Because ‘talking furry potato man’ wasn’t as good a title.
Here’s my last in the trilogy of Vlogs on WFC ’13. ’twas a jolly good show, I can’t quite believe it all actually happened and I’d like to go again please. But for now – work. A lot of work.
That’s right – it’s more of this new-fangled blinky-lights stuff.
World Fantasy Con – Day 2.
An email dropped in through the cracks in my Neanderthal man cave five days ago. It was from one Amalia Dillin, who had had my name flagged by her editor as someone who occasionally dabbled in Norse-related things. She was interested to know my opinions on Thor, the God of Thunder, and after protracted negotiations (“You want me to do what?”.. “Thor, you say?”… “Cool!”) invited me to join a blog-hop to celebrate large men with hammers and the release of her newest novel, Fate Forgotten. (Hooray!)
I thought about this for a while, and have to confess that I discovered I had some opinions. I read Amalia’s excellent list of Thors and found that I am woefully under-read on recent incarnations. In my book* Thor is someone who has always been around, is large and beardy and scary, and has red hair. I am Icelandic, and thus the Norse gods are part of my cultural heritage. I’m not about to say ‘none of that Marvel nonsense’ because I, for one, welcome our new Disney overlords, but – y’know. To me, Chris Hemsworth is about as much Thor as a potato is a duck.
So who is Thor to me, then?
He is big, strong and – how to put this politely - not likely to take an intellectual line. His is the direct path; his is the challenge met face on. You’d want him on your side – but possibly up at the front where the action was, rather than beside or behind you.
In Norse mythology Thor can be the butt of cruel jokes as evidenced in the story of Utgard-Loki, where Thor travels with Loki and Þjálfi, ending up in the hall of a mysterious jotun. This jotun proceeds to set Thor challenges – quaffing ale from a horn, lifting a cat and wrestling an old woman. Sounds simple enough? Well… The horn is somehow magically connected to the sea, the cat is actually Jormungandr in his less known cat form and the woman is Elli, the goddess of age.
And still Thor nearly manages, failing heroically at all the tasks but winning the respect of Utgard-Loki in the process. This infuriates him so much that he wants to smash things with his hammer**, but then the hall of Utgard-Loki vanishes, confusing the hell out of the real estate market.
What I suppose I like about my version of Thor is the marriage of relentless energy and absolute lack of common sense – when all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.
* Literally and figuratively.
** To be fair, most things do.
I am at World Fantasy Con in Brighton.
It is awesome.
I am taking notes, and fully intend to turn them into posts later.
I have often dreamt of Neil Gaiman-level fame.
Well – I say often. Occasionally. However I can’t help but think that famous and accomplished people must be awfully well organized. Which I am, kind of – if you remove the ‘well’. Here’s a feeble attempt at putting down my first ever* ‘appearance’ blog entry.
On Saturday the 26th I will be at BristolCon. This is what I shall be doing:
17:00-17:45 Room 1.
Magic In Fantasy: How does magic work in fantasy? Do you need to design a system – how do you come up with rules for magic? How do you decide what constraints to put on your magic users, to stop your story being a story about godlike beings who can never be in real danger?
With Jonathan Wright (M), Anne Lyle, Storm Constantine, Snorri Kristjansson, Paul Cornell
18:00-18:45 Room 2.
Plausible Critters: We see a lot of creatures in SF and fantasy that are just horses or dogs in cheap disguises. Conversely, we see interesting alien life forms that are hopelessly implausible. When sticking wings on a rabbit and calling it a snoogle just won’t do, how can you create weird, wonderful and convincing critters? What are some examples of the best and worst critters in fiction?
With Max Edwards (M), Snorri Kristjansson, Stephanie Saulter, Jaine Fenn, Gareth L. Powell
18:50-19:55 Room 2
Reading: Snorri Kristjansson
..and then I intend to go have one or two ciders, because I am led to believe that otherwise one gets thrown out of Bristol.
But wait! There’s more!
From the 31st of October to the 3rd of November I will be cavorting, frolicking and hopefully even gambolling with other authors** at World Fantasy Con 2013 in Brighton. Apart from trying very hard not to make a fool of myself, this is what I shall be doing:
Noon – 13:00
Please Sir, I Want Some More: How to Write That Difficult Second Book (Hall 4)
So your first book is done and delivered and you’re really excited. But even before your debut magnum opus has appeared, your publisher is already clamouring for a sequel or-even worse-a series. Now you’ve got a deadline, peer pressure and a blank screen staring you in the face. How do you get started on that follow-up book, and are there any secrets other than just getting down to work?
Mark Barnes, Laure Eve, Snorri Kristjansson, Alison Littlewood, Lou Morgan (mod.), Sarah Pinborough.
I promise nothing, but I intend to take my magical typing machine with me so there might be update-y blog posts. Until such time, tell no-one of this.
* I think so, at least. Can’t remember any occasion where I would have done so before. But then again, as I said – awful at organizing.
** SIR TERRY PRATCHETT WILL BE THERE. And Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie and SIR TERRY PRATCHETT.
While it would be a massive and positively embarrassing exaggeration to say that times were ‘difficult’ at HQ these days, I am going to go so far as to say that at the moment I could do with just a couple more hours in the day. I’ve taken on too many tasks to go with the big ones, and it’s a bit tricky to manage.
However, today felt like a tiny bit of a breakthrough and a reminder of how things work – one day at a time, one word at a time, park the behind in the darn chair and Get It Done. No waiting for ‘inspiration’ or that magical point when you’re somehow not tired or ‘ready’ or whatever. Chair, words, then stop. With time and application, this too shall pass.
And on another, possibly work-avoidance-related note – thanks to my gently mad Scottish neighbour-friend and all round Top Man I got to do something I haven’t done for calculates the best part of 8 years or so.
I got to play a computer game that has been recently released.
That game? GTA V.
I just thought I’d stop by and tell you that the computer gaming business has moved on somewhat.
If you want me I’ll be by my computer, actively not buying a console and trying very hard to keep working.
Onwards and upwards! Because that’s how to get to my bedroom from here.
Hello and all that.
Now – apart from the fact that I’ve had a fantastic weekend with people very dear to my heart driving all the way from Bristol to Hertfordshire to hang out, copious amounts of cake, port and comprehensive silliness, a country walk and a stroll through a lavender field and am thus delirious with friend-love, married to the Best Wife in the World* and generally awash with goodness, today** finds me rather furious.
I’ve just seen this on Reddit, a site I frequent. In short, a guy made a Lego robot that can read and write down books off a Kindle to subvert DRM. And I’ve seen the comments debating the finer points – and finally I can say with utmost certainty that I simply don’t wanna play any more.
I have a full-time job. I like my job, but it is exhausting. In the time when I’m not working, I write stories (apart from, you know. Cake and wife and lavender fields) and film scripts. This gives me pleasure, because I am good at it. My motives behind this are however not altruistic. I wish to craft things that, for the most part, give me enjoyment and help pay the rent. At the moment they do, but I have this dream, see – I would like to write full time, because I’ve got more stories I want to write. I’ve put a lot of effort into my stuff, and I do not think that whoever gets it for free should get it for free unless I allow them to. I think that right should be mine, and I think I’ve earned that right by the force of the man-hours I’ve put into making my stuff good enough for them to want it. And yes, I do see the argument for giving away free eBooks or whatnot. I also see how that would be vastly more palatable to Cory Doctorow and Neil Gaiman than to little old me. And I understand all the arguments for and against, more or less. I understand the surveillance argument, the Kafka argument, the freedom of information, the power of sharing and the concept of a shifting paradigm, because on occasion I can be reasonably smart like that.
I also know that when I see some mindless torrent rat has splattered free downloads of Swords of Good Men across the Internet it doesn’t make me feel all accomplished. It doesn’t make me feel, like the kids at school suggested, popular enough that people wanted my stuff. It rather makes me feel … bad. A bit sad, like.
But as this has now gotten to the point that you can create a robot out of f**king LEGO to pirate books -
I’m done. I’m out. I will support my publisher in protecting their revenue because I like the people at Jo Fletcher Books – Jo, Nicola, Tim, Becky, Tracey, Liza, Lottie and Paul (and all the other awesome ninjas) work really hard because they love books (and, y’know – eating things and living somewhere) – but I refuse to spend any more time or emotional currency on whether or not people can take and enjoy the stuff I’ve made without recognizing or rewarding me.
I’ve got better things to do***.
* View possibly subjective, but 100% accurate.
** Or, y’know – this very moment.
*** Like procrastinating by writing blog posts. Usual programming (mild silliness interspersed with gentle smugness) will resume shortly****.
**** True for a given value of ‘shortly’.
As I sigh wistfully and gaze out my window at the (not at all) decaying trees and the storm clouds that are (not at all) on the horizon, I cannot but think of the inevitable shortening of days and approach of darkness. That’s right – Winter is Coming.
If I was saying this out loud, odds are the other 60 million+ people on the island would say “…what? It’s still summer, mate.” Then I’d have to do some explaining, we’d end up talking about teachers’ holidays and I’d get huffy and storm off.
That being said, this has been a glorious summer in Britain, with sun and high temperatures, the finishing of film script and novel manuscript*, a long and gorgeous trip to Iceland and an unprecedented amount of good people met at once, a house move that was about as easy as those things get, an awesome new flat** and… there’s something I’m forgetting -
I am now – officially – a PUBLISHED AUTHOR.
Who’d a thunk it?
So all in all, a pretty darn good summer it has been.
However, I do not have all the time I wish I had to expound upon that at great length, so I shall love you and leave you for now – the Wife has that determined look on her face that she gets about 6-7 hours before Great Food Happens.