Novel Ideas #81: Know That You Suck

Novel Ideas #81: Know That You Suck

Wherein I discuss how to know that you suck when writing in a new segment titled “Write Right,” discuss the pros and cons of our book of the month, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen, bring you an interview with Michael himself, and lament that Winds of Winter just may never come.

Like our music? That’s “Brave” by Jonathan Coulton, off his newest album Solid State.


:00    Intro 

:51    Book Industry News

3:48  Interview with debut author of The Sea Beast Takes a Lover, Michael Andreasen

15:40  Book of the Month: The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen

23:31  Write Right: Know That You Suck

34:04  Wrap-Up and Coming next month


Book & Game Industry News

Jonesy, the cat from Alien, is getting his own book

The Expanse on Syfy has been canceled

According to GRRM, Winds of Winter is definitely not coming out this year


Extras: I didn’t mention these bits on the podcast, but they’re good to know!

The Nebula Award winners have been announced!



Interview: Michael Andreasen

For this month’s interview segment, I welcome Michael AndreasenMichael holds a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, McSweeney’s, Zoetrope: All-Story, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. He lives in Southern California, and The Sea Best Takes a Lover is his first book.

Michael and I discuss the themes of love and death in his book, the process of writing weird and fantastical stories, and the importance of speculative fiction in changing our worldview.

You can find Michael through his website.



Book of the Month: The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen

In this segment, I discuss our book of the month, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen. This collection of short stories is equal parts weird, ridiculous, and charming. Each story also has something to say about love, in all its forms: love of family, romantic love, love of a job, love of a god, love of a sea beast.

The stories take place in different types of worlds. For example, “Our Fathers at Sea” and the title story, “The Sea Beast Takes a Lover” take place in ocean settings; “Bodies in Space” and “Rockabye, Rocketboy” take place in space settings; “The King’s Teacup at Rest” and “Rite of Baptism” are in fun-house, carnival type settings. And in each world, there are things that ground us, like high rise buildings or pirate ships or suburban neighborhoods. But there is always a fantastic twist as well – a boy who flies around on rockets and literally cannot land; a girl with no head; a radioactive kid who explodes, a sea beast.

The stories are less about characters and plot and more about situations and settings that are humorous, unsettling, and tragic. During each story, I laughed at parts, but when it was over, I was left with a feeling of profound sadness.

Andreasen’s use of juxtaposition is brilliant, and his imagination shines. I rarely use the word “original,” because nothing is truly original, but I can honestly say I haven’t read anything quite like these stories before. They are very well written, charming, haunting, and tragic, and I think the book is worth is your time.

However, the most frustrating thing about this book for me is that Andreasen isn’t great with how he treats women. In every story, the women are relegated to absent or belligerent wives, headless sisters, terrible mothers, stereotypical porn stars, sea beasts, and frustrating mistresses. The boys are the conflicted heroes, the sympathetic characters, while the women are just there to serve the plot and the men. This was highly disappointing and frustrating in an otherwise brilliant book of short stories.

The stories are easy to read, and it’s a book you could blow through in an afternoon. Even with the way it treats women, I think it’s worth reading for a couple reasons: 1) To learn, both what not to do with women characters and 2) how to put great twists on reality to create original, well written stories.

Next month, I’ll be discussing Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, out June 26. The first book in a new series, Trail of Lightning follows an indigenous monsterslayer named Maggie Hoskie as she teams up with a local unconventional medicine man to uncover the mystery of some weird happenings in Dinetah, formerly the Navajo reservation, after climate change has destroyed the earth. With a cast of all indigenous people, taking place in a Navajo setting, and weaving indigenous culture, legends, and myths, this book is bound to be really exciting!

If you decide to read it with me, please go to our Goodreads discussion group and let me know your thoughts in the thread. I may feature them on the podcast next month!

Remember that you can order any book discussed or mentioned on our podcast by filling out our Special Order form or by calling or stopping by the store.



Write Right: Know that You Suck

In the inaugural “Write Right” segment, I discuss the ethical responsibility of being a writer and how to build worlds and characters without harming real life groups of people, including negative stereotypes to avoid. I also recommend taking writing workshops from Writing the Other and plug our new summer intensive writing workshop.


Join me again next month for more book industry news, my book of the month discussion of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, an interview with Lania Knight, author of sci-fi novel Remnant, a post-apocalyptic thriller where nothing is what it seems, and a Booksticle of our best selling books so far this year.

Remember that you can order any book discussed or mentioned on our podcast by filling out our Special Order form or by calling or stopping by the store.

You can also find the bookstore on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @tubbyandcoos. And did I mention our new Goodreads discussion group, where you can find a list of all the books our book clubs are reading, this podcast’s book of the month, and more? Tell us what you’re reading, we’d love to discuss with you! 

Again, the music you heard in this podcast is “Brave” by Jonathan Coulton, off his newest album, Solid State.

Keep on reading!


Novel Ideas is a podcast in partnership with WRBH Reading Radio, 88.3 FM New Orleans. WRBH is the nation’s only full-time FM reading radio service and is one of only three such stations in the world.