Friday, December 18, 2009

Jeff VanderMeer Answers Questions Five

Jeff VanderMeer is one of the biggest names in speculative fiction, though for someone who doesn’t look into it’s innards from time to time, he may be one of the biggest names in speculative fiction that you haven’t heard of. He’s a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the International Horror Guild Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. His fiction writing wonders widely from short fiction to his novels set in Ambergris to a tie-in novel in the Predator franchise. He’s also a prolific nonfiction writer including novels and he’s been a regular contributor to places like the Amazon book blog and The Washington Post. His own blog, Ecstatic Days, is must read in the spec fic world.

VanderMeer’s latest novel is Finch (
US, Canada, Indiebound, my review), the third and concluding novel in the Ambergris Cycle that includes City of Saints and Madmen (US, UK, Canada, Indiebound, my review) and Shriek: An Afterword (US, UK, Canada, Indiebound). While Finch is the concluding novel of the Ambergris Cycle, it also stands on it’s own as a unique blend of secondary world fantasy, urban fantasy, and hard-boiled noir. And it’s just plain weird. As a result Finch may be the most accessible entry point into VanderMeer’s city of Ambergris – and it was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

I’m very pleased that Jeff was took the time to answer these
Questions Five (particularly since he just finished a marathon 5-week book tour). Enjoy!

What is your most memorable encounter with fungi?

When I first met you and you extended a febrile fungal hand, whilst pretending desperately to be human. Then, when we sat down and you left a green mark on the chair that seeped into the floor. It took awhile to get used to, but around the time I first became more comfortable, you smiled a long, impossible smile and burst into spores.

If Finch were a fortune cookie, what would its fortune be?

“At the end of long struggle: renewal.”

How would you interpret this fortune if it were your own?

It would encapsulate my long and various and ever-rejuvenating career.

Existing along side of Finch the novel is a playlist, a soundtrack, and an insurgency campaign – what other surprises does Finch have?

It is the answer to the puzzle of how to attain ever-lasting life, if only you can decode it properly. The key to the encryption exists in Shriek: An Afterword, and involves both your bliss and your tonsure.

Why should Finch be the next thing that everyone reads?

No one has to read anything. No one should be told to read anything. I’m blessed in that people have decided to read Finch and largely enjoyed it, gotten something out of it. I’d never tell someone to read it. But if you do, remember the fortune above.


Dr. Elitist said...

I love your Questions Five interviews. They're a refreshing change of pace from what an interview with an author is usually like, and tend to allow them (the writers) to show a side of their personality that might not be visible in their work. Thanks for posting this, it was an enjoyable read as always.

Neth said...

Thanks - that's good to hear.

For me these interviews are starting to feel a bit tired, so it's good to see that they are still fresh to the reading audience.


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