Dream: A Drive, a Divide, a Dog

I’m in my car, driving on a narrow grassy plain, when another car approaches. There’s no way we can get by each other without crashing, so I turn the wheel and move off to the right as far as possible. But this leaves my car in an untenable position, to the right of a gulley, which I never saw before. The farther I drive, the closer I come to the edge; basically, my car is going to fall in if I keep going.

So I get out of the car. And there’s some kind of a wild animal who bites my finger, not enough to draw blood but enough to make an indentation into my skin. I hurl a piece of fruit, and the animal chases after it. But I know it’ll be back.

I must make it to the other side of the ditch. I have to climb (don’t ask — it’s a dream, after all). So I climb, on my hands and knees, and my fingers grab onto what feels like tight plastic grocery bags, stretched because inside contains coils upon coils of Christmas tree lights.

I cross over. And I look across the divide, and instead of my car, it’s Ginny, my German shepherd dog. She’s pacing back and forth, agitated that she’s over there and I’m over here. And before I can scream, “No, you’re too old!” Ginny leaps — and somehow she makes it. I catch her. I feel her weight as her body collides into mine, but then I don’t, as if I’ve absorbed her somehow.

And then I wake up.

Commentary: Yesterday my wife and I were driving on Lincoln Road, and a car was indeed coming down and there’s a part where it can be kind of tight. Later on, we saw a big dog sticking its head out of another car, enjoying the winter air. Last night we saw the Taylor Swift documentary on Netflix (highly recommended) and she’s got cats; the bite from the dream animal was very much a cat bite, playfully painful. It’s been a few weeks since I put them all away, but I do indeed store Christmas lights in plastic grocery bags. And it’s been almost a month since our dog of almost fifteen years died.

The last part of the dream is a bit on the nose, isn’t it? What I find most fascinating about Ginny’s leap is that I had no clue she was going to do that. Even though it’s my dream and I thought it up, it was a complete surprise. What a gift. Thank you, dream.

Favorite Songs of 2019

Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2019; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.

Love Song, by Lana Del Rey on Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Married in a Gold Rush, by Vampire Weekend feat. Danielle Haim on Father of the Bride
Cracking Codes, by Andrew Bird on My Finest Work Yet
Gloria, by The Lumineers on III
Hustle, by P!nk on Hurts 2B Human
Paper Rings, by Taylor Swift on Lover
Bad Guy, by Billie Eilish on When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Make It Right, by BTS on Map of the Soul: Persona
Some Kind of Love, by Dido on Still on My Mind
Orpheus, by Sara Bareilles on Amidst the Chaos
Falling for Boys, by Julia Michaels on Inner Monologue Part 2

Digital Boy, by Serena Jade (Live from the Rockwood Music Hall, NYC, 8-3-2019)
Stupid Things, by Keane on Cause and Effect
Allergic, by Post Malone on Hollywood’s Bleeding
I Was Terrible, by How to Dress Well on Care
Young Enough, by Charly Bliss on Young Enough
Billie Jean, by Weezer on Weezer (Teal Album)
Real Love, by Carly Rae Jepsen on Dedicated
Feels Good, by Lissie on Castles
Light on, by Maggie Rogers on Heard It in a Past Life

Many good tunes here, but I really dug the Charly Bliss song. Hugely anthemic, Young Enough just soars and soars.

Shadows Deep, a Siobhan O’Brien Mystery

So back in 2009, my first novel was published. This was a momentous occasion for me, obviously. I’d of course hoped that one day my draft of a novel would see the light of day, but never did I assume even for a second that it was destined to happen. Writing books is hard enough, but then having a publisher buy it, publish it, market it? It’s a journey I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. We authors all write in a vacuum, alone with our screens and keyboards, thinking and typing and dreaming and struggling, all in an effort to share our words/worlds with the public.

In 2015, somehow I was able to repeat what still feels like an impossible feat: a second novel was published. And now, for my latest trick, I’m happy to announce that my third novel will come out next year by the Agora imprint of Polis Books.

What makes this book more special is that it is a straight “genre” novel, meaning it is not a “literary” work of fiction like my first two. I can honestly say I’m more proud of this novel because the mechanics of a mystery novel was not exactly taught to me at my MFA workshops! No, my guides for this one were the masters who came before me. Like Dick Francis.

I’ve been a fan of mystery novels for a long, long time. My first love was indeed Dick Francis, yes, the guy who wrote all those horseracing-infused mysteries. After Francis I got on the Robert B. Parker kick and read a whole mess of his fine and funny Spenser series. Then Dennis Lehane came into my life with his Kenzie and Gennaro novels and Mystic River and Shutter Island. I even love an occasional pulpy, trashy Stone Barrington novel by Stuart Woods!

To prepare for writing Shadows Deep, I carefully read and assiduously took apart A Is for Alibi, Sue Grafton’s first of her “alphabet” series. I did the same with Lehane’s Moonlight Mile (the sequel to Gone, Baby, Gone [useless trivia: the book title has commas, the movie title does not]); John D. MacDonald’s The Deep Blue Good-By; and Raymond Miller’s The Scent of Blood. In all these novels, the commonality was that spending time with their private investigators was a delight: Kinsey Millhone, Kenzie and Gennaro, Travis McGee, Nathaniel Singer. I hope readers will find my private eye, Siobhan O’Brien, a delight, too.

Anyway, here’s the announcement from the good folks at BookRiot:

In Shadows Deep, Woo tells the story of Korean adoptee Siobhan O’Brien, who has spent much of her life explaining her name and her family to strangers, but her more pressing problem is whether to carry on the PI agency that her dead boss unexpectedly left to her. As Siobhan delves deeper into locating a missing girl, she encounters vegan cooking that just might kill her, possibly deadly yoga poses, and politely dangerous billionaires. This first in a new series introduces an endearing PI heroine in the tradition of female detectives like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, but similar in voice with gentle wit as Carl Hiaasen readers aren’t going to want to put down.

Matt Coleman/BookRiot

Did you catch that this is a “first in a new series”? It is indeed. The kind folks at Agora have given me a two-book deal. The second book already has a title: Skin Deep.

Yes, I am so lucky and blessed that it’s not even funny.

#페들러스타운의동양상점 Is a Thing

So it turns out that there has been some activity via Instagram for the past month or so for the Korean Everything Asian…

And here I thought I was the only one doing bookfies…

Some more bits from the web:

What a huge gift this book has been. Thank you, Atopos.