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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!

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!

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 LFP. 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 LFP 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/LFP/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

Friday, 6-8 PM: MASS SIGNING – THE BARRENS

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!

 

It’s been a wild week. Vermilion was reviewed nicely on Fantasy Literature, where they also ran an interview with me (comment and you might win a free copy!). Then Chuck Wendig gave me the chance to write about Five Things I Learned While Writing Vermilion over at his blog, Terrible Minds. People seemed to be enjoying it, which is lovely! Oh, and my publisher kindly set up a Goodreads Giveaway for the book—sign up before May 1 and you might win one of 3 copies!

Then yesterday, I got word that Vermilion not only has a *starred* review in Library Journal, but it’s also their SF/F Debut of the Month!

That’s two stars for Vermilion, and I gotta say, it feels wonderful to know that reviewers are enjoying what I’ve done. I’m sure the spectacular cover by Dalton Rose, designed by Osiel Gomez, isn’t hurting the book’s chances of getting noticed. And early Goodreads and Amazon reviews indicate that readers are also enjoying the book, which feels even better!

Anyways, I believe Vermilion will be in the Dealer Room at HorrorFest, so if you’re there this weekend, you could procure your very own copy. And if you’d like to say hi, here’s where I’ll be:

Saturday, April 18th

10 AM: Signing with Carrie Vaughn and Mario Acevedo (Extras Room?)

2 PM: Rebooting Horror Franchies: Is it Possible to Reboot a Horror Franchise? Which Would You Like To See Re-Imagined? (Panels Room)

4 PM: Best Moments in Horror Books and Films: What Are the Moments from Horror Books and Films that Stayed With You? (Panels Room)

Sunday, April 19th

11 AM: Signing with Mario Acevedo (Also in “Extras Room”)

1 PM: From Page to Screen: What Horror Stories Would You Like To See Adapted? (Panels Room)

3 PM: Plumbing the Darkness: Why Do We Write Horror? (Panels Room)

cupcakeTax Day (in the U.S.) seems like the ideal release date for my novel about… death. I mean, I hear both are the only things we can be certain of, right?

Anyways, Vermilion is officially… official. It’s available on B&N.com, Amazon.com, and maybe even some stores (though the chances of you finding one in your favorite local bookseller are increased if you ask nicely!).

I’m excited. I feel kind of weird, actually… I began this book so long ago, and knowing it’s out there in the world is wonderful. But it’s also a sad moment for me. My father passed away when Vermilion was just a draft, before I even had an agent, before a single editor had looked at the manuscript. But my father believed in my writing, and was always so proud of my successes; I know one of his biggest regrets was that he would not live to see it published. I suppose these are weird, macabre thoughts to be having on the official launch date of my first novel, but at the same time, while I would not claim Vermilion is autobiographical, my grief helped me write about grief, and my loss helped me write about loss, and those are… I think writers call them “motifs” in the novel. Fancy.

But, grief is but one aspect of Vermilion. When I look out my window, I can see the Rocky Mountains, whose majestic beauty I tried to do justice to in the novel. The sight of them chills and enthralls me every single day, even though I’ve lived at their base for years now. The aspens are still ghostly and bare, as they are in Vermilion, but they’re putting out the weird little vegetative caterpillars that announce their imminent leaves. And this weekend I’ll be celebrating the release at StarFest/HorrorFest down in Denver, which should be a hoot—I’ll see people like Carrie Vaughn, Stephen Graham Jones, Mario Acevedo, and other authors whose determination and spirit inspired me to keep going throughout the process of writing and editing and shopping and whatever else.

Before I go, I’d like to thank again those whom I mentioned in Vermilion’s acknowledgements… but I’d also like to thank my readers. For those of you who pre-ordered, thank you very much for your support. For those of you who have ordered via an online retailer, I am really and truly forever grateful. Anyone who’s put it on their Goodreads list, entered the giveaway, or is just planning on reading it at some point when they have time/space/funds/whatever, your enthusiasm is much appreciated.

Okay… I’m off. But, thank you again, everyone! And yay, book release day!

Photo on 4-9-15 at 9.37 AM #2It’s here!

I guess this means I can’t do another revision.

The cover is deliciously matte and silky smooth, the paper feels good on the fingers. It’s nice and heavy. It is beautiful and my name is on the cover because I wrote it. So basically what I’m trying to say is… it’s my first novel!

The early reviews are good. I’ve noted the (starred, ahem) Publishers Weekly review, and The Monitor’s high praise. Another site, Crows n’Bones, said:

“Every time I thought I had the book pegged as a specific thing, it would swerve into some wholly new and entertaining territory: Chinese mythology- flavoured occult yarn, picaresque western, opulent vampire chronicle, etc., etc. There are dragon fossils, inept monster slayers, pansexual brothels, snake oil salesmen in possession of the elixir of life, jackalopes, tobacco- obsessed talking bears and a general penchant for gender- bending. I totally approve.”

My Bookish Ways liked it as well, and their thoughtful review made me smile, especially this part:

Ultimately Vermilion calls to mind Joe Lansdale’s The Magic Wagon and Ricky Lau’s slapstick horror film Mr. Vampire along with Cherie Priest’s recent works. Fans of grittier Steampunk novels, urban fantasy, and weird westerns will likely find themselves very comfortable here and enjoy the ride.

Photo on 4-9-15 at 9.41 AMThe Magic Wagon was one of the best novels I read when researching the genre of the weird western, so I’m very excited to have Vermilion compared to such a fantastic expression of the genre!

Anyways, Vermilion is a book, and it’s beautiful, and I’m very, very happy.

Critically, the book is doing well, which is very exciting. That said, if you’ve read it and liked it, or if you want to read it, you can help Vermilion do well commercially, too! Ask your local independent booksellers to carry it (heck, tell your local Barnes & Noble about it, and while you’re being a chum, maybe mention to any bookstore you talk to that yes, the book is distributed/returnable by Ingram). Tell your local library about it, add it to your to-read pile on Goodreads (and any other lists you care to), tell your friends.

Anyways! Ebooks have gone out to pre-orderers, and physical copies should be arriving soon. I hope you all enjoy it! And stay tuned for more news…

We’re less than two weeks out from the official drop date for Vermilion, so before I become ultra-annoying about the book, I figured I’d acknowledge that my debut novel isn’t the only thing in my life.

The latest installment of Pygmalia is up, on Henry James’ Watch and Ward. Verdict: Stinky. But interesting.

I had a story accepted to Ross Lockhart’s latest Lovecraftian anthology, Cthulhu Fhtagn!. Yes, the exclamation point is part of the title, hence the double punctuation. The story, “The Curse of the Old Ones,” was co-authored by myself and Jesse Bullington, and it’s about Ingrid Pitt and Peter Cushing trying to keep their sanity on the set of a doomed Hammer Horror production called… you guessed it. Behold: the full ToC.

I’ll be at Starfest/Horrorfest the weekend of my book release, just Saturday/Sunday, but I’ll be there!

And now, here’s a little something for you, dear reader: two muffin recipes! Both are really delicious. Sorry I don’t have pictures, I didn’t even think about it! But, I came across these recipes when searching for something else yesterday, and I wanted to share.

These muffins are built off a similar base base that includes yogurt in the batter, which makes them fluffy if a bit delicate. Just be gentle when generously spreading with Earth Balance. Trust me on this, though… the carrot tahini, while maybe a little wild-sounding, is absolutely delicious and unique! And the apple pie muffin is like apple pie for breakfast…

Apple Pie Crumb Muffins

  • 2 c. flour
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ c. unsweetened coconut yogurt
  • ½ c. unsweetened nondairy milk
  • ½ c. oil
  • ½ c. finely chopped apple
  • ½ c. grated apple

For the Crumb: 

  • ¼ c. flour
  • ¼ c. brown sugar
  • a handful of oats
  • a pinch of salt
  • oil

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a muffin tin with spray oil.

Sift dry together. Stir wet together.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Mix gently until batter is not quite combined, and fold in chopped and shredded apple. Divide evenly among 12 muffin tins.

Mix together the dry ingredients for the crumb and then rub in the oil until it’s crumbly. Spoon over tops of muffins and press in gently.

Bake for 26-30 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Let sit in muffin tins for a bit before removing—the crumb is a bit delicate.

Carrot Tahini Muffins

  • 2 c. flour
  • ½ c. sugar + 2 tbs
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ c. unsweetened coconut yogurt
  • ½ c. orange juice
  • ½ c tahini
  • 1 tbs. vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange flower water (if you have it)
  • ¾ c. diced carrot
  • ¾ c. grated carrot

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a muffin tin with spray oil.

Sift dry together. Mix wet vigorously. The tahini may cause the mixture to seize; if that’s the case, add a little water until it loosens up.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Mix gently until batter is not quite combined, and fold in diced and shredded carrots. If a little dry, add a bit of water, but the carrots when they cook will make up a lot of moisture.

Bake for 26-30 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Let sit in muffin tins for a bit before removing—the crumb is a bit delicate.

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