So far, so good: my agent reports that he’s read the first 50 pages of The Star Shard and likes it. Says he has some notes about fairly minor stuff, but overall, he says he hopes this will persuade the interested publishers to “open their checkbook.” So — thanks be to God! — that sounds very good indeed. The first 50 pages are critical, since they have to hook the reader. I’ll keep you posted with any breaking news.
One more news item: my friend and fellow writer Nick Ozment has an exciting success to announce. One of the many, many “hats” he wears is the hat of a humorous fantasist. He’s written a number of stories featuring the exploits of Smoke, an unconventional dragon who has a phobia toward knights — not the rational fear that they might skewer him with their bright swords — but an honest-to-goodness phobia, like Indy’s fear of snakes, like Anya’s fear of bunnies. Nick’s Smoke stories have been accepted for on-line publication as a series, culminating in an inclusive print edition — yes, a BOOK! (Confetti, confetti! Congrats, Nick!) He’d like to invite anyone interested to stop in at:
You can read all about it there, and you’ll make Nick happy if you leave comments to help generate a buzz for the book.
Since this here is my blog, I can boast that I suggested “Knight Terrors” as part of the title when Nick was clawing around for titles and asking people to suggest them . . . but Nick claims he had thought of that title first, so I don’t get any prizes, accolades, remuneration, or children named after me. Bummer. But anyway — go, Nick!
And now for the main topic of this posting. (Oh! — Should I say Grrooinnk?)
Back in the summer of 1990, when I was a young lad newly-arrived in Japan, I had an idea for a book that I called A Green and Ancient Light. For me, summer, sunlight, trees, and the imagination are all bound up together. The green glow beneath the canopy of leaves on a hot summer day is the very essence of freedom and story. It was often in treetops and at the feet of trees that I loved to read books as a kid. I had a favorite “reading grove” in the corner of our front yard. So that’s the meaning of the title: the emerald radiance under the leaves of summer is something timeless — something enchanted. There’s no better lamp under which to read a good tale, or to dream of tales yet untold. I remember writing a lot of my first,
unpublished novel The Threshold of Twilight outdoors, on a drawing board placed across my lap, on yellow legal paper with a very soft-leaded mechanical pencil that smudged like crazy if you so much as looked at it. I also remember writing the scene in which Dragonfly first meets Sylva outdoors in the tree-light, on a card table, using my Smith Corona word processor. See this picture? This is just about where in the yard I wrote that scene, ending with Mr. Snicker snipping the cobweb. Oooh, Historical Glimpse! Heh, heh.
The light is “ancient” because — I’ll wager — dreamers have been sitting in and under trees since time immemorial. (Writer Paul Darcy Boles said of writers, “We are all storytellers sitting around the cave of the world.” Storytelling is a primal, fundamental human activity. When we tell or hear a good yarn, we are participating in something as old as our race — and far older, since the Word was in the beginning, before all else.)
The concept of the book was to take a whole list of things, places, and activities from my childhood and to arrange and describe them in dictionary form. But it wasn’t just a straight reporting of things I did: it was those things and places filtered through memory and the imagination — through the veridian murk under the summer leaves. Well, here, I’ll quote you the frontispiece of the little handmade book I eventually came up with:
“As if pursuing a mysterious, dancing flame among twilight trees, the reader of A Green and Ancient Light undertakes an unusual, often haunting journey into a strange world where the faces, feelings, and facts of remembered childhood merge with its dreams and fears in a landscape that never was, that will always be . . . revealing to us the weird and fantastic beings and settings of boyhood summers when ghosts walk and days are forever.”
Yes, I know it’s overwritten — but this was 1990, remember — I was practically an infant! — well, practically. . . .
So, from time to time on this blog, I will likely subject you to entries from A Green and Ancient Light. For now, I’ll wrap up with this poem, also from the book:
The evening forest glimmers, deep on deep
With fireflies its welkin, and its moon
Ignis fatuus. Crickets weave the rune
Of summoned secrets, time past time, and sleep
Hangs heavy in the nebulae of leaves.
Somnambulary hedgehogs are aware
Of something quite invisible in the air
Between the burrows and the mistlight sheaves
Of dream, that draws them out — (Some miracle is
In morning, too) — which calls the wanderer
Far from the road, amid dissolving night —
(Is whispered in crystal webs of dew) — his
Breath is hushed in secret shining here,
Where God has hung a green and ancient light.
If you’re frowning over the grammar, STOP it! I was a kid, all right? That’s a good stopping place for now. Until next time!