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December 2011

Paper dreams


Tuesday's post ("A Mystery") reminded me of  the enchanting paper-cut art created by Peter Callesen in Denmark, which deserves a mention during this festive time of the year.

"A large part of my work is made from A4 sheets of paper," says the artist. "It is probably the most common and consumed media used for carrying information today. This is why we rarely notice the actual materiality of the A4 paper. By taking away all the information and starting from scratch using the blank white A4 paper sheet for my creations, I feel I have found a material that we are all able to relate to, and at the same time the A4 paper sheet is neutral and open to fill with different meaning. The thin white paper gives the paper sculptures a frailty that underlines the tragic and romantic theme of my works.

Impenetrable Castle by Peter Callesen

"Some of the paper works are coloured and framed. Others are larger installations such as one to one copies of stairs and ladders made out of thin white paper....These works exist in the gap between the recognizable everyday object and the fragile and spherical condition and material in which they appear. The whiteness, the ideal pure copy of something real as well as the vertical direction coherent in most of my paper works, could also indicate the aspect of something platonic or religious.


"Another returning theme in my work is the reinterpretation of classical fairytales associated with a more general interest in memory in connection to childhood. [They] are examples of playful performances that exist in the lost land of childhood - between dream and reality. It is in this meeting or confrontation of these two conditions, in a kind of utopian embodiment, that these works become alive, often in a tragicomic way."


Please visit Peter Callesen's website to see more of his paper-cut art, as well as installations in other media, photographs, and performances.


For more works in paper, check out Yuken Teruya (especially his luminous "Forest Series"), Helen Musselwhite, and, of course, the great Su Blackwell. In a slightly different vein, have a look at Andrea Dezsö's book and paper art, and the book art of Brian Dettmer.

On another subject entirely: The new issue of Stone Telling magazine is up, and it's wonderful.

Reflections on editing

Office corner

"There were creative writing teachers long before there were creative writing courses, and they were called  At the deskand continue to be called editors."  - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

"Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style? and avoid How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?"  - James Thurber

"Editors are craftsmen, ghosts, psychiatrists, bullies, sparring partners, experts, enablers, ignoramuses, translators, writers, goalies, friends, foremen, wimps, ditch diggers, mind readers, coaches, bomb throwers, muses and spittoons — sometimes all while working on the same piece."  - Gary Kimaya

"Will you tell me my fault, frankly as to yourself, for I had rather wince, than die. Men do not call the surgeon to commend the bone, but to set it, Sir."  - Emily Dickinson

"You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke."   - Arthur Plotnik (The Elements of Editing)

Editing desk

 A few editing-related links:

* My anthology-editing partner, Ellen Datlow, is having an end-of-the-year book sale, selling off out-of-print and hard-to-find anthologies (including volumes we edited together) at discounted prices. This is for U.S. buyers only (due to postage costs), but if you're in the States go have a browse.

* I was very sorry to hear that Karen Meisner is stepping down from her editorial role at Strange Horizons, where she will certainly be missed -- but I also know that when it's time to move on, you've got to take the jump. I wish her all the very best in whatever comes next.

* Howard and Rex reflect on the process of being editing over on John Barleycorn.

* Did I remember to mention that I did an interview on the French ActuSF website, discussing editing fantasy and other things? The English-language version is here. Also, I posted a longer piece about editing on this blog in February. If you missed it, you'll find it here.

A Mystery...


Mysterious Tree


I adore this little story about mysterious works of art that have shown up in libraries and other literary sites in Scotland. Go here to learn more, on the NPR website (via Erin Underwood at the Interstitial Arts Foundation). It will make your day, as it made mine.


By Leaves We Live

Coffin sculpture


 And three more quick recommendations: The art of Jean Bradbury (via Jackie Morris); wonderful "sustainable styling" made by a talented young artist in our village, Agharad Barlow; and a tip on the perfect holiday present for the writer in your life (via Kris Waldherr).

Tunes for a Monday Morning

This week: two wonderful tunes written by Dar Williams. Above: "The Christians and the Pagans," performed by the adorable Bridget and Allie Doyle of Doyle Squared, in Wellfleet, Massachusetts -- sent out as a Christmas card to all my Christian friends & colleagues from this dyed-in-the-wool pagan.*

Below: Dar herself, singing her very poignant song "When I Was a Boy" at radio station WNRN in Charlottesville, Virginia.

* "I believe in God, only I spell it Nature." - Frank Lloyd Wright

Recommended Reading:


Recent items of interest...

* Rosemarie Urquico explains why one should date girls who read, at I absolutely adore this little piece.

* Bruce McAllister (author of The Girl Who Loved Animals & Other Stories) has a fabulous piece in The Paris Review concerning a survey on symbolism that he sent out to 150 literary authors back in 1963 (when Bruce was a 16-year-old high school student). A surprising number of them wrote back to him. Go have a look at the results. Updated to add: Two more responses to Bruce's symbolism survey are posted here.

* Sean Ferrell (author of Numb) has a lovely little piece on writers who are feeling small, on his writing blog. (via Ellen Kushner)

* Nova Ren Suma (author of Imaginary Girls) discusses inspiration, at Distraction No.99. It's part a series of posts, with links to the previous posts at the end of the piece. (via Gwenda Bond)

* Nnedi Okorafor, recent winner of The World Fantasy Award for her extraordinary novel Who Fears Death, discusses her reaction to the award's statuette: a bust of H.P. Lovecraft. It's a thoughtful piece, and has provoked many equally thoughtful responses -- both on Nedi's blog and over on Facebook.

* Neil Gaiman talks to the brilliant Australian artist/writer/filmmaker Shaun Tan, in The Guardian.

* Jeff VanderMeer talks to the brilliant Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, at Omnivoracious.

* Delia Sherman discusses her new novel The Freedom Maze, at the Diversity in YA Fiction blog.

* Katherine Langrish discusses "fashionable books" and Samuel Pepys, at The History Girls; and continues her delightful Jason and the AgonyAunts series, at Seven Miles of Steel Thistles.

Devon Tree Spirit

* Some random interesting things: Kristian Sjøgren discusses medieval knights and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in ScienceNordic magazine. . . John Lichfield discusses the discovery of a neolithic earth mother figurine in France, in The Independent. . . Paul A. Trout discusses why we invented monsters, in Salon magazine. . .and Erik Klemetti discusses why Tolkien got it wrong when Gollum sunk into the lava of Mount Doom, in Wired.

* Maria Popova recommends five timeless books of insight on fear and creativity at Brain Pickings. (via Gwenda Bond)...and Joel Le Blanc discusses creativity and health in The TLC International Art School Xpress.

* Five children's book artists (including my hero, Lisbeth Zwerger) tell us who their favorite illustrators are, in The Guardian.

*  Christina Cairns (of the Mermaid in the Attic blog) has won Jackie Morris' "A Contest of Beauty" with a stunning fairy-tale inspired piece. Bravo!

* At Studio Morran, Swedish illustrator Camilla Engman has announced that the Morran Book Project is now finished. (The book, you may remember, is filled with picture of Engman's dog, Morran, sent in by artists from all around the world.) You can leaf through the pages of the book itself  here. It's charming, and I want one.

*  More art: There's a very beautiful new painting in progress at Rima Staines' The Hermitage. . .and a lovely e-exhibition, "Fragmented Memories," by Catherine Verrill at Decor-Art. . . and some gorgeous work, as usual, on the Imagine Gallery blog. 

* This week's video recommendation: Maurice Sendak on what being an illustrator means. (via BlueHour Studio)

* Last but by no means least: The new issue (Number 14) of  Scheherzade's Bequest is now online. Edited by the excellent team of Donna Quattrone, Virgina M. Mohlere, and Erzebet YellowBoy of Cabinet des Fées, it's full of fabulously folkloric fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

On community

Fairy tales 6 x 8 web version

"I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can."  - George Bernard Shaw

"I have inherited a belief in community, the promise that a gathering of the spirit can both create and change culture."  - Terry Tempest Williams

"We are in community each time we find a place where we belong."  - Peter F. Block

Bones for Tilly

Thank you for the bones

My dear friend Ellen Kushner has asked me to remind everyone that the Magick4Terri auction (*blush*) is ending tonight  at 5 pm Pacific Standard Time (which is 1:00 Friday morning here in the UK), so if there are books, works of art, CDs, or other treasures you have your eye on, this is the last chance to bid.

The LightbringerMy family and I have been completely overwhelmed by this astonishing flood of support from friends and colleagues and fellow lovers of fantasy and mythic arts from all over the world. In the midst of a difficult time, I feel awed and blessed to be part of such a caring creative community. In addition to the practical fundraising help (which will allow us to deal with the things we are facing without sinking into debt on top of everything else), the auction has done so much more for us: it has brightened what's been a dark, uncertain time. To turn to myth for a moment (as you know I always do), we've been traveling through a dark and tangled wood, encountering various trials along the way...and this community has just shown up with a lantern to light the trail back home.

I know (from all the worried email I've been getting) that a lot of people are concerned about us, and would like to know a bit more about what prompted the auction...but I'm afraid all I can do right now is to repeat that there are legal reasons why I can't be more explicit. Perhaps once we find our way out of the woods, I'll be able to talk about it further -- or at least those aspects of the journey that are mine to discuss (without stepping on the privacy of other family members). In the meantime, please don't worry. We've got expert help and advice for the things we're facing; we've got a strong family; we've had an enormous amount of support from all of you; and now we just need to keep traveling forward until we reach the clearing beyond the trees.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone: most especially to Ellen Kushner, Mia Nutick, Liz Loveday, and Deborah Brannon (the amazing, hard-working auction organizers) and their helpers, and to all the incredibly kind donators and well as to all the sweet people who've been spreading the word with blog posts and tweets and such. Also to the Faery Godmothers of Chagford, who had the idea of a fundraiser in the first place. I have to say that I never expected anything like this...which has touched my heart, warmed my soul, and created real honest-to-god magic for me and my family.

Plus, Tilly is excited about all the bones -- which she fully expects to be delivered as a great big pile in the studio garden.

Bone 1 copy

On thankfulness

Illustration by Arthur Rackham

Tree, stone, and little black dog

Wandering this Rackham landscape is a walking meditation, a daily transformation, a prayer composed of sun and rain and wind:

"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes."
- e.e. cummings

Today, like every day, there is just so much to be thankful for.

Blue sky

By Arthur Rackham