• What They're (I'm) Reading

    BookPage calls The Motion of Puppets "eerie yet poignant" and calls it "the perfect novel to read as Halloween creeps up." (Thanks, BookPage!) They asked me to list three books that I've read, am reading, or will soon read.  And I chose Ruth Franklin's biography of Shirley Jackson, Emma Donoghue's The Wonder, and Sjón's novel Moonstone.

    To find out why, check out BookPage.

  • Politics & Prose

    The reading at Politics & Prose was lots of fun. They do a great job hosting events, and it was a delight to see family and friends and to chat about puppets, Muybridge, and Eurydice.

  • Five Books About Living Dolls and Puppets

    I hate puppets. Uncanny, scary, they are too much like us, especially when they have a life of their own. Dolls are just as bad. Ventriloquist dummies give me the creeps. Basically, any homunculus or simulacrum of the human unsettles and delights the soul.

    Perhaps that’s a strange thing to admit, given that my new novel The Motion of Puppets is, in part, about a strange troupe of puppets that come to life every evening in the back of toy shop in Quebec. When I was a young boy, I saw an old “Merrie Melodies” cartoon that showed how the toys would have a party after midnight and return to their places before the next dawn. That cartoon was one of those fantasias that left a lifelong impression on me.

    Puppet shows are also weird and eerie. I grew up on the Muppets and the other creatures from Jim Henson’s imagination, and lately enjoyed the work of the Bread and Puppet Theatre, Basil Twist, and the Old Trout Puppet Company—among others—that take the stuff of childhood and torque them into adult puppet shows that breathe and hum and tug at the psyche. Two wonderfully strange books about the history and culture of puppets are Victoria Nelson’s The Secret Life of Puppets and Kevin Gross’s Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life.

    Living dolls and puppets are the subject of a number of novels and stories, some of which came into play when I concocted my story that takes the Orpheus and Eurydice myth and sets the underworld in puppetland. The puppet characters kind of grew on me, to the point where I love them as well. They pulled my strings, so to speak. So it is a love-hate kind of thing on my part. I have no idea how they feel about me.

    You can read the rest of the essay at:

  • What kind of novels do you write?

    To that oft-posed question, I never know what to say. Some people are expecting a conventional answer--western, thriller, horror, historical, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, and so on. Despite the fact that some of my novels have been categorized in one genre or another (or sometimes more than one at a time), I don't really think of them as anything but stories. With a twist.

    My interests are myth, folklore, and archetypes, and how these old stories are ways of looking at the realities of life. Thus, The Stolen Child uses the folklore of the faery changeling, and Angels of Destruction, the idea of the uncertain angel. A dark comedy told by a dead man about to be re-born, Centuries of June revolves around eight well-known stories and legends from America, and The Boy Who Drew Monsters is, in part, about the legend of the haunted house and the fear of monsters under the bed. Or in our heads.

    The Motion of Puppets relies on the ancient Greek love story of Orpheus and Eurydice with a dash of the uncanny life of puppets, who sometimes act as provocateurs of the unconscious.

    All of them take elements of the mythical or fabulous to combine with very real human struggles. Without prejudice between the real and the imaginary, between life and the dream of life.