Archive for April, 2011
First, there’s an illustrator in Boston named Samuel Valentino. He’s into fantasy. Sometimes he illustrates the fantasy he’s into. He made this image of the Watcherwoman from The Magicians, striding through the clock-trees:
It’s really wonderful. He completely nailed that Pauline Baynes look — she did the original illustrations for the Narnia books. (Wouldn’t it be amazing if this and other Magicians-related art could someday be available in merch form? That is a thing that you may live to see.)
OK, one thing down. The other: this June Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is being reissued in a 10th anniversary edition. In honor of that, Neil will be appearing at the 92nd St. Y on June 21st. I will be appearing next to him, to ask him questions.
As everybody knows, Neil is an extraordinarily compelling public speaker. I mean, off the charts compelling. To make this event a success all I will really have to do is stay still, speak English and not burst into flames.
I don’t know if I can promise that. But I’ll do my best.
(If you have questions you want me to ask Neil, feel free to leave them in comments.)
It’s churlish to say it, but it’s the truth: I was never totally satisfied with the English cover of The Magicians. This is partly because I could never tell it apart from the English cover of Codex.
Here, I’ll put them side by side:
There’s a family resemblance. And I never felt like the cover of The Magicians was fantasy-y enough. To put it bluntly, you couldn’t tell there was any damn magic in it.
You can’t really blame Random House UK for that. Codex sold well, and they wanted the people who bought Codex to buy The Magicians, so they made them look alike. I screwed this up for them by making The Magicians a very different book from Codex, so the people who bought it got something very different from what they were expecting, and the people it was meant for couldn’t find it at all, because it doesn’t look like what it is, which is a fantasy novel, not a literary thriller. I changed brands on them, basically.
Still, The Magicians sold OK in the UK (and other Commonwealth nations!) A lot of publishers would have shrugged and said meh.
But the people at Random House UK thought about it and came up with a totally new look for The Magician King. It looks like this:
Click to embiggen. Pretty, right? I love it. It feels very right to me.
But how can you get it? Sure, you went to Brakebills, but you’re not Bill Gates. You don’t have a titanium exoskeleton and a giant lobster claw and a stack of runescrolls that’s yay high and only getting higher. You’re just one man/woman.
Relax. It’s right here.
Just stare into the mirror, and chant my name five times …
Nah, it’s no good. I can’t make a Candyman joke. It still freaks me out. It’s too soon.
Sometimes people ask me if I’ll come to their local bookstore for the Magician King tour. The answer is, I want to! But I have no control over which bookstores I go to, literally none.
What happens is, bookstores that want me to come read put in a request to my publisher. My publisher — using an arcane algorithm worked out by Bret Easton Ellis in the mid-1980’s — picks some of these, books airfare and hotels, then sends me an e-mail informing me that it has done so. Then I get on a plane. I’m like Perry the Platypus. I go where they send me.
And when I get there I smite evil and lay eggs. Even though I’m a mammal.
So I have no power. But you — you can insert yourself into this process. Suggest to your local bookstore that they request me for the Magician King tour. That can get the ball rolling.
Or you can try the chanting thing. It works for Candyman. Man, that guy has sold a lot of books.
At long last, The Magician King has a cover. It looks like this:
Like the Magicians cover, it’s the work of Didier Massard. He’s an amazing French artist who builds little scenes in his studio and photographs them. Yes, that’s a photograph of a model. If you were tiny, you could go and live in it! I encourage you to click through to the big version. The level of detail is amazing.
Ages ago — almost a year ago now — we talked about which of Massard’s images would work as a cover on this blog, and a bunch of you mentioned this one as a contender. And now it’s here! The system works.
p.s. The grey stuff around the edges of the letters will be silver foil. If you were wondering.
A nanopost: yesterday, through incredible strength of will, I managed to update the Events part of the site, with a list of readings and such that I scheduled back in the rosy past when I thought I’d be done with The Magician King by now.
I updated my events page because I have a heavy cold, and didn’t have enough midichlorians left over yesterday to work on the book. I’m back on it now. Paolo Bacigalupi once told me that time spent writing a novel is always stolen from someone else. That feels very true right now. I’m stealing from everybody around me. I’m pushing people down on the street, who I don’t even know, and stealing their time in broad daylight.
It’s going well though. There’s a point in the development of a book when all the events are in place, and the timeline is solid, and it’s basically an OK book. Then it just starts to expand, the way the universe does, in all directions at once. The structure remains the same, but all the psychologies within it suddenly gel — the characters start feeling things on multiple levels. Then they react to all the new levels in the people around them. Then they react to their own new levels, thereby generating still more levels. It’s just a dynamically ramifying levelfest.
And what ends up happening is that suddenly the aforementioned events, which were heretofore of mild interest, start to resonate with serious meaning. They start to sing. And with any luck the reader ends up with a new level or two when it’s all over.
Anyhoo: events. I’ll be reading on Tuesday night in Soho as part of the great New York Review of Science Fiction reading series. Please come! I’ll do a passage from The Magician King.
The following week I’ll be taking part in a launch of event for David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. (I had a lengthy think about The Pale King in Time last week.) On April 19th I’ll be doing a benefit for Slice magazine, a literary jeopardy thing also involving Paris Review editor Lorin Stein. (Last year at this event I almost made up for all the hundreds of spelling bees and other public competitions I have sucked out in in my life by getting the Final Jeopardy answer right. It was “Titus Andronicus.”)
And so on. In May I’ll do my first-ever public event with my brother (who has two new books in the works), a family-themed event that will also include father-daughter pair Peter and Emma Straub. I’ll also have a public conversation with China Mieville, in which it will be definitively demonstrated that he is exactly 1,000 times smarter than me.