BOOK & BLOG
August 1, 2011
Books of the Week:
Richard Kadrey's next Sandman Slim book will be out in OCTOBER, so mark your calendars if you're as much a fan of these incredibly visionary and savage books as I am. In Aloha From Hell, all of Sandman Slim's worlds come together; his present life in hellacious L.A. with the disembodied head Kasabian and his Jade lover, his past with his beloved girlfriend, and most of all the ground in the middle where he was a fighter in Hell. Stark (as he prefers to be called) is a nephilim, product of an angel and a human, and he's the only one of his kind remaining. To prevent the destruction of the earth by his antagonist Mason, Stark voluntarily returns to Hell, and naturally the results are totally dreadful for everyone concerned. Even God gets killed, or at least one of him. These books are incredibly hard-boiled, and the endings are not H.E.A. But Kadrey's a fascinating writer and no matter how vicious Sandman Slim gets, we're rooting for him to win.
Here's the contrast: after reading Nancy A. Collins' Sonja Blue books (which any serious vampire reader or writer must), Right Hand Magic was a complete contrast. The Sonja Blue books are (very roughly) the Sandman Slim books of vamp fiction: bloody, vicious, captivating. Right Hand Magic is a complete about-face in terms of tone and destination. It brought to mind the very wonderful "Keeper" books by Tanya Huff (Summon the Keeper, The Second Summoning), books that are so much fun to read that you wish you had ten of them. Right Hand Magic is a puffball of a book, a fun trip to a part of New York City we've never gotten to visit ourselves, Golgotham, where all the non-human creatures live, the ones who practice magic. When sculptress Tate needs a place where she can make noise while she works, she finds a cheap apartment in Golgotham. Human cabs won't enter and human moving companies won't deliver, but Tate finds a new life for herself there, including a hunky royal landlord. But the local crime boss has it in for them, and Tate's life in the regular world doesn't exactly blend with her life in Golgotham.
I didn't have a chance to read a lot this past week, because I was working hard to finish DEADLOCKED, Sookie 12. I'm always experimenting with different ways to organize my work so I can keep track of what's going on during the course of the action in the book. This time, I think I made real progress.
The day I send a book to my editor (and my agent, and my continuity maven, and to Dana and Toni) is just about better than Christmas. Of course, the minute it's gone, I think of five things I should have done differently, but I'll have chances to make changes. All of those people will have suggestions, and I'll have days of slogging through the manuscript again trying to decide which changes to adopt and which ones to let fall by the wayside. I'll have plot holes to fill, factual errors to correct, and clumsy sentences to rewrite. And I know all this when I hit "send." But there's always the delightful feeling of accomplishment, the happiness of having done my best.
For a couple of weeks I can maintain the illusion that this time I haven't made any mistakes: that I haven't miscounted and had the action take place on Sunday (when Merlotte's is closed) or put Sookie's birthday on the wrong day, or made any of the million errors possible when a series has gone on for so many years with such a large cast. (I have no idea how George R.R. Martin is doing it.)
I'll probably get five or six sets of comments simultaneously, and I'll want to tear my hair out. But that's part of the job, too. You're never really through with a book until you hold the printed copy in your hand. (Even then, sometimes, you have to make corrections for the next edition, if you're lucky enough to have another edition.)
I'll be gone for two weeks, so please mind the babysitters – that is, the moderators – while I'm out of town. Turn off the lights when you leave the house, and lock the doors at night.
And don't take candy from strangers. That is, don't believe any of the crazy rumors you hear on other websites, without checking here to get the facts. I'm not saying this because of anything specific; but while I was touring I got an earful of stories from distressed readers who'd read statements on other websites about things I'd supposedly said. Just ask me. Sometimes, context is everything!
© 2011 Charlaine Harris