Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

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June 11th, 2016

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2019 in Review

December 27th, 2019

2019 certainly was a year. Here’s a little (okay, a long) review of mine. Probably of interest mainly to me, but I do like to look back and take stock, consider setbacks and relish victories, and think about any necessary course corrections.

Reading

I read about 125 books this year. My favorite new-to-me books were Sarah Gran’s Claire de Witt novels, which are sort of mysteries, sort of literary fiction with a mystical bent, and totally great and absorbing. I started reading Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books and really enjoy those too; such a deep and character-driven approach to what could be kinda standard police procedurals otherwise. Read a bunch of Ruth Ware, too, the best of which was probably The Turn of the Key. Read some Ruth Reichl, which led me to finally reading all of MFK Fisher’s books (I’d only read How to Cook a Wolf before), and developing a new appreciation for oysters.

I also read a ton of science fiction, and started a whole lot of books I didn’t finish, because I am on an award jury this year, and had to read strategically: if it wasn’t impressing the hell out of me within a couple chapters, it wasn’t gonna make the cut, and since I had 70 other books in the pile, I had to move on. Ones I particularly enjoyed were Ninth House by Bardugo, Raven Tower by Leckie, This Is How You Lose the Time War by El-Mohtar and Gladstone, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Harrow, Gingerbread by Oyeyumi, Exhalation by Chiang, Middlegame by Maguire, Black Leopard, Red Wolf by James (maybe “enjoyed” is the wrong word for that one; it was a rough read in parts but very ambitious and impressive), Wounds by Ballingrud, The Pursuit of William Abbey by North, and Songs for the Unraveling of the World by Evenson. (I liked lots of others too, but those are my tops.) (Lincoln in the Bardo by Saunders wasn’t a 2019 book but it’s marvelous too.)

Read a bunch of comics, too, including the on-my-list forever Achewood, and Waid’s Irredeemable (so dark!), and all of Simone’s Secret Six comics I hadn’t read yet.

Writing

It’s been an eventful year. Early on I did a little writing retreat in the lovely Marin home of my friends James and Ysa, where I drafted the majority of The Forbidden Stars and only went slightly insane with loneliness (the hot tub helped morale). I was Principal Speaker (guest of honor, basically) at Philcon in Philadelphia (well, Cherry Hill NJ, but basically) in November, and my wife Heather Shaw was special guest, and that was super cool. I also went down to Monterey and talked to writing classes and did a reading at Monterey Peninsula College (and went to the aquarium and wandered around the cuteness of the town with Aislinn), and that ruled. I took part in Litcrawl in San Francisco, emceeing a fun event at Public Works. I was also in the line-up for the inaugural Parallel Lit East Bay reading series organized by Meg Elison. I appeared on a few podcasts, including a fun one run by Stephen Aryan, who I met in London last year. I talked to my kid’s class during their “fantasy fiction” unit, and that was fun. Fifth graders ask good questions.

The Dreaming Stars earned out in its first royalty period (whoo!), and The Forbidden Stars came out to great reviews and appeared on a couple of bestseller lists (ibooks, Locus). I ran a kickstarter for new collection Miracles & Marvels, and it came out in the fall to positive reviews.

I’m on track to hit 250,000 words of fiction this year (I’m a bit short, but plan to write a bunch this weekend), which is a big bump from last year’s 170K and the year before’s 150K. It’s almost back to my hustling-desperately-for-grocery-money-years output levels. I didn’t mean to write that much, but see, I took a gig writing some interesting tie-ins I can’t tell you about yet, the first of which is due in late spring, and as a result, I had to move up the schedule for drafting my next original novel (which is also due in late spring, and which I also can’t tell you about, but I can soon!) to the end of 2019 instead of the start of 2020. Writing an extra novel pretty much accounts for the increase in wordage.

The rest of my output was stories, most for my Patreon, some commissioned: “Comfort and Joy,” (it’s coming out soon), “A Grace Family Christmas,” “A Door Is the Difference Between Outside and In,” “The Bodies,” “Nick and Will and the Door in the Hill,” “The Sleeping Warrior,” “This Is Your Lot,” “Six Ways Without You,” “Sunday Drive,” “The Murder Closet,” “The Zipper,” “A Champion of Nigh-Space,” “Blood and Sleep,” “In the Dungeon of Heart’s Desire,” and “The Door of Sleep.” I also wrote three little pieces for Pathfinder Tales for their Tales of Lost Omens series of vignettes: “When It Rains,” “The World Expands,” and “Far from Heaven”. (You should join my Patreon, and get a new story every month, plus access to that archive of three years’ worth of existing stories: www.patreon.com/timpratt). Some of them are among my best work. “A Champion of Nigh-Space” in particular got a lot of buzz when it was reprinted in Uncanny

I also collaborated: on a story with Sarah Day called “Celestial Shores” that we’re shopping around, and the usual Podcastle holiday collaboration with Heather, this year with help from our son River, who got his first byline on “River’s Giving.”

I did a couple of reviews, too, for Locus, and owe them a year-in-review essay that’s due any minute now.

I was once again the judge for the science fiction/fantasy section of the Publishers Weekly Booklife prize for self-published works, and the winning title, Pluto’s Ghost by B.C. Chase, will appeal to fans of The Martian and cranky old guy protagonists being engagingly cranky. I’m on the jury for another prize, as I mentioned, but it’s new and hasn’t been publicly announced yet; it’s cool though. Soon, soon.

People

I like people! (Well, some people, anyway. A select few.) My wife has been writing and sewing and sewing and writing, and is getting into playwriting in a bigger way. Our son River turned 12, and is still into video games (and games in general), and is now a full-fledged roller coaster enthusiast as well, racking up some impressive rides, including a trip on the world’s tallest coaster, Kingda Ka, while we were in New Jersey. He started middle school this year and is thriving there. All three of us collaborated to create a card game, Cyber Wreck, which is super fun, and we’re probably going to force our friends to start playtesting soon. We rode bikes and went swimming and went to the Museum of Ice Cream and the boardwalk and had other adventures.

I continue to benefit from a community of smart and loving people who inexplicably choose to put up with me. Ais is still right down the street, playing great music with her band Three Drink Circus and generally being a ray of light; she’s always up for a movie or a beer, and as a bonus she draws whatever weird stuff I ask her for (this year she did great illustrations for Miracles & Marvels). Amanda is teaching at Stanford and UC Berkeley these days, busy as busy can be, but we still carve out time to hang out and drink wine and watch romantic comedies, and this year we even managed a long weekend trip. Emily is up in Portland becoming a doctor, which it turns out is time-consuming, but I got up to visit her a few times, and she came to visit me a couple times, and we had so many adventures and ate lots of delicious things (Blue Hour! La Luna! Salty’s! Pine State Biscuits!). Katrina has also gotten super busy with work and life stuff (I perceive a theme) but we got together as often as we could for WhiskeyHorror booze-and-movie nights, which are always a highlight. I see Sarah just about every week, and we watch Letterkenny and play video games and talk about writing and feast and frolic; we took a cool trip this summer too, of which more below. (We also watched most of the Phantasm franchise, for which I deserve hazard pay.)

I see other local friends too when the world allows. I reconnected with Zoe, drank whiskey with Daryl, hung out with Katie, enjoyed Effie and Josh’s assorted glorious gatherings, had a great time at Erin and Paul’s legendary July 4th cheese party, got to enjoy two parties at James and Ysa’s beautiful house, had some long chats with Elsa, and enjoyed people’s company en masse at our summer barbecue and my birthday party.

I saw faraway friends a bit: Hung out with Jenn and Chris a couple of times up in Portland, and saw Molly Tanzer, who crashed at our place for a few days while she was in town to do events for her excellent book Creatures of Want and Ruin. My best friend Dawson is briefly in the States after literal years of international travel, and is coming to visit us for a few days next week, which I’m super excited for, especially since New Year’s Eve was our high holy day back in the years when we lived together. I am rich in friends.

Trips

2018 is hard to top for travel (since I went to a whole other country last year), but I did a bit this year too.

I popped up to Portland in February to eat delicious things and take snowy walks with Emily, and we played VR games with Jenn and Chris (Beat Saber!).

At the end of February I spent a few days in a beautiful house in Marin mostly typing and talking to myself.

In June I headed to Santa Cruz with Amanda, and we got goat cheese in Pescadero and went to beaches and vineyards and hot tubs, oh my!

Late June and early July was the epic family road trip: me, Heather, River, and multiple amusement parks: two water parks and a roller coaster park in three days. The last day at Raging Waters we had a cabana and hung out with our friend Beth  and her kids (who got along great with River), and it honestly ruled.

In July Sarah and I went up to Sea Ranch and cooked things and looked at the breathtaking views and walked on the sea cliffs and it was super restful and inspiring.

In October I went to Monterey with Ais to talk to classes (as mentioned above). We ate all the fish and took all the walks. My friend Susie came down from Santa Cruz, and we all had a nice dinner at Melville’s.

In November the family did our big Philly trip, with lots of convention stuff, and platters of cheese, and multitudinous whiskeys, and a visit to the Franklin Institute (best science museum ever) and to a roller coaster park, and 50 strangers singing “Happy Birthday” to my son at the art show reception. It was an amazing trip.

At the end of November I headed up to Portland one more time, just a brief whirlwind visit, but we drank great booze and did lots of holiday shopping at Powell’s and the Saturday Market and did some fantastic cooking and restaurant-ing (I had a bourbon vanilla milkshake with BACON in it).

Money

I’m here to pay off debt and chew gum and I’m all out of gum. My student loan is dead, and I just paid off another huge chunk of debt, too. I’m not out of the hole entirely yet, partly because of a big unexpected expense related to the car crash from 2018 (sigh), but even so I’m on track to reach zero by late 2020, barring the unforeseen. Things are way less tight than they ever have been in my life. If we need something, mostly we can just… buy it. In 2020 I actually have plans to put money aside for my child’s future, which was unimaginable before this.

Health

I don’t think I’ve had this category before; never needed to. I’ve always been absurdly robust. Alas, age and genetics are catching up with me. A few weeks ago I got some bloodwork done and my glucose levels were shockingly high. Type 2 diabetes runs in my family (this is something of an understatement; it’s probably easier to count my close relatives who don’t have it), so I suppose it was inevitable, especially since I have always eaten like a ravenous teenager: you can’t beat the combo of nature and nurture. After a couple of weeks of eating less bread and pasta and sugar and more whole grains (and being on the appropriate drugs), my levels are now fine and I’ve dropped a couple pounds. It’s annoying but manageable. I suppose I’ll enjoy cheeseburgers more now that they’re a rare treat, but this is a rough shift for someone whose answer to “what’s your favorite food” has always been “sandwiches.” (Earlier in the year I also had a horrible bigger-than-a-golf-ball-sized abscess in an inconvenient place that had to be lanced and left a teensy scar, but let’s not go into all that.)

Various Things, Good and Bad

We spent the whole year without a car, and you know what? It’s been fine. My commute is a brief train ride and a brief walk. Heather works a mile from our house. River walks to school (or grabs the bus if it’s rainy or he doesn’t feel like walking not quite a mile). Sarah kindly loans me her car when I need to do errands I can’t do on public transit, and when we want to take a road trip, there’s an Enterprise car rental place on the corner. I’m not saying I’ll never have a car again, but cars were mostly just a source of horrifying surprise expenses for me, and it’s restful not having one.

My kid was on a community center trip to a theme park when there was a shooter scare (no shooter, it turned out, but people thought there was, and the panic was certainly real), and he ran a mile with strangers and climbed over fences and stuff to get to safety at a nearby hotel. Sarah came over in a flash so we could borrow her car and race to pick him up. It was awful, but he was so brave, and now he knows that in a scary situation he won’t freeze up or panic, but will do what he needs to do. I was afraid it would spoil amusement parks for him or lock him up with fear but it did neither. He’s so great. Getting his phone call, when he was running in fear for his life, was the most scared I have ever been. Reaching him and seeing he was safe was the most relieved I’ve ever been.

I’ve been cooking a ton in the instant pot I got last year. Favorites include butter chicken, mojo chicken, and fancy mac & cheese, but I’ve also poached pears in port wine and made broth and assorted soups and warm potato salad. I also made a lot of no-knead bread you can proof in the instant pot, it’s so fast!

I played some games I really liked: Prey and The Sinking City and Far Cry 5 especially. My kid got an Oculus Quest for Xmas so we’ve been playing Beat Saber and Superhot and stuff with that. It rules.

Saw very little theater, but the production of Arcadia at Shotgun Players was magnificent (and we had the best seats in the house, literally on the stage), and my nephew was one of the leads in his high school production of Mamma Mia, and that was super fun. I saw some good live music, including Three Drink Circus and Yard Sale and Sidney Gish.

I went to the Eat Real festival (always delight, and I had the best peach cider I can imagine, it was summer in a glass) and the Los Altos Art and Wine festival. I love the Bay Area and its assorted outdoor funtimes.

Next year is looking like a lot of reading (another year on the award jury awaits), writing (a work-for-hire novel… or two… and some Axiom novellas probably), some fun travel (I am going back to Maui in the spring, and another actual vacation destination to be determined in the summer), and some work travel that will incidentally be fun also I hope (the LA Times Festival of Books seems plausible, maybe other things too). I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Happy new year, all. May it bring you joy and peace.

 

Me! Live! In Person!

October 13th, 2019
In the next month I will be appearing out in the world in three different geographical locations that you could also inhabit! Three cities! Two coasts! One continent!
In San Francisco CA: On Saturday October 19th I’m taking part in Litcrawl, emceeing the “Speculative Fiction in the Loft” event at Public Works from 5 to 6 p.m.!
In Monterey CA: On Wednesday October 30th I’m a guest of the Monterey Peninsula College Guest Author Series at 6 p.m., doing a reading and Q&A and book signing!
In Philadelphia PA (well technically in Cherry Hill NJ across the river): From November 8-10, I’m Principal Speaker (guest of honor, basically) at Philcon, doing heaps of events, mostly on Saturday the 9th; reading, an interview on stage, signing, some panels, etc!
If you are physically adjacent to any of these locales I hope to see you!
 

2018 In Review

December 26th, 2018

Here’s how my year was. It’s rambling and incomplete and mostly written as an aid for my own reflection, but read it if you like.

Reading

I read about 160 books, way more than my usual couple-books-a-week average, but that’s mostly because a whole lot of them were comics, and I can read three or four trades in an afternoon. I caught up on Saga, finished up Invincible and Ex Machina, re-read some bits of Transmetropolitan and The Boys, read Paper Girls, Fante Bukowski, some old Midnighter comics, caught up on The Walking Dead, read The Wicked + The Divine, read Alice Grove… it was a good year for comics.

My prose favorites were Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer (weird prohibition-era demonic magic), The People’s Republic of Everything by Nick Mamatas (so many good stories), The Changeling by Victor Lavalle (magisterial writing, wrenching story), Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay (a nasty little contained nightmare), Blackfish City by Sam Miller (weird ensemble future stuff, with an orcamancer), Martha Wells’s whole Murderbot Diaries series of novellas (I <3 Murderbot), Sylvain Neuvel’s Themis Files series (giant mech suits! and neat point-of-view stuff), Transcription by Kate Atkinson (a low-key spy novel, written with her usual grace and wit), Autonomous by Annalee Newitz (loved the stuff about gender and programming), Borne by Jeff VanderMeer (I liked it better than the Southern Reach books!), Brasyl and Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald (I love his stuff), The Power by Naomi Alderman (zap the patriarchy), Ada Palmer’s Terra Incognita series (frustrating but very thought-provoking), Stephen King’s The Outsider (I just like Holly Gibney basically), All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (this world is the one where the timeline went wrong!), Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory (multi-generational psychic con artist family drama wonderfulness), Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (it looks like a Gone Girl-esque psychological thriller, then gets way weirder), and that’s probably enough.

Writing

What a year! The Wrong Stars was #1 on the Locus Bestseller list; first time that has ever happened to me. I lost a Philip K. Dick Award, but just being nominated was fantastic. The book sold well, too, with my first royalty check exceeding the amount I was paid for the book in the first place. That’s nice. Sequel The Dreaming Stars came out in September and seems to be doing pretty well too. I’m writing the third book in the series right now, The Forbidden Stars, and that’s going to wrap up the main action, though I will probably write some novellas set in the world in the future. I did some conventions and book events, including a couple of local appearances with Nick Mamatas and Meg Elison, plus panels and readings and such at Norwescon and in New York and at London Comic-Con.

I have an entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction now!

I did a Kickstarter for a Marla Mason collection, Do Better; print copies are on their way to me and should be zooming out to backers shortly. They got their ebooks already.

I wrote about 170,000 words this year, a little up from last year’s 150K, but still way down from the quarter-of-a-million word years I did annually for most of the prior decade. Not having to hustle and write two or three books a year to make money has been very restful, but I was probably too lazy in 2018. I may step things up a bit next year. I wrote four-fifths of The Dreaming Stars in February, during a single week at a writing retreat on the bayou in Louisiana with some wonderful writers. The rest of my output was short stories, including a dozen for my Patreon (still going strong!), a couple of commissioned holiday stories, and an original for my Do Better collection. The stories are “Twelve Days at Christmas”, “Dirty Santa”, “Hosting the Solstice”, “Through the Woods”, “Steal Away”, “Pages Recovered from a Partially Burned Volume, Bound in Goat Skin, Discovered in a New Hampshire Cave”, “Orchard of Worlds”, “The Four Horsepersons of the Eucatastrophe”, “The Tale of Crow and Lion”, “Do Better”, “Adaptive Traits”, “The Death of Grace”, “Sometimes You Get the Bear”, “Thank You For Joining Our Clinical Trial”, and “The Pentachoron Key”. A few of them are among the best things I’ve ever written. (You should join my Patreon, and get a new story every month, plus access to that archive of three years’ worth of existing stories: www.patreon.com/timpratt).

I did a tiny bit of other writing, including a review of The Good Place for F&SF, so now I’m allowed to call myself a semi-regular columnist for the magazine, whee! I wrote a single review for Locus, of Nick Mamatas’s The People’s Republic of Everything, upcoming in the January 2019 issue. I’m doing a year-in-review essay for Locus, too.

I art directed in a small way, commissioning Jenn Reese to do the cover design for Do Better and Aislinn Harvey to draw some interior illustrations. Jenn drew a holiday rat for a chapbook for me, and Ais did a sinister reindeer for another chapbook. I loooove giving artists money.

I was the judge for the science fiction/fantasy section of the Publishers Weekly Booklife prize for self-published works, and the winning title, Fid’s Crusade by David Reiss, is super fun, smart and humane supervillain stuff.

Humans

I have good people in my life. My wife has been a creative whirlwind this year, sewing up a storm; almost all her holiday gifts were handmade and personal and super impressive. She’s making me an amazing quilt of my million old t-shirts for me! We’ve had a really good year and our house is a cozy refuge.

Our son turned eleven, and he’s growing up into a smart funny kind raucous person. We have a lot of fun playing games and watching shows and reading together and taking walks and discussing all sorts of things about life and the world. We go swimming, we ride bikes, we send him off on roller coasters, we have a great time. He’s in fifth grade and it’s going really well. He played John Darling in the school production of Peter and Wendy and did a fantastic job: “You offend reason, sir!” He’s such a big kid now, and he’s got more responsibilities and privileges and is doing well with both. He’s playing in a monthly D&D game too, which makes my heart warm. My kid!I am fortunate to have a close-knit and wonderful community of people who love me and spend time with me regularly. Ais still lives right down the street so we get together all the time for meals and movies and hanging out and doing weird stuff (the weirdest this year was probably seeing Robin Sloan do a talk about robots and bread hosted by Annalee Newitz in a dive bar under an overpass). Amanda is being scholarly down in Palo Alto but we get together whenever we can, and this year we took a wonderful trip on her birthday up to Napa, where we had a fancy champagne tasting that still makes me bubbly to recall. Emily is even farther away up in Portland but we managed to see a fair bit of each other this year, on various trips (more about those below), and when she came to keep me company, while Heather and River were in Indiana over the summer, and during the smokepocalypse in November — we went to see the Magritte exhibit at SF MOMA and it was glorious. I still see Katrina for weekly-ish WhiskeyHorror booze-and-movie nights and I also had the pleasure of taking her to a dinner with George R.R. Martin (and like twenty other writerly people) and to George’s onstage talk with John Picacio afterward. That was a treat. I see Sarah just about every week, too, and we drink and eat and frolic our way through the East Bay; we did a couple of great trips together as well, of which more below.

I see other local friends too when the world allows, catching up with Zoe, hanging out with Katie, writing with Erin and Daryl, going to great parties (Effie’s housewarming, with that cabinet of curiosities cake! Erin and Paul’s July 4th cheese party! David’s birthday dinner!), meeting Daphne’s new dog Tchotchke, hanging out with Elsa at barbecues and parties, and generally fighting back against my essentially hermitlike tendencies on a semi-regular basis, because it makes me happy to be around people I like.

I also got to see more farther-flung friends! I saw Jenn and Chris a couple of times up in Portland, saw Susan and Matt and their adorable kid in Brooklyn, my friend and agent Ginger in New York, caught up with Greg while he was in Petaluma on big fancy book tour, reconnected in a meaningful way with my college sweetheart the Feyrie Princess when she visited the Bay Area, had a wonderful night of pub-crawling with my later-in-college sweetheart Megan while I was in London, and had a great dinner with Besha and her partner in Portland. I saw a ton of people I adore in the writing community at conventions and parties and just because they were in town for Worldcon, and I started listing them all but it got WAY too long and I was afraid I’d forget someone, so just know: you’re all grand and I don’t see you nearly enough. I met lots of great people for the first time in London, writers and editors and publishing people I really hope to see more in the future (Worldcon is in Ireland next year…). It’s been my most social year in a long time.

Trips

Last year I said I traveled a ton. I had no idea how 2018 was going to be.

I went up to Portland in January for a Wrong Stars event at Powell’s, which went super well, and I got to see Emily and Connor and Jenn and Chris.

In February I went to Louisiana to spend a week at a writing retreat on the bayou, and it was the most productive week of my life, probably, writing-wise. (I also swam a lot and looked at lizards and ate great big meals and talked about writing and publishing and life with a dozen accomplished smart genius women writers and artists. Only the retreat cone of silence restrains me from tagging them all by name.)

In March I did a combined business-and-pleasure trip, first hanging out at a lovely beach house on the Oregon coast with Emily and actually relaxing, then bopping briefly to Portland, then heading up to Seattle for Norwescon, where I did authorial things and lost a Dick Award. (It was great anyway. It’s fun being a big deal at a convention.) I got to meet Galen Dara there!

I went to Santa Cruz a couple of times, once with Emily in June (for swimming and feasting and boardwalking and beach walking and drinking a flight of Pappy van Winkle, so, heaven) and once with Heather and River for the kid’s last big hurrah road trip of the summer (so it was 95% boardwalk and 5% milkshakes at Saturn Cafe, in other words, also heaven).

In August, I went up to Cazadero with Sarah and we enjoyed the glory of the redwoods and the river and hung out at my friend Mark’s bakery eating so many glorious carbs.

I went back to Portland in September to visit Emily just for fun, and it was really lovely, full of amazing meals (home-cooked and in restaurants), and we had a fantastic night in Jenn and Chris’s house playing drunken Drawful.

In October I was away from my house more than I was in it. I went to New York to read at the KGB Reading Series, and visit my agent, and see friends, and be a tourist, and Sarah was kind enough to accompany me and tromp all over botanical gardens and through bookstores and eat all the foods imaginable. My first trip to New York!

Less than a week after I returned from New York, I whooshed off to London! London Comic-Con flew me in, put me up in a hotel, and only made me work a little bit (some panels and signings). It was my first time out of the country and was mind-expanding in all the best ways, truly one of the most memorable experiences of my life on multiple axes. I was in the same room with a couple of Doctors Who and some horror movie villains at the same time so that was really cool.  I love a good green room. Free crisps!

After that I vowed not to go anywhere else all year.

(It was a lot a lot of travel, and Heather was heroic and kind to solo parent so much. She got to go to France for ten days, so I didn’t have ALL the fun, but travel was definitely tilted in my direction this year.)

Money

Things continue to improve financially. I’m on track to be out of debt in a year-ish (it might be early 2020 before I squish the last of it, depending on how big my tax bill is this year, etc), and I’ve paid down enough already that I have a lot more breathing room than I used to. It’s very strange to need something (new boots, clothes for my kid, whatever) and just… be able to buy it. I have a ways to go before I’m totally stable, and this all assumes things continue to work well in terms of day job and writing career, but for the first time in my entire adult life, I can see the top of the hole from here.

Various Things

Last year we bought a van; this year we totaled it in an accident on the way home from our last road trip of the summer in Santa Cruz. River and I escaped unscathed but Heather got a concussion. My first ever serious accident. It sucked. We haven’t bought a new car (we can walk and mass transit quite easily for our day-to-day needs) and I get pretty tense when I drive, even a few months later.

I got a passport!

We got fast internet several months ago and our quality of life is SO much better. Did you know Netflix isn’t always blurry and pixely? Amazing!

My day job moved offices, from the old car factory by the Wal Mart in San Leandro to an adorable space in Preservation Park, Oakland, a nine-minute train ride from my house. I loooove my new commute, just as much as I hated my old one.

I played some games I really liked: Oxenfree, neat narrative, good writing and voice acting, puzzles even I could do. Superhot was cool too, with an interesting dynamic. I spent MANY HOURS on Metal Gear Solid V. I do love stealth action.

I read in my hammock a lot and had many lovely meals in the yard and a lot of great chats in the kitchen with people who are smarter and nicer than me, and truly, though the larger state of the nation and world has some definite vile qualities, the texture of my personal life was overall very good in 2018.

Happy new year, all. May it bring you joy and peace.

Big Book Sale 2018!

November 12th, 2018
I’m selling signed copies of many of my books! My space operas and lots of my fantasies are available, and some anthologies I edited too.

I’ll inscribe the books to anyone you like, so they make great gifts. I hear there are some gift-related holidays coming up.

I haven’t done a sale like this in years, and won’t likely do another one anytime soon. Quantities are limited. My wife set up an online store (because she is fancy), and we’ll take orders through the end of the month. Shipping is via priority mail in the US. (If you live overseas and want something, write heathershaw@gmail.com and we’ll see what we can work out.)

Order early and often!

https://gumroad.com/tropism

The Dreaming Stars is out!

September 4th, 2018

My space opera The Dreaming Stars is out today!

Nanobot swarms! A game that’s not a game and a dream that’s not a dream! Ganymede facts! Space kissing! You can go buy it at:

Amazon!

B&N!

Powell’s!

Image result for dreaming stars pratt

New Kickstarter for Do Better: The Marla Mason Stories

February 14th, 2018

I just launched a kickstarter for a collection of my Marla Mason stories, Do Better, gathering the best and brightest stories about my cantankerous sorcerer and her colorful companions and mortal enemies and so on.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/timpratt/do-better-the-marla-mason-stories

The collection will have at least one new story, and I’m very excited to dip back into Marla’s world. I’m done writing novels about her, and there may not be any new stories about her after this, so I’m enjoying a last trip into her point-of-view. I hope you’ll come along with me, and support the project or spread the word or both.

Philip K. Dick Award Finalist!

January 30th, 2018

The Wrong Stars is a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, honoring the best paperback original science fiction of the previous year! I could not be more pleased. The other finalists are:

THE BOOK OF ETTA by Meg Elison (47North)
SIX WAKES by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)
AFTER THE FLARE by Deji Bryce Olukotun (The Unnamed Press)
REVENGER Alastair Reynolds (Orbit)
BANNERLESS by Carrie Vaughn (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
ALL SYSTEMS RED by Martha Wells (Tor.com)
 

I’d be honored to lose to any of them, honestly. The award and any special citations will be presented up in Seattle at Norwescon on March 30, and I’ll be there at the ceremony to be either gracious in defeat or rather surprised in victory. I went down the street to Berkeley High (where Dick went to high school; Ursula K. Le Guin went there too, and Thornton Wilder) and took a picture with his mural.

The book is doing well; it popped up on the Barnes and Noble bestseller list last month, and is at the top of the Locus Bestseller list in February. Thanks to everyone who’s read it, told their friends, or otherwise supported my journey into space (opera)!

2017 in Review

December 23rd, 2017

I like doing year-in-reviews. (Years-in-review? Year-ins-review?) This is long and self-indulgent, which is just how I like it.

Reading

This is my first full year tracking my reading diligently (on Goodreads, though I don’t use it for anything besides keeping a list of books I read and re-read). I read just over a hundred books, though there were lots of graphic novels in there. I’ve been reading a book or two a week since I was a teenager, apart from a period when I had a newborn and couldn’t brain well enough to read, and that’s stayed consistent.

My favorites were The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, Gail Simone’s Clean Room comics, Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, Sharon Olds’s Stag’s Leap, and Warren Ellis’s Injection comics. I recommend ‘em all. I also read all the Jack Reacher novels, which scratched my series mystery/thriller itch pretty well, clearly.

Writing

I published the last Marla Mason novel, Closing Doors, in the spring, and people really liked it. I think maybe I stuck the landing. My first space opera The Wrong Stars came out in November to great reviews (a star in PW! A rave from Liz Bourke in Locus!) and good sales (#5 on the Barnes & Noble mass market bestseller list last month!). I sold a couple of sequels too, The Dreaming Stars and The Forbidden Stars, so I’m gainfully employed as a novelist through 2019.

Heather and I did a Kickstarter for The Christmas Mummy and Other Carols, and that’s newly out, with copies winging their way to backers through the holiday mails. Had my story “Impossible Dreams” optioned for a VR project; dunno if it’ll come to anything, but it’s neat.

I wrote about 150,000 words this year, which is, uh, about half as many as last year, and way down from my usual average; I usually do at least a quarter of a million. After years of hustling and writing two or three books a year, I was finally financially able to take a breather. I wrote almost all of The Wrong Stars in January, February, and March, and after that, it was just short stories (and some game writing for the Wolfire Games project Overgrowth), until I recently started work on The Dreaming Stars.

I did my Patreon all year, with lots of stories, including “Background and Foreground”, “Reaping a Whirlwind”, “Three Petitions to the Queen of Hell”, “Cascade Wonderland”, “Anna and Marisol in Time and Space”, “To Seek and Understand”, “A Door of My Own”, “Invidiosa vs. the Resurrected Man”, “Thankful”, and “The Gift of the Anthropophagi”. You should join, and get a new story every month: www.patreon.com/timpratt

Heather and I co-wrote “The Christmas Abomination from Beyond the Back of the Stars”, a sequel to “The Christmas Mummy.”

I wrote some essays and stuff too, but really, it was a very mellow year. I used my free time to, um, play video games mostly. I may attempt to be more productive as a writer next year.

I art directed a tiny bit: Aislinn Harvey did illustrations for my book Closing Doors and for The Christmas Mummy and Other Carols, too, and she’s a delight to work with creatively.

People

My ongoing experiment with spending time with actual humans has been really good, and continues to contribute materially to my happiness. Obviously I see my family the most, and my wife Heather has done some amazing stuff this year, editing Persistent Visions, hosting Saturday Write Fever, dancing with the Someday Sweethearts, getting her name on the spine of a book for the first time with The Christmas Mummy and Other Carols, sewing zillions of things—she continues to astonish me with her creativity and her social adroitness is something I greatly envy.

My son turned ten this year, and he’s just the best. He’s into aikido now, and playing ukulele, and doing chorus—he’s finding things to be passionate about, which is so wonderful to see. We’re also still watching lots of TV and movies together, and gaming (I got sucked back into Magic: the Gathering after 20 years because of him, and I couldn’t be happier). We got his results back on the big state test from the spring, and he did great on the English section and got a perfect score on the Math. He’s such a great person. He’s also preternaturally beautiful, but he gets that from his mom.

I’ve got some wonderful people I see a lot who don’t live in my house with me, too. Ais lives right down the street, so we do lots of wandering and hanging out together, and I’m going to see her fantastic band Three Drink Circus tonight! We went to see Judge John Hodgman live at the Curran in January and it was great too. I see Amanda down in Palo Alto as often as I can (she’s the one I dedicated The Wrong Stars to), and we went to see the interactive theater experience Speakeasy together this summer, which was amazing, really unforgettable. I spent some time running around Sonoma with Emily (we swam in the Russian River, with a bunch of Russians!), and saw her up in Portland too, and got to show her around Berkeley a bit as well, and made lots of marvelous memories. I’m still getting together just about every week with Katrina to drink whiskey and watch horror movies (we just saw Sint, which is bad; Rare Exports is still the best Xmas horror movie we’ve found). Sarah moved closer a few months ago, so I get to see her way more often in general (yay!) and we drank all the beer and ate all the tacos in San Diego recently, in addition to lots of time drinking and dining around the East Bay.

I also got to see more farther-flung friends! Dawson came to visit us and stayed a few days before embarking on his world travels. I got to see Jenn and Chris up in Portland and at Norwescon, and hung out with Greg in San Diego for as long as he’d tolerate me too. It was a great year for being with people I love. I hung out a couple of times with my friend Katie, too, and while she isn’t far-flung, she’s busy, so she’s always a treat. I did a little writing with Erin, and had some awesome game nights with Liza and Daryl and Effie and others. I’m so lucky to have good people in my life.

Trips

I traveled a ton this year! I got some surprise reprint money in January when Heather was out of town, so me and the boy and Ais took a spontaneous trip down to the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. My wife and kid and I went up to Cazadero to stay in our friend Mark’s B&B (&B; the third B is for his bakery), and did a more traditional summer boardwalk trip together too. We road tripped as well, and went to the Winchester Mystery House and Hearst Castle and spent a weekend at an adorable cabin in Santa Barbara. Did a day at a water park, to my child’s eternal delight (“This is better than Disneyland!”). Took River to the beach to see tidepools and the secret beach near the end of summer too while Heather burning-manned.

Now that my kid is older, it’s easier to solo parent him, so his mom and I have both been taking little jaunts here and there in addition to family outings. I went up to Norwescon in Seattle, my first time in the city, and I really loved it. Drove to Sonoma for wine and swimming and beer. Flew to Portland and rode a tram and ate the best charcuterie of my life. Jaunted down to San Diego to do an appearance at Mysterious Galaxy for The Wrong Stars (and for tacos and beer and birthday fun). After years of not going places or doing things it’s a nice change to have the occasional adventure.

Various Things

We bought a van (the old Locus van; it has sentimental value), which has made road trips so much easier.

We had to hide in a nearby Air BNB for days while our floors got torn up and the pipes were fixed, following an interval of intense flooding. Now we have nice laminate floors instead of gross old carpeting!

Heather skipped the usual big birthday party this year (but thanks to Zoe for swooping in and bringing Heather’s favorite amaretti cream cake when I couldn’t pick it up; above and beyond.) Instead, she threw an amazing 20-years-in-the-bay-area barbecue in the summer.

Saw the Three Drink Circus anti-Valentine’s Day sing-along with my kid in tow. That was neat.

Went to the Milo protests at UC Berkeley, which by the end was less riot and more dance party than most media reports indicated.

We listened to Hamilton a lot (and I got Heather tickets to the show in San Francisco).

Saw Nalo Hopkinson speak at Stanford and got to chat and catch up with her a bit, and she led me to some thoughts that improved my space opera.

Bought my kid a new bike and we whooshed and rode around the marina and stuff.

Went to my beloved Cafe Pergolesi in Santa Cruz one last time before it closed.

Had a great launch party at Borderlands for The Wrong Stars.

My grandfather passed away; may his memory be eternal.

Money

Another year older and… not deeper in debt? Wait, that can’t be right. Huh.

After years of being crap with money (partly because I didn’t have any, partly because I never learned anything about how to budget, etc.), I decided now that I’m in my 40s I should get my house in order and try to pay down debt. I managed to get ahead of the rolling nightmare of using a given year’s income to pay off the previous year’s tax bill, which was ongoing for a long time, and that made a big difference. My Patreon has been the biggest factor here: my day job pretty much pays my bills (with help from writing income to cover shortfalls), and the regular Patreon income just all gets hurled at my student loan and credit card debt. Assuming things continue to go well, I should be out of debt by mid-2020. Of course, in the meantime, I still don’t have much money, because the extra is being thrown into the debt-hole, but it’s progress.

Happy new year, all. May it bring you joy and peace.

The Stars Are Right! The Wrong Stars Is On Sale

November 7th, 2017

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Available wherever bookses are sold! Here are some places books are sold, with a special emphasis on this book:

If you want to try before you buy, here’s an excerpt!

If you like meta-thoughts, here’s an essay I did about creating alien cultures, for Uncanny magazine:

There have been some rave reviews so far. Here is one:

Go forth, and take to the stars.

The Axiom Series

September 27th, 2017

Look at that cover for The Wrong Stars, out in early November! Art by Paul Scott Canavan, who is wonderful.

It’s just the beginning. I sold Angry Robot two more space operas in the Axiom series. The Dreaming Stars will appear in Fall 2018, and book three (tentatively titled The Forbidden Stars) will come out in 2019. Early responses to the first book are so far very positive, and I’ll share some review coverage and such shortly. It’s an exciting new chapter of my life as a writer, and I hope you’ll all join me in the cold and lightless void.