Saturday, April 26, 2008

Out Of The Fog

Hollywood Video here in town is closing its doors, and today they marked everything down to 90% off. I found a treasure trove of movies old and new in their library - films you take to heart and then somehow forget for a few years like Hideous Kinky or And The Band Played On - and I made off like a bandit. One film I didn't find hiding in the aisles that would have been perfect was Orlando, the '92 adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel starring Tilda Swinton. The novel and the movie both left such a deep impression I didn't find it again until just recently, when I began work on The Book of Elizabeth.

An older Elizabeth features in Orlando (Quentin Crisp does her in drag in the movie, which I fear made more an impression than anything else) but when I close my eyes, it's Swinton I see as my Elizabeth. I discovered in writing the book just how much of an impact the themes and ideas - half remembered, like a dream - the book/movie had on impressionable young me back in the early 90's. I didn't find the movie today (for a dollar anyhow; Barnes and Noble has it for $30, which is too much for me) but I did come home and find some nuggets of it on YouTube. I found this bit, and wanted to share it. Fog is a significant image in the book and this sequence seems to me like some half-remembered dream:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Catch Up

So now that I'm taking a brief breather while I recharge the old batteries to revise the novel, I thought I'd share some pics from the trip my cousin Matt and I took to Chicago earlier this month. We visited my good friends Matt and Lisa, who are expecting at the end of the summer (congrats!!!) and also took in some of the sights. It was a great time, and great weather. We had great weather today, finally. I biked up to CF, watched some Season 1 of Battlestar on DVD, and naturally, because I'm not supposed to until Sunday, revised chapter 1 of the book.

Kerry Wood goes to ice the Astros in the top of the ninth:

The Wrigley Building from orbit (aka the Hancock):

The shadows of the towers:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Draft Day

Yay! I finished the first draft of my novel The Book of Elizabeth today. My eyes and fingers hurt. I sleep now. Zzzzz... Oh, wait. I do have a lot of revision to do, but that's after I take a few days off. My editor Sean Wallace at Prime Books mentioned the book in an interview he gave over at Bibliophile Stalker:

"What's the editing process like? Do you also focus on grammar, spelling, and the like or do you solely focus on the story and the idea?

I actually don’t consider myself a traditional editor, someone who copy-edits or proofreads material, but more an instinctual editor. I don’t sit down and figure out why I do or don’t like something, which might sound a little strange to a few people, but that’s how it works out. I can tell you in generalizations why I’m hot-to-trot on a particular project, but I can’t get into specifics. Mind you, it’s easier at sales presentations, because I have a wealth of data to play with, and can sound reasonably intelligent and knowledgeable about my books, but it’s only slightly easier!

In some rare cases, however, I might encourage authors to put something together, throw a bunch of ideas at me, and see what sticks at the end of the day. A few of my authors can probably attest to this: Michael Jasper, Ekaterina Sedia, Catherynne M. Valente, just among a few that have run the gauntlet, and submitted three or four short proposals at me, and stepped back. I usually come at that, then, in terms of: is this new and original? can the market handle this particular topic? does it benefit the author to have this book out with the rest of his or her material? and then follow up with the author, with my thoughts and impressions, and we run with something at the end of the day. It usually works out, because I trust the authors that I’ve approached, to deliver something close to what’s been proposed . . . and that sometimes can be a paragraph or two paragraphs, written almost like backcopy!

Here’s an example:

Alice remembers the fall of the Berlin Wall. How she doesn't know, because it never happened; there was never a Wall. There was never a Berlin. In their place is a new world, a new history unburdened and unfettered of the past except for a small few like herself, swept out of their proper places in time and stranded with their memories in the new now, people from every era, poets, gladiators, peasants and queens.

Queen Elizabeth the First finds herself, for the first time in her life, free; free of the weight of her office, her world and the constraints of her time. She relishes the opportunity to establish her own personal identity, her own personal destiny but she cannot avoid being at the center of a great struggle. Some, like Alice, want to learn the truth of what happened, and if possible, put things back the way they were meant to be . . . but in embracing the virgin world, the queen has no intent to restore the past but to see it banished, even from her own mind, forever . . .

I can see this book—can you see this book? I can! This was from Darby Harn, for The Book of Elizabeth, which is scheduled for later in 2009. I bought this book exactly on this and nothing more."