Not a Blog

San Diego, Here I Come

July 14, 2022 at 9:29 am
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Yes, it’s true.   I will be heading to San Diego for Comicon at the end of the month, for the first time in… ah… a bunch of years.

That’s not news to most of you, I know.   There have already been a raft of stories out there about HBO’s plans for promoting HOUSE OF THE DRAGON at Comicon  (which plans are pretty mind-boggling, by the way), and my name has popped up in a good many of them.   So I’m not revealing any secrets here, but I can confirm.   I’ll be joining the HOUSE OF THE DRAGON panel  in Hall H, together with showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik and eleven of our cast members.   I will be as excited to meet them as you are.   I was not able to visit the Hot D sets, so this will be the first time I have met any of them… well, aside from Matt Smith, who I did meet for about two minutes in the lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel at a previous Comicon, but he was the Doctor at the time, not Daemon Targaryen, and that’s not at all the same.

I will also be doing a couple of signings at San Diego.   One for my publisher, Bantam Spectra/ Random House.   I will be signing copies of FIRE & BLOOD and my other novels.   And one for Marvel Comics, with Paul Cornell, to promote the new Wild Cards graphic novels that Paul has scripted.   Raya Golden, ace minion, art director, and illustrator, will be travelling with me, and she’ll be on hand to sign copies of STARPORT, the graphic novel she adapted and illustrated from an old unproduced television pilot of mine (which may come back to life as a feature film, but that’s a tale for another day).   This being Comicon, where the crowds are immense,  all these signings will be capped and strictly limited, so if you want me to scrawl on one of your books, join the queue early.

(Sorry, I will NOT sign while walking the floor, eating lunch, or taking a piss in the men’s room.   Don’t ask, okay?)

In June 2021, I went to Chicago for a week to accept an honorary doctorate from Northwestern.   Aside from that, this will be the first time I have left home since the pandemic struck in March 2020.   I am looking forward to it… but, truth be told, I am also a tad anxious.   I have managed to avoid getting covid so far, knock wood… but if this Comicon is like the last one I went to, I am going to be in one big room with 150,000 other people, some of whom may not have been as careful as we have.  That could be a challenge.   Yes, I am fully vaccinated and double boosted, but that’s true of a number of friends of mine, who have still contracted omnicron despite that.   (Mild cases, mostly, but still).

I do not want covid, not even a mild case, so please be advised, I will be doing all I can to prevent that.   I will be masked almost all the time.   I will not be shaking hands, sorry.   Or even bumping fists.    You can take my picture when I am signing your book, but stay on your side of the table, please.   No selfies.   No hugs.   In past years, I was always glad to do all that, to make myself available to my readers, but these are not normal times.    Once covid goes away for good — if it ever does — perhaps I will be able to do all that again.   But not now.   I cannot get sick.   I have too much work to do.

I ask for your understanding.

And I hope all of us have a great time in San Diego, regardless of these challenges.

Current Mood: anxious anxious

You Can Go Home Again

November 22, 2019 at 10:02 am
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The last stop on my October travels was Asbury Park, New Jersey, where I was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

I was born and raised in Bayonne, as most of my readers probably know by now, but I left New Jersey in 1966 for Evanston, Illinois, to start my college education at Northwestern University.   I never really returned, except for visits… but I do visit often, since almost all of my family is still in Jersey, along with a few old friends, a lot of memories (mostly good, some less so), and a big piece of my heart.   Also, New Jersey still has the best pizza in the world (New York and Connecticut are very close, though).   You can take the boy out of Jersey, I guess, but you can’t take Jersey out of the boy.

Asbury Park is one of the iconic Jersey shore towns.  When I was growing up, a lot of my friends and schoolmates spent their summers down on the Jersey Shore.   If not at Asbury Park, then at Atlantic City, Seaside, Tom’s River, Keansburg, or one of the other shore towns.   Splashing on the beaches, eating salt water taffy, strolling the boardwalks, riding roller coasters and other rides in the old amusement parks.   Not me.   We were projects kids, we did not even own a car, so we spent our summers in Bayonne, mostly.   Water all around, but no beaches (though once or twice each summer we’d get to take an excursion boat from Brady’s Dock across the street from the projects to Rye Beach or Far Rockaway).   The only amusement park I got to visit was Uncle Milty’s, right down First Street, where I could blow my allowance playing Skee-Ball… and would eventually land my first job, running the Tubs O’ Fun for the kiddies one summer.   I think I got paid twelve dollars a week (in a pay envelope, with a ten and, yes, a two-dollar bill).

I had never been to Asbury Park before this visit, but I have to say, I was charmed by the place.   The sand, the surf, the boardwalk… iconic old bars like the Stone Poney and the Wonderbar… lovely grand houses and old hotels, a downtown that felt like stepping back in time… all in all, a cool town to visit.  And of course the awards ceremony was great fun.  As a Mets fan, it was a great honor for me to be inducted by Ed Kranepool of the Amazin’ Mets of 1969, and Todd Frazier of the current squad… and to share the night with Jason Alexander, Harry Carson, Bart Oates, Martha Stewart, Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and many more incredible Jerseyites.

Before the ceremony, I was also thrilled to be able to meet a couple of my favorite Giants from the Superbowl champions of 1986, Harry Carson and Bart Oates.   Bart actually let me try on his Superbowl ring!  And Harry showed me his Hall of Fame ring, which was big enough for four of my fingers.

Having my family present for the induction ceremony made it even more special.

I am told the permanent home of the New Jersey Hall of Fame will be in American Dream, the new mega-mall that just opened in the Meadowlands across the parking lot from Giants Stadium.   Yes, the former Xanadu, decades in the building.   Meanwhile, there are plaques of us at Newark Airport.   That’s cool.   I like the idea of being on an airport wall down from the Boss.

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Bring Me My Pipe

November 18, 2019 at 9:42 am
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I try to get to New York City once or twice a year.  It’s one of my favorite cities in the world, and my visits there are always half business, half pleasure.

On the business side, I check in with all my publishers (I have several), my agents (I have several), with my editors (past and present), with my friends and colleagues at HBO (past and present).   I often do a signing, an interview, or some other sort of public event.  On this most recent visit, Raya Golden and I did a signing down at Midtown Comics for her wonderful graphic novel of my unproduced pilot, STARPORT.   We scribbled in hundreds of books, and afterwards sat down for a short interview.

Autographed copies of STARPORT may still be available from Midtown Comics in Manhattan.  Or not.  We signed a lot of stock, but I am not sure how long they will last.   In any case, copies are certainly available from Santa Fe: https://jeancocteaucinema.com/product/starport-graphic-novel-pre-orders/

On the pleasure side… well, we often try to get to a Broadway show or two, but I was too busy this year.  I did find time to get together with my friends Ellen Datlow and Mr & Mrs X for a pizza crawl through the wilds of Jersey in search of bar pies.   This year we managed to hit the Landmark Tavern in Livingstone and the Star Tavern in Orange, both of which were amazing.

((And if you don’t know what a bar pie is, you don’t know pizza)).

I also combined business and pleasure with a dinner at the historic Keens Steakhouse with Kay McCauley, queen of agents, and my friends from Tor, publisher Tom Doherty and our Wild Cards editor, Diana Pho.   http://www.keens.com/

Keens has been a Manhattan mainstay since 1885, famous for their fabulous steaks and mutton chops… and for the hundreds of clay pipes that adorn their ceilings and walls.   In ye older times, no meal was considered complete without a bowl at its conclusion, and the regulars at Keens traditionally left their long, fragile “churchwarden” pipes at the restaurant, to be called for at need.

Keens still displays the pipes belonging to Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Will Rogers,, Albert Einstein, George M. Cohan, J.P. Morgan, Stanford White, John Barrymore, David Belasco, Adlai Stevenson, Douglas MacArthur, “Buffalo Bill” Cody… and now me.

At the conclusion of the meal, Keens presented me with my own pipe and had me sign it.

My pipe will now join the other celebrity pipes in Keens display cases.   And presumably I can call for it at need, the next time I visit New York City and have a hankering for a mutton chop and a bowl.   Not that it’s likely to happen, since I don’t smoke.   Never have.

And for that matter, Keens Steakhouse does not allow smoking these days, no more than any other Manhattan restaurant.

But it’s still a cool, and unique,  honor.  My thanks to Tom Doherty and Kay McCauley, who arranged it.

Current Mood: calm calm

On to Washington

November 8, 2019 at 2:39 pm
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After Chicago, I moved on to Washington, D.C. with my faithful minion Sid.   There, on the evening of October 17, the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation presented me with the 2019 Sir Arthur Clarke Imagination Award.  Scott Shannon of Random House, my publisher, came down from New York to introduce me and help present the award, to my delight.

(It should be noted that there is another Arthur C. Clarke Award.   That one is a juried award given in the UK for the best novel of the year.   This award is not that award, though both of them are sponsored by the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation).

I never had the honor of meeting Sir Arthur C. Clarke, but of course I read his work… pretty much all of his work, to the best of my recollection.   Clarke was one of the giants of science fiction, and his stories and books had a profound influence on generations of writers who came after him.  CHILDHOOOD’S END, A RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA, “The Nine Billion Names of God,” “The Star,” 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, AGAINST THE FALL OF NIGHT… the list goes on and on, a body of work that has few equals.  He was also an articulate and progressive voice on the issues of the day, and an unfailing champion of science… something sorely needed in these troubled times.   I am pleased and proud to be the winner of an award bearing his name.

Imagination is also sorely needed in these times, a subject I spoke about after receiving the award, while being interviewed by Alyssa Rosenberg, the arts and culture columnist for the Washington Post.   This was the first time I’d met Alyssa, but I’ve been reading her for years; her columns about GAME OF THRONES were always accurate and insightful, and she conducted a terrific interview… albeit one that got somewhat dark towards the end, as I contemplated the future of our planet.   Not a lot of laughs there, truth be told, but I hope we gave the audience some things to think about.   Clarke was all about thinking.

I did not attend any baseball games in Washington, but it was a kick being in town when the Nationals won the pennant and punched their ticket to the World Series.  The whole town was giddy.   And we also enjoyed our visit to the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum.  It’s being renovated at the moment, so some exhibits were closed… but the remainder was just as wondrous as I recalled it from my last visit, years ago.   The curators seemed somewhat surprised that I knew so much about the Bell X-1 and Friendship 7 and the various rockets on display.   Hey, long before I set foot in Westeros, I was writing SF about starships, aliens, and distant suns.   Pinto Vortando loves his rocket ships!

Thank you, Washington, for the warm reception, and thank you, Clarke Foundation.

 

 

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Irish Book Awards

October 7, 2019 at 11:30 am
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The days are rushing by faster and faster, it seems.  We’re already into October and I haven’t yet mentioned all the highlights of our travels to London, Dublin, and Belfast in August.

One of those highlights, beyond a doubt, was when I was presented with the An Post Irish Book Award in Dublin.

The presentation was made at Dublin’s historic General Post Office, the center of the 1916 Easter Rising… the Irish Alamo.  The significance of the site was not lost on me, and inspired my remarks, which centered around history and the need to learn from it.

Accounts of the presentation can be found online at:

https://www.rte.ie/entertainment/2019/0820/1069905-george-rr-martin-to-receive-irish-book-awards

https://www.thebookseller.com/news/george-r-r-martin-wins-international-recognition-award-irish-book-awards-1070641

https://www.irishpost.com/news/game-thrones-author-george-r-r-martin-honoured-irish-book-awards-170445

In addition to the trophy shown in the photographs above, I was also presented with a marvelous bronze statue of the Irish warrior  hero Cuchulainn.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

A Rare Honor

September 5, 2019 at 9:55 am
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I received a number of awards and honors during last month’s trip to London, Dublin, and Belfast.   I want to say a few words about all of them… but not all at once and not all today.  I will address them all individually, and in no particular order.

Starting with the last, then… on the day before we left Ireland to return home to the Land of Enchantment, I was awarded the Burke Medal for “Outstanding Contribution to Discourse Through the Arts” by the College Historical Society at Trinity College, Dublin, the oldest surviving undergraduate society in the world.

The society’s auditor told me, “The College Historical Society, more commonly known as the Hist, is dedicated to the promotion of discussion and thought. Founded by Edmund Burke in 1770, the Society retains a deep interest and affinity to the field of social activism and continues its tradition of elevating civic discourse in the College. For 250 years the Society has recognised the efforts of great women and men who promote discussion and discourse. Pattie Smith, Sinéad O’Connor, W.B. Yeats, Natalie Dormer, Dame Hillary Mantel, Bob Geldof, and Ralph Fiennes have received the Burke Medal.”

That’s pretty heady company.   I am very pleased and proud to be numbered among them.   And for a noble reason — promoting discussion and discourse.   In times like ours, when the toxic mobs on the internet seem to set the tone for debate, that is needed more than ever.

The medal itself was struck from the same molds that the Hist has been using for centuries.   The president mentioned to me that he’d noted I had once won the Bram Stoker Award (as indeed I have), and that the medal they were giving me had once been awarded to Bram Stoker himself.   I think that is so cool.   Here’s a look:

In awarding the medal, the Hist said, “As a celebrated author, your exploration of difficult themes has inspired countless people worldwide to examine, more-closely, the fabric of our society. Through you, the reader has encountered new concepts, ideas, and emotions. From the magical children’s tale The Ice Dragon and the dark yet playful “A Night at the Tarn House” to the unprecedently popular A Song of Ice and Fire your work has made you a global phenomenon. And with your rise to greater prominence has come an increase in public dialogue around the major themes of your work. Your sublime writings have engendered intense debate on duty and honour, faith and cowardice, parricide and governance in readers world-wide. Our former member Oscar Wilde wrote that “It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection”. Through your art the general public have explored new themes, new ideas, and bettered themselves. This is precisely the contribution to public discourse that the Burke Medal aims to recognise.”

Since the Hist is devoted to discourse and discussion, those so honored are expected to say a few words.   I was glad to do so.  The good folks at Trinity recorded my speech and the Q&A that followed.   YouTube has it up for those who are interested and could not be in Dublin to attend… but be warned, I got into some pretty heavy current issues in this one, not just my own life and writing and the world and SF and fantasy (though of course I touched on those as well).

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Back Home Again

September 1, 2019 at 5:40 pm
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August went by in  a blur, and most of it was spent on the road.   London, Dublin, Belfast.   Great cities, great times, but it is good to be home in Santa Fe.  By the end of any long trip, my green chile addiction kicks in and I need a fix.

I do not travel with a computer, so I returned to the usual one thousand unanswered emails.   Thankfully, a lot of them were spam or junk mail, so I was able to get through them quickly.

Dublin is a lovely city, and worldcon was fun as always.  James Bacon and his team did a smashing job, although the convention facilities were not equal to the size of the crowds, which caused some problems and a lot of lines.   I did a couple of signings there, but not a lot of programming.   But the two panels I did do, both with Parris, were very special, and I think the audience felt that as well.   I do miss some of the pleasures that I used to take for granted at worldcons, like being able to walk the dealer’s room and browse new books, or sit in the bar for hours with friends coming and going and everyone buying rounds… but sadly, none of that seems possible for me any longer.   Too many people wanting signatures or selfies.   All very nice, most very polite, but I hate refusing anyone, and after a while it just wears me out.

I was able to enjoy more of that at Eurocon/ Titancon the following weekend, in Belfast.   A much smaller con in a smaller city, maybe that’s the answer.   Peadar and Pat made a great toastmaster team.  I had not been to Belfast since we were shooting the GAME OF THRONES pilot, and it was fascinating the extent to which the show has permeated the city.   Castle Ward has its own Night’s Watch, the GOT Exhibit down by the Titanic Museum is just stunning… and everywhere I went, strangers came up to thank me for their jobs and tell me how the show has changed the city and their lives.   That was very gratifying.

I just hope Brexit does not screw it all up… but I fear it might.   Belfast deserves better.

Loved our time in London too.

Oh, and everywhere I went they gave me awards.   That was also very nice.

I will have more to say about that, and many other things, in subsequent posts.   Right now, I am still trying to bounce back from jetlag.   Later, friends.

Current Mood: tired tired

City of the Angels

November 21, 2017 at 5:36 pm
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I have a love/ hate relationship with Los Angeles.

I spent a lot of time there back in the 80s and 90s, when I was on TWILIGHT ZONE and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and in the years that followed, when I was in development hell. A good decade, all told. At least three of those years were spent on the 405, I seem to recall… but in any case, I have lots of good memories of LA, and some bad memories as well. I made lots of friends out there. And even now, my work requires me to visit the City of Angels (which seems less angelic every day, if you’re reading the news) several times a year.

Those visits are usually mixed bags. I do business, which is necessary. Sometimes I come home with awards, which is great. I check in on old friends, always a pleasure (though all of us get older every year). From time to time I make new friends, always a joy. But I hate driving in LA even more than I did in the 90s, if that is possible, and the weather is usually beastly. So bloody hot and humid I don’t know how anyone can stand it. Then, of course, there are the meetings. Some are fun, some are not. Even the best meetings, it seems, seldom lead to anything real.

Last week, however, I had a great visit to LA. The weather, for once, was gorgeous. Not too hot, not too humid, beautiful blue skies, stunning sunsets.

When I wasn’t gazing out over the city from the balcony of my room at the Four Seasons, I was having meetings. HBO meetings, for the most part… exciting stuff, and they all went well… and meetings with some major film studios as well, about possible adaptions of some of my other work. All very exciting. Cross your fingers, cross your toes, I might have thrilling news down the line.

I also got to check in with some of those old friends I mentioned. One of the highlights was the dinner I shared with some of the folks I worked with on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

The whole gang could not be there, but we did gather (from left to right) Linda Campanelli (writer), Jay Acovone (Joe Maxwell), Ron Koslow (creator, showrunner), yours truly (writer/ producer), Ron Perlman (Vincent), and David Schwartz (producer). It was a grand gathering. We told some stories and shared some laughs, and of course we all lifted a glass to the memory of Roy Dotrice, our Father… who made it to 94, and still died way too young.

It was an honor to work on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and I’m proud of the work we did there.

((Comments permitted, if you STAY ON TOPIC))

Current Mood: calm calm

Long Time No See

August 23, 2017 at 11:48 am
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I am home again in the Land of Enchantment, after almost a month on the road.

I flew to New Jersey for my nephew Sean’s wedding, which was a lot of fun.

Then I went to New York City for a week, checking in with my editors, publishers, and agents, and some old dear friends as well. Did a pizza crawl, had myself a Cel-Ray and an egg cream and a pastrami sandwich (New York health food), and did a lot of business.

From there it was off across the ocean to Helsinki for worldcon. My third visit to Finland, which never disappoints. Helsinki is a beautiful city, and it was a terrific con. Sure, we lost the Hugo, but the Hugo Losers Party kicked ass.

After worldcon, we hopped a train for Russia. A few days in St. Petersberg — my god, what a stunning city — and then off to the woods for Assembly Con. Our Russian hosts were warm and wonderful.

All in all, a great trip, but an exhausting one. The trip home was grueling.

Let me catch my breath, and might be I’ll have some more to say.

Right now, I need some green chile.

Current Mood: tired tired

My Worldcon Schedule

July 26, 2017 at 10:40 am
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The World Science Fiction Convention is only a few weeks away. This is the oldest SF con, the one that started it all, and though it is no longer the largest, it’s still the one that matters, the heart and soul of SF fandom. And for me, it’s home away from home.

Here’s my schedule this year in Helsinki:

WEDNESDAY August 9
4:00 pm Tea & Jeopardy Podcast, w Emma & Peter Newman

THURSDAY August 10
12:00 NOON panel discussion: Invented Religions

2:00 pm autographing

FRIDAY August 11
8:00 pm HUGO AWARDS

SATURDAY August 12
2:00 pm panel discussion: Built Upon the Shoulders of Giants

4:00 pm autographing

SUNDAY August 13
1:00 pm panel discussion: Thirty Years of Wild Cards

Those are my official public appearances… but of course I will also be attending parties, checking out the art show, wandering the dealer’s room, lunching and dining with editors, agents, friends, and colleagues.

For those of you who want books signed, please, bring them to one of my two listed autograph sessions. I will NOT be signing before or after panels, at parties, during lunch or breakfast or dinner, at the urinal, in the elevator, on the street, in the hall. ONLY at the autograph table. If the lines are as long as they usually are, I’ll only be signing one book per person.

See you in Helsinki!

Current Mood: busy busy