Kelly McCullough writes fantasy, science fiction, and books for kids of varying ages. He lives in Wisconsin with his physics professor wife and a small herd of cats. His novels include the WebMage and Fallen Blade series — Penguin/ACE, and the forthcoming School for Sidekicks — Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. He also dabbles in science fiction as science education with The Chronicles of the Wandering Star — part of an NSF-funded science curriculum — and the science comic Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp, which he co-authored and co-edited — funding provided by NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Kelly on Twitter, Facebook, G+, ello

Lee Perish, an appreciation

February 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

My wife Laura’s aunt Lee was smart and tough and sarcastic and funny and fierce. That last most of all.

That toughness and humor reminded me of the women who raised me, and I liked her from the moment I met her. That was at Laura’s high school graduation almost twenty-two years ago. The feeling was mutual. Part of that may have been that I sat down to talk with her, so that we could be at eye level while she used her wheel chair. Some of it may have come from my grabbing a pad of paper and a pen to talk so that she didn’t have to read my lips. Some of it was the fact that we were both science fiction fans and cat people.

Mostly though, I think it was because she loved Laura fiercely—just as she did everything fiercely—and she trusted Laura’s judgment. Since I was having the usual issues with being the new boy come a-courting, and maybe a bit more than the usual issues, that instant acceptance was very welcome.

When Laura went to college that fall, Lee got into the habit of taking her to every Shakespeare play that came along at the Guthrie Theatre. We would pick up Lee and I would drop them both off and pick them up afterward. That lasted two or three years until Lee suggested that I really ought to come with them. For nearly twenty years after that Lee was our regular date for Guthrie shows, mostly Shakespeare, two or three a season. It was always wonderful to see Lee and have dinner and chat, and it’s going to be very hard to go back to the Guthrie without her, though she wouldn’t want us to stay away, which means we won’t.

In grad school, Laura took sign language courses so that she could speak to Lee more easily, and I learned what I could at second hand, finger-spelling and a small vocabulary of signs that let me at least communicate the basics without resorting to spelling or pad of paper. I never got very good at it, but she was always patient with me, and glad to see me doing what I could. We talked about lots of things, the three of us, but mostly about books and cats, which were her passions as well as ours. That and our lives.

She always wanted to know what we were up to, and she cheered us both on as Laura worked her way through grad school to becoming a professor and I went from wanting to write to being a published author. She never let a visit pass without telling us how proud she was of us and how much she loved us, and we loved her back, likewise fiercely.

That’s how we’re going to miss her too, fiercely.

Like Downton Abbey on a boat, with elves, and time lords…at a con!

February 23, 2012 in Silly, Surreal

That was the pitch line for my dream last night, that or something very much like it. I think my brain may have overheated in the night and started to melt. While I slept last night, I got involved in a stage production. It was a period piece set on Galadriel’s yacht on the eve of last alliance between men and elves. Tension was high as it was only a question of time until the war against the dark lord Sauron broke out. The action of the play was focused on the intense rivalries and unlikely alliances between classes. So far, so very strange. Add in that the name of the yacht was the Galifrey——I can only assume that it sailed through time as well as along the mighty Anduin——and the strange goes to eleven. The thing that make me fear for my frontal lobes though, was that the production was being staged as part of the opening ceremonies at a con. I fear my dreams.

Quick Link

February 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

There’s a new interview of me up at Fantasy Faction. I think it’s one of the better ones that I’ve done in recent years, and if you’re interested in listening to me noodle on about story and what I write and the genre in general, it’s worth a look.

My Brain & Me: Scenes From An Absurdist Dialogue #1

February 17, 2012 in Silly

Brain: Hola Kelly, como estas?

Me: ???????

Brain: En este photograhphia, el autobus—

Me: (interrupting) WTF brain?

Brain: Shh, play along. Buenos tardes, Senors e Senoras, en este photographia—

Me: Seriously, WTF? It’s been nearly 30 years since we took Spanish and I’m pretty sure you’re doing it wrong.

Brain: (triumphantly) See!

Me: What?

Brain: No one inspects the Spanish exposition!

Me ????????

Brain: Get it? That’s a joke, son, laugh.

Me: For this you woke me up before 8:00 am?

Hits brain with stick, but it’s too late. I’m already up. Sigh.

Review: Martha Wells, The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea

January 25, 2012 in Other People's Books

I’m reading Martha Wells’ The Serpent Sea right now. It’s the sequel to The Cloud Roads, and, like it’s predecessor, it is an excellent read. These books are hard to capture in a review of any reasonable length. This is because they are dense, and complex, with truly amazing world building, and non-human characters who are quite genuinely alien, yet still comprehensible and sympathetic.

The characters, particularly the protagonist, Moon, are compelling and flawed and likable. Stone and Jade are also excellent. The plots are solid and fast moving. But it’s the world that…just, wow! There is a depth and breadth and sheer alienness here that I have rarely seen in any novel. Shape-shifters, flying ships, city-trees, six kazillion sentient races, floating islands, and on and on and on, and yet it isn’t too much. Every bit of it makes sense in the context of the world.

I’m normally not a big one for writing reviews, and certainly not for books I haven’t finished. But I love these books and I want them to be widely read so that Martha gets to keep writing them, and I have to read them slowly because there’s simply so much to digest and think about. So, I’m going to post this now in hopes of driving a few more people to go pick them up.

Also, since it’s always worth mentioning when speaking of Wells’ work, if you haven’t read her earlier books The Element of Fire and The Death of the Necromancer, which are among the best fantasy novels written in the last thirty years, you should go find copies and read them immediately.

Cat Vest: The Video

January 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

A small bit of fuzzy cuteness is my Hogmanay present to the world, Cat Vests: The Video:

In which I am cat furniture.

Broken Blade News

December 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

A few more bits of Broken Blade news have come in. The first reviews are starting to go up now, here and here and there for example. Also, an interview with Civilian Reader and I did a piece for Penguin’s website.

Broken Blade: it’s a real book now, with sequels and everything.

November 29, 2011 in Books

I appear to have written another book. Well, the writing part was actually finished almost a year ago, but the bit where the world sees it starts today. It’s called Broken Blade and its got assassins and sorcerers and swordfights and something very like zombies. Hopefully, you will all like it and want to share it with your friends, families, pets, and random people off the street. You can read the first chapter of it here: Broken Blade.

I really don’t have a lot more to say about the book at this point in time. Once it’s printed and bound and all of those things, a book more or less has to speak for itself and I’m going to let it, though you can hear me talking about a variety of things with Anton Strout at his latest Once and Future podcast, recorded on Sunday.

I mentioned sequels, didn’t I? While readers are just getting their first real chance to see the book for themselves, I’ve been busily working on the next one. Two actually. Tomorrow, or possibly later today, I will be hitting send on the email that will put the third book, Crossed Blades, in my editor’s in-box so that I can start worrying about whether she will like it. But wait, what about the second book?

Bared Blade is actually already available for preorder at places like Barnes and Noble and Amazon. While I’m being commercial, I should probably also post the links for ordering Broken Blade directly from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indiebound (various independents) should you be so inclined.

The website is new as well. For which, many thanks to Ben Zvan. Feel free to poke around and kick the tires and the like. While I’m thanking people, the following individuals all got special thanks in the book and should probably be thanked again here, Laura McCullough, Jack Byrne, Anne Sowards, my mapmaker Matt Kuchta, and Neil Gaiman for the loan of the dogs.

One final note. If you’re viewing this on November 29th, and you happen to be in the Minneapolis/St Paul area, I’ll be reading bits of the book at the Har Mar Barnes and Noble tonight at 7:00, as well as making a few other appearances later in the week.

Broken Blade, meet world. World, meet book.

Launch Events for Broken Blade

November 21, 2011 in Books, Readings and Signings

So, I have a new book coming out a week from Tuesday, Broken Blade. The first chapter can be found here.

It can be bought at all the usual places, of course, but if you want to get a signed copy, you might want to come to one of the events I’ll be having in November and December.

1st up: Launch day reading and signing at the Barnes and Noble in Har Mar Mall in Roseville (St Paul) MN. 7:00 pm, Tuesday November 29th.

2nd: I’ll be signing and chatting with whoever shows up at Uncle Hugo’s science fiction book store in Minneapolis, MN. 1:00 pm Saturday December 3rd.

3rd: I’ll be signing, maybe reading, and chatting with whoever shows up at Bookends on Main in Menomonie, WI. 5:00 pm Thursday December 8th.

4th: I’ll be signing and chatting with whoever shows up at Dreamhaven Books in Minneapolis, MN. 2:00 pm Saturday December 10th. This will be one of the last events at the book store before they become primarily on online book seller.