Here's something I would have sworn would not and would not occur in this universe. Dragonstairs Press, which is my wife Marianne Porter's self-styled "nanopress," has just published an art book. By, of all people, me.
A little background first. Dragonstairs is not, as many people have reasonably assumed, my own vanity press. It was created and is run entirely by Marianne. Nor is it a hobby. In large part because Marianne creates small-run, limited edition chapbooks, it's been a profit-making concern from the beginning. Her creations sell out quickly.
Marianne does have an advantage over most small-press publishers of having an author living in the same house whom she can direct to write something for her. As she did with Tumbling, a Lizzie O'Brien story written specifically because she had learned how to fold and cut a single sheet of paper into a small booklet and wanted something appropriate for it. Or as she did with the upcoming Universe Box, which... well, I'll let that be a surprise. But it's an extremely cool project.
The important thing to know here is that these projects arise in Marianne's brain. Hunting the Phoenix is an idea that I doubt would ever have occurred to me.
So what is Hunting the Phoenix?
You may recall that I have a novel coming out on August 1 from Tor Books. It's called Chasing the Phoenix and it's the second novel chronicling the adventures of Darger & Surplus, Postutopian con men extraordinaire. As I was writing the book, I used an iPad drawing app to make sketches of some of the characters and situations that were coming up. It was one of many means I used to coax my subconscious into giving up its treasures.
Marianne has taken those pictures and made of them a booklet. It's called Hunting the Phoenix because that was originally the working title for the novel, back before I discovered who or what the Phoenix would turn out to be. (There were a lot of candidates.) When I did make that discovery, it seemed obviously wrong to hunt such a creature, so I changed the present participle.
All the work was done by Marianne, save for an introduction which I wrote so my artist friends would not think I had completely lost my mind.
Here's the official website description:
Hunting the Phoenix by Michael Swanwick. 6 1/2" by 4". Bound in archival board wrappers covered with hand-dyed rice paper, with a stab binding ornamented with a single aventurine bead. The contents include a text introduction by Michael Swanwick, and seventeen color illustrations, also by Swanwick, created originally on the iPad, as part of early planning for the novel, "Chasing the Phoenix". Illustrations include many of the major characters, and several incidents from the book.
Limited to 30 numbered copies, signed by the author, with 27 available for sale. $30 each, including shipping.
You can find the Dragonstairs Press site here.
One third of the stab books, incidentally, sold out in the first day.
Above top: One of several covers. Above bottom: Demons.