So much going on everywhere, it is hard to keep up. Some random thoughts —
A week ago, Parris and I went down to Bernalillo for a memorial gathering for our friend John Miller. It was good to see so many old friends, and to share our memories of John… but profoundly sad at the same time, to realize once again that we would never see John again, that there would be no more memories. John was one of the mainstays of Wild Cards, part of the series since the very beginning, the creator of Chrysalis, Yeoman, Carnifax, the Midnight Angel, Father Squid, and so many more. He probably wrote more Wild Cards stories than any other author, with the possible exception of Melinda Snodgrass… I have not counted, but the two were neck and neck. He was also a Mets fan, a baseball buff, a RPG player and gamemaster, and a fan of bad movies. I wish he had written more. He had been working on a novel called BLACK TRAIN COMING even longer than I have been working on THE WINDS OF WINTER. It would be great if one of his writer friends finishes it for him. Beyond all of this, however, John was a really good guy, very bright, always fun to spend time with. And he and his wife Gail really loved animals. More than I can ever tell you. All of us at the memorial are missing him. We will miss him for years to come, I do not doubt, until the day comes when we all go to join him.
These past few years have been rough. I miss them all. Ed Bryant, Michael Engelberg, Ben Bova, Phyllis Eisenstein, Victor Milan, Steve Perrin, Kay McCauley, Gardner Dozois… ah, Gargy… I know I am forgetting people. They made the world a richer place, and we are poorer for their absence.
And the larger world is so ugly that I can hardly bear to watch the news. What can I say about Russia’s attack on Ukraine that others have not already said? I was GOH at a con in St. Petersburg a few years ago. The con was fun, the city was gorgeous, and the Russian fans and writers — even the border security guards — were so warm and welcoming. Putin is a malign thug. That seems to be the story of the world, though. Good people with hideous leaders. Listening to reports of the fighting makes me feel so angry, so helpless…
And things are pretty ugly over here as well. The latest school shooting, for instance, and the usual response of the GOP, a refusal to do anything to fix it. Is baseball still the great American pastime, or is that school shooting now? No other country seems to have much of an issue with it, only us. And what answer do the Republicans propose? Arm the teachers? Lock the doors? Toughen the security?
We are becoming more and more a police state. I am, I am aware, very old and getting older. Young people may not believe this, but… I remember a time when security was not omnipresent. When I could get on an airplane without being x-rayed and searched and probed and made to give up my pocket knife. When I could visit any publisher in New York by walking into their building, looking at the directory to see what floor they were on, taking the elevator up, and announcing my name to the receptionist. When kids could go to schools that were not fortresses… we did learn to duck and cover under our desks in case the Russians dropped an A-bomb on us, but we did not need to fear being shot by our classmates.
It makes me want to scream. What the hell happened to this country? To this world?
I am depressing myself, and probably all of you as well. Let me talk about some happier things.
DARK WINDS debuts on AMC on June 12, and we’re getting a lot of nice press about it.
First season will run six episodes, based largely on Tony Hillerman’s novel LISTENING WOMAN. Watch the show, read the book. Then read the other books, they are great. I am very proud of my association with this one, and glad that I could help make it happen… though, truth be told, I did little enough. The real credit should go to Robert Redford, Chris Eyre, Zahn McClarnon, and all the other folks mentioned in the articles… and one who was not. Let me give a shout out here to TINA ELMO, Bob Redford’s right hand and an inexhaustible champion of Tony Hillerman and his work, who was present every day on the shoot and did so much to make our series one to be proud of.
Other good stuff. NIGHT OF THE COOTERS, the short film we made based on the classic story by Howard Waldrop (the one and only) is complete. Directed by and starring Vincent d’Onofrio, and a cast of dozens. H’ard himself has seen it and pronounced it Good. The film was shot entirely on greenscreen; the actors and horses are live, everything else was supplied by the wizards at Trioscope. It clocks in at about thirty minutes. At the moment we are entering it into film festivals all around the nation and the world. We’ll let you know when and where it gets accepted. Maybe you will be able to catch it at a filmfest near you. If so, give it a look. It’s a lot of fun.
Oh, and right now, this very moment, we have a second film crew down in White Sands National Monument, shooting another short film based on another Howard Waldrop masterwork. I could tell you which, but then I might have to kill you. So far, so great, but there’s still lots of work ahead. Howard may have a new collection coming out this year as well. Who knows, 2022 could be the Year of Waldrop.
HOUSE OF THE DRAGON? Glad you asked. I’ve now watched rough cuts of nine of the ten episodes, and I continue to be impressed. I cannot speak to the SFX, many of which are not in yet, but the look of it is great, and the acting, the directing, and writing are first rate. And yes, for all you book fans, it IS my story. Sure, there are some changes from FIRE & BLOOD — we could not present three alternative versions of every major event, not and keep our sanity — but I think Ryan Condal and his writers made good choices. Even some improvements. (Heresy, I know, but being the author, I am allowed to say so). For years, as some of you may recall, I have been saying the TV version of Shae, as portrayed by Sibel Kekilli, was a deeper, richer, and more nuanced characters than the Shae in my novels. In a similar vein, I am vastly impressed by the show’s version of King Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, who gives the character a tragic majesty that my book Viserys never quite achieved. Kudos to Paddy, Ryan and his writers, and Miguel and the other directors. (There are a lot of great performances in HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — or HOT D, as I hear some are calling it. You may never have heard of some of our actors, but I think you will learn to love them, just as you did with the cast of GAME OF THRONES).
Back home in Santa Fe, Sky Railway is doing really well. Many of our trains are selling out. If you are visiting the Land of Enchantment, be sure to book your ride early. Oh, and last weekend we re-opened the bar and cafe at the historic Santa Fe Southern Depot in Lamy. Right now only open weekends, but we will be expanding the hours.
I should say a word about my appearances. I have decided not to attend this year’s worldcon in Chicago, for a variety of reasons. Chicago remains one of my favorite cities, though, and it looks as though I may be travelling there once or twice during the year to come… for reasons quite different, and much more exciting, than a con. Instead of worldcon, it looks as though I will be attending this year’s San Diego Comicon… assuming they do not move to December or go virtual, as they did last year thanks to the pandemic. I would rather not attend any more virtual conventions. Guess I’m a boomer, not a zoomer.
(It will feel odd to travel again. I have only left home once since January 2020).
WINDS, you say? Yes, still working. Finally finished a clutch of Cersei chapters that were giving me fits. Now I am wrestling with Jaime and Brienne. The work proceeds, though not as fast as many of you would like.
That’s all for now.
Lots of things going on. Good things, bad things, big things, small things. No time for a long blog post just now, but here are a few random comments about all and sundry, some of which may interest some of you.
Looks like the Jets and Giants both did very well in the first round of the NFL Draft. But you never know. Both teams desperately need help, so I hope they picked the right people. My Sundays in the fall have been a weekly kick in the gut the past few years.
DARK WINDS debuts on June 12 on AMC and AMC+. The trailer is everywhere, so check it out if you have not seen it yet. I was one of the executive producers on this show, a six episode adaptation of the Navajo detective novels by the late great Tony Hillerman. Graham Roland wrote the pilot, and Chris Eyre directed. Zahn McClarnon stars as Joe Leaphorn and Kiowa Gordon as Jim Chee. They all did great work. Chris, together with Robert Redford, were the ones who brought me into this project a few years back, and I am glad that I was able to help get this made… but if you love the show, and I hope you will, credit belongs to Bob and Chris and Tina Elmore and their team, to our amazing actors, and of course to Tony.
Parris and I really enjoyed the new HBO Max series MINX, a sexy sitcom about a feminist porn magazine in the 70s. The clothes, though… I swear, I owned some of those clothes. Might be I still do, I never throw anything away. Watching MINX did give me flashbacks to the 70s, though. Which is good and bad. The 1970s were my own Dickens Decade: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Or is that now? Yeah, maybe now. A lot of good things have happened for me, undeniably, but so many of my friends have died over the past two/three years… we have a war in the Ukraine which could turn into a nuclear holocaust… public discourse has turned poisonous and toxic, along with much of social media, free speech is under attack, our democracy is under attack… the news is profoundly depressing.
There was an article in THE ATLANTIC recently about how social media is making us all stupid. An impressive piece, though it was also profoundly depressing, since the author does not see a lot of hope. You can check it out at https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/05/social-media-democracy-trust-babel/629369/ There’s a lot to think about there.
My people tell me that the renovations have been going well on the Jean Cocteau Cinema, Santa Fe’s original art house. We hope to reopen soon, with a renovated auditorium and brand new seats. Big comfortable seats. Fewer of them, mind you — our capacity will shrink from 130 down to 78 — but hey, we only filled the place up a few times a year, usually when Neil Gaiman or Janis Ian was in town. We will let you know when we reopen.
We are getting some great reviews for Sky Railway, and selling out a lot of trains. We still have some more coaches to restore, so we can run more trains and longer consists, but that will come.
THE WINDS OF WINTER is going to be a big book. The way it is going, it could be bigger than A STORM OF SWORDS or A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, the longest books in the series to date. I do usually cut and trim once I finish, but I need to finish first.
I saw rough cuts of a couple more episodes of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, and was just as pleased as I was with the earlier episodes. Ryan and Miguel and their cast and crew are doing great work. Those of you who like complex, conflicted, grey characters (as I do) will like this series, I think. There will be plenty of dragons and battles, to be sure, but the spine of the story is the human conflicts, the love and the hate, character drama rather than action/ adventure.
And I did I mention? NIGHT OF THE COOTERS is done! Trioscope delivered the final cut last week. It’s a short film, about thirty minutes long, based on one of Howard Waldrop’s wonderful short stories. Joe R. Lansdale wrote the screenplay. Vincent d’Onofrio directed and starred, with a terrific cast of supporting players. We shot it in Santa Fe, entirely on greenscreen. The wizards at Trioscope did the rest, providing the sets, the aliens, the special effects, pretty much everything except the actors and the horses. We will be rolling it out at a series of film festivals through the rest of the year. My staff is working out that schedule now. Once we have some confirmed dates and places, we will share the details here.
Meanwhile, we hope to start shooting a second Howard Waldrop film in about two weeks. Completely unrelated. H’ard (as Gargy used to call him) never wrote the same story twice. This may be the Year of Waldrop.
There’s more, there’s more, there’s always more. But that will need to do for now.
Current Mood: busy
Heinlein said it best. You can never pay back the people who helped you when you were first starting out, so all you can do is pay it forward, and try to help those who come after.
Those words, and the sentiment behind them, have always resonated with me, and I have done my best to Pay It Forward. One of the ways I’ve tried to do that is with the scholarships I sponsor — to Clarion and Clarion West, Odyssey, and the Taos Toolbox, to IAIA here in Santa Fe, and through the Stagecoach Foundation.
A couple of weeks ago I got an email from one of those scholarship recipients, who had some exciting news to share:
“My name is Isabel Cañas and I was the first recipient of your Worldbuilder scholarship to attend Clarion West in 2018. I said hello and introduced myself to you briefly after the Hugo Awards ceremony at WorldCon in Dublin in 2019. I’m writing with the wonderful news that my debut Gothic horror novel, The Hacienda, recently sold in a major deal at auction and will be published by Berkley in Spring 2022.
I am also writing to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Attending Clarion West is a life-and career-changing experience for many writers; I can attest the same. It gave me the courage to write in new genres and explore my identity as a Mexican-American writer in a space that was both safe and that pushed me hard to improve my craft. I grew immensely as a writer during those six weeks and the months and years after. Without Clarion West, I do not believe I would have been able to write the novel that will be my debut.
In 2018, I would not have been able to attend Clarion West without financial aid. Because of the doors that the workshop experience has opened for me, I now find myself in a position where I can extend that generosity to the next generation of students: I will be funding one Latinx student to attend Clarion West in 2022. Currently, it is a one-time scholarship, but in the future, I hope to be able to follow your example and fund an annual scholarship.”
I was pleased as hell by Isabel’s big sale, and look forward to reading her novel.
And I am even more delighted to hear that she herself will also be Paying It Forward, by sponsoring an even newer writer at Clarion West in 2022. I think Heinlein would have been pleased as well.
((Isabel adds, “If it’s not too much trouble to add a link to your post, I am happy to report that The Hacienda is now on Goodreads, if your readers would like to add it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57840571-the-hacienda “))
Current Mood: pleased
Way back when on LiveJournal, when I started this column or journal or whatever it is, I called it my “Not A Blog,” because I could see that regular blogging was a lot of work, and I didn’t think I had the time to devote to it. I was late on a book even then, though I do not recall which one. I figured I would just make posts from time to time, when I had an important announcement, when the mood struck me, whatever.
Somehow, though, over the decades, the Not A Blog became a blog, and what I had intended as a occasional pleasure and a way to stay in touch with my readers has become a Blog (ironically, at the same time as everyone else was abandoning their blogs for Facebook and Twitter), complete with a sense of obligation. And when a lot of stuff happens very fast, I fall further and further behind.
I am hugely behind right now, and the prospect of trying to catch up is feeling increasingly oppressive.
My life has become one of extremes these past few months. Some days I do not know whether to laugh or cry, to shoot off fireworks and dance in the streets or crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. The good stuff that has been happening to me has been very very very good, the kind of thing that will make a year, or a career. But the bad stuff that is happening has been very very very bad, and it is hard to cherish the good and feel the joy when the shadows are all around.
If any of you read the stories about me on the internet, you will know my good news. I have a new five-year deal with HBO, to create new GOT successor shows (and some non-related series, like ROADMARKS) for both HBO and HBO Max. It’s an incredible deal, an amazing deal, very exciting, and I want to tell you all about it… although it seems the press has already done it. There are stories in all the trades. You can read about it there. (These days I almost never get to break any news about myself, the Hollywood press is always ahead of me. Some of their stories are even accurate). I will blog about it, I expect, but not today.
On the other side of the coin… well, I am now fully vaccinated, hurrah hurray, that’s good. However, I have now lost six friends since November. (Only a couple to Covid. Alas, I am old, and so are many of my friends. Valar morghulis, I guess). And a seventh friend, a very old and dear friend who has been a huge part of my life for a long time, is in the hospital, very sick, recovering from surgery… at least we hope he is recovering.
Honestly, it is hard to dance in the streets even for the deal of a lifetime when another loved one dies every two/ three weeks, and that has been going on for me since November, when my longtime editor Kay McCauley passed away.
There’s lots more going on as well. Meow Wolf stuff. Railroad stuff. Beastly Books has reopened, but the JCC is still shuttered. The Jets traded Sam Darnold away. I am going to be leaving my cabin in a couple of months. I am close to delivering PAIRING UP, a brand new Wild Cards book.
I will tell you about some of this, I guess. But not today.
Current Mood: tired