Cover Reveal: INTRATERRESTRIAL

It’s here. Yes, this is it. I’ve been dropping little hints about Novel #3 for a long time, but up until now, the time hasn’t been right to pull back the curtain and reveal what the book is about. Well, I’m insanely excited to announce that the time has finally come.

Here it is, everyone! I’m finally ready to introduce you to my next novel, Novel #3, the book I’ve been working on all this time: Intraterrestrial.

Intraterrestrial

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book

Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.

Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

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Just as with Pale Highway, the plot of Intraterrestrial is informed by my real life experiences working in healthcare. It’s a story about the reality of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), about the nature of consciousness, about what medical tragedy does to a family… but it’s also a story about hope, finding oneself, and the utmost importance of imagination.

I’ve been officially working on Intraterrestrial ever since I wrapped up work on Pale Highway, but the base concept behind this story has been following me for many, many years, tugging at me, itching for release. As always, it feels surreal to finally put it out there, this experience that has been with me for so long, this story that I’ve been thinking about for so long — and I seriously can’t wait for you all to read it. Seriously, I can’t wait!

In the meantime, stay tuned and I’ll be posting updates. Oh yeah, and as far as a release date? How does this sound:

Winter 2017

Mekong River Laos

The Evolution of Language

Over the last few months, I enjoyed the enormous thrill of doing some work for Dictionary.com, a site which I (and most writers) have certainly used as a research database for many years. Aside from being one of the most exciting companies I could ever imagine writing for, there was a sheer pleasure to the process itself. Researching words. Looking into the history of the language. Figuring out how words evolve. Words are how we sculpt ideas, and we can track the evolution of culture through the words we use.

The non-words of today are the words of tomorrow. Consider the term “ponytail,” once clearly modeled after an actual pony’s tail, but now ubiquitous with a hairstyle. Or the way we refer to the “legs” of a chair. Language is fascinating, because of what it says about how we think.

Language is not only our most characteristic invention. It’s us.

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The true beauty of language, I think, is in its inherent fluidity. The words we use today frame the concepts that we’re talking about, the comparisons that we’re making, the joining of one idea to another. Because of this, I think new words are something to be embraced, not resisted; while terms like “hangry” and “man bun” might sound silly today, they represent the conceptualization of attitudes, styles, and behaviors that did exist before, but have now been given a new representation within this culture.

Language never stops evolving, because people  — and the way we think — never stops evolving either. While humans always have a tendency to romanticize some era of their past, the truth is that culture must continue progressing forward. Things have to change. Attitudes have to evolve, and then evolve past whatever they evolved into. It’s what culture does. So it’s important that we always open our eyes to the future, and always stay interested in what’s ahead.

 

human verbs, motion, existence

Traveling Verbs

Life is what we create it to be. And thus life, or creation — and by extension, the identities of who “we,” “I,” or “you” are — are not fixed. We’re not solid entities. We’re not nouns. No, actually, we’re verbs.

We are autopoietic, self-creating (thanks, Gabriel). And so we are constantly fluid, always recreating ourselves in every new moment, always writing the next page of our story with every breath.

We’re all stories.

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I’ve always connected to stories; both my own, and the stories of others, whether real or fictional. Stories, and the inherent connection they have to every aspect of life, is what made me become a writer. Every person you meet is a walking story. Every person’s story is the combination of planning, impulses, unexpected plot twists, and coincidence. Every “walking story” out there lives with a kaleidoscope of supporting characters, settings, and subplots running parallel to each person’s central narrative, which will eventually lead them to a final conclusion that no one can know until we get there. Yet, ironically enough, whatever conclusion may be, it will be built from every piece of what has occurred before. When “the end” comes, it will enhance and redefine all of the scenes that our lives were built out of, in ways we never could have predicted. Minor conversations may become deeply important, in retrospect, when our story becomes a possession of people other than ourselves.

Somewhat frighteningly, not everyone gets to choose what sort of story their life is. It may be a tragedy, a comedy, a horror, any number of things, and much of this is determined by such utterly random factors as chance, luck, and coincidence. Somewhere in the middle of this is “free will” and “choice.” These two things are important, but we shouldn’t fall into the illusion that either of them possesses any control over reality. Factors like societal norms, poverty, privilege, and geographical location all form the basis of a person’s story before that person is even born. Our free will is how we respond to the outside, how we choose to perceive it, but the outside has a way of taking back control whenever it wants to. But just as free will shouldn’t be overstated — when so many other factors also play a role in life —  free will should also not be understated either. Free will is the only tool we have to craft our own stories, to write our tales to the best of our ability.

The future awaits, and every moment builds to it. Every person is a story. Everyone is constantly evolving. Nothing is truly static. Nothing can fixed. And change or evolution, no matter how improbable it might seem, is always possible.

Dark Tower Trailer is Here!

Afters years upon years of waiting, the first trailer for the upcoming cinematic adaptation of The Dark Tower is real, it’s breathing, and it’s live:

As readers know, the Dark Tower series was hugely influential on me — as a writer, a reader, and as a person — so this is easily my most anticipated movie of the year. It’s a hard one to get right, but so far, I’m impressed.

As the filmmakers have said, they are pulling from multiple books in the series for this first film, which I think makes sense; the original book, The Gunslinger, is fairly slow paced compared to the subsequent books, with much of it consisting of Roland and Jake following the Man in Black through the desert. It looks like this one uses the general plot structure of The Gunslinger, combines it with the house/portal from The Waste Lands, and then uses some of the New York elements of the last two books. Having everything somewhat different from the books actually works with this storyline, in a way it wouldn’t with other adaptations, since the notion of alternate realities, timelines, and dimensions is sewn right into the fabric of the Dark Tower mythos. As Jake famously said in the first novel, “there are other worlds than these.”

Either way, I definitely got chills hearing that last line. Idris Elba seems like an absolutely amazing Roland, with all of the gravitas that the character demands. Jake and the Man in Black look to perfectly capture the characters in the books. Can’t wait to see this in theaters.

Clay Tongue novelette Nicholas Conley fantasy

Release Day – Clay Tongue: A Novelette

Language is the foundation that society is built on, and yet, out of all of our inventions, it’s also our greatest enigma. The combination of sounds and/or symbols that frame ideas, illustrate concepts, and bring people together has advanced human civilization more than anything else, without parallel. But for those who suffer from cognitive disorders, like aphasia — and those afflicted by shyness and social anxiety — language can also be the tallest wall separating them from others.

Language is the key to everything. Like any writer, my love of language frames all of my actions, goals, and ideas. But I also know the pains of language, both from my experiences working in a dementia unit with patients with cognitive disorders, as well as my early life experiences as a shy little kid who didn’t know how to express myself. This is what led me to write my short little novelette, Clay Tongue — the magical realism story that, as of today, is now out in the world, and ready for all of you to read.

I’m thrilled to share the news that Clay Tongue: A Novelette is now available both as an ebook and a paperback, just in time for the holidays!

Clay Tongue novelette Nicholas Conley fantasy

From the author of the award-winning Pale Highway and the radio play Something in the Nothing comes a short fantasy of love, shyness, and the secrets of human communication.

Katie Mirowitz is a small little girl with an even smaller little voice. She possesses a deep love for her grandfather, who suffers from aphasia after a bad stroke cuts loose the part of his brain that processes verbal language. When Katie uncovers a miraculous secret inside the pages of her grandfather’s old journal, as well as an ancient key, she goes out into the woods in search of answers — hoping to uncover a mythical being that, if it exists, may just have the ability to grant wishes.

Get your copy here!

PEN America

I’m proud to announce that I’m now a member of PEN America, the East Coast United States chapter of PEN International. Founded in London in 1921, PEN is the world’s oldest human rights organization, and also the oldest international literary organization, with its membership comprised of novelists, journalists, poets, essayists, playwrights, and more. PEN International works to promote the important role that writers have in shaping society, by emphasizing mutual understanding between cultures, speaking out against tyranny, and bringing people together. The organization also coordinates the PEN Prison Writing Program, which provides inmates a much needed opportunity for self-expression through writing, as well as access to writing mentors, and an audience. PEN also fights for freedom of expression and freedom of the press across the world, sounding the bullhorn for writers who have been imprisoned or killed for their writing.

From their website:

 

pen

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world.  Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

PEN America is the largest of more than 100 centers of PEN International. For more than 90 years, we have been working together with our colleagues in the international PEN community to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others. In doing so, we are building on a tradition begun in the years following World War I and carried forward by thousands of American writers.

Needless to say, I’m both honored and excited to now be a member, and look forward to doing my part to further these important goals in whatever way I can. After all, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, is the cornerstone of free society.

 

Clay Tongue novelette Nicholas Conley fantasy

Cover Reveal – Clay Tongue: A Novelette

There’s still a ways to go before Novel #3 is ready to show its face to the world. But in the meantime, I’ve managed to prepare a wintery gift to all you faithful readers, just in time for the holiday season: remember that upcoming novelette I mentioned some months back?

Well, it’s time to spill the beans. Clay Tongue: A Novelette will be coming your way on December 19th. That’s right, only a few weeks away!

Clay Tongue is a story about the nature of communication. It’s a tale about what it’s like to be a shy little kid in a big and not-so-shy world. It’s a narrative that examines the limits of human language, the deep connection between the very young and the very elderly, and how the magical realism of youth connects to the painful transition of growing older. Though Clay Tongue may be a story as small as its protagonist, it’s also a story I needed to tell, a journey I poured my heart into, and I’m proud of how it has turned out.

Without further ado, here is the reveal:

From the author of the award-winning Pale Highway and the radio play Something in the Nothing comes a short fantasy of love, shyness, and the secrets of human communication.
Katie  Mirowitz  is  a  small  little  girl  with an even smaller little voice.   She  possesses  a  deep love  for  her  grandfather,  who suffers from aphasia after a bad stroke cuts loose the part of his brain that processes verbal  language.  When  Katie uncovers a miraculous  secret  inside  the pages  of  her  grandfather’s  old journal, as well as an ancient key, she goes out into the woods in search of answers — hoping to uncover a mythical being that, if it exists, may just have the ability to grant wishes.

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