Previous month:
April 2011
Next month:
June 2011

May 2011

And here's what has made my day...

B5 black coat elf 1.1MB ...the book trailer video for our new Bordertown anthology! (It's running exclusively on this week, so I can't embed it here; just follow the link.) Go watch it before you read the "making of" information below, as it's more fun to stumble upon it fresh....

Okay, you're back?

Ellen Kushner, Holly Black, and I cooked up the initial idea for video...but then Ellen ran with it, wrote the script, and, with our publisher's support, made the leap from Cool Idea to Finished Project. (See that deep, dark chasm between the two? Alas, that's where too many Cool Ideas end up unless there's a person, like Ellen, with both vision and tenacity behind them.)

Ellen got Vital Theatre on board (the company that produced her fabulous "Klezmer Nutcracker" in New York), and they, in turn, brought in some terrific young actors from the New York City school system. Bravo to everyone -- especially Ellen, who has been involved with every step of the project, but also to the kids, New York radio host Jim Freund (the grumpy old-timer in the video), the video crew, the support team at Vital Theatre, and the good folks at Random House Publishers (including the book's fine editor, Mallory Loehr), who all helped to make it happen.

The picture on the left above, by the way, is a Bordertown sketch created by Brian Froud back in 1991 (for a film project that didn't make the leap across the chasm). You'll find more sketches by Brian on the Bordertown website, on the Characters page.

And one last thing: Christopher Barzak is running a new Bordertown contest over on his blog. (Chris has a terrific story in the new book.) The prize is a one-of-a-kind Bordertown pendant by Mia Nutick of Chimera Fancies.  All the info is here.

Tune for a Monday Morning

I need a little Eric Bibb today. Last week was a little...pensive. It's a brand new day, with blue peaking through the clouds, and time to kick out the jams...

. . . which is one of those American expressions that would make my British husband look at me blankly, were he not off in Portugal right now. Tilly, who is fluent in Body Language (if not in American English), knows exactly what I mean. She's thumping her tail and looking up at me, bright-eyed and eager. Okay pup, let's roll.

This one goes out to David Amos Todd-Jones this morning. Congratulations on completing another Dartmoor Ten Tors challenge, and happy birthday!

David Todd-Jones, then and nowYoung David, and David now. Photographs by Carol Amos; posted with permission.

Recommended Reading:

Howard Gayton

* Katherine Langrish discusses troubadour knights, hawthorn blossoms, and the month of May, at Seven Miles of Steel Thistles.

* Meg Harper discusses the plundering of gardens and children's literature, at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.

* Libba Bray discusses the dark and difficult part of novel writing -- the part where everything goes wrong. (Howard calls this the "Dark Forest" stage of the creative process, described in a JoMA article on creating Fairy Tale Theater, while Midori Snyder calls it the "I want a divorce" stage of writing a book in her article on the creation of The Innamorati. Delia Sherman proffers sensible advice about it all in How to Survive a First Draft.)

* Speaking of Delia, she has posted a moving Meditation on Mother's Day on her blog, The Grand Tour. She also discusses the new production of Peter and Wendy, while remembering the late, great Johnny Cunningham.

* Colleen Mondor discusses her father, libraries, and the importance of books at Chasing Ray.

* Emiliano Lake-Herrara discusses artistic motivation at The Studio (with thanks to Midori Snyder for the link. Emiliano is Midori's son-in-law, a truly brilliant young artist.)

*  Genevieve Valentine discusses dance and artistic obsession as depicted in the three films of Carlos Saura's Flamenco Trilogy, at Strange Horizons. I love those films.

* John Naughton asks why we don't love our intellectuals in Britain as they do in France, in The Guardian.

* Willis G. Regier has a fascinating article on The Philosophy of Insomnia in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

* Virginia Lee presents her gorgeous new painting, Three Hares Tor, over on her beautiful art blog. There are also photographs of her recent show at The Courtyard Cafe in our village, which was enchanting.

* Theodora Goss has made audio files of her magical poetry. The links are on her writing blog.

* Donna Q. shares a lovely, hushed Moment of Zen on Enchanted Spirit: Lens and Pen.

* This week's fiction recommendation is "Creation," a mythic story by the amazing Jeffrey Ford, in Fantasy Magazine.  "[The Green Man] appears in the stone work of a lot of cathedrals throughout the world," says Jeff in an interview about the story. "He was one of those mythic entities that was replaced by the Judeo-Christian pantheon, but artists and storytellers kept his memory alive, sometimes subversively, as in the cathedrals, I think because they sensed his message to us was an important one. I liked that idea of paganism lurking beneath the surface of Christianity, hiding out, watching us from behind the monolithic monotheism, whispering to us to remember where we came from."

* This week's video recommendation: Dutch artist Theo Jansen discusses the ideas behind his insanely cool kinetic sculptures: "Strandbeests" who feed on sun and wind.

* One more video recommendation, but with a qualifier: As many of you know, I've long been involved with organizations working to prevent child abuse. The Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children has set the abuse-prevention world abuzz by unveiling one of the most powerful video spots I've ever seen on the subject--simple, honest, and wrenching. It's brief but enormously affecting, so please don't click the link unless you're prepared for that. And bravo to everyone involved, including the brave young actor.

* And finally, Rex and Howard have one last Friday post on John Barleycorn before Howard leaves for Portugal tomorrow. Rex will then be blogging solo for the next four weeks -- while Howard's off directing a Commedia dell'Arte version of Shakespeare's The Tempest in Porto, along with his Ophaboom partner Geoff Beale. That's Howard in the picture at the top of this post (from his early Ophaboom days), performing in Germany. Below, Howard and Geoff clowning about on the streets of Copenhagen.

* Update: One more! Elisabeth Kushner discusses Bordertown in daily life at

Howard & Geoff in Copenhagen

On time

The pssage of time

Time passes. Time changes everything -- both the things in our lives that we're grateful to move on from and the things that we try to clutch tightly and must, inevitably, someday, let go of. "We all lose everything," says the poet Marge Piercy:

Thinking about timeWe lose
ourselves. We are lost.
Only what we manage to do
lasts, what love sculpts from us...

Recently my friend Yoann Lossel, the French painter, asked me why I'm so fascinated by time, which he sees as a theme running throughout my work...most obviously in The Wood Wife, but also in other fiction and essays. Perhaps it's living a life shadowed by a serious illness that makes one hyper-aware of time and mortality; or perhaps it's simply one aspect of living as a mythic writer & artist: I am always looking both backwards and forwards, living in the rich past and shimmering future as well as the sensual present, in order to make art out of the experiences of my life, and to make life out of the experiences of my art.

In The Wood Wife, the sly Trickster character, Crow, explains time as it's viewed in his spirit world to the novel's protagonist, Maggie Black. Time is not a line, he tells her, it's a spiral, and we all stand at its center. From that place we can move through time in any direction we chose: forwards, backwards, sideways. But he warns her that if she's to travel through time, she must always be anchored firmly to the present; otherwise, she might lose herself in the past and be unable to return.

Indeed, for me, too, it sometimes requires strong effort to remain anchored to the physical world when I'm caught up in the giddy time-travel of writing or painting. That's why, for me, a dog, a footpath, and a stout pair of walking boots are as necessary to my creative process as paper and ink and paint. Among trees and stone and weather and wind, I am rooted in the present once again.

Albert Einstein has stated: "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once." But for the writer or artist, it does all happen at once. Time is not linear in art-making; we constantly walk backwards and forwards as we draw upon all of our experiences, all of our past and future selves, to create each day's work in the here and now.

"Time does not change us," the Swiss playwright Max Frisch once wrote. "It just unfolds us. "

I like this image. Perhaps as we travel the road of time we're not so much aging or changing but unfurling like leaves; unfolding like flowers, petal by petal.

Lizbeth ZergerThumbelina by Lisbeth Zwerger

A bit of news...

Beastly Bride The Beastly Bride (the YA "mythic fiction" anthology inspired by animal-transformation tales that I co-edited with Ellen Datlow) is a Finalist for the Locus Award.

Congratulations to everyone involved with the book.

Also, I don't think I mentioned before that two stories from the book, by Christopher Barzak and Shweta Narayan, are on this year's Nebula Award ballot. Very nice indeed.

Art by Charles Vess