pleasure merchantWell, today is the day. The Pleasure Merchant is released into the world.

It’s weird. I’m not sure what to say other than that I really love this novel. It’s my most personal work to date; it is absolutely one of those “yep, this is the movie that’s playing in my mind, all day every day, so now you know what I’m thinking about all the time” novels, as well as being the least speculative thing I’ve written. It’s also my first attempt at crime fiction, and playing with those conventions and tropes was super fun.

I’ve already posted reviews and blurbs, I’ve quipped about the apparent bawdiness level, and I dunno, I’m not sure what more there is to say except I hope it is read, and I hope that it is enjoyed.

If you would like to purchase The Pleasure Merchant, you can of course order it through your local bookshop or Barnes & Noble, but the easiest way is probably the Internet, seeing as it’s an indie release:


Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble

There will be a Nook edition forthcoming, I’ll announce when that’s available.

Anyway, this is probably super obvious but I really did write this one because I wanted to share it with you. I knew when I wrote the first line that it would come out through a small press; I knew it would be odd, I knew it would be sad and sexy and way too revealing. But I had it inside me, and I wanted to show it to everyone, for better or for worse. I mean, literally the first line of the novel is:

I have a story to tell you.

So… I did. And it was worth it, at least to my mind.

I hope you feel the same.

We’re entering the home stretch. The Pleasure Merchant will soon be here, and I’m very excited. It’s gotten some great write-ups and received to killer blurbs, so I figured the time was nigh to actually round them up and promote this beast. Oh, that link goes to the Kindle pre-order, so please do so! Paper won’t be available until November 17th, but feel free to set up an alert in your iCal and order it next month (too).

I’ll write more later about what the book is actually, you know, about, but here’s the back cover copy, in case you don’t follow me on social media and thus aren’t quite sure what the book is about yet:

“Forgive me, but I’m having some difficulty ascertaining exactly where magnetic north lies on your moral compass.”

London, 177—:

Apprentice wig-maker Tom Dawne’s dream is to complete his training, marry his master’s daughter, and set up a shop of his own. Unfortunately for him, when one of his greatest creations is used to play a cruel prank on a powerful gentleman, Tom is dismissed—and forced by fear of poverty and the need to clear his name to serve the very man whom he suspects set him up.

Tom quickly realizes he has bitten off more than he can chew… though as it turns out, it’s not actually more than he desires. As Tom becomes less of a servant and more of a surrogate son, his ambitions change, and so do his pleasures, until it’s no longer easy for Tom to tell if he’s pulling the strings… or trapped in a bizarre web of someone else’s making. Matters become no clearer when Tom meets the mysterious professional libertines who seem to lurk at the center of all his troubles: a man willing to procure anything for anyone, so long as it gives them pleasure, and his obscure assistant, whose past has been irretrievably lost.

Some might even say it was stolen…

Oooh. What could it mean??

Well, the people who know, AKA those who have read it, seem to think it’s pretty cool:

In Tom Dawne, Molly Tanzer gives us what might be the most engagingly ruthless social saboteur since Steerpike brought Castle Gormenghast to rubble… just one of the many dark and bawdy joys to savour in her latest, The Pleasure Merchant. —David Nickle, author of Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism

Note classy Canadian spelling of “savour.” You know it must be good! Also, Eutopia was probably the grossest novel I’ve ever read, and I read it in a day… so yeah I highly recommend it.

The crime writer who made me want to write a crime novel also weighed in…

The Pleasure Merchant is a hilarious, sensuous, and ultimately ferocious quasihistorical novel about that most crucial of periods: the dawn of the modern era. The merchant class flexed its muscles, scientists turned their attentions to the workings of the human mind, sexual mores were challenged in public and in secret, and in every corner of society the unseen hand of the marketplace dominated all. Tanzer’s clever slicing of the era reveals every social stratum of her world—their conflicts, their compromises, and their kinks. Read this book to learn what you’ve been soaking in your whole life.” —Nick Mamatas, author of Love is the Law and I Am Providence

Ferocious! Clever. Like a border collie! Who uh writes novels. Grr! Also, please note the second link is also a pre-order link. I was lucky to read the ARC of I Am Providence and it’s really good, so I’d advise anyone who likes crime, Lovecraft, or murder mysteries to pick it up.

The Monitor really liked it:

Covering the course of a single year, this fascinating novel subverts Pygmalion, rags-to-riches and boy-meets-girl tropes to memorable effect, turning Tom into a tragic figure whose increasing rage against people on the margins of respectable society turns against him in the end. The narrative style is a delightful pastiche of Georgian and Victorian suffused with striking sensuality and modern sensibilities, as if Charles Dickens and Jane Austen had a child together and raised her on shojo and yaoi manga. The voice of the Pleasure Merchant’s apprentice will stay with you for days.

It’s stayed with me for over a year, so one would hope so!

The website Horror Novel Reviews also had some lovely things to say:

Tanzer’s thematic fundamentals are consistent to one degree or another throughout her entire oeuvre – the malleable nature of gender identity, both natural and forced; class stratification and the difficulty of social mobility; and pervasive eroticism and sexuality expressed in a wide variety of… er, shapes, sizes and methods. But some readers may be surprised to find that The Pleasure Merchant eschews overt genre components in favor of a more traditional Georgian morality play. Given that style and structure, the author’s voice is pitch perfect, particularly with dialog. Her characters are driven by impetuosity, false assumptions, and inflated egos. With The Pleasure Merchant, Molly Tanzer continues to cast a wide net over scattered genre tropes, and appears to be doing a damn fine job.

A damn fine job! I’ll take it.

Finally (for now!) the site The Novel Commentary was also down with the weirdness:

Above all, I was impressed with the mystery. Again, I can’t help but compare it to Jane Eyre or a Charles Dickens novel. The mystery builds slowly, against a backdrop of … upper class manners and fringe science theories.

At times funny, at times creepy, and in the end, profoundly touching, this book is definitely worth picking up.

The Novel Commentary also called me “the modern Brontë sister” so, you know… depending on how you feel about Villette, you might like?

I’m really excited that people like this weird little book so much so far. It’s probably the most personal thing I’ve ever written, so the impending release is a little nerve-wracking. Keep your eyes here for more updates!

I’ll be at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival this weekend, in Portland, OR. So, if you’re in the area, come by and catch a movie, see a panel, or just wander around the Hollwood district and I’m sure we’ll run into one another!

If you are attending, and are interested in seeing me be awkward on panels, here’s my schedule:

  • Thursday night, VIP reception(s)
  • Friday, 9-10 PM, EOD Main, “The Re-Mythology of Lovecraft” (me, Hite, Stross, Lockhart, Hoade)
  • Saturday, 4-5 PM, EOD Main, “Cthulhu and ____” (me, Stross, Goodfellow, Koch, Glancy)
  • Saturday, 8-9 PM, Classroom, I’ll be reading, along with Wendy Wagner and Andrew Fuller. Not sure if I’ll read from The Pleasure Merchant or something else.
  • Saturday, 10-11 PM, EOD Main, “R’leyhan Roulette” (me, Goodfellow, Hite, Kessler, Glancy)

That’s all the information I have at this time. I’ll be at the various receptions and probably at some of the after parties, too. Feel free to say hello!


audio coverHey Vermilioneers! Guess what? You can now enjoy Vermilion as an audiobook, out from Blackstone. It’s out, so get yourself a copy! The talented Emily Woo Zeller is narrating, and man, from what I’ve heard, she really nails it. You can get it through Audible or as an MP3 CD.

In terms of Lou’s continuing adventures, you can now pick up a short story about Lou’s first adventure. “Qi Sport,” a reprint from Stone Skin’s Schemers anthology, is now available if you purchase the ebook of Nightmare Magazine‘s August issue. Or, you can wait until later in the month to read it for free.

And, as always, I appreciate your support! If you’ve read and enjoyed Vermilion, please consider leaving a review, or telling a friend. Thanks!

Struggling with work right now, so I’ll keep it short—

Tonight, at the Alamo, I’ll be co-hosting a screening of Big Trouble in Little China along with NPR and the A.V. Club’s Jason Heller, and Frank Romero, one of the co-founders of Denver Comic Con and fellow WWE fan. We’ll be giving away a few copies of Vermilion, and I’ll be wearing a cool vest. Also my husband will be dressed as Jack Burton. Why wouldn’t you come and see that?

vermilion coverVermilion is an audiobook. It’ll be out in a month. There’s new cover art and the audio preview sounds great.

I have some stories coming out soon. More on that when it gets closer, but two anthologies debuting at NecronomiCon will have me in them!

Ok gotta run. See ya!


Ready for our journey!

I’ve had my car since the fall of 1999. My family lived out in the boonies and my senior year, my high school stopped bussing me, so my father and I went car shopping. He was a big Consumer Reports guy, watched Motorweek every weekend, and was up on which cars were good and which cars were garbage. Well, he picked a good one, when he suggested we test drive the Mazda Protege, because that car has proven to be amazing. In 16 years, it has had exactly one major thing go wrong with it—it slipped the timing chain, which is supposed to destroy the engine. It didn’t. My car survived, and it’s still great.

I noticed my car was approaching 100,000 miles and wanted to do something fun to celebrate. So, last Sunday my husband and I took it on a nice drive in the mountains. We went up the canyon to Nederland and then IMG_0559drove across Peak to Peak Highway until we reached Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which is outside of Golden. That’s when things got interesting.

“You should drive,” said John, and pulled us over.

“Okay…” I had wanted to drive my car over 100,000, but we were still several miles out at this point, and at elevation—we still had to come down through the canyon. “Now?”

“Sure, why not?” said John.


The tension builds

I don’t dislike driving through the mountains, but I confess I’m usually a passenger. Thus began our fascinating descent where I noticed nothing but the road, and downshifting. There could have been a herd of jackalopes on the side of the road. I wouldn’t have noticed. But, I got us down, and I learned what overdrive is, and how to use it. It was pretty terrifying.

Anyways, we didn’t quite make it over 100,000 coming down, so we decided to cruise into Golden, a far less scary prospect. Eventually we hit 100,00 coming over a hill and beholding one of the lovelier areas IMG_0567outside of Golden, close to the welcome center for Dinosaur Ridge. I have always wanted to go, so we pulled over. It was closed. Ah well, it was not for dinosaurs that we came, but to celebrate my car’s turning over into the triple digits!

I look forward to many more years of trouble-free driving with my car. This is just fine by me. I like things that last, and while there are certainly newer and shinier cars out there, my car… is mine. Sure, I enjoy driving our Land Rover when it’s snowy. Sure, my husband and his colleagues IMG_0570at his automotive program marveled at my devotion to this vehicle (as well as the vehicle’s continuing excellence). Sure, the paint is peeling off the top, and the interior is shabby, the floor mats are all cracked, and from day one the seal around the windshield has made a strange oooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee noise whenever it’s driving on a highway and the wind is hitting it right. Who cares? Things don’t have to be pretty to be useful, nor do they need to be elegant to be dependable.

Congrats, little silver car, on hitting a major milestone. You’re the best. I hope I drive you for 100,000 more miles!

Vermilion is continuing to receive absolutely delightful reviews. I’m so very pleased readers and critics are enjoying it; it means the world to me.

Most recently, The Arkham Digest and Foreword Reviews discussed it, and both of them had very nice things to say.

The Arkham Digest:

The world building is excellent, and Molly has created a gritty Western world in which the supernatural exists alongside the normal. Bears talk and have their own civilization, co-existing with man despite tensions. Spiritual and undead threats are handled by professional psychopomps like Lou, while monsters are dealt with by licensed monster hunters. … Fans of fantastic adventure books and readers looking for something fun and different shouldn’t hesitate to pick this one up, as it’s already one of the best books of 2015.

As for Foreword Reviews:

A well-wrought character, she dresses androgynously and often passes as a man; and as an Asian American, she handles Old West racism with humor and grit. Molly Tanzer’s steampunk world layers the rough Old West of gold-rush San Francisco with the influx of Chinese immigrants and the Victorian propriety and technology attendant with the genre. The dialogue in Vermilion is vibrant and playful, with a hard edge, and offers a strong rooting of place somewhere between Victorian English and rough-and-tumble western American dialects. … Sentence for sentence, Tanzer demonstrates a strong sense of language and place, and as a whole, the world is a place which definitely demonstrates influences (anthropomorphic bears call to mind The Golden Compass; Lou’s duster and shotgun, Pretty Deadly), but is wholly unique and pleasurable to become enveloped by.

I’ll take any review that compares my stuff to The Golden Compass. Dang.

I also did an interview, over at the delightful Angela Slatter’s blog:

1. What do readers need to know about Molly Tanzer?

As my mother would say, “need is such a slippery word!” I’d certainly like readers to know that I’m a writer of short stories and novels, and that said fictions are available online and for purchase via various retailer and e-tailers—and that I think they will please anyone who like things such as historical fantasy, picaresque, Lovecraftiana (sometimes), gender-bending, genre-bending, and sexy times.

I’d also like them to know that I mix a killer cocktail.

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, my publisher/editor Cameron Pierce released a preview cover for Thetpm Pleasure Merchant, which is forthcoming this November from Lazy Fascist. Isn’t it gorgeous? I love how it fits with A Pretty Mouth but is entirely its own thing.

The Pleasure Merchant; or, The Modern Pygmalion is the first of two books I’ll be putting out with Lazy Fascist over the next year. The second will be a reprint of the novella “Rumbullion: An Apostrophe” that debuted in my collection Rumbullion and Other Liminal Libations. This is great news, as I know the cost of the original collection was prohibitive to many, and the print run was obviously limited. I’m excited Cameron’s giving me the opportunity to present “Rumbullion: An Apostrophe” to a larger audience at a more affordable price, so watch this space for further news!

I’m only just back from WHC, as I detoured to Tallahassee after the con, and already I’m gearing up for my next (and final, for the time being) appearance at a convention. I’ve done four already this year, and while I find the con experience rewarding—in some regards—with many notable exceptions—promoting Vermilion has taken a toll on me, emotionally, creatively, and socially.

IMG_1397That said, WHC was a blast. I’m not really a con writeup kind of gal, but I was pleased to see old friends and make new ones. I also picked up a killer haul of books, as you can see. I’ve already read Eutopia and very much enjoyed it; next up I’m reading something I did not acquire at WHC but after that I’ll probably pick up another score. (I picked up The Visible Filth before the con, but got it signed by Mr. Ballingrud, so it counts.)

Next up: DCC! Denver Comic Con is always entertaining for people watching, and my panel list is pretty cool. Come say hi, I’ll sign your copies of Vermilion, and if you felt like picking one up—to have and to hold, or as an extra, in case you need a holiday or birthday present for a friend—the fewer books the Barnes & Noble table sends back, the better I look to that not insubstantial bookselling company, and my publisher. HINT HINT.

Where I’ll definitely be:

Saturday, 10:35-11:25: The Foundations of a Freelance Writing Career. I don’t currently have a description of what exactly this will be, but I assume it’s pretty self-explanatory. With Josh Vogt, Kronda Siebert, Jessica Brawner, Vivian Trask, and Peter J. Wacks.

Saturday, 3:15-4:05: Strong Women in Film and Fiction. I’m moderating this one, so I’m going to try to mix it up a bit from the usual “Let’s all argue about Daenerys Targaryen!” I know the conversation will inevitably turn to Black Widow, which is great since I won’t have seen Age of Ultron by Saturday, and I’m not up on Game of Thrones and the apparent Rape of the Sansine Women that happened yesterday, but I’m going to try to direct the discussion to the issue of well-rounded female characters in fiction and film, and see what happens. With Kristi Helvig, Betsy Dornbusch, Sherry Ficklin, Stant Litore, Amalie Howard.

Saturday, 4:25-5:15: Steampunk in the Past, Present, and Future: Another self-explanatory one. Like Steampunk? Come on then! With Sherry Ficklin, Jessica Brawner, Tyler Jolley, Mario Acevedo, and David Boop.

Sunday, 2:30-3:20: That’s a Laugh! Writing Speculative Genre Humor: What’s it take to bring real humor into fantasy, science fiction, and even horror stories? With Josh Vogt, Jessica Brawner, Betsy Dornbush, Lou Berger, and Jim Butcher. Yes, that Jim Butcher!

Sunday, 4:50-5:40: Writing the Other. i.e. I’ve never been a female dwarven barbarian… so how could I possibly write about one? With Betsy Dornbush, Mario Acevedo, Kronda Siebert, Van Aaron Hughes, and Vivian Trask.

This weekend I’ll be in Atlanta at the World Horror Convention. Vermilion and A Pretty Mouth will both be for sale; Vermilion, at the con bookseller, Eagle Eye Books, and A Pretty Mouth at the Eraserhead/Lazy Fascist/Deadite Press table. I’ll be a part of the mass signing event on Friday night, dressed as Herbert West: Re-Animator, so if you would like a copy of Vermilion signed in the option of reagent-green pen, please come by. Rufus will be there, as well, and he just loves being petted, I assure you.

Here’s my full schedule:

Friday, 3-4 PM: TERRIFYING TROPES: H.P. Lovecraft in the 21st Century: The Problematic Legacy of the Great Old One of Horror and the Weird – SARNATH

Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s legacy in modern horror fiction has been cemented for more than half a century in his Cthulhu Mythos and exploration of cosmic, existential horror. More recently, the tentacles of Lovecraft’s more troubling legacy – as a voice for some of the last century’s most vile expressions of racism and xenophobia – have found their way into the center of the discussion of his work. Is it possible to untangle the two sides of Lovecraft’s work? Should we?

Moderator: David Nickle. Panelists: Jesse Bullington, Leslie Klinger, Usman T. Malik, Charles Rutledge, Molly Tanzer


Saturday, 10 AM: DEAD IN THE MORNING (Room 710 unless you hear otherwise): If you would like to attend this event, I suggest you follow the Facebook Group for announcements. This is an unofficial/guerilla reading featuring myself, J.T. Glover, Selena Chambers, Orrin Grey, and Jesse Bullington. I will be reading from my forthcoming novel, The Pleasure Merchant.

Saturday, 3-4 PM: DEADLY DEFINITIONS: When the Weird Go Pro: Exploring the Parameters and Considering the Directions of a Literary Renaissance – SARNATH

Some would call it a Renaissance. Not your daddy’s Lovecraft mythos pastiche, the Weird in the hands of today’s writers owes as much or more to literary titans such as Melville, Borges, McCarthy and Carter. Others talk about the New Weird and consider it a global movement. What is Weird fiction? Does defining the Weird focus or limit its growth? Why now, why is this literary movement so exciting, and what does the future hold for the Weird?

Moderator: Anya Martin. Panelists: Nathan Ballingrud, Lois Gresh, Scott Nicolay, Molly Tanzer, Michael Wehunt

Saturday, 4-4:30 PM: Reading in INNSMOUTH (Vermilion)

So that’s where I’ll definitely be. I will probably put in an appearance at the Costume Ball (also as Herbert West, natch), and it’s a good bet that I’ll be in the bar at some point. Those of you who have met me in the past, my hair is a giant curly mop now, so don’t look for a Phryne Fisher bob or that bleach blonde buzz cut I was rocking for a while. Those of you who haven’t met me, I’d love for you to say hi!

npr booksMy cat woke me up at 5 AM this morning, for no reason whatsoever, and while I was feeling pretty groggy and annoyed at him and life in general, because what the hell, man, I clicked over to Twitter… and wow! Maybe my cat knew that I’d discover some really amazing news!

I couldn’t be more excited to tell you that Vermilion was reviewed on NPR. And holy mackerel, what a review it is:

Lou is one of the most delightful and charismatic fictional creations in recent memory. Her compelling blend of world-weary wryness and wide-eyed vulnerability makes for some firecracker dialogue, but it also reflects Tanzer’s kaleidoscopic view of the Old West, a place that’s far more dazzling and diverse than most history books have led us to believe. There’s lace with this leather, and there’s grace with this grit. … Vermilion is a unique, hearty, thought-provoking romp that rewrites history with a vivacious flourish.

I am truly humbled and excited by the enthusiasm Vermilion has been garnering from critics and readers. On one hand, it’s a bit bizarre, seeing how quickly people are reading it and writing about it—I’m experiencing a sort of Thanksgiving Dinner syndrome. The dang thing took me 5 years to write, and people are just tearing ass through it! But of course, on the other hand, I wrote it because I wanted to write something that would give people joy, so achieving that is wonderful and cathartic. The excitement is making me excited about the book all over again, and that feels amazing.

If you’ve yet to pick up Vermilion, you can now do so via Weightless Books, either in .mobi (Kindle), .epub (Nook, iPads, maybe Kobo?) and .pdf (???). If you prefer physical books, as Vermilion is distributed and returnable it would be delightful if you requested your local Barnes & Noble or indie bookstore get in, and bought it that way. Libraries can also get it—I know a few have done so already, but the more the merrier! You can also enter the Goodreads Giveaway; Word Horde is giving away three copies.

Finally, if you’ve enjoyed Vermilion, please consider reviewing it on Goodreads or on Amazon, and tell your friends!


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