So Pooka, who came off her drip feed at 100% this morning, by this evening, after almost two hours of Japanese lessons* while hurtling and over an hour Skyping** with a friend*** while recovering from hurtling, was redlining again. The problem with plugging her into the laptop during working hours instead of the mains/wall last thing, is that the iTunes store pops up and starts blandishing you.† So I, easily distracted little hussy that I am, downloaded a (cheap) ap that is supposed to make typing on your frelling device less of an occasion for practising vocal exercises.
Aaaaaaand it won’t load. It downloaded onto the laptop all right and appears in my app library. But it won’t climb into Astarte, which is what I want it for. Astarte’s main failing as the perfect bedtime companion†† is that you can’t type on her. I’m kind of fascinated by all these people who apparently churn out great novels on their iPads: not me. I can’t even type two-fingered without going qwk7\7+km££BLERG?xx#. Arrgh. But the relentless little error message in this case says ‘app will download when you are logged into iTunes on your computer’. I AM LOGGED IN ON MY COMPUTER YOU FRELLING PIECE OF CLOTHESHANGER WIRE AND CHEAP GLUE.††† I AM SITTING HERE STARING AT THE APP IN THE ‘ROBIN’S LIBRARY’ SCREEN. And the ‘help’ is useless, of course: it doesn’t even allow for the possibility of troubleshooting: all of its answers appear to be based on the indisputable fact that Apple is god and therefore perfect and its worshippers are merely sometimes rather stupid and have to have the same things to explained to them more than once in a patronising tone. ARRRRRRGH.
So in this spirit of weekend cheer and relaxation‡ I thought I’d re-answer one of those questions that comes up again and again AND AGAIN AND AGAIN because . . . sigh. Because people not in the publishing industry don’t know any better. But if I’m lucky a few of them, who will now not write me emails, will be reading the blog tonight.
. . . I am a very devoted kindle reader. I had your book, Sunshine, recommended to me by friends. Eager to read it, I search on my kindle right away. I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment when I found that it was not on the kindle, despite being a popular book. Perhaps, you would consider having it put on there, so that ereaders like myself can enjoy it.
Any of my books’ availability or lack thereof in any format has essentially nothing to do with me. Nothing.‡‡ I have no control over this and—once I’ve signed the contract with the publisher, and contracts pretty much all now include electronic rights as standard—ebooks as well as all that hard copy stuff are the publisher’s problem. Just like getting the book out in any and all other formats is. Your contract will say that the publisher does have to publish, and if it doesn’t you get your book back. (Which is not what you want. You want it published.) And you can lobby for the format du jour, or something special—like the illustrated ROSE DAUGHTER which we had to get special permission for.
But if you assume that all the writer does is write you will not be far wrong in most cases. Yes, some writers are a lot more involved with the rest of the business than I am—I don’t know and don’t want to know as much as I can possibly avoid knowing‡‡‡ because, ahem, I am prone to blood pressure headaches and chewing the wallpaper over something I can do nothing about is too frelling demoralising. Yes, you can write letters and make phone calls—and badger your long-suffering agent—and get to know people and network and some writers are good at this, and some of them do make a difference to the rest of us. And I’m grateful. But I have no talent in that direction. ‘Negotiation’ and ‘calm rational discussion of a controversial subject’ are not in my skill set. I want to kill myself over jacket art regularly even now, when I do have some leverage.
I’m actually surprised SUNSHINE isn’t available as an ebook§; mostly it’s the books that came out before electronic publishing was beginning to be an issue that get trapped in the mincer. But if it isn’t, there’ll be a reason. The publishing behemoth regiment is still having trouble lurching into the electronic age, and older books by people who aren’t JK Rowling and Dan Brown fall through the cracks sometimes.
And self-publishing? Not me. Thank the gods for publishers, however paralytically, blood-pressure-headachingly behemothy they can be. I do read some of the articles (on line, speaking of ereading) about sisters doing it for themselves. I can barely do the laundry, and every year when I’m trying to produce a full set of bank statements for the accountant—I fail. If I tried to self-publish I’d be reading the want ads for shelf-restocker openings§§ within the year.
* * *
* Atama ga itai desu. Which may mean ‘I have a headache’. Note: when they say that Japanese [grammatical] particles are a nightmare, believe them.
** Who is coming to visit. And thinks we should SING something together. Aside from my extreme peculiarity on the subject of other people hearing me sing—and, after all, she would be singing with me—we have a slight repertoire problem: I sing classical and folk. She sings musical theatre and barbershop. Can This Friendship Be Saved.^
^ I’m not sure. She hates Sweeney Todd. I can just about allow this in someone who doesn’t like musicals generally+. But in an avowed musical-theatre devotee? This is like someone who claims to love dogs making an exception for sighthounds. The door’s that way, honey.
+ No, it’s not an opera.
*** On the sofa, resisting entropy and the strange hierarchical struggles of hellhounds. Guys. It’s a sofa. Play nice or the hellgoddess will go all hellgoddessy on your ass.
† I’m puzzled that they haven’t gone the amazon route and started targeting you. Hey, last time you were here you bought Demolition Bingo and Space Pastry Chef! We’re sure you’d love Washing Machine Lint vs Sink Elbow Trap!^
^ Has anyone played Pizza vs Skeletons? Which sounds about as likely.
†† Hey, I’m old. And possibly a little strange.
††† Ee, ah, eeee ah, eeee aaah eeee ah.
‡ Are you KIDDING? I’m writing a novel. Novel-writing is a 24/7 activity.^
^Barring hellhounds, blogs, and scream—I mean singing.
‡‡ In deference to Hannah and Merrilee’s sensitivities, I am NOT CAPITALISING THAT SENTENCE.
‡‡‡ Yes. It’s a very good thing I have an excellent agent.
§ No, I’m not going to go doublecheck on amazon. If you want to, feel free. I avoid pages with my professional self on them like six kinds of interstellar plague. And even if the person who wrote to me is wrong and it is available, and she or her frelling device was having a brain spasm, the principle remains: once the story I’ve written is out of my hands, it’s out of my hands.
§§ Shelf restocking at a big supermarket during the graveyard shift sounds quite restful when novel-in-progress is being unendurably wayward. And no, SHADOWS isn’t. As I keep moaning to Merrilee, if I hadn’t been trying to finish it in five months it would be going really well. Unfortunately . . .
I am now officially putting in for a day that ISN’T another of those FRELLING DAYS. I had a friend coming for the afternoon so the first thing was, of course . . . I overslept. I woke up to the sound of the Delivery Man giving up banging on the door and carrying the FORTY FRELLING TONS of gold-dust dog kibble* up the steep half-flight of stairs beside the house to leave it behind the gate, which is where I ask for things to be left, but that means I have to wrestle the wretched thing back DOWN the (steep) steps and then back UP the steps to the front door . . . and then womanhandle it through the maze of doors, puppy gates, hellhounds, etc to get the freller into the far corner of the sitting room which is where it lives because I have ZERO storage space on the ground floor of the cottage.** ZERO.***
Then I failed to learn today’s Japanese vocabulary because the pdf print out simply doesn’t contain this lesson and my memory is nowhere near good enough to assimilate much from someone chirping it at me two or three times while hellhounds and I are out hurtling†. I’m starting to get a little cranky about the shortcomings of this package. Also I’m back to the squeaky, breathy Ashley-san section again. Maybe it’s time I loaded up the Japanese for Dummies CD.
So hellhounds and I finally got down to the mews with about an hour before I had to go meet a train. I was outdoors with a bucket, rubber gloves and a sponge, peeling a few layers off Wolfgang’s exterior†† when Peter appeared at the front door and said, You are seeking to impress? Seeking to impress? I said. No, I am seeking not to horrify. I’ve also got the two pairs of muddy hiking boots and two and a half pairs of muddy gaiters out of the front footwell, had a quick—very quick—swipe with the dustcloth at the dashboard, and refolded the hellhound-rubdown towels so that the dirtiest bits are inside.†††
I came indoors again, both Wolfgang and I a good bit damper than we’d been half an hour ago, but Wolfgang isn’t dripping on the floor. I glance at the clock and start on hellhound lunch. Don’t forget to get some food into you, says Peter. Menopause metabolism, I reply, I don’t need food, and weren’t you going upstairs to have a nice lie down from which distancy and horizontality you can’t make unwelcome remarks?
Hellhounds won’t eat their lunch. AAAAAAAAUGH.
AND THEN MY COMPUTER SEIZED UP AND CRASHED.
When I tried to text Clotilda that I was going to be late I kept getting the ‘this phone number does not exist, you call that a clean car you filthy slut, your computer hates you and your dogs are weird’ error message.
I was half an hour late to the train station. Clotilda was, I think, so relieved to see me at all that her initial reaction to Wolfgang was muted.‡ I think the afternoon went okay otherwise. Barring the extremely nasty cup of tea I subjected her to. Ambience is not all and next time I have a tea-drinking friend visiting we are going to penetrate into the unambient end of town where there is a rumour of a tea-shop that serves the stuff I drink at home.‡‡ Then I forced her to hurtle hellhounds with me. Oh dear. Poor Clotilda. . . .
I’ve been following your discussion of the research you do for your books with a lot of interest. Just this week you’ve mentioned how you’re brushing up on your Japanese‡‡‡ for Shadows and the studying on bees you did for Chalice. As a dog person, I’ve always loved Deerskin for how dog-smart it is, particularly what Lissar learns and observes as she tries to raise the orphan litter of fleethound puppies. Having raised pups myself, there are so many little details in there that ring true to me. I always smile when Lissar uses the straw to get milk into the pups, because it reminds me of the way modern breeders tube feed (though with different equipment, of course). You even captured the fear of what might happen if milk gets in those little lungs. In fact, it reads so realistically that I have to wonder if your research for this part of the book involved more than just reading about puppy raising. Did this scene come from a real-life experience?
Thank you! I’ve never raised puppies from first infancy, no, but I did raise the litter of puppies which contained my very first dog, a white German Shepherd, when I was a teenager. They were not quite two weeks old when their mum decided she wasn’t cut out for motherhood and bolted, and I was in that la-la-la adolescent phase when anything to do with a subject you love is good so I was like, raise eight tiny unweaned puppies by hand? Sure! Arrrrgh. Well, all eight of the little frellers lived, so obviously the learning curve wasn’t too steep. The owner did keep half an eye on me, but she was already way over her head with other duties—she ran a riding stable as well as a kennels—and I was the kind of over-responsible tool who would sit up all night if that was what was required. If you’ve been through it, then you know about the very real danger of diarrhea in puppies—it doesn’t take much to tax them past what their tiny little metabolisms can cope with. Eight hours for a full night’s sleep is way too long, even with vet’s drugs (although the drugs may be better and faster-acting these days). I never used straws, but I wielded a mean eyedropper. I can’t now remember where I learnt about foreign matter in the lungs—but I’d survived pneumonia myself only about two years before this, so the fragility of lungs was probably still a vividly disturbing subject.
Fostered a litter of kittens. All four kittens (and mama) found homes. One kitten’s home didn’t work out. I don’t even like tuxedo cats, I said, nearly crying with happiness as he leaped back into my arms.
He’s doing his best impersonation of a fuzzy ball right now in my lap, purring and dozing with ears the size of bat wings. Speaking of bats.
I love stories like this. I therefore forgive you for the reference to bats.
If I am not mistaken [Haro] is a very well formed wire haired fox terrier puppy. At which point I melt and go SQUEEE! I love my terriers.
He does look like one, doesn’t he? And far more this week than last—if I’d got photos of him last week you’d’ve known he wasn’t. He’s really come into his own as diabolically cute. No, he’s a Jack Russell/Border cross, and while they are all frelling little terriers he looks like he’s going to grow up to be a very handsome scion of the genre.
* * *
* Yes, it’s a lot of gold dust. Priced accordingly. But if you want free postage—and at these prices you certainly do want free postage—you have to order it in upper tonnage.
** I have lots of bookshelves, of course. But bookshelves aren’t storage. They’re bookshelves. They’re a basic necessity, like tea, chocolate and champagne. And books. Oh, and there are never enough of them. Like tea, chocolate, champagne and books.
*** Did I ever do you my tapdance-with-added-arrrgh about my little row of dwarf appliances under the stairs? Most people have an under-stair cupboard. I have to keep my refrigerator, freezer and washing machine under there, and I swear the spice rack on the wall above the washing machine sticks a corner out, like someone putting a foot out in a slapstick comedy, every time I straighten up from doing something with laundry. At least I can employ language. It’s worse on handbell evenings, when the spice rack nails me as I’m getting the milk out of the refrigerator for everybody else’s tea. And they’re all right in the next room, and they’re all British. MMppphggggrhrhrhrhrhGGGH.
† NO. STOP THAT. WHATEVER THAT IS YOU MAY NOT EAT IT. NO.
†† Hey! He’s red!
††† I have also decided I am not letting her indoors at the cottage, where I haven’t hoovered since approximately . . . when I turned the second draft of SHADOWS in. Furthermore I suspect her of being a neat freak and never having dirty dishes in the sink.
‡ And I haven’t even mentioned his vibrant array of dents which might cause a feeling of insecurity in the timid.
Since I nearly always order on line I don’t worry about this interesting factoid from their opening page: ‘ We are open seven days a week from 10.00am to 5.30pm, and Sundays from 11.00am to 3.00pm.’
‡‡‡ ‘Brushing up on my Japanese’ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I now remember . . . maybe twelve kanji, although always for the wrong reasons. For example, the kanji for ‘father’ is described as ‘regrettably, hands wielding a stick’. Or, to my eye, two sticks. Or, how about this, from my lovely if over-optimistic READ JAPANESE TODAY: ‘The character for evening [squiggle] combined with the divining rod [squiggle], used by shamans and necromancers who worked at night to bring their customers news from the spirit world, made the composite kanji [double squiggle], meaning other or outside of. [previous double squiggle plus squiggle for person], gaijin, other-person, is a foreigner.’
Another day when by the time I am facing The Horror That Is The Blog again* I have no brain with which to harry and feint. I haven’t even done anything today.** Except SHADOWS of course.***
No, no! That’s not it at all! I’ve been meaning to respond to this . . . since last autumn when someone at Forbidden Planet asked me something similar, and I’m glad of a forum comment to prod me. But this is a good example of how dangerously different the writer’s eye view may be from the reader’s. I had two purposes in having people swear by odin and thor and kali and carthage and by gods instead of God and so on in SUNSHINE—first because I did want to spread the net a little wider: this is a world where there are more active religions jostling for place in an alternate America than there are in the world we live in. But I didn’t leave Christianity out deliberately—I didn’t mean to leave it out at all. But I didn’t realise the extent to which I’d, um, obscured its presence. Because the subsidiary reason for the other gods is that ‘thor’ and ‘kali’ aren’t swear words—in this world. It should have been ‘thor’ and ‘kali’ and ‘christ’ but ‘christ’, in this world, is rude. And, believe it or not—says the woman who used the c-word in SUNSHINE and no one is ever going to let her forget it†—I prefer only to cause fury and outrage either when I mean to or when I haven’t got a choice. Thor and odin and kali look like swear words and perform the function of swear words without causing the swear-word reaction in this-world readers.
This is also on my mind because while the slang differs in detail, the exact same thing is happening in SHADOWS. They swear by gods and hells just as Sunshine does. (But not by thor or kali.) If I ever did write that sequel to SUNSHINE I’d put jesus and christ back in—yes, no init cap, because none of the other gods are—and brace myself.†† I used the c-word last time. How much worse could it be?†††
* * *
* Another really excellent reason for 36-hour days is that the frequency with which the blog presents itself to me to be written^ would be cut back by 50%.^^
^ With a demeanour rather awfully like a hellhound feeling that a hurtle is overdue.
^^ At least I think that’s what I mean. The fact that I read Prof Stewart’s mathematical prodigies in the bath, and laugh, doesn’t mean I can do any of the stuff.
** Well I did take redelivery of the Laptop Monster. Remember the new laptop I bought . . . something like two months ago? And that Raphael and Gabriel have been hosting hot and cold running engineers for about the last six weeks because Large Nameless Stupid Computer Company is too anal retentive simply to give me a new one and get it over with? I remember ranting about this here not long ago.
So it came home (again) today. It’s still shiny and silver and large and weighs too much. It also, allegedly, no longer discharges its battery by 50% overnight. So, should I join Lovefilm for my 3-month free trial^ and test the freller out? I asked the angels to strip some of the stuff off this old laptop so it’s not straining at the limits of its hard drive any more—can’t say I’ve noticed any improvement in speed however—since I am, on mature^^ reflection, just not going to change ungleblarging operating systems mid-final-draft. Life is harrowing enough. But that still leaves me with a large shiny silver object to do something with.
^ I’ve got some kind of extreme voucher here somewhere.
^^ Gabriel was wearing a kidney belt and—bending himself over the back of a chair because sitting down was Not Good for his sciatica—said well, you know, when forty is rushing up on you. Tell me about it, I said, I turn sixty in November. Both of them successfully managed to look surprised, but then Raphael blew it by saying ‘I wouldn’t put you a day over forty-one.’. Snork. Have I mentioned that our service contract is due for renewal?
*** I also ordered a ‘like new’ copy of Japanese Cooking, A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji as recommended by Jacky on the forum. I went and looked it up on amazon and it gets like twelve stars from everyone. Only it’s not available. Well, frell this for a lark. So I hit the ‘abebooks’ button and found a nice clean cheap copy on the east coast of America since there don’t seem to be any on this side of the pond. Feh. This is the second time I’ve done the abebooks button-pressing thing in three days. I am bad.^
The first time was about looking at kanji. I’ve been reading this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Read-Japanese-Today-Practical-Languge/dp/4805309814/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329871721&sr=8-1
which makes those diabolical little squiggly things—and kanji are the seriously squiggly, borrowed from Chinese ones, as opposed to the comparatively straightforward katakana and hiragana syllabaries^^—actually look friendly and comprehensible. No mean frelling feat. And before anyone climbs all over me again about Going Too Far, kanji are one of the stronger memory-flicks from my five years as a child in Japan. Kanji tell stories. The problem with Read Japanese Today is there’s no INDEX and also no stroke order—one of the fifty-year-old books I’ve hung onto about the Japanese language is an extremely intimidating list of the 2000 or so basic kanji you need to know if you’re going to read Japanese, and while it scares the living daylights out of me, I find that to decipher the squiggles I seem to need to know how you build the suckers, line by line. And the First Two Thousand has changed in the last fifty years. So I’m reading my Japanese Today and trying to find the squiggles in my old book and going wait, that’s not the same.
Also, I want fewer than 2000 to grapple with, even in my slithery dilettante way. So I looked up kanji again on amazon, and the book that includes how to write the first few hundred kanji that got twelve stars was not available. (Which is probably why I didn’t order it in the first place.) So I hit abebooks and . . .
^ I also have trouble remembering that books cost money. I mean, I do know they cost money, I just feel that book money shouldn’t count when you’re figuring out how not to run out of money before you finish something that someone will pay you for.
^^ Clearly one of the additional purposes of kanji is to make you think you can learn katakana and hiragana at least.
† And the reason why, as I’ve said as many times as it has come up, is because there are no casual slang words for female genitalia. There is no ‘dick’ equivalent. Dick isn’t a word you use with your gran, I know, but it doesn’t make averagely crass people come out in hives the way the c-word does. In Sunshine’s world, that word is the dick equivalent.
†† Which is to say there will probably be ‘jesus’ and ‘christ’ in ALBION. I won’t know till I get there.
††† Don’t answer that.
WOLFGANG IS HOME AGAIN.
AND I’VE HAD A BRILLIANT DAY WITH SHADOWS.*
I’ve also been pursuing this learning Japanese thing. Oh dear. Enthusiasm is dangerous. This particular manifestation of my lifelong tendency for rushing in all directions simultaneously started several weeks ago. Takahiro was already in the second draft of SHADOWS—he has been there from the beginning—so it’s not like he was a surprise. And I’ve still got a few of my very (very very) old books about Japan and the Japanese language and culture, and I’d had a somewhat nervous cursory look at these. I do research to throw it away, you know? It’s just that I like to have some idea what I’m throwing away. There will be about six words of Japanese in SHADOWS. But it needs to feel like there could be more—rather like the bees in CHALICE. I crammed like mad on real, this-world bees and bee-keeping. There’s precious little of it left or visible in CHALICE, but I know it’s there. **
So I had been looking at my fifty-year-old Japanese grammar and wondering how much the language had changed.*** When, lo, with a whap up longside the head like fate dropping in for tea, CLANG, frelling www.audible.co.uk sent me a come-on for discounted language-learning downloads. And, further lo, and further whap, Japanese was one of the options. Which is how I started listening to beginner-Japanese lessons.
Fast-forward to a few days ago when I confessed to my latest madness, and several kind people sent me links and recommendations. OH DEAR. I seem to have bought both a grammar and a dictionary for the Kindle ap on Astarte† and a grammar and dictionary from the frelling Apple ap store.††
So I should go study something. Gakusei da. Ha. †††
* * *
* Well, I hope I have. I think I have. Maybe I have. Um..
I almost never reread immediately; when I’ve just written—or rewritten—something I’m still in trees-not-forest mode and chances are if I did reread it I wouldn’t be able to tell if it’s doing its job or not. And furthermore I would know that I can’t tell, and then I’d start to worry and I’d waste time pushing commas and ‘and’s around. So I have to Live with Doubt till the next day at least—and probably longer. Today I stopped in the middle of a scene—I was hoping to reach the end of it before my brain went STOPPING NOW, but then I did reach the end of the previous scene and went a little farther. Tomorrow I will not reread except the last paragraph to make sure I know where I am, and then I will keep going. I know. It seems at least as likely that it would be a better idea to read at least the entire scene that I’m starting in the middle of before I set off again, in order to match momentum/energy with what has gone before. But I find in practise that rereading always throws me sideways and undoes impetus^—and I write at all by motion, by the vigorous flow of the story. I can fix bad connections later. While I’m still writing drafts, even if it’s the last draft, forest—flow—is more important than trees. I don’t always even reread entire scenes mid-draft—if I think I can keep going, I probably will. If I have to go back and stick something in or take something out I’ll do it with as narrow a focus as possible: six trees, not a quarter of the forest.
^ Unhurtles hurtling.
** I was talking to Alastair about this as we were walking out to Warm Upford.^ I know there are writers who write wonderful fabulous deeply felt and exquisitely expressed books, and who do nothing but write wonderful fabulous etc and stuff like read other people’s books and watch films and TV and cruise the internet and basically never get out and it works fine for them. Now granted I wish I had more time to read other people’s books or watch films and TV at all, and that most people probably wouldn’t count bell ringing as something to get out for, but I totally don’t know how you stand all those hours in front of a flat media screen of one sort or another (paper counts here) without having a garden or hellhounds or a piano or a ’64 Mustang in the garage that you’re rebuilding, or something.^^
^ He thinks I walk too fast. BIG HMMMPH. He’s six foot four.+
+ He’s also the skinniest 6’4” you have ever seen and eats like a starving man. ARRRRRRRGH. Okay, how skinny is he? He can fit into my jeans. Have I told you this story before? I’m sorry, I have to tell it again. Many years ago, he and his wife were the prince and the principal boy in their local Christmas pantomime. She wore my thigh-high purple suede boots with the smooth-leather purple turndowns#. He wore my old Harley Davidson black leather jeans. It’s true he had a little trouble kneeling, but that’s leather for you. The zipper went up fine. The legs were a little short, but he wore (ordinary) boots. I believe the pantomime was a great success.
#You need the turndowns to hide the elastic bands you’re wearing to keep the frellers up.
^^ Or possibly a frivolous stab at learning another language that requires a whole frelling new alphabet+ which certainly changes the parameters of your flat media screen.
+ Japanese has three alphabets, except they’re not alphabets, they’re syllabaries.
*** Think of a fifty-year-old English grammar. –Quite a lot, in practise. Konpyuta^ wa doko da?
^ Say this out loud. And then there’s konpyuta-gemu.+
OKAY WORDPRESS YOU RATBAG. GIVE ME MY LONG VOWELS BACK. U, A AND E IN THE ABOVE SHOULD HAVE LITTLE LINES–MACRONS–ABOVE THEM. ONLY WORDPRESS WON’T LET ME.
+ Hint: ‘e’ in Japanese is pronounced rather like a long ‘a’ in English.#
# I’m fond of Fingerzilla and Montezuma myself.
† Also the complete works of H P Lovecraft and the Collected Ghost Stories of M R James. That’s the hell of Kindle.^ Old stuff is so CHEAP. And there’s nothing cosier and more luxurious than reaching for your slender, takes-up-very-little-space-on-the-bed ereader in the middle of the night/morning when sleep has decamped to Pago Pago and being able to scare yourself silly so you really won’t get any sleep now.
^ Note that because I have an iPad I can suffer all the more extensively with a Kindle ap as well as the entire stock of the frelling Apple ap store.
†† The grammar told you to download when you had plenty of time so I got out my knitting.^ And I was in the middle of a row when it finished, so I finished my row, and then I made myself another cup of tea, and then I sang two choruses of Leonard Cohen’s HALLELUJAH, and then, assuming it had had enough time to settle down and put its toothbrush in the mug and its socks in the bureau drawer . . . I opened my new grammar. AND ASTARTE PROMPTLY CRASHED AND FROZE. THE BLACK SCREEN OF DEATH WITH THE APPLE LOGO.^^ I’M SO HAPPY.
This time, fortunately, the holding-two-buttons down simultaneously^^^ trick worked. It was, of course, after computer angel hours, although Raphael has a silly habit of checking texts on his business account at home in the evenings. And the grammar has opened obediently several times since then. Lambasting me with jolly descriptions of the next 1,000,000,000,000,000 hours of dedicated studying, but hey, there’s an off button.
^ I HAD TO RIP OUT EIGHT ROWS TWO NIGHTS AGO. AAAAAAAUGH. But I seem to have got all the little loopy horrors back on the needles again and have caught up and I think it’s okay. Frogging is like falling off your horse, right? You’re not a real rider/knitter unless you’ve eaten dirt and had to rip stuff out? Right? Right?
^^ Why the Apple logo, you know? This seems to me to be teaching the dog to bite the lab technician when it hears the bell.
^^^ With possibly extraneous shouting
††† Or possibly hai.
Okay. People. Listen to me please.
If you google ‘del toro emma watson robin mckinley’ you will get a very long page of hits. Here are two more or less at random:
If you leave the ‘robin mckinley’ off your search there are a lot more hits. Wherein lies my point. My point further includes the ‘has evolved since’ quote in the clips that include me and the fact that (apparently, this is not a world I follow) del Toro has a habit of running too many projects at once to predict with any confidence when he might get around to one in particular. EVEN IF THIS FILM IS MADE, WHICH IS IN FACT NOT VERY LIKELY, IT WILL NOT, REPEAT NOT BE THE SCREEN VERSION OF MY NOVEL.
I had no idea that news of del Toro’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST project was about to be shot out there—or that there was news of del Toro’s B&B project. Which is another part of my point. Yes, Warner’s optioned BEAUTY* a while ago, but there are like 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 options bought for every ONE movie made, so while option money is lovely because you haven’t done anything extra for it except sign your name, I didn’t take it seriously. I’ve been optioned before. I did register the fact that it was del Toro and Emma Watson behind Warner’s interest, two filmy people whom I’ve even heard of**, an almost un-heard-of situation, and I therefore asked Merrilee about six months after signing if there’d been—by wild, unforeseen circumstance—any movement on the option, and she said there wasn’t. At which point I forgot about it.
Till this morning when I received an email including a del-Toro-Watson-McKinley link from a friend saying, Oh, hey, I’m impressed!, followed by about forty more emails and a tweet from people who love BEAUTY and are under the erroneous impression that (a) this means it’s going to get made and (b) del Toro’s movie (supposing it gets made) will have ANYTHING to do with the book.
So to reiterate: I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THIS. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. Except that I signed an option contract a while ago. IT IS STILL VERY UNLIKELY THAT THE MOVIE WILL BE MADE. And IF IT IS MADE IT PROBABLY WON’T HAVE ANYTHING IN COMMON WITH MY NOVEL EXCEPT THE PRESENCE OF A BEAUTY AND A BEAST. Maybe. With del Toro you never really know. Which can be a good thing. If disconcerting.
And as the author of the book in question . . . if they make the movie, I hope they DO render my novel TOTALLY UNRECOGNISABLE. (Which that ‘has since evolved’ sounds like they will. Yaaay.) I’m not a fan of books into movies: they’re entirely different media, and not only do I think the translation process rarely does the book any favours, the reading experience is . . . well, it’s to be treasured. I don’t want it spoilt, for BEAUTY or any other good book, by even a dazzlingly first-rate film. I hate it that GENERATIONS of film-goers are now going to forget that LORD OF THE RINGS was a book first . . . or even at all.
I don’t know anything about Watson*** but del Toro has made some brilliant movies. His take on that very, very old and much retold tale of Beauty and the Beast could be fabulous. And if my version(s) helped inspire him, great. And the money I’d be paid for a film that was actually made would be very nice indeed.†
But I’m not counting these chickens before they’re hatched. And if they are hatched they won’t be chickens anyway. They’ll be velociraptors or harpy eagles or dodos or something.
And sure, I’d be glad of the rights money, if the movie is made. But what I’d like most of all is that some trifle of the movie publicity rubs off on the unrecognisable book . . . and a few more people READ IT. That is what makes a writer’s little heart beat faster. Readers.
* * *
Peter bought me a pink begonia in a pot for Valentine’s Day. The funny thing is he used to hate Valentine’s Day. But he’s gone all soppy with advancing age. I’ve had Valentine’s Day presents regularly the last few years. Not complaining. Not complaining. I said, I don’t have anything for you for Valentine’s Day†† and he said, no, no, this is one of those remaining genderist things, the bloke is supposed to produce a present. Oh, I said, burying my feminist instincts under the desire to keep on with SHADOWS, well, if you’re really determined, never mind the dozen red roses, I’d much rather have a houseplant.
Peter seems to think begonias lack fervour and ardency. But I like begonias. I can usually even keep them alive. It’s not that I don’t love a vaseful of red roses, but they don’t last long. Don’t you want your Valentine to last?
Also, there was champagne.
* * *
* and ROSE DAUGHTER, because this is how Hollywood works: they don’t want a rival B&B retelling if they can help it, so they block this one as a clause in the option for the other.^
^ Hollywood’s predilection for wanting control over EVERYTHING is a can of worms I’m not going to open here. But my desire to control my own books’ fate is why I regularly refuse to entertain film option offers.
** true confession: I’ve only ever seen the first HARRY POTTER film and . . . ahem . . . wasn’t hugely riveted. And while I loved the first HELLBOY I’m like, oh, there’s another one?, and I loved BLADE II but I didn’t know till I looked up del Toro’s filmography this minute that he directed it. I’m a Wesley Snipes girl. Although even Snipes couldn’t rescue BLADE III. But del Toro has the fantasy chops, certainly. They just don’t have a lot in common with mine.^
^ If his are chops, mine are sort of . . . pudding. Chocolate pudding.
*** Except that she had great hair when she was a little kid.
† Although loose change by Hollywood standards.
†† My day was further complicated by taking Wolfgang out to Warm Upford to the garage for his MOT.^ Or rather, driving him out there was not a problem, but it’s about five miles back to New Arcadia over hill and dale. Peter, coming in to find us crashed out on the sofa, said, were the hellhounds tired? No, I said, but I was. We generally have our longer hurtle in the morning, and by evening hurtle time, even early evening so we were back to town streetlights by the time it was dark enough to need them, I’ve been at SHADOWS for several hours and adventures are not entirely welcome.
Now, all fingers crossed that when I ring up the garage tomorrow he’s passed.
^ Required yearly road test.