Everything Wrong is Right Again

Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily and the bad unhappily, that is what fiction means”.
But when an author combines the real and the fictional so well, when he mixes the ingredients so deeply that one cannot quite remember whether it was Whistler, Sickert or Hallward that is the one Victorian Painter who is not like the others, and when everything and everyone is in his and her place (or is it someone else’s?)… fiction can mean still more.

MugnainiMugnaini

When I was a lad I read Ray Bradbury, and of his many indelible stories Usher II and The Exiles held a special resonance.
These were not fiction, they were… something else. Bradbury was a magician, and The Exiles (and others) an incantation. A summoning. Magic on the printed page.*

JohnnyAlucardIn Kim Newman’s latest – Johnny Alucard – the marvelously-named author Kenneth Anger believes in this sort of magic. Of words made flesh. Of Cinema writ large. Maybe writ in blood.
Maybe it’s untrue, but why would that noted liar and magician Kim Newman lie to me? And does it matter if he has?
This is where those lines – between truth and fiction, between facts and gossip, between fiction and magic – blur to the point of uselessness.

I’ve loved Newman’s Anno Dracula since I read it decades back.
I read it again (this time aloud) after last year’s trip to Brighton for the World Fantasy Convention.
I’d been fortunate to meet up with the author there, and returned with signed books.
But I put off the reading of this newest work (the fourth “real novel” in this series) for months. And even now, I’m going slowly.
The suspense is terrible. I hope it’ll last….

AnnoDraculaI’m only at page 300, and while I have some thoughts about how I might end it, there’s nothing to say that Newman will agree, or even stick the landing.
And it doesn’t matter. Because it’s not about the destination, truly. It’s not a question of whether it ends in dust and disarray. It IS those things – red dust specifically: “Drac”.
It’s a series of short stories and novellas that pretend to be a novel. Just like how Uncle Bradbury used to make ’em.

I remembered my qualms about Anno Dracula. “Really, a book about Vampires? Who cares?”.
Well, me for one. Neil Gaiman (as the new Titan Books edition of the novel makes clear on the spine) for another.
I had qualms about starting Johnny Alucard for a very different reason – because the book would wrap around that second Age of Victorian Values – The Age of Thatcher – the very period that had inspired Anno Dracula in the first place. And, I think, the key to so much of its power.
A vampiric ouroboros, I worried that this confection must collapse under the weight of its own referents like a flan in a cupboard.

I was wrong to doubt. At first, I simply enjoyed its game of flashback and substitution. The magic of movies at their most intense.
The ouroboros seemed bent on swallowing its own tail (well… tale) and draining it dry, but I went with the arterial flow. Why not?
Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, unmade – remade – made as an alternate history’s Dracula in Ceaucescu’s Romania?
Splendid!

A swan song for Philip Marlowe outside Poodle Springs was charming, but brief. And light.
An aperitif? A sorbet? Or were we getting as lost in the West as the “vipers” themselves?

And then another change of scene, some light…. necking?
The Dude? The Slayer? And a certain rumpled detective?
What!?!
Well, all I’m saying is that I wouldn’t leave town if I was you.

BuffyColomboTheDudeAnd that’s when I realized that this wasn’t an ouroboros at all. There was no end in sight, certainly not in the fanged mouth of Maggie Thatcher.
No, not a coiled serpent, more a sort of Moebius Strip. It wasn’t covering the same ground or coming from the same place. Rust never sleeps. Anywhere.
Through the Looking Glass? More like ‘Through with the Looking Glass’.
And just as well, mirrors are bloody useless to a vampire…. A vampire needs an audience.

Like Swann’s famous contract at The Paradise, “All item’s excluded are deemed included.”

 

* In my mouth (during a public reading) his words proved merely a recipe – a list of delicious ingredients that I was utterly incapable of presenting properly. But in the proper hands…

Really Big Doings

Friends, Romans, Countrymen – Lend me your electrons!
Life is full of goodness and I have a lot of news to share:

• THE NEW WEB SITE!
It is remarkable how much work has snowballed during these last 35 years. Curating this curious compendium of work for a cohesive web site presented constant surprises and challenges, but was really great fun. I hope you’ll enjoy perusing them, and that you’ll let me know which pieces you like most, what is missing (and if you have pieces from the distant past that I lack a proper scan of):

www.leemoyer.com

For those who have kindly been following me on WordPress, please know I will gradually be switching my writings over to my new journal on the Zenfolio site: http://www.leemoyer.com/blog

I will keep cross-posting for a while longer and will let you know when I post my last entry here!

• 2014 LITERARY PIN-UP CALENDAR FOR CLARION WRITER’S WORKSHOP
2013’s calendar featured collaborations with modern masters Ray Bradbury, Charlaine Harris, George RR Martin, Jim Butcher, Peter Beagle, and Sir Terry Pratchett, and benefitted author Patrick Rothfuss’ charity Worldbuilders. This next year’s features the Calendar Project’s first authorial return engagement as Neil Gaiman once again graces its pages. Hooray!

I thrilled to be working with Clarion and the award-winning authors they invited to be in this coming year’s calendar.

Their IndieGoGo campaign should be lighting up the internets this very week. We’ll be sending the details to everyone on our mailing list of course, but more important than anything I can do is you spreading the good word.

IndieArt2• 120 SMALL GODS! SO FAR!
I have been drawing Small Gods for one third of a year so far. The story of the project’s origins is here:

https://leemoyer.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/1035/

It has been wonderful to have people approach me in person, on Facebook, or on Twitter with stories and ideas for Small Gods.
I look forward to the next hundred, and hope you’ll join me here:

www.leemoyer.com/smallgods

Also, people can now purchase prints of Small Gods directly from the website. Progress!

• STARSTRUCK
Earlier this year Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund Harry Palmer: Starstruck.
I am pleased to announce that in addition to the cover (below), I will again be painting the entirety of this astonishing work.
Even as I write, new pages are being created and Harry’s story promises to be even more beautiful than the previous.

HPalmer3• ARISIA 2015 HONORS
I was even more pleased to accept the Artist Guest of Honor invitation from Boston’s Arisia when I learned that the Author Guest of Honor is none other than the dynamic and delightful Nora Jemisin. It was an honor to draw a pin-up of one of her fascinating characters for my 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar. I only hope the piece is as elegant and challenging as its source material.

JemisinPinup• ICELAND & UK
In a weeks time I will be heading out for the UK via Iceland for the World Fantasy Convention. I am very much looking forward to the new friends and old I will see, including authors Kim Newman (whose Diogenes Club books I have been lucky enough to illustrate) and Andri Snær Magnason whose remarkable book LoveStar was runner-up for the Philip K. Dick Award last year. We are especially excited to meet up with The Indelicates, one of our favorite bands – as delightfully subversive and compelling as one could wish!

• 13th AGE
My game with Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet and Aaron McConnell 13th Age is out (to rave reviews) and available from Pelgrane Press.
I am working on the artwork for its follow-on book 13 True Ways (the wilier among you might notice a couple sneak previews of that art in the vasty Games section my new website):

www.leemoyer.com/13thAge

• DOOM in REVIEW
The rescue of my game ‘The Doom That Came to Atlantic City’ by Cryptozoic was a wonderful thing to be able to announce last month.
I just found this charming review of it from GenCon (where rules designer Keith Baker was present for play tests):

Edit: Upon posting this entry I was informed I have reached my 50th post on my journal! A milestone I didn’t even realize I was making.