I like to work; that is a big part of who I am personally. It’s also something I learned about myself in Iowa; before I lived there, I thought of myself as someone who enjoyed writing – songs, poems – but not as a person who likes, every day, to go out find some work to do. Then I worked a harvest on a grain elevator. I was probably the least capable harvest help they ever had on that elevator, because absolutely everything about the job was new to me, and I was pretty scrawny at the time: but it was transformative work for me. Southern California, where I grew up, might as well have been Saturn by comparison, so different were the rhythms of my daily life for that season: reporting to work at seven o’clock to open up the backs or the undersides of trucks so they could dump grain onto a grate which would carry it into the chambers of the great concrete elevator, sweeping the empty chambers that gathered dust just by standing there, climbing up hills of soybeans to knock down hotspots with a shovel. I stayed on in Iowa another seven years; my wife grew up there. It is a special place.
I started writing Wolf in White Van about a week after I handed in Master of Reality; I waited a little longer after finishing Wolf, just to sort of shake the wolf-water out of my hair. A quick inbox query tells me I sent the first draft of Wolf to the amazing and wonderful Sean McDonald, my editor, on the twenty-ninth of March, 2013.
If I CMD+i a folder called “Nevada Iowa Video Hut” on my laptop, I can see that about six months later I had this idea to tell a horror story that would also function as a cartography of grief set within that world I’d lived in for a long spell. That story, which I’ve been working on ever since, is a book called Universal Harvester, which will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on the seventh of February, 2017. There’s a more detailed writeup about the plot over at FSG’s Work in Progress page, linked at the bottom of this post, and, why not, here, if you’ve had just about enough of me talking about it and wanna get down to brass tacks just click this and some, but not all, will be revealed.
To speak less announcing-new-stuff about the whole deal and just talk a little, I am really super proud of this book; I think it hits that sad/frightening axis that I’ve always found most inspiring in the writers I like best and in the work I seek out, and that I’m often aiming for in my stuff. The whole discipline of not talking about it while writing it has been both exhilarating and nerve-wracking, and I absolutely cannot wait to share it with you all.
You can preorder it now from any place you might wanna preorder a book from! Please do, if you have a mind to! Be seeing you soon!