Friday, September 28, 2012

Performance Art

On Tuesday, there was an event in Brampton. I was asked to do the author's introduction and a brief Q & A. Honestly, I was so tried and I'd crashed so hard after running on adrenaline for the past three weeks trying to do all the things and see all the people. But I said yes. Because when someone asks you if you want to interview an author you admire about a book you love, you say yes without hesitation or any thought to what shape that interview might take or maybe what you should ask. You say yes. You show up and you give as much as you can, because the author and the audience deserve it.

When you're part of the show—and even from the stage, I could tell it was a show—you have different experience than when you're watching it. What's it like to interview someone in front 200 people?

Terrifying; it's like hurtling towards imminent doom without certainty that you're going to find the brakes in time while people watch. And wondrous, because in the midst of the terror it all becomes impossibly real. It is the most present, the most fully there a person can be. Maybe you won't remember what you said or you'll only remember the gaffes you made and wonder what your face was doing—because there cameras and such—but at that moment, it's all happening and it doesn't matter.

But if you should ever be asked to interview anyone in front of...any number of people, these are things I would've done differently if given the option:

1) Said yes when I was asked if I needed to eat something, and y'know...ate something.
2) Attempted to be at least half as caffeinated as the person I was interviewing. I still might not have been able to keep up, but I'd have at least felt like I was.

Basically, take care of yourself if you are in a situation like this—and let other people who offer take care of you, too. It is always worth it, but it is always work. That is not to imply that I don't enjoy doing it—I really do. It reminds what this is all about, the communication, the interaction. But the performance requires energy and preparation. It is not easy for me to be that extroverted.

Talking to someone, I realized there's this thing many of us do in these situations. We go into what I've always called it panel mode.) It's this outward calm, cool state of being incredibly present wrapped around a nervous oh god oh god oh god don't screw this up for all these nice people that you hope isn't shining in your eyes. It's living in a hyper-real dream, and it fades upon waking. But it doesn't diminish that it happened or what it meant.

I'm very grateful for the run of opportunities that writing The Tarot Cafe Novel brought to my life, and I'm grateful for the ones that my job has given me access to. But what I'm most grateful for is how these experiences have taught me what I'm comfortable doing, and also how far and how often I can push beyond that comfort zone when it matters.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


There's a place down by Lake Ontario called the Sunnyside Pavilion, which they fill with tents of art on a September weekend. Paintings mostly. The masterwork is the building itself, wrought iron fences and acloves and winds whispering through its white-washed halls. If you listen, the building says I am old and I have seen things.

On the second floor, there's balcony where one can look out across Lake Ontario and pretend it's the ocean. Some other skyline, some future place or half-imagined city.


As I walk back with my own found art, captured within a phone dying for a charge, I stop to brave the waves lapping the rounded rocks. Water cold, and the lake can't be mistaken for the ocean this close—it's got the wrong smell.

A red maple leaf reaches for a lost season from between boardwalk planks, and I think fall is here, and there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it. But sand between my toes feels the same in September as it did in July.

Also, there are dinosaurs.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Today is the release of Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys. You need to read this book. Trust me. I tell you with the conviction I felt for Beautiful Creatures and The Night Circus. You need to read this.

The Raven Boys is a book about my (fictional) friends Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. They are not always good to each other, but they are so good for each other. They are that group of people who create their own ecosystem; who are each other's equilibrium. It makes them the kind of friends one wants in one's life, but it also means they're the people who can hurt each other the most. They are going to do so before this four book series is finished; I can feel it in my bones.

Blue is from a family of psychics; the only one who has no apparent abilities. She simply amplifies others. Her family would tell you the future is a hazy, indistinct thing—but one inevitability has been told to Blue all her life: She will kiss her true love, and it will be the death of him.

Gansey is from old money. He's grown up with wealth and privilege, but desperately does not want to be That Rich Guy. Unfortunately, he can't see himself from outside his own skin. He can't observe the unconscious way that he treats money and people.

Adam can. Adam grew up poor. He's a scholarship kid determined to be his own man. As a result, he both adores Gansey and resents him.

Ronan is angry. His father died, and it (metaphorically) killed Ronan, too. He hates with a double-edged loathing that wants to wound everyone, including himself.

Noah is a bit of a mystery. Shy. Quiet. Sad. Kind. But he's as key to the group dynamic as any other member.

The beauty of this book is watching this family of friendship envelop Blue, and how she amplifies its bonds and weaknesses.

Also, there is a pet raven, a quest for a lost Welsh king, ley line magic, a whispering forest, and jokes. It is damn near everything I love—robots would've been out of place—in a single book, with prose so lovingly crafted it steals my breath and makes my heart ache.

There are smart books, and there are fine books, and there are books that make one cry and laugh. But there are few books who ask if they can stay, long-term, be friends for life. The Raven Boys is one of them.

You need to read it.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

So I'm sitting here typing up a scene I wrote on Friday during what felt like an unsuccessful workdate, and I've got the Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicle OST playing because it felt like the right background music for this book. Typing, typing, and it's really not that amazing of a scene plotwise—it's more about the little details that show the character dynamics, but it strikes me that the last time I listened to this music was while I was working simultaneously on The Wild Hunt and the first draft of what would become FRAGMENTS.

I had no idea how the industry worked, but I was so assured that certain things would be mine within a certain time frame. All I had to do was keeping letting the want of them drive me forward. That was five years past, but it feels like two lifetimes ago.  Possibly three.

It is said that we keep walking, we trust the path to take us where we need to go. But it gets a little tough to believe that I didn't miss a turn somewhere. It's not regret, because I don't necessarily think I would be better off if I had made decisions differently. It's more looking at where I am now and how far it is from where I want to be then regrouping and deciding how I'm going to get there.

A Forest That Eats Your Face
Words: 1814
Total: 5611
Doubt: All the discontentment lives in my head this week, and follows me around like a shadow.
But I wrote this anyway: Sorrow didn’t like the kite—something about the way it twisted in the air, bound to do his sister’s bidding by the taunt string between them, made his hands twitch.