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My US Visit -- Fun Without the Mess

As my consciousness crawls back up from the jetlag abyss, it's time to lay down an imperishible digital track of memories. Will this little posting intrigue you? Will it stimulate your imagination, inspiring heights of creativity or lurid dreams? That... is doubtful. You may want to skip this and marvel instead at the myriad properties displayed by paint as it expels the last hints of moisture. I will carry on, nevertheless, for the enjoyment of my future self, waxing nostalgic for this wasted youth.

Note: I'll mostly be leaving out names here to protect the innocent and the shy. Any names that I do include are there because I'm confident nobody will mind. If you do, let me know and I'll remove you ASAP. Or the opposite is cool too :)


I crossed the Atlantic in the company of Adrian Tchaikovsky's Spiderlight. It's a fun book that grows increasingly dark towards the end. Adrian is a great author who can handle everything from Science Fiction, to humour, to manners, to kick-ass high-concept fantasy. Spiderlight is the story of a typical D&D type adventure where certainty and escapism are slowly poisoned by moral quandries.

I also watched the Irish movie, Sing Street. It entertained me mightily apart from one particular moment that made me despise the protagonist. Nevertheless, very well done.


My friends T&C drove several hours to pick me up from Boston airport and several hours in the other direction just so they could have the privilege of waiting on me hand and foot. They have a stunningly beautiful, cat-crowded house, and a preposterously friendly dog by the name of Jake.

The first night, when my eyes started to droop, they fed me a gorgeous green curry where the vegetables came straight from the garden. Wow! The sweet corn lived up to its name. I couldn't get enough of it.

Vermont is lovely and green and quiet. The bears grow fat on careless hikers. Know, dear reader, I was not careless this time.


I travelled there by train -- business class, no less! -- moving from Albany, all the way down the languid Hudson river with fine views and hilarious shouted conversations between the crew members.

After that, New York was just one hightlight after another. The Soho Grand Hotel? Like something out of a movie. Quirky, lovely, friendly. Scholastic Books HQ? A nest of creativity, humour and joy.

My publicist JA had a mountain of vegan snacks piled up before a stack of books for me to sign. I smudged one with the other so that each reader can have the pleasure of peeling apart the pages to discover a unique, fragrant surprise.

I met many, many other people there. I clinked glasses with them while they were ridiculously friendly to me.

That night, my US editor, NT, took me to a Yankee's Game. Yes, you heard me right. Yankees.

The subway shimmered at a temperature close to the boiling point of titanium. It wouldn't surprise me if New Yorkers brought raw pizza to work to be cooked on the foreheads of their fellow passengers. Although, with everybody sweating so much, steamed dumplings might be the better option...

But I digress! We got to watch one of the world's most famous sports teams from a private box with all its own snacks and with a pack of cheerful people open to chatting to a baseball-innocent like myself. Fantastic experience!

The next day, there were interviews with Bustle and Sci-Fi Bulletin. Both interviewers really knew their stuff.

And then, came lunch... I should really play some kind of musical intro here, because Blossom provided me with the best meal I've had since I turned vegan four years ago. Everything was beyond delicious and the great company I had only enhanced the dining experience.

That evening I had another great meal with an absolutely wonderful crew of booksellers and librarians from in or near NY. Everybody -- absolutely every one of them -- wanted nothing more than to talk books all night long. It's been years since I've seen sports, politics and weather so thoroughly ignored throughout such a large crowd!


Although this was the longest part of my trip, I don't have a whole lot to say about it. Not because WorldCon, the usual highlight of my year, wasn't filled with joy and fantastic meetings with the best of friends, but because most of what occurred fell within the bounds of a typical Con experience.

At La Guardia airport, I had the good fortune to run into Xray and McBigski from the BwB. Company and hugs were evenly distributed. When the airport ejected us at the other end, having extracted our nutritional content, Mr. X collected us and whizzed us all the way to our hotel. I would be sharing a room with McBigski and Ser Scott -- two manly men who mostly left me alone when darkness fell.

Some highlights:
A panel, including legend Tamora Pierce. (The MidAmericon Program, was in general, superb, by the way.)
Dinner with the BwB. Met a few new ones to add to what was already an august company. Best part of the menu? A salad marked "V" for vegetarian that contained prosciutto ham! Luckily, they were happy to do one without the meat for me.
More panels. Wonderful greetings from old friends. A tremendous parade of fascinating topics.
Irishers and diplomats at the Dublin 2019 desk.
A vegan restaurant called Fud that I found only with D's help and guidance.
A free dinner in the same restaurant, foolishly paid for by Black Gate editor, John O'Neill. I bet he's cursing now as the moths fly out of his wallet.
A meeting with the academic and podcaster, Amy Sturgis.
A visit to Program Ops to sign a book for EU's friend.
More BwBers, always more of them, like a horde of ants, remorselessly bearing hugs and humour. We threw a party, of course, at which I was permitted to give prizes to people. Best of all was a talking George R.R. Martin doll. Apparently, a mere squeeze of its hand is enough to make it say "I'm still working on it". Alas, it would not speak to me...

And yet, despite the indifference of the GRRM doll, the following evening, I had the good fortune to attend the Hugo Loser's Party thrown by the real GRRM. Even better, two groups of my friends won Alfie awards -- Black Gate, whose editor is the same John O'Neill (see above), and Journey Planet, whose staff include James Bacon, Chris Garcia and Esther. How cool was that?

Finally, came the last hurrah of a barbecue meal with the BwB. A vegan option, fought for by LG, kept me happy, 'though I was surrounded by vicious carnivores at every turn...


And that's it, really. Other than the fact that I made it home to find my house all the better for my absence. I spent more time than is healthy at O'Hare, and made the mistake of counting how much money I had spent. But what a brilliant ten days it was! Roll on FinnCon!

The Blog of Blogs

Tomorrow I will try to write a post about my adventures in the lands that lie far west of Connemara. But more important matters are afoot for now.

One week from today, The Call, will be available for purchase in the US. Two days later, the rest of the universe will have its chance to turn precious, precious money into something with my name on the cover and with my words (and hangups) inside. I'm shocked by how close it is. And just as blackberries, ripening in concert, cause Autumn to arrive, so too does my blog tour bring forth from the abyss, the fruit of my nightmares. My book, that is.

First off is an article I wrote for the web site of the Irish Times, called "Of fiction, fission and fairies".

But the actual, real, official tour began yesterday when Words from a Reader conducted an interview with me. Want to know some of my favourite books? Who inspires me? Then, click on the link.

Today the tour continues with a post I wrote for Tales of Yesterday about unlikely heroes. I make a few mentions in there of dragons and St. George, the tiny, but aggressive piglet.

Details for the rest of the week are in the image below...


My Program for MidAmeriCon -- WorldCon

I'll be appearing at WorldCon in Kansas, like a beautiful vision from which none shall e'er look away...

Or... or maybe not. Anyway, my schedule is below. I'm delighted with it and happy that I'll be doing a reading from The Call on the Friday, only a fortnight before the book hits shelves in the US. I'd love to see some of you there!

Young Voices: Protest and Rebellion in YA Fiction
Wednesday 16:00 - 17:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)
The Harvard Gazette defines protest literature: "literature meant to spur action; to convey anger and shock; or to prompt empathy, based on a discontent with the status quo." Young adult fiction often features these concepts, which resonate strongly for readers. But can it be considered "protest literature" in the traditional sense? Our panelists discuss YA protest themes and characters, what drives them forward, and how they differ from the rebellious teen. Join the rebellion!
Mr. Peadar O Guilin, Mr. Jeffrey Cook (M), Mark Oshiro, Miriam Weinberg
Great Characters in Young Adult Fiction
Thursday 11:00 - 12:00, 2207 (Kansas City Convention Center)
There are groundbreaking characters in YA fiction: Katniss Everdeen, Percy Jackson, Clary Fairchild, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, and more. Why do these teen characters ring true? Creating a believable teen vs adult characters -- is the process and are the elements the same? Who are some of the other great, and overlooked, characters within YA fiction today?
Mr. Peadar O Guilin, Mark Oshiro, Sunil Patel, Fonda Lee, Chelsea Mueller (M)
Utopia, Dystopia and the Default?
Thursday 14:00 - 15:00, 2502A (Kansas City Convention Center)
Certain kinds of imagined futures currently dominate the SF field.. For example, we usually find settings in either grand interstellar deep space futures or trapped-on-Earth dystopias with the rare exception. What about the futures that land somewhere in-between, that may be more likely for us? Is the "middle future" too reminiscent of the Golden Age of SF? Let's discuss the "middle future" in SF, how it compares to earlier eras in SF, and where it falls on the Utopia/Dystopia spectrum.
Jack Campbell Jr. (M), Thomas K. Carpenter, Sarah Frost, Mr. Peadar O Guilin, Tamara Jones, John Joseph Adams
The Re-emergence of Environmental Speculative Fiction
Thursday 18:00 - 19:00, 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)
This used to be a booming field but has only recently re-emerged. Why is this and how do today's tropes differ from the ecological dystopias of the 1970s?
Mr. Peadar O Guilin (M), Brenda Cooper, Alyx Dellamonica
Privilege of Beauty in Film & Television
Friday 11:00 - 12:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)
While characters in novels aren't always attractive, the same cannot be said for those whose faces grace the big and small screens. There are few unattractive characters and most are outright stunning. When confronted by a steady stream of actors such as Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Jensen Ackles, Elizabeth Taylor, Lucy Liu, or Paul Newman, what effect does this lack of "beauty" diversity have on audiences? How does beauty differ from page to screen to real life? Do we crave the illusion of beauty in television and film or is it just part of a storytelling toolkit for the digital medium? Does beauty matter or is it another form of bias that we need to stamp out?
Mr. Peadar O Guilin, Nicki Lynch (M), Craig Miller, Christine Taylor-Butler, John Chu
This panel deals with some sensitive topics. Therefore, we ask that participants remember to give everyone a chance to speak and to remain open to topics with which they may or may not agree.
Reading: Peadar O Guilin
Friday 14:30 - 14:58, 2202 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)
The "One True Love" Narrative Trap in Young Adult Fiction...and How to Smash It!
Saturday 10:00 - 11:00, 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)
True love in YA fiction has been a mainstay of the genre, but life is rarely that simple, especially for teens...even fictional teens! Why do we fall into this trap? Authors share their tips and tricks for writing love, romance, and the teen dating scene.
Darlene Marshall (M), Sarah Beth Durst, Tessa Gratton, Mr. Peadar O Guilin, Denise Grover Swank
Inspiring the Creativity
Saturday 12:00 - 13:00, 2204 (Kansas City Convention Center)
In recent years, many creators have made public the music playlists they used for inspiration while creating a work. But what else do creators surround themselves with when preparing to Make Art/Write Fiction? Is it art on the walls? TV Shows? Podcasts? Or is the greatest inspiration of all just switching off the internet?
Dr. Amy H. Sturgis (M), Cynthia Ward, L. E. Modesitt Jr., Chelsea Mueller, Mr. Peadar O Guilin
YA Fiction Beyond Borders
Saturday 17:00 - 18:00, 3501F (Kansas City Convention Center)
Young adult fiction is a strong and thriving market in the U.S., but how is it doing internationally? We discuss the books and authors beyond mainstream "America's literary borders" that deserve recognition. Is there a difference in approach, content, characters, and diversity of topics and themes? How do we continue to break down these borders and barriers for YA readers and authors alike?
Mr. Peadar O Guilin, Keith Yatsuhashi, Shanna Swendson, Edward Willett, Christopher Kastensmidt (M)


Oh, yes, it's been a while. You're right to sneer at me as I get down on my knees and swear that this time it will be better, that I'll blog more often and never fail you again. But we both know different, don't we? Still, this is just who I am and you knew that when you first befriended me, even though everybody said I was no good.

But despite all rumours to the contrary, I have taken time out of my busy schedule to entertain myself.


What I'm reading right now, is portentious and endless and dull. So, I won't talk about that here today. However, I do have a few books by friends of mine on my TBR that I plan to get around to in August or September, and I'm pretty excited about them.

First up, is a book I'm saving for my next plane trip. It's Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky. The last few novels of his that I read were real page-turning, world-shattering stunners. Exactly the sort of thing to pass a dull journey with.

Following that, I have Gabrielle Harbowy's Hellmaw: Of the Essence. Gabrielle has been an excellent editor to me in the past, so I have faith that this will be great.

Finally, my TitanCon buddy Jo Zebedee is invading, blowing up and generally, smashing Belfast in her novel, Inish Carraig. It'll make a great change from seeing the Statue of Liberty getting knocked over for the 100th time :) The book is apparently doing really well, so, late to this party as always, I'm going to grab a piece of the action for myself.


In brief:
1) Versailles was terrible. Made it halfway through episode 5 before the writing threw me out for the last time. Yes, yes, the warnings were there in episode 1, but I kept glimpsing what I thought were hidden depths. They were depths, all right.

2) Third Season of Bojack Horseman was fun, but well short of an incredible Season 2, IMHO.

3) I enjoyed the Netflix documentary series, Last Chance U about a school that takes in hugely talented American Football players who have so far failed to make a splash in the big leagues. Their talent is amazing, but so is their total lack of self-esteem. Interesting, sad and hopeful, with some spectacular goings-on during the season.


READINGS -- which seems to be an association of Australian independent Booksellers, has put up an entire page containing nothing but absolutely gorgeous reviews of my forthcoming novel, The Call. I'm definitely bookmarking it to read again and again for when I'm having bad days in the future. I really, really appreciate it.



September 1 (In the evening -- precise time TBD)
Eason, O'Connell Street.
Don't dress in a penguin suit unless you want to be hugged.
More details when I get them!

In the meantime, holy moly! The Call got selected as one of iBooks 25 Best Books of August. I'm pasting in their review below... After this, I'll try to go at least a week without posting any more propaganda. I know people don't come here to be bombarded.

iBooks Review

It’s hard to exaggerate the impact of The Hunger Games on teen fiction—the series has spawned a generation of young characters trained to survive harsh, horrific circumstances. The Call breaks the mold by weaving in Celtic mythology, pitting its willful heroine Nessa against the Sidhe, the malevolent fairies who wage battle on the Irish by whisking their teenagers away and hunting them down. It’s fresh and exciting, one of the most riveting adventures we’ve read in a while. Author Peadar O’Guilin has created a world that feels both intensely real and thrillingly spooky.


I have been up to my tonsils the last few weeks in edits for the next book -- the one *after* The Call. Also, I've been covering for all and sundry on the day job, so I haven't had so much as a second to spare for blogging. But I'll be getting back to that in a few days.

In the meantime, I'm author of the week up on the rather spiffy YA Books Central blog. If you haven't seen my new "author" photo yet, well, God help you, now's your chance. Why, there's even a book giveaway if you happen to live in the US. Us Europeans must continue to gnash our teeth...

Hope you're all well! Personally, I'm dying to go on holidays...


Brexit Maths

Apologies I haven't posted much recently, but the sad truth is, in a moment of madness I threw caution to the wind and came out the other side with a fractured collarbone. Typing... hurts. Except on my phone, which is why I'm spending a long, frustrating time following that route to post this.

The alternative? Shouting at the TV. I'll be doing some of that too.

You see, the thing is, Brexiteers keep popping up on my screen. Now that they have condemned the UK to a horrible recession, they have to say that "everything is fine" and "nothing could possibly go wrong".

Good for them. But one of their main arguments has got such a HUGE hole in it, that I can't understand why interviewers fail to point it out... Maybe to do so would make them appear "unpatriotic"? To be "talking down" the economy?

Anyway, not being British, that's not a charge that can be levelled at me, so here it is.


Here's what the Brexiteers say:
"The UK, by itself, is the fifth biggest economy in the world. This means, when we negotiate with the rest of the EU (rEU), they will have to give us what we want."

Sound familiar? It cropped up a lot before the vote and is showing up constantly now. For the sake of the UK, I hope this claim is nonsense, because if it's not, then the following is also true...

"The EU is the largest economy in the world. Not the fifth largest. Not the sixth. The largest. Its nominal GDP is about 14.6 trillion euros. Without the UK, it would be about 12.1 trillion euros. This makes it approximately five times larger than the economy of the UK -- *if* you're counting in Scotland as part of the UK, of course. That means (by the logic above), in negotiations, the UK, will have to give five times more to the EU than vice versa."

So, our first bit of maths for the day is:

1st > 5th

Pretty mind-blowing, isn't it? I'm amazed nobody has thought of that. I mean, if any of the Tories had worked it out, they'd have run away from having to deal with it. Am I right, Boris? David?

But wait! It gets worse!

The pound has dropped drastically against the euro. Because of this, the UK is now only the 6th biggest economy. France is the new number 5. Hurray for France! The EU doesn't even need to negotiate. Why not just send France? After all, if it's the 5th biggest economy in the world by itself, then, by the logic above, the UK will have to give it what it wants.

This brings us to our next formula:

5th > 6th

And if Scotland votes for independence, why, Italy might then be a larger economy than the rUK. Why not just send Italy? Because...

6th > 7th

Wow! Who knew maths could be so simple?

THE 8%

Another version of the "fifth biggest economy" argument is the "8%" argument. This is where the Brexiteers say that Angela Merkel will go easy on the UK because, by itself (if we include Scotland), the UK represents 8% of German exports, and "they wouldn't want to risk that!"

The same counter-argument applies. If Germany can't bear to lose 8%, how on earth -- and I'm banging my head on the table as I write this (ouch!) -- can the UK afford to lose the 45% of their exports that go to the rEU?

I mean, seriously, doesn't anybodgy know that 45 is somewhat bigger than 8? Or, as we Math speakers say:

45 > 8

Of course, Germany, with a population of around 80 million, has more than a few mathematicians of its own. It will have worked out by now, that going too easy on the UK might protect that 8% of trade, but that the possible resulting breakup of the EU will put another 50% of its economy at risk and send, not just the UK, but the whole continent into recession.

After all, as maths would have it:

50 > 8


I can't blame the Brexiteers for doing something so momumentally stupid. After all, I'm the one sitting here with my arm in a sling while autocorrect plays havoc with a blog post written for no other reason than rage and frustration.

We've both taken a bit of a tumble recently, but I hope to have recovered from mine in six weeks or so, while they have a future to look forward to that includes a starring role in something like the Chilcot Enquiry. Worse, they'll spend years driving over pot-holed roads, through the poverty-stricken neighbourhoods of their own proud creation, while screaming at anybody using simple maths to "talk down" the economy.

Good luck with that. Actually, no, bad cess to you instead, because you've probably dragged us into recession too.


Thoughts on SF Conventions and Brexit

"Brilliant!" I thought -- this was three and a half years ago, you understand. These days I'm more likely to use the word "awesome". But I digress...

I had received an invite to a Science Fiction convention in Luxembourg. I was expecting a relaxing weekend, sitting in an empty room. You see, everybody knows Luxembourg is tiny, and since they never had a convention before this, the organisers were doomed to struggle for numbers. They might get twenty people, I thought. Thirty tops...

I've never been so wrong in my life. The place was swarming with people. In fact, it was the largest Con I had ever attended outside North America. But where the hell did they all come from?

Europe, of course.

My mistake was to think of Luxembourg as a country. Well, it is, but that's not what's important here. What's important, is that it no longer possesses any borders. People arrived from Paris and Brussels by trains that never even slowed down when they passed from one state to another. They drove by car from Germany and only realised they had crossed over from their own country when they started spotting road signs in French.

Then, they reached the Con -- thousands of them, overwhelmingly young, buying wonderful Belgian frites with the same currency they already had in their pockets.

I sat in the sunshine speaking to people, sometimes in French, but mostly in an English that many of them had honed by spending time studying or working in the UK. I admired their incredibly creative costumes, and more than one person sported a t-shirt with a Union Jack on it, because in the heart of our continent, among the youth, Britain was seen as cool; as forward looking; as open.

This was Europe as it was always meant to be. Friendly, vibrant, thriving. Made possible, not in spite of, but because of decades of regulations and the harmonisation of national laws. It's what the young see when they travel. It's their country now, the one they would "want back" if ever they were to lose it.

I get to experience a little of that here in Ireland too.

I remember the bad old days, growing up in Donegal, and having to pass over the border. I remember soldiers scarcely older than myself, armed with big guns, passing down the aisle of the bus while everybody stared at the back of the seat in front of them.

Yet now, when I attend my favourite convention -- TitanCon in Belfast -- I just hop into my car, and keep driving until I reach the hotel. Nobody says "boo" to me. I don't have to wait in a line of traffic while every fourth car is searched for contraband or terrorists. It's all so... frictionless. Sure, the road signs are in miles, rather than kilometres, but that's actually charming. The only thing I miss, really, is the Euro.

I'm heart-broken over the UK's vote to leave us. I'm terrified that the lovely European dream I experienced in Luxembourg might soon be at an end and I'm working hard to stave off bitterness and resentment. I want the future to be "brilliant" again, the way I thought it was, or at least, the way it might have been.

Reading, Watching, Playing


I rarely do videogames any more. But for some reason yesterday I started playing This War of Mine from 11 bit Studios. It's a simulation where you control a group of refugees trapped in a war torn city. They are constantly hungry and tired. They get injured and sick. Your job is simply to keep them alive and there's never a comfortable moment. Standing on guard every night. Scavenging for scraps and so on. At one point, a young boy knocks on the door of my group's shelter. His mother is sick, dying maybe. Do we have any medicine to share? We did. But my characters were sick too and I needed to keep it, so I clicked on "No". It was a moment of such genuine horror, I had to stop playing.


Well, some interesting reads came my way and I'd be a fool not to indulge...

First up, was Peter Newman's The Vagrant. You all know I'm a demon -- not literally -- for worldbuilding, and this world is pretty darn cool. It takes "grim" and "dark" to whole new depths that I didn't think were even possible. The main character too, doesn't speak, which is a pleasant change...

Then, from my friend Jeremy de Quidt, I got an ARC of The Wrong Train, his collection of YA ghost stories. I've only read the first story so far, but, by golly, if it's not the best ghost story I've read for YEARS. Both creepy and pitiful...


Tonight! Oh, tonight! I will start watching the new series of Orange is the New Black. I love that show. The characters are among the best I've ever seen.

I've also had my snout in the trough of The People Vs. OJ Simpson. I... really like it so far. Great drama, great acting and a whole palette of moods inside each episode. Can't wait for more.

And finally... Yes, episode 9 of GoT was mega. I hated one particular moment, maybe two... But overall, it had the most exciting battle scene I've witnessed for quite some time. Roll on the finale.


Watching, Reading, My New Web Site

I've been watching TV, God help me. Especially that Italian pit of bleak violence known as Gomorra. There is not a single character to like here, and nor is there supposed to be. Italians have to live with the Mafia every day and they won't risk us viewers falling in love with them the way we fell for the Sopranos.

Watching Gomorra can be a bit like seeing somebody play Grand Theft Auto. They don't kill people, they simply dispose of them with less emotion sometimes than flicking hair out of their eyes. But what makes the story satisfying is how the characters convince themselves of their own honour and likeability. "Sure, I strangled my wife in a fit of pique, but, you know, I'm not like that most of the time..." That sort of thing.

I can't look away.

Also, bereft of likeable characters so far, is Versailles 90210, or as the BBC call it, just Versailles. It's a sumptuous French costume drama, made entirely in English and full of beautiful, beautiful people getting it on. Episode 1 felt pretty vapid. Episode 2 showed more teeth, but Wolf Hall it ain't. If they want me to keep watching -- and I know they care very deeply about that -- then they'd better crank up the character development pronto!


I'm halfway through Joe Hill's The Fireman. So far, it's OK, but I haven't stopped reading, so, that's pretty good for me these days. I swear, I'm getting more crotchety by the minute.

I've also purchased Peter Newman's The Vagrant for the TBR pile on the basis of a sample chapter. The worldbuilding and the main character both look like they might be intriguing. So, that's probably next...


After my last website bit the dust due to a mix-up with a band of fridge salesmen, I now have a new place to call my own: peadar.org. Please give it a spin! It needs to be in good condition by the time The Call hits the book shelves of the world!


Thanks for all the birthday wishes yesterday. Much appreciated! And you'll be delighted to know that I did indeed have a a good one :)



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