Archive for June, 2012
OK! I’ve been home for a week and a half now. I’m starting to recognize my kids on sight instead of just snapping my fingers and pointing. Screw this. I’m going back on the road.
This means that, for the first time in four years, I won’t be going to Comic-Con in San Diego this summer, because they’re the same weekend. Which was a tricky choice. But love it or hate it — I do both — bottom line, Comic-Con isn’t really about authors. It’s about directors, actors, screenwriters, comics artists, costume designers, animators, and people who design disposable novelty tote bags. After that, it’s about authors. As a novelist at Comic-Con you kind of have to fight for oxygen.
I needed a break from that. I mean, I knowingly signed on for it: fighting for oxygen is what novelists do. But sometimes it’s nice to go to a convention that’s about books first, where everybody is glad you’re there just because you’re a writer. Ascendio is such a conference, and I am stoked for it. (LeakyCon, which I’ll be at in August, is another such conference. So is Readercon, which unfortunately is the same weekend as Ascendio.)
As soon as I get back I’m on for a couple more events in New York City: a conversation with G. Willow Wilson on July 17, and a conversation with Erin Morgenstern on July 18th. Both of those evenings will be deeply awesome. As regular visitors to this blog know, I have a habit of getting onstage with people who are smarter than me. I’ll be happily continuing that grand tradition.
I have nothing else to add except that Metric’s Synthetica is, like, destroying me with its goodness right now.
My daughter Lily is a big Harry Potter fan. She’s read through the entire series three times, and she’s only eight. Lately I’ve taken to writing short-short stories set in the Potterverse for her, as a way of preserving some slender channel of human contact with my offspring.
As an experiment in utter self-indulgence, I’m going to post one of the stories here, which I wrote when Lily asked me for something about Buckbeak. Buckbeak is a major figure in Lily’s imagination — I think in her mind he ranks somewhere around Ron and Hermione in terms of his importance as a character in the series. This is definitely not adult stuff, or even YA — Lily was 7 when I wrote it, so it’s a middle-grade joint, a level below the Harry Potter books.
But I’m happy with it. For reasons best left to psychoanalysis, I framed the story as what is known in the jargon as a hurt-comfort scenario, with Buckbeak being hurt, and my daughter — whom I recognize is not generally considered to be a “canonical” Harry Potter character — doing the comforting.
Probably there are massive canon-breaking errors in it too. I had to extrapolate a bit about what Buckbeak does in the off-season. What can I say: it’s fan fiction. Here it is (as a Word file): Buckbeak and the Three Potions.
Tomorrow morning I’m going to San Francisco. I’ll be there for four days. Probably that was already clear.
It’s a bit weird that my publisher booked me into one city for four days. Usually tours are a-city-a-day, town to town, up and down the dial. We’re challenging the conventional wisdom on this one!
It goes like this. Saturday I’m reading as part of the SF in SF series. Draggily enough my reading in Palo Alto on Sunday got cancelled, but happily enough I’ll read at A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland at 3:00 instead. Then on Tuesday I’m at Rakestraw Books at noon and then at Books Inc. at the Castro that night.
I am posting this post, even though it’s virtually identical to my last post, because I’m really hoping people will come to the events. I read in Massachusetts on Tuesday and it was standing-room-only. We talked. We laughed. We played Scrabble. I read from the new book. I gave stuff away. Somebody brought me ice cream. It was incredibly energizing.
I loved it. I want to do it all over again. But I can’t do it without you.
Well, I could, but it wouldn’t anywhere near as fun.
The tour is on like The Wrath of Khan.
It’s sort of a weird tour, in that it’s kind of distributed over the course of the whole summer. The first leg starts with a reading on Tuesday at Newtonville Books (that’s tomorrow) in my home greater-metropolitan-area, Boston. Newtonville has been incredibly supportive of the Magicians books since the get-go—in fact the first time I ever read aloud from The Magicians (or as I apparently prefer to type it, Teh Magicians) was there.
So come on down! You’ll be supporting them and me at the same time.
From there I’m heading to San Francisco for the SF in SF reading series, then the Commonwealth Club in Palo Alto, then Books Inc., Rakestraw Books in Danville, and finally back to New York City for a night at the Center for Fiction with Kelly Link on Wednesday the 20th.
I’m looking forward to a ‘looser’ ‘style’ of touring this time around. I’ve done a lot of reading from The Magician King in the past year or so, I’d like to get into more talking-and-conversing-and-drinking kinds of events. Maybe I’ll talk about the new book. Maybe I’ll even read from the new book. Anything could happen. Who knows?!?!
(If the blink tag were still widely supported, I would have used it there.)
Meanwhile I’ve adopted a new writing strategy. After a lifetime of telling myself that I can’t write every day, it’s just not how I work, I’m trying to write 1,000 words every day. I’m just not finding the time I need to sit down and focus for hours at a stretch, so I’m going for short bursts instead.
Part of me is like, who am I and what have I done with Lev Grossman? But you know, whatever works. Like that guy in Bull Durham who wore women’s underwear. I forget where I was going with this.
But I want to say first that this was hard. Like, harder even than I expected. Parry Gripp was the Official Judge, but we conferred a fair amount, and basically the conferring consisted of us saying, isn’t this one awesome? And this one? And what about that one? I spent a lot of last week just letting the playlist autorepeat on YouTube, running through it over and over again. The individual interpretations are so different that I forgot I was listening to the same song.
In the end we chose Fiction. Check out their video if you haven’t, it’s the total package: passion, musicianship, lush harmonies, and a beautiful video with split-screen and what appears to be a guitar-cam. It’s an incredibly gorgeous and unique take on the song. Nobody else could have done it. I love it more than I can even describe.
And then there was so much other good stuff, we had to pick some honorable mentions too. We couldn’t not. They are these:
We’re going to send you guys signed copies of both the Magicians books, plus a vinyl single of Parry’s excellent song “The Girl at the Video Game Store,” which IMHO is one of the best nerd-pop songs ever recorded, and a “Baby Monkey” t-shirt. I apologize for the slight randomness of this package — I didn’t realize that we were going to give out honorable mentions, but then … too much awesomeness. Please accept them as tokens of my love and gratitude and admiration.
[P.s. if you’re one of the above, please e-mail me so I can hook you up: lev dot grossman at g mail dot com.]
And please don’t think that if your video isn’t up here that we didn’t watch it, and re-watch it, and put it on repeat and rock out to it. Chances are we did. It’s in the crude nature of these contests that we don’t get to show you that, but it’s true nevertheless. I am so grateful to everyone who entered.
This whole thing made my year.