Transatlanticism, or: My UK Tour

I haven’t done a lot of touring as an author. WARM BODIES was my publishing debut—not counting a review of Kellogg’s Peanut Butter Pops that I wrote for McSweeney's in 2007—so when it was released, almost literally no one cared. I would have loved to travel the world and meet the fans, but there were no such people. I did a couple readings around Washington and Oregon and that was it.

Then came the prequel novella, THE NEW HUNGER, with its absurdly tortured release, first as an ebook-only exclusive with experimental startup Zola Books, then as a UK-only paperback a year later, then finally—years after that—a paperback in my home country. There was minimal promotion and definitely no touring.

And then there was…nothing. Four years of cold, lonely silence while I wrote THE BURNING WORLD and THE LIVING.

But now! It’s 2017. I’m burrowing out of my snow cave and poking my snout into the sun. Winter is over! I smell seal blubber! I am a polar bear in this analogy! And I’m swimming to the UK!

That’s right, after nearly 6 years of answering eager UK readers with a sorrowful shrug, I am finally going abroad. Starting March 6th: three stops in England, one in Scotland, and who knows, maybe an informal jaunt into Ireland if someone offers me a nice sheep field to sleep in like they did when I visited back in 1999.

Yes, I have been here before. The first time I ever left North America was a UK journey at age 17, with two weeks and two hundred dollars to circumnavigate the entire kingdom. (I rode in a lot of stranger’s cars and slept in a lot of fields.) My mission was twofold:

 

1.     Drink beer.

2.     Find the portal to the Otherworld located in a cairn whose location is described with surprising detail in the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Albion and get the hell outta reality.

 

Sadly, only one of these goals was achieved. The portal remains tantalizingly out of reach somewhere in the forests of Nairn, but maybe this time…this time…

So! Do you live in the UK? Do you want to hang out with me, ask me some questions, get your books signed and perhaps doodled upon? Do you want to buy me ale and single malt and watch me descend into delirium? Do you want to show me the twisted alleys of London that lead to ancient secrets? Do you want to show me where that damn cairn is so we can become mighty heroes in the Otherworld? If the answer to any of these questions is YES, have a look at my event schedule and let’s make our dreams come true!

Thank you! I love you! I’m sorry about that line in WARM BODIES about British teeth! My teeth are terrible too! Also sorry about how terrible America is right now! I promise not to bring the plague with me!

See you soon!

-Isaac

 

 

THE BURNING WORLD

It's here.

And I made a movie about it.

 

You can buy it on this site. You can buy it on Indiebound. You can buy it on Amazon, or Wal-Mart, or whatever godforsaken retailer you like best.

I've probably done all I can to convince you this book is worth reading, so I won't say any more on that. But I will say: if you ARE planning on buying the book...will you buy it now?

This opening week is probably my only chance to get on any bestseller lists, which aren't just vanity prizes; they vastly increase a book's visibility. They aren't just a recognition of success; they create it. So the books I sell THIS WEEK could determine my whole future as a writer.

No pressure.

I'm not begging for sales. You're going to buy the book or you're not. All I'm asking is that if you ARE going to buy it, please don't wait. Don't push it to back of your mind to get around to someday, don't wait to stumble into it in a bookstore in some distant future...there's no time like the present, my friends!

Thank you. I hope you love this book and feel even half of the things it made me feel.

-Isaac

 

My (FICTIONAL!!!) feud with the president

Last week, I wrote an imaginary dialogue between myself and Donald Trump in which he assumes my apocalyptic novel is about him and proceeds to insult me in classic Trumpian style. I posted this dialogue on Twitter by replying to faked screenshots of Trump’s attacks.

You can read it here.

From my perspective, as an obscure author with no political influence and 1/6th the Twitter following of @Charmin toilet paper, the idea of the president somehow getting ahold of my zombie novel and yelling about it online was pure absurdity. It was a parody of Trump’s well-known penchant for petty feuds on Twitter, taken to a ludicrous extreme by imagining ME as his target instead of the usual high profile influencers.

For anyone who knows who I am, the joke was clear. For anyone who read to the end of the increasingly absurd sequence, the joke was clear. What I didn’t consider is what would happen if just one of those tweets—the first and therefore the least outlandish—happened to go MASSIVELY VIRAL.

What happened was a lot of people who knew nothing about me saw that tweet and, assuming I must be someone worthy of Trump’s notice, believed it fully and rushed to my defense. They spread it around and added their own commentary and when it dawned on them that this was all a joke…they got mad.

Oh boy did they get mad.

My mentions became a stream of hate—not from Trump supporters but from outraged progressives. I spent a day trying to explain myself, but as the thing escalated and the limitations of 140-character discourse became apparent yet again, I had to evacuate from Twitter and seal it off like Chernobyl. I’m told there have been a few big think-pieces written about my reprehensible stunt, but since none of those writers reached out for my perspective, I feel no desire to reach out for theirs, and I have not read their pieces.

From what I’ve gathered, though, I’m charged with three major offenses, and I want to answer them. Maybe everyone's forgotten about it already and I should just let it fade, but this is half explanation and half apology and I feel a need to get it on record.

My crimes:

 

1. I TRIVIALIZED THE REAL VICTIMS OF TRUMP’S ATTACKS

 

Trump has many victims. His election acted as an official endorsement of bigotry, giving bigots an imagined license to harass and assault, and many people have already suffered. Many more are living in fear of what’s to come in the next four years of political and cultural regression. And Trump has quite likely victimized a few women personally.

All of that is terrible...but it has nothing to do with my tweets.

If I'd pretended I was harassed or assaulted or in some way disenfranchised, that WOULD be reprehensible. But the joke was about Trump’s TWEETS—his hilarious, self-parodying rants against his “enemies"—which have not truly victimized anyone. It’s been well documented that everyone he’s attacked on Twitter has BENEFITED from it, and it seems unlikely that any of them were emotionally stung by the inane ravings of this cartoon man. There have been and probably will be many victims of Trump’s presidency, but as far as I'm aware, the only victim of Trump’s TWEETS is his own reputation.

 

2. I SPREAD FAKE NEWS THAT MUDDIES THE WATERS OF A SERIOUS SITUATION

 

I am not a media outlet. I am a fiction writer. I wrote a fictional dialogue and posted it on my personal Twitter account, without any surrounding context to suggest that this was a real occurrence rather than just another bit of nonsense theater squirting out of my brain. If anyone thought it really mattered, a quick click to my profile—or Trump’s—would have revealed the truth. But no one bothered to do that because IT DIDN'T MATTER. I didn't fake anything shocking or slanderous. I didn't fake a policy announcement. I faked a Trump Twitter Rant, in-character and on-brand and absolutely meaningless in the wider context of Trump.

So someone tells you Trump bullied someone, and you believe it. Then you find out it didn't happen. So what? He bullies people all the time. Maybe it didn't happen today, but it happened yesterday and it'll happen tomorrow, so does it really make any difference? It's like a touch-up on a painting. That specific area is a forgery! But it's absorbed into the surrounding context, and the painting remains authentic.

Very post-truth, I know. But this is the melting dreamworld we’re living in.

 

3. I LIED ABOUT BEING ATTACKED IN ORDER TO GAIN PUBLIC SYMPATHY AND BOOST MY BOOK SALES

 

This is the one where I apologize. I didn’t do those tweets to become a fake martyr. I wasn’t trying to get sympathy sales. Trump’s Twitter attacks are essentially a meme at this point, and I was using that meme as a comedic framing device to talk about my upcoming book. Sure, I thought it'd be great if people believed it for a minute before the escalating absurdity made the joke apparent...but that only works when I'm tweeting to my usual tiny handful of followers. The joke wasn’t designed for a viral scale, so a lot of people ended up investing genuine emotion into it, then felt tricked when they learned what it was.

I apologize for that. It wasn’t my intention to hijack sincere activism to help me sell books. It was my intention to create a funny satirical scenario to help me sell books. And I DON'T apologize for trying to sell books. It's my job to sell books, and since I try to write them about things that matter, I believe selling them matters too. I don't apologize for tapping into global anxieties to boost my sales, because my book is ABOUT global anxieties. It's a product of the cultural climate, and it speaks to the cultural climate, so yes, I’m going to involve the cultural climate when I promote it. Just because someone profits off something doesn’t make it exploitation.

 

Speaking of profit: if it makes anyone feel better, my massive viral fraud earned me a dizzying sales spike of…22 books. So don't worry about me scamming my way to stardom. There’s Twitter and there’s the real world, and rarely do they meet. Donald Trump is now the president of the United States and I am still a low-selling author in a leaky old house, so please accept my partial apology for my partially misguided joke, and let’s move on to realer fights.

Love, (really)

Isaac

The Burning World TOUR!

Well friends, it's really happening. THE BURNING WORLD, my second novel and the biggest creative undertaking of my life, hits shelves in 25 days. And after 5 years of popping up all around the country for random and contextless appearances that leave you wondering "What the hell is he doing with his life?" I am finally acting like an adult and going ON TOUR.

I will be doing an eclectic mix of events, from the standard Q&A/signing to hosting a theater screening of Warm Bodies. I won't be doing any readings, because apparently no one wants those anymore, so don't worry, you won't have to listen to a nervous anti-social weirdo trying to be a virtuoso actor. What I'll be doing is talking a little about my personal story as a writer, "how I got here" etc, then opening it up to your questions. And of course, signing your books with weird jokes and cool doodles.

Sometimes there will be snacks!

Sadly, it's a pretty limited tour at the moment, mostly the west coast with one surprise jag out to Kentucky. I'm hoping to do a more expansive second leg after the urgency of opening week settles down, but no guarantees! So if you're anywhere near any of these locations and you want to give me a high five and spill wine on my shirt, I suggest you make it happen!

See you soon!

TOUR SCHEDULE

 

R's Rmy takes a holiday

Did you know Warm Bodies has a street team? To my amazement, dozens of people have volunteered to hand out cards and put up posters for THE BURNING WORLD. I never expected that kind of hands-on enthusiasm from you guys, so...wow. Thank you.

I have been printing stuff and addressing envelopes for the last couple days, and if you filled out the form, you're on the team, but I wanted to let you all know I decided to wait until January to actually send the packages.

December is such a noisy mess, everyone is harried and overstimulated, and if anyone does actually get around to spreading these materials, no one is going to notice them in all the holiday chaos.

So I'm going to pause the campaign and let December run its course. When we clear this final hurdle and wake up January 2nd, healed of our hangovers and purged of all 2016's poison, that will be the time to move.

Until then, enjoy your holidays! And thank you all so much for your support. You have no idea how much it means to me right now.

-Isaac

 

 

Your stupid stories at a time like this?

It's awkward being an artist when the world is falling apart. It feels clueless and crass to hawk fiction while everyone's out fighting for real and urgent causes. Whatever your political leanings, these are scary times. Stakes and passions are high, there are dozens of global crises that demand our attention, and luxuries like art can seem remote and unimportant.

I have been struggling with that feeling throughout this year. What is my role in the world's problems? Is it my duty as a conscientious American to drop whatever I'm doing and go join the political process? Is it wrong to sit here tinkering with fictions instead of feeding refugees and protesting atrocities? Or are my energies better spent in my own field of expertise, where they can have a quieter but potentially deeper influence?

I've spent the last four years writing a story that's very much a response to these times. It's not a “political" novel; you won't find cheap jabs at public figures or snarky satires of current events, but I pumped it up from an aquifer that's been bubbling beneath our surface for a while now, and I've never written anything that turned out to be so timely. Watching 2016 unfold has been like watching a bad dream come true. But I want to believe the good parts of that dream are as prophetic as the bad ones. Maybe the resistance in this story could be some inspiration for the one in real life, a little gleam of hope as we stumble toward the apocalypse.

So rather than abandon my work to go out and take action, I've decided to make this book my action. My 500-page protest sign. This isn't an excuse to sit out the struggle; I'll keep doing whatever I can in the real world, but I'm not going to feel guilty for being an artist instead of a soldier. I'm going to keep pouring my heart into my writing and do whatever I can to get it into people's brains, because for whatever it's worth, fiction is my clearest language and my most effective tool. Some people are orators, organizers, journalists, activists. I write stories.

If you'd like to help spread the word about this story, you can join the Warm Bodies street team.

Thank you, everyone. Stay alive.

-Isaac

Flammarion Immersion

Writing has been my priority for may years now, but there was a time when I split my energies equally between writing and music. I've been in many bands, and recorded a few albums, but I've been on a long hiatus from the world of sound.

I have started a new project—my first in ten years. It's called Flammarion. It will eventually become an actual band with songs and vocals and records and all that, but for now, it's the foundation for a musical experiment I'm calling Flammarion Immersion.

Flammarion Immersion is a different kind of show. It's not a band inserted onto a stage to pump music through the house PA while the audience drinks and talks. It's a focused immersive experience.

You sit or lie down on blankets in the middle of the room.

There are 5 amps placed in a circle around you.

 

Each amp plays a different signal, singing to you from distinct positions in the room, creating a spatial, three-dimensional sound that envelops you.

The sound is a soft, lush swirl like sinking into a warm ocean or floating through vast spaces. I play a vintage electric piano (Fender Rhodes) and a unique analog synthesizer (Theravox) run through many effects and loops to create rich organic tones with more grit and character than typical ambient music. The emotions are gentle and warm, with moments of yearning and occasional soaring peaks.

 

It does not go dark. There is enough darkness in the world right now. It nods to pain but continues to lift upward.

Everyone is quiet—the lights are low, your phone is off—and you just backfloat in this sound for 30 minutes. Maybe you close your eyes and dream for a while. Maybe you meditate. Maybe you let yourself cry in the safety of this melodic cloud, where no one can see you, no one is looking at anyone, but you can feel their comforting presence around you.  

 

All of this is very new and still developing, but I'm really excited about the concept.

I'm performing Flammarion Immersion for the first time at the Fremont Abbey in Seattle, tomorrow (11/13) at 8:30. It's FREE.

Just show up, lie down, let the chaos of this week wash away, and wake up Monday ready to fight.

 

Burning World slow burn

Remember book trailers? They were a cool idea that was almost never executed well, with most publishers apparently passing them off to their teenage interns to slap together in Powerpoint rather than hiring any kind of actual filmmaker with a vision—let alone a budget!

I haven't seen a book trailer in a long time. They probably still exist, but they seem to have fallen out of fashion. Nevertheless, I wanted to make one for THE BURNING WORLD. I made one all by myself for WARM BODIES and I thought it was pretty cool. But when I asked my publisher if they wanted to fund a REAL trailer, something with style and flair and genuine cinematic artistry, they looked at me like I was asking them to put on a vaudeville tap-dance show.

"We don't really do those anymore. They don't sell books."

So I gave up that dream, because it's been 5 years since I released a novel and my pocketbook is steadily shrinking I can no longer afford to self-fund my campaign. But I've been doing something else that's...kind of similar? But not quite as cool? But still kinda cool?

It's like...a very slow trailer...that moves at one frame per week...it's pictures and text. It's quotes from THE BURNING WORLD over photos that I took on my various travels. Slowly, one week at a time, it reveals a glimpse of what's going on in this story.

You can follow this slow show (and eventually other Warm Bodies content) on Twitter
Instagram and Tumblr.

3 months to go...
 

Van Fulla Books Tour

You know where I am right now? Sitting in my 1989 VW Vanagon Westfalia in a rocky field on the edge of a suburban construction site somewhere in northern California.

Why??

I am driving down the west coast on something I'm calling the Van Fulla Books Tour (#VanFullaBooksTour !) Because, see, my van is fulla books. Galley copies of THE BURNING WORLD, which I'm delivering to bookstores in order to make some kind of human connection to the people who will (hopefully) be selling my new book. Here's me with one of them!

TREASURE!

Hey friends. As you may have noticed, I'm doing a thing. I'm trying to sell The Burning World on my own little author store widget, for exactly 4 reasons:

  1. I get more of the money! It cuts out the evil empire that starts with A and ends with mazon.
  2.  You get more of your money, because I can set my own price and I've set it as low as it can go.
  3. (here's where it gets fun) I can give you things! Every preorder comes with a download of a very special and magical item that I will talk more about later.
  4. It allows me to do this referral game where you spread a link around and get a point for everyone who orders via your link. (and also for every copy you order.) When you reach certain scores, I send you increasingly rare stuff to say thanks.