I’m mostly lying low this fall working on a new book, which should be announced very soon. But I’m still doing an event here and there.
My first novel Warp, which originally came out in 1997, is being republished this month, so I’ll be doing a few appearances connected to that:
- September 20: Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY, with Dana Schwartz.
- September 21: Barnes & Noble in New York City.
- October 4: Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, MA.
Then on Friday, September 23, I’ll be taking part in a roundtable on series and serial art at Columbia with A.O. Scott (film critic for the New York Times) and Julie Snyder (who created Serial).
On October 6 I’ll turn up at New York Comic-Con as part of a panel on adapting books for the screen, which will also have Blake Crouch and Patrick Ness on it. There’s also a Magicians panel for the TV show, but that’s on Saturday, and I’ll miss it because…
…on October 8 I’ll be running a workshop in Aspen, CO as part of Aspen Words.
On October 11 I’ll be at the launch of The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn.
And then starting October 29 I’ll be the Utopiales international science fiction festival in Nantes, France. Allons-y!
They’re showing the first episode of The Magicians tonight — it’s at 10pm on Syfy — and I thought I should post something ahead of time to kind of ease you through the transition. Because some things in the show are Not The Same.
For example: the characters are a few years older than in the books – they’re entering graduate school rather than college. Also in the books we don’t learn about Julia’s life and her world until the second book, but in the show she’s a major character from the start. And Janet’s name is Margo. Penny is way more badass than Penny in the books. Also there’s an extra Physical Kid whose name is Kady.
Some things from the books don’t happen, some things happen differently, and other things happen that are nowhere in the books. When you see this stuff you may find asking, why, great triple-horned god, why?
The answer to all of this is basically, because of TV. It’s a different medium, and you tell stories differently there. Not everything translates directly.
That may sound a little glib. And believe me, there were a few changes that I got hung up on along the way (I didn’t write a word of the show, but I saw and weighed in on each script, and on rough cuts of the episodes). But you know what? After a while I got over it. The people who made it are mega-fans of the books, and whatever changes they made, they did it to get as much as they could of the feel and spirit of the books on screen. They are in very, very good faith.
I’m a huge fan of the show. I get psyched every time they send me a new episode to watch. It’s dark, it’s smart, it’s weird, and it’s very funny. It’s cool to see the magic on screen. The actors are acting their hearts out.
So give it a shot. There’s really nothing else like it on TV. I’ll be watching too.
p.s. Many people have asked if the episode tonight will be online somewhere. As far as I can tell it will not, so if you don’t have cable you’re out of luck. Come to think of it I don’t have cable. Fortunately I have a copy of the show, so I’ll watch along anyway.
As I write this it’s Sunday night. I’m coming off a weekend of chasing my children around the house, and the park, and also of trying to figure out where all the ants in the house are coming from. Also I wrote about six words of my new book.
This coming week gets even more exciting: I’m heading out on the second leg of the Magician’s Land paperback tour. (Note to self: stop giving books titles that start with ‘the,’ as it makes for awkward grammar.)
— On Tuesday, June 16, I’ll be in Portland at the incomparable Powell’s City of Books on Burnside
— On Wednesday, June 17, I’ll be in Seattle at the Elliot Bay Book Co.
— On Thursday, June 18, I’ll be at the Booksmith in San Francisco.
These are (probably) the last Magicians events I’ll ever do, as in future I’ll be promoting whatever monstrosity it is I write next, so I’d love it if you could come. Next week: Burlington, Washington DC, and then Brooklyn.
I should have done a post a while ago, obviously, when the TV show got greenlit. But I didn’t. I was distracted, by among other things the TV show being greenlit. If you post questions in the comments below I’ll try to answer them, but be warned: I will mostly fail, either because I don’t know the answers, or I can’t say.
More news: the paperback of Magician’s Land is out in June, and I’ll be going on tour. Exact details will be posted shortly, but I’ll be coming to Seattle (June 17), Portland (June 16), DC (June 24), San Francisco (June 18), New Haven (June 11), Boston (June 10) and Burlington, VT (June 23). As well as plain old New York (June 9 in Manhattan, June 25 in Brooklyn). (Dates are tentative-ish, but pretty firm.) Also I’ll be in San Diego for Comic-Con in July.
I want to call out the Cambridge event in particular, because it’ll be a conversation with Gregory Maguire, who wrote Wicked, and I’m unspeakably excited about it. It’s at the Brattle Theater, by way of Harvard Bookstore. It’s also a big deal to me because I grew up around there. I hope you’ll come if you can.
If I only ever seem to post about upcoming events anymore, that’s because these days I’m pretty much only posting about upcoming events.
I’m in a weird primordial state right now where I’m super-focused on the early stages of a couple of new projects, and each one is like a tiny planet, where its surface is still molten and malleable, but it’s cooling, slowly, toward the point where it might one day support primitive life-forms.
I feel jealous of my time and energy and only want to focus it on these baby planets. Nevertheless a few interesting things are afoot.
This Wednesday I’m talking to Helen Macdonald about her book H Is for Hawk at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. It would be great if you could come. But even if you can’t: find and buy this book, it’s astonishing.
Then next Tuesday, April 14, I’ll be at a literary salon held by an organization called Pen Parentis. More importantly, Kelly Link and Marly Youmans will be there. Almost as importantly, there will be wine.
Very quick. I wouldn’t even be posting this except that a minor point came up that requires clarification. Totally technical thing.
The Magician’s Land is eligible for a Hugo this year, and obviously I’d be over the moon, way over, if it made the final ballot. I’ve never been on one. But it’s been pointed out to me by a couple of people that technically it might also be possible to nominate the Magicians trilogy as a whole, instead of just the book by itself. (This rule came up last year when the Wheel of Time series was ruled eligible in its entirety.)
But—having talked to a couple of people who understand the process way better than I do (which is basically not at all)—for various reasons I think it’s better not to take the whole-trilogy approach. So just in case you’re a Hugo voter and you think you might want to vote for the books, I’m suggesting that people just vote for The Magician’s Land on its own.
Though it’s probably all academic in a year stuffed full of excellent work by the likes of Jeff Vandermeer, Ann Leckie, John Scalzi, Jo Walton, William Gibson and many, many others — there’s a good list of Hugo-eligible books here. The competition’s beyond stiff. I’ve gotta stop publishing in the same year as these people.
I’m not going to publish anything at all this year, except for journalism (and blog posts). It’s a writing year for me, not a publishing year. But I do have a few public appearances coming up. On Wednesday, February 18, I’ll be doing an extremely fun event called Person Place Thing in Brooklyn, where I’ll be talking and telling stories, and there’ll be music by Mamie Minch. Then on March 9 I’ll be reading as part of the 6th anniversary of the Franklin Park Reading Series, which is a great series. Its name notwithstanding, it happens in a bar, not a park.
It was a good year.
I’m not just saying that. I wouldn’t say that about every year. 2011 for example — 2011 was no oil painting. But in 2014 a lot of good things happened to me.
The Magician’s Land came out. We made a video about it, with some of my writer-heroes in it:
And the book did well;. It got some good reviews. It went to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. That is an incredible gift for a writer. It makes you unbelievably happy, and it means you sold a lot of books, two things that are great enough all on their own, but it also becomes this precious professional asset that you can lean on forever. From now on all your books will have that fact on them. Every time someone types up your bio, that it goes in there too.
It’s a gift, and you guys gave it to me. I’ll never, ever stop being grateful for that.
I wrote a lot of journalism this year too. I wrote some cover stories for Time. This was also the year that I got serious about writing (and actually publishing) personal essays. I wrote about being a father and a writer and about my disastrous first years as a writer and about how I found my voice as a fantasy author.
And as if all that were not already more than enough, something else totally unexpected and excellent happened, which was that Syfy ordered a pilot of episode of a Magicians TV series.
What?! I know. But it’s true. They shot it in New Orleans—it “wrapped,” as we say in Hollywood, at the end of December. Sometime this spring we’ll find out whether the network wants to order a full season, but whatever happens it’s been incredibly fun and exciting. Plus they sent me a really nice Brakebills scarf for Xmas. So that’s something else I will always have.
This year has not been all good. In fact in some personal ways it’s been really strange and difficult. In June, not long before The Magician’s Land came out, my father died. It was not unexpected, but it was still shocking. One day I’ll write about that and all the feelings that came with it, but I don’t think I’m ready yet.
I don’t know much about what 2015 is going to be like. It will contain more Magicians stuff, including more about the show, and a paperback tour in June. I’m hoping to maybe see The Magician’s Land on an awards ballot somewhere. (None of the Magicians books has ever been on the ballot for any major award. Cue tiny, basically nano-scale violin in the background.)
For now I’m going to Australia, where it is summer, for the rest of the month, so my wife and I can visit her family. I’m also working hard on a new book, but I haven’t announced it yet or shown it to any publishers.
Because you know what? It is slow, slow going. It’s been ten years since I started the Magicians books, hence ten years since I tried to write something completely from scratch. I forgot how God damned hard it is.
I’m on my way back from a quick trip to New Orleans to visit the set of the Magicians show.
This goes partway to explaining why I’m so hungover and underslept. There were other contributing factors. But we can definitely identify that as the root cause.
[BTW I wrote this yesterday, on the plane, when it was actually true, but I’ve only got around to posting it now. Just go with it.]
Visiting the set was a pretty flat-out amazing experience, even though there isn’t anything especially going on there yet. They’ve taken over a vast production facility in an industrial area outside New Orleans: a warren of offices attached to some huge empty factory spaces. One of them looks like this:
They’re not actually shooting anything yet, but most of the cast of the show is there, living in hotels and rehearsing and generally being really talented and good-looking. They’re doing camera tests (that’s what’s happening in the picture) and trying out costumes and scouting locations and talking about special effects and things like that. The actor playing Quentin (who is amazing but who I think is still a secret so I can’t use his name) was practicing card tricks. The director, Mike Cahill, was stalking around figuring out technical stuff. Sera Gamble was supervising everything.
While I was there the actors did the first full read-through of the pilot script, at night, over pizza. This is the sort of thing you’re supposed to say, but I’m going to say it anyway because it’s true: they were amazing. (I performed the part of a Brakebills professor who hasn’t been cast yet. Crushed it.)
It was strange hanging out with people who are getting ready to tell these stories. I’m used to me doing that, and having that process take place inside my head. To have other people doing it, and to be outside it, on the periphery of it, is pretty surreal.
But surprisingly wonderfully so. I’m really impressed with the people who are doing it. They’re going to do some things with it that I cannot, cannot wait to see. More information about the show will leak out over the next few weeks, but it’s not supposed to leak from me, so I’m going to shut up now.
More news? There isn’t much more news. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work for Time and noodling with some new projects, as one does. On December 3 I’ll be onstage with, among others, Erin Morgenstern and Chuck Wendig at a celebration of Margaret Atwood’s 75th birthday at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Margaret Atwood will also be there. Come if you can, it’ll be a night to remember.
Also, if you’re thinking of buying a book by me as a holiday present, consider ordering it from Greenlight Bookstore. It’s my neighborhood bookstore in Brooklyn, and I like to support them, and more to the point if you buy books there I can go by and sign and personalize them.
This is an experiment. There’s a site called genius.com that hosts annotate-able excerpts from things. (My main association with this site is a shuddering awe at how much that domain must have cost, but it does have other good qualities.) One of those things is this passage from The Magicians. (Two others of them are passages from The Magician King and The Magician’s Land.)
I did a little starter annotation of it back in July, then sort of forgot about it. Then the other day I ran into a guy from Genius who reminded me that this thing is supposed to be embeddable. So I’ve embedded it below, in case it’s of interest.
But first: The Magician’s Land is finally out for Kindle in the UK.
Why did it take so long? Long boring story. Businessy things that had very little to do with me. But it’s out. There will be a paper edition early next year.
I’ll be appearing in Nashville this Sunday, October 12, at the Southern Festival of Books. On the 13th I’ll be in Santa Fe at the Jean Cocteau theater with George R.R. Martin. This is something George does for other writers — he hosts them at his theater. His pitch-dark fiction to the contrary, he is an unbelievably kind and generous person.
The following week I’ve got a few New York events. On October 20th I’ll be talking about essay-writing (which I rarely talk about) with Leslie Jamison and Heidi Julavits at McNally Jackson as part of the launch of the Believer’s new book of essays, which I’m really, really happy to be in. Then on the 23rd I’ll be having a conversation on stage with Emily St. John Mandel, who wrote the great Station Eleven. And I think I’ve got one more … but it doesn’t appear to have been announced yet, so I’ll skip it for now.
I wish I could talk about what’s going on with the TV show, because it’s pretty cool, but it’s mostly under wraps for now, except that Mike Cahill is directing the pilot. Casting decisions, shooting locations etc. anon.