Babies, Books and Electric Fencing by Chuck Wendig

Very pleased to welcome penmonkey extraordinaire Chuck Wendig back to the bog. Friday I’ll be reviewing Mockingbird, the sequel to Wendig’s fantastic Blackbirds, but today Chuck’s doing a little wondering out loud about what may happen when his 16-month-old son is finally old enough to read pop’s writing.

Chuck WendigI won’t let my son read the Miriam Black books.

Not until he’s, ohhh, in his early 30s or so.

Okay. Fine. Maybe a bit extreme. Late 20s, then.

He’s a toddler, now. Loves books. A little sponge for the tales of the Little Blue Truck or that damn Bird Who Thinks Maybe A Wrecked Car Is His Mother. Or Elmo. Or Big Bird. Or any of those hippos and their belly buttons.

The Miriam Black books are, to put it kindly, filthy as shit. Grimy, greasy, snarky. Caked with blood. Slick with fluids. Vulgarity running through the walls of each tale like oh-so-many-cock-a-roaches. They’re violent. And not very nice. And utilize a rather twisted sense of humor.

Murder and fingerbanging and car accidents and blumpies.

Don’t know what a blumpy is? No, no, don’t Google it. It’s, uhh, in the first book. Blackbirds. Go get a copy and Miriam Black will tell you.

See, and that’s what I’m worried about. I’m worried one day my son—at age eight, twelve, twenty—will come up to me and explain that he had never before heard the term “blumpy,” and now, thanks to his own father, he stands illuminated.

That’s it, right there. The death of innocence. Crushed beneath my narrative bootheel like a little delicate snowglobe. Pop, crash, yuck.

Hell, what will really happen is that my son will come shuffling into my office, wide-eyed and lip quivering, and he’ll just point at me and wordlessly condemn me. Or he’ll say something like, “I thought I knew you,” or, “What is wrong with you?” or worst of all, “I have no father.”

(Though one could hope that he’ll go to school and tell his friends and teachers about it, thus inadvertently getting my books banned. Banned books sell really well! Controversy brings home the bacon, baby.)

Bdub WendigIt’s not like I have no reason to worry. The covers are catchy. He’s not even 16-months-old and already he’s come up with me with a copy of Mockingbird in his tiny human hands, shaking it at me as if I’m to read it to him for storytime.

Can you imagine? “Once upon a time there was this foul-mouthed death psychic who chain-smokes and says awful things to awful people and oh! Here’s a part where two hitmen burn an old lady to death in her house.”

I’ll have child protective services breaking my door down with a sledgehammer to get at the kid. Then they’ll burn my books. They’ll break my hands!

So: what’s an author like me to do? Well, I write stuff for him just as much as I write stuff for me. Dinocalypse Now features psychic dinosaurs and jetpack heroes and professorial talking gorillas with kilts—and nary a bad word contained within! (Ennnh, maybe a couple “damns” and “hells,” but those aren’t even considered vulgarities anymore, right?)

And, in the meantime, I hope those books distract him from pulling my other books off the shelves.

Maybe I should put ‘em behind electric fencing?

Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. He’s the author of Blackbirds, Mockingbird, Double Dead, Dinocalypse Now, Irregular Creatures, Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey and 500 Ways to be a Better Writer among other books. He is also the author of the feature film HiM and the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. Chuck currently lives in the wilds of Pennsyltucky with his wife, dog, and toddler heir to the Wendig throne. To learn more about Chuck, visit his website.


  • essay

    May 30, 2013 - 5:03 AM

    I can’t believe I never sent this to you when I originally posted it, but I blogged about you and your amazing talent way back in March when I was feeling down about being creative.

  • Margaret Y.

    September 20, 2012 - 5:14 PM

    I have teenage kids who are asking when they can read my books. It’s so awkward. It’s not that I don’t want them knowing about sex, violence and the F-word. I just don’t want them to know that their mother knows about that stuff.

  • sabrina ogden

    September 19, 2012 - 12:11 PM

    And he looks so innocent in that photograph… Chuck does… kind of. Excellent post, sir.

    • Elizabeth A. White

      September 19, 2012 - 8:04 PM

      Innocent…you think? I think he’s looking kinda sneaky. Like he’s up to something. 😉

      Bdub, on the other hand, is looking adorable.

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