Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


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Independent Bookstore Day: Volumes Book Cafe

I’m very happy to team up with Volumes Book Cafe to sell some books tomorrow afternoon. It’s Independent Bookstore Day, and Volumes is Chicago’s newest bookstore. I recently visited to take some pictures and just fell in love with the gorgeous space. It’s bright, uplifting, heavily caffeinated, and the shelves are stacked with great books. I was especially impressed with the extensive fiction collection.

Come tomorrow between 1:00-3:00 PM to meet me, buy a book and get it signed. If you haven’t heard, the Chicago Tribune called my novel, The Fugue, “magisterial,” and Centered on Books said it’s a “masterpiece of literary fiction.”

My publisher, Tortoise Books, will also be on hand to sell many of their titles.

Here are some impressions of Volumes:

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Volmumes 4Volumes toilet

 


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A very difficult question

Just a few weeks ago, I was in New York (to read at the Guerrilla Lit Reading Series at Dixon Place). While it was a mini-vacation for me, I ended up taking a phone call from a reporter who wanted to write me up for the Suburban Life. You can read that story here.

I took the interview while wandering around Central Park at dusk. Save for occasional brisk gusts, the evening was ideal, with the lights of the buildings along Central Park West and then 5th Avenue shining through leafless trees, the moisture in the air anticipating spring. For a part of the interview, I sat on an outcrop and, as night had fallen, did not encounter a single soul.

The reporter asked me some very difficult questions, perhaps more difficult than the ones Amy Danzer asked in this live interview of me. As these things go, obviously, some of the answers were cast aside in the drafting process. But one question stayed with me ever since that private moment on a Central Park boulder, perhaps because I had such a hard time answering it.

What does writing mean to you?

I had no idea how to answer this. I remember sighing and looking at the grass. What does it mean? I said something but can’t remember what.

I love writing fiction because it’s enough to ask a big question, poor form to try to answer it. But shouldn’t I know the answer to this?

I think, to answer it, I should compare writing to something I care very little about, like my shoes. My shoes mean almost nothing. They keep my feet from pain and offer me some capacity to look decent in public. Writing means much more than this.

But what?

I could get Zen about it. Meaning is a construct. But that’s a cop-out, especially when a reporter intuits that writing means some very important thing. After all, I wrote a 480 page book.

Since that time, I’ve found myself wondering if I would go on living were I to lose the ability to write. Let’s say I ended up suffering brain damage and could only know I’m unable to write stories burning themselves out in my mind. If I could see those stories and know them, feel their narratives like rivers or currents in my body, but never release them, would I keep living?

Surely, this bombastic question points to some meaning. I can’t answer it because my imagination can’t take me to the necessary place.

Central Park

 

 

 

 

 


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Kindle countdown: buy my book for less than a cup of coffee

Between now and about 11:00 AM Central Time (GMT -6), Kindle copies of my novel, The Fugue, cost only $0.99. After that, the price will go up by $1 every 24 hours, so if you don’t get this message right away, you’ll still be able to save. This promotion is to encourage people to take a risk on a book that won’t even cost you any shelf space or weigh down your messenger bag or purse.

So…what do you have to lose? Ok…$1. But we might as well face it: you waste more on coffee.

Click here to access the offers. Get the book the Chicago Tribune calls “magisterial” while Centered on Books called it a “masterpiece of literary fiction.”

Here’s a photo of my book with a coffee cup.

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Thoughts on switching publishers

My publisher, Jerry Brennan of Tortoise Books, recently wrote a blog post to share his thoughts about taking over publishing and production duties for The Fugue. Writers aspiring to publish novels should read it. Today I want to expand a bit on Jerry’s thoughts.

It turns out that, unbeknownst to either of us, Jerry and I were students at Columbia University at exactly the same time. He was at the J-school while I attended classes one building to the north at the School of the Arts.

I often used to peer at the J-school and feel pangs of jealousy. Journalism students, I was sure, didn’t struggle with feelings of illegitimacy the way I did as a mere writing student. They were all sure of themselves and would one day offer society valuable skill. How could I know one of them would be publishing my book?

It’s possible that Jerry and I ate in the cafeteria at the same time or stood queued up in the bookstore at the very same hour. I would pass the J-school every single day, no matter if I was going to class or to the library. Al Gore was teaching there, and I once tried to pry in to a lecture only to get paranoid at the last minute and hide away. Jerry attended those classes.

I’ve known Jerry on Facebook and Twitter ever since the publication of Finding the Moon in Sugar in 2009. He and I caught wind of one another through Chicago’s indie writing community. Of course, I had no idea we had been classmates, trading places in rather classic ships-in-the-night fashion. I was quite literally working on the earliest version of The Fugue while Jerry was studying under Al Gore.

I experienced a roller coaster of a day this past February when CCLaP and I parted ways. In less than twelve hours, I went from being suddenly unpublished to published again, with a new marketing plan and a ton of support.

As with virtually anything in life, luck and diligence conspired to see me find a second deal. And I see no small bit of weirdness in the story, that a book I had essentially put under my bed, hung up as a failure, ended up published not once but twice, and in the span of less than a day, the second time by a guy from essentially the same graduating class.

I got good advice from wise people when I published Finding the Moon in Sugar. Here it is: reach out to everyone you can and take an active interest in other people’s businesses and stories; look at others in the publishing world as collaborators, not competitors, and understand that a team effort is necessary for a book to do well. Of course, many things are just beyond your control. You go to graduate school, at least partially, to “develop a network”. How fitting that a guy in my network was someone who shared my college experience when neither of us had any idea until the ink had dried on the contract.

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My new publisher

I’m thrilled to announce that my novel, The Fugue, has been picked up by Tortoise Books, a very specialized publisher with keen attention to detail. They’re here in Chicago, and I couldn’t be happier with how I’ve been treated by them.

In terms of content, the new book is, barring a few minor typographical adjustments, identical and tells the exact same story as the version originally published by CCLaP. Tortoise decided to redesign the cover and layout, and the result is a more classic feel. I love the paper its printed on. It smells the way old libraries used to.

Now…there are still first editions floating around out there. If you were totally in love with the old cover—it was a photograph I took in The Netherlands, in an old church converted to a bookstore—you might contact The Book Table or City Lit Books in Chicago. Those copies stand to become the rare versions.

If you immediately want this, the 2nd edition, your independent bookstore can order it for you. You can also get it at Amazon, and it’s available on the Kindle (or, with an app, on any device). I’ll be reading from and selling copies of this new version in New York on March 30th and in Seattle in April.

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The front

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