February 24th, 2016

“I count religion but a childish toy . . . there is no sin but ignorance.”


“All they that love not tobacco and boys are fools.”




In his own time, they called him “the Muses’ darling” and “the best of poets” and “a notorious unbeliever,” they said he was lucky to be murdered before he was burned at the stake. His erudition and ferocity, both on the page and off, has inspired every sort of artist, from musicians and writers to filmmakers like Derek Jarman and Jim Jarmusch; he’s even inspired a perfume. Poet, playwright, spy, atheist, badass: Christopher Marlowe was, and always will be, one of a kind.

Ever since I first read his sly erotic poetry, and his plays – every one a harsh brilliant thrill ride, but my favorite is EDWARD II – I’ve been his fangirl. And I knew one day I had to write about him.

“Whoever loved, that loved not at first sight?”

So here begins CHRISTOPHER WILD.

It’s a writing project unlike any other I’ve ever undertaken, because this time I’m inviting readers along from the very beginning of my journey, sharing the real-time process of the novel in progress, with excerpts, desk notes, research tidbits both academic and totally not . . .  Because this one is going to be such a fucking blast. Wit and sex and death and the turning wheel of centuries, as Marlowe moves across time, finding love and making enemies, always writing, always a rebel, always pursued, always himself.

Come have fun with me. And with Kit the total badass. Let’s go CHRISTOPHER WILD.


Marlowe cathedral marker

[All quotes courtesy Christopher Marlowe. Painting of Marlowe by Rick Lieder, after the Cambridge portrait; from the author’s collection. Marlowe window: Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey. ]


Out of the darkness and into the Garden

February 24th, 2016

Dracula shelves implements RH

Six sold-out performances at DRACULA’s table . . . nerve took Stoker’s novel of hunger to some dark and novel places, in the hectic jingle of Renfield’s straitjacket straps, the sweet in-suck of Lucy’s breath, Dracula’s glittering eyes, and Mr. Harker’s agonizing, delicious decision every night. And each night I did my best to warn the patrons that they were no longer at the top of the food chain. Oh, and to enjoy their dinner.

Harker's dinner

Now, I’m heading to the garden, for nerve‘s summer commission from patrons Stan and Robin Mendenhall: recreating Bosch’s amazing “Garden of Earthly Delights” as a shimmering performance of masks and tinkling bells, giant eggs and waving flowers, using music, movement, and at least one enormous owl.


2015oct02 Egg Pond 1

Two worlds, very different, to be sure, but both made of sheer fantastic imagination. And definitely made for play.

Making the darkness: creating DRACULA

January 29th, 2016








Dracula stairs RH

Renfield's cell 1

Dracula shelves implements RH

Dracula entry 2 RH

Harker's dinner

Juniper Moore Dracula dinner

Dracula costume render

Dracula shelves RH1

The cast. The space. The darkness. DRACULA.

We created this for the ones who came to share it with us, to enter the story, to walk down the stairs and give their energies and presence to the dark. So many thanks to our patrons, from me and from nerve!

[Cast photos: Rick Lieder. Installation photos: Rena Hopkins. DRACULA poster: Antichamber Design.] 

Chaos assembled, beauty emerges

January 2nd, 2016

So it says on the snippet clipped and stuck to my desktop–the actual, physical desktop where I sit every day to write.

The chaos of making, when things work or don’t, when I try and succeed, when I try and try and fail, when I write a script or a story or a novel: hoping all the while that, if the conditions have been correctly created, and chaos allowed to do what it must, that beauty–hard beauty, fierce beauty, stealthy beauty, strange beauty–will emerge.


May all the chaos of this new year bring all the beauty it can, to all of us, to all the world.

[Image: “The Neglected Garden,” courtesy Rick Lieder.]


One big pleasure

December 4th, 2015

Words are pleasure.

It’s so much fun to be read to, and to read aloud, why don’t we do it more often? The audience had a blast, and so did Robert Levy and I, at our KGB reading (listen for yourself!).

Levy Koja KGB Datlow photo

And a chance to talk about books I love, writers I admire, why I used to laugh at trilogies, with the erudite and down-to-earth Gil Roth for a conversation partner . . . All kinds of fun, this Virtual Memories podcast.


[Levy/Koja photo courtesy Ellen Datlow.]

The gentlemen on the road

November 22nd, 2015

It’s a lot of fun, creating the bespoke editions of THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE: each inscribed with a personal note, and pages from my research materials, then individually bedecked in twine or velvet or torn silk; each with its one-of-a-kind memory box, a cache of the sweet clutter we keep to remind us of times that filled our hearts  . . . And off goes the book on the road to its reader.


And the BASTARDS had great fun in NYC, with a launch reading at KGB that concluded with the first scene from UNDER THE POPPY, Istvan reunited with his love, Rupert: because that’s what these books are about, those circular leavings and greetings again, the journey that ends, always, with lovers meeting.

[Photo: Rick Lieder]