A look back at 2015, with thanks

Firstly, secondly, thirdly, and all other numbers through lastly, thank you. Thank you for the emojis, commiserations, alcohol, hugs virtual and real, and all of the other countless ways you gave me boosts when I needed them this year.

Holy crap, this year. I mean, just, daaaamn. I mean HOLY CRAP, 2015.

In January I moved my parents into assisted living, sold their house, and then my mom died. It was more complicated than that sounds, because of ER visits and multiple facilities and other added degrees of difficulty. Also, the day after my mom died, I went out on a multi-city book tour.

Then in May my dad died. Again, added degrees of difficulty and multiple healthcare providers and lots of stress.

So, yes, much crap and a great weight of sadness.

And I’m not even going to mention other family crap that I don’t even wanna go into here. But holy crap.

But. That wasn’t all that 2015 was. It was also getting to see friends, and accepting support and love from them. Again, thank you, friends. I know many of you are dealing with so much — health issues, financial stresses, difficulties both acute and chronic. I hope I can do half as good a job helping you with stuff that you might be going through as you did helping me with mine.

Special shoutout to my cousins Michelle and Nicole for helping me move my dad. And to the caregivers and hospice nurses and workers who deserve to be paid millions for what they do.

And, as always, to Lisa. She was my rock. The kind of rock who gives you reasons to smile at least a few times a day and keeps you company during the worst kind of errands, and also reminds you that even in crap times, it’s still possible to have fun

In 2015 there were also dogs. HOLY CRAP, MY DOGS. They are so funny and cute and weird and entertaining. I seriously don’t know how I ever got through life before I had dogs. Dogs. They are awesome.

And there was a week in London, which we loved so much we’re going back next year, along with Edinburgh, Bath, and Oxford.

And did I mention I published two novels, Pacific Fire and Dragon Coast? And wrote a draft of a new book? Even wrote a short story or two?

So, there was much good in 2015. Some huge, major awful stuff, yes, but as the Eleventh Doctor says, “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.”

Thank you all for being in the pile of good things this year. You are important to me.

Win a signed DRAGON COAST hardcover for donating to Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence

Dragon Coast

[UPDATE: I was hoping there would be no mass shooting while I was running this giveaway, but right now I’m seeing live updates from yet another one, this time at an Oregon community college. Whether you choose to participate in my giveaway, or donate money to a gun violence prevention group on your own, or lobby your representatives in government, please do SOMETHING to stop this insanity. Please.]

[UPDATE: I found a box of California Bones hardcovers I didn’t know I had, so I’m adding a signed hardcover of California Bones, plus an ARC of Pacific Fire, so you get the whole trilogy.]

I’m running another book giveaway, this time for one of three signed hardcovers of DRAGON COAST.

Here’s what you gotta do: Make a donation of $10 or more to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. I’ll be kicking in $100 myself.

What does the Brady Campaign do? They work to change a situation that leads to 32,000 annual deaths due to fun violence in the USA.

Email (gregvan@gmail.com) to tell me you donated. I’d love to see a screenshot of the donation verification screen, or a photo of your addressed and stamped envelope, but it’s not required. I want to make this easy. I would, however, like to know how much you donated so I can tally it all at the end.

I’ll choose three donors at random who’ll each get a signed hardcover.

I’ll keep the identity of the winners and all entrants private unless they want otherwise.

I will ship the books to the winners. Since I don’t want to have to pay a bunch for postage, I’m limiting it to addresses within the United States. If you want a special inscription, just let me know.

I’ll select the winners on Friday, October 2, 5:00 P.M. EST.

I think that should cover it. Let me know if you have any questions.


Daniel Blackland ARCs Giveaway for Planned Parenthood

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Want to enter a drawing to win a complete set of signed ARCs of my Daniel Blackland trilogy?

Here’s what you gotta do: Make a donation to the Planned Parenthood U.S. national organization or a local chapter, a key provider of reproductive healthcare, education, and information that primarily benefits women.

Email (gregvan@gmail.com) to tell me you donated. I’d love to see a screenshot of the donation verification screen, or a photo of your addressed and stamped envelope, but it’s not required. I want to make this easy. I would, however, like to know how much you donated so I can tally it all at the end.

I’ll choose one donor at random who’ll get the signed ARCs.

I’ll keep the identity of the winner and all entrants private unless the winner wants me to say who they are.

I will ship the stuff to you. Since I don’t want to have to pay a bunch for postage, I’m limiting it to addresses within the United States. If you want a special inscription, just let me know.

I’ll select the winner on Friday, September 4, 5:00 P.M. EDT.

I think that should cover it. Let me know if you have any questions.

Get some books, maybe! Donate some money! Feel good about yourself! It’s fun!

Tacos & Tecate: Dragon Coast bookstore appearances

Dragon CoastHey, I’m doing a couple of bookstore events for Dragon Coast, the third book in my Daniel Blackland trilogy. Tacos and beer will be supplied at both events, thanks to my kind and generous publisher, Tor Books. And I’ll be sharing the podium with terrific authors Seanan McGuire (Borderlands appearance only), Adam Rakunas (Mysterious Galaxy appearance only), and Fran Wilde (both appearances).  Beer, tacos, books, writers. I honestly don’t know what else I can say to entice you.


Borderlands Books with Seanan McGuire and Fran Wilde
Tuesday, September 15, 6pm
866 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Mysterious Galaxy with Adam Rakunas and Fran Wilde
Saturday, September 19, 2pm
5943 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, CA 92111



FREE copies of Dragon Coast

Dragon Coast
Hey, you like to get books before anyone else gets them? You like them even more when they’re free?

Here’s how you can get free advance copies of Dragon Coast, the third book in my Daniel Blackland series:

GoodReads Sweepstakes — Enter to win one of nine Dragon Coast advance reader copies. See link for details.

Tor.com Sweepstakes — Email Tor.com and get one of three copies. See link for details. 

ARC Collection Sweepstakes — Subscribe to the Tor newsletter and get a package of advance reader copies of Dragon Coast, plus books by Brandon Sanderson, Jason Denzel, and Cecelia Holland. See link for details.


Last night I saw Rush at the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles on the last night of their 40th anniversary tour. It’s entirely possible that it’s the last time they’ll ever take the stage like that and that it was the last time I’ll ever see them play live. And it’s really okay.

Not okay in the sense that they seem tired. Last night’s show was among the best of their performances I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of them, starting when I was a teenager and the skull beneath the flesh of my driver’s license photo hadn’t yet fused. These three guys are powerful musicians, and they sounded like they were going out at the top of their game.

The band did a nice bit of theater with their onstage gear. As the show went on, roadies kept stripping down the stage. What started with elaborate steam punk contraptions and oversized clothes driers ended up with a couple of amps sitting on wooden school chairs. It was a nice, physical expression of moving back in time.

So, for almost three hours, I stood in the bombardment of Geddy’s bass and Neil’s drums and Alex’s guitars, smiling joyfully. I thought of all the times I’d heard those songs on the radio, on vinyl, on my boom box or off-brand Walkman.

“In a world where I feel so small, I can’t stop thinking big.” — Caravan, Rush

Last night, as with all the other shows, I got to experience it with some of the most important people in my life. This time it was Lisa, and my friend since childhood, Todd, and Todd’s wife, Lori. Some of my favorite shows were with my friend, Bob, with whom I shed blood for many years in Arizona.

I thought of sitting in some random parking lot in Todd’s Toyota Tercel and being exulted by the tone of Geddy Lee’s Fender Jazz bass. I thought of being depressed on a bench on my college campus, and deciding my time would be better spent listening to Moving Pictures than sitting in some giant, dark lecture hall for two hours of art history. I remember a show on the Roll The Bones tour when they sent thousands of miniature spot lights over the crowd during “Bravado,” literally sharing their light and inspiration with all of us, and I almost wanted to leave the concert so I could sit with my yellow legal pad and write stories.

I get sentimental while I’m making the devil sign with both hands.

Several months ago Kevin J. Anderson invited me to submit to 2113, an anthology of short stories inspired by the music of Rush. Neil Peart had given a nod of approval for the project, so of course I wrote a story. Of course I did. Art executed with care and technical expertise has an enormous capacity to make the audience feel. Rush taught me that, and I don’t know if I’d be a writer without them.

I’m thinking about this Dr. Seuss quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” As Geddy said before leaving the stage, I hope to see them again. If not, thanks for decades of smiles, guys.

When the dust has cleared
And victory denied
A summit too lofty
River a little too wide
If we keep our pride
Though paradise is lost
We will pay the price
But we will not count the cost
— Bravado, Rush

San Diego Comic-Con 2015

Hey. You there. Come see me at San Diego Comic-Con. Here’s where I’ll be:

Tor Books Signing, Thursday, 2pm, Booth #2707
There’ll be 50 copies of California Bones being given away and some copies of Pacific Fire for sale.

Normalizing Publishing – Sunday, 12pm – 1pm, Room 32AB
Shonda Rhimes famously said that she’s not “‘diversifying’ TV, she’s normalizing it: “Making it look like the world looks.” Join Sara Ryan (Bad Houses, Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Writers Retreat instructor), Nilah Magruder (M.F.K., Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity recipient), Nicola Yoon(Everything Everything, We Need Diverse Books team member), Cindy Pon (Serpentine, We Need Diverse Books advisory committee, Diversity in YA co-founder), and Greg van Eekhout (California Bones, The Boy at the End of the World) discuss how this normalizing is, and isn’t, happening and what we can all do to promote inclusive storytelling.

My dad, Jozef Louis van Eekhout, 1934-2015

My dad, Jozef Louis van Eekhout, passed away a little less than two hours ago from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He died in his sleep, more comfortable and calm than he’d been in months, thanks to the gift of medication. He’d struggled with the disease for years, and going as peacefully as he did was more than I’d dared hope for.

A Dutch-Indonesian, he was born on June 10, 1934 in Surabaya, Indonesia. In the dozen years he lived there, he experienced war, revolution, internment camp, the loss of his older brother, Anthonie, and the murder of his father Frederick. From Indonesia he and the rest of his family moved to Holland, where he stayed until following his fiancée, my mother, to Venice, California. He and my mom got married at St. Mark’s in Venice and soon had their two children, my brother and me.

He worked a series of less and less menial jobs until beginning work for General Telephone and Electric, where he stayed for over thirty years.

From 1974 until this January, he lived in Culver City, where was a neighborhood fixture, hanging out at Jerry’s Market, or, when he could no longer walk the two blocks there, sitting in the driveway on the seat of his walker and chatting with passers-by. He loved the dogs best of all. Dogs loved him, too. Dozer certainly did.

He did not travel easily through life and struggled with things small and large more than necessary. A lot of that was the result of the traumas he experienced early in life in Indonesia. But he also had a sense of humor that ranged from sharp to silly. He loved to read. He loved to play cowboy songs on guitar, and I loved to sit on the floor and listen. He had a good singing voice and spent several years singing bass in the St. Mark’s choir. Most of my church-going when I was a kid happened from the choir loft. He couldn’t stand the thought of someone going hungry. He would leave saltine crackers from his salads at Denny’s and Norm’s and Polly’s out on the street in case a homeless person wanted them. Right to the end, he was sharing food with his home healthcare assistants.

He worked long hours to provide for us, racking up as much overtime as he could, often working weekends and holidays. He went to community college for years, ultimately earning his AA from Santa Monica College. Education was important to him, and he borrowed from his retirement fund to help put me through UCLA.

He never made me doubt he loved me. He was a good man. I’m not religious, or even spiritual, but he was. My mom died just a little over three months before him, and he hoped he’d be with her in some kind of afterlife. I hope he got his way.

Vaya con dios, Papa. There’s nothing to worry about. Everything’s okay.

Santa Margarita Intermediate School

I had a nice Skype visit with students from Santa Margarita Intermediate School today. They asked great questions that showed their intelligence and imagination. My thanks to them and to librarian Jenny Todd and IT guy Mark for making it happen. And, gosh, look at these notes. Stuff like this is the best part of being a middle-grade author.

santa_margarita1 santa_margarita2

Octopus Vortex

Lookie, it’s the cover of the German edition of California Bones. Looks gritty! Knochenzauber translates to “bone magic,” if Google is to be trusted. This is the first non-English edition of any of my books, so this is pretty rad.

And here’s this from the Google translation of the book description: “With six years Daniel Black swallowed his first bone fragment, a small piece of octopus vortex.”

Octopus vortex?? Damn, I wish I’d put an octopus vortex in the book. Octopus vortex!!!