What a wonderful State.

It’s a funny thing when you are a part of something and not a part of something but that thing, that you loved and helped birth but missed out on, is something that grows into something that everybody else in the world loves and adores. That’s how I feel about The State and those people who were in it.

There is a book coming out today called The Union of the State I can’t wait to read it and you should all go out and get it. I’m probably not mentioned in the book. I wouldn’t be, I was only there for the prologue. But since it’s an oral history, I thought this would be a good day to share my tiny memories of the very beginning of this comedy juggernaut and my wee hand in being a secret mama of the group.

I met most of the people in The State when I was 18 years old and I was at NYU. I had a freshman mentor, Mo Willems (you may know him from his Pigeon books) who had a comedy group called The Sterile Yak. I joined, because Mo was hysterical and brilliant and I just wanted to be close to him. Also, because sketch comedy is fun, who wouldn’t want to be funny all the time? It was in the Sterile Yak that I first met David Wain, Todd Holoubek and Craig Wedren. Maybe some others, but the time line gets fuzzy this many years later. I went to some shows and then was in one or two. But for some reason I what I remember most was doing sound with Craig Wedren for the group. Which makes no sense to me, but makes sense for him, because he is a brilliant musician. I am very bad at technical things, but I loved being in the booth with Craig. He called me Cecil Turtle, he still does when I see him, and I don’t know if it’s because I looked like a turtle or because I was so slow to understand the sound booth.

Sophomore year came around, this is Fall of 1988 now, and we were practicing and writing and improvising regularly. I remember that at the beginning of the year at rehearsal, some new people showed up, two of them being Michael Showalter and Kerri Kenney. Showalter and Kerri did a scene where they were two teenagers trying to ask each other out in a supermarket. They decided to do the scene as though they had lain down in the produce section and it was the most brilliant thing I had ever seen. I think about that improv quite a lot. I think about it when I am writing sometimes. I think about it in the produce section of grocery stores.

I remember that the Sterile Yak was getting too big. There were too many people and not everyone would get to perform. So the way I remember it is Todd and I decided that we should start a new group, which we called The New Group for lack of a better name. Also, I think I wanted to get out from under the shadow of Mo, who is a powerful personality. I think David Wain consulted with us. I just remember talking to David about it a lot. This new group and what it would be.

Todd and I booked a room in Hayden Hall, which was my dorm (maybe his as well?) and we auditioned people. We sat there and people came in and we shouted out things for them to do and I remember looking at names and scribbling down notes. Putting check marks and stars next to names. But what I remember most is that it was so obvious who should be in this new group. Because they were brilliant. If I remember correctly, that initial first group was me, Todd, Joe Lo Truglio, Mike Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Kerri Kenney, Ken Marino and Ben Garant. We started rehearsing in various dorm community rooms and booked our first show for January. There were even flyers. I remember that I was going to be in a few sketches. One of them had something to do with Charlie Brown. But then I had to quit the New Group because I had run out of money to go to college and I had to drop out of school. I never did that first show.

I moved to Montreal. I still wanted to do comedy and I tried to find a group of people in that new city to play around with, but while I found my way to a nice group of funny people, they weren’t my New Group. That group that I had helped to put together. The one filled with people who I thought were brilliant and special with a rare alchemy between them. I had made my dream group of people that I wanted to laugh and play with and then I had left them.

But, oh how proud I am to be a secret mama! How delightful it is to have had the tiniest of bit parts in bringing these geniuses together. What a thrill be a silver thread woven in that comedy tapestry. My heart bursts with pride every time I am lucky enough to catch up and run into any of them in person, or see them on my television or in a movie that they’ve done. They were all brilliantly talented when we were teenagers and they continue to make my arty heart soar whenever I see anything they do.

I love you guys! Congrats on the book and for being so amazingly kick ass in your contributions to culture. Hope to have a coffee/beer/laugh with all of you sometime again soon.

To everybody else, go buy the book now.  And go see, watch, read, support anything these people do. You will be very glad that you did.

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Y’allwest Schedule!

I will be at Yallwest this weekend. Talking about all the Ya’ll stuff. I’m on some pretty great panels, so I hope you come out and say hello!
 
Saturday, April 30
 
2 PM
FUTURAMA (MG/YA)
Barnum
Explore SFF imaginary future tech – and why fictional creations matter.
 
Moderated by Marie Lu, with Debra Driza, Amie Kaufman, Mary Pearson, Jay Kristoff, MT Anderson, Cecil Castellucci
 
4 PM Signing
 
5 PM Smackdown
 
Sunday, May 1
 
12 NOON
STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS (UGH!) (MG/YA)
Humanities Building
 
What are we talking about when we say those three words, anyways, and why do we still have to talk about it? Is there such a thing as a Girl Book?
 
Moderated by Cecil Castellucci, with Susane Colasanti, Michelle Gagnon, Ellen Oh, Mary Pearson, Sara Raasch
 
1 PM Signing
 
2 PM
STORY/MAKERS: STORY IN GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMICS (MG/YA)
Cafetorium
 
From Adventuretime to Nimona or Squirrel Girl, what’s the inside scoop?
 
Moderated by Marguerite Bennett, with Cecil Castellucci, Derek Kirk Kim, Greg Neri, Ryan North
 
 
 
 

Support Basilica Hudson

imageArt Supporters!

For those of you considering year end contributions, I hope you will consider a donation to the amazing Basilica Hudson a magical place dear to my heart. I’m even on the board.

It’s owned and curated by my friend and art force, Melissa Auf Der Maur

This year alone there were 16 film screenings, 5 art exhibitions, 12 performances, and 23 community gatherings. Basilica Hudson draws thousands to our region each year, and attendance keeps growing. Together, these programs contribute to Basilica Hudson’s mission of supporting the creation, production, and presentation of arts and culture, and fostering sustainable community.

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Make your mark on a piece of history in our North Hall Screening Room. Support future Basilica programs by making a gift of $500 or more and we’ll engrave your name (or short phrase of your choice) on a handsome plaque, affixed to one of our Hudson-made and salvaged chairs!

Donations to Basilica Hudson are made through our fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)(3) public charity with a mission to empower artists, arts organizations, and other cultural sector stakeholders by eliminating practical barriers to artistic expression, so as to foster a more agile and resilient cultural ecosystem. Contributions for the purposes of Basilica Hudson are tax-deductible (both in the USA and for our Canadian friends) to the extent permitted by law.

In the mighty mountains working on art

Today is thanksgiving and I thought maybe I’d just give a little thanks.  I’m so thankful that I get to make art and write books and do cool projects.  This year has been both difficult and rewarding.  A year of books and awards and now I’m a bona fide NY Times Best Seller (thanks, Princess Leia!)  But it’s also been a hard one financially.  I’m thankful to those who support me and to those who have fed me dinner when I haven’t been able to buy groceries.

Right now, I am grateful to be up in the mountains of Alberta, at the Banff Centre for the Arts, working on my new opera with composer Andre Ristic.    It’s tentatively set to be performed in Montreal in 2017 with ECM+ who mounted our last opera Les Aventures de Madame Merveille.

It’s kind of gorgeous here.  Nestled in a cabin in a bowl of mountains whose stoney arms hold you and nourish you as you create.  It’s a bit fun being a writer in the music residency.  It’s like having a foot in a new world.  So far, I’ve been working on the libretto, but also I wrote some lyrics for two of the other music residents here.

 

Glad to be an artist.

Love, Cecil

PS:  I also had a nice interview up at  Legion of Leia, a feature on me over at Geek and Sundry and Odd Duck and Tin Star / Stone in the Sky got reviewed at the Planetary Society.

TIN STAR wins the Sunburst Award

Very excited to announce that TIN STAR won the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic.  I won in the YA category and Thomas King won in the Adult category for his book THE BACK OF THE TURTLE which looks amazing and I can’t wait to read it.

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About Tin Star, the Sunburst Jury said:

Tin Star is a gritty, compact science fiction novel that travels far beyond the usual orphan tropes of much young adult fiction. Tula is a teenaged girl overwrought with thoughts of revenge after her parents are murdered. Left behind on a shabby space station populated with all manner of alien life, Tula must learn to fend for herself if she is to survive. Castellucci handles notions of cultural difference with a deft hand, moving Tin Star beyond the sort of human-centeredness typical of traditional space operas. The spare prose paints a vivid picture of Tula’s struggles between her desire for vengeance and her yearning for a life beyond grief, and her refusal to view human manners as a default form of “normal” is reminiscent of the best of science-fiction such as Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. A powerful, melancholy, and ultimately surprising work, Tin Star is a coming-of-age tale that will resonate with any reader with a pulse.

The other shortlisted works for the 2015 Young Adult Award were:

  • The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier (Amulet Books, 2014)
  • A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey (Bloomsbury Press, 2014)
  • Sophie, in Shadow by Eileen Kernaghan (Thistledown Press, 2014)
  • The Door in the Mountain by Caitlin Sweet (ChiTeen, 2014)

YA Scavenger Hunt! TEAM ORANGE

YA Scavenger Hunt! It’s on!
image This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonusmaterial from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some prizes! During this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team!  I am on TEAM ORANGE

Just look at who is on my crazy cool team!  WOWZA!  Today, I am delighted to be hosting Jessica Burkhart on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! She’s here with her new book WILD HEARTS I am looking forward to reading it.

YASH ORANGE TEAM 2015

How do I play?  Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the ORANGE TEAM, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).  Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM–but there is also a green team, a blue team, a pink team, an orange team, a red team, a teal team, and a purple team for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!

This contest is open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by OCTOBER 4TH, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Meet JESSICA BURKHART
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Today, I am delighted to be hosting Jessica Burkhart .
Twenty-something Jessica Burkhart is the author of 26 books including the bestselling Canterwood Crest series which has over 1 million copies in print. Jess is a Brooklyn girl at heart, but recently moved to Horse Country, KY to get her fill of horses. She’s passionate about equality, animal rescue and making sure her wardrobe is 98 percent pink. She’s often distracted by sparkly objects. Jess lives with Bliss and Bella, her two feline roomies. WILD HEARTS is Jess’s latest release You can order her new book Wild Hearts now.
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
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“Fresh, fun and oh-so-romantic, WILD HEARTS had me galloping through the pages. I absolutely loved it.” ~ Lauren Barnholdt, author of TWO-WAY STREET and DEVON DELANEY

Exclusive Content!

Sorry!  Jessica did not give me any content!  I’m in a holding pattern!

And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Jessica Burkhart, and all of TEAM ORANGE!  To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 39. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the Orange Team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT
 
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author! Leah and Kate Rooper

And as a treat.  If you leave a comment here (or on my tumblr where I’m crossposting), I’ll raffle off a copy of my other Sci Fi novel TIN STAR to get you started on the adventure of Tula Bane and the Tin Star duet.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Force Friday is coming! Star Wars: Moving Target A Princess Leia Adventure!

This week is all about Star Wars & Princess Leia!  My new novel MOVING TARGET is out on Force Friday!


Shop Indie Bookstores

But in case you are visiting me here for the first time and want to get to know my other work, here’s a handy little list of my other Sci Fi stories.  Enjoy!

Try TIN STAR/STONE IN THE SKY

The SOUND OF USELESS WINGS free on  tor.com

WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED ON MARS free to read over tor.com

BABY IN THE BASKET free strangehorizons.com

“The Marker” a short story in AFTER ed. by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

FIRST DAY ON EARTH  *this one currently only available in ebook OR THE LIBRARY!