February 2022 Newsletter
Hello from the writing cave.
Today is the first day of the Year of the Tiger, a new moon, and one of those days that seem numerically perfect: 2/2/22.
The first day of the Year of the Tiger is February 4th, and so there are still a few more days left in the Year of the Ox (my year). It may be a coincidence, but every Year of the Ox has brought significant changes to my life, ones that have forced me to grow and to change.If you’re interested in learning more about the Chinese New Year, click here.
Hadrien and I spent the last weekend of The Year of the Ox in the mountains of Mexico. Here we are standing at the edge of a precipice as the sun sets:
A reader shared this photo of The Ancestor in a stack of books they recommend for winter reading.
I’m glad to be in such good company. Books and cold weather (and a fire in the fireplace) go well together. Some of my favorite reading experiences have been on cold winter nights, and I’m usually reading something terrifying. Are there any books that you like to read in the winter?
Speaking of winter activities, I recently experimented with Instant Pot baking. The oven in my place in San Miguel is old and the temperature fluctuates, so I decided to try baking this vanilla and berry Bundt cake in the Instant Pot. I think it turned out well! Do you have an Instant Pot? If so, any recipes to suggest?
In other news, my latest New York Times Dark Matters column is out. This was just a half column, so only 3 books. It’s always difficult to narrow down the books I will review, but this time it was particularly hard to choose.
Some other books I recommend (besides the ones in my column) are:
Anatomy: a Love Story by Dana Schwartz. Neil Gaiman says this about the author: “Dana Schwarz is one of the brightest of the next generation of young writers.”
Another book that has been getting lots of attention is Such A Pretty Smile by Kristi Demeester. Here’s what Josh Malerman has to say about it: “The dream, the enigma, build with each scene.”
Many of you reached out last month to tell me you enjoyed the links I shared, so I’ve decided to make it a recurring section of my newsletters. Let me know what you think of these stories:Teaching Literature Means Teaching Empathy
Readers’ Most Anticipated Mysteries of 2022
A Truly Great Villain Drives a Thriller
Place Is Not a Character–It Is Its Own Story
Finally, I received this question from the community:
What does the future of writing/publishing creative work look like?
This is such a big question and it is hard to answer in one paragraph. But I will say that there are huge shifts happening in publishing, and that this will most likely continue over the next few years. The option to self publish has created a new way for writers who have struggled to be traditionally published to reach an audience.
It is relatively easy to create an ISBN and publish through Kindle direct publishing, and many authors are doing it. Even authors who could be traditionally published are often opting to self-publish or even create their own publishing house. For example, Sara Gran (whose novel I reviewed in my column, link above) founded Dreamland, a publishing house whose first publication was Gran’s novel “The Book of the Most Precious Substance.”
There is also the advent of what people are calling Web3, in which communities create stories, add to stories, and own stories together. Although this is really just the beginning, I think we will see more of Web3 storytelling in the coming years, or at least a lot of creative people moving into Web3 spaces. I have recently become a member of FWB (Friends with Benefits), a group of Web3 artists, creators, and developers who hang out and share information. Here’s a piece about FWB in The New Yorker.
I hope you’ve all had a great start to your new year. Please feel free to respond to this email with your comments, questions, or great books you’ve read lately. Thank you as always for following along.