everything i had to say about love

Exists in Noir: A Love Story and Ash Cinema.

Or at least romantic love.

I wrote those a few months apart and they’re most obviously about love and Death, living and loving and dying.

So if you’re looking for a present this Valentine’s Day or just want to read something about love that I wrote, you can get them.

Buy Noir: A Love Story straight from the publisher.

noir cover

Buy Ash Cinema from Amazon or get it for free from Smashwords.

ash-cinema-final-1

File this under shameless self promotion, but these really are about love, and they’re for you.

But it’s interesting to me, these novels. I wrote them about love and out of love but I had never really had love. Or at least not how I feel it now. Back then I was looking desperately for it. I was wandering the globe hoping to stumble into it and slowly giving up on ever finding it.

Little did I know that I’d accidentally meet the person I’m about to marry about a year after I wrote these novels.

Here’s some music for you.

some things go noirish in the daylight

Every day this week I’ll be running a little giveaway at 1pm CST. I’m giving away Ash CinemaTwilight of the Wolves, and Noir: A Love Story.

Today I asked people to give me a reason why they needed to have my books, and I gave the winner all three.

So check in to my facebook page at 1pm every day to see what’s happening.

Noir: A Love Story comes out in just ten days and I’ll try to make something special every day.

So pay attention, because they won’t last long.

noir cover

 

In other news, Dennis Cooper read and loved my book! Honored and humbled and surprised. He talks about other books in there too, because he’s Dennis Coooper and he’s a groovy cat.

Also, some discussions of short film at Entropy:

Someone’s Gaze by Makoto Shinkai

Duet by Glen Keane

Premier Automne by Carlos De Carvalho & Aude Danset

on blurbury

Been way too long since I posted something. About a month, actually. Been insanely busy though.

I just wanted to talk briefly about blurbs. Most probably don’t know what that is, but writers are crazy about that word. It’s such a big part of their world that it’s almost absurd. Here’s how it goes for me.

For Ash Cinema, I didn’t even try to get a blurb. Didn’t even look for one. I like that novel a lot, especially as time goes on, but I never really felt like I had to grab at people’s attention with it.

For Twilight of the Wolves, I reached out to a lot of writers that I truly love. Mostly just big names because I think you may as well reach as high as possible, because the worst thing that can happen is they say No, which takes nothing away from you. I went for big names too, because this is a difficult novel to pitch and sell, and I thought having some famous names on the cover would do a lot of the legwork for me. Unfortunately, none took the bite, so I scrambled for some last minute ones, and since only one person had read the novel at that point, I got Kyle Muntz to blurb me. Then Berit Ellingsen was kind enough to make the time to read and say awesome things.

Noir: A Love Story is the one that I’ve done right, I think. Because of the way Twilight of the Wolves has struggled to find its audience, and because I had its success too tied to my emotions, I decided to go in a more personal way with Noir. It sort of still crushes me that Twilight of the Wolves hasn’t found its audience, but I’m more hopeful with Noir. I sought out a few different writers and I chose them for specific reasons. Tim Horvath because I wish I could write as intelligently as him. Jac Jemc because My Only Wide is haunting in all the ways I hope Noir is. Matt Bell because we’re both writing a sort of fantastic or mythological modern day. And then Steve Erickson because he’s my hero. I honestly consider him the greatest living american novelist, and have ever since I first burnt through all his novels. I couldn’t stop reading them, so I read them twice. He’s a genius in all the ways I hope to some day be, and I sent him my novel, not really expecting anything, but because I needed him to read it. If he liked it even a fraction of how I love his novels, that would make it all worthwhile. Every bad review would roll off me because I’d know Erickson digs it. I mean, he’s the whole reason I wrote a novel at all. He’s the reason I chose to take writing seriously. He showed me that I could write the things I want to write how I want to write them. I can be different in all the strange ways I am different. I can be a sentimental surrealist and find beauty there. More than that, his novels feel so close to my heart. I imagine we share many of the same obsessions, with film being the most obvious. And I wanted this novel, specifically, to have his name attached to it. I don’t think it’s similar to what he’s written, but it’s the novel of mine that’s closest to my heart. Probably because it’s my first.

And so I really can’t express how amazing it was to receive this blurb from him:

In Noir, Rathke exposes the pale, sickly underbelly of a vibrant utopia for all to see. He unravels the quiet metaphysics of the detective thriller by letting all of the witnesses carry equal weight. Rathke has a faith in his reader that makes the experience of reading his work one full of extraordinary rewards and teeming satisfaction.

So that’s how I went about seeking blurbs, and I think I finally figured out the right way to do it. To be honest, I wanted a blurb from Wong Kar Wai and Max Richter too, but I don’t know if they’d be into that.

There are other things I should be sharing, since a lot’s happened in the last month, but I just wanted to touch on this briefly because it really does make a lot of this feel worth it to me.

There’s one writer that I keep not asking for a blurb, though I probably should have three times by now. That’s Stephen Graham Jones, who’s basically the coolest guy around. I keep saving him for something special. Probably either the giant monster novel or the horror novel. We’ll see.

there are so many things to say about

so many different things.


I was interviewed by the awesome Janice Lee at HTMLGiant about Noir: A Love Story
. It’s sort of a peculiar interview and playful in structure and tone. It reminded me of who I was when I wrote that novel way back in 2010, just out of university and on my way to Korea. In it I talk about strangers, myths, dying, and living.

Anyrate, Janice Lee is awesome. She’s the Queen behind Entropy and so many other things, including awesome books of her own. Check her out.

Speaking Noir: A Love Story, you can check out the Goodreads Giveaway. Only a few more days for that and I’m giving away three copies, so your chances are pretty good!

 

 

What else? Lots of things to share from Entropy. I’ll just list them.

  • Rosa by Jesús Orellano – Perhaps the best short film I’ve ever seen. It’s absolutely brilliant in every conceivable way. Some of the best fight choreography I’ve ever seen in an animated film, and he’s currently making it a full length film, so wait for that. Orellano is a man to watch. I talk about ecological collapse and posthumanism.
  • Last Breath by Mak Ying-Ping – Not my typically animation style, but this little film covers a lot of interesting ground. I talk about totalitarianism and americanism.
  • Carn by Jeff le Bars – I maybe already posted about this here, but it’s a very cool film about wolves and capitalism and imperialism. Or, those are things I talk about. It’s really just about choice and wolves and dying.

That’s probably everything.

i’ll be somebody to love

Absolutely love that song.

Anycase, it’s Friday and it’s been sort of a logistical nightmare of a week for me on the job front. Things are ramping up incredibly quickly and we don’t have the right employees for what we need. I mean, they’re okay, but we really need a creative director to handle a lot of these things, and my boss isn’t very interested in doing that, apparently.

But, yeah, it’s Friday and the sun is shining and it’s time for love.

Just love somebody.

And if you want to review Noir: A Love Story or Twilight of the Wolves, or if you want to interview me about either, get in touch. I can probably send you a physical copy.

Also, there’s a Goodreads giveaway for Noir: A Love Story right now.

Speaking of Goodreads and giveaways, the woman who won the Twilight of the Wolves giveaway wrote a review, and she loved it:

A fresh new vision which reads like an ancient ballad full of old gods and the white men half machines who destroy them. I wanted to sing it in an alternating upbeat tempo of wolves and old god joy and a slow and mournful tune that cries with the loss of innocence and light as I read it. Thank you Mr. Rathke for creating a feeling far different from anything I’ve read before.

That actually makes me happier than a thousand kind reviews from people I know. She also just got the novel, which is awesome.

new books

 

on marketing your novel

With the approach of Noir: A Love Story, and the fact that Twilight of the Wolves and Girl with Ears are still going largely ignored, I’m realising how difficult it is to get people to care about what you spend all those hours writing.

It’s frustrating and disappointing. You put a lot of work into writing something to make it as great and awesome as it can possibly be, and then you even give it away to people for free, hoping they’ll review it or tell other people to read it. And then you wait, and you hope that it works out.

I feel as if I did a lot to try to promote both Twilight of the Wolves and Girl with Ears & Demon with Limp, even giving a two for one deal the entire month of April, but it doesn’t seem to have done much. Probably I could’ve done more, or should’ve done more, but I didn’t write them to market stories.

And that’s what we have to be, in essence. As small press authors, as independent artists, we need to be our own PR, Marketing, and Sales departments, and that depresses the hell out of me. Especially because these things are actually just as important as the quality of the book itself. The best novel in the world without a campaign behind it won’t do much.

And I think that’s been part of the failing of Twilight of the Wolves. As much as the editorial and publishing team understood the novel, the marketing team has done essentially nothing with it. They sent out a bulk email to publications, which received basically no response. I’ve contacted about fifty publications with no real response. It’s very depressing, doing what you can and still getting nowhere. I’ve written about the accidental unmarketability of my book, which is one of the most popular posts I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, it didn’t translate into any real interest in the novel, as far as I can tell.

I think, relatively, I’m maybe not even selling that poorly, considering the indie press market, but it’s disappointing to me that I’ve not sold even 100 copies, and have only sold about twenty copies since the publication date. I have two reviews in publication of the novel, with only one more review being on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s frustrating, yeah.

And so I’m trying to think about how to make Noir do better out in the world. I think it’s a novel better geared towards the indie crowd, and it feels as if there’s already more people paying attention to it. But I’m still not sure where or how to get it reviewed. I sent out about fifty ARCs of Twilight of the Wolves, which resulted in three reviews so far. I suppose I could do the same thing and hope for the best, but I don’t know if that’s useful.

Luckily, there’s some time to figure it out. Much less than there was before.

And then there seems to be a debate about promoting yourself on social media that’s sort of devolved into a chaotic sprawl of vitriol, so I’ll step past it, but I don’t think social media works to sell books. It can, sure, and I’m sure everyone who bought Twilight of the Wolves first came across it on facebook, but I don’t think it’ll do what people expect it to.

Too, I’m not sure what works better, or if there’s a way to push your books without being obnoxious. Probably I’m thinking too much about this side of publishing and should just get back to writing. Unfortunately, taking on a lot of new work responsibilities has cut my time to read/write to almost nothing these last three weeks.

Anyrate, I guess the point here is that I’m looking for reviewers for Noir: A Love Story. I can send you a digital copy. I’m also looking for reviewers for Twilight of the Wolves and Girl with Ears.

If you’re interested, get in touch. You should know where to find me.

People will always tell you not to worry about your sales, and they’re right. I expected too much from Twilight of the Wolves, and that’s going to be a long, slow sell, if it ever picks up. But I think what frustrates me is that I know a lot of reviewers/interviewers/readers and they also don’t seem to be interested in the novel, which is a bummer. But, I mean, that’s what the post I previously linked is all about: writing books no one wants.

But, yeah, rambly post. Trying to think of ways to market my novels. To make people care.

And how do we get people to care? I’d argue that there are more readers than ever, but there are also more writers than ever. How do you reach people when they’re bombarded by so much every day/week/year?

That’s the trick. Usually it means getting a bigger venue to care.

But that is anything but easy.

oh, today is full of things

There’s so much going around facebook right now that I can’t keep up, so I’ll try to dump it all here.

Congratulations to Mary Miller and Kyle Minor for all the awesome press they’re getting for their books, The Last Days of California and Praying Drunk, respectively.

Kyle Minor press:

Interview at Other People with Brad Listi

Tinhouse interview

Believer interview

Boston Globe review

Kirkus review

And then this Buzzfeed list is a good transition, since Mary and Kyle are both on it

Mary Miller:

Interview at Brooklyn Rail

Electric Literature interview

Hobart interview

Review at Heavy Feather Review

New York Times review

All right, I think that catches us up.

Oh, and some things about me:

Cover art for my forthcoming novel Noir: A Love Story done by Ryan W Bradley.

noir: an excerpt

An excerpt from Noir: A Love Story is over at Atticus Review. It’s the first chapter of the novel, so hopefully that’s enticing.

I still need to write a proper account of the novel and what it means to me, and so on, but I’ll get to that as the day for its release approaches. Probably need to start hunting for blurbs soon, too.

Watched Pieta by Kim Ki Duk today. Kim Ki Duk is one of my favorite Korean directors, but he basically makes two kinds of films: the strangely sublime and the intensely strange. Pieta falls under the latter, which puts it in the category of his films I don’t as much care for, though they’re actually much more representative of who he is as a filmmaker. His most beautiful and glorious films are uncommon, but so much better than 99% of what you get to point your eyes at. Pieta is about hate and revenge and cruelty, which is something he’s always going after. The cruelty of the world, how Korea’s changed and burdened its people with this unutterable pain and horror. It’s a good enough film, but if you’re curious about Kim, go see 3-Iron instead. It’s probably his best.

Lots of work left to do this week. Always more to do. Ended up losing most of the day yesterday, so I’m trying to make up for it now, and it’s not going so well. Having a fiercely unproductive day.

So it goes.

I feel weary. It’s the cold. The unbearable frost.

new novel

Some big news: my novel Noir: A Love Story will be coming out July 2014 from Civil Coping Mechanisms. CCM is doing awesome things and I’m super excited to be a part of their growing catalogue, being published by the same people who published one of my favorite writers, JA Tyler, and my favorite title by him, Water. Check out the whole catalogue here and see what’s coming here.

So what is Noir: A Love Story? I’ll keep it short for now, but more will come in the year ahead. A whole year. It’ll probably be best for me to just not think about it until next May. Anyway, Noir: A Love Story is the first novel I ever completed and I did that a little over two years ago. Or, not a little over, more like 30 months ago. I’d say it’s been a long, hard road to publication, but that’s not true. I mostly sat on it, which is problematic, but I’m getting better at submitting things. Anyway, it started from a joke, betting myself that I’d write a novel by Friday [this only a few months after finally becoming comfortable with being a writer who would never write a novel (I now have five written)], and so I started the following morning and by Friday I had a first draft. Saturday I read through it, amazed at what I had, and then I put it in the order it’s in now. I honestly expected to spend months editing that novel because of how quickly it came out, but I truly believe it came out just about perfect, and it remains, more or less, untouched since that Saturday when I shifted all the chapters around to put them in the best order.

I had always wanted to read a novel that could be read in any order but had never found one till I came across Richard Grossman’s The Book of Lazarus, and while my novel and that novel share no similarities, I’d say that’s one thing I accomplished with Noir: A Love Story. There are twenty six narrators all speaking about two people whom they didn’t know or barely knew. It is a detective novel without the detective. It is magic realism and american. It is habitual suicide and the howling frustrations of youth. It’s a novel about many things but all of that’s up to the reader. I could keep talking about this forever so I’ll probably just stop.

But one thing: I’ve written five novels and hundreds of short stories and I honestly believe this is my favorite thing I’ve written. That changes, of course, with each new novel written, but this one keeps coming back to me. I think I’ve perhaps written better things, but nothing that I love quite so dearly as this.

But maybe that’s everyone’s first novel.

We only get one first love, yes?

Anyrate, tracked down the post I made immediately after finishing it. Take a look at September 3, 2010 and see how the process went.

Oh, too, about 3,000 words and 44 pages into the new graphic novel. It’s highly surreal and more a collection of moods and short journeys by an eternal transdimensional man who forever lives his life over and over in different iterations but never remembering the previous world he travelled through. Really digging it and hoping to be done soon. My first graphic novel only ended up being about 8,000 words, and while this will be longer, it’s also much less narratively focused. This is my soundtrack by Ludovico Einaudi:

I’m enjoying the writing very much. I’ll leave you with an image by Kyle Thompson:

Take care, StarChild.