Another Legend Dies

Forrest Ackerman died yesterday at the age of 92. He is the man who discovered Ray Bradbury. As a literary agent he represented not only Bradbury but also the likes of Isaac Asimov.

Others might know him as an editor or through his work in movies or… in countless ways.


What a difference a year makes

One year ago this month, my sister’s company hosted a Christmas party at the Silverdale Yacht Club. We had dinner, drinks, there were even gifts handed out to the employees.

This year, that company fell victim to the Great Depression II, and no longer exists. She’s unemployed.

One year ago this month, I was actively seeking traditional publication for my novels. I was convinced (by the people I had surrounded myself with) that it was The. Way.

This year, I’ve seen the light. I’ve realized what a ridiculous notion that is for me as a writer – for anyone who is a writer. To focus so narrowly on that as your goal is to do your art a disservice. Now I’m in control, answerable to the only entities that matter – Readers.

I don’t know what December 2009 will bring, but I know what I’ll be doing when it gets here.

Freedom of Icky Speech

I know I just posted the other day, and it’s really soon for another post. And I know that maybe you’re getting sick of reading things that I find around the ‘net and put here. But I put ’em here with the good intention that you might enjoy reading them, and they might educate and improve your life. IT’s what I try to do with my life all the time.

Anyway, today I want to explain the only political view I hold that I’ll actually argue and defend and care about. And I want to do it through the modicum of Neil Gaiman, who has more or less said what I believe, word for word, more eloquently and importantly than I could ever hope to.

Please, go read what he’s just posted.

It’s important. It’s vitally important to me, not only as a lover of comics all across the range, but as a lover of books, and as a writer. Freedom of Speech is so important, there isn’t an italicize button strong enough for me to emphasize that for you. All I can do is keep repeating it: freedom of speech is SO important.

ANd the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is just as vitally important…because comic books are a quiet battleground that nobody’s watching and as a result, bad things happen there (read, in the Neil Gaiman article, what he says about Mike Diana. And then maybe, please, go google him and Boiled Angel and see what happened.). What happens in comics can be appalling and almost cartoonish in how heinously wrong it is. But it happens there.

We think that censorship and book-banning is a thing of the past, what those primitives used to do before the 1950s. We don’t have a really great sense of history and time, in our culture and perhaps in our species. But book banning is still alive and well. Why not go look at the Banned Books list for the past few years? And understand that this isn’t just some “Top Ten” list, this is a list of books people are fighting to not allow to be read. These are books people are fighting against the authors and the publishers, as if they were an actual crime.

You have to fight for the books. All of them.

I can’t urge you strongly enough to get a membership with the CBLDF. Honestly, if you hit your head and are a bit disoriented and considering getting me a Christmas present…go get yourself a CBLDF membership. That’s as good as gold to me. And if you aren’t big in comics, what about the First Amendment Rights group? There are other groups out there, fighting for freedom of speech. And they are all stretched and straining. You don’t hear it in the news (and when you do, it’s always against the work) but it’s a quiet battleground full of bloody, bloody battles that never quit. Why not send some aid to the troops?

Speak up with them, while you still can speak at all. Please.

Again, go read Neil Gaiman’s post.

And may I suggest a meme out of this? Either post a link to the Neil Gaiman article — or to this article — on your own blog. Post a link and then discuss, as I have, why freedom of speech matters to you and what you think of it. And encourage people yourself. Even if you can’t afford to support the organizations…thanks to them, you’ve got a voice, and you can holler with it. Why not go holler from some rooftops and see if you can get some of the other voices in the neighborhood to howl at the moon too?


Write What You Gotta

Here’s a quote from a much longer Alan Moore interview, about being a writer, being a writer’s writer, and being happy. I find it especially relevant, but if I went into why, then we’d have a seriously excessive long post here, since the Alan Moore bit is already pretty long.

You could end up as a writer’s writer, and that would be a terrible fate. What that means is you’d be a writer where all the other writers would say: “God, I wish I was as brilliant as him, and I’m glad I’m not as penniless as him”. I’ve known a few borderline – Kathy Acker was nearly a writer’s writer, other writers would say: “Jesus, how does she do this stuff, these sentences are fucking fantastic…the way they sort of self-destruct…”. But she was not easy and she was not popular. Iain Sinclair, I think – yeah, let’s go out on a limb – the finest writer currently working in the English language – Downriver , one of his best books, took him five years to write and he got 2000 quid for it, how many it sold I don’t know, but probably not a lot. Most writers, even the very best ones, especially the very best ones, don’t often make a living from it. You go into any branch of Waterstone’s and 90% of those books on the shelves, unless you’re talking about Catherine Cookson, Stephen King, Jeffrey Archer – the ‘giants’ as I like to think of them – unless you’re talking about them you’re talking about someone who is a teacher, or a social worker, or works in a bookshop, or works as a lorry driver, you’re doing something to pay the rent and then working into the small hours while the wife and kids are asleep. There’s levels, there’s levels to being a writer, and I think the thing to decide is the level you’re happiest at. If you’re happy writing pulp adventure stories then for God’s sake write pulp adventure stories, and if there comes a point when you’re no longer happy writing pulp adventure stories, try something else.

Don’t think that you have to write – just because literary critics decided some time in the 19 th century that Jane Austen’s comedy of manners was the only form of literature that could really be considered literature. Basically it’s because her novels were about the habits of the class that could afford to buy books. They were about the habits of the class of people who were criticising the books. They were flattering. It was holding a mirror up to a particular strata of society – which included the critics – and they said: “Yes, our ways, our vanities, our funny little intrigues, this is the stuff of legend, the only stuff of legend. For God’s sake don’t write anything in genre. Don’t write detective stories, because they’re low and vulgar”. Even if you are Raymond Chandler, even if you are an extraordinarily beautiful and gifted writer. If you’re writing detective stories, forget it. Ghost and horror stories, well we’ll just about allow Poe, but no, on second thoughts, and certainly don’t even consider people like Lovecraft, who couldn’t write . Who had a ‘clumsy prose style’. Apparently. Clark Ashton Smith. Gaudy. Forget about him. Arthur Knacken. You’re not gonna find these people anywhere in Melvyn Smith’s list of 100 novels you simply must read. You’re not gonna find any genre. You’re mainly gonna find novels of manners. You’re not gonna find any science fiction, even if it’s H.G. Wells or Olaf Stapleton, because science fiction is a lower art form than the novel of manners.

I’d say to anyone aspiring to be a writer: write what you like. Write what you have genuine enthusiasm for. Don’t write to get a Booker prize. Angela Carter, God bless her, always used to refer to ‘that sort of person’ as ‘shortlist victims’, and it’s true. Michael Moorcock is never going to get a Booker Prize, but he’s a better writer than 100% of writers who have won the Booker Prize over the last 20 years. But he’s vulgar, he used to write comics, he used to write science-fantasy trilogies. In three weekends. On speed. He used to write the Talisman adventure libraries, he used to write Sexton Blake , along with Jack Trevor Story, another writer who will never be included in the canon of great British writers. Jack Trevor Story, one of our very best writers ever.

I think it’s a great quote. And it’s all true. I think it’s a fantastic interview, too, although I recognize that not everyone 1) even knows who Alan Moore is, or why they should care and 2) Feels like reading a 26,000 word interview.

But if you do. Here’s the link.

thanksgiving-card2 Happy Thanksgiving, Debaclers. I hope each and every one of you had an enjoyable day, surrounded by friends, family, and tribe.

Just a thought

2 AM and I’m still awake
Writing this song if I get it all down
On paper it’s no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to.

From Anna Nalick’s really nifty song “Breathe” which I quite like.

I just listened to it, while working, and I’ve always liked that line, but never really clarified. I like it, because I like the idea of art threatening the life it belongs to. Of art being a little bit dangerous and a little bit hard to contain. I like the idea of art being toxic to the artist. It makes good sense to me, and you can see people where perhaps it was overly toxic and it drove them mad (Poe, and Richard Dadd come to mind). I like the idea of toxic art.

Of course, I suppose that metaphor turns the notebook-pencil/computer into, er, your kidneys, and there goes the beauty of the metaphor. Well, maybe not entirely. They’re kidneys, filtering out the art from your blood and running it back through your body, until it fills up with art again and has to be cleaned.

It’s a good image. Just a thought. 🙂

Nipples on the Bat Suit

Earlier today, while talking to Lori and Pete, I likened literary agents to Nipples on the Batsuit, which drew an instant response from Pete that went something like “We DON’T talk about the nipples on the batsuit!”

So naturally I had to.

Speaking of other things that don’t make a whole lot of sense on the surface, I was going through the search terms that wordpress tells me folk have been using to find Castle Debacle, and some of them are way out there.

Zombies and sex are a common combination that lead folk here. Though why anyone in their right mind would Google “Sex with zombies” makes me shiver.

Anything and everything to do with Firefly, specifically the Reavers, bring a lot of traffic here.  Honestly, as Pete suggested, we should just blog daily about Firefly and watch the hits roll in.

Another one that makes me shake my head: Why Pangea Doesn’t Exist.  Where Pangea Went.  Um . . . . hello?

Or one that made ME go Googling: Species 8472.  That one comes up a lot.

Gorram. Another Firefly reference,  Gorrammit.

Some of them are simply looking for a good Tea, while others clearly just want to snog the undead.

So far, no one’s come ’round here wondering why there are nipples on the Batsuit though.