Monday, August 18, 2014

Blog Tour: The Ultra Thin Man by Patrick Swenson

The Secrets of The Ultra Thin Man
by Patrick Swenson

Plot spoilers? Nope. When I talk about secrets in this case, I’m talking about references within the book that have no bearing on the plot. Mini allusions, if you will. I love allusions. Readers bring a certain amount of knowledge with them when they read. I liken it to being equipped with a little satellite dish on the top of your head. If you’re knowledgeable enough, you catch the allusion with your dish and you smile appreciatively, your reading experience cranked up a notch. If you aren’t knowledgeable about a certain topic, the allusion goes right over your head. No harm, no foul. 

The references in The Ultra Thin Man are fun, and often specific to me and mine. They’ll go unnoticed to 98% of readers. Fans of Books and Things will have the scoop on some of my favorites in the book. 

Technology. In the first chapter I describe the “electromagnetic niche-holo tracker,” a device that allows its owner to track down someone in the immediate vicinity and project a message directly into the visual cortex. It’s called an ENT for short. The Lord of the Rings, right? A friend of mine believed all her friends needed to have Ent names, with some tree element being a part of a first name. So mine is Patree. Patrick. Tree. Get it? Actually, it’s not often the word tree that gets added; it’s usually something associated with one. Can you guess the real names of these two Ent names? Leafsha. Toemoss. My friend’s Ent name is buried in the text on that first page, and that’s all I can say about that one. 

Talebones. In 1995, I started publishing and editing a science fiction and fantasy magazine called Talebones. In 2009, I closed it down to spend more time writing. While a specific nod to the magazine doesn’t appear in The Ultra Thin Man, some other creative endeavor of a periodic nature relates to it, and before the novel ends, you’ll know how many issues my magazine ran before folding. Besides the parallel periodical, the structure of the novel itself will give you that number. (Why else would I add an Epilogue instead of a last chapter?)

Dadisms. One year for my dad’s birthday, my siblings and I got together and came up with every “dad-ism” we could think of and made a T-shirt full of them. My dad had all these sayings about life, food, money—you name it. “You don’t plant corn and get potatoes.” “Daylight in the swamp!” “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?” “Take all you want but eat all you take.” His most famous one ended up on the back of the T-shirt by itself, and it’s in the novel. Will you be able to spot it? (Hint: try the Epilogue.)

Names. Writers do this all the time, burying names of friends and family into their fiction. When you put a full name (sometimes you’ve been asked to do this, or you’ve run a contest), it’s called a “Tuckerization.” The name comes from science fiction writer Wilson Tucker, who loved to put his friends’ names for minor characters in his stories. Some friends ask to have their character appear in a book so that they can be killed by the author in some way! The Ultra Thin Man has no full names, but lots of last names. Some first names too. I’ve been a teacher for almost thirty years, and let me tell you, I’ve seen a lot of students. It’s a huge resource for character names. I do put names from good friends in there too. In the first chapter, three such names appear. My son’s name is in the novel, but it’s not a name of a person. You’ll get that one by simply looking at the book’s dedication, and then you’ll spot it in the actual novel soon enough. 

Life. I’ve lived one. I have a past. Like most writers, at times, I do write about what I know. So as you go through the novel, remember: I grew up in Montana. I lived on a lake during the summers. I was an avid skier. I live in the Seattle area. I used to work at a hotel in the summers as a bell boy and shuttle driver.  I teach Advanced Placement British Literature. I teach Journalism. 

I’m betting I’ve hidden other secrets in the pages of The Ultra Thin Man. I’ve just forgotten where I put them. Maybe I need to read the book yet again. I’ve got my satellite dish ready. 

Publisher: Tor Books
Published 8/12/14
In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’s and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined. 
The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helk alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister—an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason. 
Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?
Author Bio (from Patrick Swenson's website):
Patrick Swenson’s first novel The Ultra Thin Man is forthcoming from Tor in 2014. He edited the small press magazine Talebones magazine for 14 years, and still runs Fairwood Press, a book line, which began in 2000. A graduate of Clarion West, he has sold stories to the anthology Like Water for Quarks, and magazines such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Figment, and others. He runs the Rainforest Writers Village retreat every spring at Lake Quinault, Washington. Patrick, a high school teacher for 28 years, has a Masters Degree in Education, teaches in Auburn, Washington, and lives in Bonney Lake, Washington with his twelve-year-old son Orion.

Bloggy Note:
Thanks for coming on the blog, Patrick! I love getting the scoop on things! :)

I'm still running the giveaway for this book, The Ultra Thin Man, and Echopraxia for a couple of more days. Either go HERE to go to the post or fill out the rafflecopter form below: US/Can only
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for the really interesting post!

  2. Fun guest post. I haven't seen much about Thin Man around

  3. Great Guest Post! :) :) On my TBR!

  4. Interesting :(
    Ohh boo I can't enter

  5. I haven't heard of this book before but I really like the cover and the aspects of this book covered in this post--technology, science-fiction, advice from the author's dad--all appeal to me. Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

  6. Interesting and informative. I had to laugh at Dadisms as I'm well known for what my family call my Tracyisms. My latest being when I described a member of my readers group as a celeriac when what I of course meant was Coeliac

  7. I'm big on checking out blog tours before reading the actual book because I find that the guest posts usually provide great insight into the author's story, which was definitely the case here. I can't wait for the next stop, thanks for sharing!

  8. Very insightful guest post. I am curious about this one.

  9. Thanks again for the great post. I love finding out tidbits like this!

  10. I've gotten to the point where I write down names I like from my class rosters -- oh, I'd never use a full name but some of the first and/or last ones are so interesting, I just can't help it!

  11. If I was a writer, I definitely tuck the names of friends and family into my books too. I can see my mom specially requesting a certain type of character to bear her name:) This was such a fun post, thanks for sharing Melissa and Patrick!

  12. Getting names from people you know is a very good way of doing things. I'd probably do that too. I'm terrible with names, I struggled to name my kid, and I have only one.
    I love the sound of this futuristic fantasy, it's very much my kind of read.
    Thanks for the lovey post.

  13. Awesome post! I love the sound of this fantasy!


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