Monday, August 27, 2007

Very Happy Indeed

I just wanted to happily and gratefully acknowledge the CBCA Junior Judges for also nominating MBT as an Honour Book. A double honour in the CBCA is so brilliantly encouraging (I know I use these words a lot but it just so true, what else can I say?). Thank you Junior Judges, I hope your Participation Certificates look snazzy on the wall.

This might be a good place to note that I am a tad disappointed with the meagre, near non-existent coverage the CBCA Awards receives here in the general OZ media (with a few excellent exceptions). It is almost as if outside of the community that is Childrens Publishing, we do not really exist - unless of course there is talk of DEAL$ Yet that is hardly a useful topic of discussion when what we are on about is children reading and adults acknowledging this as being important, indeed necessary. I do not recall caring much about DEAL$ when I was looking for books to read - indeed I still do not - I just wanted to know what was worth reading and what was not. Good thing for the electronical interweb, loads on kids lit and YA just there for the finding.

Back to more positive things I am offering belated congratulations to Omnibus (ahh dear precious Omnibus) & Scholastic Australia for their win in the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards in the Australian Export Success Award 2007 catagory with my own wee tome (and the further books in the series - they have made a huge assumption there that there will be more books in the series - just jokes!!!) You can grab a .pdf of all the winners from the ABIA 2007 here, but only if you really want to of course.

BTW I would also like to say Happy Birthday Blogger - apparently it is its 8th birthday today! (... and now you know)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Back from Melly.

For those who are not familiar with Australian parlance, "Melly" is short for Melbourne, and I have returned as the title of this blog suggests.

As to the CBCA Awards I am so very very pleased to declare that not only was MBT 1 short-listed, it actually managed to make it as an Honour Book - which means silver, 2nd place!


Now the book will get little silver stickers on it (well here in Australia it will) My hearty congratulations to the deep and delightful Ursula Dubosarsky The Red Shoe, my follow honour book awardee and to the wonderful Margo Lanagan Red Spikes, which took out the top spot, and deservedly so (IMHO) - though it is a shame they can not award gold to more than one. Here is the complete list of the CBCA 2007 results.

Whilst there in Melly, my wife and I had a coffee with femina and she promptly informed me that my blogging-style of writing was not at all like my book-style of writing. I had this awful sensation like my underpants were showing or something. It was a good observation, and ties in with my own struggle with style and voice. The very text you are now reading is more how I talk, it is just written conversation - does that mean my words in the MBT's are too contrived? Would the books be better if I just wrote them like this? Then again, when preparing finished illustrations I don't just scribble the first thing that comes to me - I do roughs, I model and refine a drawing till I am satisfied. In the same way when writing I wrestle with the sound and feel of my words until I am satisfied. I can sit with my head down staring at the floor for a goodly long time just trying to compose one sentence.

If I ever get to write more that MBT, if I ever get to explore this life of writing further, how much will my style change I wonder: will my books become looser - more modern, or shall my blogs become more wordy?

Anyway, enough self-consciousness! Enough navel-gazing! (omphaloscepsis I believe this is called - this is a real word not a H-c word, though I am sure I will be adapting it to something: it is just too good not to use. Perhaps an Imperial think-tank, the omphalosceptics, who puzzle and nut things out for the Emperor, who live and work in the Scepticon... hmmm...)

As to Rossamünd’s face, madbomber expressed concern at it being revealed, and it may well be that in different countries different degrees of revelation occur. Does this mean I have copped-out, I sure hope not *looks worried*. As a writer I am stubborn and argumentative, as an illustrator I am more agreeable and it was as an illustrator solving a brief that led to the drawing of Rossamünd’s profile. We will just have to wait and see.

... and yes, Mr Bomber, bless you, Dyan is a spectacular person indeed. It was more than fate that brought our paths together and I am greatful to have met her and for the strange events that lead to that meeting. Lord willing we will be working together for a long time to come.

Oh, and for breakfast today I had AllBran [TM] Wheat Flakes Honey & Almond (how beautiful do almond trees look in late winter, such burstings of blossom - I can well imagine whole forests of them, autumnlands like the Autumn of Sleep, mystic places where the urchin-lords live.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sooner than expected (perhaps)

Here are the answers to the many questions that have collected over the last month. My publisher in the US has asked me to post more often so here is what I hope is a good start. I am actually supposed to be getting ready to go to Melbourne for the Childrens Book Council of Australia of Awards 2007, so apologies for any irregularities in this post.

First up Arty Bel wonders... “I know this is a bit of a cheesy question but do you have any helpful hints embarking a similar career?”

Helpful hints, huh? Not a “cheesy question” at all, ask away. I think it depends on how similar you mean, because if you want to start just as I did then do a Design Degree as an illustrator and begin to write ideas for an invented world in small notebooks. Degree done, go and work in another city for a decade, still filling notebook after notebook with more ideas. This step completed head overseas on a misconceived mission for a couple of months (still filling those little notebooks), bring ruin to your plans and hopes and crashland back in your home city without a job or a place to live (other than your old bedroom at your parents house). This crucial step done, pick yourself up and head down to your local children’s book publisher and try to get some illustration work. Having got said illustration work in the form of a couple of picture books, accidentally (and I mean accidentally) drop one of your notebooks (preferably #23) in front of the boss of aforementioned children’s book publisher. In doing so have this notebook snatched up by this personage and be drilled with questions about what it is and having explained haltingly as best you can, leave publishers with a request to write 1000 words about some of the ideas in the notebooks. Last step: turn 1000 words (with much help from publisher) into 83,000 words and call it Monster-blood Tattoo: Book 1, Foundling. That is how to do as I have done.

Of course, if you were talking more generally, I feel very unsuitable for advice, above encouraging you to persevere and not to be surprised if life takes you places you had not first intended. What ever you do keep the ideas developing; try not to settle for anything too derivative rather tease your initial ideas out, massage them until they become truly your own. Is that all any help?

Kaollaku asks: “… I don't know if someone already asked this question but have you already started writing book 3 now that you're finishing up book 2?”

I have indeed started Book 3, though still do not know what it will finally be called – that is very much up in the air.

Winter asks: “So is the April 2008 date definite? Can I pen it into my schedule, or just use pencil? ;) ”

You are going to kill me but regarding the April 2008 release date I would say you could certainly put 2008 in pen but it was a good idea you asked because (unbeknownst ot me until recently) the month has been shifted to May (I know, Koallaka, I know – if nothing else it is character building) so that Lamplighter will be coming out precisely 2 years after Foundling. It is neat if nothing else. Can we expect a similar timeline for Book 3 (as yet officially titled, just a bunch of working ideas in the pipe at the moment)? Well, I cannot actually say – we will all (me included) just have to see I’m afraid.

Thank you A, D and E for MBT’s inclusion in your PhD (!!!) – goodness me that is good to hear; may I ask in what capacity I was quoted? (or is that just rude and egocentric?) I too wish the three books were out already…

Random Missfitt asks: “I saw down towards the bottom that the Jim Henson Company was interested in making MBT into a movie, is that true? or is it just some wikipedia guy getting me exited for nothing?”

(I have already answered this question but I thought I’d respond to this directly again) Well the answer there is: yes. I have just signed a contract with the Jim Henson Company for a release date to be anounced (possibly 2010 – but do NOT quote me, this is just the bee’s buzz about the net). However, the signing of a contract in no way means the film will definitely be made, but that the goodly folks over at the Henson Company (who hear loved the Dark Crystal, the Story Teller series or Mirrormask? – I certainly did and still do…) have the option to turn the books into films. So no counting eggs yet, MBT might be unfilmable in the end – who knows. Even so it is so wonderfully exciting and encouraging – an I surely hope I might be allowed to participate: it has been a long long time dream of mine to be on the production design of a film. There too is no garuntee of this, the Producers need to be able to get on with their job – so we shal see. All in God’s hands.

is a tad worried about the prospect of a film. “Books do not usually translate to film well... Especially ones with lots of detail... How would viewers that would not have read the book know what skolds, etcetera, are? A lot of exposition in dialogue would have to be added wouldn't it?”

All very good points and areas of concern for me, too. However, Jim Henson Co. did what I think is such an artful and sensative treatment of Mirrormask I think they could be the best chance to make something deft and apt of MBT.

And on the mention of that “Wikipedia Guy” might I just say a big thank you to
Geracudd, Anthony.bradbury, Pearle, Paul A, Jacuc2, and very much to Tredanse – who appears to have done the bulk of the entry – for the time and energy spent logging all that information over there in Wikiland.

Another picture for Coz – just ‘cause I can.

This is Trudgette (whom giantfan has asked about – amongst other old images left lying about on the net) Trudgette is a fulgar from the Patricine, hence the rather over the top sparks about her, and not the nicest person you will ever meet – then again, I am not sure if one could ever meet a “nice” lahzar.

As for my earnest question: Would you like to see what Rossamünd looks like - have me draw a view of his face or would rather that we never saw Rossamünd’s face during the series, that I left the subtlety, the mystery, the idea of his face to you the reader? – we currently have:

1 Yes

8 No

1 Abstain

The thing is (as femina asks) I do know what Rossamünd’s face looks like – I have actually drawn it, so my question is a tad late really. So apologies to those who do not want to see his face, but you just might end up getting it anyway. Wait and see…

That poor unnamed ettin from two blogs ago has been offered several promising names; Winter suggests “…something like Lurr or Krensh or Thunk or Stoneteeth for an Ettin, but if he's smarter he might have given himself a more fear inspiring name. "The Terrible Kreznar, Crusher of Bones" Is that too corny?” MooseGuy offers Rupert “… but Rupert is not so monster-y, so maybe Urngar… take a leaf from Winter's book, Urngar the Mostly Ferocious.” Coz says “ … name the monster Cozgar.” I like Coinks' idea that “an ettin would name itself after what it likes most”, now there’s a great thought. rosiegirl offers Schnard “…dont know why,” she says, “ just sounds sinister in my head :-)” Sounds sinister to me, too.

A lot to work with there, I shall ponder some more…

giantfan asks a whole lot of things, but just to include a few for now: “How do people in Hc … greet each other? And apart from smugling what other things do Badies! (hate to use the childish term but can’t think of another word) do in this book?”

“Well betide you.” This would be a common greating. “Hello”, “Hullo” or “Hallo” are all perfectly acceptable options. “Well a’day!” another, also “Fine daisyhay to ye!” Then of course there are the greetings in other languages but time is of an essence at the moment so they will have to wait.

giantfan also wonders “Could you give us an idea of how big the book will be and will the cover be as great as the last?”

From what I can tell, the actual story text of Lamplighter will be about 540+ pages long, the Explicarium for Book 2 adding another 100 odd pages – so roughly about half as thick again as Foundling. As to the cover being “great” – we are doing our best, it certainly has gone through some changes and it really depends on what country you live in as to what you will get. The US HB edition is going to follow the US paperback design for Book 1, whereas the ANZ HB edition is going to continue along the original ANZ design. What the other publishers are doing I have no idea – the beautiful Italian edition for example is completely different again…

giantfan asked a whole lot more but these shall have to wait.

I just wanted to thank Dustin for your extremely encouraging comment and for the risks you took making the display, bearing the ire of your boss for the sake of MBT. I love that advanced uncorrected proof (I think “they” call them ubers or something) – I have a copy of my own and it is a very neat little package.

This will have to do for now… oh btw, I have a short interview up at RandomAlex - it is just below Garth Nix's interview (which reminds me that I still owe Miss Erin an interview too, sorry ma’am)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

To fill the gap

Yes yes, technical issues are making it hard to get a fully realised blog to you as promised but the expanded issue is coming very shortly. The faithful regulars will be getting used to this stop start thing I suppose - certainly not my preferred method of blogging but I will get a handle on this as my crammed schedule allows.

Just have to say I have been loving the comments: a whole lot of stuff the answer there - I shall be endeavouring to get answers to all your queries, even to all of giantfan's multiple comments (you really have been digging about the net haven't you, sir, keep them coming...)

The potential names for that ettin are universally excellent and I mull over them even now; thinking a combination of some plus a bit of my own thing will be the end result - we shall see.

... and for those distressed by the fact of the wait for Book 2 all I can continue to say is very very sorry, a book is only late until it released but is bad forever - I sure hope you find it worth the withdrawal. To those who have expressed admirable patience, thank you so much. Either way I am very encouraged: it is a privilege to have people eager to read on and I can let you know that I puzzle over Book 3 even as you read. Its title is up for grabs now, any previous ideas for possible Book 3 title are no longer valid as I wrestle with what happens next.

Finally I can confirm that a contract with the Jim Henson Company has been entered in to, that a film of the MBT series is possible, though at this stage there are no guarantees. There is still a lot yet to be sorted before a film can actually happen, so watch this space for any further developments. Either way, very exciting indeed.