For those geeky enough to be interested in 15th century butchery and the sale of meat, I give you…. (click to enlarge, etc. etc.)
Two bits on noir news today: one that makes me cringe a bit, and one that makes me happy:
Apparently, Henry Holt has decided to publish a new Raymond Chandler novel featuring Philip Marlowe. The hitch is, this isn’t a recently discovered manuscript or unpublished work written by Chandler: it’s a new work to be written by John Banville. Now, I admit to not having read Mr. Banville’s work as of yet, so I can’t comment on his ability to pull this off. However, the Chandler fan in me cringes at the idea of someone picking up Marlowe and trying to run with him.
Chandler’s voice, especially when writing Marlowe, was unique. It was hard hitting, and along with Dashiell Hammett, helped define what we now think of as the quintessential hard boiled pulp PI. That’s not to say no one else can write in that style (heaven knows I’ve played with it myself), but there’s a difference between homage and reanimation. When you’re talking about one of the most distinct voices in early & mid 20th century American literature–a voice that arguably helped define a literary movement–not to mention one of that author’s signature characters, well, I find myself becoming more than a bit dubious when it comes to the impending effort & the choices involved.
Understand, this isn’t about Mr. Banville’s writing ability; likewise, I understand the commercial decision behind the move (after all, people are going to be talking about it, which can only help sales). Rather, it’s about taking a literary icon, putting on his suit, and walking about as if it were your own. Do we really need another Raymond Chandler novel, especially if it isn’t by Raymond Chandler? His body of work stands just fine on its own, with a clear and definite legacy. Does this taking on of a legend’s trappings do anything other than feed the bottom line and, perhaps, authorial vanity? After all, even if the book features Marlowe, it’s not going to be placed along side the rest of Chandler’s works. Even if the book is remarkable, it is still going to be Banville’s, not Chandler’s.
The thing is, I get loving an author and their world(s) so much you want to play in them. Fanfic is ample testament to that. And in some cases, especially with the author’s consent, I can even see it being made a going concern (Eric Flint’s 1632 series is a prime example). But there’s a difference between a shared world and an add-on. I, for example, would LOVE to be able to play in Corwin’s Amber; to dig deeper into Maurid Audran’s Budayeen; to help Aramis and D’artagnan dance with steel again; to walk the shady streets beside Marlowe and Spade and the Continental Op. But the creators of those worlds are dead, and the spark that made them truly shine have gone with them. Yes (ignoring for a moment the legal & artistic hurdles that would be involved, let alone the chutzpah it would take on my part to even consider attempting it), I could play there, but it would never be the same, would never be the true world I fell in love with because it would now be my world, not their creator’s. And no matter how hard I tried to hew close to the original, it would never quite fly.
I’ve often been accused of being a purist, and in this sense, I will fully claim that mantle. I love the idea of more work by Chandler and Hammett, by Dumas and Zelazny, by Effinger and Tolkien and Shakespeare and a host of others. But there isn’t going to be any more, and any effort to create it is just going to end up being a pale shadow, no matter how well done. Chandler is dead, but Marlowe still lives in the pages of his work: why must we try to create anew what was already done right the first time?
And now, since I promised you something noir that made me happy, I simply give you this without commentary, as I’ve gone on long enough:
There’s something I should have told you all about a while back….
Over at Staffer’s Book Review, Justin Landon has been hosting something he terms “Debut Authorpalooza.” It’s a series of blog posts by ten debut fantasy/sf authors about what it was like to write their second book. There’ve also been excerpts, and Jason has a great giveaway going on.
Why do I mention it now? Well, because I’m one of the authors contributing over there. In fact, I’m the tenth author. And my post went live today.
But wait, you say. If they’ve been doing this for two week, and you’re the last author, then shouldn’t you have…?
Yeah, I should have. I should have posted about it here when it started, and been posting updates all along. But I haven’t. I’ve had my head down, working & dealing with…stuff. And while that’s all well and good for me, I haven’t been much of a team player.
So, definite bad on me, and apologies to Justin and my fellow authors for not picking up my part of the load on this one.
My own short-comings aside, though, I have been reading the posts, and let me tell you–great stuff. If you have any interest in the process behind the story writing curtain, you can do a lot worse than setting aside some time for this series of posts (and they’re all pretty short, so it’s not even that much time). And they’re not all the same: no choruses of, “OMG, it was so haaaaardddd” or “Oh, but I learned to trust myself, so it’s all shiny!” Yes it was/is hard, and yes, we learned stuff; but you’ll get no canned answers from this crew. It’s all meat, right down to the bone.
So do yourself a favor and wander over to Staffer’s–not because I posted there, but because nine other authors posted and helped me learn a lot about this craft and myself.
So I did the AMA Reddit thing last night and it was a lot of fun.
It was also exhausting.
Preliminary stats showed something like 500 unique posts in two hours, which they say comes to about 5000 words posted in that time. Oof. There were a lot of people contributing to that, but when you consider a lot of the questions had been posted in advance…yeah, oof.
But don’t worry: I’m not posting this to complain. Rather, I’m going to talk a little bit about what it was like, both since it was new to me, and I figure there might be three other people out there who are interested.
First, some background:
The AMA Reddit is basically a message board where people can post a question and (in this case) the various featured authors can respond. Naturally, other people respond to those responses, creating a dialog. Not exactly revolutionary if you’ve been doing anything on the internet (ever), but a nice format since it also tends to keep thing compartmentalized well. It was also a nice bit of reminiscence for me: I cut my e-teeth on and old intra-net system back in the ’80s called PLATO, which basically worked on a file type set up. Not quite the same, but close enough that this felt familiar. And, of course, I know there are still plenty of bulletin boards and the like out there still running, so this is nothing new.
But here’s the thing: in an age where we text and IM and, yes, even do face-to-face chats via our phones, you forget about some of the idiosyncrasies of a BB style system. You forget that you have to refresh to see new posts; that it takes a good amount of mental work to parse the various threads & see if a new response or question has gone up; that its easy to forget other people are contributing at the same time you are because you aren’t getting the instant feedback we’ve all grown so accustomed to. When you’re doing this at your leisure, checking in now & then, it’s no big deal; but when you’re trying to keep up in the moment? When you’re, essentially, one of the hosts of the party, trying to electronically mingle and chat with the various conversation groups scatter about the electronic room? Then it’s a different story.
I was very lucky last night in that I had nine other hosts to lean on. They both helped cover spots in the conversation while I was busy “chatting” elsewhere, and picked up the ball in sections I still haven’t made it to yet. They also helped spark new points of conversation and provided insights that, alternately, let me examine something deeper, move off in an interesting tangent, give me pause for reflection, of simply say, “Yeah, me too.” It very much felt like a party at a con, with lots of insights and laughs and fun circulating in the mix.
But it was still very much work. After two and a half hours, I felt myself flagging. My brain was getting mushy, and my typing (while never fast nor accurate) was becoming a downright disaster. Fortunately, we were told that two hours is about the peak initial range for an AMA, and I was able to duck out after a bit without feeling too guilty. There are still questions I need to go back and answer, not to mention answers I need to read (there wasn’t time to follow every thread, or at least, not for me), and I expect I’ll be poking away at those for the next couple of days when I need to take a break from revisions.
Overall, I think it was both a fun and successful first outing for us all, and I expect the other authors involved will tell you the same. I loved interacting with the readers, and now even feel closer with the “graduating class” of 2011 debut authors I’ve been hanging out with electronically for the past year-plus.
Sometimes, you hear authors complain about the non-writing work that comes with being a published author: the marketing, worrying about sales, wrangling with your publisher over [insert issue here], answering the same interview question for what seems like the 52nd time, and yadda yadda. And yeah, it can be a pain. But while last night’s AMA was work (and more/different work than I expected), it was also a pleasure.
Will it generate more sales for me? Will it get me a wider audience? Maybe. As with all things like this, there’s no way to know for certain. But ya know what? At this point I really don’t care because, at base, it was a lot of fun–and that’s why I write stories in the first place. So, yes, reddit AMA=work; but it’s very much worth it.
(If you want to check out the AMA reddit thread in question, it will be up here for, well, almost ever, I’m told. )
I’m a bit last minute in posting this, but I’ve been neck-deep in revisions and kids the last few weeks (ah, summer!).
I will be joining with a host of other fine authors tonight over on Reddit for an Ask Me Anything session. Festivities are scheduled to kick off at 7:00 PM CST and run until about 9:00, but the forum will be open earlier so people can post questions, and I expect authors and readers to be stopping back over several days to continue the discussion.
This whole thing is the brain child of @jdiddyesquire (Justin) of Staffer’s Book Review fame. He was brave/inspired/foolish enough to invite a bunch debut authors to guest post on his blog over the next couple weeks about writing the dreaded Second Book. Things have already kicked off, with Mark Lawrence, Kameron Hurley and Elspeth Cooper making appearances, along with excerpts of their upcoming works. The full schedule for the site is:
7/16: Mark Lawrence
7/17: Kameron Hurley
7/18: Elspeth Cooper
7/19: Courtney Schafer
7/20: Stina Leicht
7/23: Teresa Frohock
7/24: Mazarkis Williams
7/25: Bradley Beaulieu
7/26: Anne Lyle
7/27: Doug Hulick
As you can see, I am batting clean up this time around. :)
But don’t stop by just for me. These are all great people and great writers, and their posts have been illuminating. Last year was a damn good one to be a debut author, IMO, and I’m proud to be among this graduating “class.”
So, roll by Reddit tonight if you’re able, or even over the next few days, and make sure to check out Jason’s blog, too.
ETA: The AMA site is now open for people to post questions. Author answers won’t go live until 7:00 CST, but you can get in the queue.
July 4th is nearly upon us and you know what that means….
Blowing Things Up! CONvergence Con!
I’m especially excited this year because, aside from letting me in the door (the fools!), the folks at CONvergence have asked one of my friends and fellow Wyrdsmiths, Lyda Morehouse, to be a guest of honor. This means that as I stand around the hallways or sit in the bar and socialize, I get to see Lyda being shepherded past, en route from one busy engagement to another. I will attempt not to laugh mockingly (much).
Actually, in all seriousness, this is pretty awesome. I am fortunate to be friends with a couple of past GOHs, and the folks at CONvergence treat their guests exceedingly well. I know Lyda will be busy, but I know she’ll also have a blast.
As for me, I’m going be on three panels over the course of the weekend…
I should be around most of Friday night and Saturday evening, along w/ much of Sunday. Saturday day will be touch & go, as I have revisions to do, and may stay home for part of the day (yay local cons!) However, as I have not looked at the rest of the schedule yet, and as how I have not actually set foot in the con and had con-brain set in, I fully reserve the right to be at said con far more than I planned.
No matter how it works out, though, feel free to hunt me down after one of my panels, or even stop me around the con to chat. Unlike Lyda, I don’t have to be anywhere most of the time. And, of course, the bar is always a safe bet to find me post-dinner. :)