Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hush Acknowledgments

Alas, when I placed my hands upon the print edition of Hush, I found that the acknowledgments were missing. This is my fault; I wrote them and turned them in well before I got the galleys, and when I got the galleys it was focused on reviewing what was before me and completely failed to notice the absence of the acknowledgments.

Here's my thanks to the people who made this book possible:

Hush wouldn’t be the book it is without the hard work of my wise-readers, a select band of rugged individuals who are willing to slog through my early drafts and gaze unflinchingly upon my naked prose. It’s seldom pretty. Without their critiques and encouragement, writing would be a very lonely business indeed. Thank you, James Marsh, Cathy Bollinger, Ada Milenkovic Brown, Laurel Amberdine, Joey Puente, Jenney O’Callaghan, and, of course, my wonderful wife, Cheryl Maxey.

Special thanks to artist Gerard Miley, for gracing the book with a truly amazing cover. Thanks also to my editor, Jonathan Oliver, and everyone else at Solaris who have worked so hard on this series, including Ben Smith, Michael Molcher, and Simon Parr.

In previous acknowledgements, I’ve given credit to the various writing workshops and critique groups that have helped me hone my skills over the years. But, two people I haven’t acknowledged get most of the credit (or blame) for launching me on this whole writing kick a long, long time before I was even consciously aware of it. So, let me rectify my oversight: It’s probable I wouldn’t be a writer today if not for my grandfathers.

Both of my grandfathers were poor, but both were readers. On my mother’s side, my grandfather Allen Henkle had excellent taste in trashy periodicals. Not pornography, but weirdness, magazines like Fate that talked about UFO’s and telepathy and bigfoot. He also had a stash of men’s adventure magazines, with lurid stories about cannibals and secret jungle temples and "real life" survival tales of men who crash on the side of mountains and survive by sawing off their gangrenous leg and hopping back to civilization with nothing to slake their thirst but their own urine. And, my mother’s family were natural story tellers, always ready to recount a ghost story, which made quite an impression on me since when you looked out the back window of their house you saw a graveyard. (I also remember a huge collection of Reader's Digests, but all I ever read in them were the jokes.)

My father’s father, Sidney Maxey, Sr., had books stacked in every room of his house, and, when he ran out of room in the house, the books spilled out onto his porch in giant mounds of mildewed paperbacks. I don’t know if my grandfather read every one of these books or if he just bought them in bulk from Goodwill stores and flea markets, but they were on every subject imaginable. It was sitting on his porch digging through paperbacks that I first read writers like Ursula K. LeGuinn and Isaac Asimov. I also remember reading about the Bermuda Triangle and ancient astronauts, but these sensationalist paperbacks were balanced out by every issue of National Geographic in print since 1929. I devoured these magazines, gaining a perspective on the vastness of the world beyond my rather narrow view from the southern Virginia mountains.

I don’t want to oversimplify things, but in some ways my maternal grandfather’s reading material shaped my imagination, hooking me on the desire for there to be things hidden from ordinary understanding. Because of him, I retain an insatiable curiosity about the fringes of human knowledge. But it was on my Grandfather Maxey’s porch library that I learned to be fascinated as much by the natural world as I am by myths and legends. Pictures of fish photographed from bathyspheres were even weirder and more wonderful than the aliens hand-drawn in the pages of Fate.

To be a writer, you must first be a reader. Thanks to these two men, I am.