Changing My Name — and More

Longtime visitors to this site will likely notice some changes. And they’re big changes.

And what those changes reflect is where my writing is now. For the time being, I’m concentrating almost exclusively on my Kim Oh Thrillers series. That’s where my heart is now — I believe those books are some of the best I’ve ever done, and I’m going to be doing a lot more of them.

But – they are undeniably very different from the science fiction and other books I’ve done before. That’s why I’ve decided to do them under the Kim Oh pen name — not to confuse people, but to make it easier for readers to see the difference. They’re faster, funnier, more action-oriented, but with some surprising depth to them. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.

I hope you’ll stick around on this blog as well; a lot of what I’ll have to say here is pretty much what I would’ve said in the site’s previous incarnation. But if you decide to unsubscribe or just not check in as you did before, I understand perfectly, and I’m just glad you did choose to spend some time here.

Writing Lessons from Johnny Ramone

You can take a lot of the late Johnny Ramone’s comments about effective songwriting and performing, as expounded upon in what is supposedly the last interview he ever did, and apply it to the craft of fiction writing. (He looks a little puffy in the video, probably from the treatment for the prostate cancer that was soon to kill him. Remarkably good-humored, though, given that he was undoubtedly aware of the bleak prognosis facing him; no whiner, he.) The relevant material starts at around the ten-minute mark:

My transcript:

I always thought, I don’t know why bands — especially opening bands — why they wanted to play longer than they had to. They always wanted to fight for more time. And you’re always better off playing shorter. You get all your best material, you leave ‘em wanting more — if you’re any good — and you don’t overdo it with mediocre material. Most bands only have a song or two that’s worthy, anyway.

To my mind, this is reminiscent of Elmore Leonard’s well-known dictum, that in writing his novels, he always tried to eliminate all the boring stuff that readers skipped over. And that’s why his books are so fast and tight and enjoyable — just like a Ramones song!

The Insect Museum of West China

I didn’t even know there was an institution known as the Insect Museum of West China, at least until it made the news for being the repository of this fearsome-looking bug:

Giant Insect

Frankly, I’m glad that the Insect Museum of West China does exist, though, and surprisingly beautiful it is, too. (Though it’s described as having 400,000 million specimens in its collection; surely a misprint? That’s a lot of bugs.) It does raise the question, though, of whether there is an Insect Museum of East China. And this is apparently the largest insect museum in Asia — where in the world is there a bigger one?

The New Punk Rock, Probably Not What You Expect

Not quite sure I agree with everything this Schlichter fellow has to say, but I admire his anything-to-stir-up-trouble rhetorical style, reminiscent of Fear’s Lee Ving baiting the audience at L.A.’s long-gone Anti-Club:

Conservatism is the New Punk Rock

Of course, the late Johnny Ramone, that notorious leather-jacketed conservative, would likely agree. Another boo-ya endorsement would come from Camille Paglia, whose taunting, incendiary essay “No Law in the Arena: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality” — which really should be required reading before any more discussions of so-called “safe spaces” continue — might well have been cribbed from by Mr. Schlichter. Per Paglia:

White middle-class girls at the elite colleges and universities seem to want the world handed to them on a platter. They have been sheltered, coddled and flattered. Having taught at a wide variety of institutions over my ill-starred career, I have observed that working-class or lower-middle-class girls, who are from financially struggling families and must take a patchwork of menial jobs to stay in school, are usually the least hospitable to feminist rhetoric. They see life as it is and have fewer illusions about sex. It is affluent, upper-middle class students who most spout the party line — as if the grisly hyperemotionalism of feminist jargon satisfies their hunger for meaningful experiences outside their eventless upbringing. In the absence of war, invent one.

Maybe Paglia’s thoughts in this regard could be re-booted as No Law in the Mosh Pit. Except then, of course, you’d lose the politically incorrect Charlton Heston reference (the original line is from the movie Ben-Hur, in regard to the necessity to put on one’s big boy — or big girl — pants, if you’re going to dive in where the action is.) Surely the Riot Grrls, if there are any still around, would agree.

In the meantime, one of the best videos for catching glimpses of Johnny Ramone’s still-astonishing right-hand technique, starting around the 1:30 mark:

Pandora for Books?

Apple just bought something called BookLamp, which is described as being like ‘Pandora for books.’ These algorithmic recommendation thingies always strike me as weird and creepy, but they apparently work, or at least enough that a significant number of people use them. The big problem, as we’ve seen with musicians discussing Pandora and Spotify, is in getting paid more than a nickel or so through them:

Pandora for Books?

Get Up to Speed with Kim Oh

Now that KIM OH 5: REAL DANGEROUS FUN is available, I want to make sure that everyone can enjoy the whole Kim Oh Thrillers series. So here’s the deal:

KIM OH 1: REAL DANGEROUS GIRL

The first book in the series, KIM OH 1: REAL DANGEROUS GIRL is now free for the Amazon.com Kindle. Grab it, read it and enjoy it. Or…

Get the KIM OH: REAL DANGEROUS GIRL – THE FIRST THREE collection for the special price of $5.99. That’s KIM OH 1: REAL DANGEROUS GIRL, KIM OH 2: REAL DANGEROUS JOB, and KIM OH 3: REAL DANGEROUS PEOPLE, for less than you’d pay for KIM OH 2 and KIM OH 3 separately. That’s how much I love these books — I think they’re some of the best that I’ve ever done — and how much I want as many readers as possible to enjoy them.

KIM OH: REAL DANGEROUS GIRL - THE FIRST THREE

My Inner Kim

From my recent interview in Locus magazine:

“Even though Kim is Korean-American, she grows up as an orphan, so she has no connection to that culture. She’s like all other Americans now — she refers to herself as a feral American. She’s had to do everything herself and educate herself. People are constantly asking her things about Asian culture and she says, ‘How the hell should I know? I grew up in Poughkeepsie.’ To a large part, she represents my own interior life…

“I usually do a lot of note taking and fiddling around, concerning my characters. Kim was unusual in that she walked into my head the way she was. I thought maybe I should change her and make her different, to avoid all the issues that come with writing outside your personal background. Okay, she’s no longer Korean-American. Nope, she came right back in that way. Or maybe I should change this or that about her. Everything would revert right back to the way she wanted to be. I think that’s because she’s really me, sort of an auto-psychological self-portrait. Not because of the details of who she is, but because of what she’s had to do, that whole feral thing, trying to figure out the world on her own…”

Available now, KIM OH 5: REAL DANGEROUS FUN

Real Dangerous Fun Cover 01