Birds and Birthdays Cover

It’s finally here, the cover for Birds and Birthdays, the 34th volume of Aqueduct Press’s ongoing Conversation Piece series.

The design is a standard for the Conversation Piece series, but the image on the front cover is one made by the artist Kristine Campbell (you can find more of her work at her website by clicking here).  It’s really such an honor for me to have this particular image as the cover for this particular book, because Kristine and I go back a ways, back to the year 2000, when both of us were working as library assistants in Lansing, Michigan.  I was a writer who hadn’t really published a lot of writing yet, and Kris was an artist who had made quite a lot of art and had had a lot of exhibitions around the country and in other countries, too.  Kris let me see some of her work at one point, and I immediately fell for it.  She has this amazing ability to match up different kinds of textures and styles into this surreal fusion with an underlying mythic power.  Back then, she had this long hanging that was made almost like a quilt, and it featured this red dress that was one of her obsessions at the time.  I wasn’t able to afford it, though, and eventually, in 2001, I moved back to Youngstown, Ohio, wondering if I’d ever come across Kris and her art again.

Thanks to the internet, in particular social networks, that became a mundane possibility, keeping in touch with old friends.  After I sold this little book to Aqueduct Press, I happened to see new images of Kris’s art appearing in the feed of my Facebook, and when I saw this one, I stopped, dropped, and rolled.

It was really perfect in ways that won’t be apparent until you read the stories in this collection (and I do hope you read them, you wonderful person reading this post at this very instant).  The image is called “Birds are Not the Target” but for this book, this image hit the bullseye.

The physical book will be available in mid-August, and the e-books will be available in September.  Once the book releases, I’ll be doing some more posts about the book, the stories, the essay, the artists, and how I put this particular collection together.  I’ll catch you all then.

Thanks for reading,


Andre Norton Award Jury Duty

While I already announced this on Facebook and Twitter , I thought I should mention it here on my blog, too, in case someone out there doesn’t keep up with my doings in the socializing networkings of the internet.

I’ll be serving as a juror for the 2012 Andre Norton Award, which honors outstanding science fiction and fantasy Young Adult and Middle Grade books.  Feel free to contact me by email if you have recommendations!

Official announcement from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America follows:

The 2012 Andre Norton Award committee has been chosen, and will begin accepting books for consideration. Any young adult/middle grade prose or graphic novel first published in English in 2012 is eligible.

The judges are:

Victoria McManus (chair)
Christopher Barzak
Merrie Haskell
Eugene Myers
Carrie Vaughn

The committee will consider all submitted young adult and middle grade books until January 31st, 2013. The award will be presented at the 48th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose, California, on May 18.

For submission information, please contact Victoria McManus at:

The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, named to honor prolific science fiction and fantasy author AndreNorton (1912–2005), is a yearly award presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) to the author of an outstanding young adult or middle grade science fiction or fantasy book published in the previous year. The award was established in 2005 by then SFWA president Catherine Asaro and the first SFWA Young Adult Fiction committee and announced on February 20, 2005. The first Norton Award (for the year 2006) was bestowed during the Nebula Awards ceremonies on May 11–13, 2007.

Birds and Birthdays Cover Copy

Just received the cover copy for BIRDS AND BIRTHDAYS, which will be out next month (already!). Here’s the publisher’s book description:

Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning: three of the most interesting painters to flourish in male-dominated Surrealism. This is Christopher Barzak’s tribute to them: three stories and an essay that enter into a humane surrealism that turns away from the unconscious and toward magic.

Sometimes the stories themselves seem to be paintings. Sometimes painter and writer may be characters, regarding each other through a painful otherness, talking in shared secrets. Barzak’s stories are huge with the spacious strangeness of worlds where there is always more room for a woman to escape her tormenters, or outgrow an older self. Here we find:

A bird-maker and a star-catcher whose shared history
spills over into the birds and the stars themselves.

A girl who outgrows her clothes, her house, and finally
her town—and leaves to find her body a new home.

A landlord, whose marriage, motherhood, separation,
sexual exploration, and excursions into self-portraiture
all take place within a single apartment building.

In “Remembering the Body: Reconstructing the Female in Surrealism,” Barzak comments on the images that inspired these stories and discusses his own position as a writer among painters.

I can’t wait to hold the book itself in my hands.

Cover image to come!