The next book is coming out very soon.
Twenty stories. 200(-ish) pages. I write books you can’t really describe, so that’s your description.
More info is here, but stay tuned: http://rumored.com/vol13
The next book is coming out very soon.
Twenty stories. 200(-ish) pages. I write books you can’t really describe, so that’s your description.
More info is here, but stay tuned: http://rumored.com/vol13
I bought a new Kindle, but an old Kindle. It’s actually a Kindle DX, the large-screen variety, which is long discontinued, but for some reason, Amazon occasionally has them in stock, through “Amazon Warehouse,” whatever that is.
I am not really a fan of ebooks. I gave it an honest go back in 2010 or so, bought a lot of my favorite published authors at crazy markup prices, like buying Vonnegut classics at ten bucks a pop. But I found reading fiction to be difficult on a Kindle. Because everything is the same font, and the device always has the same feel, the same heft in your hand, it removes the experience of reading the book, and I typically retain nothing I read on a Kindle. I went back to paper, and I’m fine with that, mostly. There are more titles available, it’s often cheaper in the long run, and there’s something about going to a physical book store that I miss when I’m simply e-hoarding books online.
But, there’s a big problem with space, and allergies. I’m finding that old books, ones infested with dust and mites, make me incredibly sick. I simply cannot buy a fifty-year-old paperback from a used book store, because the moment I open the browning pages, I have a horrible allergy attack. Yes, I take the medicine and I get the shots, but I’ve pretty much exhausted the medical possibilities. I just can’t read old books. And now, I’m finding my “new” books are all old. I pulled a Kerouac book of letters the other day, just for a quick skim, and it made me sick. And I “just” bought that book, but when I checked the receipt stashed inside, and it’s twenty years old. So I don’t know what to do about that.
It’s nice to not have the clutter involved with collections. I was religious about collecting CDs and DVDs, and they took up a good amount of my apartment when I was single. After I got married, and after the technology of MP3s and streaming video took off, I ripped everything, and junked or stored away all optical media. I don’t really miss it, and I’m glad I have the space. But books are more difficult for me.
I have issues with current e-readers, too. I love e-ink displays. The first few iterations of Kindle had less refined screens, a lower PPI count, the weird black-flashing issue with a slow refresh speed, and some slight ghosting of old images. There are new ones with higher PPI, better resolution, and backlighting. But they’re all the smaller screens. As my eyes go, I really want a big screen. Ideally, I would want an 8.5×11 screen. This also helps with PDFs, which you really want to not get downscaled or zoomed weird.
But, the big-screen e-ink readers just don’t exist. Sony has one in Japan, that’s insanely expensive, like $800 or something. And there are one or two cheapie made-in-China ones that are half-broke, hard to buy, and still pretty pricy. Every year, there are CES rumors of a big-screen reader, but these are always vaporware, and — huge pet peeve of mine — put out the idea that there are big-screen readers. But what you see at CES is never what you get, and they simply aren’t out there.
I don’t think the masses want a paperwhite e-ink display. They want a tablet, something like an iPad that can play games, show a video, and do things best left to a color screen that eats batteries. I have an iPad, and they’re great, but I can’t read on it. It causes too much eyestrain, and I’m also convinced that heavy use of a screen right before bed causes bad sleep hygiene. Almost all of my reading takes place in the hour or two before sleep, so I can’t deal with an iPad. That’s where paper has been great, and where a big e-ink display could be helpful.
So I hunted down the Kindle DX, and I found this one on Amazon. It was only $140, which was a steal, compared to the original $400-ish list price five years ago. This is the Kindle DX Graphite, which has the 3G connection, no WiFi, and the second-gen DX display, which is “50% improved.” It has roughly the same lineage as the third-gen Kindle Keyboard, but less RAM inside. No backlighting, no apps, no touchscreen.
Although the Amazon page made it sound like this was a used model or maybe a refurb, this was a new-in-sealed-box model, with plastic on it and everything. The only snags I found was that it did not come with an AC adaptor, just the USB cable. (Not a problem, I have 784 110V-to-USB adapters around here.) But it also would not register to the Whispernet network, and the wireless appeared dead. I gave them a call, they asked me for the serial number and a few other things (IMEI, something else) and then after a reboot, it connected wirelessly and all my stuff was ready to go.
My main use for this, at least initially, is to read PDFs. I have a giant archive of UFO docs and conspiracy theory stuff, FOIA requests and declassified government reports, and it will be nice to plop all those onto this thing. The screen is 5.5×8, so almost the size of a paperback book. It’s much easier to read than the original one I have. So I will give it another go.
It’s oddly nostalgic for me to look back at the documents that were waiting for me on the Kindle. I got my original Kindle in 2009, and toward the end of my Samsung tenure, spent a lot of my lunch time reading science fiction books on it. Also, when I started my allergy shot regimen in 2010, I would bring the Kindle and get a lot of reading done there. I had horrible writer’s block then, didn’t know what would be next for my writing, so I was reading a lot of Philip K. Dick books for inspiration, and also a lot of schlocky how-to-write books, which were useless. The Kindle font, and the general layout of the thing, the dark grey letters and the LCD-like background color, remind me so much of reading those books. But I can’t really remember much about them. So, we’ll see how this works out.
I’m proud to announce the audio book for Atmospheres is now available!
This is huge. You really need to go listen to a sample of the book. It was narrated by Rob Shamblin at Bay Drive Sound Studios, and they did a totally pro job – it sounds incredible, and the acting and pace of Rob’s reading is incredible.
The book itself is a total gonzo drive into the absurd. I’m very proud of the print book, but the audio version takes on a completely new dimension. It’s really something to listen to it, and the nonlinear structure of the book lends itself well to audio. And it’s unabridged, so it’s just shy of six hours long, which is a great value.
So here’s the deal: you can get it in one of three ways: Amazon, Audible, or iTunes. Here’s some explanation of all three:
You can listen to a short preview on any of the above sites. Apple’s preview is shorter, but a different part of the book.
Here is the big favor part: I do not have any free download codes or other way to easily schlep copies of this book to potential reviewers. So I really, really need help getting reviews of the book, and getting the word out to people. Please forward this on, repost it, tell others, and review the book if you can. It would be greatly appreciated!
Also, if you’re still interested in reviewing the paper book (or ebook) drop me a line at jkonrath at rumored dot com and I’ll hook you up. I really, really need some honest Amazon reviews, so get in touch if you can help.
I am really glad this project turned out as good as it did. I hope you get a chance to check it out!
I always forget to look at Goodreads reviews. I think part if it is they make them so damn hard to find. And I don’t think they have as much of a result on book sales as actual Amazon reviews, which is bad because they’re the same damn company now, and GR reviews are usually much better written.
Anyway, Atmospheres has been slowly seeing some good reviews over on Goodreads. I know I should be pushing the newer book, but Atmospheres is one of my favorites, and it’s much more “me.” And the audio book is coming soon.
A couple of recent ones worth sharing. I really like this one:
Kon·ra·thi·an adjective \ˈkän-rath-ēən\
: a sentence or phrase used, in caustic hyperbole, to describe the complete meaninglessness of American culture and its icons
Another good one from the always spot-on Arthur Graham:
By removing the tracks of linear narrative and allowing the totality of his twisted visions to coalesce into a more appropriate form, Konrath does not merely dump a clusterfuck of unrelated awfulness into a book, just because he’s too lazy to glue it all together in an orderly fashion, or just because he’s more interested in pissing off the average reader (although he may be up to a bit of the latter). Rather, by eschewing the traditional tracks in favor of more train, what paradoxically emerges are the tracks of a form reinforced by its own chaotic content, and let me tell you: Konrath’s train is in a perpetual state of wreck.
The author could be viewed as a depressive nihilist if he didn’t obviously believe in what he’s doing and enjoy doing it, even if half of what he does is more like a hopelessly insane nightmare than anything a normal person would want to read. He crosses the line and then he crosses it again a few more times, and the end result is usually nothing short of genius and hilarity.
What did you think? If you got the book, I’d love to see your review. And if you didn’t get it yet, you should go take care of that, pronto.
I wrote this new book, The Memory Hunter. It’s an absurdist cyberpunk book, a retro thing, and to make it absurd, I borrowed heavily from every imaginable trope in the cyberpunk genre. (You should go buy it.)
But to be honest, I haven’t read much cyberpunk. I mean, I love Snow Crash, and I’ve read a fair amount of Philip K. Dick’s work, which is sort of “granddaddy-of-cyberpunk” and predated the big 80s/90s movement headed by Gibson and others. What really moved me during the writing of this book was film. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, which was a time rich with high-concept science fiction blockbusters, the pre-CGI era of big-budget films about our inevitable near-future, which of course never happened. But I loved that stuff, the action stars of the day, in a sound stage in Burbank done up to look like the surface of Mars. I’d rent those movies from Blockbuster, and watch the VHS over and over in late-night marathons with my college buddies.
And I dreamed of a cyberpunk future, because I lived in what I thought was the start of it. I used the Internet before there was a web, telnetting into BBSes and FTPing text zines like Phrack, reading all of the tales of hacking and connecting to faraway mainframes. I lusted after X Terminal workstations, and saw the GUI unix computers as the next step. Soon, these graphical displays would become 3D, turn into headsets, and we’d all jack into this total immersion virtual reality. The game Doom came out, and I knew it would happen soon. And then it didn’t. The Web came out, and became commercial and dumb, and here we are, looking at stupid articles about 5 Ways To Lose Weight For The Holidays By Eating Blue Foods.
That’s why I wrote this book, so the dream would not be dead; it would be in an alternate reality. And that reality is based on my memories of these old VHS classics. Here’s my list. I’ll try to keep it as spoiler-free as possible, so when you go buy my book the plot won’t be spoiled.
Anyway, that’s a good starting list. Hope you get a chance to check out the book – I need to go fall down a rabbit hole of old movies.
This book is a bit of a departure for me. I wanted to try writing a plotted novel with a conventional structure. The book is a retro cyberpunk book. I know cyberpunk is supposed to be dead, but I had some fun getting around this. I wrote a book that appears to be penned in about 1981, with all of the usual futuristic predictions of that era’s great science fiction, which of course never happened. So it’s chock full of flying cars, robots, intelligent computers, memory implants, and huge Japanese corporations that rule a world that has rebuilt after a nuclear war with the still-existing Soviet Union. It’s a dark comedy, full of my usual brand of absurdism, but it’s also a solid noir thriller.
I’ve got a page with a description and all of the details here. Go grab your copy here:
A preview is available on the Kindle and on Smashwords. I also sent out a slightly longer preview of the first chapters to my mailing list. Didn’t get it? Maybe you should subscribe.
Thanks to everyone who helped me with this, especially John Sheppard and Joseph Hirsch, who beta-read and edited for me. I hope you enjoy this! And if it’s not your cup of tea, don’t worry. I’m already 30,000 words into another absurd and bizarre book that gets back to my usual brand of writing.
I hate coming up with covers for books. And when one says “make a book cover” that really means two things: coming up with the concept, and executing it. 99% of the “we make book covers” places on the web can do the second part, and honestly, I can do the second part. I’ve been photoshopping people’s heads into enema bondage porn screenshots for a long time; it’s not that hard to lay out a cover, once you know what you need.
And that’s the part that sucks: coming up with an actual design, an idea. If I wrote stupid murder mystery books and knew it was Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with the revolver, I’d throw “revolver” into a stock photo site, pay the five bucks, pick some pretty colors, and done. But I write abstract books that can’t be summed up in an icon like that. (I know, “maybe you should write murder mysteries.” But seriously, fuck that.) My dream would be to have an agent or publisher or majordomo of some sort who I trusted, who would take the manuscript, come up with a cool title, execute on the cover, and sell the damn thing. But all of those are my job. And I’m finding that even if I pay someone to do part of that, I can’t really get what I want.
Case in point: this time, I went to fiverr and found a design firm to do the cover. They were in Bosnia, so it was cheap, and they did a good job if my book was a Tom Clancy techno-thriller. (To be fair, this was a rush job, and they didn’t see the actual book.) Anyway, here’s what they came up with:
Like I said, it looks okay, but doesn’t really fit.
So, off to do my own thing. I started pulling pictures out of Aperture and throwing them into CreateSpace’s cover creator. First up, a metal grate, snapped on the Lower East Side about a decade ago, with a little manipulation:
That was okay. It looks like a Penguin reissue of an old Paul Auster book, maybe. Next, I tried with some plane wreckage I snapped in Alaska:
That’s okay, but doesn’t entirely do it. I gave the fake hipster urban decay thing a try with a picture from inside an abandoned train station:
That looked a little too much like a city college’s poetry anthology. Meh.
I was going through pictures from Hawaii, looking for some Eraserhead-esque industrial waste. The first thing that came to mind was the sugar cane factory in Maui:
I fucked around with that a while, and eventually lost the smokestacks, keeping only the clouds. Smash that to black and white, grain it up a bit, and here’s the mockup of what eventually happened:
Another thing that changed, after the fact: I originally intended to use the new matte cover finish that CreateSpace offers. I ordered a proof, then proofed digitally and took the book live, ordering another copy from the Amazon page. That book arrived before the proof did, and there were a few things I didn’t like. First, the trim was weird; when I sat it next to a copy of Thunderbird, it was maybe an eighth inch shorter. I have a whole shelf of POD books that are nine inches tall, and they do not vary by an micron in their height, but this one did, radically. Also the cover was slightly crooked, with part of the front image on the spine. And the cover stock itself felt “wavy” and cheap, like a photocopy on thick paper.
So, I changed it to a glossy cover. Hopefully the varnish makes it a little more durable. I wasn’t sure about the trim size thing, and then the proof came in the mail, and it was the right height, with the right spine. So, maybe the first one was just someone asleep at the wheel. Either way, if you were one of the few people that ordered immediately on launch day, you have a rare collector’s item. Put it in mylar and maybe it’ll be worth a lot someday. You’d get a better ROI if more people bought the other book, so do me a favor and tell all your friends.
It is called Atmospheres. It’s 242 pages. It’s hard to describe.
About a year ago, I started writing this experiment, which was a collection of almost ambient scenes, brief snippets of no story, just outbursts of emotion or scene. I wanted to eventually link them together in some way, but it became more important to simply generate the pieces each day. When I worked on finishing Thunderbird and doing all of the steps of publishing it, I needed to continue writing something, and that’s where the beginning of Atmospheres started.
I’ve always had a minor obsession with Jim Jarmusch, and I often listen to the soundtrack to Broken Flowers when I’m writing. One of the songs on there is an edited clip of the Sleep song “Dopesmoker.” I’d been vaguely familiar with them from a million years ago when I used to write about death metal, but wasn’t fully aware of that particular album. I’d read an interview with Jarmusch where he talked about being preoccupied with that album, so I got a copy, and then I became locked into it.
If you haven’t heard it, the album is one song, a 63-minute stoner metal song that’s essentially one heavy riff played over and over, talking about a caravan of weed-priests crossing the desert to Jerusalem with their magical hashish. The lyrics are corny, but the song itself is an hour of pure hypnotic sludge, and puts you in a trance mode. And while I did not imbibe in the titular substance discussed in the song, I made it part of my process. I’d sit down every day, put the song on repeat, and completely lose myself in it, writing about whatever escaped from my subconscious thought onto the page.
Within a few months, this brought out an incredible pile of 500 word chunks, some perfect stories, some absolute junk. But it amazingly brought out some common threads through the manuscript when I pushed them all together. There’s a scene in the Naked Lunch movie where Ginsberg and Kerouac (or facsimiles thereof) go to Interzone to visit Bill, and find an apartment filled with scattered random notes (and heroin), and that’s what the book read like before I started editing.
This is by far the most challenging read of any of my books. It has a story arc in three acts, but it doesn’t have a conventional plot, which will throw a lot of people. But it contains a lot of brutally honest writing that cuts deep, and it was a lot of fun to write. If I had to compare it to anything I’ve done, it’s a lot like Rumored to Exist in ways, but I think the pieces are darker with a lot more thickness to them.
This is my tenth book, which is a strange milestone to reach. And every time I finish one of these, I fall into a deep depression and a brief panic, first as I wade through all of the production steps of releasing one of these things, and then as I try to start the next project. And I have no idea how to sell this book or what’s next, so I’m not prepared for this. But, I need to keep working, so I will.
Anyway, check out the book, and let me know what you think. If you have any wise ideas on helping me to get the word out, or if you’d be kind enough to forward on this post, that would be awesome too. Thanks for everyone who helped me to get this thing done, especially John Sheppard, who did a ton of editing and reading for me along the way.
Okay, on to #11.