Friday, May 2nd, 2014

The Post About the Syfy Deal

And when I say the Syfy deal I mean this.

Llywod, heart of the thriving Welsh film industry

This is going to be a pretty short post, because I can’t say much about it. The important things to know are four in number.

1. This is a whole different deal from the Fox deal. The producer is the same, quality Vhealthportal.com drugstore, but everything else is different, including the writers, Sera Gamble and John McNamara. We started from scratch.

2. I’m involved in an advisory capacity. I’m not writing, but I see all the drafts.

3. I’m very, very psyched about it. We’ve been working on this since last August, and it’s just gotten better and better.

4. Most important: this is as yet a development deal, which because I’m now a Hollywood Insider I know means that Syfy is working with us on the script and generally figuring out what the show should look like, but they haven’t committed to making it yet. In fact I wasn’t going to say anything about it at all until it was greenlit, but since it’s out there I thought I should address it.

And now I have. I’ll answer questions in the comments, if I can.

Meanwhile keep sending in those videos for the trailer. They’re coming in, and they’re great, but I haven’t been deluged yet. I want to be deluged.

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.


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

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 zithromax generic brand 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.

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Our Revels Now

On Monday I turned in The Magician’s Land, well and truly and for good. After they copy-edit your book you get one last shot at it: they print out the typeset pages, and you can mark them up in red pencil. It’s like your last vacation with somebody you really like but who you know is about to break up with you.

This is just a painting by my favorite artist, Caspar David Friedrich. I used to look it a lot when I felt like I was losing my way with my writing

I had two weeks of that, and by the end those pages were reduced to a tattered bundle of raggy, crumpled paper covered in red. But I made my last marks and handed them over, almost 10 years after I started the original Word doc in which I wrote The Magicians. I still have the file — it’s called  “The demon in the mirror was smo.”  (It’s supposed to go on: “-king a cigarette” but for some zithromax buy online india reason the Finder cuts it off; the name refers to a scene that ended up going nowhere.) It shows a creation date of June 19, 2004.

It’s a pretty emotional moment for me. Like most big moments in life it had no soundtrack. There wasn’t much drama. I handed a plastic envelope with the pages in it to my editor’s assistant, in the lobby of the Penguin building, then hit the subway because I was late for an event. But in my head it was a big moment.

And that’s my news. Oh, and I have an event Monday night in Manhattan. I’ll be reading something autobiographical and embarrassing. So there’s that.

And if you’re currently enrolled in a creative writing graduate program, think about submitting your work to this. I’m judging this year.

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

The Accidental Poetry of the Copy Editor’s Style Sheet

On the schedule it looks like nothing. You send the publisher the book; a copy-editor fixes grammar and typos and whatnot and sends it back; you have a week to look over the changes and OK them or not; the end.


But in practice when you’re dealing with a novel-in-progress, no contact is ever minor. Any time you can make changes to the book means you’re going to end up rereading the whole thing, rethinking it, staying up late agonizing over a line, the whole agony-of-creation business. That’s been my last week.

Fortunately it’s now over. The text I handed in yesterday morning is the text that will be bound in Advance Readers Copies, when they get printed. It’s not final, but a lot of reviewers work off those advance copies, so it has to be pretty good.

The best part about this phase is that once your book has been copy-edited, they send you the “style sheet.” I’ve never known exactly what a style sheet is for, but it seems to be a list of all the slightly eccentric buy zithromax next day delivery non-standard words you use in your book, in alphabetical order. Just that. It’s sort of a linguistic fingerprint—it reads like somebody took your book and reduced it in a sauté pan to just its sticky essence.

This for instance is what’s under “d” in the Magician’s Land style sheet:

Darkling Woods
Darras House
Deeper Magic
de trop
Dockery House
Dodgson, Charles (Lewis Carroll)
DoubleTree (hotel chain)
Drowned Garden, the

Or here’s an excerpt from “c”:

Crusader tank
Cunard–White Star Line

I think I cut “cosm” from the finished book—it was de trop even for me—but still, it’s a weirdly evocative list. As a last example, here’s the oddly poignant entry under “j,” in its entirety:

Jefferies tube
Jersey Turnpike

Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

I’ll see you at the 92nd St Y on March 2 for my talk with Lauren Oliver. Or at this excellent panel at the New York Public Library on March 17. Or at a couple of other things I haven’t announced yet.

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Up for Air, Briefly

The Magician’s Land is currently at Viking for copy-editing, which means I get a breather. It’s not done, but it’s very done-ish. Done-esque. Meaning that my editor has ruled the current draft final enough that it won’t need any more major surgery, and has given it to a clever person who knows about dangling participles.

portrait of the artist as a submarine

That person will go through and fix the grammar and spelling and catch the bits where I say “all six of them” when there are actually seven characters in the room. (Hopefully. To this day there’s still one of those in The Magicians. A No-Prize to whoever spots it.) The process is always a little painful, because I like to mix colloquial constructions in with the shmancy literary ones, and they get flagged as incorrect, and then we have a big fight about it.

Also I repeat words slightly more often than most writers, because I think the clunkiness of it is funny, and I hate the artificiality of  when buy zithromax suspension online you’re writing a paragraph about horses and you keep having to come up with ever-more-elaborate synonyms for “horse” (“steed,” “mount,” “equine beast,” etc.) to avoid repetitions. Just say horse again already! But no. Against the rules.

This is why my manuscripts come back with a lot of “repetition intentional?” in the margins.

For now it’s a relief to spend some time not-writing, or rather just writing journalism. I love writing fiction, it’s the greatest kind of work I know, but even I get tired of constantly watching the clock, figuring out when I’ll next have a sliver of free time (meaning time with no children, and no work, when I am reasonably well-rested and also not drunk) in which to move the chains on my book. My family is definitely tired of it. Enough living a double life. I’m sticking with a single one for a while.

At least till the copy edits come back.

p.s. fun event with Lauren Oliver in March

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Post Haste

This is a hasty post. The last couple of months have been really really intense with work. As is the present month. Also this one coming up is going to be pretty hardcore too.

A lot of the work has been for Time: there’s been a lot of book reviewing, and some serious interviewing, and I wrote some quickie posts about things like the Nobel Prize and the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’s death. I also edited a special section (in the process reminding myself  why I must never be placed in a management position, ever).

Plus I co-wrote two cover stories. And that’s just the stuff that’s come out already. There’s more stacked up waiting to be published. It’s a little nuts.

Though really the thing I’ve written this fall that I’m most proud of is my pep talk for NaNoWriMo, which sums up a lot of my thinking about why novels are hard to write, and why you should write them anyway.

There’s another reason this post is late and hasty, buy mens health capsules, which is that I’ve been waiting to write it because there’s a couple of things I want to announce, and I keep zithromax powder online  thinking I’ll get the green light … but I haven’t got it yet. So I’m posting now, and I’ll post again when I can share. At least I can show you the cover of The Magician’s Land, if you haven’t seen it already:


What do you think? I have limited control over what goes on the covers of my books, but I can honestly say that personally I adore this image. I just get lost in it.

Like the other Magicians covers it’s a work of constructed photography by Didier Massard. We talked about using it for the cover of The Magician King, but I’m glad we saved it. It circles back to the cover of The Magicians—those trees have a strong family resemblance—but at the same time it pulls back the frame, like we’re catching the last chopper out of Fillory, as some kind of apocalyptic Fimbulwinter sets in…

On sale August 5, 2014. Assuming I get it done. I need to turn in a draft for copy-editing on December 18. See you then.


Saturday, October 5th, 2013


So much of what I’m working on at the moment is either semi- or fully secret that I just don’t have much to talk to you about right now. Some of it has to do with The Magician’s Land, some of it’s Magicians-related, some of it’s all-new. This is has been a time-biding year, but I’m hopeful that next year I’ll have some interesting announcements.

But meanwhile it’s awkward. The silences. There’s a new coldness between us. I know you feel it too.

This -- this is the coldness between us. Brrrr.

At least I can brief you on a few upcoming events. New York Comic-Con is next weekend, which I haven’t been to for a few years, maybe partly because the first time I went was in 2009, a couple of months before The Magicians came out, and not only did nobody have any idea who I was, my signing was right next to Lou Ferrigno’s. Most of the people in my line were just there so they could try to cut into his line.

But I’m going back this year. On Friday at 1:30 I’ll be talking with B.J. Novak about his new book One More Thing, and on Saturday I’ll be on a panel called Ode to Nerds, which I don’t really know what that means, but given the personnel I’m pretty sure it’ll be interesting.

On October 29 I’ll be competing in a charity spelling bee to benefit the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. I actually used to be a pretty good speller, and in fact the first year they held this particular event, which I think was maybe 2004, I won it. Then the next couple of years I bombed out almost instantly. Then I became too ashamed to even show up.

But now I’m making my triumphant return. You can be pretty sure I will once again bomb out instantly.

Lastly, on November 9 I’ll be in Charleston for Yallfest, which has a really amazing list of authors. If you’re anywhere near Charleston’s gravity well you should consider coming out.

(Yes, it’s a young adult books festival. Am I a young adult author? Hell if I know. Plenty of young adults read me, so QED?)


Monday, September 9th, 2013

Stepping Away from the Vehicle

Well, here we are at a funny in-between moment.

I finished a complete draft of The Magician’s Land.  Then I revised it till my eyes bled and I lost all understanding of what it was I was trying to write about in the first place. At that point it seemed like time to turn the draft in to my editor. It was also  a good moment because it was a week after my contract said it was due.

I don't know if anyone can tell that this is a ship being launched. It's a metaphor

But you don’t want to hit these deadlines right on the nose. Creates the wrong impression. I’m not a trained monkey here. I am an artist monkey!

Now all I have to do is go as long as I can without looking at the manuscript. This is the stage of novel-writing that Zadie Smith calls “step away from the vehicle”:

When you finish generic of azithromycin your novel, if money is not a desperate priority, if you do not need to sell it at once or be published that very second — put it in a drawer. For as long as you can manage. A year or more is ideal — but even three months will do. Step away from the vehicle. The secret to editing your work is simple: you need to become its reader instead of its writer.

So here I go. I will fill up the upcoming weeks, months maybe, with going to work and seeing my family and working on other projects, all the while vigorously trying to forget whatever it was I spent the last two years writing. When next I see The Magician’s Land, we shall meet as strangers.

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

This Weekend in Atlanta

I’ll be in Atlanta this weekend!

But I guess I blew the surprise with the subject line.

I’m not doing much traveling this year, but the prospect of going to a con and a festival in one weekend in one city was too good to pass up. So starting Friday I’ll be vibrating between Dragoncon and the Decatur Books Festival at speeds barely visible to the human eye.


(Absurdly, Worldcon and PAX Prime are also this weekend. People, we have to start spreading this stuff out.)

My schedule looks something like this:

Friday, 4:00 pm: DragonCon panel where I talk about the gory details of my 2005 interview with J.K. Rowling. (Location: International North – Hyatt)

Friday, 5:30 pm: Dragoncon reading. I’ll bring a snippet from The Magician’s Land. (Location: University – Hyatt)

Saturday, 11:30 am: Dragoncon signing. This one kind of explains itself. (Location: International Hall South – Marriott)

Saturday, 3:00 pm: A Decatur event called “My Literary Brother.” This is going to be a conversation between me and my literary (twin) brother Austin. Such conversations rarely happen, at least in public, because Austin and I are rarely in the same place at the same time. I never know what’s going to get said, but it’s buy generic zithromax always interesting. (Location: Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary Stage)

Sunday, 12:00 pm: A Decatur panel with the ominous title “Do Book Reviews Matter?” I’m pretty sure we’re going to settle this one once and for all. (Location: Old Courthouse Stage).

Sunday, 4:00 pm: a Dragoncon panel called “The Logic of Magic.” Holy cripes, this panel has on it, in addition to me, Larry Niven. I consider Niven to be one of the all-time greats, and a major inspiration to me personally (also, I completely stole the idea of a demon-trapping tattoo from him). Come watch as my fanboy squealing shames us all. (Location: Regency VI – VII – Hyatt)

Sunday, 5:30 pm: a Dragoncon panel called “Why Men Should Friggin’ Love Fantasy Literature.” I have no idea why men should friggin’ love fantasy literature, but I’ll think about it more before then. More to the point, this panel also includes Peter Beagle (The Last Unicorn) and Richard Pini (who co-created Elfquest). So something interesting will get said. I friggin’ guarantee it. If nothing else I will be pretty punchy at this point. (Location: Embassy C – Hyatt)

I got tired just writing all that. Now I have to go to bed.