Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Open the Cage: January’s Contributors Are On the Loose and Making Books

It’s no secret and it should be no surprise that most of January Magazine’s reviewing staff are either authors or working towards getting to that condition. After all, you spend this much time talking about books and this much passion evangelizing about them and, inevitably, after a while, you want to make some of your own.

Though long-time January contributor and Australia-based children’s librarian, Sue Bursztynski, is already an author many times over, I’ve never seen her quite as excited as she is about the book that will be published in December by Woolshed, an imprint of Random House Australia.

Bursztynski says that her new novel is “a young adult fantasy inspired by Marie De France’s Breton Lai, Bisclavret.” Bursztynski’s tale is set in a world of her creation and is seen from the viewpoint of a teenager, Etienne, whose lord is a born werewolf. “Etienne’s wife,” explains Bursztynski, “terrified of being married to a part-wolf, has stolen his clothes with the help of a lover, to prevent him returning to human form. That business of the clothes was the premise of the original story, so I had to keep it, but I explain why the clothes are important and why Etienne, the loyal page, can’t just get any old set of clothes for him, and make an entire culture.”

As hundreds of reviews in January over the years can show, no one knows this sort of children’s fiction quite like Bursztynski. It’s a fair bet that YA fantasy will never be quite the same! We’ll keep you posted.

These days, I have a very hard time keeping up with January Magazine senior editor and Rap Sheet editor J. Kingston Pierce, as his books have been coming out fast and furious. Long recognized as a man with a pen who can make regional history live and breathe, his two most recent books are Seattle: Yesterday and Today and San Francisco: Yesterday and Today. However Pierce, who writes as knowledgeably about crime fiction as anyone I know, has lately added his voice to some projects where his passion has been put to good use. Look for his contribution in the upcoming Maxim Jakubowski-edited anthology, Following the Detectives (New Holland Publishers). Pierce says that the book is a travel/reference work in which each contributor looks at one of “20 cities or places around the world through the eyes of the detective novelists most closely associated with them.” Sounds fantastic, actually. There was more about it on The Rap Sheet a few days ago. That piece is here.

Speaking of anthologies, I contributed to Thrillers: 100 Must Reads (Oceanview Publishing), which will be out in early July, just in time to debut at ThrillerFest in New York City. I had the honor of writing the chapter that deals with Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity, a fantastic thriller that hasn’t suffered at all in the shadow of the wildly successful films that have followed.

On a completely different note, January Magazine art director and art & culture editor, David Middleton, and I have recently signed on to edit The 100 Greatest Books of British Columbia. That book will be published by TouchWood Editions in the fall of 2011. We’ve recently announced the book, and people’s thoughts on the greatest books ever written by British Columbians or set in or about B.C. are already pouring in. We’re looking forward to a fantastic year of conversations about the books of Canada’s westernmost province, where David and I both live and work. The Web site for the project is here. Meanwhile, my personal Web site, where I mostly discuss my long fiction, is here.


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