Strangely empty

August 24th, 2014

In my research for a new YA novel, I visited empty places. Empty places do strange things to people’s minds.

Hancock Brick:ohio


Who waits for us, in those places that seem – from the outside, at least – to be empty, lost, abandoned a long time ago? Who hears us coming, past the whisk and whisper of weeds, the muted crackle of broken glass?


Abandoned NYC

We think we’re alone, and maybe we are: alone with our imaginations, our thoughts, the way the mind whispers to itself … Do you know what your mind sounds like? Are you sure?

What if you’re wrong?

Ohio school

Empty places do strange things to people’s minds.

[Photos of Ohio's Hancock Brick and school: Detroiturbex. Letchworth Village: Abandoned NYC.]

The best cult

August 16th, 2014


J Leach KK Brillig      Brillig!


WRabbit & Hatter

“I feel like I joined a cult — the best cult!”

Thus spoke a patron, as nerve went Brillig!, a pop-up show leading us further down the road to the full performance of ALI<E.

Read the review

“Call it sudden theatre, guerrilla spectacle, maybe aesthetic shenanigans, the proceedings had an overall religious feel (maybe just “relig-ish?”) blended with a raucous rule-bending of theatrical expectations.”

Brillig 2 parade CMBrillig parade 5 CMBrillig 6 WR CMBrillig 3 parade CMBrillig 1 CM

Our creed is fun. We’re making it for you. Join us.

What book do you want to live in?

August 10th, 2014

On my Facebook page, I asked, “What book do you want to live in?” and oh, were there answers:

In the Night Kitchen.”

Swann’s Way.”

The Story of O.”

“Not the Old Testament, that’s for sure!”

Others called for the works of Terry Prachett, Colette, Ian Banks, Ursula Le Guin . . . There were so many. And one reader said, “I love this question!”

I love it, too. So much so that my work with nerve is all about performative fiction: recreating a book, a story, as something you can enter, can experience on a physical, sensory level.

The brothel of the Poppy, with its scent of whiskey and faded flowers . . .

nerve's Under the Poppy

Under the Poppy

. . .  the storming pipe organ and the chill of John Faustus’ hell . . .


. . . and now, the mystery of Alice’s Wonderland, where life is a very serious game, played by a fierce Red Queen, in the flicker of shadows on the stairway, and the smell of burnt sugar . . . .

Red Queen Welcome1


All of us, all the passionate readers, want to enter into, live in, the landscape of a favorite book – it’s what we do when we read and reread them; when they become so much a part of us that we feel we might hesitate a moment – maybe more than a moment – before coming out again, to our real lives.

Performative fiction is one name for it. The other is a reader’s dream come true. And there are so many books on the shelves . . . See you between the covers!

[All photos: Rick Lieder.]

The Funhole never dies

August 3rd, 2014


It’s a place of negativity, of living lack: and it’s very much alive: enjoy this in-depth, yes, look at THE CIPHER and BAD BRAINS, 20 years and counting and still alive.

(And here’s a fun public radio interview with me, talking about the CIPHER and the future of ebooks and dodging coffee grinders.)

CIPHER is available in ebook, and CIPHER and BAD BRAINS in print, signed.

CIPHER 2nd edition


BAD BRAINS Abyss edition

And the Funhole is available metaphysically, all the damn time.


A title is more than a name

July 25th, 2014

It’s a face, it’s an invitation, it’s a door opened into a world … A book’s title is amazingly potent, and important. And sometimes the writer’s choice isn’t the best.

My new collection of short fiction – 17 stories, two never before published – is in process, but still needs a title.

Koja bookshelf

Update: the collection has its title!


If you can make it here . . .

July 16th, 2014

Nerve’s rehearsal neighborhood, Corktown, found itself part of a cover story of the New York Times Magazine.

nerve "Rabbithole" rehearsal

As a native Detroiter, I get asked – a lot – what it’s “like” here, especially now when Detroit’s a topic of national and international conversation, its grief and its grit examined and discussed.

I’m not an urbanologist or city planner, and I don’t think like one. What I appreciate about this city – and why it makes a perfect incubator for art – is its work ethic, the ability to take and make with what comes to hand, the dry humor inherent in that ethic of assemblage: if you can make stuff here, you can definitely make it anywhere.

And everywhere.

D Lewinski photo koja

Making the folly

brothel interior 15

[Photos courtesy Marisa Dluge/AL<E, David Lewinski/FAUSTUS, KK/The Tower Project and UNDER THE POPPY locations.]