Had a lovely few festive days recently. Very Scottish.
It began on Christmas Eve, when the family headed out to see the traditional "panto" at the Pitlochry Festival Theater. This time they did Sleeping Beauty. Very silly version, lots of audience participation and laughs, a disco time travel thing...
The best part, though, was that my daughter, Maya, had a role in it! She's not in the photo above, but she was one of the faeries. Speaking lines and everything! She's doing quite a few performances over the holidays, and she's loving it. I have to admit being really impressed with her performance. Also... well, it's a really Scottish show. By Scots, for Scots, filled with Scottish humor and accents. And my daughter held her own there, one of the locals at the moment. That was fun to watch.
On Christmas day we did the usual present thing, and then took a windy walk in the shifting, dramatic Scottish weather. The sky was filled with drama, high clouds, low sunlight, rain to one side, wind everywhere, a bit of snow on the mountains, and... (I'm not kidding) several rainbows. Really lovely. Later it was great food and some Glenrothes single malt, Settlers of Catan and then the animated film The Illusionist. Good stuff all.
In whatever way you're spending these last few days, I hope you're having a lovely time and are looking toward the new year with enthusiasm and optimism!
Cool. That means something like "Omens of Winter". (Not to be confused with "Winter is Coming", of course...) If I'm not mistaken, this isn't The Other Lands, even though they've revamped the German cover of that book for this one. All quite complicated.
Niall Harrison has just included a review of The Sacred Band for his weekly blog post at Strange Horizons. He says some terrific things. I'm very grateful he connected so strongly with the book - and the series in general.
Among other things, he wrote: "The Sacred Band is a rich, rewarding novel that is a
patient, gracious reminder that we hold the world in trust, and must try
to improve on it, generation to generation. I suspect there's only room
for one epic fantasy on next year's Hugo ballot for Best Novel -- you
know the one -- but I'd love to see this one up there as well."
Heard of Ed Sheeran? He's a singer, a musician, a kid doing - I believe - some really interesting stuff. I dig him enough that I want you to watch a video. Thing is, if you really don't know who this guy is I don't want you to look him up. Just watch this, and chill...
And then I'll soon post another video from him. Four days. Four videos. If you hang with me on this for a few days you'll see why I think he's so cool. Can you do that? I'm hoping so.
To begin, try this - "You Need Me, I Don't Need You":
The terrific French Fantasy website, Elbakin.net, has just posted it's review of L' Alliance sacrée (The Sacred Band). They were very generous, giving it a rating of 8 out of 10, and suggesting (I think) that it may be the best book of the series!
They gave the same ranking to La Guerre du Mein(The War With the Mein), and that one ended up becoming a finalist for Le Prix Imaginales. It got me a trip to France!
I'm already very pleased, but if that could happen again I'd be thrilled...
I got some papers in the post today. I had to go down to the bottom of the track (1/2 mile from the house) to get them. Ice. Rain. Snow. Winds up to 60mph. Sleet...
Whatever. Just December at Upper Park. No worries.
The papers (which were a bit damp - I had to dry them out on the radiator) were contracts for renewing the film rights option on Gabriel's Story. Yah! This is the eight or so year that Gabriel's Story has been in the capable hands of Redwave Films. They're an independent production company based in the UK, with Uberto Pasolini in charge. He's the guy behind The Full Monty. Since that rather huge hit they've specialized mostly in smaller films. He's got what could be a bigger one coming out next year, Bel Ami, starring Robert Patinson, Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colm Meaney. Quite a cast.
What about my novel? They've been working on it for years. There is a director attached. There is a screenplay. They've been pitching talent - especially for the role of Marshall - slowly and steadily. Last year they had to put things on hold a bit because the director, Alan Taylor, was busy with another little project... being one of the main directors of a little HBO series called A Game of Thrones... Oh, the irony. GRRM knicked my director! Hopefully, I can have him back for awhile, and he'll have some time in the coming year to give Gabriel some attention.
Don't recall what Gabriel's Story is? Well, it's my first novel, an historical set in the American West. Here's how Publishers Weekly described it in a starred review (I've cut a few spoilery bits out):
"The old West, both beautiful and brutal, is the setting of Durham's
magnificently realized debut novel, a classic coming-of-age story of an
African-American boy. Shortly after the Civil War, 15-year-old Gabriel
Lynch, his mother and younger brother head out from Baltimore to meet
Gabriel's new stepfather in Kansas, where the family hopes to make a
fresh start as farmers. But Gabriel finds homesteading to be
backbreaking and depressing and is soon lured away by cruel, charismatic
Marshall Hogg, who's leading a group of cowboys down into Texas. It
seems a dream come true for Gabriel, but then the nightmare begins... Durham is a born
storyteller: each step of Gabriel's descent into hell proceeds from the
natural logic of the narrative itself, which manages to be inevitable
even as it's totally surprising. Equally impressive is Durham's gift for
describing the awful beauty of the American West: "The April sky was
not a thing of air and gas," writes Durham. "Rather it lay like a solid
ceiling of slate, pressing the living down into the prairie." The tale's
racial dimension is subtly and intelligently developed, and though some
readers may be turned off by the violence Gabriel witnesses, all will
be impressed by Durham's maturity, skill and lovingly crafted prose."
Sound like the makings of a film? I hope so. Patience, though. Patience...
My daughter, Maya, every now and then gives us little glimpses of her life outside of our house. Tonight she mentioned that the kids in her school - the Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy, Scotland - don't know much about America. (Weird that, considering... um, what's on tv over here.)
Apparently, she mentioned that she lived in California for a while. True enough. It got her a barrage of questions.
Question: "Were you in a gang?"
Answer: "A gang? No."
Question: "Did you have a gun?"
Answer: "What? No!"
Question: "Did your dad have a gun?..."
It went on like that for a while. By the end of it, I doubt any of them believed she actually lived in Cali at all...
After a mild and very wet autumn, we've just had the weather turn wintery here at Upper Park...
Sure, it's pretty, but we live up a 1/2 mile track - mostly uphill (or downhill, as the case may be). We've had to park the car at the bottom of the track and hike it in and out. Here are the kids heading off to school.
I've just received something very nice. Words. Just words. But they are ones that mean quite a bit to me - for lots of reasons. I'm pleased to say that one of the Time Magazine's Most Influential People in the World has been kind enough to pen a few kind sentences about me.
No, it wasn't Mark Zuckerberg. Not Michelle Obama either. Michele Bachman... ah, no. And, alas, it wasn't Oprah.
Okay, so my publisher heard that he might be offering a blurb. They got excited and like instantly produced a new version of forthcoming massmarket cover. It looks like this: (Click on it and read George's "quote".)
Pretty nice, huh? If only I knew what the heck he was saying...
Fast forward to today, and I can offer you the actual endorsement George has very kindly offered me. The cool thing is that he starts it with the first thing he read of mine - that little novel about Carthage...
David Anthony Durham knocked me out with Pride of Carthage. He brought Hannibal, his brothers, and the Second Punic War to vivid, bloody life, and established himself as one of the bright new lights of
historical fiction. He's doing great work in science fiction as well, as the Campbell Award voters attested when they elected him the best new writer in the field. His epic fantasies make him a triple threat. No matter the genre, David Anthony Durham has serious chops. I can't wait to read whatever he writes next...
I am pleased and very grateful. My publisher has been jolted into a fury of activity. I can't really talk much about that, but judging from their reaction... George is a very influential person indeed.