya’s city, where your face-rank determines how big your apartment is, how many resources you can consume, etc. Perks for influencers is very old, of course.
My social media expert friends tell me that people have begun “gaming” Klout. That is, they change their online social practices with the sole intent of boosting their score. Some of you may recall the Reputation Bomber clique in Aya’s city, who chant one member’s name all night to spike his or her face rank. Same basic thing.
Klout seems to me to be simultaneously silly and the first stage of something important. We humans are social creatures, so it’s a survival skill to determine the status of the people around us, especially when we’re in an unfamiliar environment (or an environment that is being newly created, like Twitter or the internet in general).
You will remember this scene from pretty much every high school movie: The new kid arrives at school, and is led on a social safari by a savvy new friend. Usually set in the cafeteria, this scene often contains the dialog “That’s the jocks’ table over there.” Like Klout itself, these little expository set pieces are an oversimplification, an exaggeration, and a kind of a joke, but they’re also useful for learning the lay of the land.
Using math to improve survival skills (the whole Klout enterprise is about computers crunching numbers) is what the last few centuries of human culture has mostly been about. So I’d be surprised if the world didn’t wind up with many tech companies whose sole purpose was the tracking, scoring, and gaming of reputations.
So where did I get the idea for the face-rank culture in Extras? From a much simpler source: authors sitting around and checking their books’ Amazon rankings. (Amazonomancy is the technical term for this.) A humble beginning, but in a way Amazonomancy is more grounded in reality than anything Klout does.
Book sales are, after all, a reputation marker you can eat.
I’m headed on a mini-tour of the UK next week, one that will include many school visits but no public appearances (not my fault!). In this time I may or may not be posting here, but I wanted to inform you about the following meet-up on the Forum tomorrow!
Sunday, June 12th
Australia 7:00AM Monday (um, sorry)
Come one, come all, and talk about stuff. Alas, I won’t be able to participate. But I do drop by to answer questions on most meet-ups.
Here’s a list of the rest of them scheduled for this year. Note that the Australian times are always the next day. (Aussie fans, you can always organize meet-ups yourselves to avoid the early morning thing. Let me know if you do, and I’ll blog them!)
2010 WesterForum MEET-UPS
July 10th (7 pm US-EST) Aussie (9:00am) London (9:00pm)
August 14 (5 pm US-EST) Aussie (7:00am) London (10:00pm)
Sept 11 (7 pm US-EST) Aussie (9:00am) London (MIDNIGHT)
Oct 9 (4 pm US-EST) Aussie (7:00am) London (9:00pm)
Nov 13 (5 pm US-EST) Aussie (9:00am)London (10:00pm)
Dec 11 (4 pm US-EST) Aussie (8:00am) London (9:00pm)
TWO MORE THINGS
1) Peeps fans might want to check out Witch Doctor, a web comic by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner. It has some of the same vampires-as-parasites science-y goodness of peeps, but in graphic form. Click here to read the prototype issue.
2) The cast list on the Uglies movie IMDB page has turned out to be a hoax. There is no word yet on casting.
Okay, see you when I get back.
Before I sink completely into Leviathan-mania, I want to point out that it’s now possible to buy my New York trilogy in their shiny new packages. The covers were designed by Rodrigo Corral, who designed the Uglies series, and they are beautiful.
Check them out:
I really like the urban poetry of these covers, and the odd palettes as well. Each one has its own interesting mix of colors. The other cool thing is that the new books are a sweet small size, 7″ x 5″ (17.8cm x 12.7cm), and thus are very cute little paperbacks.
I’m not sure if you can order these online yet, because it’s hard to make sure what you’ll cover you get on the internets. So the best bet is a bricks-and-mortar bookstore if you want. (You can use Indie Bound to find the nearest independent.)
If you want to check out more of Rodrigo Corral’s work, just click here.
Yes, you read that right, and I’m typing it again, because it’s that much fun:
Manga. Head. Explosive. Goo.
It’s a brand of hair gel made by Garnier, to create those delicious mohawk-tastic heads of hair just like your fave manga characters. Don’t believe me? Here’s the website.
And here’s a classic example of some manga heads:
Ganked from Crystal Tip’s flickr stream. And thank you to Kerri for the heads up on Manga Head Explosive Goo.
Can anybody find a photo of actual Manga Head Explosive Goo in a store? I need to see it.
Okay, now that that’s dealt with, a few more cool images, starting with a SCARY DOLL ALERT!
Hey, I just noticed the secret color-coded message in the title, which works in English as well as in Italian. See what I mean? Kewl.
And in Ð¡ÐºÐ¾Ñ‚Ñ‚ Ð’ÐµÑÑ‚ÐµÑ€Ñ„ÐµÐ»ÑŒÐ´ news, we have Jonathan and Jessica looking very fantastical on the cover of the Russian Midnighters 2: Touching Darkness . . .
I could just look at foreign edition covers all day sometimes. So much easier than, um, writing.
Speaking of which, it’s back to the Leviathan mines for me!
Those of you who’ve read Peeps will no doubt remember toxoplasma gondii, the cat-borne parasite that can infect humans and change their personality. An old pal of mine, science journalist and blogger Rebecca Skloot, is a bit of an expert on toxoplasma, having written this article on whether the parasite causes “crazy cat-lady syndrome.” Fascinating stuff.
She’s just posted this charming video of a possibly toxoplasma-positive rat who LOVES its little cat friend.
For those of you who haven’t read Peeps, toxoplasma controls its rat host’s brain, making the poor creature seek out cats in hopes of getting eaten. This is because toxoplasma can only reproduce itself in the stomach of a cat. But as Rebecca points out, if the cat takes the pacifist route and simply refuses to eat the rat, it can stay uninfected.
Your move, Mr. Parasite.
In Other News
Justine is blogging writing advice for all of January. Many great posts and lots of good discussion about point-of-view, generating ideas, and how to get unstuck.
Stephenie Meyer fansite Twilight Moms has declared my Midnighters series its Book of the Month. Join the Twilight Moms discussion here. (Well, you have to be a mom, or at least 25, or married to be a Twilight Mom, but you can always read the discussion.)
Well, after a very productive month in our Undisclosed Location, Justine and I have both finished our next books! Much wooting occurred.
Of course, there’s still all the rewriting, editing, cover designing, catalog printing, marketing and selling into stores that has to happen. All of which means these books won’t be published until, oh, about a year from now.
This is why Bogus to Bubbly is coming out on October 21, to make the long year of waiting fly past. (Zoom.)
In the meantime, I can get back to blogging a bit more often. Thank you all for your patience during crunch time! Sorry to have been away.
There are a few things I missed. First, here’s the cover for the Brazilian version of Peeps:
I really like this cover. It’s sort of like a graphic novel, with plenty of peeps-like images. As you can see, the title is Os Primeiros Dias, or “The First Days.” I guess “peeps” didn’t translate into Portuguese, so the publishers thought it would be cool to set up the sequel, The Last Days.
I wish I’d thought of that. Well, except that when I was working on Peeps, I didn’t realize I was going to write a sequel.
And if you’re a Peeps fan, you totally have to read this article in the NY Times. It’s about a scientist who infects his patients with hookworms (as in Chapter 5, aka “Bahamalama-Dingdongs”) . . . on purpose!
So here’s the story: David Pritchard, the scientist in the article, noticed that people in Papua New Guinea who were infected with hookworms were less likely to suffer from asthma and hay fever. Now, this was nothing new. As I point out a few times in Peeps, parasites are so intertwined with humans that we can get sick when we don’t have them around.
Basically, your immune system has evolved to deal with lots of parasites—our ancestors lived in a very dirty world compared to us. But these days, people in industrial societies have hardly any parasites, so our immune system gets bored and starts making trouble. Sort of like a third-world army with no enemies to fight, it starts trying to take over the government. Allergies, asthma, Crohn’s disease, and other auto-immune issues may be related to people being too darn clean!
Dr. Pritchard wondered if hookworms were suppressing the Panuan’s immune system, and helping them escape hay fever. So, in the proud tradition of mad scientists everywhere, he used himself as a subject. That’s right, he infected himself with hookworms, which sounds . . . itchy. He has since expanded to larger human trials, and so far the treatment seems to work well on allergy sufferers. Maybe one day it can be used for more serious conditions, like Crohn’s Disease.
Good luck to him. Plus, I love this last paragraph:
“I gave myself 50 worms, and I felt it,â€ he recounted. â€œI had stomach pains and diarrhea. But with 10 worms, weâ€™ve ascertained a dose that does not cause symptoms. The patients are happy. Theyâ€™ve kept their worms, and I get an e-mail a day from people all over the world who want to be infected.â€
See? Everything in moderation.
It’s a day for extraordinary fan art.
Me, I’m just sitting around writing Leviathan these days. One day soon (like, really early next year) I’ll have some actual news about that.