First of all, I did something silly and commissioned my very talented friend Mattie Lubchansky to draw me as the medieval Jewish Manticore that I love so much. So, here's that:
Also, pre-order Mattie's book, Boys Weekend! I read an early copy and it rules.
I'm still very new to publishing, and learning as I go, but it seems like now is the time to talk about awards eligibility. So, if you're someone involved in nominating things...
Kalyna the Soothsayer is an explicitly queer fantasy novel about systems of oppression and ethno-nationalism, and yet, heavy as that sounds, NPR called it "delightful." It came out in 2022, and so is eligible for any Best Novel awards that include fantasy.
Kalyna the Soothsayer was also my debut, making me eligible for any Best New Writer sort of awards. It's the only time I'll be able to win one of those!
And finally, my recent essay for Stone Soup, On Becoming the Queer Jewish Monster I Was Destined to Be, is probably eligible for genre-adjacent nonfiction awards, such as the Hugo for Best Related Work? Worth a shot!
I recently did a fun, and short, interview where I got to talk about coming from a line of writers, what "writer's block" even is, Lawrence Durrell, and more!
Plus, I decided to end on something unerringly practical:
What’s your advice to new writers?
If your epigraph isn’t in public domain, you might have to pay for the rights to use it! I learned this the hard way, but it was worth the money.
Advice to Writers Interviews: Elijah Kinch Spector
Over at Tor.com, I got to write about some of my favorite SFF stories featuring spies and espionage. Completely by accident, I ended up with five books from five different decades.
What better way for a reader to learn about a fictional world than through characters who try to manipulate and change that world’s rules?
Tor.com: Five SFF Books About Spies and Espionage
I also—much later than I should have—became a Bookshop.org affiliate, so if you want to buy any of those books while supporting indie bookstores (and me), you can do so! (Except for C. L. Moore's Judgment Night, which is out of print. But you can get a used copy for cheap, and you absolutely should.)
I'm still figuring out what else this newsletter can, or should, offer. So let me know what interests you!
For now, here are two things I read that I can't stop thinking about.
There's a fascinating article over at Public Domain Review about Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt: a married pair of 1920s avant-garde German artists. Really, they were too avant-garde. Their costumes were constructed specifically to be painful to the wearer (you know, 'cause you gotta "suffer" for your "art"), and their dance performances—for which they refused to accept pay—sound, frankly, unwatchable. Nonetheless, from the outside at least, those costumes are really something: truly inspired gonzo bullshit.
But, uh, content warning, the piece linked below includes a murder-suicide. (It wasn't a good marriage.) So if that's, understandably, more than you want to deal with, you can just scroll down to see more of the costumes.
The Tanzmasken of Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt (ca. 1924), by Sasha Archibald
In the last newsletter I mentioned my bizarre, 20-years-too-late fascination with early 50 Cent, so of course I finally got around to Ethan Brown's Queens Reigns Supreme. It's a quick, if often depressing, read, and one that's endlessly revelatory: the reverberations of 1980s Queens through pop culture at large are massive.
That said, the first half of the book, which covers the aforementioned 1980s drug crews, had one issue that kept bugging me: Brown's writing seems to have a (likely unconscious) bias toward blindly believing the police's versions of most events. Somehow I doubt the NYPD consistently asked nicely and clearly before conducting warrantless searches on young Black men; it seems even less plausible, given the circumstances, that those same Black men simply consented, with no coercion of any kind from the cops.
Anyway, good book nonetheless—my brain's just too broken to let me enjoy things. It's definitely worth a look if you're interested in music journalism, recent history, and/or the ways class and race intersect when it comes to crime in the U.S.
You've made it to the end. Here's my current manicure in all its glory. Hoping it lasts until New Year's.