Archive for January, 2009

Shriek: An Afterword–Genesis

Jeff VanderMeer • January 31st, 2009 • Writing Tips

UPDATE: A thorough interview about Shriek posted on Clarkesworld, conducted by Neddal Ayad.

Shriek: An Afterword first came to me while working on the first chapbook edition of The Hoegbotton Guide to the Early History of Ambergris. The chapbook included a note from Janice Shriek before what would eventually become the glossary in City of Saints & Madmen), explaining that this was just a fragment of a much longer work, to which she would be attempting an afterword. The glossary already held a secret: which was, if you read it carefully and followed the cross-references you would find that Duncan Shriek and Lacond were the same person, and that Duncan was hopelessly in love or lust with a woman named Mary Sabon.

Shortly after finishing the Hoegbotton Guide, I was in correspondence with Thomas Ligotti–at the time a somewhat terrifying experience, for a young author, and also because HE TYPED HIS ANSWERS ALL IN CAPS. Ligotti was generally supportive, but pointed out that Pale Fire had an emotional resonance that The Early History lacked. This point, I think, mistook The Early History for something else, but it got me thinking about Duncan and Janice and Mary Sabon, and how there was an emotionally resonant story hidden within The Early History.

I wasn’t quite sure what form the story would take, so I decided to do a draft as another Hoegbotton pamphlet–exactly as if Janice were writing a short afterword to The Early History.

At the time I had a manual typewriter I liked to use because of the pressure and sound of the keys. The first page was just a Hoegbotton Statement of Purpose with some later notes written on it.

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Ann VanderMeer: Editor Guest of Honor at MidSouth Con, Memphis

Jeff VanderMeer • January 30th, 2009 • Uncategorized

Ann’s been named the editor guest of honor for MidSouth Con in Memphis. She’ll be doing a workshop and other cool stuff March 20-22. I’ll be coming along and doing a workshop based on Booklife. This is Ann’s first guest of honor gig and she’s pretty thrilled.

Other Vanderish events for the spring:

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MidSouth Convention 27, Memphis

Jeff VanderMeer • January 30th, 2009 • Events

Ann is the editor guest of honor at MidSouth Con 27 in Memphis, and I am going as well, to do a workshop based on Booklife and some panels.

Compare the Meerkat (Pet a Squid?)

Jeff VanderMeer • January 30th, 2009 • Culture

I made a meerkat! I made a meerkat! …and then…then I compared it!

(I can’t take credit for finding this–Richard Morgan sent it to me, thinking of Veniss Underground. LOL.)

Now if only there was a petting zoo for squid

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Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for 21st Century Writers

Jeff VanderMeer • January 30th, 2009 • Writing Tips

Here’s a partial TOC to Booklife, without revealing the next level of detail in the subsections and obscuring some additional subject matter I’m still moving around–titles to sections are often still non-parallel placeholders, too.

The book is about the struggle to find balance–how do you achieve a sustainable career and sustainable creativity in the current new media environment? It tackles all kinds of traditional topics, but each is infused with the context of the new paradigm even as it also addresses universal issues that have remain unchanged over the centuries.

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Remember What Being Genuine Looked Like?

Jeff VanderMeer • January 30th, 2009 • Writing Tips

- Have the plotlines diverged much since you began writing the Black Company books, or did you have the entire plot more or less figured out from the very beginning? Were any characters added or further fleshed out beyond your original intentions? Have you made any changes to your initial plans during the course of the three series?
After thinking about it for several days I think I have figured out what you’re asking here….

There’s no permalink yet to Pat’s Fantasy Hotseat’s interview with Glen Cook, so you may have to scroll down, but check it out. Cook so doesn’t give a crap about pleasing the interviewer. He’s going to take each question and try to answer it as honestly as possible. I’ll tell you right now–a lot of authors are thinking what Cook’s saying here when they’re asked a crappily worded or insulting question.

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Vignette

Jeff VanderMeer • January 30th, 2009 • Fiction

Once, a very long time ago, an adventurer became a problem for the King of Smaragdine. Something to do with the king’s daughter. Something to do with the king’s daughter and wine and a dance hall. So the king decreed that this adventurer should be sent “on a long quest for the good of the Green.” The quest? To find the lost Tablet and bring it back to Smaragdine. The Tablet was in Siberia or Palestine or somewhere in South America or even possibly on the Moon, depending on one’s interpretation of the writings. Regardless, this fit the very definition of “a long quest.” Unfortunately for the adventurer, he had earned the nickname of “Vignette” because his adventures, although intense and satisfying in the retelling, were always short and occurred in and around the city.

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Shriek: An Afterword–Alternate Start to the War

Jeff VanderMeer • January 30th, 2009 • Uncategorized

A report by Janice Shriek that never made the final draft. It just didn’t fit and the emphasis was wrong. Just because there’s a possible dramatic moment doesn’t mean it adds drama. There was also something odd about using words like “receptionist” in the context of the novel. And using this approach to open Part 2 would have been too immediate. In sectioning off a novel into two halves, it gives you the opportunity to draw back and provide some perspective–thus I drew back to Janice thinking back to a recent interview a young reporter had done with her about the war, which allows her to immediately go into an account of the doomed opera–something that although slower to develop has a higher interest level overall.

Jeff

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Shriek: An Afterword–High-level Notes After Completing First Draft

Jeff VanderMeer • January 30th, 2009 • Writing Tips

I’m still doing housekeeping–only thing I’m good for after working on Booklife, and will post a few things of possible interest before Victoria starts guest blogging on the first….

PURPOSE

• To tell the story of a dysfunctional family, especially a brother and sister who try to survive in the world, who want to escape death.
• Love is selfless.
• Death is just a blip.
• Obsession can be noble.
• “Family” can mean many different things.

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Shaun Tan on Omnivoracious

Jeff VanderMeer • January 29th, 2009 • Book Reviews

My feature on Tan’s latest. I love this guy’s work.

The quality and subtlety of both the black-and-white and color art reflects a deep understanding of how to use space. Nothing feels cluttered, everything feels balanced. And, in encountering Tan’s written stories for the first time, I was pleased to find that text doesn’t detract from his work.