every book i ever wrote and all their awesome titles

Everyone should be jealous of them. I’m going to list them all here, because it feels like a thing to do. I’ll put them in order of when I started writing them, so it’s in a different order than how they’re published and most of these haven’t been published and some aren’t even finished.

I decided to make this list because I just saw that Noir: A Love Story’s galleys are ready.

noir cover

2010

Noir: A Love Story

The first novel I ever wrote. A detectiveless detective magic realism novel with 26 narrators.

The Day I Swallowed the Moon

An anti-novel that I broke by experimenting. Going to go back and finish it some day because I know how to fix it now. It’s a werewolf novel.

Echoes

Intensely surreal novel written to be the exact opposite of Noir. It’s a single first person uninterrupted narration. No jumps in time or anything. Just nonstop narration. Full of swordfights and extremely long conversations about the world they live in, which is constantly shifting.

Ash Cinema

My first published novel is a triptych novel about love and Death, and especially about Sebastian Falke, a fictional avant garde filmmaker.

2011

To Leave Only Shadows

An apocalyptic polyphonic magic realism novel that might be psychological horror. 13 narrators. A city in decay, plagued by giant ravens, and spontaneous combustion.

Eyepenny

This is the inverse of To Leave Only Shadows. That makes sense if you read To Leave Only Shadows, but this idea came much earlier, and I wrote Shadows to learn how to do this one, which is unfinished and the novel I still think of as my first one. It’s a very old idea and the novel keeps growing to the point that I’m afraid to look at it.

The City of Lost Things

Alternate history. In 1999 half of the moon breaks off, collides with the earth, which sparks a fifty year war that decimates the earth. This takes place from 2001-2049, and is told in five parts. It’s mostly about living in a city at the edge of where the moon crashed, which is called the Lunar Sea and becomes the Lunar Forest. Starts as mostly realism but becomes sort of magic realism/science fiction by the end. Unfinished.

Loveless

Takes place in the same world as City of Lost Things and is also unfinished. It’s about a one handed female detective living near the City of Lost Things, and is what I’m calling oneiric noir. Intensely surreal and the narration’s pretty fractured and anti-linear.

Poetics

Takes place in the same world as above but set about 400 years in the future, after wars have torn earth apart, and people search for a new world in ark ships. A surreal space opera about revolution and AI and posthumanism. The people are the second and third generation of people living in the ark ship.

the gods we’re not

Set in the same world as the above but about a hundred years before Poetics. Begins as cyberpunk and turns into a pretty surreal biopunk novel. Still unfinished, but I keep telling myself every six months to go back in and complete this dummy.

And then the Wolves

This is actually the first thing I wrote in the epic fantasy world of Twilight of the Wolves. It’s set about 400 years after and takes place during a war. It’s less obviously fantasy, but it’s rooted in that world.

afterLife

Unfinished. A verse novel set in the world of Death for the worlds described above. It’s about a boy who grows up in the afterlife and begins fracturing his personality over and over again while all the new dead from the wars are collapsing always into the world of Death. It’s linguistically abrasive and crazy surreal.

To Live [published as Twilight of the Wolves]

My surreal postcolonial inverted epic fantasy. The second novel of mine published. It’s about the clash of cultures, imperialism, democracy, anarchism, religion, war, and especially about what it means to be human.

2012

Transdimensional Transgender Transubstantiation: A Memoir

The most bonkers thing I’ve ever written. Two photons of light escape from an exploding star, get mashed together, land on earth, become a man, who then splits into a man and woman. The woman births a new universe. It’s very strange and surreal.

Paradise, Lost

Another one abandoned because I made a stupid prose experiment that I didn’t like. It’s magic realism and it’s about suicide, bipolar disorder, alchemy, pornography, transhumanism, and the internet. I really should get back to this one. I wrote 20k words in the first 24 hours of it, though I abandoned it three days later because of how I broke it. I know how to fix it though.

The Curious Girl Floating There

My first graphic novel with [stolen] photography by Natsumi Hayashi about a girl who can’t stop floating and the boy who loves her. Hopefully this can someday be published, but I need her permission, which I can’t seem to get.

2013

a palimpsest

My gargantuan novel to end all novels: 101 narrators. Right now it’s about 150k words, which I wrote January of last year. I keep meaning to go back to it but I took a break which accidentally keeps going on. It’ll probably be about 300k words by the time it’s finished, which is sort of why I keep pushing it off. It’s sort of based on how I imagine Roberto Bolano’s life to be, and since I’ve done no research, it’s pretty much just whatever I feel like. It’s a mix of realism, surrealism, apocalyptic fiction, memoir, love note, critical analysis, and epic fantasy. Oh, there’s also a play about a woman who digs up her own grave in the middle.

Times from Before

My second graphic novel, this time using Kyle Thompson‘s photography, but he said he didn’t want me to publish it, so I guess I won’t. It’s pretty intense and surreal and sort of elliptical.

TANKATANKATANKA

My first poetry collection written over a weekend while feverish. 119 poems, most of them haiku and tanka in style and form.

–i am alone facing the moon rising on the edge of a mountain–

My second collection written over a different weekend using tanka, haiku, and ryuka poetry. 126 poems. It’s dedicated to Yoshiya Chiru, a prostitute poet who starved herself about 400 years ago.

( )

About a man who fades into himself. It’s sort of psychological horror, maybe. About dissolution and dying.

Girl with Ears & Demon with Limp

A serial novel about a girl born with wolf ears set in the same world as Twilight of the Wolves. In this first part she’s thrown into an infinite castle and must fight her way out with the help of an insane man who was trapped in the castle.

Ancient Robots of the Distant Future

Collection of stories and a novella about a robot from our near future who lives for thousands of years. The stories begin in the near future and go through the end of civilisation and to where it begins to rebuild itself, so the robot sort of takes on a mythic quality.

Be Careful, My Children

Another polyphonic novel, 25 narrators. It was meant to be written for J David Osborne’s Broken River Press, and I only had a week to write it. It began as a murder mystery but eventually became something altogether different. It’s both science fiction and fantasy. Set in a reality where the moon cracked and half fell to the earth [much like City of Lost Things, but the timeline diverges]. 150 years before the novel, all white people on earth died, and 50 years after that all the males on the planet died. The world’s dominant cultures are Argentinian and Korean. So this is the third/fourth/fifth generation of a purely female world and the world’s dying from previous cataclysms, and everything’s going extinct except for wolves. People discover a civilisation of human-like creatures who look like tiny males. From there things get very strange. It might actually even be weirder than Transdimensional Transgender Transubstantiation.

2014

13 Angels Screaming at the Mountain

I’ve started this novel three times and scrapped what I had. It’s a novel about giant monsters, and it’s going to be awesome because I had a breakthrough today.

Let me sleep beneath the dirt of a wasted world

Novella set in a world created by the awesome Joseph Michael Owens. It’s about a plant/human hybrid set in a fantasy world who accidentally gains godlike powers.

remember me as a time of day

My third graphic novel, which needs to be rewritten. This iteration is too internal and too much about a very sad moment in my life that I was dealing with by writing this novel. Artwork by the amazing Jazmyn Mares

The Dust Cartographer & Theory of the Infinite Castle

Novella also set in that same world created by Joseph Michael Owens but it takes place in an infinite castle. It’s about a plant growing legs and becoming a mobile creature and a god who’s lived so long her brain’s rotted in her own skull and then the civilisations that have sprouted within the infinite castle believing it to be the whole world.

you are the sea drifting endlessly through the sky

My third poetry collection made of 100 poems in a range of styles, but mostly haiku and ryuka. Probably also dedicated to Yoshiya Chiru.

Wolves at the Shore/We are the Moon Tonight Bathed in Fungal Light

My novel in progress. This is the first first person narration I’ve done since Echoes. It’s a horror novel set a few generations in the future after the earth began fighting back against humanity. Fungus is swallowing civilisation and most of the earth. Lots of biopunk and cyberpunk and fantasy and surrealism and even a few myths. Doing the kind of fun stuff I always do: inventing religions, cultures, and ideologies. And, of course, there are wolves.

So, yeah, those are my novel[la]s and poetry collections. To go along with all that, I have about 600 pages of short fiction, which could use a nifty name. Though it may not look like it, all of the novel[la]s take place in the same interconnected web of realities. The City of Lost Things begins a timeline that stretches into the fantasy world of Twilight of the Wolves. The City of Lost Things is also a world in reflection to the one we live in, which is the reality of Noir and Shadows. Eyepenny is set in yet another reflected reality. Be Careful, My Children is in a timeline that broke off of The City of Lost Things’ timeline. What binds all these various realities together is a consistent mythology and echoes of the worlds in each other, so characters don’t really reappear in different novels, but their shadows do. For example, the protagonist of Eyepenny is the reflected self of a main character in Shadows. Be Careful, My Children is, in a sense, a reflection of Noir, but everything turned to an extreme, and sort of maybe completely insane. Also, the protagonist of Loveless is a character in a film made by Sebastian Falke from Ash Cinema. Sebastian Falke is actually sort of the secret architect of all this, in that his films kickstarted several entwined realities.

But probably you don’t need to know any of that.

Some things that appear in almost everything: dust, wolves, ravens, a child goddess, giant trees/towers, dreams becoming reality, travelling between realities, and finding love in an uncaring world.

But, yeah, probably this is only of interest to me. It also makes me feel like I’ve written much more than I actually have. Hopefully all these novels will some day be real and published. But who’s to say!

a public ransom and flying with molly

 

 

Two of the coolest people I know are currently running indiegogo campaigns for two very different projects.

I’ll start with the great Pablo D’Stair, who published my first novel, Ash Cinema, recently finished his first film, A Public Ransom. He’s a friend and probably genius and you’re going to want to see this movie, if nothing else. Details about the indiegogo are here:

So, my debut film A PUBLIC RANSOM is done and out there, available to all for free viewing online HERE. It was a pure underground, guerrilla endeavor to put together, this bleak little art-house noir–purposefully working with no budget and rudimentary equipment to make something in the bare bones spirit of so many filmmakers iconic to me.  As with everything I do, it was l’art pour l’art and came together exactly as uncompressed and non-solicitous as was the intention.

So what is this campaign then?

The single aim of this is to raise some additional money for entry fees to film festivals. I am draining my own personal coffers as much as possible as well, rest assured, but there are many opportunities–with it firmly in mind the sort of movie this is, I ain’t sending it to Cannes, dig?–that seem specifically tailored for films like A PUBLIC RANSOM and I would hate to miss those boats just for being a few bucks short.

To read more check out the indiegogo campaign page.

The next campaign is for the amazing Molly Gaudry. She’s been dealing with a brain injury for the last couple years, and she’s finally discovered therapy that truly works for her. In addition, she wants to bring this therapy to others. Molly’s an awesome friend, founder of The Lit Pub and one of the kindest people I’ve encountered. Details about her campaign here:

Why I Want To Become An AntiGravity® Fitness Instructor and How You Can Help

  • As many of you know, for the past few years I’ve struggled with double vision, cognitive functioning, and sensory processing disorder (explained in fuller detail here and here).
  • A few months ago, at the end of my first semester as a PhD candidate at the University of Utah, Dr. Ericson at the Rehabilitation Center’s Brain Injury Program said to me: “It’s time you start seriously considering a viable Plan B, outside of academia.”
  • Instead, I renewed my efforts in vision therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy (including vestibular, proprioceptive, kinesthetic, sensorimotor, listening, and sensory integration and regulation therapies), craniosacral therapy, myofascial trigger point release therapy, and mental health therapy.
  • Then I found AntiGravity® Fitness, which changed my life. And now I want to become a certified instructor so I can help change others’ lives.
  • I’m going to go into a lot more detail about all of this below, but right here I’d like to ask for your help: I NEED TO RAISE $7,000, which will go toward CERTIFICATION COSTS (outlined below, including indiegogo’s and other 3rd party fees). If you are able to contribute in any way, please select from the THANK YOU PERKS donated by writers, artists, musicians, photographers, editors, and publishers from all over the country. (If you are in a position to contribute and would rather not receive a perk, every $50 or $100 donation will go a very long way toward this campaign.)

Full details at the indiegogo campaign page.

So, yes, go help out some awesome people be somehow even more awesome.

a month at entropy

Entropy Magazine is the coolest place on the internet, and it’s been going on for about a month. I’ve contributed four column articles about short films, which I’ll link here:

Fathoms

Dark Noir

Posthuman

The Backwater Gospel

What I’ve been doing is talking about short animated films, and there are a few reasons why. I love animation. I love film. It really is that simple, but the reason I chose short films is because it’s something the reader can experience right then and there. Doing normal film reviews leads to a separation, wherein you can read the review, go see the movie, come back and agree or disagree. Here that happens all at once, and most of the films I’ll be writing about are going to be under ten minutes [though Fathoms is about twenty].

I’m also a part of an ongoing conversation about the aesthetics of videogames.

Part I

Part II

And then some editor lists:

Best films

Best videogame villains

Unfinished books

And that’s all I’ve been a part of so far. I’ll be doing a new short film every week, and then every fifth week will be an off day. Other than that, there will be various other posts, including the weekend lists. But be sure to check out other posts on the site. Some way smarter people than me are writing there and are well worth checking out.

ANyrate, that’s it for now.

two years

It’s been two years that I’ve gotten to know you, to love you, to be with you.

Though it hasn’t been easy, and sometimes it’s been almost too hard, I can say today that it’s been worth it.

It took me just a few days to fall in love with you, to promise to fly back to you, but it’s taken me two years to know you, to understand you, to love you better. I hope we have two more years, and then two more, and always two more from where we are.

For so long I believed I’d spend my life alone and then there was you. Twenty four years of solitude and now two with you. I wouldn’t trade either, but I can tell you which ones were better.

I love you.

on writing books no one wants

I’ve written several novels now. Six in their final form, and I have a few others in various states of disrepair and incompletion. Two of my novels have been published, with another one coming out in a few months. It’s hard to say if anyone actually wants any of these books, though.

Mostly I want to talk about Twilight of the Wolves, which I knew would be a hard sell at first, which is why I’m offering a free novella to those who buy a paperback edition, and why the kindle version is currently $2.99. Even with all that, it looks like no one’s biting, which is, admittedly, quite disappointing. I think there are a few very big reasons for this.

I think part of it has to do with my built in audience, which is made up of the indie lit crowd. I deeply love these people and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me, and I’ve made some great friends within that community. The issue is, I suppose, that it’s a pretty small market, and that few of them have the money or desire to buy everything that comes out. But, I mean, who can do that? But the real point is that no indie authors are making a living off their words, which is why so many are also professors or currently in programs that will lead to them gaining teaching positions. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but it means that your audience is ridiculously small, and largely in conversation with itself. This means very little of what’s published by and within the community reaches past it to casual readers, or even the larger arena of readers, which is a small market to begin with. So what we have, in a sense, is the smallest market within a very small market. It means that very few, if any of us, are selling that many copies of our books. There are exceptions, I’m sure, and there are those who get a lot of great critical attention, especially lately. But I’m not sure how that translates to sales, but I’m sure Two Dollar Radio sells better than most publishing houses of that size because of how much attention their books get, which is a testament to the authors there and to the Obenaufs.

Part of the indie community’s mentality is the importance of high artistic appeal, which typically means that most of the books fall into the experimental or literary genres. Often times both. We love strong prose that plays with form and structure. I think many of the readers within the community don’t have much interest in genres like science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror. There are exceptions, of course, but many of those writers who write genre but are critically beloved are considered transcenders–those who reach past the shabby limits of genre fiction and tap into the literary genre. Thinking of people like Brian Evenson and Matt Bell, though there are certainly others. By and large, the indie community is interested in literary fiction, which is exemplified by the presses associated with the community. I can’t think of any publishing houses that actively seek SF/F, though a few want horror. And it’s not that they necessarily discourage SF/F, but that’s not their audience, and they don’t really want to be a part of that conversation.

Also, before I get too far, I’ll just say this is all how I perceive the community [which should be obvious] and is in no way meant as a definitive description. If there are indie presses doing SF/F, I’d love to see them! Mixer Publishing is one, but I’m not sure how many others there really are. And that’s not to say that there aren’t indie genre publishers. It means that they’re not really a part of the indie lit community, as I understand it. Also, I’m not going to talk about journals or magazines, because that’s absurd to even discuss. For every ten writers, there’s a journal that exists.

Anyrate, moving past the community–which is the audience I can tap into most readily because I’m a member of the community–let’s take a look at the genre readers.

One peculiar thing I discovered when trying to mail ARCs to different magazines and websites for review or interview opportunities, I largely met a wall of disinterest. Most genre publications won’t even look at a book if it’s not published by a SFWA publisher, which puts a huge limit on your ability as an indie author to tap into that market. Beyond that issue, many genre readers are looking for more commercial fiction, something fun and exciting that’s also full of big ideas and complex morality. What they’re typically less interested in is difficult prose. What genre readers want is an open door that leads to a headlong race, a house of mirrors, or a labyrinth. I disagree with everyone who says that genre readers don’t want to be challenged by their books, because that’s just completely untrue and absurd. It is true, however, that they’re less interested in how you can play with the structure of a sentence. They want clear and clean prose that allows them into the complexity of the world you’ve created, where they can wrestle with the philosophical, social, and moral implications of your narrative. A Song of Ice & Fire isn’t difficult to read, but it’s an incredibly complex series of novels. The same is true of MalazanThe Book of the New Sun, The Dispossessed, and Neveryon. And even despite the disinterest in complex or experimental sentences, I think you’ll find few writers more talented than Gene Wolfe, Ursula K Le Guin, and Samuel R Delany, even on a sentence by sentence reading.

Anyrate, so these are the two worlds that Twilight of the Wolves is dealing with. In one, there’s a small built in audience, but the word fantasy cast a dark cloud over the novel. Then there’s the genre audience, which is huge, but is largely disinterested in books published by independent literary presses.

And Twilight of the Wolves very much falls between these two worlds. It’s an experimental novel with sometimes very caustic and aggressive and lyrical prose. It’s rooted in the postcolonial and surreal, and is a subversion of the fantasy genre while being firmly and definitely in dialogue with the fantasy tradition. It’s postmodern and it has a tricky structure with lots of surrealism and difficulty to overcome. It’s a book that demands you learn how to read it and rise to the challenge it presents.

Both of the reviews published about Twilight of the Wolves very much misunderstand even what happens in the novel. Both reviews didn’t even realise that a third of the novel is narrated by a character because of that character’s inability to use personal pronouns or speak aloud. I was grateful for both reviews and it made me proud that both of them loved the book so much. It didn’t even bother me that they missed what I think is a very important part of the book. The novel, though I often think of it as being very straightforward [lying to myself, surely], presents many challenges to the reader, and because of the thickness of the prose, it makes discovering the actual narrative a challenge I wasn’t expecting. And I’ve received only very positive feedback from the novel. People who read it and give themselves to it seem to truly love what’s happening.

But on the otherside of this literary/experimental/postmodern leaning, there’s the fantasy. This is very much a fantasy novel. I stand firmly by that. This is a world I’ve been dreaming my whole life, and it’s purely genre, despite the literary tricks and the playing with form. It’s a reaction to the tradition, but also a continuation of the tradition. I believe people who love George RR Martin, Gene Wolfe, Samuel R Delany, Joanna Russ, Ursula K Le Guin, and China Mieville will really love this novel. And while it’s silly for me to compare myself to any of them, I think I learnt a lot from each of them. Kyle Muntz once told me that the novel reminded him of Thomas Pynchon, but I always think the novel is much closer to Earthsea and Neveryon, and sort of the flipside of Game of Thrones, in that we’re only looking at the people at the bottom. The focus isn’t on kings and knights and ladies and prophecies. We’re looking at orphans: a eunuch, the only survivor of a plague, and a man cursed by a god. They’re powerless, and they don’t rise through the social or military ranks of the world. Instead they try to escape it entirely.

But this isn’t escapism. I didn’t think of it while I wrote it, but this book is very much influenced by Edward Said, Eduardo Galeano, Noam Chomsky, Taoism, Shintoism, and transcendentalism. Though this novel takes place on a different planet, in a very different solar system, it’s rooted in humanity, and its only real question remains: what does it mean to be human?

This, more than any of my other novels, is about what it means to live, which was the original title, and it’s the title I still think of it having. To Live.

And so I’ve written a difficult book that very few people want to read, but it’s the most perfect artistic expression I’ve yet created. It’s the novel that is perhaps most deeply me, most deeply autobiographical, most deeply everything I’ve ever loved and hated.

It will challenge you and perhaps it’s not worth it to you, but this is the book I had to write, and there are many more books set in this world, and they’ll likely all hit this same nebulous inbetween. Being both literary and fantasy, but belonging to neither.

I always knew this was going to be a difficult sell, but I really am disappointed with how it’s selling, and maybe I shouldn’t be. Maybe I should be focusing on how those who read it love it. But I guess I expected more for it. It’s difficult putting your whole heart and life into a book and then watching it struggle to stay afloat in the ocean.

I stepped into this year hoping to become a full time writer. I’ve given up on that, I think. It’s very unlikely that this will sell much better. There’s a huge market for it, especially since Game of Thrones entered our television screens, but tapping into that giant market is no easy task, and it’ll likely be a few more books till I’m there, but this is where my heart is, which is sometimes strange to think about. I walked so deeply into the indie lit community only to realise the books I wanted to write didn’t belong there. I mean, I have a few books that still fit quite nicely there, and I think Noir: A Love Story is perfect for that crowd, so look for that in a couple months. July.

But I am disappointed, and I think that I may be shrugging off a lot of this extra stuff I’m doing and just get back to writing. My time has become split by a thousand obligations, and I want to cutoff most of those, and probably will soon. I need to focus back on the words and fight for these books.

So, for now, if you’re still reading this, there’s the promotion I’m doing for the month of April where you can get a novella with Twilight of the Wolves for free. After April, I think I’ll be going underground for a while and just focusing on what really matters with this whole writing business: the words.

something special for april

Twilight of the Wolves was released on Friday but now it’s April, and because it’s April, I decided to do a little special offer. So, for the entire month of April, when you buy any edition of Twilight of the Wolves I’ll also send you a digital copy of Girl with Ears & Demon with Limp.

It’s that simple. Just buy the book, show me the receipt, and I’ll get you my novella as well.

I thought this would be fun thing to do, and since they take place in the same world, I think they complement each other quite well as they both play with surrealism and fantasy. But, yeah, spread the word and buy a copy!

If you want more information about these two books, you can find them at their related pages:

Girl with Ears & Demon with Limp

Girl With Ears & Demon With Limp is a fast-paced, surreal rendition of a Medieval tapestry. Set within an infinite castle, from which a young wolven girl and an insane man wish to escape, it’s Kafka turned inside out. And like Kafka, these characters are seeking to make meaning for themselves in a world where meaning has vacated for other lands.

Christopher Barzak, author of Before & Afterlives

edward j rathke has given us a fable bright with language, an adventure story, a coming-through-pain endurance test – but most of all, a lovely and touching tale about the place two forgotten outcasts make for themselves in the world.

Amber Sparks, author of May We Shed These Human Bodies

Twilight of the Wolves

Like a Terrence Malick film set in a universe as rich as Game of Thrones, Twilight of the Wolves is a different kind of fantasy novel: endlessly inventive, thoughtful, and almost painfully beautiful.

–Kyle Muntz, author of VII and Green Lights

Twilight of the Wolves is an unusual and poetic epic fantasy, with a world, civilizations, and mythologies all of its own, yet unmistakably reminiscent of our past and current world. Best of all, Twilight of the Wolves puts on center stage the people and socioeconomic classes who are often marginalized, suppressed, or overlooked in other types of epic fantasy and secondary worlds, in a passionate and compassionate study of love, languages, and humanness.

Berit Ellingsen, author of Beneath the Liquid Skin

coverdraft3 Twilight of the Wolves - Edward J. Rathke