Shout along. While the cats look on quizzically. After ruling out some options—like paying a friend to let me break into his house—I decide our house is the location. I get into character as Control, after first leaving our French doors facing the backyard unlocked. I walk up stealthy to the house in the late afternoon. I sneak through the backyard, only to see the neighbor staring at me from the next house down. I keep sneaking. I go in through the French doors. I walk through our house, trying to see everything with fresh eyes. Eventually, I wind up in the master bedroom, looking at a poster against the wall that has a hand-drawn map of Area X on it, just like I thought the former director would have left behind.
But I stare at it for a while, and a genuine feeling of dread and fear travels up my spine. July 21, Everything seems in order, like I wanted it. Never mind the abyss back home in our living room. Once I started piling them there, I was too superstitious too stop. Detritus of two weeks of frenzied effort.
I spend the evening watching movies on Netflix. I spend the next few days teaching teenagers how to write. One of them, 13, finishes their story. My left knee gives out in early November , while working on the third novel, Acceptance. It starts when I go out to hike the mile trail at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge that inspired Annihilation , to remember anything I might have forgotten. Any time I walk there in the winter, a crispness to the air, a freshness, blinds me to looking for hazards. Seven miles in, distracted by the light—the glorious light I keep trying to describe in these novels—I plant my left boot in a deep, grass-fringed hole and twist at the knee.
A twinge, but I hardly feel it and finish the hike. The next day at the gym I mistake a tightness in my knee while doing the leg press for the usual aches and pains—and keep going. All I can do is sit and type. It helps that the structure of Acceptance is already so clear to me: a vast, glowing starfish of a structure, with the characters set on their trajectories and my knowledge of Area X at its hub.
I am an archer who knows he has a chance of hitting the very center of the target. As my characters push through winter expeditions in the novel, winter is cresting in Florida. Thanksgiving weekend, Ann takes me out to Apalachicola on the coast of the Florida Panhandle. I need some last small-town Florida texture. Seen from the car: the worn-down dark nubs of trees on the strip of an off-white beach.
A ruined boat with the paint peeling off the sides and a dark line where the water, over time, stained the wood. A weird Christmas tree with buoys hanging off of it. The swifts and swallows follow trajectories charted by a drunk mathematician across the pale blue of a cloudless sky. I keep trying to write descriptions of them on the ride home, and failing to capture something important about them.
February Things are going great. The L. The news about Scott Rudin and Paramount optioning the film rights has made Annihilation one of the most talked-about books at the London Book Fair, and a slew of foreign rights deals follow shortly after that. With all of that going on, I wake up and get out of a freezing bed in my room at a bed-and-breakfast near Mendocino. This is about as far from the climate of Florida as you can get, and yet the same desolation and silence lurks in the wilderness.
I lace up my boots and, trying not to put too much weight on my bad knee, go outside with the final manuscript for Acceptance tucked under one arm.
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And here I am, starting to resemble a grizzled old lighthouse keeper—some demented solitary guy with tired eyes who takes long naps and lives nocturnal by the sea. Which would suit me fine, just so long as Ann was by my side. After working on the edits for a while, I go out into the wind and rain with a camera and a published copy of Annihilation under my raincoat. With difficulty because of the knee, I take a trail near Fort Bragg down to a place called the Glass Beach. Later, I take photos of Annihilation drying on rocks and post them on Twitter. Later, down the coast, I stop at a scenic historic spot, pull out the cord on the rental car GPS too fast, and the whole unbelievably complex mechanism explodes into pieces against the safety brake.
And I got rid of my smartphone before the tour—too distracting. I find that hour as calming as the hiking. Oh, to just concentrate on one thing for a moment. The farther south I travel along the California coast, the more relaxed things get.
Along the bottom of a sheer rock face on one side and the abyss of the sea, held at bay by the sheer cliffs to the other. Through a tunnel, across a suspension bridge. In a raging storm.
Still editing Acceptance , still tweaking Authority. People have been coming to the readings and buying multiple copies for friends. Now, theories about Area X are beeping and tumbling their way into my inbox. It means a lot to me, to connect like that. I love this scene. This bit terrified me. That scene was the most emotional part of the novel to write.
It required restraint, just letting the situation play out without the author intervening or editorializing. But although I studied owls closely before writing those scenes, nothing can compare to this moment, watching the owl. Up close, its feathers are even more amazing than in photographs.
The detail of the coloration, the richness of the layering, has an intrinsic beauty that defies depiction. Reviewers and the public have been very kind to Acceptance. Over the summer, Vernon Reid, founder of the band Living Colour, tweeted out his love of the novels, and then Stephen King did the same thing. His tweet became a blurb. Just by chance. After the owl photo shoot and a dinner, I just sleep and order take-out and have almost no contact with another human being until the gig the next night.
That pattern of enforced isolation repeats over and over until the end of the year. Otherwise, all the commotion would be just too much for an introverted curmudgeon like me. The barn owl they bring out onto the stage in Philly shits copiously within seconds of being out of its box. The trainer continues on talking about owls while it craps all over the stage.
Afterwards, other venues and bookstores later on the tour start asking: Does Jeff require a live owl at his events? The increasingly dire situations in the novel have already put me in a place where burnout is a possibility. I want the whole thing to be alive, owl shit and all. I open the book to a painting of a comet: an event thought of as supernatural back then. This is an image of a UFO, basically—to them.
And I have my scene. Somehow I have my scene exactly as I envisioned it in my head. The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives. In a country where the laws compel the use of cars, Americans are condemned to lose friends and relatives to traffic violence. My childhood neighbor was a varsity student-athlete, the president of the junior class, and the most popular girl in school. One day in September , a car crash took her life.
She had been driving home on the freeway when her car went across the median and collided with one going the opposite direction, killing both drivers. A third vehicle was said to have struck her car moments before, causing her to lose control. The police put out a call for information, apparently without success. But at the time, it felt like a basically unavoidable tragedy. In our small city in Michigan—like almost everywhere in America—driving is the price of first-class citizenship. We never stopped to ask whether a different bargain was possible. Since her passing, approximately 1 million more Americans have been killed in car crashes.
Unlike immigrants, natural-born citizens such as Carlson are neither screened nor forced to pass a citizenship test nor made to swear an oath. A few years ago, Maya Nanda began noticing a strange pattern among her patients. These young patients seemed anxious when they were discussing their symptoms, and they would often say they felt worried too. When one patient who had asthma complained of shortness of breath, Nanda discovered he was actually having a panic attack.
In , Nanda and her colleagues published a study that found that among 7-year-olds, allergies were indeed associated with depression, anxiety, and symptoms such as being withdrawn. Kids with hay fever had a threefold risk of depression and anxiety.
Recently, more evidence has supported this link—and not just in children. A study of German adults that came out in April also found that generalized anxiety was associated with seasonal allergies. In the early grades, U. The results are devastating, especially for poor kids. A t first glance, the classroom I was visiting at a high-poverty school in Washington, D. The teacher sat at a desk in the corner, going over student work, while the first graders quietly filled out a worksheet intended to develop their reading skills.
As I looked around, I noticed a small girl drawing on a piece of paper. Ten minutes later, she had sketched a string of human figures, and was busy coloring them yellow. Running down the left side of the worksheet was a list of reading-comprehension skills: finding the main idea, making inferences, making predictions. The girl was pointing to the phrase draw conclusions. She was supposed to be making inferences and drawing conclusions about a dense article describing Brazil, which was lying facedown on her desk. But she was unaware that the text was there until I turned it over.
More to the point, she had never heard of Brazil and was unable to read the word. A series of high-profile prosecutions highlights the impunity that the rich have long enjoyed. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it—Jeffrey enjoys his social life. In fact, they were widely known. There have, of course, been massive changes to the institution over the past few generations, leading the occasional cultural critic to ask: Is marriage becoming obsolete?
But few of these people seem genuinely interested in the answer.
Preston Jones, Playwright, Dead; Author of ‘Texas Trilogy’ Was 43 - The New York Times
More often the question functions as a kind of rhetorical sleight of hand, a way of stirring up moral panic about changing family values or speculating about whether society has become too cynical for love. In popular culture, the sentiment still prevails that marriage makes us happy and divorce leaves us lonely, and that never getting married at all is a fundamental failure of belonging.
- Maurice Halbwachs, sociologue retrouvé (Figures normaliennes) (French Edition).
- This Honest Man (Sam Dane Thriller Book 2).
- Behind The Scenes : Shattered Blue, Book One of The Light Trilogy.
Reed is partially right; for many evangelical Christians, there is no political figure whom they have loved more than Donald Trump. He spoke to me on the condition of anonymity, so as to avoid personal or professional repercussions. He had interviewed scores of people, many of them evangelical Christians. Wronged by Mueller, wronged by the media, wronged by the anti-Trump forces. A passionate belief that he never gets credit for anything. The notoriously quiet Supreme Court justice has had a far-reaching influence on the personnel of the Trump administration, which may be his most lasting legacy.
Clarence Thomas is the longest-serving justice currently sitting on the Supreme Court. The trouble is, because the second book is a bridge between the conflicts of the first and third books, it can be in danger of being boring. The reader knows nothing is at stake, because the final conflict will take place in the third book.
The second is all about bringing all the pieces into place for that final conflict. My formula for a trilogy is that the first book sets up the characters and their world; the second book turns everything upside down; and the third creates a new world comprised of elements of the first and second. Think of the original Star Wars trilogy: the first introduces Luke, Vader and so on. And then the third episode shows Luke coming to terms with this new reality and forging a new identity based on this new information—to the point where the young farm boy becomes enough like his father to go up against the Emperor but retains enough of his former self not to fall to the dark side.
By the end of the second book, the reader should be wondering how the hell these people are going to triumph in the end, as everything seems so hopeless and desperate. This approach gives the trilogy the appearance of a sine wave. The plot starts in the middle, rises slightly at the end of the first book, and then plunges down in the second, only to rise again in the third.
Second books are also great places to expand upon beloved characters. In Fleet of Knives , the second volume of the Embers of War trilogy, I present my characters with the unforeseen consequences of their actions in the first book. Something that seemed like a good thing turns out to be very, very bad. Plus, I introduce a new threat that has only previously been hinted at and turn one of the characters against the rest. Gareth was born and raised in Bristol, UK, and was once fortunate enough to have Diana Wynne Jones critique one of his early short stories over coffee.
Later, he went on to study creative writing under Helen Dunmore at the University of Glamorgan. Gareth has run creative writing workshops and given guest lectures at UK universities, been a guest speaker at the Arvon Foundation in Shropshire, and given talks about creative writing at various literature festivals around the country.
He has written scripts for corporate training videos, and is currently at work on a screenplay. Fleet of Knives is out now from Titan Books. You can find Gareth on Twitter and his website. Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the "un" removed from that statement. With six books under her belt and more on the way, she loves to write about destined heroes who fail anyway, twisting classic tropes on their heads, animals who feel more like people and, hopefully, about characters and worlds for you to have an opinion about.
She really can't wait for you to read these stories.
Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games which she believes is retribution for the characters' she's killed , wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success.
Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works as an evening librarian assistant. View all posts by Nicole Evans.