Thursday, July 28, 2011

Things I Saw In Paris

Walking around the streets of Paris with my family, I see Coca Cola, Danon Yogurt, Lay's barbecue potato chips and Snickers on the shelves of every grocery store and deli, the movies Green Lantern, Bad Teacher, Hangover Part 2 (charmingly retitled Very Bad Trip Part 2) and Mr. Popper's Penguins playing in the theaters, and a McDonald's or a Starbucks on every block.
I understand the idea of exporting culture, but I have a hard time thinking of a single French product, movie or restaurant that I might see casually walking down the streets in New York. Is France accommodating us? Surrendering to us? The other day, a couple came up to me while I was on my way home and, told me they were from out of town and asked me if there was a nice place to eat nearby. I suggested a place I thought had good food and was distinctive. "No," the woman looked at me with clear confusion, "I meant something likes McDonald's or Wendy's." Seems like traveling is becoming more a matter of feeling at home wherever you go these days than really plunging into another culture.
We're all closer now than we've ever been, we all "know" each other with a cultural intimacy we never have before. That's a good thing, right?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Editing, Stage 1

     A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the sequel to Those That Wake had been sent into my agent, Jason, for a first look and that I would give updates along the way as a glimpse into the editing process.  The first round of editing is underway and this is what has been/is going to change, as per Jason's very astute suggestions:
     1. The overall story needs to be streamlined so that the emotional relationship at its heart (that between Mal and Laura) stands out as much as possible.  I do tend to go off on character and idea tangents.
     2. The villain of the piece needs to be better defined, which is to say changed so that he will not confuse everyone who reads the book.  My initial conception of him was that he be very abstract, as the more shadowy and less defined evil is, the more menacing I find it.  Instead, he will be very solid, though his actions and methods will remain shadowy and menacing.
     3.  Something crucial that happens to Mal and defines his role for the middle portion of the book needs to be clarified.  Again, this is a matter of very conceptual stuff being made more accessible.
     So these were the first round of general suggestions.  Clearly, I have a problem with making things too complex or conceptual.  I'm working on that.  Anyway, I will address these issues and turn in a second draft and Jason will return with more specific advice on everything from narrative to style and the next re-write will be far more detail-oriented.  We are determined, naturally, to turn in the cleanest, sharpest, most effective manuscript to my editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
     Incidentally, as I predicted in the previous post linked above, there has been a call to consider changing the title.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Teen Writer's Bloc Interview

     Teen Writer's Bloc recently posted an interview with me about Those That Wake and various related themes.  Do please have a look at the link above.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An Idle Question

     In Those That Wake, I wrote about Forgotten Places, parts of the world that people had stopped visiting and thus had left their memories and slowly started to fade from the world itself.  I was put in the mind of this a few days ago as I was driving from Ashland to Sacramento when I encountered a sign that said "You're now leaving Oregon.  Come Again!"  About a hundred feet on, a second sign sprang up, proclaiming "Welcome to California!"  So, there's a good one hundred feet of highway in between these two signs and, apparently, it's not in Oregon and it's not in California.  Where is it, exactly?  Does anyone own it?  Doesn't this same expanse of unclaimed land exist between every two bordering states in the country?  Can I claim this land?  Could I not, in effect, have this strip of land winding its way through the continental United States and proclaim it a massively long (but not very wide) fifty-first state?  Could I not charge a toll every time anyone passed into or out of its borders?
      There's a short story in here somewhere.