greygirlbeast: (Default)
Happy birthday to Neil, Holly, and Spooky's sister, Stephanie! Also, happy forty-second birthday to Sesame Street, which first aired on this date in 1969! And I was there*. No, really. I watched the first episode the day it was broadcast. Yes, I am getting old. But Kermit's even older. And now he's even older. And now he's older still. Me, too. Neil, Holly, and Stephanie, too. Funny how that works.

---

Now that I've returned to the wider, stranger arena of mass media, I'm having to remind myself how careful one has to be during interviews. I already have "a for example". This morning, Digital Spy is reporting:

Kiernan previously wrote for The Dreaming and other Sandman spinoff titles, which she described as "a very unpleasant experience" and "creative nightmare".

What I actually said, as accurately reported yesterday by Comic Book Resources, was:

Most of the time I was working for DC/Vertigo, it was a very unpleasant experience. Sometimes, pretty much a creative nightmare.

Context and subtly, people. There were some grand and wonderful moments working on The Dreaming, some gleaming moments, even. Just not enough of them to redeem the whole. But the first three story arcs, then getting to work with Dave McKean and John Totleben, all the stuff I learned from Neil, Goldie the Gargoyle, "The First Adventure of Miss Catterina Poe"...it was not all bad, as the Digital Spy article would have you think I said. Neil recently said to me, "The Dreaming taught you to be a professional," which is the truth. Anyway....if, somehow, you missed the announcement yesterday, here's last night's blog entry. Yes, there is going to be a Dancy comic.

---

I think one of the most frustrating things about being unable to talk about working with Dark Horse has been being unable to explain just how much work I'm juggling at the moment. Here's this month, November 2011 (the next twenty days), as "a for instance" (which is pretty much the same as "a for example"):

1) Write "Ex Libris" (~10k words) for chapbook to accompany Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart: 25 Tales of Weird Romance.
2) Finish with the galley pages of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, have them back in Manhattan by November 15th.
3) Write Alabaster: Wolves #3.
4) Write introduction to Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart: 25 Tales of Weird Romance, "Sexing the Weird."
5) Plan Sirenia Digest #72 (though it will likely be written in very early December).
6) Finish up the last of the edits on Alabaster: Wolves #2 (and comment on and approve and etc. and etc. the incoming pages from #1, endless brainstorming!!!!).

And actually, there's other stuff. But this is the work that's easy to categorize. "Bullet point. " Whatever. We're also working on selling Blood Oranges, for example, and there are new ebook pirates just off the coast, and more Dark Horse-related interviews on the way, and working with [livejournal.com profile] briansiano and [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy on the trailer for The Drowning Girl, and...you get the picture. Oh, and if anyone with very good web-design fu is willing to revamp my main website for...um...free books, please contact me immediately. There's enough chaos in my life at the moment that my agent has actually started recommending meditation; I think my panicked phone calls are freaking her out.

Gagh. I should go. The platypus is gnawing on my goddamn toes. Platypus slobber is disgustipating. But, here's a rather random assortment of very lousy photos I took last night (after Kyle, every photo I take looks lousy):

9 November 2011 )


*Spooky was only a zygote.
greygirlbeast: (alabaster2)
So, one hour ago, the first news of my Dark Horse Comics project, Alabaster, went up at Comic Book Resources. The "Twitterverse" (I shudder violently at that portmanteau) and Facebook have been awash in the announcement. First, here are relevant links:

1) The first announcement, plus an exclusive (and informative) interview at Comic Book Resources.

2) A large, full-colour version of the cover for #1, by the amazing Greg Ruth.

3) The official Dark Horse press release.

Here's a secret I've carried since late last year. If you guys think it was hard waiting a week to hear the news, imagine my having to wait the better part six months to see the announcement! Actually, my first meeting with Dark Horse was in Portland last year, during the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Since then, I knew I would be doing something with Dark Horse, but many possible projects were tossed about.

Then it was decided last November that I would do an illustrated Dancy Flammarion prose story for Dark Horse Presents #9. I wrote the prose story, "Bus Fare," (delivered on April 12th). And then, in late May, it was decided that the prose story would become a comic, but would still appear in DHP #9, and would still be titled "Bus Fare." And then things...took off. By July, I knew there would be an actual Alabaster comic series, beginning in 2012, and that the eight-page "Bus Fare" would become the first eight-pages of the first issue. Except, those eight pages grew into twenty-four pages, and I finished the first issue in September. The second was written in October. "Wolves" became the title for the first mini-series, which will, later, be collected in hardback format, and then in trade paperback. The first issue will be released in April 2012. The Eisner-Award nominated Steve Lieber is the series' artist, and he's making wonderful things from my scripts. My editor is the vivacious Rachel Edidin.

I'm not sure if this question was answered in the interview, but I'll answer it again here. It is no secret that I was pretty much never happy at DC/Vertigo, at least not after 1997 (though, yes, there were two attempts to return to work with them after The Sandman Presents – Bast: Eternity Game [2003]. Longtime blog readers will recall the work I did trying to get two titles*, first The Chain [2004, with Ted Naifeh] and then Bullet Girl [2005, with Peter Gross, which was, by the way, an utter and protracted nightmare, insuring I would never again even speak with anyone at DC**]). After 2005, I declared I would never again work in comics, unless, perhaps, certain criteria were met. The first of these was that the project would be 100% creator-owned. Suffice to say, Dark Horse was agreeable. Dancy Flammarion remains my own. The stories I will write for Dark Horse remain my own. All of it. Had Dark Horse not agreed to this particular point, this wouldn't be happening.

Gods, I'm probably leaving out a lot. But there are still things I'm not at liberty to discuss, and this is already a lot – what I've said here – and I'm haggard. I'll probably think of more stuff by tomorrow. Feel free to ask questions. I just can't promise I can answer them (questions I cannot answer, I'll simply not answer). Meanwhile, as they say, "Happy, happy, joy, joy."

Wearily Glad to Have That Out,
Aunt Beast

* Well, there's a future Sirenia Digest story, with art.
** That both projects went south was not the fault of the artists. They both rocked through the bullshit, and continue to do so.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday was a day off, as predicted. It was not the best sort of day off. I was too tired to leave the House. I helped Spooky clean the place a little. I started a painting I've been meaning to start since May. I read a little. There was a nap before dinner. After dinner, I went back to WoW and played my night-elf warrior, Mithwen, who has sat neglected since November 2008, when I abandoned her for my blood-elf warlock, Shaharrazad. Anyway...it was a day.

It would only have been a day, had Spooky's laptop not decided to go belly up. Again. Once again, it's probably the motherboard. She's taking it in for repairs today. Fortunately, it's still under warranty. But she'll be without it for a couple of weeks, which is going to make it harder to deal with eBay and various other necessary things. So it goes. She's stuck on my ancient, but dependable, iBook until her laptop comes back.

---

I wanted to put down some notes addressing John Glover's concerns, posted yesterday, that the "Best of CRK" volume would neglect older tales in favor of new ones. It is a concern that gets to the heart of why putting together the table of contents is proving so difficult for me (though there are other factors, as you'll soon see, that also make it very hard).

Yes, it's true. It's very hard for me to read the older stories (certainly those pre-2000). This is normal. Authors grow. Change. Our voices change, as do our likes and dislikes, etc. But, so far, a good portion of the ToC is comprised of stories written between 1995 and 1999, stories from Tales of Pain and Wonder, From Weird and Distant Shores, and Wrong Things. So, they certainly won't be left out. It helps, too, that very few stories written after 2005 will be included, as those are being reserved for future collections. So, this is mostly Tales of Pain and Wonder through To Charles Fort, With Love and Alabaster. Mostly. There will be very little material from Sirenia Digest, for example. Which helps me to avoid giving the older stories the cold shoulder.

Of course, nothing from the novels written during that time will be included. And none of my comics work (the latter for legal reasons, as all my work for DC/Vertigo was "work for hire," and I don't own it, so have no reprint rights. And getting those rights would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming.). This is a "best of short fiction" volume.

But the question of what goes in and what doesn't is more complex than making sure the book represents the full range of my work during this initial eleven-year chunk of my career ('94-'05). The biggest problem I have is in defining the term best. Are we talking about my personal favorites? Reader favorites? Those stories that have been chosen by editors for annual "best of" anthologies? The stories that have won awards? The stories that were only nominated for awards? The stories that have been singled out by reviewers and received the most praise? Stories that mark a sudden stylistic or thematic shift? The stories that have most often been reprinted?

What does best mean in this context? Truthfully, there's no correct answer to that question. All answers must be subjective, relative to one perspective or another. I'm weighing all of these factors (and probably a few more) in choosing the stories.

So, that should offer some insight into how I'm going about this process. When I was offered the chance to do the book, I think my reaction was, "Wow. This will be so easy!" But it's not even remotely simple.

---

It's 12:49 p.m., and I'm still not awake. Mothmen, get the oxygen tank!

Postscript: I just heard from Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press that The Ammonite Violin & Others is down to the last 82 copies. That's only 82 remaining out of 1,800 copies. So, if you want to snag one, you'd better do it very soon.
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Well, first the good news. Peter Straub has selected "The Long Hall on the Top Floor" for Fantastic Tales: American Stories of Terror and the Uncanny, which he's editing for the Library of America. The volume is due out in October 2009. I count this, with the reprint of "In the Water Works (1889)" in S. T. Joshi's American Supernatural Tales (Penguin Classics, 2007), as among my most notable accomplishments thus far. "The Long Hall on the Top Floor" first appeared in an issue of the now-defunct Carpe Noctem magazine, in 1999, and was thereafter collected in Tales of Pain and Wonder.

But, the bad news is that it looks like my plans for a March "vacation" are going to have to be scrapped, as I owe [livejournal.com profile] ellen_datlow a story, and somehow the deadline, and, indeed, the whole book, had slipped my mind, until she emailed me about it last night. So...I have until March 23rd to get that done, and when you figure in Sirenia Digest #40, the month is pretty much shot. I might be able to squeeze in a week between the story and the digest, maybe.

I spent all this morning figuring out fair-use and public-domain questions concerning three quotes used in The Red Tree. Specifically, a quote from Seneca the Younger's Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, one from Hesiod's Theogony, and another from The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe. All these were, of course, translations, and what is at question is when the copyright on the translations I used expired, or if they have not yet expired. Turns out, we're clear on Hesiod (Evelyn-White translation) and Goethe (Saunders translation), but not on Seneca (Gummere translation). Fortunately, [livejournal.com profile] sovay is very kindly providing me with a new translation of the Seneca passage in question, so I won't have to cut it from the book. That was my extra-tedious morning.

Here in Providence, the day is cold, and the sun blindingly bright off all the snow that isn't melting. Right now, it 29F, but 19F with wind chill factored in.

I'm still looking back over comments I've made regarding sf, and my science fiction, in particular, and there's this interesting bit from March 5th, 2006:

[livejournal.com profile] matociquala (Elizabeth Bear) and [livejournal.com profile] cpolk (Chelsea Polk) have coined a literary neologism for a certain sort of sf, a term which I'm finding extremely useful: eco-gothic*. I quote: "We look around at the world and we're fucking scared. There's this underlying idea of the implacability of the universe and the smallness of humanity. We know that there is no guiding, caring force. That life is amazing in its tenacity and persistence, but that ultimately, it's completely pitiless. And if you take it too far, if you unbalance it enough, it will crush you. This idea of the tenacity of life in a pitiless universe. And nobody else seems to fucking GET IT. Because life is tenacious, but humanity is disposable. It's not a tragedy that the passenger pigeon perished. And it won't be a tragedy when we go either...God doesn't care if we persist. We're not special. We're not essential. The universe doesn't love us bestest of all. Because you know, there's this critique that a Black Novel is not Relevant because it's about Blackness, not Humanity. Which upon I call bullshit. Because a human novel isn't relevant. Because it's about humanity. Six point five billion ugly bags of mostly water on a second-class planet in an arm of a barred spiral galaxy. Pretending like Hell that we signify." Click here for the transcript from which this quote was cobbled together.

Certainly, all of my sf would fall into this category of "eco-gothic." The Dry Salvages, "Riding the White Bull," "Faces in Revolving Souls," "The Pearl Diver," "Persephone," "Hoar Isis," "Between the Flatirons and the Deep Green Sea"...all of it. And I think one thing I found particularly intriguing was the suggestion that writers of "eco-gothic" sf may, perhaps, do so because "we were the second-class geeks who took life sciences instead of physics with the hard-line geeks." That's one of my dirty little secrets. Sure, I took chemistry and physics and mathematics in college, but I had no real aptitude for it. It was in the life and earth sciences that I excelled, particularly in paleontology, which is often disparagingly labeled by the math and physics types as a "soft science." Anyway, it's just something I wanted to note, because of the things I said about sf on Friday, and because it's something I want to think about. I have no problem with a neologism or a literary category so long as it is useful and needed and I suspect this one may be both. It is, of course, inherently Lovecraftian, and minor caveats and questions do arise. Perhaps I will come back to those later. Not only does this remind me why I shall never appeal to those sf readers who dislike "dystopian" sf, but also why I shall likely always find myself in a rather minuscule fraction of Wiccans. The gods do not care because, after all, they're only hopeful metaphors for needful humans. Anyway, thank you Bear and Chelsea.


So, it's not surprising that Elizabeth Bear ended up writing an afterword for A is for Alien, an afterword which, in part, explores the idea of the eco-gothic.

Also, it has been one year to the day that I announced in the journal that Spooky and I would be moving from Atlanta to Providence. What an eventful year it has been.

Yes, the Immaculate Order of the Falling Sky has duly noted the Earth's recent near-miss by a Tunguska-sized asteroid. Hope springs eternal.

Last night, I stumbled across some bloody frakking idiot, somewhere on the web, who'd referred to Echo (from The Dreaming) as a "Mary Sue" character, and I'm still laughing...

* [livejournal.com profile] matociquala later found a use of "eco-gothic" dating back to 1996, in a description of Stephen Palmer's novel, Memory Seed.
greygirlbeast: (Humanoid)
No entry yesterday morning, because Wednesday was the sort of not-writing day I hate to have to write about. Hours in front of the keyboard, trying to find my way into the story to accompany Vince's illustration, and all to no avail. But yesterday went much, much better, and the solution at last presented itself, and I wrote 1,124 words on a piece that I'm currently calling "Untitled 33." With luck, I'll be able to finish it tomorrow or Sunday. Oh, and here's the image again. It's behind a cut, because like everything in Sirenia Digest (subscribe today!), it is, obviously, "mature" and "not work-safe" and likely to offend (or at least confuse) anyone who doesn't think swamp ooze is sexy (I am told such people exist, though I myself doubt it can be true):

Last warning )


Here in Providence, we have a steady, cold rain. Spooky spent all day yesterday trying to get the wipers on the car fixed. Wasn't the motor that drives them. Wasn't the wiring. Turns out it's a switch, and they're having the find the part from a junkyard, so we're sort of grounded until the rain stops.

Also yesterday, I read "A new Pleistocene tree-kangaroo (Dirpotodontia; Macropodidae) from the Nullarbor Plain of south-central Australia."

At least one Harvard professor believes that as much as 40% of World of Warcraft players are "addicted" to the game. Actually, that story is two years old. Anyway, me, I'm just an obsessive dork stuck in a massive leveling crunch after my dubious decision to move over to an RP server (where no RP actually seems to take place). As of last night (well, this ayem about two), since the switch from Merricat to Mithwen on Monday night, the game tells me I've logged 1 day, 2 hours, 13 minutes, and 13 seconds inworld. And I've made it halfway through Lvl 17. I hope that tonight I will regain Lvl 19, and I can back off again and just do this for, you know, fun. Really, I was fine until I "had" to start over. No more playing until my eyes cross and my ears bleed. Oh, and my thanks to Sopphi for the goodies. Also, last night —— for the first time —— I reported a player over a stupid name —— "Flippasaurus." Yes, I am both the spelling and the name police. So, there. But...I am loving the game, truly.

As for the SL Howard's End sim, well, it's been a bit ignored in this wave of WoW, but I will be taking steps this evening to remedy that. I'm going to send out a notice with a list of all the approved characters so far (which is pretty much everyone). The deadline for character submission was midnight last night. Our cemetery (modeled loosely after Stonington Cemetery in Connecticut and River Bend Cemetery in Rhode Island) is taking shape, as are some of the primary buildings. But yes, we are behind. This is what happens when one (finally) becomes utterly disillusioned with SL and discovers WoW at exactly the same time.

As for the financial crisis and President Asshole's bailout proposal, I'm trying my best not to think on any of that. Near as I can tell, fretting over this great bloody mess does me about as much good as fretting over continental drift. Or watching the debates tonight.

And though it is hardly the much-praised "high road," I would like to take one small moment to gloat over the demise of DC Comics' Minx line of mangaesque/"alternative young adult" graphic novels. Back in the autumn of 2005, Peter Gross and I wasted four months rewriting proposals for what would have been a comic titled Bullet Girl, when it was clear that all Vertigo was interested in was launching Minx, and the "focus group" meetings for Minx, and making our comic as much like the forthcoming Minx books as possible. I finally walked out on the whole mess in December of that year, sick of rewriting and idiotic suggestions in the interest of capturing the attention of the TokyoPop crowd (and never mind that TokyoPop's not doing so well these days, either) and having realized that the comic no longer bore any resemblance to the story I wanted to tell. I have nothing against manga. It's fun stuff. But the whole Minx undertaking was a cynical attempt to pander and second guess, and the mess it was making of Vertigo left me disinterested in ever working with them again. I do, of course, worry for the creators who were suckered into this fiasco.

Oh...look. The platypus is getting out hisherit's pointy boots.
greygirlbeast: (whitewitch3)
I spent most of the last week on Secret Project B, which, by my reckoning (and day planner), makes about two full months I've invested in the endeavour since it all began back in September. And yesterday I walked away from it. Having grown up very, very poor, walking away from possible work is still about the hardest thing for me to do. Anyway, at least it doesn't have to be a secret anymore. It was a monthly for Vertigo called Bullet Girl, and had it ever come to fruition, it might have been a very cool book. We made it through the first committee review thingy and there was considerable interest in the project from DC higher ups. But, at some point, I became hopelessly bogged down in the story and all the endless proposal tweaking, and finally it became clear to me that I'd burned out on the whole affair. So yesterday I bowed out, because I knew that my heart was no longer in it. I feel bad about it. I feel very, very bad about it. But it was my decision. At some future date, once I've finished Alabaster and Daughter of Hounds and probably the next couple of novels, after all that, I'll likely have another go at Vertigo. I'd very much like to be doing comics again. Anyway, that's that. Move along.

Add this to the list of things that writers have to learn: when and how to walk away.

Thanks to everyone whose let me know that Frog Toes and Tentacles has reached them. From yesterday's LJ comments and a few e-mails, I see it's already reached people all over North America and as far away as Sweden. And I'm very pleased that everybody seems happy with the book. I'm in love with it, myself. I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on it. Today, I'll be laying out Sirenia Digest and sending it off to my PDF guru. Issue #1 may go out as soon as tomorrow. It's not too late to subscribe. Oh, and Vince's illustration for "Madonna Littoralis" is superb.

Here's an e-mail from Tyler Haywood re: Frog Toes and Tentacles:

I was reading over the list of influences at the beginning, and was wondering if you had ever heard of Zdzislaw Beksinski, a Polish surrealist. His oil paintings are very evocative and perhaps something you'd like. Anyway, the link is below. Hope you enjoy it. Beksinski

I'm a great admirer of Beksinski's work and reported his murder in my March 2nd, 2005 entry. One of the frustrating things about Frog Toes and Tentacles was that I needed to keep the acknowledgments to one page, even though I had far more than a single page's worth of people who'd helped inspire the pieces. In turn, one of the good things about doing a second volume will be having a second chance to acknowledge all the artists who weren't mentioned the first time. Like Aubrey Beardsley, for example. I'm astounded I didn't squeeze him into that long list.

There's not much to say about yesterday. Most of it was spent in an unproductive black funk. I did finish an interview (more on this in my next entry). It was really too cold for a walk, though I attempted one anyway. Last night, Spooky and I had slices at Fellini's, then watched Little Big Man, which she'd never seen, and which I'd never seen widescreen. It's one of my very favourite films. That was probably the best part of yesterday.

Time to make the bloody doughnuts. Please take a look at the current eBay auctions. My thanks, by the way, to the folks who purchased that copy of Candles for Elizabeth and the Aberrations #27. You'll be getting a little something extra in your packages.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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