August 13th, 2008

talks to wolves

"...the path widened and blackened and curved."

It's an odd way to start the day, reading Shirley Jackson, but that's how today has begun. I sat here and nibbled at my crumpets with blueberry preserves while Spooky read to me from Chapter 6 of The Haunting of Hill House. I'd awakened with that scene in my mind, frustrated at the similarity between that scene and the scene I have to write today for The Red Tree. So, I had to hear it, no matter how many times I've read The Haunting of Hill House, because I needed to know exactly what Jackson did and how she did it. Theodora and Eleanore getting lost where they shouldn't be able to get lost. And I know that Sarah Crowe, my own narrator, has surely read Shirley Jackson, and she will be reminded of the scene herself, and when writing about what's about to happen to her and Constance Hopkins, it would be unrealistic not to have her draw a comparison with that scene. Also, I'm once again baffled that Danielewski, in House of Leaves, never once references The Haunting of Hill House*, when he references almost everything else, and here the comparison is obvious (and, for that matter, so is Bilbo and Company wandering about in Mirkwood, and he never references that, either). But I digress.

Yesterday was a very good writing day. I did 1,244 words on Chapter Four. Also, I received the flap copy of The Red Tree from my editor at Penguin, and I have to write back to her about that before I begin work on the novel today. It's not bad flap copy, largely because I haven't deviated very far from the "proposal" I made back in April (it wasn't really any sort of formal proposal, just a paragraph or two). It makes me even more nervous seeing flap copy for an unfinished book than it does to think about seeing the cover of an unfinished book. The cart seems to get in front of the horse. But, like I said, it's pretty good flap copy, as flap copy goes. It's one of those necessary evils of publishing, because people insist on synopses, even when the matter in question cannot be accurately synopsized.

This morning, before Shirley Jackson, I got an email from Jennifer Escott at Writer's House in NYC, forwarding an email from Maja Nikolic in Munich (at the Thomas Schlück GmbH, the agency that handles my German rights), with the PR information from Rowohlt Taschenbuch's (my German publisher) catalog announcement of the forthcoming German-language edition of Threshold, which is titled Fossil (which is somewhat closer to the original English title, Trilobite). They even used an image of Dicranurus for the cover, and it always makes me happy when someone gets the trilobite right. I now know that my German translator's name is Alexandra Hinrichsen. Anyway, the German edition will be out in January.

Spooky has begun another round of eBay, so please have a look. Danke. Also, I will remind you again, again, again that you may now preorder both A is for Alien and the mass-market edition of Daughter of Hounds.

The rest of yesterday: Spooky spent a great deal of the day talking with our SL builders, beginning to realize the zillions of details that will have to be juggled to get Howards End (Linden Labs won't let us have an apostrophe) up and running. I finished the final chapter of Dawn of the Dinosaurs: Life in the Triassic, which deals mostly with the question of whether or not the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic was an actual mass extinction, and if so, what the agent responsible might have been. There are beautiful paintings by Douglas Henderson of asteroid impacts as seen from space. I'll probably make myself read the appendices before going on to the next book in the stack. Also, I read "A Positive Test of East Antarctica-Laurentia Juxtaposition Within the Rodinia Supercontinent" in Science (Vol. 321, 11 July 2008) and wished I were a paleogeographer. There was leftover spaghetti for dinner. We made a run out to our storage unit in Central Falls, and the Blackstone River (which runs down from Woonsocket) smelled clean, of algae and fish. The clouds were breaking apart, and I watched the night sky for Perseid meteors, but between the light of the moon (four nights from full) and the city light pollution, I saw no meteors. Quick stops at PetCo and Whole Foods, and back home about 9 p.m. After that, it was all Second Life, until...gods...4:30 ayem.

My thanks to Ieva Lutrova for a rather marvelous beginning to a scene, which might turn into a vignette for Sirenia Digest #33. An abandoned sector of some future city. An android who was somehow missed in the evacuation, and for fifteen years she has continued to dance to nonexistent patrons in an empty strip club. The wandering tech who strays across her. It has potential, and is a wonderful example of how I'm using SL to create fiction.

A few more thoughts on the Howards End sim before I wrap this up. stsisyphus (and thanks for the email) posted some comments to my entry yesterday that made me realize that there is something I haven't clarified. Though I use the phrase "roleplay," because it is familiar and convenient, in no real way will we actually be "gaming." No dice. No stats. No experience points. None of the tedious stuff. This is to be something more akin to improv theatre, which is what I've always striven for in SL. Improv theatre, where the only audience is the players on the stage. So, truthfully, I'm even more interested in people with theatre background than hardcore gaming nerds. I will not tolerate arguments about what does and does not constitute fair or good or satisfying rp from people who have been into pen-and-pencil rping since Gary Gygax was in diapers. Nor is this rp in the sense that the videogame industry often uses the term. This is something new. This is something different. We have set up two groups so far, "Denizens of Howards End" and "Architects of Howards End," and if you express interest (here or by email or inworld via an IM) you will eventually receive an invitation to join the former (unless you are a builder). But please do note that entry into "Denizens of Howards End" does not automatically guarantee a slot in the story, as we'll need to talk to everyone to determine if they're really right, and if they'll actually enjoy the experience. What I am offering here is the opportunity to be part of an interactive, spontaneously generated novel, to walk and talk and change the course of events in the Providence of Daughter of Hounds. Only this is set before DoH, but after Low Red Moon, which puts it somewhere around 2005, I think. Also, if you'd like to donate towards the cost of this endeavor, just speak up. This whole thing is strictly non-profit, but we won't turn away additional donors.

Okay. Herr Platypus it pointing at the clock and preparing to kick my ass, so I'll wrap this up. Time to make the...well, you know.

* Thanks to wolven for pointing out that The Haunting of Hill House is, in fact, mentioned by Danielewski in footnote #167.