April Is No Fool
THE GOLD PERSIMMON is 6 months old today! Plus new booktail THE BOOK OF THE MOST PRECIOUS SUBSTANCE by Sara Gran and the latest News from the Library on M.J. Kuhn and Alexandra Kleeman!
Welcome back to The Cauldron! (Chug, chug, ahhh…)
Alexa, play “I Had the Time of My Life”
Today, my first novel turns six months old. The book launched virtually from The Booksmith in my former home of San Francisco, (a million thank yous to Evan Karp!) with Fox Henry Frazier as my conversation partner and co-host. Since then, I’ve talked about THE GOLD PERSIMMON with the Flint Library, McNally Robinson, the Virginia Festival of the Book (where I was sure to bring up dildos of course), Chloe Miller’s writing class at American University (where I did not bring up dildos), Sapphic Story Hour (shoulda been dildos), the faculty book club at the Ethel Walker School, a whole host of podcasts and radio shows, and so many more. A special shoutout to Exile in Bookville, where I had my only in-person event, which was a night to remember. (The store is gorgeously arranged with a lovely view. You have to ride an antique elevator to reach it, which is surreal and terrifying and makes you feel like you’re in a Wes Anderson movie. I bought Jen a sleek black pencil there. And they are not stingy with the champagne. If you’re in Chicago, stop by for Independent Bookstore Day on April 30! I’ll be there, with drinks!) THE GOLD PERSIMMON has its own playlist (that I compiled) and was blessed with an audio performance by Nicky Endres, who you might know for her role as the lead designer on a little show on Hulu called “THE DROPOUT!”
I’ve also been interviewed about my novel in The Rumpus, Washington Independent Review, BlueInk Review, The Interlude, Dis/Member, and New Pages, among others. THE GOLD PERSIMMON has gotten press in Harper’s Bazaar, The Library Journal, the Independent Book Review, CLMP, Lambda Literary, the Horror Obsessive, Sage Cigarettes Magazine, and many more.
Last but not least, the little-novel-that-could is a finalist for the Foreword Indies in the thriller/suspense category!
If you’d like to show your support for THE GOLD PERSIMMON, please, please, please leave reviews on BOTH Amazon and Goodreads! This novel currently has way less than a hundred reviews on Amazon, which means it is basically invisible to Amazon shoppers. (I know, Amazon is a beast. But they control so much of the book industry so, what’s a witch to do?)
Why should those who’ve already read my book suffer alone? Help me reach more readers so I can haunt and confuse them too!
Don’t use Amazon or Goodreads? You have the power of word of mouth! Whether it’s by email, social media, or in-person, the best book recommendations come from people we know and trust. So recommend away! This goes not just for my book, but any book out there.
News from the Library
Featuring news and updates on authors and their booktail-ized books!
The paperback edition of M.J. Kuhn’s AMONG THIEVES is coming out May 17! Pre-order from my favorite indie bookstore here!
In the five kingdoms of Thamorr, some are born with superhuman abilities of extraordinary potential. But this blessing is nothing more than a curse: all Adepts are rounded up as children, enslaved, and sold to the highest bidder by the all-powerful leader, the Guildmaster. When a colorful band of talented thieves, smugglers, and tricksters catches wind of a plot to acquire a valuable object in the Guildmaster’s possession, this cunning crew sets out on a dangerous mission rife with hidden motives and competing plots. Among them is Riya, known on wanted posters as “The Butcher” for her beloved blades that never miss. The only one who knows the real value and potential of the artifact they seek, Riya must push herself to the limits to keep power from falling into the wrong hands. But she can’t do it alone: for this mission to succeed, the team’s confidence in one another will have to become more powerful than their secrets.
Read this NY Times Magazine profile on Michelle Yeoh by Alexandra Kleeman, author of booktail-ized novel SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN!
In SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, Patrick is a writer on set in LA, watching his autobiographical novel get turned into a horror movie. He finds himself the personal PA to a washed up, volatile former child star, Cassidy, the lead in the film. Meanwhile, Patrick’s wife is on a commune with their daughter, mourning the ecological destruction of the Earth. Everywhere Patrick goes, something is very wrong. The producers have secrets, fires are raging, there’s no real water anymore, only this mysteriously manufactured WAT-R, and people are inexplicably losing their minds.
And now… A deliciously dangerous booktail!
Just one this time—that’s enough. Scroll to see why…
Much like the book within-the-book at the heart of this novel, I heard only whispers about Sara Gran’s THE BOOK OF THE MOST PRECIOUS SUBSTANCE, then received an enthusiastic recommendation from trusted booksellers and friends at Exile in Bookville (hi again! Can’t wait to see you guys in Chicago on April 30th!) But not much was illuminated by that exchange. At least, not that I remember—we were drinking champagne, after all. All I remembered, or mis-remembered, was that it was about “female ejaculation.”
Oh, my reader, female ejaculation is the most “normal” thing about this delightfully hypnotizing trip of a novel.
It’s actually about sex magick, the knife’s edge between pleasure and grief, joie de vivre, and life’s indifferent cruelty to us all. It’s also about a magical tome called The Book of the Most Precious Substance, the search for which takes former bestselling novelist and rare book dealer Lily Albrecht on a riveting and sumptuously nourished treasure hunt through the US and Europe. If she can find this book—whose secrets, if mastered through various sexual acts, lead to untold power—maybe she can reclaim the beautiful life she’s lost. But as Lily and her partner navigate threats of violence and eccentric rich characters, (some of them witches, others have guns) the magic spurring them on begins to reveal more of its sinister desire: “We were on a ship and the book was our captain, leading us through treacherous straits and past all sirens, taking us to the exact shore where we needed to be.”
From the first page, Lily enchants you with her clear, likable voice and humorous observations, like “Betty was elegant and sophisticated and attractive and dead inside.” You’d want to know about her and her loss even if her story were a more mundane one, but it is not. I couldn’t put this book down. I advise you to likewise allow yourself to fall under its spell.
Each layer of this booktail represents one of the precious substances needed to complete the ceremony. First, salty gin with its natural perfume takes the place of human sweat. Drambuie, which is made with honey—like the honey drizzled over the cheese Lily enjoys in New Orleans, or sold at an open air market in Munich—references the “nectar” of the female-bodied’s arousal. Vanilla extract stands in for semen, as vanilla beans come from the only edible fruit-bearing orchid. Orchids themselves are, of course, named for testicles. Champagne—which marks many of the story’s milestones, including various domestic and international plane rides, and a pointed reunion at the novel’s end, plus its appearance in certain blackberry psychedelic mushroom cocktails—is itself a precious substance, especially the more expensive stuff, and represents the second-most challenging of these fluids to acquire: female ejaculate. Lastly, pomegranate foam, made with the juice of the fruit of the dead, is a nod to a certain tattoo and symbolizes the final element necessary to complete the spell, one which requires the most precious substance of all—life.
This decadent booktail is presented amongst some old and unusual texts, including fairytales and the witchcraft index known as The Compendium Maleficarum. A weighted black skull and white chocolate skull rest amongst the books, along with a ceremonial Damascus steel dagger, its blade crossing the neck of the coupe glass, which is surrounded by a scattering of fragrant dried peony petals, dried rose buds, and rose petals for Fludd’s etched rose representing the seven bodies of man, from spiritual to physical.
THE BOOK OF THE MOST PRECIOUS SUBSTANCE
Pomegranate foam (see recipe)
1 oz gin
1 oz Drambuie
1/8th teaspoon vanilla extract
A small piece of very dark chocolate, preferably Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt
¼ cup pomegranate juice
3 Tablespoons simple syrup
2 Tablespoons and 2 teaspoons aquafaba (the juice from a can of chickpeas)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
To begin, add the gin, Drambuie, and vanilla to a shaker with a large cube or chunk of ice. Give it a few good shakes, until the ice begins to splinter. Strain into a coupe glass and set aside.
Next, prepare the foam by combining the pomegranate juice, aquafaba, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a bowl or standing mixer. Whisk at medium speed until all the liquid has converted to foam, about one minute. Top the cocktail with champagne and let the bubbles settle, then scoop the foam atop the champagne til the surface is covered and an island of foam reaches just above the brim of the glass.
To achieve full potency, serve this cocktail with a piece of very dark chocolate.
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