LevGrossman

Archive for April, 2014


Friday, April 25th, 2014

Would You Like to Be in a Trailer for The Magician’s Land With a Bunch of Famous Writers?

I’m serious. This is not a theoretical question.

I’ve never done a book trailer before. A theme song, yes, but never a proper trailer. And I wasn’t going to do one this time either, except that I had an idea that I liked too much to leave it alone. But I need your help with it.

brrrrrrrr

Here’s the idea: I’m going to put together a video of the first few paragraphs of The Magician’s Land being read aloud. But I’m not going to read them. You’re going to read them.

It works like this. I’ve split the reading up into individual sentences. They’re at the bottom of this blog post. Each sentence needs a reader. If you’re up for it, pick a sentence and make a video of yourself reading it aloud and then send the video to me at themagiciansland@gmail.com. (I recommend using wetransfer.com for files over 25 MB). When we’ve got all the sentences covered, an actual video editor will stitch the videos together and make it all look pretty. The result: a crowdsourced book trailer.

Boom. Pretty simple, really. But there’s also a twist. And a catch.

The twist is that I’ve asked some of my writer-friends to read sentences too. There’s going to be some cameos. I’ll announce names in a couple of weeks, but I think it’s fair to say that these are writers whom you know and love. I certainly know and love them. They’re definitely the sort of people one wants to be in a trailer with.

The catch is that I’ve got a limited number of sentences to go round. I don’t know how many people are going to want to do this, but we’ll probably end up having to make some choices about which videos to use. So think about fun/creative ways to do your reading. You could read in a tree. Or in costume. Or underwater. You could act out your sentence, or sing it, or make an animated short out of it. Not that any of this is mandatory, but fair warning: if we get a lot of submissions we’ll probably use the funnest ones first.

If you’d like to be part of this, scroll down for a list of the sentences to choose from. We’re going to try to wrap up production by June 1, so send your videos in before then.

That e-mail address again: themagiciansland@gmail.com.

And here are the sentences that need reading. The ones in brackets have already been claimed for a Celebrity Writer Cameo, so just choose from the non-bracketed ones:

[1. The letter had said to meet in a bookstore.]

2. It wasn’t much of a night for it: early March, drizzling and cold but not quite cold enough for snow.

3. It wasn’t much of a bookstore either.

4. Quentin spent fifteen minutes watching it from a bus shelter at the edge of the empty parking lot, rain drumming on the plastic roof and making the asphalt shine in the streetlights.

[5. Not one of your charming, quirky bookstores, with a ginger cat on the windowsill and an eccentric, bewhiskered proprietor behind the counter.]

6. This was just another strip-mall outpost of a struggling chain, squeezed in between a nail salon and a party City, twenty minutes outside Hackensack on the New Jersey turnpike.

7. The cashier didn’t look up from his phone when the door jingled.

[8. Inside you could still hear the noise of cars on the wet road, like long strips of paper tearing, one after another.]

[9. The only unexpected touch was a wire bird-cage in one corner, but where you would have expected a parrot or a cockatoo inside there was a fat blue- black bird instead.]

10. That’s how un-charming this store was: it had a crow in a cage.

[11. Quentin didn’t care.]

[12. It was a bookstore, and he felt at home in book-stores, and he hadn’t had that feeling much lately.]

13. He pushed his way back through the racks of greeting cards and cat calendars, back to where the actual books were, his glasses steaming up and his coat dripping on the thin carpet.

[14. It didn’t matter where you were, if you were in a room full of books you were at least halfway home.]

15. The store should have been empty, coming up on nine o’clock on a cold rainy Thursday night, but instead it was half full of people.

[16. They browsed the shelves silently, each one on his or her own, slowly wandering the aisles like sleepwalkers.]

[17. A jewel-faced girl with a pixie cut was reading Dante in Italian.]

[18. A tall boy with large curious eyes who couldn’t have been older than sixteen was absorbed in a tom Stoppard play.]

[19. A middle-aged black man with elfin cheekbones stood staring at the biographies through thick, iridescent glasses.]

[20. You would almost have thought they’d come there to buy books.]

[21. But Quentin knew better.]

p.s. By the way this whole idea was inspired by an amazing project called Star Wars Uncut which is really worth checking out, and might be useful if you’re looking for inspiration

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Friday, April 18th, 2014

The Book Is the Arrow

Remember when I said the book was done and locked? A couple of weeks ago Viking surprised me with a second set of page proofs to review, to make sure the changes I made to the first proofs went through OK.

So I marked those proofs up too and sent them back. I forgot that finishing a book has a bit of a Zeno’s paradox feeling about it: the book is the arrow that can never reach its target.

But I think now it really is done. Or at least it’s asymptotically approaching done-ness.

It’s even getting reviewed, though so far only in what we call “the trades,” meaning book-industry magazines like Publishers Weekly that cover books a couple of months before they come out. The feeling is unnerving—The Magician’s Land still seems like an intimate part of me that I can’t believe people are actually looking at. Reviews so far have been really great, which makes me happy. But still.

Meanwhile it’s time to get the promotional apparatus up and shambling. (For some reason I picture it looking something like the giant steampunk spider in Wild Wild West.) A lot of people kind of lament the promotional part of being a novelist, but I don’t really mind it. I’ve got a product to sell, I’m not going to pretend it’s special just because it happens to be a novel.

I’m not very good at selling it. But I don’t mind trying. Most of the time I actually enjoy it.

A giant spider that has Kenneth Branagh inside it

So my summer’s filling up with events, most of which haven’t been announced yet, and I’m probably not supposed to announce them here, so I won’t. But I’ll be popping up all over the place and then touring properly in August. For now I’ll just mention something that’s happening at Rutgers on May 1 that involves Catherynne Valente, so you know it’s going to be quality.

And on May 31 I’ll do a public conversation with Deborah Harkness in New York as part of BookCon. Again: quality.

And if you’re anywhere near Brooklyn, scrawl August 5th on your calendar. That’s the official pub date of The Magician’s Land, and I’m planning an event that night that should be be a bit special.