Saturday, May 22, 2010


I’ll be speaking this Sunday at the Hartford Public Library during the Letters about Literature, which is open to the public. I was one of the judges this year and I had the privilege of reading some fantastic letters. Bring your zombie or trad friends and I’ll sign yer books. Not the libraries’ books, though, because you aren’t supposed to write in those.

In other thrilling news, the paperback of Kiss of Life is due to come out on May 25. Make certain that you buy a case or two, because you can never have enough Kisses. Buy one for everyone on your Facebook friend list, and post this message: “Hey…I got a special Kiss, just for you!”. They will no doubt think that you are very considerate and cool. Or possibly creepy and strange, if they are only your Facebook friend because their uncle’s niece’s cousin’s bffl likes Glee and you like Glee too. Or you met because of Farmville. Either way, I’ll sell more books and I really appreciate your business.

PS: PS will be out June 1. Pick up a case or two of those, too.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ali Smith Interview

Ali Smith shot the photos for all of my books, including the ones for Passing Strange,above(did I mention I received a couple copies of the actual book from my brilliant editor? It is even prettier in person!)--so naturally I love her and think she is awesome. I thought it would be fun to do a mini-interview with her, so here it is!

And before I forget, make sure you check out her work at her fabulous website, And while you are there, check out the "Making of a Bookcover" video, which features some of the beautiful GenDead cover models!

1. Why are you a photographer?

it suits the way i live and helps me make sense of the world. i've always been a visual learner and visually expressive. Plus I have strong beliefs and curiosities and care about sharing them. it's the way i have found to express myself best and tell stories. my mind sees stories in chunks rather than fluid narrative. I might as well embrace that.

2. Who/what/where inspires you?

i come from a music background- punk and all that goes along with that. I played in bands most of my teen and adult life and traveled the world with it. Punk artists- like siouxsie sioux and exene cervenka- were visually genius. the whole punk aesthetic was creative and painterly. those things still inform me. my punk and goth days definitely informed all the gen dead covers! before music, i was a ballerina. that brings an appreciation for another aesthetic. if i were a lot younger and didn't sound like a fool saying it, i'd call my aesthetic a " mash up" of a few different lifestyles I've had.

my political beliefs inspire me as do my feminist beliefs and my search for meaning.

3. What is the best thing about your what you do?

F-R-E-E-D-O-M! and the blurring of the line between work and life. i mean i work damn hard, but i love what i do. I get to make art for a living and it melts fantastically into my off hours so that it all just becomes about being creative!

4. Any advice for aspiring photographers?

If you love it, you should be doing it. If not, why bother. making a living at anything is a challenge, but nothing beats loving what you do every day.

5. Tell us about your new book

It's a photo based look at the realities of how woman live their lives as mothers.

My first book, Laws of the Bandit Queens, was released by Random House and was a celebration of women who'd influenced my career and personal goals throughout my twenties and on into my thirties. It included portraits of and "life laws" from 35 extraordinary women such as Alice Walker, Sandra Bernhard, Geraldine Ferraro, Janeane Garofalo, Pat Schroeder and Sheryl Swoopes. The idea was the construction, through these life laws, of an alternate life philosophy that made more sense to me and to the women around me, who sometimes felt out of step with or unsupported by accepted social norms.

Momma Love picks up where Bandit Queens left off. It still reveres an enthusiastic, vibrant, longing spirit in women, but it shows the ways in which that spirit is inevitably altered—sometimes frustratingly diminished, sometimes gloriously enhanced—by motherhood. Also addressed is the transformation that’s occurred between the way our own mothers experienced motherhood and what it’s like to be a mother today, illuminating the differences and some of the startling similarities as well.

Thanks, Ali!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Wish You Were Here

Many years ago, I lost my mother to cancer. Among the million individual sadnesses I have about that fact (first among them: that she was never able to meet my children), one that pained me for years is something that I'd told her in her final days, namely that I was going to have a novel published in the near future. It had been my goal since I was very young to make myself into a novelist, and my mother was probably the most supportive person in my life as I worked towards achieving that goal. The week before she died, I'd entered into contract discussions with a publisher for an adult thriller I'd written entitled Skin and Bones. Immediately upon hanging up the phone after talking with my agent, I rushed into my mother's room to tell her the good news. The look of happiness that cut momentarily through her pain was one of the few pleasant memories of those days. Her expression, and her words to me as she placed her hot hand against my cheek: "That's you, Danny," she said. "That's you."

A month or so later the publisher (who, admittedly, I'd never heard of prior to my so-called book deal) went bankrupt and not long after that my then-agent and I parted ways. I never stopped writing, but for a few years I stopped submitting my work for publication. The real fun was in the writing, anyway. But I've always felt badly that one of my final assurances to my mother--that I would be fine, that I would be doing what I loved--did not come to pass. At least, it did not come to pass in the time frame or the manner in which I'd told her it would. Some years would pass before I decided to leave my cave, manuscript pages of Generation Dead in hand, and take another stab at "getting published". There were many setbacks and disappointments along the way, but I was sustained along the way both by my promise to her, and her words to me--"that's you". I got there eventually, but there were many nights where I thought that I would never make good on my promise.

Writers fall in two distinct camps generally with regards to their families and early formative experiences--they either had a happy, supportive and almost idyllic childhood, or else their family life is an endless wellspring of bitterness, horror and trauma. One or the other background seems to fuel the writing of most writers I've known. I'd definitely count myself in the former group.

Earlier this week, my brilliant and talented editor sent me a couple copies of the new Kiss of Life paperback and, finally, the soon-to-be released Passing Strange hardcover. I dedicated this one to my parents, Jeff and Elaine.

Miss you, Mom.