October 26th, 2007


Howard Hughes and the Ichwan Bedwine

I'll start this morning with an email from a reader, an unusual way for me to begin, I know. D. W. Payton writes:

I recently read your novelization of the upcoming film Beowulf. Why did you write the novel in the present tense?

The same reason that I write almost everything I write in present tense, in an attempt to achieve a greater sense of immediacy. And I saw no reason to break form with the novelization. Indeed, it seemed even more appropriate in this case. I use present tense, usually, to try to implant a cinematic immediacy — so, given that I was adapting a screenplay to novel, present tense. When you sit down in the theatre, the film happens before your eyes, as though these events are occurring for the first time, as though you are present, not as though you are having the story told to you. There are exceptions to this rule, in both film and literature, of course, when a storyteller placed within the story by the author functions as a narrator. In those cases, I would tend towards a mix of past and present tense, or simply settle for past. Hope that answers the question, and if you have not already picked up a copy of Beowulf, just click the link. Just please do remember this is not, strictly speaking, a new novel by me, but a novelization I have written based upon a screenplay. There's a good bit of me in there (and a few scenes and a lot of dialogue that aren't in the screenplay or the film, because I had to make an 80,000-word novel from a 115 pp. screenplay), but this is primarily Neil and Roger's baby.

Yesterday. Let's see. There was a lot of email. I approved Vince's sketch for "The Bed of Appetite." Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press sent me the galleys/page proofs for the new edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder. There was an email exchange with Anne Sowards, my editor at Penguin, regarding Daughter of Hounds and whether I want to make any edits before the book goes into paperback (I do, but only minor ones). I spent a good portion of the afternoon putting together the manuscript for the Tails of Tales of Pain and Wonder chapbook and finding more material to include therein. Later, I shifted gears and started thinking about the new lycanthropy story I mentioned yesterday. I re-read three Angela Carter stories — "The Werewolf" (1977), "The Company of Wolves" (1977) and "Wolf Alice" (1978) — and then Peter S. Beagle's hilarious "Lila the Werewolf" (1967). Mostly, I wanted to be sure that I wouldn't be cribbing from stories I've read too many times to count.

Spooky warmed up gumbo for lunch. Later, she had a pumpkin latté from Starbuck's (boo, hiss, I know; but hey, it's that time of year) and I had an Arden's Garden "Hot Shot" (ginger, pineapple, cranberry, and lemon juice). We had a good walk in the park, and there was sushi from Whole Foods for dinner (California rolls and eel with avocado). Later still, I spent most of the night with Second Life, in the Dune: Apocalypse sim. Shahrazad al-Anwar is about to become Sayyadina to the local Fremen sietch, and we are now planning the Taud. It's tedious, but a girl only gets one Taud. Shahrazad's situation is complex and precarious, and maybe I'll explain it sometime. Hopefully, she'll survive taking the Water of Life and be able to transmute the toxins. Anyway, that was yesterday. Bi-La Kaifa.

Expect Sirenia Digest #23 sometime late tomorrow. It will include two new pieces by me — "The Madam of the Narrow Houses" and "The Bed of Appetite," the latter accompanied by a particularly unnerving illustration courtesy Vince. This month, you get lovelorn ghosts in 19th-Century Boston, a cannibal affair d'amour, and something that is either a werewolf or a demon or an angel (I never could decide).