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Author/Reader Discussions > A PRETTY MOUTH author/reader discussion

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message 1: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
This one should be good!

We're hooking up with Lazy Fascist Press to give away 15 copies of Molly Tanzer's A Pretty Mouth this month!

Molly will be joining us here at TNBBC in February to discuss the book!

The giveaway is available internationally, and requires a comment on the blog to get your name added thrown into the hat!! ----> http://thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.c...


The giveaway ends January 8th so don't wait!!


message 2: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments I'm very excited for this discussion! I'm a quarter way through the book and tomorrow is my day off and I plan to spend it reading. :) I want to start off by saying I love the cover art! Where did the idea come from?


message 3: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Hi Everyone!!

I am going to be working for a good chunk of Molly's first day here tomorrow, so I wanted to give her the official welcome now...


Molly, thanks for joining TNBBC and allowing yourself to be questioned and discussed for the next two weeks :)

I'm so excited to hear what everyone thinks of the book, because I fell in love with it. A novel of interconnected stories that details a big dirty family secret....

Who's NOT gonna love that! Plus the satire, and the genre busting...

Let me start by asking how your book found its home with Lazy Fascist Press?


message 4: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments I found these stories to be beyond creepy and very bizzar...but I couldn't peal my eyes away. There were so many unexpected twists- which I love. I think it's safe to say I've never read anything quite like this.


message 5: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Rosanna wrote: "I'm very excited for this discussion! I'm a quarter way through the book and tomorrow is my day off and I plan to spend it reading. :) I want to start off by saying I love the cover art! Where did ..."

Hi Rosanna! A gentleman named Matthew Revert was my cover designer, and he's great! He does lots of the titles for Lazy Fascist books, and works for several other presses. Given the title I know we wanted a mouth-based motif for the cover, and he kind of took the historical flavor and that idea and ran with it.


message 6: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Lori wrote: "Let me start by asking how your book found its home with Lazy Fascist Press?"

Hi Lori! Thanks for your kind words, so glad you enjoyed the book.

It's a funny story how A Pretty Mouth found a home at Lazy Fascist Press. My friend S.J. Chambers met Cameron Pierce, my editor and the head of Lazy Fascist, at World Horror 2010. He mentioned needing nonfiction for The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction, which he was editing at that time, and she suggested a piece she had commissioned from me for Strange Horizons, on a local band in Boulder that are zombies who play Polka music. They're called The Widow's Bane, and they're awesome--I think they have some music online that you can find if you search for it. Anyways, he liked the piece and reprinted it.

Then, knowing me, Cameron spied my name on the ToC for Ross Lockhart's The Book of Cthulhu where he had reprinted my story "The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins." He contacted me at that point, asking if I'd considered writing more about the Twins. I had indeed, so I pitched him the idea of a few interconnected short stories. He liked it, and so we went from there! Voila!


message 7: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Chelsea wrote: "I found these stories to be beyond creepy and very bizzar...but I couldn't peal my eyes away. There were so many unexpected twists- which I love. I think it's safe to say I've never read anything q..."

Thanks, Chelsea! I did try to be as unique as possible with the content given much of the style is often based on whatever would have been period appropriate. So that's high praise. :)


message 8: by Heather (new)

Heather (HLindskold) I really enjoyed A Pretty Mouth--I loved the format of the book, with the interconnected stories of the Calipash family reading in reverse chronological order. I especially loved that you started the book with a Jeeves story--I've only read one of Wodehouse's Jeeves books, but I really liked it.

The stories were super creepy--enough so that I tried to avoid reading them at night before I went to bed, so thumbs up for that!

I have a question about the family name: What made you decide on Calipash? I looked it up because I remembered seeing that word somewhere before, and then I couldn't stop thinking about it while I finished the book.


message 9: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments Molly I was wondering...who are some authors who have inspired you?


message 10: by Rand (new)

Rand Burgess | 2 comments Hi there, Its’a me Mario...er...Rand
I have, but of course, finished the entire book would have stopped by sooner but I got sick and I’m full-time in college).

Let me start off my by saying that I love it when a collection of mythos related tales get bundled together, and it’s five times better when they come from the same author and closely related. ‘A Pretty Mouth’ did just that for me. The Calipash mythos is quite enjoyable, both from a reader and writer standpoint. In addition it does a fairly fantastic job at sticking to, what I assume to be, era appropriate ideas that are realistic, aside from the intended hijinx, which are more than clever. From narcotic octopi to giant mad raven of old, I’m fully interested in what is going to happen throughout each of these stories.

Post-read, my main reaction is, I want more and I want that more element to include a modern Calipash story that takes place maybe even in the future. My main peeve was the all-to-handsome descriptions of the males. I’m not talking about any sexual issues or anything like that, I simply mean that at times it seemed like these descriptions bogged flow a bit. As for errors or overindulgent areas, I don’t think I seen any errors and only a smattering of lines I would have done without, perhaps a scene less.

SPOILER BIT: Personally, the double twister end to the title story didn’t quite do it for me the way I wanted to be shocked. While on the other hand I thought ‘hour of the tortoise’ played a somewhat common twist beautifully and full of new approach.

QUESTIONS:I’m sure I could ask questions until the twins come home but I’ll limit my curiosity with respect to time and others Here we go: 1) How do you feel about other writers jumping in with this mythos you’ve sprouted up? 2) How do you feel about writing a Modern or Future day Calipash tale? Do you think it possible/ any interest? 3) There are these taboos you showcase in the tales and I was wondering what typically comes/came to your mind first? The framework or the scandal? Lastly and most importantly, 4) Which character would you play in the film ‘A Pretty Mouth’?
Thanks, and hopefully you’ll get to peek at some of my writings before the end of time.-Rand


message 11: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Ha! Rand, my... you do realize Molly will be here for two weeks, yes? You don't have to ask all of your questions right at this moment!

Much thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book.


Molly, thanks for the story behind Lazy Fascist...

Are you a fan of the genres and time periods you fashioned A PRETTY MOUTH around, or were the choices born from something else?


message 12: by Pragya (new)

Pragya  (reviewingshelf) Hi Molly,

How did you decide on horror genre to write your book in? Do you love horror movies and books?


message 13: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Heather wrote: "I have a question about the family name: What made you decide on Calipash? I looked it up because I remembered seeing that word somewhere before, and then I couldn't stop thinking about it while I finished the book. "

Hi Heather! I decided on Calipash whilst brainstorming for the original piece, "The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins." I had picked up my copy of Tom Jones and right there on the first page there's a reference to "calipash," which is an 18th century delicacy scraped out of a tortoise shell. Given that it was right in the middle of a quote about human nature (the one that I eventually chose to open the book) I just liked the sound of it and ran with it!


message 14: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Chelsea wrote: "Molly I was wondering...who are some authors who have inspired you?"

Great question, Chelsea! Authors who have inspired me ... well, in terms of the book, of course there's Wodehouse, the authors who produced lots of 19th century pornography who were largely anonymous, 18th century novelists like Sarah Scott, Francis Sheridan, Henry Fielding, etc., Aphra Behn and John Wilmot, and I dunno, that last piece was kind of me sticking it to Robert E. Howard as I'm not too fond of his Mythos stories. :)

Overall, though, I'd have to say the author who's influenced me the most in my life is Roald Dahl. Strange, I know, but I can't think of anyone else who I've admired more, from childhood to adulthood, and who I've read a higher proportion of his or her published works.


message 15: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Rand wrote: "1) How do you feel about other writers jumping in with this mythos you’ve sprouted up? 2) How do you feel about writing a Modern or Future day Calipash tale? Do you think it possible/ any interest? 3) There are these taboos you showcase in the tales and I was wondering what typically comes/came to your mind first? The framework or the scandal? Lastly and most importantly, 4) Which character would you play in the film ‘A Pretty Mouth’?"

Whew!

1. Well, I don't care about fan fiction/fan art, but like most authors, I would get a little annoyed if someone tried to publish (for money) a story about my Calipash family. They're my creation, though obviously they are set within a Lovecraftian universe, and while I'd be thrilled to one day stumble upon a work of love from a fan, for now, the Calipashes are mine alone to exploit for cold hard cash. :) That said, if people ask permission, I'm always amenable. Indeed, another Lazy Fascist title, A Parliament of Crows by Alan Clark, has some crossover with the Calipash tales, and for those who read it, there's a reference to his work in the very first story of A Pretty Mouth.

2. I may write more Calipash stories one day, but I'm not sure about modern or future! Who knows? The line ends with Alethea and Alastair in the first story, but then again, as anyone who read the Author's Note knows,, there are other ways for our past to catch up with us... Mostly I write Calipash stories when I get bitten by the historical fiction bug and need to scratch, though.

3. I first came up with the idea when I wanted to write a story about
incestuous twin necromancers, so I'm not quite sure! I don't write to shock people, most of the time, I write what feels right, so the stories for me are always more important than anything people might find taboo or alarming.

4. Henry.


message 16: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Lori wrote: "Are you a fan of the genres and time periods you fashioned A PRETTY MOUTH around, or were the choices born from something else? "

Yes, for the most part I love the time periods/genres in which the stories are set! I have a Master's in 18th century literature/humanities (I've been known to describe the original piece as the most profitable thing that came out of my Master's degree), and I read quite a bit of 19th century lit during that time, too. Not necessarily porn, that was off the clock as it were, but a lot about syphilis! Haha. Anyways, for the rest of them, I have always been a fan of the Classical world--more ancient Greece than Rome, but the Englishness was easier to work with a Roman theme. John Wilmot has been an obsession of mine for some time, and I've recreationally read quite a bit of Wodehouse.

There were other times/genres I could have gone for, and may in the future, but these "felt" right.


message 17: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Pragya wrote: "Hi Molly,

How did you decide on horror genre to write your book in? Do you love horror movies and books?"


Hi Pragya! Well, I'm not sure if A Pretty Mouth is horror or not--that's for others to decide! I certainly love genre-bending works, especially humorous horror, historical horror, fantasy horror, so maybe that's where this falls! Quirky Lovecraft semi-comedies like Re-Animator (the film) are a great love of mine, so this came from there as much as it came from anything else I've read, historical, horror, etc.


message 18: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Wow, Molly, 18th century literature?! What was it specifically about that time period that caught your attention?


message 19: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
This question is for the group:

What did you guys think about the way Molly presented the story... with the short stories of each generation, laid out backwards?

In what ways would the story have changed for you, had it been laid out in order, from the beginning of the family linage to the end?


message 20: by Heather (new)

Heather (HLindskold) Giving the stories in reverse order was definitely the way to go--I think it made the book more suspenseful and more disturbing. If the stories had been in chronological order, we would have read the worst of it right at the beginning and we would have known what to expect (generally speaking), I think.

When I read something disturbing that a particular character has done (in any book), one of my first thoughts is, 'What the heck happened to that person to screw them up so much?' Reading the last story first (in A Pretty Mouth) would have explained the family's...issues...right away, instead of making us wait for it. I enjoyed waiting for it. I couldn't stop reading.


message 21: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments I agree- I liked the reverse order. In the first story when the Calipash reputaion was talked of, I remember thinking, "seriously? Can they be that bad?" Then we slowly discover that every bit of their reputation was well earned. It's like when you look at a person who does some really messed up things and you wonder- what made them that way? In this book we actually get to peek into the past and find out. By the time you get to the last story (which is really the first) you can totally see why the people turned out the way they did in the first story.


message 22: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Lori wrote: "Wow, Molly, 18th century literature?! What was it specifically about that time period that caught your attention?"

I was in a Humanities program that allowed me to follow my muse, basically, and after taking a class on transatlantic themes in 18th century lit I was hooked! That, and all the wigs, I guess. :P


message 23: by Rand (new)

Rand Burgess | 2 comments In regards to the order of the stories:

I'm a little indifferent with the order. I think that the order they are in gives a successful delivery. Maybe it's my years of format abuse, but I didn't draw any extraneous data how it was set-up to the stories. Yet if they were randomized, it might have been a little jumpy looking, so the structure did play a good role there. If that makes sense at all ^_^


message 24: by Carmen (new)

Carmen | 10 comments Hi Molly! I haven't read your book yet, but ordered a copy after reading about it here. My book club is reading a Jeeves & Wooster collection this month, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to check out your take on it.


message 25: by S.P. (new)

S.P. Hi Molly,

I loved the book.

You have presented a compressed history in reverse chronological order, allowing (among many other things) an amusing survey of women's roles in literature and in society. It's interesting that the "oldest" story features a woman in a very adventurous, key role while the "newest" presents a central female character whose sole activity is floating in a container of water. Were you conscious of the arc in these changing roles? Was it your intention to show how perceptions of women fluctuate over time, or to demonstrate a clear social progression?

What are you writing at the moment?


message 26: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Carmen wrote: "Hi Molly! I haven't read your book yet, but ordered a copy after reading about it here. My book club is reading a Jeeves & Wooster collection this month, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to ch..."

Thanks, Carmen! I'll be excited to hear what you think! I'm a huge Wodehouse fan myself--which collection are you reading?


message 27: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments S.P. wrote: "It's interesting that the "oldest" story features a woman in a very adventurous, key role while the "newest" presents a central female character whose sole activity is floating in a container of water. Were you conscious of the arc in these changing roles? Was it your intention to show how perceptions of women fluctuate over time, or to demonstrate a clear social progression?"

S.P.! Thanks for coming over here, and for your kind words. :)

I'd like to say the overall arc was intentional, because that is awesome, but really ... I was mostly focused on trying to work within the genres/eras I was tackling. Though gender is something I love to mess with in my writing, I went at this project "story first." Though given how much came out of the reading, academic and fiction, that I did whilst a grad student, I'm sure my brain was running background programs about changing roles and all that.

Reading Wodehouse, when I went on a kick last year (and watching the excellent Fry and Laurie adaptations) I was struck by how ridiculous both the men and the women are in the stories, but the women in particular, so I did intentionally make Alethea a less active character than most of the other Calipash females. As for the final story, as I said above, when prepping to write "Damnatio Memoriae" I had read a bunch of REH Mythos stories and wanted to invert a lot of what he was doing in them, in terms of playing with his notions of race/the other, women, etc.

As for what I'm working on now, I have a few short stories I'm puttering with, and I'm also currently in the process of revising a novel!


message 28: by Carmen (new)

Carmen | 10 comments Molly wrote: "Thanks, Carmen! I'll be excited to hear what you think! I'm a huge Wodehouse fan myself--which collection are you reading?" We're reading Carry On, Jeeves. I enjoyed the language and style and would like to check out some of his other stuff in the future. We also have a club-within-a-club that reads some less mainstream stuff, and I've recommended to them that we read your novel as a follow-up :)


message 29: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Carmen wrote: "Molly wrote: "Thanks, Carmen! I'll be excited to hear what you think! I'm a huge Wodehouse fan myself--which collection are you reading?" We're reading Carry On, Jeeves. I enjoyed the language and..."

You're very kind! Thank you!

Carry On, Jeeves is a good one! I actually like them all, though I've always been less into the one Jeeves novel without Bertie, Ring for Jeeves.


message 30: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments Hi Molly,
Which story did you enjoy writing the most?


message 31: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Rosanna wrote: "Hi Molly,
Which story did you enjoy writing the most?"


Without hesitation, the title novella.

I've never been one of those "The muse strikes! I shall write this in three days and it will be perfect!"-style writers (if they exist outside of film, I dunno if they do). And yet ... with the novella, that kind of happened? I wrote it in two weeks, more or less, and the final version--except for the Wilmot-POV chapters, those came later--is largely the same. It just really wrote itself once I got working on it, and I couldn't stop. I believe I even had a friend visiting at one point, when I was in the thick of it, and turned down a bunch of fun hiking adventures because I had to write it and get it out of my head.

In the end, I had something that wasn't just my favorite story in the book, but one of my two favorite things I've ever written. Probably also because the novella has the most real history in it of anything I've written. I did the most independent research for it, and tried to "locate" it at a specific moment in time as much as I could.

Which story did all of you folks like the most?


message 32: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
I really enjoyed the opening story. Even though I've never read a Wodehouse (gasp!) I could sense the tongue and cheekiness of it, and really liked the dark and sinister qualities it had overall.


message 33: by Heather (new)

Heather (HLindskold) There wasn't a story in the collection that I *didn't* like, but I think my favorite was the title story. I really enjoyed that one, and I *did not* see the twin-thing coming. That was pretty awesome.

What are some of your favorite books from the 18th and 19th centuries that you would recommend to others?


message 34: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
What's everyone's opinion regarding the novel in stories versus novels in general? Do you like the format? What do you think about the fluidity (or lack of) it lends to the story itself?


message 35: by Heather (new)

Heather (HLindskold) That all depends on the book for me--some novels work really well as a collection of connected short stories, and some don't. I think Molly nailed it with this one. I don't know what it is about A Pretty Mouth that makes me say that...the format just felt right. There's something about the format she used that added to the creep factor--the idea that there's so much that *isn't* known about the Calipash family would have made a regular novel seem weird in this case. The Calipash family story isn't the linear type. Am I making sense? Haha!


message 36: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Heather wrote: "What are some of your favorite books from the 18th and 19th centuries that you would recommend to others?"

Oh, where to start?!

It depends, I guess, on what one enjoys. I really like novels of sensibility, they're exceedingly weird. The History of Sir George Ellison by Sarah Scott is super-good, but bizarre. Her Millenium [sic] Hall is also ... interesting. It's very informative of 18th c. attitudes toward education, class, race, sensibility, etc.

More recreational would be one of my all time favorite books, not just 18th c. books, The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph by Francis Sherridan. It's a fascinating novel that lampoons social behavior, especially the notion of how women should act to be accepted by society, but so subtly you could read it straight. I highly recommend it.

What else? Hmm, if you're interested in the transatlantic slave trade in the 18th c., The History of Mary Prince is fascinating, it's nonfiction, a narrative of a slave's life in her own words. Mostly. There are some disputes of whether it was somewhat "constructed" by the people who bought her story to be used as an anti-slavery tract but regardless, it's amazing. Lots of warnings on this, it's very violent and upsetting, but a fascinating picture of slave life in the 18th century and how awful humans can be.

As far as 19th century goes, I always hesitate to recommend Sarah Grand's The Heavenly Twins, first because it's--if memory serves--over 800 pages, and the ending stinks like yesterday's garbage. Really, I loved it and was super-duper into it, and--boom--the ending was the worst. Ever. She published part of it as a novella called "The Tenor and the Boy," and that's worth reading as a standalone. But at the same time there's such good stuff about morality and syphilis and New Woman issues in the first 5/6ths that it pains me not to be able to really recommend it.

Other 19th century books off the beaten path, I'd have to say The Beetle by Richard Marsh is a must-read. But--and I always give this caveat--if you get the Broadview annotated edition, stay out of the footnotes! They're spoiler-rich, and meant for an audience who's already read it and knows all the secrets. But it's a cool book, told in (I think) four parts, each with a different narrative tone. There's a Dickensian narrator, a weird Dr. Jekyll-ish narrator (I wondered when reading it if Stuart Gordon read the book and used that character to inform his depiction of Herbert West in Re-Animator--I shall say no more!), a Sherlock Holmes-style narrator, there's all kinds of stuff that make it legit and awesome. There's a weird Egyptology angle, too.

And, of course--reader beware of all the icky race politics, sexism, etc. in these books. The 18th century may have been interesting/awesome in some ways (WIGS) but not so much in others...


message 37: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Lori wrote: "I really enjoyed the opening story. Even though I've never read a Wodehouse (gasp!) I could sense the tongue and cheekiness of it, and really liked the dark and sinister qualities it had overall."

There's some stuff in the public domain up on Project Gutenberg!


message 38: by Heather (new)

Heather (HLindskold) Thank you for the recommendations, Molly! I will look into all of them. :)


message 39: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments My favorite was the one about the Ivybridge twins...although it made me cringe several times. I kinda liked the grotesque shock factor. I really liked the short story format. I think it was very fluid. With some books of short stories, it feels like whip lash when you finish one and start the next because of the writing style/theme of the story. This book didn't feel that way at all to me.


message 40: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Things have been winding down around here the last few days. What last minute questions or discussion items do you have for Molly?


message 41: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments I often read right before I go to bed or in the middle of the night (I have three kids so I'm up a lot). I often have creepy dreams when I read books like this. My question is for Molly is: when you are writing books like this one, do you ever have creepy dreams relating to your own book? Have you ever drawn inspiration from a dream and included it any of your work?


message 42: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
That's a great question Chelsea. I'd like to know the answer to both, actually :)


message 43: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Chelsea wrote: "When you are writing books like this one, do you ever have creepy dreams relating to your own book? Have you ever drawn inspiration from a dream and included it any of your work?"

Interesting question, Chelsea!

Typically I don't dream much at all, though I go through occasional periods of having vivid dreams. Usually they're very silly dreams, though. Anyways, I don't recall having any Calipash dreams when writing A Pretty Mouth. Did it give you creepy dreams? If so, I'd be very curious to hear about them! :)

As to your other question, I have indeed been inspired by dreams before, though very rarely. As I said, most of my dreams are of the "my friend asked me to knit him a sweater because he was captain of the guard!" variety. Not really the stuff of stories, that! But in one instance, I decided to transpose a dream I had when my father was very sick into a story where the character had a sick parent. It was a very potent dream, and I felt it was natural for the character. Though I still worry it makes the piece a little too personal...


message 44: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Awww. Our time with Molly has drawn to a close!

I want to thank you, Molly, for hanging with us this month and responding to all of our questions. I had a blast and I know our members did too.

It was awesome of you to be here!


message 45: by Heather (new)

Heather (HLindskold) Thank you so much, Molly! Great discussion!


message 46: by Molly (new)

Molly | 17 comments Thanks all! This was a lot of fun. And thanks especially to Lori, for organizing and arranging all this!


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