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Cassandra Khaw

Fiction and Excerpts [4]
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Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Five Books That Taste Great

Text has texture to me. Sentences can be saline, sweet, some beautiful combination of flavor notes; a paragraph can be a course onto itself, eliciting genuine frissons of delight. My brain decodes poetry as amuse bouche, short stories as three-course meals, and novels as sprawling examples of literary cuisine.

Synesthesia is fun.

No. Really. It is. Except when you’re talking about bad books, bad writing. Fortunately, we’re not talking about bad books, but instead about excellent books. Books that feel like they were hand-prepped by Gordon Ramsay, or whichever haute chef appeals to your own particular sensibilities.

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A Song for Quiet

Deacon James is a rambling bluesman straight from Georgia, a black man with troubles that he can’t escape, and music that won’t let him go. On a train to Arkham, he meets trouble—visions of nightmares, gaping mouths and grasping tendrils, and a madman who calls himself John Persons. According to the stranger, Deacon is carrying a seed in his head, a thing that will destroy the world if he lets it hatch.

The mad ravings chase Deacon to his next gig. His saxophone doesn’t call up his audience from their seats, it calls up monstrosities from across dimensions. As Deacon flees, chased by horrors and cultists, he stumbles upon a runaway girl, who is trying to escape the destiny awaiting her. Like Deacon, she carries something deep inside her, something twisted and dangerous. Together, they seek to leave Arkham, only to find the Thousand Young lurking in the woods.

The song in Deacon’s head is growing stronger, and soon he won’t be able to ignore it any more.

Cassandra Khaw returns with A Song for Quiet, a new standalone Persons Non Grata novella from the world of Hammers on Bone—available from Tor.com Publishing. And if you’re looking for more even more Lovecraftian tales, check out our Reimagining Lovecraft bundle, containing four full novellas: Khaw’s Hammers on Bone, Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom, Caitlín R. Kiernan’s Agents of Dreamland, and Kij Johnson’s The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.

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Depicting Violence and the Grotesque: The Devourers by Indra Das

The Devourers is lush and strange and putrid, a novel that is, if you cut it a certain way, mostly exposition; an entire history delivered by one character to another, recounted for the most bizarre and aching of reasons. It is a story about shapeshifters, gender issues, loneliness, and the conceit of humanity. It is a hard read, and one of my favorite books this year.

Have I mentioned it is also grotesque?

[There’s a power to acknowledging life’s greasy viscera…]

Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

Violent Passions: Muay Thai and Writing

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

Whenever someone asks me what I think about Muay Thai, I invariably say the same thing: “It makes me angry.”

It made angry the night I crawled out of my first session, and it makes me angry today, which leaves many baffled as to why I keep subjecting myself to repeated brutalisation. Is it a case of Stockholm Syndrome? I hope not. The truth is that I don’t really have an answer, but I do have my suspicions. I go back to Muay Thai because I leave every session knowing that I could have done better, and knowing exactly how I can be better the next time.

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Hammers on Bone

John Persons is a private investigator with a distasteful job from an unlikely client. He’s been hired by a ten-year-old to kill the kid’s stepdad, McKinsey. The man in question is abusive, abrasive, and abominable. He’s also a monster, which makes Persons the perfect thing to hunt him. Over the course of his ancient, arcane existence, he’s hunted gods and demons, and broken them in his teeth.

As Persons investigates the horrible McKinsey, he realizes that he carries something far darker than the expected social evils. He’s infected with an alien presence, and he’s spreading that monstrosity far and wide. Luckily Persons is no stranger to the occult, being an ancient and magical intelligence himself. The question is whether the private dick can take down the abusive stepdad without releasing the holds on his own horrifying potential.

Cassandra Khaw’s dark fantasy noir Hammers on Bone is available October 11th from Tor.com Publishing.

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Five Books About Family

I thought a lot about what I’d do for a “Five Books About” column. Carnivorous vegetation? Gladiatorial sports? Cooking? I nearly went with that last one, mostly because of how crucially food features in Asian culture. Food unites. Food defines. Food serves as a basis of greeting, as a way of evaluating how much a person is loved or loathed. To withhold food from a family member is to indicate your wrath. To honor the dead, we frequently offer them consumables, tokens from life.

But the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to talk about food, and the more I wanted to talk about why food is so important. And the answer is simple: family. It’s about family, whether found or biological, whether dysfunctional or nurturing. When you get right down to it, the Asian connection is food is synonymous with family. (There’s a running joke on the Internet that Chinese parents, in particular, don’t tell you that they love you but instead ask if you’ve eaten.)

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Series: Five Books About…

Hammers on Bone Excerpt and Cover Reveal!

John Persons is a private investigator with a distasteful job from an unlikely client. He’s been hired by a ten-year-old to kill the kid’s stepdad, McKinsey. The man in question is abusive, abrasive, and abominable. He’s also a monster, which makes Persons the perfect thing to hunt him. Over the course of his ancient, arcane existence, he’s hunted gods and demons, and broken them in his teeth.

As Persons investigates the horrible McKinsey, he realizes that he carries something far darker than the expected social evils. He’s infected with an alien presence, and he’s spreading that monstrosity far and wide. Luckily Persons is no stranger to the occult, being an ancient and magical intelligence himself. The question is whether the private dick can take down the abusive stepdad without releasing the holds on his own horrifying potential.

We’re pleased to reveal the cover for Cassandra Khaw’s Hammers on Bone, a new dark fantasy noir novella available October 11th from Tor.com Publishing. Check out the full cover, illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love and designed by Christine Foltzer, and read an exclusive excerpt below!

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