THE RAVEN: May 17, 2007

THE RAVEN is a free email newsletter dedicated to Peter S. Beagle and his work. It comes out whenever Peter has news worth sharing. Please send any comments, questions, suggestions, or news to either or

If you don't wish to receive this newsletter, just click on the "Leave Mailing List" link at the very end.

Hi, everyone. This is a special post-Nebula quickie. There will be another RAVEN with all the stacked-up general news in about a week, just before Peter leaves for Balticon. Until then, without further ado...



Peter and his brand-new Nebula AwardDespite his absolute certainty that he would not win — no way, no how — Peter walked away from last Saturday night's annual SFWA Awards Banquet with a Nebula for "Two Hearts" in the Best Novelette category, matching his Hugo Award win for the same story last year.

The evening started inauspiciously. First, track repairs on the nearest subway line turned what should have been a simple trip to the ceremony hotel into a complex, breathless, and ultimately footsore obstacle course. There is nothing quite like rushing through endless blocks of downtown Manhattan in shoes designed mainly to be looked at. Then, at the banquet itself, Peter discovered that a production/layout snafu had accidentally removed all mention of both him and "Two Hearts" from the big "Meet the Nebula Nominees" article in the latest issue of the SFWA Bulletin, which was one of the freebies at every table place (along with a cute little foam rubber robot tagged with the SFWA logo). It was clear that the Gods were either angry or else bent on excessive irony.

But as you can see from the picture, it turned out to be a pretty good night for Peter after all.

It was also a good night for some people whom Peter likes to work with: Gordon Van Gelder, editor of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, and Jacob Weisman, owner of Tachyon Publications. Gordon saw two of the stories that he published win Nebulas ("Two Hearts" and Elizabeth Hand's "Echo"), while Jacob gets the bragging rights that go with being the guy who asked James Patrick Kelly to write his novella "Burn" — the story which finally won James a Nebula after nine previous nominations.

Peter's personal thoughts on winning will be in the next RAVEN. His head is spinning too wildly just now to write them down.

(report & pictures to come)

In our last email, Peter sent out a general invite to come join him at a post-Nebula potluck picnic in Central Park. We're happy to report that it was a great success — 33 people showed up, some from very far away, including a few old friends Peter hadn't seen in decades. It was an absolutely wonderful event: we'll run a full report next time.

v At least six different group photos got taken, but all with other people's cameras. If you have one of those shots, or any picnic photos at all, please send them to either or


Everything in-house is now done on these long-delayed projects, and they are ready to go to the various printers, replicators, and binderies involved in turning the files into finished products. We had hoped to have that part done already, so that they would ship in April or May, but there is one more hurdle to jump.

Since Peter's problem is the cause of this last delay, here is Peter himself to make everything clear:

"Some of you already know that my mother, Rebecca Soyer Beagle, died last June at the age of 100. While one can always hope that the legal and financial processes unavoidably triggered by someone's death will go smoothly, too often they don't. This is what happened with my mother's estate. Indeed, the problems I have been facing proved so complexly tangled that I was, in every practical way, overwhelmed. A few months ago things were so bad that it seemed inevitable that my mother's house was about to be lost to foreclosure. This would have left me without a roof over my head, as I've been living in the house since late 2001, when I moved to Oakland in order to take full-time care of my mother.

"The house was eventually saved, but only because several people moved heaven and significant pieces of earth to make it possible...and most particularly because Connor Cochran graciously applied money of his own to cover parts of the necessary juggling act.

"Actions have consequences. In this case, Connor's helping me had the unintended side-effect of delaying the manufacturing of the LAST UNICORN audiobook and the hardcover collector's edition of TWO HEARTS. Why? Because to solve my personal problem Connor had to use money that he had set aside to cover the gap between actual manufacturing costs and what has so far come in through customer orders.

"Thankfully this last delay that my problem has created should be relatively short. Connor is replacing the needed funds from other sources, and I'm doing my best to return his extraordinary favor by doing a few things which should help speed up the process. When we are done, those of you who have been so patient — and I am grateful to every one of you — will get the items you've been waiting for. Signing them before they ship will be a real pleasure, knowing as I do what they (and you) have made possible.


Peter S. Beagle"


A Fine and Private PlaceWhen Peter was 19 years old, he wrote his first novel. ("Which just goes to show," he often points out, "what you can accomplish if you don't have a social life.") The book — inspired by growing up next to Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx — was called The Dark City. Peter's agent submitted it to the Viking Press, which bought the book and published it in 1961 as A Fine and Private Place. The new title was the contribution of the book's editor, Marshall Best. He had been reading poetry to his wife, and decided that certain lines from Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" fit Peter's novel perfectly: The grave's a fine and private place/But none, I think, do there embrace. He also edited the book with a demanding intensity rarely seen today, arguing endlessly with Peter over points great and points subtle until he felt the novel was as strong as it could be. (One argument he won required the removal of an entire subplot, four whole chapters' worth, an edit Peter protested at the time but now firmly agrees with.)

First novels by young writers usually appear and vanish without a trace. Those that do make an initial mark are often reconsidered and demoted later, with the perspective of additional time, or else are never followed by further work of the same quality or significance.

A Fine and Private Place is an exception to these accepted rules of thumb. The book was recognized as an emotional masterpiece on arrival and has continued to garner accolades for 46 years. As to what came afterward...well, everyone getting this newsletter already knows the answer to that question.

But not everyone who gets this newsletter has read A Fine and Private Place. For too much of its history this wonderful, moving novel has been in the hands of a publishing house that did nothing to promote it. Three years ago they finally abandoned it entirely, letting the title go out of print.

Thankfully Tachyon Publications (the local San Francisco company behind Peter's collections The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche and The Line Between) has stepped up to the plate, with a brilliant new trade paperback edition that is shipping right now.

What makes this new edition special?

v It contains the definitive text of Peter's premiere novel. This is a first — the original 1961 Viking hardcover was marred by multiple typos and a lot of copyeditor mistakes, errors which have been faithfully reproduced in every subsequent edition until now. For Tachyon's release, Peter and Connor went over the book line by line, fixing everything. The difference is only around 400 or 500 words, total, but every single repair was necessary: A Fine and Private Place is finally the book that Peter and Marshall Best originally intended it to be.

v The beautiful photographic cover design by Ann Monn is the best cover the book has ever had in the United States. To create it, Ann actually traveled all the way from Los Angeles to the Bronx, where she spent three days walking the vast reaches of Woodlawn Cemetery, camera in hand, taking pictures of the exact same tombstones, mausoleums, and vistas that inspired Peter back when he was 19 years old. While there she collected an amazing collection of images, three of which were selected for the final composition. (To see a large image of the complete wraparound cover, click either the image above or here.)

v Tachyon's production values. The high-quality printing, paper, and binding are all superb.

v The novel itself, of course, which really is a masterpiece. It's amazing that anyone could write this book, let alone a 19 year-old. (To read the first chapter, click here.)

If you haven't yet had the pleasure of reading A Fine and Private Place, by all means indulge yourself. An amazing cast awaits your discovery: Jonathan Rebeck, who has lived in a cemetery for 19 years, and has the gift of being able to see and talk with ghosts...Michael Morgan and Laura Durand, whose lives and deaths were so very different, yet so very much the same...Gertrude Klapper, widow, a 50-something force of nature in a flowered hat...and of course the raucous, cynical talking Raven from whom this newsletter draws its name. Enjoy!

You can buy the new edition of A Fine and Private Place right now from Amazon, or get a personally autographed copy from Conlan Press.


  • 5/25/07-5/28/07 — Baltimore, MD
    Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn
    245 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, Maryland 21031

  • 5/30/07, 7:00 pm — Petaluma, CA
    This event will include the public premiere/release of an acoustic CD-EP of Peter Beagle and Phil Sigunick performing guitar & vocal duets back in 1962, before they left on the cross-country motor scooter trip chronicled in OUTFIT.
    Copperfield's Books, Petaluma location
    140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma, CA 94952
    phone: 707-762-0563

  • 6/1/07-6/3/07 — Dallas, TX
    A-KON 18 (Peter is a Special Guest)
    Peter and Connor will be making a Big Announcement at the opening night ceremonies of this convention, which is the biggest anime fan gathering in the USA.
    Adam's Mark Hotel and Convention Center
    400 North Olive Street, Dallas, TX 75201

  • 7/26/07-7/29/07 — San Diego, CA
    Peter will be signing every day in the Artists Alley section. With a little luck he will also be premiering his STRANGE ROADS chapbook, with art by Lisa Snellings-Clark, from DreamHaven Press.
    San Diego Convention Center
    111. W. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101

  • 8/2/07-8/5/07 — Collinsville, IL (St. Louis area)
    Gateway Center
    One Gateway Drive, Collinsville, IL 62234

  • 8/31/07-9/3/07 — Atlanta, GA
    DRAGON*CON 2007

  • 10/12/07-10/15/07 — Kansas City, MO
    DARANACON IV (Peter is the Author Guest of Honor)
    Hyatt Regency Crown Center
    2345 McGee Street, Kansas City, MO 64108

  • 10/19/07-10/21/07 — Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA
    VCON 32 / CANVENTION 27 (Peter is the Author Guest of Honor)
    Radisson President Hotel
    8181 Cambie Road, Richmond, BC, Canada

  • 11/1/07-11/4/07 — Saratoga, NY
    Saratoga City Center & Saratoga Hotel & Conference Center (formerly the Prime Hotel)

  • 11/16/07-11/18/07 — Portland, OR
    ORYCON 29 (Peter is the Filk Guest of Honor)
    Portland Marriott Waterfront
    1401 SW Naito Parkway, Portland, OR 97201


Finn, the RAVEN office wondercat, uses the fine art of interpretive lounging to express his satisfaction with Peter's big win.