Tuesday, November 30, 2004
This should be short, because I still need to take a bath and read through "Tears Seven Times Salt" (for the reprint in The Century's Best Horror) before gorging on Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, thus clearing the way for bed.
Despite the fact that we're only about two-thirds unpacked, work caught up with me today. It was a Telephone Day. I hate Telephone Days. Sometimes they seem to wear me out a lot more than Writing Days. Today I had multiple conversations with my agent in NYC and my editor at Penguin, plus a long conversation with an editor at Marvel. Those who have been wanting to see me return to comics are probably going to get their wish quite soon. I'll say more when I can. I have another meeting with Marvel next Tuesday. Anyway, it seemed as though every time I started unpacking something, the phone would ring again. I hate the way cell phones heat up during long phone calls. I'm sitting here trying to concentrate on what Merrilee (my agent) is saying to me about, oh, say return rates on a given novel, and all I can think about is those stories I've heard about cell phones overheating from faulty batteries and decapitating small children and old ladies. I wondered what Merrilee would hear on the other end.
"Caitlín? Are you still there?"
"Um...yeah. I was just thinking out how much force an exploding cell phone would have to generate to take off my head."
"Did you hear anything I said."
But I did manage to get the two living-room display cases unpacked today. I played ABBA almost the whole time. I don't listen to ABBA often, but sometimes it works when nothing else will. And there's something very...well...symmetrical about sitting on the floor in nothing but my underwear and leg warmers, singing along to Gimme, Gimme, Gimme while rooting stray styrofoam peanuts out of the orbital sockets of a Maiasaura peeblesorum skull. It's the sort of shit one doesn't appreciate until after the moment has passed, and I think, Damn, I wish I could think of stuff like that when I'm writing.
Whoa. Time's up. Back to work...
Monday, November 29, 2004
Not much to report about today. I attended to a couple of writerly things that could be put off no longer, then helped Spooky with unpacking and picture hanging. We managed to get the big Waterhouse Lady of Shalott up over the living-room mantle. I can tell it's going to take a while to get everything back together, we did such a thorough job of untogethering it. Good news from the used bookstore where we took nine boxes of books last week; they'fre offering a whopping $280 (and change) in cash or $420 in trade. Spooky and Jennifer say take the trade, so we probably will. The remaining two boxes will be taken to another bookstore. Oh, and I managed to lose four pounds during the move. It's probably in a box somewhere. This evening, the Direct TV guy came and gave us the dubious gift of television again. He spied a very realistic wooden snake I'd set on the mantle (a scarlet kingsnake), and wanted to know if it was real snake and informed me (I was cooking chili) that if it was a real snake, we wouldn't be getting TV from him.
I've was looking back through old entries today (I don't really know why; it's sort of like picking a scab), and I found one from June 7th (labled "Overdisclosure" on LJ) that managed to simultaneously amuse and embarrass me. It was back during the brief experiment with letting more personal stuff, the sort of things I usually reserve for my private, paper-and-pen journal, leak into the blog. I think I was probably right when I declared the experiment a failure, but that bit about not hanging myself at Kirkwood, that was funny, regardless.
What else. Oh, yeah. You'd think if someone's just recently read a book — a book by me, for example — they would remember the title. I'm probably gonna sound like an asshole for complaining about this (what else is new), but I ran across a couple of Usenet posts today wherein people discussed having read Murdered Angel and Dry Salvage. I will assume that some people read so frelling many books that silly things like titles just melt away after a few weeks.
And, because moving never gets old, I'll leave you with the following three photos:
...and Afterer still.
It really was pretty weird, exiting that room for the last time (I know I said I was leaving you with the photos, but I lied). It always is, abandoning an office. Last night, when I'd removed the last little bits of me from the place, I lingered a moment, then turned off the light and shut the door. That's the room where I froze, summer and winter, for two years, the room where I spent almost every day, where I did revisions on Low Red Moon and wrote most of Murder of Angels, where I wrote The Dry Salvages, along with "Mercury," "Faces in Revolving Souls," "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles," "Houses Under the Sea," "Alabaster," "Riding the White Bull," "La Peau Verte," "Bradbury Weather," "The Pearl Diver," "The Dead and the Moonstruck," and various other things. An awful lot of me happened in the long cold room with its peculiar red concrete floors (it used to be part of a restroom in the elementary school). You don't leave places like that easily. Well, I don't.
Okay. Now you can go. No, for real this time. Shoo, before I start crying over a stupid room.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
The last — the very last — of our things were moved from the old place to the new place this evening. So, that's that. All that's left now are the days of box unpacking, picture hanging, etc.
Hopefully, I will settle into this new office quickly. I've had a few days head start, since we got the office set up first. But I have to warm to it and it has to warm to me. This has to become the place where I write, instead of just a place filled with my writing tools where I'm going to write. And it needs to happen fast, because, as I've said a bezillion times in the last two or three weeks, I am frightfully, frightfully behind.
Last night I lay in bed, not sleeping, until about 1:30 this morning, when I finally took an Ambien and Spooky read me The Lorax, which is, by the way, my second favorite Dr. Seuss book (right after McElligot's Pool. My dreams were crowded and uncomfortable, but I remember little about them now.
As the commontion calms, we'll be starting a truly giganormous eBay sale, which will include The Five of Cups for a scant $20, along with such oddments as a French edition of Poppy's Drawing Blood, some of my old clothes, and, possibily, just possibly, my old Macintosh Personal Laserwriter (which printed every single frelling thing I wrote from summer 1993 until winter 2002). This sale is partly to get rid some of the stuff that needs getting rid of so we have more actual living space, and it's partly to raise Xmas money, and it's also partly to offset the moving expenses. So, hopefully there will be something in there you'd like.
If you happen to be in wandering in the wilds of southeast Atlanta some time or another, in that region known hereabouts as Kirkwood, somewhere just south of the MARTA tracks, but well north of I-20, and you should happen to pass by the old elementary school, please tip your hat to that place for me. Ghosts or no, cryosphere or no, it wasn't a bad spot to be, these past two years...
Friday morning, November 2004 (photo by CRK)
Saturday, November 27, 2004
This move is done, a little more or a little less. Now I try to brush off the exhaustion and remember where I left off with the rest of the world.
Last night, we saw a truly, truly spectacular film, a western called Renegade (though the original and far more appropriate title is Blueberry) from director Jan Kounen. I wish I were clear enough of mind right now to do something more than heap expletives upon this movie. Yes, it was beautiful and powerful and breathtaking and bizarre and dazzling and well cast and better written and visually stunning and certainly one of the best films I've seen in the last few years. But that doesn't really tell you anything at all. Though Renegade covers a lot of supernatural territory, I won't call it horror, because it isn't. And it isn't exactly a ghost story, either. It's a Campbellian hero quest, an exploration of American Indian mythology and religion, a poetic investigation of the flexibility of time that stops just short of science fiction, and an anti-western that gives Sergio Leone a run for his money. At the risk of missing the mark entirely and doing Kounen and Co. a disservice, imagine what Murder of Angels or Low Red Moon would have been like if they'd been westerns and maybe you can begin to imagine this exquisitely uncanny film. If you think anything at all of my opinion of art, you should see this movie as soon as you can find the DVD (which shouldn't be too hard). And if you're the sort of person who hates it when someone gushes like this and tries to persuade you to see a movie (or read a book or whatever), if your natural inclination at this point is skepticism and/or annoyed disgust, please ignore everything I just said and see this movie just because you can probably spare a couple of hours.
Meanwhile, I feel like shit and think maybe I'll go to bed...
Friday, November 26, 2004
I am too sore and tired to even think, much less write. So, why am I sitting here at the frelling keyboard? Ask my therapist. She'll at least make up something interesting.
Spooky and I stopped by Blockbuster (turn your head and cough, please) after the last box or lamp or shoe or dinosaur skull was moved for the day, hoping to find something remotely rentworthy. But mostly I just stood and glared in exasperated wonder at the fashion-model pretty women on the covers of several episodes of The L Word. I suppose someone out there thinks this is "exploding stereotypes" or "advancing the cause" or some such dren. Yes, it's true. All lesbians are excruciatingly glamorous women that most men would love to see fool around on TV. Pretty women become lesbians, too. I hate the world.
Or maybe I'm just waitin' on The D Word.
There. That will have to do for an entry tonight. The movers come tomorrow.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
The rain finally stopped sometime last night. Today was cold and blustery, at last genuinely autumnal, with only a few puffy white clouds in the sky. As many of you know, I'm not very fond of autumn or of cold weather, but after six days of rain, it was a relief.
This afternoon, having discovered that trying to work before the move is finished is utter frelling folly, I took pictures down off walls, repaired a light on one of the display cases, packed a few lingering odds and ends, and so forth. Tonight, we had a gigantic Indian feast — lamb vidaloo, chicken madras, saag paneer, veggie samosas, aloo nan, and lots of pullow rice. I ate till I thought I might hurt myself.
I've been trying to reorganize my thoughts, because this move has to end eventually. I've been trying to get my head back into the story place, the place where Daughter of Hounds is waiting to happen. Waiting on me to make it happen. Not much luck so far. Too much distraction. But I am trying.
Lots of thought too on the difficulties I'm having reconciling my continued admiration of science with my explorations of chaos magic. Though the authors I've read so far do pay a sort of lip service to modern physics and continually state that chaos magic is a bridge between the scientific method and magic, none of them have actually done much to demonstrate how one simultaneously holds an empirical outlook and engages in frequent "magical thinking" (to borrow a familiar term from psychology), much less have they demonstrated an adherence to anything resembling scienctific practice. In a lot of ways, this is really the same old problem I had with science and religion, and it's weird territory to be revisiting.
If you've sent me an e-mail in the last, oh, let's say two weeks, and I've still not replied, or if I already owed you an e-mail, apologies. I hate when I don't have time to properly answer letters, even the electronic sort. I'll try to deal with the backlog as soon as things are calm again, but I'm not making any promises.
I've been listening to WRAS 88.5 FM (Georgia State) all evening, enjoying the fact that, this weekend, the djs aren't bound to any format. The music has been much better than usual. Spooky, who was once a dj at WRIU 90.3 (Univ. of Rhode Island), says it's always like that, thing getting better when the djs are left to their own devices, which doesn't surprise me. It works the same way with writers.
Tonight, Spooky and I intend to be boldly retro. We shall play Scrabble and then I'm going to read some Lovecraft. Last night, we watched a documentary on serial killer H. H. Holmes and a spectacularly peculiar Japanese zombie film, Stacy, which might have been worth renting if only for "butterfly twinkle powder." More I will not say.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
I want very badly to write something engaging and witty right now, and I can hardly sit up straight in my chair. This move is never going to end. It's going to go on and on and on until I expire somewhere in transit. I tried to work today. There's a chapbook cover I need to do for subpress. But my scanner seems to have gone belly-up, and I spent most of the afternoon, by turns, trying to get one of the iBooks to talk to it and glaring angrily at the blasted thing. Tomorrow, there will be more packing. No turkey, though there will be Indian food at some point. I love turkey, if properly prepared, but I love Indian food more.
I feel as though I should compose an ode to my new bathtub. I'm sure it's unhealthy to be so utterly in love with a a plumping fixture, but there you have it. It's a real bathtub, a great white-enameled, cast-iron, claw-footed beast that seems as though it would hold at least twenty or thirty gallons. After years and years of those atrocious, shallow, modern, plastic shower thingies, it's far beyond wonderful to have a real tub again. I think we took this place largely on my immediate love for that damned tub. But during my first bath in it, Saturday night, we discovered a veritable fairy ring of enormous mushrooms growing beneath it. We had them removed today, and hopefully they won't be back. They were a bit unnerving, lurking there beneath my tub like something that had blown here all the way from Yuggoth, riding silently on the solar winds, looking for a bathroom to haunt.
We brought Sophie over today, and she promptly climbed up inside the living-room chimney. I thought for a moment she was gone for good, put then Spooky reached up into the dark and pulled her sooty ass back out again. Despite a washcloth bath, she's still a very dirty cat. Steps are being taken to avoid a repeat performance.
Okay, I'm going to go lay on the bedroom floor and watch movies on Spooky's iBook and try not to think about moving. I need a new vertebral column (and, it would seem, a frelling new scanner).
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
I've felt bad about boring everyone to hezmana and back with these humdrum tales of moving and near death, and so, as a break from the monotony of the last few days, I offer this painting, which is anything but humdrum and will adorn the cover of Subterranean Magazine #2. Painted by Edward Miller (whose work you may recognize from a few of China Miéville's books), it was done as an illustration for my sf story, "Bradbury Weather," and I am very, very happy with it:
I spent a couple of quiet hours alone in the new place today, organizing books and what have you. Here in Atlanta, it's been raining since Friday, and the sound of a particularly heavy downpour against the roof and walls and windows of this old house was very comforting. Nonetheless, confusion still reigns, and the list of things I have to do immediately upon the conclusion of this protracted move has grown to such a length I shudder to consider it too closely. I'm going to attempt to get back to work tomorrow afternoon, if only in some limited writing-related-but-not-actually-writing capacity. It's time.
Monday, November 22, 2004
I did not die yesterday, though it seemed for a while there, to my melodramtic, pessimistic self, that I surely would. Screw chicken soup. All hail the power of the pepper. An extra-hot Thai dinner, lots of liquids, and by late last night I was feeling much, much less ass-like. Most of my energy was back today (along with an assortment of bruises, scrapes, and sore muscles). I spent most of the day packing fossils and various geological and anatomical specimens. A cast of an Camarasaurus skull. A pickled shark. A bat in a jar. A coelacanth from the Jurassic of Germany. And so forth, a few hundred times over (Old Mr. Desvernine would be proud). After dinner, we returned to the new place, ferrying all the natural history specimens over, and I recommenced the setting up of the new office that was interrupted by yesterday's sudden attack of near death (or whatever).
Now, three or four hours later, I'm sitting here in my mostly reassembled office, which contains almost everything from my old office, reconfigured just so, feeling weird and tired. This alternate-reality version of my office will require a few days yet to fully plant itself in this worldline. They always do. Eventually, though, the dissonance ceases, and I accept the new. This is Version 6 (1-5 span a period from 1992 to the present), which, if it says nothing else, is evidence that I move around way too frelling much.
I want to go back to work. I mean, given that I can't take off for Wales or New Zealand or Tokyo or Nebari Prime, I'd like to go back to work now. I have a book to write. I have a short-story collection to put together. I have projects that have only just begun to take shape. I need to be working. There are issues of sanity and obligations and money. But...this is the only room in the place that currently looks like what it's meant to be (discounting kitchen and bathroom). And the movers, who will handle all the heavy stuff that really would have killed me, won't be here until Saturday. There's still packing and cleaning to be done at the old place. Sophie's still over there.
Last night, after the rejuvenating Thai food, I played Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal when I should have been sleeping. The Courtney Gears video that Ratchet sees on planet Daxx is one of the absolute draddest things I've ever seen in any videogame, ever. I watched it three times. Finally, I dragged Spooky off to bed. We both took Ambien and slept for a whopping nine hours. It's a wonder we ever woke up.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
This morning, after spending all day and night yesterday moving thriteen bookshelves and all day on Friday moving umpteen million boxes of books, my body finally decided that enough was enough and, as I was starting to unpack the aforementioned books, it simply began to shut down on me. It was an annoying and disconcerting sensation and one with which I couldn't argue. I think my metabolism mutineed and hit the big red button marked "Stop now, you idiot!" And so I spent most of the afternoon napping on the new bedroom floor, slightly delirious (that dreaming but awake thing I often get when extremely exhuasted), drinking Gatorade (because, of course, I was also dehydrated), and wishing I had the energy to get up off my ass and do one of the hundred things that needed doing.
I'm told I can have Thai food for supper, which will hopefully help speed my restoration.
Silly body. Stupid flesh and blood. If I had the shiny new android body I keep not getting for Xmas, I could have just popped in a new fuel cell and kept right on going.
Anyway, I'm mostly making this entry to thank Mistress Mousey for at long last reuniting me with Jeanne-Pierre, the Existentialist snail. As we speak, he's sitting here on my desk pondering Kant. As soon as the move is over (the actual movers don't come until Saturday) and I am once again in full command of this traitorous meatsack, I shall post a few photos of the two of us together (as per his request). Thank you, Squeaks.
Okay, I'm going to lie down again...
Saturday, November 20, 2004
It began raining here last night, just as Spooky and I were finishing up the removal of all those books from this place and their subsequent transport to that place. It's rainy out there today, throwing some doubt on our plans to move all the bookshelves this afternoon (there are twelve). I desperately want to get the office up and functioning. Work is an avalanche right now, and I've written nothing since our return from Minneapolis.
I'm not one of those authors who can "write anywhere." I've heard many authors, some of whom are friends of mine, make this bold claim. I always look at them suspiciously. To write, I must have certain material components and a space which falls within particular, exact enviromental parameters which my imagination has grown to expect over the years. In biology, this is called over-specialization, the reliance on a narrow (and easily lost) set of conditions for survival. My artistic conditions are scattered at the moment. I need to reach that moment where they are not.
I'm glad that people have taken seriously my report that The Dry Salvages is going fast. Last night, the book's sales rating on Amazon had risen to 3,945, an amazing rank for a limited edition book from a specialty press. This morning, it was still at 4,158. At this point, I'm not sure if Amazon will be able to reorder when their present stock runs out. And Subterranean Press will not be doing a second printing, though at this point I suspect a second printing would do quite well.
The next person reading this who sees Neil should kick him in the ankle and say, "That's from Caitlín, because The Carpenters' "Close To You" has been stuck in her head since the night you showed the MirrorMask previews." Thank you.
Last night, we watched Ju-on: The Grudge, because I wanted to see the original before I see the remake. It was, indeed, a creepy film, making superb use of sound — too few dark fantasy films understand the value of sound — and things half-glimpsed. The narrative was marvelously non-linear, and I appreciated the lack of resolution and exposition offered by the ending. My main gripe was with the lighting. It's an atrociously overlit film, and much of its impact is lost because of this. Shadows, people, shadows.
I think I'll close with a meme. I snurched it from borggrrl. I think it's one of the odder memes that I've seen (though I'm not sure why it strikes me so oddly). My answers are bracketed:
My journal is called [Low Red Annex], because [it's a mirror of my blog, Low Red Journal].
My subtitle is [Confessions of a Lady Writer and Alien Malcontent] because [I think that says it all].
My friends page is called ["Guilty by Association"] because [that's what passes for wit around here].
My username is [greygirlbeast] because [I wanted something descriptive].
My default userpic is [me with a Stegosaurus] because [I don't want people to know how completely obsessed I am with the Nebari].
Like I said, it's an odd meme. Now I must go pack some more.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
There's something that I hate more than phones — answering machines. That just needed to be said.
Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press called last night to tell me that The Dry Salvages is currently 80% sold out and that it may be entirely sold out by the time it ships. So, if you've been meaning to order a copy, you really might want to do it now, either directly from Bill or from Amazon or whatever. This has happened before with my subpress editions, a book being sold out before publication — with Waycross, for example. I'm very pleased, for obvious reasons, but mostly because it means that Bill will want me to do more SF novellas, and I have a good one stewing in my skull right now.
My comp copy of Steve Jones' The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 15 arrived yesterday. It includes a reprint of "Waycross," along with stories by Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, John Farris, Christopher Fowler, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Marshal Smith, Gene Wolfe, Simon Clark, Susan Davis, and many others.
Someone wanted to know what I read at Fiddler's Green. It wasn't a terribly focused reading (a hangover was involved), but I read part of Chapter One of Murder of Angels (Niki's trip from the house on Alamo Square to the museum) and a few pages from The Dry Salvages. And I talked a lot.
So far, we've moved more than fifty boxs out of my office and into the new place, and that's only about a third of the books in my office (and doesn't include the hundred or so volumes I'm discarding). I spent all day yesterday on this and will likely do the same tomorrow. Our goal is to begin setting up the new office on Saturday and have it mostly functional by Sunday, computers and file cabinet and all. I've learned that I'll have to go back to frelling dial-up until just after the first of the year, when DSL becomes available in the new neighbourhood. I briefly considered going with a month of cable internet, but it was too much expense and trouble to set up for only five or six weeks. Somehow, I shall survive.
I'm really loving Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal. This may be the best game in the series so far, even though that bit where you have to speak in Tyhrranoid is tedious as all hezmana. But otherwise, it's great so far. I think the Lombax are officially my second favourite alien species, right after the Nebari. I may have to do something terrible, like write some Ratchet/Nar'eth slash fic...
This from an e-mail which I received yesterday from Kenny Soward:
I was very moved by the book. I think it is your most commercial work yet, but that in no way reduces its value. You are the same Caitlin Kiernan I’ve always loved to read. Whenever I start reading one of your books, I’m always initially aggrivated by the constant bitching of the characters…they spend a lot of time arguing and cursing their way through their troubled lives but do not seem to really talk to one another. Not to say they aren’t good characters…but sometimes I just want to say…”look, you tell her what’s happening to you, and you tell her what’s happening to you, and we’ll work out a solution.” But in retrospect, that is a part of the friction you create, and so it is essential to how you tell a story. It is all a part of the mystery and so, in the end, I appreciate it and understand.
I am really amazed (but not insulted) that anyone would find Murder of Angels my most commercial work to date. I'd have said that was definitely Low Red Moon, but this just serves as further evidence that I cannot second-guess readers. I don't know how readers will see my work. I honestly thought Murder of Angels was so far out there that it would flop, but sales are showing it may be my most successful novel thus far. So, go figure. Maybe people are more open to the Weird than I'd thought. As for the arguing thing, the way people in my books often communicate (or, rather, fail to communicate), all I can say is that this is born of years of tumultuous relationships and peoplewatching. It has been my experince that, in stressful and contentious situations, people too often are unable to see beyond themselves and their positions, so bickering and short-sighted passive-aggressive bullshit is a lot more common than constructive dialogue. This problem is compounded when the people involved have serious problems — in this case, Niki's "schizophrenia" and loneliness and Daria's stress, exhaustion, and addiction. And, as the writer, the author of both these women's predicaments, I can sympathsize with both "sides." You know, there were readers who complained that Chance was "a bitch" in Low Red Moon, and I was always stunned at this assertion. Come on. She's eight months pregnant, her husband's an unemployed alcoholic of questionable sanity, her career is suffering, and she's scared out of her wits. Anyway and besides, the source of good literature is conflict. Conflict is mandatory (resolution is optional). In the absence of conflict there is no drama (many of the postmodernists seem to have forgotten this). Thanks for the e-mail, Kenny. I would quote more, as it was a very fine letter, but I've gone on here for the better part of an hour and need to write some e-mails and make some calls and then I have to go back to packing books. I hate cardboard....
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
It just so happens that this move has come along at a time when, suddenly, lots of things are happening, careerwise, and right now I feel like I've been stretched about three molecules thin. Trying to think about work and dealing with all the packing. Gagh.
It seems there will be an Italian edition of Threshold. I'll post details when the deal is finalized. I've never been very agressive about seeing my work translated, as I'm just not sure how my prose will hold up in other languages. And it's not like I can check the results of whoever does the translation. In a way, it's like handing a book to another writer and saying, "Here, rewrite this." And the prose in Threshold is just unconventional enough that I can see it being a real headache for whoever gets the task. But. Regardless, I am glad of this development.
Today, I have to speak with Jenny Lee at Marvel and with someone else at a videogame company (which I cannot yet name) about various projects, and I have to speak with some people at Penguin. I hate the frelling telephone. And then I have to pack more books. It feels like all I did yesterday was pack books (and select more books for the mountain that's going to the used bookstores) and move boxes of books over to the new place. I'm getting rid of as many books as I can bear to part with. Sometimes it's kind of funny, like realizing we have five copies of Frankenstein, for example. No one on earth (or any other planet) needs more than two copies of Frankenstein. Trust me on this. I think it would be a very telling exercise to force myself to get rid of everything except what will fit on one bookshelf. That would be something like one hundred books. Could I get by with just one hundred books? Sure, I could. What would be the one hundred I would retain? Ah, there's the rub! Some authors are safe en toto — Ray Bradbury, James Joyce, Anne Sexton, John Steinbeck, Angela Carter, Harlan Ellison, H. P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub, Dr. Seuss — but others would definitely have to fight for a space on the Ark. Writers accumulate books the way that knick-knacks accumulate dust. And writers accumulate knick-knacks, too. Or at least I do. They look good sitting on the shelves in front of all those goddamned books.
My thanks to Georgiana Lee for an eloquent and much-appreciated e-mail yesterday.
As promised, here are a few pictures from Fiddler's Green. Better late than never, right? Spooky's going to put all her photos up later on, but right now she's utterly consumed with the task of locating empty cardboard boxes:
Saturday: Neil and I script a two-page Sandman story in 1 hour, 6 minutes.
Saturday: Is "snow ball" one word or two?
Saturday: Me watching Charles Vess draw the page I scripted.
Sunday: The Last Panel, or The Five Hangovers of the Apocalypse (left to right: Jill Thompson, Charles Vess, Me, Himself, and Todd Klein...and my fang'd bunny there in the middle)
Anyway, I have all these boxes calling me with their crackly cardboard voices and these phone calls to make, so I should go now. I will not move again for a long, long time. I swear it. Again.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
One of the rare pleasures of this writer gig is that sometimes the stuff that people give me to read or listen to or whatever is actually very good. Such is the case with a CD titled ...and I'm Queen of the Moon by a band called The Endless. Sunday, just before I left the con hotel for the airport, I was approached by the band's frontwoman, Adriana, who gave me a copy of her disc, and we swapped stories about asking Neil if we could name bands after his characters. I stuck the CD in my bag and forgot about until I got back to Atlanta. I'm bad like that. I've been given so much dren over the years, I've become cynical and always expect these gifts of other people's art to disappoint me. But this time I was wrong. The Endless are really wonderful. I won't try to categorize what they're doing. There are too many diverse influences at play here. But I will say these are some of the most satisfying, exciting vocals and lyrics I've heard lately, and I urge you to check out their music (just follow the link above), and I thank Adriana for the CD. It was a belated pleasantness.
The frelling cryosphere is kicking my ass. Little does it know I shall soon depart for warmer climes. Someone else can play here.
We spent yesterday moving boxes from here to there. Today, I may begin packing the office, all these shelves and shelves of books. I think I'm going to like the new place, but that doesn't make me any keener for the actual act of moving, especially after the trip to Minneapolis. Mostly, I seem to want to sleep.
And write. Daughter of Hounds is calling me back, and I know it'll be at least another eleven or twelve days before I can return to work on it. My brain can only try to cache my thoughts for later. I hate scribbling things down. I want to actually sit down and write, in a quiet, calm, not-box-littered enviroment.
I spoke with Bill Schafer last night about many things, and he says that the tentative release date on The Dry Salvages is now December 11th. I'll keep you posted. Also, the subpress hardback of Low Red Moon, which I know some of you have been waiting on almost forever, should be along very soon, as well. Just hang in there a little longer.
My thanks to David Kirkpatrick for a very nice e-mail regarding the impending remaindering of Silk. I will quote a portion of it, a bit I particularly appreciated:
I tend to think of each novel from an author as a stepping-stone in a stream. Some streams are fast-moving, turbulent, and potentially treacherous, while others are smooth and slow-moving, but potentially possessing hidden depths that will unleash something to swallow you whole. Each stepping-stone is unique also - some are solid and comforting to stand upon, others precipitously slimy, and so on. While perched on each stepping-stone, I can look down into the water, and see what can be seen. If the books are the stepping-stones, the streams are the things left unsaid by the author - the twirling, swirling might-have-beens that never coalesced into a stepping-stone. I don't equate the stream with the author, as that would be too pat, but rather with the intentions and desires of the author. We all have our streams, but true authors are unique in that they can take those might-have-beens and craft them into stepping-stones. Although there's an infinite number of other might-have-been stepping-stones, each novel represents an act of formation beyond the capacity of most of us. Silk will always mark the first time that you put down a stepping-stone and said "Here's the start of a way across. No guarantee it will be safe. No guarantee it will hold you up. No guarantee you'll ever make it across. Start if you dare. I think it will be worth the risk." To me, so far it has, so much so that I've got all of your books on pre-order at Subterranean, and the published ones are in the first-floor bookcase (where everyone can see them) along with the other first-stringers listed above. Silk was the start of it.
Thank you, David, for taking a chance on getting your feet wet with me.
Also, a number of people have e-mailed me the following H. L. Mencken quote, which I shall pass along to you all, as it is obviously both apt and timely — As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. Damn straight. G. W. is the realization of many an idiotic daydream. If only the rest of us could abandon our futile pipe-dreams of smart and compassionate democracy and accept Reality, we could all be celebrating alongside the happy mouthbreathers.
Condoleezza Rice as Dominar Bush's Secretary of State. Now that's a mindfrell. But it just goes to show you — even a black woman can ascend to the highest levels of power within the Republican Party, if only she's willing to let a white man stick his arm up her ass and make her lips move. Colin Powell, we hardly knew ye.
But let's not talk politics. It makes me feel so dirty.
Read my Bookslut.com interview, instead, unless you already have.
Last night, we cooked a big pot of red beans with andouille sausage, then I started Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal. When we went to bed, Spooky read me The Circle of Cats by Charles De Lint, with illustrations by Charles Vess, which we'd picked up from the Dreamhaven folks at Fiddler's Green.
Monday, November 15, 2004
There's no way I'm going to even attempt a lengthy, detailed description of Fiddler's Green. Late on Saturday night (actually, early on Sunday morning), watching Nuala and Destiny dance to "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (in a geodesic dome beneath the cold Minnesota sky), Neil and I agreed that there was no possibility that we would ever be able to capture this wonderful, surreal, unlikely, exhausting, exhilarating event in mere words. I think you just had to be there.
I don't think I can even manage a list of my favourite moments. It was all very, very fine. And as for as raising money for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, it was an unqualified success. Saturday night's auction netted more that $37,000 (a record, besting the CBLDF auction at the San Diego ComiCon), and after the art auction Sunday, the total had risen to more than $43,000! Take that, all you censorious right-wing tight-asses. My own contribution to the auction (besides my bidding war with The Fabulous Lorraine over the Delirium Docs, which she won) was an offer to write one thousand words on any subject the winner's heart desired, fiction or non-fiction, and to give the copyright for those one thousand words to the highest bidder. I was absolutely astounded when my offer netted a whopping $1,000 after some furious bidding. The winner was Mr. Greg Ketter of Dreamhaven Books, who will be publishing the 1,0000 words as a chapbook and donating all funds from its sale to the CBLDF to raise still more money for the cause. Details TBA. But the truly astounding event of the night was seeing the two-page Sandman story that Neil and I had conceived and scripted earlier that day, which Charles Vess and Jill Thompson had immediately drawn and Todd Klein had lettered that very same evening, go for $10,0000! Woot!
Later today, or maybe tomorrow, I'll post some photos that Spooky took this weekend.
And did the con lead me to a better understanding of my complex feelings about The Dreaming, as I'd hoped it might? Yes, I think so, in so far as anything ever will. Maybe, hopefully, I gained a little perspective, and I may even have learned that I am not "the most hated woman in Sandman fandom" (as I have described myself on more than one occasion). I am extremely proud of what I accomplished in The Dreaming, from 1996 to 2000, regardless of anyone else's feelings about the book, regardless of lackluster sales and Vertigo's failure to collect it in trade editions. Corporate decisions and the grumblings of a handful of loudmouth internet goons can be damned. It was good enough for me, and I know now, having remembered almost all the stories that I made myself forget, that I can look at The Dreaming years and years from now and know that I was given the chance to be a part of something very special. And my thanks to Rocky, for reminding me yesterday morning that "Empty barrels always make the loudest noise."
I almost cried three times yesterday, once during my reading, right in the middle of a passage from The Dry Salvages, that scene where Audrey and Zora are talking about Van Gogh and poetry and what will become of Audrey's three cats. I'm gettin' old.
This doesn't seem to actually be leading anywhere, so I'm just gonna say a few more thank-yous and then sign off for now. So— My grateful thanks to Bill Stiteler for ferrying me and Spooky from and back to the airport; to Mimi Ko, Squeaks, Rocky, Davey, Rain, Saint Nightwalker (you are just too frelling cool), Pat, and the ebullient Elizabeth Harrington; to the Fiddler's Green Committee, for making this whole thing happen; to Charles Brownstien for his work with the CBLDF; to Karen Berger for a great Thai dinner; to aRvin for showing up so I could finally meet a member of Nyarlathotep face-to-face; to Pat, for inviting me and Spooky to Whitby; to Greg Ketter and Dreamhaven Books, for getting copies of my books to the con; to Erica Vess, just for being delightful; to Maddy Gaiman, for informing her father that, while he was weird, I was cool; to Lorraine, for being a good sport; to Maureen, for being sure that The Green Fairy was in attendance; to Sheila Perry, for putting together a beautiful souvenir book and letting Maureen the Aforementioned see that my name had its fada throughout; to Kilted Coffee and the freaks who work there, for delivering us from the hotel's ass coffee and lousy, overpriced room-service breakfasts; to everyone who made it to Satellite 7-8 for my reading and stood in that really frelling long line at my signing and told me how much they'd enjoyed The Dreaming. And a blanket thanks to lots of other people I'm sure that forgetting, at least by name. Thank you all.
And you know what else? MirrorMask is going to frelling rock.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Our plane leaves Hartsfield at about 5: 30 this evening, which means we need to be at the airport about 3:30, which means we should leave here about 3, at the latest. Most everything's packed, just a few more straggling items.
Last night, I spread all my issues of The Dreaming about on the bed and read a few of them, knowing there's at least some chance I'll be asked about my work on the book this weekend. I'd honestly forgotten the story. All that stuff about Echo being the Corinthian's foil, the Corinthian being banished and hanging out in Bangkok, the houses of Secret and Mystery possessing Echo and leading a rebellion against Dream to find a missing secret/mystery, Lucien and Christina and William Yeats, Matthew asking Dream to keep the facts of his death a secret from Lucien, and on and on and on. And realizing that I'd forgotten all this, realizing why I'd forgotten all this, made me very sad. That's the best word I can find for what I felt (though it is not wholly adequate) — sad. I believe I forgot these characters and this story, allowing a sort of amnesia to overtake me, very soon after I finished the script for #60, and I think I forgot mostly out of a sort of self-defence. I was so exhausted at the end. And, still, I knew how much I'd miss these people. I knew I might never get to write them again. I knew how differently things had played out with the book than I'd wished them to play out (for the uninitiated, I asked to end The Dreaming @ #50, but I was persuaded to stay on to #100, but then, a year later, Vertigo decided to stop the book at #65, and then, after I'd laid out the ending, to stop at #60). Knowing how many people who'd read the Sandman rejected The Dreaming because it wasn't Sandman: The Next Generation, because Neil wasn't writing it, because there were a couple of gothedy characters, or because of queer characters, or because the story concerned the supporting cast of The Sandman instead of The Endless, or because I killed Matthew, or because readers though I was "too dark" or thought my style was too "self-consciously artsy" or what-the-frell-ever. It was easier to just forget it all, and that's what I did. I just didn't know that I'd forgotten, not until last night.
An author should never, ever forget her stories, her characters. It's obscene. It's like the gods forgetting their creations. That's exactly what it's like, actually (of course, maybe they did forget, and hence...). Even when she knows how difficult remembering will be, it's wrong.
Three years and almost six months after the last issue of The Dreaming was published, how do I feel about all this? I guess that's what I'm going to Minneapolis to figure out.
But I know one thing — those people who wouldn't read the book, they missed out on a hell of a good story, if I do say so myself. And I do.
Okay. Whatever. I can talk about this at Fiddler's Green, maybe.
Last night, at the proverbial last minute, I was seized with the urge to go out and get two new sweaters, a cap and gloves for Spooky, and a new cell phone. The new cell phone is cool (my old one died at Dragon*Con, and I haven't felt like replacing it). I can play Tetris on it. But I didn't get one of those camera/VCR phones. I'm just not ready for that. Maybe next time. Of course, by then cell phones will be chewing our food and wiping out butts.
My grateful thanks to the people who offered their condolences and thoughts regarding Silk. The things you say mean a lot to me, that the book was able to touch so many of you so deeply. That means it did what I made it to do. I can fairly ask no more than that. Here's one of the e-mails:
Thought I'd drop you a line to let you know that "Silk" (damn mailer won't let me italicize) has been my favorite of your novels. As well as MOA, of course, you can't have one without the other. Which I guess brings up a good, rhetorical question: How can you...?
Anyway, thought I'd share a little bit of my disappointment with you. Misery loves company, yadda, yadda, yadda. Chin up, kid - the second print will be dripping with gorgeous illustrations and the kids will snatch it up like Halloween candy.
Have fun in Minneapolis, and good luck with the shit shuffling.
Thank you, Kristen. And don't worry. I'm becoming a First-Class Shit Shuffler.
This morning's news pollution is that Yasser Arafat is dead. That's sort of a mind-frell. I mean, he's been news most of my life. Fewer men have stood as a shining example of the duality of heroism. One man's hero is another man's villian. No good deed goes undamned by someone, no holy crusade will not be judged infernal by many. Was he a good man or a bad man? Depends, in part, on whether you're Palestinian, I suppose.
Okay. That's about it for today. I'm leaving the iBook at home this trip (I don't trust it to airport security), so it's doubtful there will be another entry until we return Sunday night. But never fear, that's sooner than you think...
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Late yesterday, I got the news that the trade paperback 2nd edition of Silk is being remaindered. That is, whoever makes decisions at Penguin about which books are selling well enough to deserve warehouse space decided that SIlk wasn't earning its keep, and the last 1,000 or so copies of the tpb will be remaindered in December. So, Silk will soon be out of print. And my first reaction, last night, was to freak out about this, to let it drag me down someplace black. But then I forced myself to put it in perspective. Silk appeared in May 1998 as a mass-market paperback original (that is, first published as a paperback instead of the paperback following a hardback edition). These days, the average lifespan of a paperback original novel is about a year. Yet Silk, which was never an easy novel, has survived the vicissitudes of the marketplace for more than six years. It sold about 40,000 copies in its original print run, had a 1999 hardback edition (with art by Clive Barker, no less) that entirely sold out, and was reissued by Penguin as a trade paperback in 2002.
For a first novel, that's not so bad at all. It's really pretty good. I contemplated some other novelists' first novels. Peter Straub, whom I consider one of the finest novelists alive today — his first novel, Marriages (1973), is long out of print, even though he is, in fact, a bestselling author. It's what often happens. It's what usually happens. I am immensely proud of SIlk, which had a damn fine run and has been such a big part of my life since I began writing the novel in October 1993. I'm proud of the awards it won. That novel gave me my career, and though I might now look back on it and see a few things I'd do differently, I'm grateful that it was received as well as it was. And it's not like Silk will be unavailable. Amazon will have used copies, as will other online booksellers. I'm buying a hundred of the remaindered copies myself, which I'll be offering via eBay. And it will most likely be in print again, at some future date. Bill Schafer at subpress has talked about a tenth anniversary edition (that would be 2008), for example. Yeah, sure, I wish like hell that my books sold more, because then this probably wouldn't be happening, but it is happening, but all I can do is move forward and write new books and tell new stories. Silk was not a failure, but it also wasn't a book that was destined to stay in print forever. I can live with that.
Meanwhile, Penguin plans to release Threshold, Low Red Moon, and Murder of Angels as mass-market paperbacks.
And tomorrow I fly to Minneapolis. I just got my schedule for Fiddler's Green this morning. It is as follows:
Sandman: Behind the Comic (as yet unscheduled)
(Collaborative works always encompass artistic and interpretive disagreements, compromises, and ideas that Just Didn't Make It. We'll get the making of Sandman stories from our Guests of Honor…)
12-1 p.m. : Karen Berger spotlight
(Interviewed by Caitlin R. Kiernan about Vertigo, working with Brits, how Sandman evolved, and moving from comics outsider to insider.)
Saturday 2-3 p.m. : Plotting A Sandman Story
Karen Berger, Neil Gaiman, Caitlin R. Kiernan (Neil, Karen, and Caitlin plot and write a 1-2 page Sandman universe story before your eyes.)
Saturday 4-5:30 p.m. : Caitlin R. Kiernan Reading
Sunday 12-1 p.m. : Caitlin R. Kiernan Spotlight
Interviewed by Karen Berger. From editor to writer, with a focus on what it was like to write The Dreaming.
Sunday 1-4:30 p.m. : Grand Finale
Neil Gaiman, Karen Berger, Jill Thompson, Charles Vess, Todd Klein, Caitlin R. Kiernan. (Our Guests of Honor wrap up 15 years of Sandman: memories, its impact, and future.)
If I'm notified of any changes in the schedule between now and the time we leave Atlanta tomorrow, I'll try to post them here.
Yesterday, my ruthless winnowing focus shifted away from comics and onto cassette tapes and actual book-type-books. I managed to part with a veritable mountain of the latter, books I know I'll never open again and so refuse to cart to the new place. We're taking them to used bookstores to trade for credit. The cassette tape thing was more annoying. Piles of the frelling things. I kept a handful, mostly Death's Little Sister rehearsal tapes, tapes of our shows, scratch tapes from songwriting sessions, etc.. I also kept recordings of some radio shows I did. But not much else. And I began getting rid of VHS tapes, as well. But now all that stops until after the con.
Oh, here's a link, sent to me by a thoughtful reader named Erin, regarding the discovery of a new Carboniferous-age amphibian, a find that would definitely have excited Chance.
I finished BloodRayne 2 last night before dinner. A truly delightful game that I blazed through. Immediately, I wanted more. I was very pleased that the ending didn't make everything right as rain again (sorry). Sure, Rayne slays Kagan, but the world remains a smoldering ruin at the mercy of other monsters, mankind an endangered species hunted by all sorts of Republicans...er, I mean vampiric beasts. Did I actually say Republicans? For shame.
Did I mention the Bookslut interview? Ah, well, now I have.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
The Bookslut interview is now up. Please have a look, even though I strongly suspect I come off sounding like a loon. It's not that I didn't mean everything I said, because I did, so...I don't know. My lit agent is very happy with it. When I told her I thought I sounded like a loon, she didn't disagree, but only pointed out that it'll sell books. She is a wise woman.
There was very little work yesterday. Mostly, I dealt with the aforementioned mountain of funny books. I did better in the discard department than I expected I would. I was aiming to ditch 75%, but figured I'd wuss out and only lose about 40% of them. I think I managed about 55%. The hallway is currently all but blocked by 134 lbs. of comics waiting for a good home. The rest go to the new place with me. Once I'm settled in, I'll sell a few of those on eBay. And I guess I'll keep the rest for good. Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions yesterday re: ridding myself of comics. Don't worry, Sissy. It won't be the Salvation Army.
We're poised somewhere doubly indefinite, between being here and moving, between being here and heading off to Minneapolis. I wish I didn't hate traveling so much. I really do.
Last night I saw a trailer for Revenge of the Sith. I'm not getting my hopes up this time. George Lucas has burned me twice now. What can I say about the movie, based on this trailer? I suspect it will be pretty as hell and dumb as dirt, just like the last two. Why, oh why couldn't we have gotten just one more film in this series as good as The Empire Strikes Back? Gods, I love that film. In the summer of 1981, I saw that movie twenty times at the theatre. Twenty times. It's what I did all damn summer long, when I wasn't away at field camp digging up mosasurs, plesiosaurs, and sea turtles. I was seventeen, and TESB was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen on film. I was in love with Han Solo and Princess Leia and Chewbacca in equal measure (I always thought Luke was a bit of a doofus, though). Now, we get Jar-Jar frelling Binks and Hayden frellling Christensen. Oh, I'll be there on opening day, don't get me wrong. I'm too big a geek to do otherwise, and part of me (despite what I just said above) can't relinquish hope that this one will be a good movie, and I'll be as amazed as I was in the summer of '81. And hey, at least we get to see Chewbacca this time. If only he'd mutilate Jar-Jar Binks.
Last night, after the comics and all the other crap that filled the day, I played about an hour of BoodRayne 2. Then Spooky and I made spaghetti. Then we watched Moulin Rouge, because I hadn't watched it in almost two years and suddenly I needed to see it again. It still astounds me. It's a beautiful, astonishing film.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Addendum: Jesus God, what a frelling pain in the eema this move is going to be. I've begun getting rid of all the crap that's not making the trip, all the STUFF that I'm sick of hauling about with me. Best example: the goddamned comics. I just frelled my back pulling three 8"x29" boxes of comics out of closets where they've been sitting, untouched, since we moved in here two years ago. I put one on the scale. They weigh 40lbs. each! And there's still two more smaller boxes in the back of my office, two beneath mine and Spooky's bed, and literally hundreds of unbagged, unboxed comics stacked about. Most of these I bought back in the early and mid-nineties, or I received them gratis from DC/Vertigo. 90% of them I know I'll never, ever read again. Ergo, it is nonsensical to keep schlepping them about like this. So, out they will go, most of them. The question is, where to? I can't bring myself to just dump them in the trash. That's horrible. There's the Salvation Army and suchlike. I thought of leaving them on the doorstep of a local comic shop with a bottle of formula and a note which reads, "Please give us a good home."
That, kiddos, is what we writerly types call a "cautionary tale."
Spooky and I were both very impressed with the premiere episode of Huff on Showtime last night. It seems, post Farscape, post-Buffy, good original television fiction is pretty much relegated to Showtime and HBO (and yes, I've seen Lost).
Also, with much regret I must announce that I have not had anywhere near the time to make the Endless charm bracelet I'd planned on making for the CBLDF benefit auction at Fiddler's Green. So, now I'm scambling trying to come up with something else for the auction.
I carry a virtual map of the history of life in my head, phylogenies and taxonomies and biostratigraphic correlations. Even though, strictly speaking, I no longer consider myself a palaeontologist, the knowledge remains, and I try to stay up to date on things. So it's cool when I find something I don't know, not a new idea but one I missed somehow. For example, only yesterday did I learn that an hypothesized sister-group relationship exists between bats and primates. That is, bats and primates evolved from a common ancestor and are more closely related to one another than either group is to any other group of mammals. It's not too surprising that this one slipped past me. Mammals have never been my thing. But still, I love the idea of the bat/primate link (collectively, bats, primates and the most recent common ancestor of both are referred to as archontans). Humans might have had wings, if things had gone just a little bit differently. By the way, as long as I have my geek on, the earliest known bat is Icaronycteris index from the Eocene of Wyoming (about 50 million ybp), while the earliest known primate-like mammal, Purgatorius ceratops, comes from the latest Mesozoic rocks of Montana (about 65 million ybp), deposited just before the extinction of the dinosaurs. We don't yet know where or when the bat/primate divergence occurred.
I keep forgetting to mention a package I received last week from Lisa at Projekt Records, which included the new black tape for a blue girl CD and the latest Projekt sampler (new stuff by Voltaire, Android Lust, Mira, and others). I love getting cool, free stuff, and it reminded me how long it's been since I've spoken with Lisa, not since the birth of Sasha, her son.
Sometimes, it seems that I'm losing track of everyone.
Last night, just before bed, I started thinking about how amazing it is that the Coen Bros. have gotten away with not repeating themselves (Miller's Crossing was on some station or another...one of my all-time fave films). That's no mean trick, in any art. And then I started thinking about how I've felt a certain amount of pressure to write another novel very much like Threshold and how some readers have been disappointed that Low Red Moon and Murder of Angels were so different from Threshold. And, really, I think this all began when I was standing outside earlier last night, staring down an alleyway, at the shadows and the stingy shafts of lights getting through tree limbs and thinking what a fine setting it would make for a scene in a book or story, maybe someone being chased along that alley. And then I thought, But that's so much like the scene in Cat People when Jane Rudolph is walking alone past Central Park, pursued by something cat-like. Besides, you did that scene in Low Red Moon, remember, when Sadie has to cross the park with Narcissa following her. Disappointed, I admired the dark alleyway for its own merits, not as a potential story setting. And so, later, I moved quickly from my thought about the Coen Bros. to the thing about Threshold, and that led me to consider the books I'll probably never write because, not only do I fear repeating myself, I so fear repeating other writers.
I suspect, for example, that I'll never write a Haunted House Novel. What could I do that hasn't been done better by so many before me? Could I possibly best The Haunting of Hill House, The House Next Door, The Shining, or House of Leaves? Not likely. I've played a little with the haunted house archetype, with the sick, old house on Cullom Street in Silk, Low Red Moon, and Murder of Angels, and in some of my short fiction, too (most prominently in the Dandridge House stories and in "The Long Hall on the Top Floor"). And the old house where Narcissa and her grandfather lived on the Massachusetts shore. But I've never really sat down to write a proper haunted house novel, sensu stricto. I would have to either find something truly novel to say, or I'd have to find some truly novel way of saying something someone else has said previously. Just writing another story about a haunted house? Why bother? Which brings me back around to Threshold and the Coen Bros. I don't want to start repeating myself, writing the same novel again and again in order to capitalize on the success of an earlier book. Hell, I was worried I came too close to repeating Threshold in The Dry Salvages.
I'd rather continue to write novels that surprise me. Daughter of Hounds has already surprised me.
It's better that way. Someday, I might even write something as good as Miller's Crossing, if I can avoid doing Raising Arizona for the third or fourth time.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Addendum: A curious bit of news regarding the Mars rover Opportunity. I'm very glad that Opportunity is still going. I like knowing it's out there, mysterious power-ups and all. One of the Great Tragedies of my life (we all have many) is that I was born a couple or three generations too late to have any realistic chance of ever setting foot on Mars. Some future, alternate me in some other worldline, I shall hope, will be (or has been) a Martian geologist, prospecting for fossils and other signs of life, past and present, in the spectacluar canyons and craters of Barsoom. Perhaps our consciousnesses will even brush in this or that dreamspace.
Paula Guran (Dark Echo newsletter) has written very fine reviews of both Murder of Angels and The Dry Salvages, which will appear in the next issue of Cemetery Dance magazine (not the one on the stands now, but the next one up). Thank you, Paula. She's one of the critics who have begun using the phrase "Kiernanian," and I admit it feels odd to have become an adjective. Oh, and she has proclaimed me the "Queen of Weird." I assume she means "weird" as in the fiction of Blackwood and Lovecraft, but it works either way. Regardless, I'm flattered.
Things are getting hectic around here. More hectic than usual. Spooky's packing her sewing room. I'm going to shoot about a bezillion photos of this apartment later today, something I always do before leaving a place. I know how unreliable is my memory. I have to do some work on my website, e-mail a couple of folks. At least we got the prologue read on Friday, before the flux began in earnest.
In Iraq, a 60-day State of Emergency has been declared. Isn't it sort of odd to declare a State of Emergency in a nation that's already been invaded by a foreign empire (hey, if G. W.'s own people can call the U.S. an empire, then so can I) and is presently at war? Well, I think so. It seems a tad redundant. We're bombing the hell out of Fallujah, where there is supposedly a "rebel" stronghold (rebelling against who and what?). For all I know, that's true, the bit about the rebels, but I wonder how we'd know if it isn't? I wonder a lot of things. Like how many Americans could go to a globe and show me where Iraq is, much less Fallujah? To most people living in this country, it's just another funny-sounding Middle Eastern word. All those damned gook names sound alike, right? (Sorry. Lately, I've been dropping Apocalypse Now references like mad, like American warplanes are dropping bombs on Fallujah). That it's a city with people, just like Atlanta or Biloxi or Philadelphia or North Platte, well, it's probably best for our collective patriotic conscience if we don't think about that too much.
Excuse me. I'm still trying to get the taste of the damned election out of my mouth. Look at it this way — we're halfway through the Bush Regime. We can all start looking forward to the Cheney Regime.
Life goes on...
Levon wears his war wound like a crown
He calls his child Jesus
'Cause he likes the name
And he sends him to the finest school in town
Someone wrote to ask if "Onion" will be included in To Charles Fort, With Love. Here's the book's Table of Contents:
Author's Preface: "Looking for Innsmouth"
"Spindleshanks (New Orleans, 1956)"
"So Runs the World Away"
"La Peau Verte"
"The Dead and the Moonstruck"
"Houses Under the Sea"
"The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles"
"The Road of Pins"
"Mercury (Atlanta, 1986)"
The Dandridge Cycle:
"A Redress for Andromeda"
"Nor the Demons Down Under the Sea"
"Andromeda Among the Stones"
Afterword by Ramsey Campbell
There will also be a sixteenth, previously unpublished story exclusive to the lettered edition. I'm really looking forward to getting this one out there. It'll be nice working with Rick Kirk again, and there's going to be a gorgoeus cover by Ryan Obermeyer. Spooky and I have been planning the shoot for the author's photo (it's gonna be another messy one, I think). I'm going to put a lot of time into getting this volume just exactly right, probably more time than I can spare. I'll get the pre-order info up ASAP.
I half expect to get to the airport on Thursday and discover that my name has been placed on some frelling "no fly" list. I flatter myself, I'm sure. But at least I don't do it very often.
And Jesus, he wants to go to Venus
Leaving Levon far behind
Take a balloon and go sailing
While Levon, Levon slowly dies...
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Gagh. The next three weeks are going to be a frelling nightmare. We actually start packing today — not for Fiddler's Green, but for the move. We take possession on November 16th, two days after we return from the trip. We have to be out of here by December 1st. I've put almost all my work on hold for the duration, but once we're into the new place the office has to become functional again immediately. If I write like a maniac all through December, I might can make up for this.
We did manage to read through most of the prologue for Daughter of Hounds yesterday. I'm becoming more given to rewriting than I used to be. This started with The Dry Salvages, I think, which was polished and polished and polished. It's already begun with the prologue. Reading it yesterday, it was good, but so far from what had been in my head, what I'd wanted to say, what I've wanted to convey. That's one of the worst frustrations for me, the limitations of language. At least, the limitations of language in my hands. For comfort, I have only that hoary old bit from Robert Browning, quoted until the edges are frayed — "A man's reach should exceed his grasp; else what's a heaven for?"
Now, if only I believed in any sort of an afterlife...
But I appreciate the sentiment, nonetheless. If I ever "did it," got it absolutely, perfectly correct, I might feel that fleeting satisfaction that other artists speak of but which has always eluded me, but what would be the point in ever writing anything else? I would have "done it," after all, and I loathe repetitive tasks. My failures and imperfections keep me writing. As a propulsive force, flaws are far more inportant to art than any dream of perfection.
Last night's nuit des enfantes (feel free to correct my French) was damn near perfect. First, I made cheeseburgers. After dinner, we watched Shrek 2, which wasn't quite as good as the original, but was much, much better than I'd expected. Antonio Banderas (swoon) stole the show. But here what gets me. This film was gigantically popular with both children and adults alike, this film which is, essentially, an allegory for gay or interacial marriage, a film whose central message is that we should be ourselves and love ourselves and others for who we/they are and not try to change ourselves and/or others to fit traditional images of beauty and propriety. It's not the ogres and talking donkeys and cross-dressing wolves you have to fear, it's the villagers with torches and pitch forks, the primping Prince Charmings, the cheesy, bottled lure of Glamor (not to be confused with glamour) and miracle make-overs. And yet, despite the enormous popularity of this film in America, we just passed eleven constitutional amemdments in eleven states banning gay marraige? I know this contradiction is self-evident. It must be. It's like Orwell's 1984 being a hit in Soviet Russia. Right? Or did all those people see a different film than Spooky and I saw? Did they see only fart jokes and riffs on fairy tales? Are humans really that dense?
The second feature this week was The Dark Crystal, which I'd not seen since its 1982 theatrical release. I'd truly forgotten what a joy this film was. And I was entirely unaware how much of The Dark Crystal seems to have been reworked for and assimilated by Farscape. The DVD is very cool, with a long Skekses/Mystics funeral scene from the working print that was cut for release and lots of other extras. Twenty-two years on, this film is holding up very well (gods, I'm old).
Today...well, it's best not to think too much about today. It shall be long. What more needs to be said. I leave you with this photo, taken just before my hair went black again, which Spooky insists is "super cute." Um...yeah. I think she just wants to prove to the whole frelling world that I can smile. Of course, I'm not really smiling; I'm grimacing. Those are my spidery Halloween pj bottoms, by the way.
Friday, November 05, 2004
It's inevitable that some days I having nothing much about which to blog. This would be one of those days. I need to be working on Daughter of Hounds. It's not often that I feel like I need to be writing, but I do now, and there's just so damn much confusion and flux around here that it can't happen. Spooky and I may find time to read through the prologue this afternoon, maybe. I hope I can keep my head in the right place.
My feet are cold.
I suppose I could devise a meme. Send it out there to replicate and sew little language-virus seeds. A year from now, I'll see it on someone's blog and smile. Our children have truly succeeded when no one remembers who their parents were. Past tense, were. Forgetting undoes, until someone remembers again. Or discovers, which is remembering. I hate the phrase "rediscover." Nothing is ever rediscovered. Every discovery is a prime event. I'm drifting.
Only six days left until I leave for Minneapolis (if you count today). I haven't flown since November 1998. I swore I'd never fly again.
Another subpress update: Yesterday, Bill Schafer and I decided to cancel the Alabaster chapbook. It just didn't seem right to ask people to pay for the chapbook one year before the release of the Dancy collection, which would contain "Alabaster" and Ted's illos for it. Instead, the story will be serialized in three parts in The subpress newsletter, then reprinted in the (still unnnamed) Dancy collection. If you want to get on the mailing list for the newsletter, all you gotta do is follow this link.
I'm just not in a meme sort of mood. Maybe later.
I'm still digging BloodRayne 2. Last night, I climbed and then destroyed this great tower/factory/slaughterhouse thingy that was busy grinding bums and prostitutes into a red haze to block the sun, allowing vampires to roam about in the daylight. However, turns out, destroying the machine didn't destroy the haze after all, and now the Vampire Apocalypse has reduced the world to smoking rubble infested with all sorts of nasty demons. This must be where the game gets really interesting. I appreciate that Rayne's motivation is much more about her hatred of vampires and getting even with her vampiric father, Kagan, than saving all those puny humans. I've been getting increasingly annoyed at the importance of martyrdom to videogames. I'm sick of saving helpless hoardes that can't be bothered to save themselves. Herosim has to have a deeper meaning than kicking the bad guy's ass while everyone else hides somewhere safe. Didn't we learn that from High Noon?
Stay away from the future,
Back away from the light.
It's all deranged...
Thursday, November 04, 2004
We got the kingdom, we got the key
We got the empire, now as then...
If nothing else, this election has taught me that I suck as a cynic. As a cynic, I'm a hypocrite. As a romantic, I make a naive fool. I'm wandering somewhere in between the two, but doing neither justice. Just like Matthew Arnold said.
I was probably the last person in the world to read Ron Suskind's "Without a Doubt" (NY Times Magazine, Oct. 17, 2004). Well, not the last person, but I'm trying to make a point. I'm not a political nerd. I'm many flavours of nerd, but none of them are particularly political. So, many people, including the political nerds, read this article before me. Anyway, there are a lot of frightening things about the Bush Administration in this article, a lot of disturbing things, but the bit that really struck me (and a lot of other people, it would seem), is the following:
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
And the first thing that came to mind, to my mind, is that here I am feeling like such a rebel challenging consensual reality, and here's the frelling Bush Admin spouting the fundamentals of chaos magic like they'd frelling invented the stuff. A shame the fundamentalist/dominionist crowd hasn't made the connection. I began to picture Dick Cheney involved in complex scrying rituals, John Ashcroft instructing his underlings in the use of sigils, and G. W. himself engaged in all sorts of masturbatory rites to insure his re-election. No, it's not a pretty picture. I almost blinded my mind's eye with the thought.
I saw someone online, on LJ, talking about "liberal islands," which fits rather nicely with what I said yesterday about the regionalism revealed (not suprisingly) by the red-and-blue electoral map. I live on a liberal island. Hell, down here, we've been thinking that way for years. In the days leading up to our invasion of Iraq, front lawns for miles around sprouted "War is Not the Answer" signs. As the election approached, it seemed most lawns in this area of Atlanta (and I'm talking a large area) were decorated with signs supporting Kerry. We saw only a measley handful of Bush-Cheney signs. Of course, Georgia went to Bush. There are many other liberal islands scattered across the crimson sea of America, little dots peering cautiously from the gulf dividing those three disolute regions — the West Coast, the upper Mid-West, and New England. Here on our island, we try not to leave the "perimeter" (Atlanta-speak for the concrete and ashpalt belt of I-285), because it gets scary outside the perimeter. The rednecked scuttlefish hold almost all that territory, and we know Charlie don't surf, right? Just like Chef said (that's Chef in Apocalypse Now, not Chef on South Park), never get off the fucking boat. No, it's okay. I'm not making very much sense at all.
I'm still a little annoyed that I had to vote at a local Baptist church. I'm not a Christian, know that the majority of Christians would find me and my beliefs and my "lifestyle" appalling, and, in light of those facts and issues of the seperation of Church and State, do not think that I should have to enter a Baptist church to frelling vote.
Life goes on...
At least for the moment.
I had a very good meeting with Marvel Comics yesterday. That's the big news. I'll be doing something with them soon. Details TBA. I think I'm finally ready to go back to comics. Also, I spent part of the last two days finalizing plans for two short-fiction collections with Subterranean Press. At this point, it looks as though To Charles Fort, With Love will be a Spring 2005 release. It will include fourteen stories. The Dancy Flammarion collection is being planned as a Fall 2005 release and will include five or six stories. Details TBA.
And now I have to go scrub my brain with Drano, because I can't seem to banish the image of G. W. masturbating over a map of the United States from my mind.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
What gets me is that I absolutely refused to allow myself to believe that John Kerry had any chance of winning this election, and yet, this morning, I still feel like someone has sucker punched me in the gut. It seems no matter how little faith I grant the human race, it's will always be capable of astounding and disappointing me. There seems to be no self-defence against hope. MSNBC just posted the news that Kerry has conceded, so it's over, kiddos, and we have four more years of G. W. in the White House and four more years of whatever hell that includes. But beyond the fact of Bush as President I think there are more disturbing messages to be learned from this election. I'm not yet entirely certain how to formulate or express most of them, but I can see that they're there. Is it the end of the world, Bush winning this election? No, but it is definitely another step in the right direction — if world ending is what this species is destined for, and I can see no substantial evidence to the contrary.
Isn't there something ironic in the fact that the vast majority of the cities most in danger of future terrorist attacks — New York, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, etc. — went to Kerry, while all the South and all those "heartland" states went to Bush, who claims to be our best defence against terrorism? Clearly, he hasn't made those most at risk feel any safer.
Meanwhile, eleven states have voted to amend their constitutions to forbid same-sex marriage, and all these amendments passed by double-digit margins. The bigots carry the day.
I can't think about this too much today. Maybe tomorrow. Today I have to think about work and moving and being in Minneapolis in eight days. I have to speak with my agent in NYC and with Subterranean Press and with an editor at Marvel. I have work to do, and everything I see and hear is making me sicker to my stomach, sicker to my soul. Time to stop looking and listening for a little while.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
I have made a small but, I feel, decisive strike against consensual (consensus) reality today. Frell fall back. I have set all the clocks in the house back to daylight savings time, regaining the hour of daylight that I lost early Sunday morning and establishing what I shall think of as CST (Caitlín Stabilizing Time). There will be some oddness, dealing with the Outside world, but I think Spooky and I can adjust. Jennifer will continue to exist within the tyranny of daylight savings time/not daylight savings time, because she works outside the house. It's an experiment. We'll see if we can make it work.
Have you voted? Well, on the one hand, I'm not one of those people given to condemning those who choose not to vote. As I've said before, this system is entirely too screwed to justify such an attitude. We have freedom from voting, even as we have the freedom to vote. But, on the other hand, there's somewhat more hanging in the balance this time than there seemed to be in 2000. America was lied to by its Commander in Chief so that he might justify a war. We know about the lies. We know that more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers, many allied soldiers, and many, many more Iraqis have died in this war, which, by all accounts, will persist for quite some time. Why G. W. has not been brought up on charges of treason is beyond me. If I, as a civillian, did something that sent Americans off to kill and die in an unjust, poorly conceived and unwinnable war, my ass would be, as they say, grass. And the war's only part of this. For me, it's not even a question of whether or not Kerry can or will halt the war machine set in motion by Bush, but whether or not we should allow such a deceitful, hateful, dangerous shit as George W. Bush to keep his throne when his sins have been laid out for all the world to see. He has unleashed a New American Gestapo to try and silence those who oppose his actions, even in jest, and in doing so has made a mockery of many of the fundamental values of this country. Note, there are two wars being waged by the Bush Administration — the war against the Iraqi people and the war against the Bill of Rights. You may not become a casuality in the former, but you're almost certainly in the crosshairs of the latter. If you've been following this blog, you know I'm not optimistic about our chances of getting Bush out of office, but there does appear to be a chance. Anyway, you have some small say in how this goes. If you want a say.
We just got word from the realtor that the house is ours, the one I mentioned a few days back. So, now we have to pack, go to Minneapolis, come back and finish packing and be out of here by December 1st. I've not had a whole house to myself since 1997 when I left Athens. It'll be nice not to have people above or below or to one side or the other. There's an enormous wooded yard, front and back. It's a very quiet neighborhood. It should be a very good place to write Daughter of Hounds.
Today, I'll be compiling the Dancy ms. for Bill Schafer and possibly reading through the prologue of Daughter of Hounds.
Sever the line to the guilty past, to the ones who brought us nothing.
Spoke of futures brave and proud and brought only hate and war.
Lined the roads with hollow praise. Marked the land with paper statues. — "Solitary," VNV Nation
Monday, November 01, 2004
It's a good sign that I want to get back to work on the novel after three long days of inactivity (as regards writing). Sadly, other than reading back over the "finished" prologue, I doubt I'll be doing much on it for the next couple of weeks. We have to begin packing. I can't think when there's packing going on. We have to hire movers. And so on. And, on top of that, Spooky and I will be traveling to Minneapolis in two short weeks for Fiddler's Green. So, there's not going to be a lot of writing getting done. I need to do a little with "Bradbury Weather." I need to put all the Dancy Flammarion stories in "order" as a ms. and send them off to Subterranean Press. I could perhaps begin editing To Charles Fort, With Love (which promises to be a monumental effort). But Daughter of Hounds will likely be on the back burner until the latter part of the month. At least that will give me some time to better grasp the novel's architecture.
I am no better than 50% awake just now. I really hate the switch back from Daylight Savings Time. Fall back my ass. I'm getting up an hour earlier to try and compensate, but my body knows it's 11:35 a.m. right now.
Since I seem to have started writing down my dreams here, a somewhat strange thing for me to do (and if it annoys you, tell me and I shall stop), here's one from this morning. It's only a very small part of last night's epic, but it's the part that seems to have jarred me most profoundly. I was on a long, wide beach beneath a cloudy sky. There was a city at my back. People were talking about a tiger shark that had been seen in the water earlier. I was standing in the surf, watching a white French Poodle playing in the water. The poodle had recently been shaved. We were all waiting on a woman (in the dream, I knew who she was) who was to arrive soon, by way of the sea. At last, I sighted a dot among the swells and knew it was her, swimming towards shore. The dog dashed into the water immediately, swimming out to greet her. And I wondered if poodles could swim. Of course they can, I thought. "Poodle" is derived from the German word "puddeln," which means "to splash." Poodles were bred as hunting dogs that could swim.
I followed the dog into the sea, swimming out to meet the women. I swam for what seemed like a very long time. And it felt good, the way I remember swimming in the sea felt good. Finally, looking back, I realized that I'd swum completely out of sight of land. Seeing this, I felt a sudden sense of dread at the depths beneath me, and I remembered the shark. Yet, still, I'd not reached the woman, and the dog was still ahead of me. I looked back again, and a great, ornate paddle-wheel steamer was now between me and the unseen shore, chugging landwards. I started back, following the wake of the boat. And as I swam, my right hand struck something beneath the dark water. At once, I recognized that firm but yielding, rough but smooth sensation of touching a shark (in my life, I have had cause to touch quite a few sharks). And this was clearly a big shark. I swam as hard and fast as I could. When I finally reached shore (with a tremendous sense of relief), I looked back out to sea. There was no sign of the steamer; it had sailed from sight. However, very far out, farther than I'd gone, I could just discern the indistinct figures of the dog and the woman, black specks bobbing in the waves as they continued to swim towards one another.
I think I'm now 52% awake. The tide is turning.
Tomorrow is tomorrow, isn't it? Yesterday, MSNBC reported that, "Bush has solid leads in 23 states with 197 electoral votes and is favored in four more, which could bring him to 227. Kerry is equally solid in 13 states with 178 electoral votes and is favored in five states, which would bring him to 232. It takes 270 electoral votes to win." I am not even allowing myself to hope. Hope is a Bad Drug. If Dominar G. W. is deposed, I will rejoice, at least a little. I'll cast my vote towards that end. But I will not pretend to hope. Of course, here in Georgia, we're facing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. Never mind that same-sex marriages are already illegal in Georgia, this is just so all us queers know for damn sure it's always gonna be that way. The passing of this amendment (and I am fairly certain it will pass) is the legislative equivalent of being told, "We don't just hate you, we hate you a lot." Personally, I already got the message, loud and clear and indisputable. I've been getting it for a long, long time. I don't need a goddamn constitutional amendment to drive it home. Of course, I suspect that, given the option, a majority of Georgians would vote to simply remove all gays, lesbians, and transgendered people from the face of the Earth. If they could send us to Mars or just wink us out of existence, I believe they would. I mean, since they can't "save" us, why not? We're mostly liberals, anyway, and we're just dirtying the place. The joke would be on them, though. Too much of fundamentalist Christianity defines itself in negatives, by what it's not, by what it must redeem or destroy, by what it hates. It has to have its monsters, or it loses all meaning and purpose. Yes, the Jesus Freaks need queers. They're just too short-sighted to see it.
And on that rather queasy note, I shall end this entry. I may make others later in the day. Poppy has asked me to read "Crown of Thorns," her story for Subterranean Press, which is a far more pleasant prospect than thinking about America come day after tomorrow.