Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, published February 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; my previous novel, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish. I’m currently working on a new project.


On Saturday, while Felicia wandered through the Orycon dealer's hall, examining everyone's wares and talking to various authors, I sat at a table with three other book-writer-folks, nameplate properly faced outward, Sharpie at the ready. I signed exactly one book during the hour-long signing session. I think the other authors did about as well. But it wasn't a loss. I spent the time talking with a much older author, who talked about true wealth (hint: not money) and at some point mentioned the "con crud" that inevitably follows a convention weekend. He was right, too. It hit me, and it didn't feel good. 

"Crud" is such an icky word. Like globules or congeal or moist or curd.

Maybe the similarity of "crud" and "curd" is why I don't like cheese curds. 

Nah. I just don't like cheese curds. They squeak in that awful way that makes your skin crawl. Right? Well, maybe not your skin. Mine, certainly. 

But the rest of the weekend was fairly fun. I sat on a few panels and talked about everything from fan fiction (it can be lots of fun) to magic realism (while others recommended Kafka and Vonnegut, I recommended Steve Martin's L.A. Story) to how to write book descriptions (smartly) and query letters (carefully) to the apparent death of the standalone novel (uh-huh, whatever). Some very confident soul booked me for a reading, and I spent my half-hour reading excerpts of Eleanor to three people, two of whom were friends (and one of whom left early). The third was already in the room when I arrived, but was waiting for the reading scheduled after mine. 

My books were available for sale in the dealer's room. I'd come to the party with twenty-two books. I left with twenty. The box of twenty felt much heavier than the box of twenty-two.

On Sunday afternoon, the convention wrapped up with the Authorfest event at Powell's, which kind of made my year. I signed books between Phyllis Radford and Jason Hough, met Brent Weeks, watched my friend Annie Bellet sell so many books she had to dip into her personal stock, and in general just had a wonderful time. We sold every copy of Eleanor that Powell's put on the table, and a few copies of my other books, too. 

But the crud. The fevers, the chills, the exhaustion. It seems to have passed now, a couple of days later, thanks to multiple bowls of soup and shots of NyQuil. And this evening I felt well enough to escort Felicia to Happy Knits, where she met a designer she admires and stocked up on sock yarn. We wandered over to the Hawthorne branch of Powell's after that, where I picked up a copy of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, and, just for good measure, signed their stock of my own Eleanor.

I've been buying an insane amount of books lately. It started, I think, as a bit of celebration after the Crown acquisition of my book, but it has continued at a ridiculous pace since. Twenty or thirty books, maybe? I'm still reading Ann Patchett's This is the Story of a Happy Marriage — which, I should mention, is funny and wonderfully written — so it isn't as if I'm any faster at finishing them. 

A bit of unrelated good news: I've sold a new short story to Lightspeed magazine, which is edited by — a-hem — Hugo Award-winning editor John Joseph Adams. (I think he likes it when you say it all together like that. Can you blame him?) 

This has been a fairly scatterbrained post, hasn't it. 

The wee hours

Learning to be serious