26 October, 2007

Our Thursday

Another colder and damper day. Grand Central Station, lobbies of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State and general midtown wandering were done, subway trains were taken, bagels and a fabulous lunch were eaten, coffee and champagne drunk. Tomorrow, similar, I should think, with a different section of the midtown to start. Happy.

I still haven't bought a book, although I've held Michael Cunningham's 2002 book about Provincetown, and Anne Tyler's paperback Digging to America and many, many notebooks in my hands and thought about it. Then wiped the slaver off them and put them back. So strong-minded, no? Well, I've bought one notebook, I confess. I thought that would cure me, but of course, there are always more notebooks begging to be bought. Besides the decorative ones, they have these hardcover Composition Books here; I got a rather flash one of those, but I saw another kind today, that was much fatter and sturdier and humdrum-looking. It cost all of $1.98. I thought of my suitcase, and the weight of all the books I intend to find at World Fantasy, and virtuously replaced it on the shelf.

Woman in bagel shop (I had smiled at her son, who was in his stroller, cradling his new bagel in his lap and gnawing interestedly on the upper edge): 'I know, bigger than he is, isn't it?'

25 October, 2007

More stars

We were thrown out of our dinner restaurant Tuesday night by a party containing John Cusack (whom I did not see with my own eyes, but others swear he was there) and Peter Riegert (star of Local Hero and Crossing Delancey, whom I did see). The maitre d' was actually hostilely muttering in our direction about people who'd promised to be finished by nine but were still hanging around not-being-A-listers at nine-thirty. Snicker. What a town.

Today it rained, instead of being hot and muggy; everyone we met apologised for this, although it's much better weather for tourists in a lot of ways. Steven did all his electronics-shopping (well, maybe not all - sigh!) and I went in to Knopf and met the team there, then went to lunch with 'my' editors. Then we came home and tended to our jetlag a little, before going out to dinner at a Turkish restaurant and for a walk towards the East River as a roundabout way home. Halloween decorations everywhere. Squash and pumpkins piled up in lobbies and shop windows, skeletons strung from ceilings...they're really serious about this holiday here.

Question: Why are none of these doormen writing novels? It's the perfect job for that! But no, they're just sitting next to the pumpkin displays, watching the world go by and wishing they were somewhere else. Maybe they wait until the early hours of the morning, when there is less world going by. I hate to think of all that wasted writing time.

24 October, 2007

Mixing with the stars

Hoot! Look, here is proof that I was there at Borders, too. Yes, that's my elbow, that's my arm, that's my name label. Renee from Bacio, if you're watching, that's the top you sold me!

(Pic pinched from an obsessed fan. Of Colin's.)

Clarion South 2009

And here is the list of Clarion South tutors for 2009: Sean Williams, Marianne de Pierres, me, Jack Dann, Kelly Link and Gavin Grant.

Gorn, you know you want to. How can you resist that line-up?

I walk Jeff VanderMeer's plank...

...over here.

Where to start?

Here I am in New York, in an apartment on the Upper East Site that reminds us of nothing more than our own saggy, down-at-heel house back in Lewisham, only with more traffic noise echoing down from 2nd Avenue and taller neighbouring buildings.

It's our second full day in New York - a rest day after yesterday's fol-de-rol. Brunch with the Click authors was wonderful - there we are in the photo, full of brunch. (Click on it to be dazzled by my teeth. Tim Wynne-Jones is there, too, hiding behind Linda Sue's head.) And then the event itself, at Borders, went really well. There were paparazzi, even, because of Colin Farrell, and that was an experience in itself - my retinas have never been peppered with the after-images of so many flashes going off. The photographers were piled up at the back of a large crowd of more normal people, not all of whom were there to ogle Colin, and he gave very gracious speech for Amnesty and then handed over to Arthur Levine, who introduced us one by one, when we talked a tiny bit about what we'd done and read a couple of pages from our chapters of Click. Then he asked us a few curly questions, and allowed the audience to ask us one or two, and then we signed, signed, signed - it was amazing and delightful how many copies of the book we signed.

(Here is a really-quite-gross account of the event, which, the authors might as well not have attended, from the socialite's point of view. Gawd. At least you can see the book in a couple of shots, eh.)

Then Steven and I Walked in New York; we'd been through the bottom half of Central Park on the way to the event, and we continued on down Broadway until Broadway got too crowded - and it was hot! - and down 7th Avenue. We finished in Washington Square, which was all squirrels and musicians, and rested our sore feet for a while, then went on to Lupa, a Roman restaurant, where we had a fan-bloody-tastic dinner and way too much wine and laughter with Linda Sue and Tim. On to drinks with some children's literature professionals and then we rolled home across the Park, in the near-dark, and weren't attacked once - not even by squirrels, and we knew there were a lot of them around.

Today we breakfasted and went up to the Guggenheim, which was spectacularly invisible inside hessian and scaffolding, and had a queue of dozens outside, who were only being let in in dribs and drabs. We jumped the queue by going straight into the shop, then took a few photos up the middle just to show we'd been there, but we didn't look at any pictures, just scooted out again and across to the Reservoir in Central Park, and walked back down to the barber and the coffee shop before coming here and flaking for a couple of hours. Oh, too much wine last night...

And now we're going to try out the subway and head out to dinner again. It's even more summery here than at home, except for a few trees beginning to change colour. And New York is full of wonders.

19 October, 2007

A squid squashed me

over here. Rob Hood made it do it. Garth Nix will be the next to feel those sticky suckers.

For those of you thinking 'WTF?': Squidsquatch. A new interview (almost) every day. A single question. The subject one day becomes interviewer the next.

Please, everyone...

Come and talk to me at this event, because I'll be sitting there clicking my pen while the other three authors are bravely toiling through their queues of fans.

(Poster stolen from the westerblog. Click on it for a bigger version. Plus, there's more detail about the event over here.)

17 October, 2007

3 reprints and a newbie

The anthologies are coming thick and fast. Yesterday I got my copies of Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt's Year's Best Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy 3 from MirrorDanse, with 'Hero Vale' from Red Spikes in it.

And today, Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link and Gavin Grant's Year's Best Fantasy and Horror #20 arrived, with 'A Pig's Whisper' from Agog! Ripping Reads and 'Winkie' from Red Spikes.

Also, a proof copy of Jonathan Strahan's The Starry Rift: Tales of New Tomorrows: An original science fiction anthology, in which 'An Honest Day's Work' appears.

Three big boxes of chocolates. Where does a reader start?

15 October, 2007

US schedule thus far

This time next week...

Okay, Monday, October 22nd, is Click day. At noon at the Columbus Circle Border's store in New York, there will be a conversation between the authors Roddy Doyle, Linda Sue Park, Tim Wynne-Jones, Deborah Ellis, me, and possibly Eoin Colfer and David Almond), moderated by publisher Arthur Levine, and then a book signing. Colin Farrell will also be there. Also possibly other Amnesty-Associated celebs, as well as school groups. Sounds wild.

The following Saturday, 27 October, there is going to be a signing by Australian speculative fiction authors, 3–5 pm at Books of Wonder.

Then, out at the World Fantasy Convention at Saratoga Springs, I'll be on this panel:
SATURDAY [3 November], 1 PM. City Center A

Elizabeth Bunce, Sarah Beth Durst, Mark Ferrari, Margo Lanagan, Tim Powers

There's an Archetype in My Soup! Much fantasy deliberately employs elements of fairy-tale and myth, often after much scholarly research. But there's still the old argument that if you have to learn an archetype, it isn't one, that these patterns are universal in human storytelling. What is the mythic "buzz" we all know when we see it, even when we have difficulty defining it?

Jeremy Caniglia talks about the US Red Spikes cover

Which makes me realise how little conversation with cover designers I've had. I've hardly ever heard about the creation of a cover for one of my books in this much detail. That's a bit sad, but I guess it stops mad authors calling designers at 3 a.m. with 'inspirations' for their covers—or worse, ringing them up to blame them for the crap sales:
'People always ask why a majority of my work centers on birth, love and death. I guess the answer would be it helps me understand the impermanence of life on this planet.

'I have always felt that by bringing ego and materialism into perspective we will find wisdom lying within those willing to listen. Our gift for generations to come can be realized through the seed of hope we plant in our children.

I have always found hidden hope in art, music and books. They are all doorways to very special worlds if we open our minds. I really feel Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan is one of those collections that takes us on a journey in which we find love and hope in the darkest of worlds. It was such a challenge and great experience to create the cover for Red Spikes. I tried to create a cover that was elegant, haunting and beautiful all in one cover. This was my first cover in the Young Adult Reader section. I have mostly created covers and illustrations for Adult Fantasy and Horror. So it was great to finally have a chance to break new ground.'

12 October, 2007

Popping in for a quick skite

Apparently, 'A Fine Magic' (Eidolon I) and 'A Good Heart' (Red Spikes) made Gardner Dozois' Year's Best's Honourable Mentions list.

Gwenda Bond says Click is not the train wreck you might expect of a novel with 10 authors, and people have been asking about it at the Little Shop of Stories in Atlanta.

Paul Burman says Red Spikes is 'seriously weird in the best kind of way' and great holiday reading, for anyone who might be heading off on a holiday soon. Gavin Grant is also nice about it, saying '... this slim collection will be a prized possession long after other epic fantasies have been forgotten'. And Colleen Mondor reckons it's 'good for a shiver or two and should impress and delight equally'.

What's more, New Yorkers will be able to get signed copies in a week or so - eep!

02 October, 2007

Another star for Red Spikes

In Publishers' Weekly:
Lanagan, whose Black Juice won critical acclaim both in her native Australia and in the U.S., will further enhance her reputation with this fine second collection of 10 stories. Driven by beautiful, often quirky language and deep psychological insight, these works demonstrate a powerful sense of the marvelous. In “Baby Jane,” a boy on holiday hears a magical servant shout, “My queen is in difficulties. Is there a midwife here?... Any kind of leech, any wise woman,” and finds himself in charge of delivering a royal child; a different sort of child, an emotionally needy girl who fears she will “die of her distress” after being separated from her mother for a night, must show some gumption and outwit the terrifying, baby-eating ogre Wee Willie Winkie in “Winkie.” Other memorable characters include the dead souls in Limbo, who in “Under Hell, Over Heaven” earn brownie points by transporting the recently deceased to their final reward or punishment; and the eponymous “Daughter of the Clay,” an unhappy changeling who travels to fairyland and decides in the end that it's best for her “to stay silent, on my bottom among the Clay, and fill my mouth with fish.” Gritty, dark and sometimes very nasty, these stories are, at their best, worthy of comparison to the fairy tales of Angela Carter.
Ha! They think that's nasty...

In other news, revisions are going well but not fast enough—that is, they should be finished, and they're not. All attendant stress disorders present and correct. Also, bushfire season has started in fine style. Our baby Harry is disporting himself in the cobbled streets of Luang Prabang (Laos). Today I start three weeks' work at a bank in the city. Good day to you.