Comic-Con 2010 was a blast, and a zoo. At times it was hard to tell the “real” zombies (those made up with blood and gore) from the crowds.
Good times with Chris Roberson & Allison Baker, Jim Minz, John Grace, John Picacio, Walter Greatshell, Jeremy Lassen, Jason Williams, Dani and Eytan Kollin, Cody Goodfellow, Mira Grant, Roseanne Romanello, Patty Garcia, and a number of others. Also got to meet the awesome Godfather of zombie literature, John Skipp.
And got to see the original oil of David Palumbo’s art for my novel:
The panel I took part in, “Reading with Brains: The Rise and Unrelenting Stamina of Zombie Fiction” was big fun: great audience, charming co-panelists, and excellent moderating by Maryelizabeth Hart. Check out coverage (including photos and video) at [Defective] Geeks and Suvudu.
Off to Comic-Con San Diego, catch me at the following events:
“THE LOVING DEAD” Signing – X-SANGUIN - booth #433 – This year X-Sanguin / Zombie Defense Network presents some fantastic artists all weekend, and scheduled signings – including Amelia Beamer, author of “The Loving Dead” (Thurs 12pm) from A Zombie’s Guide to Comic-Con.
Saturday July 24, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Reading with Brains –The Rise and Unrelenting Stamina of Zombie Fiction. Authors and survivors include: Amelia Beamer (The Loving Dead), Max Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide), Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer), Mira Grant (The Newsflesh trilogy). Walter Greatshell (Xombies: Apocalypticon), Jonathan Maberry (Rot & Ruin), Ryan Mecum (Zombie Haiku), John Skipp (Zombies: Encounters With the Hungry Dead), and Joan Frances Turner (Dust). Moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart, Mysterious Galaxy. Room 7AB.
Saturday July 24, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., Room AA1, “Reading with Brains” autographing.
Readercon was an intense experience, the highlight of which was my East Coast launch party for THE LOVING DEAD (a joint launch party with my friend Gary Wolfe’s new review collection BEARINGS). Partygoers included Pulitzer winners Junot Diaz and Michael Dirda, plus heavy-hitters Peter Straub, Liz Hand, Nalo Hopkinson, too many to list without feeling self-conscious. I’m feeling self-conscious already. Plus I was wearing a zoot suit. Which was, by more than one sense of the word, quite hot (or so I was told).
The next morning I headed off to Rick Berry’s studio (he’d liked the suit at the party, and wanted to photograph it and me). It was neat to see a working artist’s studio, with paintings and sketches in various states of being, and it was fun to play at modeling.
John Scalzi’s featuring a Big Idea piece by me concerning zombies and love, today on my book’s official birthday. Here’s his introduction:
We know a number of things about zombies, mostly involving their undead state, their willingness to consume brains, and their general monotone emotional nature. But could it be that we’re missing something fundamental about zombies and their nature — and what that fundamental thing about their nature can mean for their literary (undead) lives?
Those are some pretty heady questions to put on the decomposing shoulders of a zombie, but in her debut novel The Loving Dead, Amelia Beamer puts them there anyway, and goes looking for some answers amid the zombie apocalypse. Here she is to give a little background.
Just a reminder that the online serial of THE LOVING DEAD will be taken down on July 1st, a few short days from now. Thanks very much to everyone who’s checked it out, talked about it, and written to tell me what you think. I’m really pleased at the advance feedback from readers — even including a few corrections! Publishing can feel like it’s happening in a vacuum: once the text is out of your hands, you’re waiting to see what the reception will be. So far, so good.
THE LOVING DEAD will be front of store at Barnes & Noble and Borders during July, and is on sale already at independents including Borderlands Books in San Francisco and University Book Store in Seattle. The big online retailers will start shipping soon. I’ve got my author copies. My book is out in the world, and has already started making friends, and is in fact probably hanging around in shady alleys, drinking something out of a paper bag and talking to the kind of people you don’t bring home.
I feel that the online serializing was a success; that the book got more attention as a result of giving it away, and that any sales that might have been lost because people read the book for free are more than offset by the increased profile of the book. Studies have shown a correlation between free e-books and upticks in sales of the physical book, and while correlation is not the same as causation, there’s a few things going on.
One is that the publishing industry is still feeling around for ways in which to monetize electronic publication, in the context of an internet culture where content is expected to be free (never mind that the ways in which books and writers are publicized have changed dramatically). When I wrote up the summary of magazines published in 2009 for the February 2010 issue of Locus, I found that of the various publishing strategies, the commercial models that seemed most viable had both print and electronic components, models like online content as a loss leader to get traffic to the print books. And there’s also the voluntary donation model used by established authors orphaned by recent slashes in publishing; i.e. Tim Pratt’s BROKEN MIRRORS serial.
Publishing is all a matter of distribution, and electronic distribution skips the obvious cost involved with paper and printing and shipping, etc., but content is not free to generate; there are costs associated with writing, editing, proofreading, art, design, and running a business. That’s the second half of the famous quote about information wanting to be free; information also wants to be expensive.
So do the devices that let you access this information, in its many forms. I’ll read on my iPhone, but I’ve held off on buying an e-reader in part because of the regular generational shifts in technology; there’s no guarantee that the books you buy will be accessible in a few years. I’ve already found this to be the case when I let my Audible subscription lapse: I have to start paying them again in order to be able to download the books I’ve already bought, and that doesn’t feel entirely right. Sales of e-readers and e-books are a huge growth market, though, and as a working professional I’m happy to see growth.
My dear friends at Borderlands Books hosted the official launch party for THE LOVING DEAD on June 20, 2010. Lots of people showed up, and there was cake with the cover design of my book, plus snacks and drinks from Trader Joe’s. Owner Alan Beatts presented me with a badass fountain pen, a Borderlands tradition for writers launching their first novels (i.e. their careers) at the bookstore. (I’m number six.) I’ve done bookstore events, at Borderlands, B&N, and other places, but those were group readings and don’t have the same weight as a solo event. I only wondered for a moment, as Alan was introducing me, when the real author would step up and handle this part.
Speaking in public is the exact opposite of the writing process. While writing, you spend a lot of time in your head, disciplined, fingers to keyboard. There’s lots of editing, and if the writing is going well, a need to see what happens next in the story. And then once it’s done, you emerge from the writing process like some pale creature out of a long winter’s hibernation, blinking in the sunlight and starved for talk with people who aren’t made up. And, gratifyingly, they came, and laughed when I wanted them to, and asked good questions; at least a few people had read the book already and wanted physical copies.
Attendees in the standing-room-only crowd included Ellen Klages, Liza Groen Trombi, Francesca Myman (in zombie makeup!), Jude Feldman, Jeremy Lassen, Jason Williams, Carolyn Cushman, Kirsten Gong-Wong & AAron Buchanan, Mars Jokela (who took the photos), Mark Budz & Marina Fitch, Jacob Weisman, Erin Cashier, Irina Ozernoy, Holliann Russell & James Kim, David Gallaher & Spring Schoenhuth, Dave Clark, S. Hutson Blount, Mikko Jokela, Emily Jiang, and a number of others, one of whom said, “I recognize you from your website!”
I appeared on Jon Armstrong’s podcast “If You’re Just Joining Us” — where we talked about zombies, Trader Joe’s, nightmares, writing, how I hadn’t really realized I’d written a horror novel, and things not to say during an interview.
I’m also on Jonathan Strahan’s podcast “Notes from Coode Street” — in which Jonathan, Gary K. Wolfe and I talked about THE LOVING DEAD, Oakland, carrying boxes at Locus, Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter’s announced collaboration, and how I construct my online persona.
And I appeared on Dani & Eytan Kollin’s “Neverending Panel.com” — this one’s a video, where we talk about fast vs. slow zombies, and what kind of sausage we’d be:
Game designer Jane McGonigal has proposed four requirements for happiness:
1. satisfying work to do
2. the experience of being good at something
3. time spent with people we like
4. the chance to be a part of something bigger
She applies these principles to game design, but in East Oakland, scraper bikes fit the bill.
“Living in Oakland, I’ve seen so much. I’ve seen homicides. I’ve seen dead bodies on the curb. I’ve seen people die in front of my own eyes, in the hood. I’m only 20 years old, I’ll be 21 in December. Oakland’s no joke. You definitely learn how to stand your ground… Scraper bikes is definitely a process, and that process is definitely for the kids, so they can get their mind off of what’s really going on in the streets, to give them that hour or two hours to fix on their bikes…. That’s what a lot of kids out here want. They want to feel like they’re a part of something.”
“SF hipsters are sell-outs. Like, ‘Oh, look at me, I live in the Mission!’ The East Bay is more authentic. Because Oakland is crappier than San Francisco, so it’s more ironic that we live here. Plus, we’re a lot poorer than you!”
“Blood, guts, and sex intermingle in this stylish debut … Contemporary touches like a surprisingly useful iPhone app and over-the-top moments of frantically alternating sex and gore make for a sick, funny romp … An entertaining and original take on the zombie apocalypse.”
–Publisher’s Weekly, via Night Shade Books website
“Beamer is up to more in THE LOVING DEAD than a simple screwball zombie comedy… These zombies are both metaphors, and, well, zombies who want to eat your face.”
– Adrienne Martini, Locus, June 2010
“The most poignant love story our genre has ever produced.”
–Yoshio Kobayashi, 26to50en.blogspot.com
Amelia Beamer lives in Marin County, California. Her debut novel The Loving Dead (Night Shade Books) was called one of the top ten zombie novels of the past decade by Barnes and Noble, and is available at Google, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, IndieBound, and Amazon.
Her writing has been featured in venues including Gizmodo, Whatever, BoingBoing, Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Locus Magazine, The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction, Uncanny Magazine, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Women on War: A Zombies vs Robots Anthology, Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing, Understanding Reiki, and Healing for People. She works as an independent book editor, helping writers establish or grow their careers in popular fiction, at Beaming Enterprises, and is a former editor at Locus Magazine.
If Chuck Palahniuk and Christopher Moore had a zombie love child, it would look like THE LOVING DEAD.
Read the first four chapters of THE LOVING DEAD, or click on the cover for more info.