The funny thing about making a living as a writer is how eventless it seems as you’re doing it, and how varied when you sit back and take stock. When Marianne comes home after a long day protecting the health of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and asks how my day went, I’ll hold up my hands and wiggle my fingers: “Like that.” Because, really, that’s all I do. Writing as a spectator sport ranks right up there with World Federation Napping.
But take a glim at the picture to the right. That’s Stephan Martiniere’s original artwork for The Dragons of Babel, my new fantasy novel, coming out in December, 2007. Pretty nifty, eh? Martiniere is a jack-of-all-trades artist. He was the visual art director for games (like Uru: Ages Beyond Myst) that even I’ve heard of, was nominated for an Emmy for an animated film he directed, won an award for his work on a theme park, and on and on and on. And, of course, he does book covers.
So, yeah, that day wasn’t entirely eventless.
The scan was sent to me by David Hartwell, my editor at Tor, who also said I should start a blog for the express purpose of promoting the book. “But make it interesting,” he said. “There are a thousand sites out there with the first chapter of a novel and a scan of the cover. Nobody cares for that anymore. They want to see something different. The more different interesting things, the better.”
Okay, I said. That’s what I’ll do.
And here I am.
Reflecting on what I might possibly include or talk about as incentives for people to drop by regularly, I off the top of my head came up with the following short list:
the odd piece of art or three by the inimitable Jason Van Hollander
the single most collectable book to be published this coming November
photos from my research trip to Moscow this March
my many collaborations with Eileen Gunn
my noble and probably quixotic crusade to destroy a literary term
and (probably) more photos and stories from my upcoming trip to Chengdu, China.
Which, again, suggests that my life is not nearly so eventless as it seems to me.
But, of course, if I’m going to be flogging The Dragons of Babel, I’d better come up with interesting things to post that relate directly to it. Such as the list of Entities, Places, Things (below), which I created to speed the copy editing along. I learned long ago that if you’re going to fill a novel with strange words and Odd Capitalizations, a list like this can spare the copy editor worlds of trouble and thus make him or her more kindly disposed toward the author, and more likely to assume that I might have some rough idea of what I’m doing in the novel. Still, when I assembled this list, I was astonished how many different fairy types and characters there actually were in the novel. It’s as thronged with ‘em as Richard Dadd’s The Fairy Feller’s Masterstroke.
The list is slightly altered to avoid spoiling plot surprises. No “Norman Bates’s mother (actually Bates himself) here. Though such entries are indeed useful to the copy editor.
Another thing David Hartwell said was that the blog would have to be updated two or three times a week, “without fail.” So, all right. I will commit here and now to updating the blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Mondays and Wednesdays absolutely and positively, and Fridays if at all possible. (I threw that last bit in just to give myself a little wriggle room, but I don't expect to need it.)
If there’s anybody out there who doesn’t find this more than enough already, you can also check out my Web page, www.michaelswanwick.com, which is chock-a-block with fiction, essays, a writing column that does its best to cut off all new talent at the knees, and I forget exactly what else. There’s a lot of it, though.
See you on Wednesday!
Entities, Places, Things:
This list is for the assistance of the proofreader. It is not intended to go into the book.
abatwa (singular and plural)
the Alphabet of Trees
alphonse (slang for a kept man)
Amnye Machen (not Amne Machin)
Anastasia, Aunt Anastasia, Auntie
the Armies of the Mighty
the Armies of Twilight
the Army of Night
Alberecht & Ting, Gastrolitheurs
Alcyone L’Inconnu, Alcyone, Allie
an apple imp
Bessie Applemere, Hag Applemere
Ararat (both mountain and skyscraper)
ATF (Alchemy, Tobacco, and Firearms)
Auld Black Agnes
Avalon, the Isles of Avalon
Babel, the Tower of Babel, the Tower, the Dread Tower, the Tower of Whores
Babylonia, Babylon, Babylonians
The Ballad of Oberon’s Arse
Battery Park, the Battery
the Bay of Demons
the Blessed Isles
Blue Mountain coffee
les bonnes meres
Bowling Green Station
the Breakneck Boys, the Breaknecks
the Brig o’ Doom, the Brig-O
the burning man, the Burning Man (first usage is l.c.; thereafter, a proper name), the lancer
Camp Oberon, Oberon Displaced Persons Camp, Oberon DPC
capricorn (lower case)
the Cauldron Boy
the center square (later known as Tyrant Square)
the Century of the Turbine
the Chansons Amoreuses de Merlin Sylvanus
the City Garda
Le Club Frottage
Cluricauns, cluricauns (capitalized when short for the Society of Cluricauns; lower case
the Society of Cluricauns
the Lord High Comptroller
the Contingent Territories
the Council of Magi, the Council
crystal goon, goon
the Criminal Vengeance Division
the Cult of Profane Love
Daiera, Damia, Danae (names that are not Deianira’s)
the Darul as-Salam Arcades
the Daughters of the West
day of the Kraken
day of the Labrys
day of the Toad
the Debatable Hills
Deianira, Deianira the Diener (a diener)
dire wolf, dire wolves
Division of Signs and Omens
a dragon (also known as the old war-drake, the Worm, Father of Lies, Lord Dragon, etc., etc.)
dragons, war-dragons, war-drakes
Pippin Droit-de-Seigneur (old Stinky)
The Duchess’s Hole
Dullahan the Deathless (Bobby Buggane)
duppy, duppies, duppy-man
dwarf, dwarves, dwarven, dwarvenkind.
dwarves, black (black hair, pale skin)
dwarves, red (ginger hair, swarthy skin)
elf-brat, elf-girl, elf-lady, elf-lord, elf-pack
Fata Elspeth (‘Speth)
elven, high-elven (not elfin)
the Empire of Night, Lord Weary’s Empire
Epona, the queen-mare
Ereshkigal (one of the Seven)
the Fane of Darkness
Eilrik von Fenris
the Fifth Amazons
the First Age
the Fisher King
the Fisher King’s disease
the flesh folk
Florian of House L’Inconnu, Florian L’Inconnu
the Fôret de Verges
the forges of the sunset
Galadriel, Gal, Laddie-girl
the Gates of Dawn
glamour (delusory magic) is given the British spelling to distinguish it from glamor
Gog, Magog, and Gogmagog
Grand Central Station
the great forges of the East
the Great River
great-great-great-grandmother (Will’s stone-mother)
the Guardians of the Four Quarters
the halls of granite
Handel’s Water Music
the Hanging Gardens, the Gardens, the Hanging Gardens of Babel
Hard Rock Cafe
His Absent Majesty
His Absent Majesty’s Air Force, the Air Force
His Absent Majesty’s governance
the Holy City
Fata von und zu Horselberg.
Hound of Hoolan
humble-bees (not bumble-bees), p. 188
the Ice Tongs Man
Ichabod the Fool
“Imate li što za prijaviti?” (Croatian)
the Inner World
the Ivory Gate
Jenny Jumpup, Jenny, Jen
johatsu (both singular and plural)
John the Conqueror root
Joyeuse (Charlemagne’s sword)
the Just and Honorable Guild of Rogues, Swindlers, Cozeners, and Knaves
the Khazar Dynasty
the King’s Master of Revels
the Land of Fire
the Land of Youth
the Legless One
Liane the Wanderer
the lighthouse of Rhodes
Lily St. Dionysée
the Lion Guard
Little Tommy Redcap
Lords of Babel
Lords of the Governance
Lords of the Mayoralty
the Lower East Side
Queen Mab’s lace
the Mad Dog
St. John Malice
manticore, manticore cub
Marduk, Marduk XVII, Marduk XXIII, Marduk XXIV
Big Red Margotty
Little Red Margotty
Maxwell’s imp of the perverse
the Master of the Tests
the Meatpacking District
the Mother of Beasts
the Mother of Darkness
Mother Griet, Mom-Mom, Grietchen
Mother Night (one of the Seven)
the Mountains of the Moon [see Ptolemy]
the Nameless Ones
Nanshe (El Sonámbula, der Träumengeist, L’Oneiroi des Reves)
Niflheim, Niflheim Station, Niflheimers
the Obsidian Throne (the Unmoving Pivot of the World, the Perilous Siege)
Old City Hall
the Old Forest
oroborus (not ouroboros)
the Outer World
the Palace of Leaves
Pierrot, Monsieur Pierrot, Lord Pierrot
the political police
Porte Molitor Station, Porte Molitor
the potter and her ‘prentices
les poulettes, une poulette (the political police)
the prisoner of Elfland
the Public Library
Radegonde de la Cockaigne
Ralph the Ferrier
the Rat’s Nose
Jack Riddle, Captain Jack Riddle, Captain Riddle, Captain Jack, Jack the Lucky
the River Road
the rock people
the Roxy Movie Theater
Salem Toussaint, Alderman Toussaint, the Big Guy, the Boss
Saligos de Gralloch
Fata Melusine Sansculotte
the Scissors-Grinder (old Tanarahumra)
the Scrannel Dogge
Selene (the moon)
Sherlock Holmes Junior
Shorty (Hrothgar Thalwegsson)
the Sigil of Inspiration
Siktir git! (Turkish)
the Sons of the Blest
the Sons of Corrin (crows)
The Sons of Fire
the Southern Seas
spook (racist slang for haint)
Jack and Nora Sprat
Stardust, stardust (the song is capitalized, the substance not)
the Straits of Hyperborea
the Sucker Punch A.C.
the Sullen Man
Swiss Army knife
the swordsfey St Vier (no period after St)
T’ai Shan (not to be confused with Tai-hang Shan)
Teggish (informal adj. for the Tylwyth Teg)
Thai shit demons
Hrothgar Thalwegsson (Shorty)
Third Street Station
the Thousand Races
three card Monte
Tir na bOg (not a typo for Tir na nOg)
the Tower of Whores, the Dread Tower, the Tower of Kings, the Tower (Babel)
the transit police
trolls, trollish, trollweight
Tylwyth Teg (golden-skinned, leaf-eared)
ungodsly (not ungodly)
the Unmoving Pivot of the World (the Obsidian Throne)
the Upper West Side
Uptown, uptown (capitalized when a place or adjective, but not when a direction)
"Vašu putovnicu, molim!" (Croatian)
Vickie, Victoria il Volpone Sheherazade Jones, Contessa Victoria il Volpone
the village elders
the village moot
the West (a region)
the West (a Titan)
the West Side
the Western Paradise
Whinny Moor Landfill
the whisperer, the Whisperer (first three times lower case, upper case thereafter), Whisperer
the White Ladies
whitesmiths, the whitesmith
wild man of the forest, wild man, wild men
Will le Fey, Will, Master Le Fey, Unca Will
[Winds]: the Anemoi, Boreas, Zephyros, Notos, Euros, Tramontana, Ponente, Ostro Levante,
Maestro, Libeccio, Siroco, Greco
Le Wine Bar
winged bulls, bulls, man-bulls, bull-man
Frank Lloyd Wright
Xylia of Arcadia
the Year Eater (one of the Seven)
the year of the Grasshopper
year of the Monolith
Yggdrasil, the world tree
Tell us about your crusade to destroy a literary term!
I am not sure which I am more surprised by, the very existence of your blog, or its appearance, with a promise of regular updates, immediately before your trip to China. You'll become preternaturally savvy at finding Internet cafes....
I have gone and preordered the book just because I have to know how you got all those words into one book.
Here's a marketing approach that has the advantage of, so far as I know, never having been tried. Tor should print a pamphlet containing your copyedit list, slugging it: Look At All The Words You'll Learn in Michael Swanwick's New Novel!
Distribute the pamphlet to papers, pundits, pedagogs, English teachers, bloggers, with a simple cover letter: Spread the Words!
Eats, Shoots and Leaves lovers would flock unstoppable to lexical leadership; the shade (as it were) of Nabokov would smile.
Best of luck with the book -- and all the words inside it.
It's "fix-up" right? Isn't that the literary term you want to destroy?
Welcome to the world of blogging. I put you on my bookmarks before I even read the first post.
I want to know more about bottled stories.
I too would like to know the literary term you are out to destroy.
Welcome to the blogosphere. I followed the link from Making Light, subscribed to your blog's RSS feed and am very interested in electric pickles.
I also look forward to reading your book.
My apologies for not posting sooner. I decided to prep for my trip to China next week by taking a 400-mile jaunt down to Roanoke for a few days.
Thanks to everybody for your comments, particularly Zack. People who buy books on spec drive the culture every bit as much as writers do.
I'll get to all the promised topics just as soon as I can, I swear. Right now I've got to rush out and buy some socks. It's the inevitable consequence of making sudden trips without advance planning.
Second blog entry in not too many hours.
Well. Not that I was planning to not buy the book, but now I have to buy the book. If that makes any sense.
I agree with Eileen. But don't spoil your trip by planning things around Internet cafes too much.
Jeez -- if I'd known you were coming to Roanoke (my farm's about 20 miles south) I'd have asked you to bring some rain.
Also added the RSS feed to my list. It was neat meeting you at Confluence. I, too, look forward to see how you fit all those works into one book. :) Anything with the Yggdrasil, but not the Narns, and the Just and Honorable Guild of Rogues, Swindlers, Cozeners, and Knaves should be interesting.
At MichaelSwanwick.com you promised updates on Monday and Friday certainly, and Wednesdays possibly. Now here you promise updates on Mondays and Wednesdays certainly, and Fridays optionally.
We are alert to your flim-flammery.
Each contract is individually binding.
Wait. Wait. You're expecting consistency from a science fiction writer? A man who makes his living telling lies in a genre that's synonymous with "lies nobody in his right mind would believe"?
Oh, Richard. Have I got some stock options to sell YOU!
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