the magician king

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Slouching Toward Bethlehem

I don’t know whether I’ve ever produced more words, just by volume, than I’ve done in the past two weeks. Essays, interviews, journalism, radio, etc. etc. I am a processor of words.

It’s all part of the process of “launching” a “book,” which is a weirdly abstract though not unenjoyable activity. Sometimes you wish you could just smash a bottle of champagne over it and say, there, done, launched. I have a doc in my Google docs, prepared for me by Viking, that lists all the Magician King-related things I’m doing over the next month. It’s 22 pages long.

I also have another doc listing the things I’m doing that I haven’t told them about.

[The above image — it’s a Brakebills South crest — is one of a whole slew of Magicians-related designs done by an absolutely brilliant DC-based artist named Amy Billingham. It’s all going into the CafePress store…]

It’s work. I’ve become that guy who brings his MacBook Air on the subway to grab some extra writing time on the way to and from the office. But it’s the kind of work you want. It’s the kind of work I fantasized generic zithromax cost about having to do when I was 20, Snoopy-style — “here’s the world-famous author … ” This while lying on the roof of my doghouse.

What else? I spent last weekend at Comic-Con. I don’t exactly enjoy Comic-Con as such. When I’m there I’m there to work, and while I’m there, I’m always working. But I do get to see people I don’t see anywhere else. Random House gave a party on Thursday night, and if you stood at the bar — and I did — you could take in, without turning your head, George R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, David Anthony Durham, Christopher Paolini, Scott Westerfeld and Charles Yu. Among others.

And Christopher Paolini was riding a mechanical bull.

Reviews and other mentions of The Magician King have been popping up online. So far the response has been … pretty great. But I’m spazzy about this stuff, and I’m mostly not reading them. I killed the Google Alert I used to have on myself two years ago. I don’t need any more information about myself. I get more than enough of that just by being me.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Finished Books Arrive; An Author’s Prayer

The first finished copy of The Magician King arrived today.

(It is impossible for me to experience this without thinking of the last scene in Back to the Future, where Marty McFly’s dad gets his finished copies of A Match Made in Space.)

The book looks like this:

It’s hard for me to believe it, but it’s about to start making its way out into the world in that weird, furtive way that books do. Bookstores will accidentally sell it early, and copies will show up on eBay, and leak out from the warehouse and such. Then it’s officially on sale August 9.

(And of course some people have been reading ARCs and galleys. If you’ve done this, remember the galley is not a finished draft. I know I say that too often. But that draft really is pretty rough compared to the real thing. The real thing is smooth, man. Or smoother anyway.)

And then feedback will start making its way back to me. Trade reviews, Amazon reviews, GoodReads ratings, sales data, over-the-transom e-mails. It’s already starting.


Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

An Interview with the Cartographer: The Making of the Magician King Map

Roland Chambers is the author of two excellent books that are excellent in very different ways: one is a children’s book called The Rooftop Rocket Party, and the other is a biography of Arthur Ransome called The Last Englishman.

He is also a dear friend of mine. He’s also the fellow who made the gorgeous, full-color maps for The Magicians and The Magician King. (You can see them here and here.) Here’s a close-up of one of the details he did for the Magician King map:

So beautiful. How does he work? He does one make a map for a fantasy novel? Let’s find out. Over Gmail chat!

me: is now good?

Roland: yes fine

me: OK, we’re doing this. question one: how’d you learn to be an illustrator? art classes? self-taught? pact w/ the devil?

Roland: I doodled a lot at school, that was about it. I wish I’d gone to art school though. Sometimes.

me: Did you have particular illustrators whose stuff you liked, and wanted to emulate?

Roland: Yeah. The first illustrations I really liked were the ones in the D&D Monster Manual and the one with the gods and demi-gods. They were amazingly cool to me at the age of 10 or 11, though it meant all my figures had ridiculously narrow waists and usually wore helmets, which meant I was a late starter on faces. Next up was Gerald Scarf, because he was insanely good at faces, well at everything really. He could turn anything into anything else – Enoch Powell for example (a racist British politician) as a fluttering Union Jack. Amazing. But I could go quite a long time reeling off people I admire.

me: I had some very un-sacred feelings about some of those demi-goddesses.

Monday, June 13th, 2011

And One More Thing

I’m going to run a little contest, just to make it interesting. Any art that gets submitted in the next three weeks, I will post on a gallery on Facebook. I will then encourage people to like it. The creators of the three most-liked pieces will get a signed copy of The Magician King.

So there! Now you have no excuse.

Friday, June 10th, 2011

The Posting of the Tour Schedule

I have now managed to input most of the dates for the Magician King tour into the Events part of this site. If you want to know if I’m coming to your city, and when, look here.

And yes. I am bad at HTML.

There are still a few events the details of which are still floating around and need to be tied down, but a list of the cities I’m coming to (so far) looks like this:

Brooklyn, NY

New York, NY

San Diego, CA (x2)

Brookline, MA

St. Louis, MO

Reno, NV

Pasadena, CA

Menlo Park, CA

Portland, OR

Seattle, WA

Atlanta, GA

Chapel Hill, NC

Austin, TX

If you live in any of those cities, come and listen and hang out. Also I need a name for the tour. The last one was called Wand Ambition. So…top that.

And if you’re in New York, my Q&A with Neil Gaiman at the 92nd St. Y is coming up on June 21. Do come to that if you’re in the city.

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The King Is Dead

Long live the king. Just a quick note to say that at 9:30 this morning, my editor dropped by my house on her bicycle, and I handed her this:

It’s the last chapter of The Magician King. No more drafts, no more revisions. It’s done.

I was supposed to have it to her by noon yesterday, but the night before I decided I wanted to read the whole book straight through, front to back, one more time. I wanted to make triple-sure the book read exactly how it should read, and said exactly what I wanted it to say.

That meant staying up all night and then spending the next day at Viking in a windowless conference room handing pages off to the production editor as I finished them.

Even at this late date there were changes. There are certain words I use way too much: just, even, actually, seemed, looked. Also if you’re in the basement of a house, and it’s summer, the furnace buy azithromycin 1g single dose probably isn’t running. And I noticed that the copy editor had changed a C.S. Lewis allusion to read “Farther up and farther in.”

I wanted to do it all in one day, but I had to relieve the nanny, so I kept the last chapter till this morning.

It’s an emotional thing for me. A lot has happened buy antibiotics during the two years I spent writing this book. Major things. I got married (to Sophie) and had a baby (Halcyon). We bought a house in Brooklyn, and we renovated it. (Still doing that actually.)

And I wrote a book. I’m not going to say it’s a better book than The Magicians, but I poured a hell of a lot into it. I used every trick I used in the last book, and I made up a whole set of new ones.

And now it’s done. Now on to more important things. Lily turns 7 today, and I’ve got a child to spoil.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

The Sign of the Seven-Pointed Star

I remember when I used to write about things other than My Book and How It’s Coming Out. Thank God that dark time is past! Now look at this:

This is a design for a run of temporary cheap generic zithromax tattoos that will be released when The Magician King comes out. Blue seven-pointed stars. They turn out to be important. If you see someone wearing one, think twice before messing with them.

Friday, May 6th, 2011

A New Author Photo; Or, My Hideous True Form, Revisited

The other day Viking asked me if I wanted to use my same author photo from The Magicians.

Now, I like that photo. It looks like this:

I had a professional photographer take it, because, hey, professional photographer, right? If I told you how much it cost you would reach through your computer screen and punch me in the face. But it was the cheapest professional option I could find.

It’s actually an outtake from the regular posed photo session — this is me laughing from the incredible pain of undergoing a posed photo session. I think my teeth got a little over-brightened in Photoshop — I look kind of like Ross in that episode of Friends where he has his teeth whitened. But I like it.

[I also like the photo on the bio page of this site (it’s from my “stubble” phase!). I didn’t use it on the jacket because I can’t afford the rights to it.]

But some media outlets and foreign publishers balked at that photo. They wanted color photos, or they zithromax 1000 mg online wanted something more conventional, where I was actually “looking” at the “camera.” My German publishers, for example, went a whole nother way. That’s a shot from the real posed photo session.

So when Viking asked me if I wanted to try something different for The Magician King, I said, what do you think of this:

This is me in Rome last spring, for a last hurrah before this happened. It’s just a snapshot. I’m standing on a bridge over the Tiber. The light is nice because it’s like 6:00 in the morning, and Sophie and I were both awake from jet lag. Plus it’s Rome, where the light is always nice.

Obviously it’s not a professional photograph. My face is in shadow, and the trees are kind of distracting, and there’s probably other things wrong with it that my amateur eye isn’t detecting. But the Vikings liked it. So I think we’re using it.

I’m making eye contact, at any rate. And it’s in color. And you can’t see my teeth.

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Epitaph for an Epigraph

See what I did there?

A moment of silence, please, for my epigraph for The Magician King. It has suffered the same fate that has brought low many buy klonopin a mighty hero: it has been Dinged by Legal. I knew that the book it came from (it was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) wasn’t in the public domain, but I figgered epigraphs were protected by Fair Use … nah. Apparently they’re a special case.

Now I’m in search of another one, but it’s not coming to me. I don’t absolutely need one. (I definitely don’t need two. I think more than one epigraph for a book is kind of de trop.) But The Magicians had one, and it would be nice to keep things parallel.

My brother suggested an excellent quote from Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare lifted it from Ovid): “Terras Astraea reliquit.” Which means: The goddess of justice has left the earth.

Good, right? My Latin is terrible (I learned it in three months to pass the requirement in grad school, then immediately forgot it), but I still like it. And it fits. Because she has.

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

The Masque of the Red Pencil

On Monday I turned in what in the publishing world are called “first pass pages” of The Magician King. That’s when they take your semi-final draft, copy edit it, lay it out like it’s a book — with proper typography and headings and colophon and everything — export it as a PDF, print it out, and give it back to you for a few days. Then you — meaning me — take a red pencil and scribble on it.

This is a “special time” in the life of a book. You’re seeing it fresh, with new eyes, the way readers are going to see it. You see things you never saw before. Sometimes they are terrible, terrible things. Pacing is one thing in a Word doc, but it feels a lot different when you’re actually looking at words on a typeset page.

When that happens the red pencil strikes. I worked on a travel guide for a few months after college. Not an edifying experience, especially, but it made me fluent in proofreader’s marks — triple-underline to capitalize a letter, etc. etc. Handy.

Oftentimes you realize things are missing, or off somehow. There’s whole order azithromycin canada pages in there that are crossed out and rewritten on the verso. (Hey, what if that horse were a talking horse? What would it say?) I’ve been reading Kate Atkinson and Jennifer Egan. They’re a good influence on me. There’s a contractual limit on what percentage of the book you can change in first pass pages. I’m pretty sure I hit it.

(By the way, if any of you out there are — unlike me — lucky enough to have a galley of The Magician King, you should know that it’s based on the copy-edited manuscript, not the corrected first pass pages. That’s a really rough draft. You’re not getting the full Sensurround experience. You’re watching in about 1.5D. There are serious problems in there that are fixed in the finished book. Read away, but please don’t review the book based on the galley. If you do I will find you and go all Candyman on you.)

I reread/rewrote the book three times in two weeks. It’s a relief to take a break now, and by taking a break I mean showing up for my day job.

After that: second pass pages!