Not a Blog

Amanda’s Deflowering

September 23, 2014 at 10:49 pm
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You shoulda been there.

Once again Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer took Santa Fe by storm. Songs, stories, signed books. And Amanda's cocktail, the Deflowering, was a huge hit.

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Tomorrow another special event… a special advance screening of COPENHAGEN, with director Mark Raso and star Gethin Anthony.

And we have two more big author events coming up in the weeks to come: KIM HARRISON on September 30 and LEV GROSSMAN on October 13. Getcha tickets early, or you may miss out again.

Seen on the Streets…

September 23, 2014 at 10:54 am
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… of New York City.

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The worldbook will be here next month!

Birthday of the Beast

September 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm
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66 today.

Gak.

Dare I eat a peach?

The Rogues Return

September 19, 2014 at 2:05 am
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So Gardner Dozois and I put together this gargantuan crossgenre anthology called ROGUES for Bantam, featuring a great lineup of original stories about cads, swindlers, n'eer-do-wells, and scoundrels from some of our favorite writers.   It was published in hardcover a few months ago, to terrific sales (debuted at #7 on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list) and some great reviews.  Lots of people seemed to like it.

One of them turned out to be Bill Schafer, of Subterranean Press.  Who liked it so much he decided that SubPress would do its own edition.

Look for it early next year.  Or, better still, start checking the SubPress website so you can place an order as soon as it becomes available, since the SubPress editions tend to sell out… and yes, this one will be limited to 500 copies.

Like all SubPress limiteds, it will be gorgeous.  Slipcased, numbered or lettered, signed by Gardner and me and all of our writers, acidfree paper, beautiful design… and lavishly illustrated by Ken Laager, a very talented artist best known for his work in noir.

Here's his cover, based on my own contribution to the volume, "The Rogue Prince."

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 The Rogues are coming back.  Beware.

Coolness at the Cocteau

September 18, 2014 at 1:03 pm
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We had a great event at the Jean Cocteau Cinema last week, when Dennis Lehane came by to present his new movie, THE DROP.   A fun interview, a busy booksigning, and a sold-out screening… everybody went away smiling, and Dennis seemed to enjoy his first visit to the Land of Enchantment, and promises to come back one of these days.  He also signed a lot of stock for us, so if any of you out there are looking for an autographed copy of MYSTIC RIVER, SHUTTER ISLAND, THE GIVEN DAY, THE DROP, or any of Lehane's titles, contact the cinema.

The Cocteau schedule for this week will be even more exciting.  On Sunday night, September 21, our friends NEIL GAIMAN and AMANDA PALMER will be paying us another visit, for an evening of singing, signing, and storytelling.  The fun starts at 7pm… but, alas, if you don't have tickets yet, you're probably out of luck, since that event sold out within hours of us announcing it on our email newsletter.  (Don't get our newsletter?  Easily fixed.  Go to the website at http://www.jeancocteaucinema.com/ and sign up.  Newsletter subscribers get first crack at all of our coolest events).

The Cocteau will also be presenting THE COMPANY OF WOLVES, director Neil Jordan's twisted take on Little Red Riding Hood, based on the classic story by Angela Carter.  Neil Gaiman picked this film for us, and we've asked him to introduce it.  The movie starts at 9:20.

Our bar will be serving The Deflowering, a specialty cocktail designed for us by Amanda Palmer.

All in all, a busy Sunday.  That's just the start, however.

Come Wednesday, September 24, we have another very special event scheduled: a special advance screening of COPENHAGEN, a film by Mark Raso, fresh off the festival circuit and well in advance of its North American release.  Here's the trailer:

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Director MARK RASO and star GETHIN ANTHONY will both be on hand for the COPENHAGEN screening, to introduce the film and answer your questions afterwards.  Gethin, of course, is well known to GAME OF THRONES fans as the late, great Renly Baratheon,  brother to Robert and Stannis, husband to Margaery Tyrell, lover of her brother Loras.    Come meet him at the Jean Cocteau… advance tickets to the screening are still available at the Cocteau website.

See you at the movies.

Barf

September 14, 2014 at 6:18 pm
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Life is miserable and full of pain.

Giants look utterly wretched.  A few good plans from JPP, and maybe we have a new TE emerging.  Nothing else good can be said.  They were humiliated by the Cardinals, with a backup QB.  C'mon.

Jets took a 21-3 lead and still figured out a way to piss it away.  Harassed Aaron Rodgers and sacked him repeatedly, still allowed him to complete the big passes and runs when it counted.  Geno, meanwhile, put up some nice stats early on, but can never seem to make the key throw when the game is on the line.  Well, no, to be fair, he did complete one great pass in crunch time… a TD which was called back when a coach who did not actually have the power to call a time-out somehow called a time-out.  Needless to say, Geno's attempt to duplicate the heroics a few minutes later ended in an INT.

Eli and Geno led the NFL in INTs last year, and both of them are on track to do it again.

And the Cowboys and Patriots both won big, so I don't even have that as solace.

Pfui.

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Lehane Drops By

September 11, 2014 at 12:24 am
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If you love great writing… great movies… great books… you'll want to be at the Jean Cocteau Cinema this Saturday.   We've got another amazing event lined up for those of you in Santa Fe and its suburbs (you know, Los Alamos, Espanola, Bernalillo, Rio Rancho, Albuquerque), and any lucky tourists passing through.  DENNIS LEHANE will be here, and he's bringing THE DROP.

If you don't know Lehane… well, what rock have you been hiding under?  He's the author of GONE BABY GONE, MYSTIC RIVER, and SHUTTER ISLAND, all of which have been made into terrific movies… but the novels are even better.  He's also written some other novels that haven't been made into movies (yet), and those are just as good.    My favorite is THE GIVEN DAY, a historical about the Boston Police Strike.  He's also done screenplays and teleplays, including some great episodes of BOARDWALK EMPIRE and THE WIRE.

Dennis has a new novel just out: THE DROP.  And the movie will soon follow.  VERY soon, like this month.  Simultaneous release, something I can't think I've ever seen before.  THE DROP stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and the late great James Gandolfini.  Here's a taste.

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Anyway, we'll have the book, the movie, AND the author.

Saturday 6:00 we'll have an author event with Dennis, the usual mix of reading, interview, Q&A, and booksigning.  We'll talk about THE DROP, his other books, his TV work, whatever you want to talk about, and of course we'll have books for signing.  Free admission with purchase of a hardcover, $5 with purchase of a paperback, $10 admission without a book purchase.

At 8:00 pm we'll have a sneak preview screening of the film.  FREE, first come first seating.

And of course we'll have beer, wine, cocktails, and the best popcorn in the state, as ever.

I'll be there.  Hope you will too.

NFL Week One

September 9, 2014 at 12:11 am
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The Jets won and the Giants lost, but I can't even say the glass is half full.

The Jets win was over the Oakland Raiders.  A lot of the commentators on the sports channels seem to think the Raiders may be the worst team in the league this year… and yet the Jets bared squeaked out the win.  Their defense looked stout, and they dominated, but the offense kept shooting themselves in the foot.  WAY too many penalties, and while Geno had his moments, he also had two fumbles and an interception, which suggests he going to be a turnover machine once again.  I am still not certain that the Jets have a quarterback.  Gang Green won this week, but the schedule gets a lot harder in the weeks to come, and if Geno keeps turning over the ball at that rate, we aren't going to win many more games.

As for the G-Men, those people I quoted above who think the Raiders may be the worst team in the league obviously did not see the Giants lose to the Lions tonight.  What a debacle.  The new offense… well, no one seemed to be on the same page, and Eli threw two INTs… part of which was the confusion, and part of which was the O line, which gave him no protection.  No running game to speak of either, and none of the Giants wideouts seemed to want to catch the ball, not even Victor Cruz.

This could be a very long season.  I'll watch, of course.  I'm a fan, and that's what a true fan does, no matter how painful it gets.  But I don't promise to post every week about Sunday's games.  I am too busy and too tired, and somehow what started out as fun became a sort of obligation, so… I will post when I have something to say.

At least the Cowboys and the Patriots both lost.  THAT was fun. 

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Football!!!

September 5, 2014 at 12:11 am
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The NFL is back!

Gotta say, the Seahawks looked pretty damn formidable tonight, absolutely destroying the Packers and that baaaaaaaaad man Aaron Rogers.

It remains to be seen how good my Jets and Giants will be.  We'll get a taste this weekend, I guess.

I am wishing both teams have decent seasons, at the least.  Maybe one or the other will surprise me.  Life IS generally miserable and full of pain, of course, but this year I could live without weekly reminders.  I want to be writing "life is magical and full of joy" a lot.

We shall see.  That's why they play the games.

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Kirby

September 3, 2014 at 12:21 am
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I don't recall when or where I first met Kirby McCauley.  It was forty years ago at least, at some convention, probably on the east coast… a Lunacon or a Philcon, perhaps, or maybe at the Nebula Banquet.   I went to a lot of cons in those days, when I could afford it.  So did Kirby.  I was a young writer, still years away from tackling my first novel, but selling short stories, and losing Hugos and Nebulas.  Kirby was a young agent, fresh from Minnesota, newly come to New York City, still building up his client list.  All the established names in the field were signed with established agents, with Henry Morrison and Scott Meredith and Virginia Kidd and the like, so Kirby reached out to the kids (well, we were in our twenties, mostly, but we sure seem like kids when I look back) just starting out, recruiting promising young talent from the ranks of the unagented young dreamers who still did cartwheels when they sold a story to Ted White at AMAZING for a penny a word (on publication).

Writers like me.

Kirby was good-looking, fast-talking, charming… and he was there with us in the con suite  The established agents of the day never came to cons.  Kirby came to all of them.  You'd find him in room parties, laughing, joking, flirting with the pretty girls, staying up till dawn… and talking about books and stories and writers.  He was not your father's agent, not a beefsteak-and-martini lunch kind of agent, not a three-piece suit kind of agent.  He was jeans and a smile and a beer in his hand.   He was One of Us.  He was a fan.   He knew SF, fantasy, horror.  Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, he knew more about all of them than you did.  Mystery writers too.

It was maybe our third or fourth meeting when he asked me (at a party) if I had representation.  I did… but only in Germany.  (I had taken on another start-up, a small German agency called UTOPROP, the year before, to sell translation rights to my short stories in West Germany).  I didn't need representation, I told Kirby.  I had no plans to write a novel, and you didn't need an agent to sell short stories.  And I'd sold two books on my own, an anthology and a collection.  One of these years, I knew, I would write a novel, and that's when I would need an agent…. but when the time came, I figured I'd be well enough known to get one of those big established agencies, not some guy my own age whose list was made up mostly of writers even newer and greener than I was.  So I said, "thanks, but no thanks."

But Kirby did not give up.  He asked me again, at the next con.  He read my stories in ANALOG and AMAZING and F&SF, and wrote me about them, suggesting clever ways they could packaged into collections or expanded into novels.  When Lisa Tuttle and I published our novella "The Storms of Windhaven" in ANALOG, he was the first to see the novel in it, and wrote to say how much he'd like to sell it.  Persistance and enthusiasm will win a writer's heart every time.  He wore me down.  (And those big, well-established agents still had yet to notice my existance).  Finally… I don't recall just when… I agreed to let Kirby McCauley represent me, everywhere but in Germany.

That was the best decision I ever made.

Little did I know, but I'd just hitched my fledging career to a star.  I'd bought Apple at a penny a share.  I'd won the bloody lottery.  I might have had a career anyway, sure… I am nothing if not a writer, I would have written my stories and published (eventually) my novels, but the success that I enjoy today is built in large part on the foundations that Kirby laid for me back in the 70s and 80s.

The young, fast-talking guy from Minnesota became, for a good ten years or more, the Best Agent in the World.

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His stable, in the beginning, was made up almost entirely of young punks like me, and the estates of dead writers, some of them on the verge of being forgotten.  But Kirby loved the classic stuff, and somehow, with his relentless hustling, got a lot of their books into print.  For the newcomers, he did even better.  Back in 1974 and 1975, the standard advance for a first novel  was $3,000.  A few of my contemporaries (not agented by Kirby) got half that.  If you had won an award, and had a good agent, maybe you'd get $4,000.  I won a Hugo Award for "A Song for Lya" in 1975, so I was dreaming big when I finally wrote my first novel, AFTER THE FESTIVAL (published as DYING OF THE LIGHT).  "See if you can get me $5,000," I said to Kirby when I gave him the manuscript, thinking I'd made an outrageous demand.  He laughed.  "I think we can do better than that," he said.  He got half a dozen publishers bidding on the book, and in the end I collected more than ten times the standard advance for a first novel.

He did even better when Lisa Tuttle and I finally wrote that WINDHAVEN novel.   And a few years later, when I wrote my historical horror novel FEVRE DREAM, he knew at once that it should not be published as a genre title, and deftly moved it to another imprint at the same publisher, while keeping both my old and new editors happy, and getting me my biggest advance to date.  With THE ARMAGEDDON RAG, a few years later, he raised the bar still higher and suddenly I was drawing down six figures.

I was by no means his biggest success story, either.  He did as well or better for a dozen other young writers on his list… and one of them, this guy from Maine named Stephen King, did better than all of us together.  It is probably an exaggeration to say that Kirby McCauley was entirely responsible for the huge SF boom of the late 1970s and the horror boom of the early 1980s… but he was sure as hell helped.  He was one of the first to see what was happening, and to take advantage of it for his clients.  Kirby revolutionized agenting in SF and fantasy and horror.   At a party there was no one more genial or friendly, more fun to share a beer with… but editors and publishers soon learned to fear his skill as a negotiator.  He would NOT take no for an answer.  And he would not take peanuts for a book, either.

The older, established, three-piece suit agents were soon scrambling to keep up with him.  Meanwhile, their clients were leaving them, moving over to Kirby in droves.  And who could blame them?  Snot-nosed punks like me were drawing down advances ten and twenty times as large as writers who had been publishing for decades, because we had the good fortune to be agented by Kirby McCauley.

Through all of this, Kirby remained a fan as well.  He had always loved horror and fantasy, and in 1975 he teamed with several other leading fans, editors, and booksellers to found the World Fantasy Convention, as an alternative to the long-running World Science Fiction Convention.  The first one, in Providence, Rhode Island, he chaired, and remained on the board for years to follow.  He helped to establish the World Fantasy Awards, the "Howards" or "Howies," given annually by a panel of judges to the year's best fantasy and horror.

He was also an editor and anthologist.  DARK FORCES, his landmark horror anthology, remains to this day perhaps the greatest single horror ever published, and was recently reissued in a 26th Anniversary Edition.

Things started to go wrong for Kirby around 1985 or so, though.  Too many clients had signed on, maybe.  Kirby was nothing if not loyal, and stayed with the clients he had started out with long after any other agent would have cut loose the ones who had not made it.  So his stable got bigger and bigger.  He hired assistants, brought in other agents to help, but he was never good at delegating… and besides, none of us wanted to be assigned to a sub-agent, we wanted Kirby.  There were other problems.  An excess of success, maybe.  I was off in Hollywood by that time, working in television in the aftermath of the commercial failure of THE ARMAGEDDON RAG (even Kirby had not been able to place my proposed fifth novel, BLACK AND WHITE AND RED ALL OVER, though he tried his damndest, with the same persistance that he had shown when he tried to sign me), so I wasn't privy to much of what went on… but all of a sudden clients were leaving the agency, instead of signing on.  BIG clients.  Some of the agents Kirby had brought in to help left as well, taking more clients with them.  And Kirby… well, there were personal problems, and they ought to remain personal.

The dark years did not last forever, though.  Things stablized with the arrival of Kirby's sister, Kay McCauley, who moved to New York and proved to be as splendid a representative as her brother was, as those of us who stayed the course soon realized.   And Kirby came back strong.  In 1994, when I sent him two hundred pages of a fantasy I had been working on for a few years, and asked him if he could maybe sell it for enough money to get me out of television, he chuckled and said he thought maybe he could.  Turned out, it was 1976 all over again.  Kirby sent the book all over New York, got six publishers to submit offers, and soon had two of them bidding each other up and up until… well, Bantam won, and I popped a bottle of champagne, bid farewell to television, and set to work on A GAME OF THRONES.

I don't believe Kirby ever fully retired.  In recent years, however, I heard from him less and less, as he left most of the day-to-day running of his agency to his sister Kay, who does it admirably.   He no longer attended cons or other fannish events, though he kept saying that one of these years he wanted to return to the World Fantasy Convention, the convention he helped to found.  Last year, when I was in New York, Kirby and Kay and Parris and I went out to City Island, to eat crabs and clams and fried shrimp in a seafood shack over the water.  He was the same old Kirby, bright, charming, laughing, full of stories.  We talked about Alfie Bester and H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard.   It was a great dinner.

Kirby McCauley died last weekend, of renal failure associated with diabetes.

He was the best agent any writer could hope for.  He made amazing deals for me, helped launch my career in 1976, and relaunched me in 1994 when I came back from the dead.  Like Gatsby, he came out of the midwest to New York City, and made it his.  At his height, he owned the city.  He used to tell me tales of his trips to Paris with Stephen King on the Concorde, of his date with Mariel Hemingway.

But I will remember him best from the old days, the midnight room parties at Lunacon back when it was still at the old Commodore, eating greasy breakfasts with Howard Waldrop at MidAmericon in '76, sleeping on his couch in his old apartment on 26th Street because I could not afford a hotel room in Manhattan… a lot of writers slept on Kirby's couch in those days…

Hey, Kirbs.  I miss you.  Rest in peace.

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