I’m still in Sydney, still only online once in a while. I’m back February 3. In the meantime look at this image of the Physical Kids encountering their first clock-tree.
Greetings from the far side of the world. Or if you live in Australia, the same side of the world. My wife Sophie is from Sydney, so we come here about once a year.
I’m not one of those obsessive Australophiles, but I do like it here. It’s hot. It’s a totally different biosphere, with all kinds of weird flora and fauna – giant spiders, sulfur-crested cockatoos, etc. The wine is good, and the food is really good. Though everything is expensive, even by New York standards.
The beaches … the beaches beggar description, especially if you grew up in New England, where the beaches are few and grey and punishing. The beaches here are huge and wild, with gigantic turquoise surf, and they’re everywhere. You think people are exaggerating about them but they’re totally not. Supposedly when Jonathan Ive was looking for the perfect color for the original blue iMac, he found it in the surf off of Bondi beach, which is in Sydney.
(When the characters arrive at Benedict Island in The Magician King, the description of that beach is based on Smith’s Beach near Perth, which is where I was at the time.)
Also it’s a chance to give a few interviews in a books market where I’m not very well known. Basically the worst thing about Australia is the flight over. This time around it took 48 hours, because we got diverted to Hawaii, and I spent a day hanging out eating junk food at the Honolulu airport Best Western, a place so seedy that it looked like an Elmore Leonard novel was going to break out at any moment.
Another reason I’m here is to get seriously cranking on The Magician’s Land, though those beaches, and that wine, and the fact that Halcyon’s nanny is 10,000 miles away are all eating into my writing time. Also there’s a huge number of administrative and webby tasks needed to keep the business of a 21st century novelist alive, and they never seem to end.
Like updating my events page, which I haven’t done in months. In lieu of that, I’ll just mention that I’m speaking at Yale in February, and Oxford in March (on the same bill with Jeremy Paxman, which if you loved University Challenge like I love University Challenge, and I know you don’t, would be incredibly exciting), and Clemson in April.
I’ll do a proper tour when the paperback of The Magician King comes out in June. Till then: actual writing.
I have the script for the Magicians pilot. OK, I had it all weekend. I’ve just been told that I can talk about this.
First let me say: I can take zero credit for this thing. It’s by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz: they did X-Men: First Class and Thor, as well as a ton of TV work on Fringe, the Sarah Connor Chronicles and Andromeda. Frankly I didn’t want to get too involved: it took me 40 years to figure out how novels work, I wasn’t going to understand screenplays or teleplays or whatever right they are right off the bat. I’m not a Scalzi or a Gaiman, leaping nimbly from medium to medium with the grace of a gazelle. We chatted back and forth quite a bit while they worked, but I’ve never met them in person. I didn’t know what to expect.
I certainly didn’t expect this: it is fantastic. Amazeballs would not be too strong a word to use about this script. I’m not even trying to be funny. If I didn’t think so I would have just kept mum, but I can’t keep mum. It’s just too good.
I also can’t tell you too much in the way of details yet. But I will say:
– I laughed my ass off, start to finish. It’s funny.
– It’s edgy. This isn’t HBO, so there’s a limit to what can happen and what can get said, but somehow the darkness is there, all of it. I don’t know how they did that.
– It’s TV. The big challenge was always going to be to reshape the bones of the story, to take it apart and put it back together so it fit into episodes instead of chapters, and seasons instead of books. The Magicians (book) is a slow burn, but in TV you can’t afford that. This first episode — it’s a monster. It’s this dense, intense mystery that sucks you right in. I was dying to know what happens next, and I already know!
– It’s moving. I’ve said elsewhere that what great fantasy does best, for me, is longing. When I read the script, I felt that — I felt the longing. I’ve never seen anything else like this on TV. These are just smart writers who know their medium and know fantasy. We got very, very lucky.
With a little more luck, you’ll get to see what I mean. It’s with the network now.
The sole purpose of this blog post is to share with you an amazing image. It’s by the artist Christopher Shy, and it’s one of three (so far) he has created based on scenes from The Magicians.
It’s of Alice getting her very first look at Brakebills:
When I saw this, the hair stood up on my arms. I mean, this is it: this is the scene, this is what it would have been like. Click through and take a close look at the roof of Brakebills, the detail is just wild. When I look at it, I feel like I could fall into it. I’ve never met Shy — he just read the book, made this, and e-mailed it to me. The original, which is a mega-large file, is even more spectacular and detailed and gorgeous.
And there’s two more like it.
We’re going to make them available as high-quality prints through the CafePress Magicians store, just as soon as I can figure out how to do that and then magic up enough free time to do it in.
p.s. if you’re anywhere within range of Metuchen, NJ, I’m reading there this Saturday night at The Raconteur. I won’t be doing many other events this spring, so do come by and hang out.