Readers of Kemble Scott’s 2007 bestseller SoMa may recall a female character being lured to the Argent Hotel and debauched, not knowing she was participating in a spectator event. That book’s author insists that this is not a mere literary creation: Around 2002, he says, people who enjoyed being watched would put on a show at the Argent (which is now the Westin). “This was a thing,” insists Scott James, the nom de real life of Kemble Scott. “This was the exhibitionists’ hotel of choice.”
By Oscar Raymundo
San Francisco Bay Guardian
February 15, 2012
“Everyone you meet here in San Francisco has some anecdote about ‘the wild night I ended up in SoMa,’” author Kemble Scott said back in 2007. Sure, the neighborhood has experienced a gentrified taming since then. The outdoor orgies of yesteryear have been replaced by outdoor patio furniture stores, but luckily the gritty South of Market spirit – a cornucopia of illicit drugs and sexcapades – has been cleverly captured by Scott, pen name of journalist provocateur Scott James, who now writes a local column for The New York Times.
January 12, 2011
How’s this for a crazy idea in 2011? Start a new publishing house focusing on contemporary full length works of literary fiction. Not self-publishing. Not chapbooks. Not print-on-demand à la Lulu or internet publishing à la Scribd. Not a blog. Not a novel on Twitter. I’m talking traditional books: an idea so retro it’s cutting edge.
On January 12, Evan Karp was the emcee at The Rickshaw Stop for an evening introducing Numina Press, a new publishing house started and commandeered by Yanina Gotsulsky.
I have already shared my love for San Francisco on this blog. It is a city of so many different aspects: a city that can be described as eschewing the alternative. There is nothing more alternative, more San Francisco than SoMa, the novel.
I first met Kemble Scott when he addressed the California Writers Club about his astonishing success as an ebook author. He was one of the first authors to be sold by Scribd. He is a generous man who is happy to offer advice to other writers in a friendly and humble way.
A dear friend mourned the recent passing of President John F. Kennedy’s close confidant and speechwriter Ted Sorensen. “He wrote my favorite book,” she said.
Which one? I asked.
She couldn’t remember the title. But I was missing the point – it wasn’t a book she actually read. It was simply a large hardcover of size and heft that had become a useful blunt instrument around the house when she needed to bash something and a hammer wasn’t available or appropriate.
Books, I was reminded, are quite solid objects.
Kemble Scott’s new novel, The Sower , is now available as an eBook called The Sower 2.0. The eBook is available through Scribd.com.
The novel, which was originally published in print in 2009 by Numina Press, has been updated with a new content to make it topical for 2010.
In addition, the book also has a new “director’s cut”edition. There’s a new opening, and the novel has been extended from 30 to 40 chapters, yet the page count has gone down.
Linda Watanabe McFerrin is one of the unsung heroes of the Bay Area literary scene. She’s an upbeat, relentless supporter of local writers, and as founder of Left Coast Writers, a local literary salon, she has helped countless authors hone their craft and get their start (including assisting me with my novels).
Now McFerrin has a new novel of her own out, and just in time for Halloween it’s a rather ghoulish tale. “Dead Love” tells a story of zombies, which is rather trendy in pop culture these days, with big recent bestsellers such as “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and hit movies like “Zombieland,” “28 Days Later,” and just about anything starring Milla Jovovich. Americans, it seems, can’t get enough of zombies.
But writing a novel and getting it published takes years. So this wasn’t a case of jumping on someone else’s trend. It’s more like serendipity – “Dead Love” has the happy coincidence of arriving while zombiemania rules.
The Bay Citizen (TBC): I’ve known you for years, Linda, and you are just about the sweetest person I know in the Bay Area literary scene. So that begs the question: what’s a nice girl like you writing a book like this. I mean… zombies?
McFerrin: I’m really fond of supernatural creatures of every ilk. I’m part Japanese and stories of ghosts and demons are very much a part of the culture, but I also found plenty of spooky material in the western literature my mother shared with me. I was hooked on Poe by the time I was seven. I guess I found that dark, brooding vibe attractive.
Apture, a startup trying to improve online reading with a smooth way to explore extra content, is rolling out what chief executive Tristan Harris called the company’s biggest implementation yet: Apture’s technology will soon work on the millions of documents shared on Scribd.