New Interview

Keith Brooke of InfinityPlus has posted a new interview with me right about…here.

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Springdale Ebook

cover for ebook of in springdale townThe nice people at InfinityPlus have re-issued my novella In Springdale Town as an ebook. It’s available at Amazon in the US, Amazon UK, and in a multitude of formats at Smashwords.

This edition includes a new afterword, with newly-revealed secrets about the making of the story.

Here’s what people said about the PS print edition, which came out in 2003:

Springdale is told in a deceptively muted style and cunningly crafted so that the story appears to assemble itself around the reader like a trap he or she has sprung, yet remains innocent-looking until the end, when a spring-loaded hammer smashes down.—Lucius Shepard, from the introduction to the original print edition

…In a list comprising some of the biggest names in contemporary genre fiction the appearance of a novella by a virtually unknown author causes a certain interest. In Springdale Town represents its author’s first book publication (after only a handful of short stories) and yet it fits into the PS Publishing list with such subtle skill that its presence on the shelf feels as if an invisible gap in the collection has been suddenly filled.—Lavie Tidhar, Dusksite

…Other writers, wiry and wry, as lithe as dragonflies, may seem more vulnerable, but their grace, their maneuverability, becomes its own kind of tensile strength. They can travel farther, faster, and in disguise.—Jeff VanderMeer, Locus Online

…no need for Lovecraftian monsters or rampaging serial killers to transform Springdale into a seriously creepy place. An old ballad suggests that one death haunts this village, but Wexler deviously, almost casually, creates a sense of wrongness that goes well beyond some past saga of jealousy and murder. Don’t read this one right before bedtime–or your next road trip.”—Faren Miller, Locus Magazine

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Cook Noir

I checked my friend Christopher Cook’s blog/website today and remembered that I had meant to post a link to it when he set it up. His novel, Robbers, came out from Carroll & Graf in 2000, and he re-issued it himself as an ebook, along with several other titles.

I met Christopher at a writer’s workshop in Tennessee in 1993, where we discovered that we were both living in Austin. We hung out some after we got back to town. The year after, he moved to France. Since then he’s lived in Mexico and now Prague. And I moved on to New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio. I haven’t seen him since he left Austin. One of these days, I’ll make it to Prague. It’s always nice to have friends in interesting places.

Robbers is a noir set in East Texas. In it, he did something unusual (spoiler!).  Halfway through, he killed off a very sympathetic character (which is all I can say here without spoiling it for you). The reader in me said No! How could you? The writer in me said, wow, that’s cool. I read this when it came out…an unthinkable twelve years ago…but much is still clear in my head, the grit, the well-drawn characters, the feel of the East Texas woods and the Gulf Coast.

Check out Christopher’s blog here, and buy some books.

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More Research Notes

Train Timetable, 1888This image is a screen-shot of a railway timetable from the June 2, 1888 edition of the Victoria Advocate, Victoria, TX. Scans from the paper are available online here.

I have a character who needs to talk to the conductor of the train from Victoria to Port Lavaca. Thanks to this schedule, I know how many trains there are a day and what there departure/arrival times are.

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The Great West

The Great WestCool image from an 1889 book on railroads and harbors that I found while researching stuff.

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Springdale Longitude and Latitude

Today I finished the first draft of an afterword for the ebook version of In Springdale Town. Very interesting to look back on the events that led to my writing the story. I might post it here later on, but until then you’ll have to buy the ebook to find out the story behind the story.

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Victoria Book

During my current research I came across a reference to a book on the history of Victoria, TX that came out in 1883 and was reprinted in 1961 (as History of Victoria County;: A republishing of the book known as V. Rose’s History of Victoria). I requested the book through inter-library loan. The title page said that the reprint was edited by JW Petty and published by The Book Mart, Victoria, TX 1961. At the end of the editor’s preface there’s an inscription from him, to the Texas Tech library (which isn’t where the book came from).

When I saw the title page, I remembered…  In his youth, my father frequented a used bookstore in Houston owned by a man named Joe Petty. They got to be friends. He still has many books from Petty’s store. Later on, Joe Petty moved the store to Victoria. Here’s a link to a story on him in the Victoria Advocate from 1956.

The book has been useful, with facts about Victoria, like the number of banks and various stores. Also the racial and social attitudes of the author, Victor Rose. Also, I like how my research/writing obsessions intersected with a bit of family history.

 

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Remembering Brent Grulke

I can’t say that Brent Grulke and I were ever friends, but we were friendly, for the short time our lives intersected. We both wrote reviews, articles, etc. for the entertainment section of the Daily Texan, student newspaper at the University of Texas. He was a couple of months older than me, and when I arrived he had already been at the Texan for a while. At that time, he might already have been writing for the Austin Chronicle. The Chronicle was started around that time, by people who had worked at the Texan (and met in UT’s film department, if I’m remembering correctly). I got bored with writing about music, and for several years post-college I stopped going out to hear live music. The last time I would have seen him was, at the latest, 1983.

Brent died on Monday, August 13, from a heart attack during oral surgery. Here’s a good tribute.

I’m recalling fragments of conversations with him, one when he talked about wanting to do some record producing. Which he later did. From reading about him now, it’s clear that he was one of the few who really got to do what he most wanted to do. Music was his life. I wasn’t surprised when I heard that he was the director of the South by Southwest music festival.

The one time we ever hung out was when X came through town in 1982, touring for their album Under the Big Black Sun. I was planning to interview them, but he talked me into letting him do it. We went to dinner with the band before the show and stayed up all night in the entertainment section office at the Texan. He wrote up his interview/article, which ran in two parts. I was supposed to write a review of the show, but didn’t.

Nostalgia and regret appear to be the inseparable companions of aging. I look back at that time, a period in which I thought I could do anything. I discovered great music reading about it in the student paper, and then I got to be one of the people writing about it, influencing others (I hoped) the way I had been influenced. Austin is the mythical land that never was, the cool place where I never got to be one of the cool people. I still crave to be recognized there, written about, interviewed, lauded. But my books have never been printed in editions of more than a few hundred copies. Without adequate distribution, I’ve never felt that it would be worth setting up a reading there. I did try, unsuccessfully, to get In Springdale Town reviewed in the Chronicle, but never attempted with subsequent books.

But thoughts about the past aren’t only about my perceived lack of recognition. Brent was just a bit older than me, and according to what I’ve read, he has a six-year-old son. I have an almost-five-year-old daughter. So we both became parents at a somewhat later than usual age. I can’t help feeling my mortality from his death. I would like to stick around till my daughter is considerably older.

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