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Thanks to the divine Paul Cornell, I am reminded that nominations for the 2014 Hugo Awards are now open, and that it is not shameful to let others know that one has eligible work.

And so we present for your consideration the unabridged audiobook of THE FALL OF THE KINGS for
Best Dramatic Presentation “Long Form” (more than 90 minutes)

Rules for who is eligible to nominate for the Hugos are here.  You can nominate for the Hugo Awards (if you've an attending or supporting member of this year's, last year's or next year's Worldcon) here.  More info (including fact that deadline is March 31st) here.

ETA: Bo Bolander reminds us: "If you attended LoneStarCon last year, you can vote on the Hugos/Campbell this year. It's that easy!"

Creator/Writer:  Ellen Kushner & Delia Sherman
Studio: SueMedia/Neil Gaiman Presents

Produced by SueMedia & Ellen Kushner, narrated by Ellen Kushner (co-author with Delia Sherman), the audiobook features original music by Nathanael Tronerud composed for the Riverside Series, book by book, this book being the culmination.  Using our new "Illuminated" audiobook technique, SueMedia also creates original sound effects throughout, and we invited a host of wonderful actors to bring some of the dialogue to life - including the great Simon Jones (the original Arthur Dent in Hitchiker's Guide!), audio award-winners Katherine Kellgren, Nick Jones, Robert Fass . . . and Neil Gaiman as The Wizard in the Dreams!

Read more about it and listen to sample clips here.

I would point out the the first book in the series, Swordspoint, won an Audie Award in 2012, so we're selling quality goods here. And that, ehrm, very very few people actually nominate and vote in the Hugos, so every vote genuinely counts!

Thank you.

Full Size Cover Image by Tom Canty )
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Our fine friends at Tor.Com are offering a complete set of Riverside Audiobooks, plus extra goodies including Neil Gaiman's signed script for his Introduction to The Fall of the Kings audiobook, and a photo of all of us in the studio the day we recorded Neil's part (to be signed by Delia & me).

It's a Sweepstakes you can enter just by Commenting there on their site.

Photo:  Me, Neil, Delia & producer/director Sue Zizza

My co-author, Delia Sherman, & I are just thrilled. Thanks again to all the actors who took part in this ambitious project, and to everyone at Audible, Tor.Com & SueMedia who made it happen.

The Sweepstakes runs through Sept. 1.  To enter, click here.
--And don't be churlish:  Tell your friends!
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Thanks so much to everyone who contributed culinary delights to the Riverside Series Recipes-and-Menus Contest! You must now click through and see them all, for they are a wonder to behold.

They ranged from the witty to the more-ish, the stunningly artistic to the heart-meltingly "I can't believe you read my books and know them so well....!" Last night at midnight, we read them all, and immediately went on a snacking binge that has lasted . . . well, let's just say it's not over yet.

Congratulations to our Winners:

Lynn A. Aderholt
Daphne Knudson
Nightwing Whitehead

You will each receive a download code by e-mail for your free copy of the new audiobook of THE FALL OF THE KINGS.  We'll need a working e-mail address to send that to you, so please drop us a Comment here with your preferred e-dress. Don't worry:  We have LJ comments on this post screened so no one but my assistant, Laura, and I will see them. If you'd prefer to DM me at Facebook, that's OK, too.

And while we're on the subject of things we need from our winners:
We'd also like to include as many of the recipes & menus as we can on my forthcoming NEW website (!!!) in the all-new, all-revised CUISINE section of "The World of Riverside" (designed by the fabulous Tara O'Shea!).  Please let us know if you are willing to let us post your recipe there, possibly along with your original note from my LiveJournal explaining your entry.  We will give credit where credit is due, so if you're willing, just let us know how you'd like to be credited:  your real name? your blog name? or even "Anonymous?" -  and what link, if any, you'd like us to link your name to.

Again, thanks to everyone who participated by entering or helping to spread the word!

Hmmm.....speaking of SPREAD . . . do we have any of that goat cheese left?
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To celebrate the advent of a new Riverside Audiobook - narrated by your humble co-author - we like to throw a little contest, to give you a chance to win a FREE download of our latest from Neil Gaiman Presents: The Fall of the Kings, by Ellen Kushner & Delia Sherman.

Last time, it was Book Covers – this time, it’s CUISINE!

We invite you to create a
for food described in any of the "Riverside" books . .  or food that you think one of our characters would enjoy--
or a MENU for a meal they might eat . . . . You can even name a new dish for a character (What would Cherries Tremontaine taste like? what’s in a Riverside Fool?) . . .   And, of course, we welcome all recipes for how to make a really decent cup of chocolate.

1) Post your recipe (or menu) somewhere online on one of your own social media sites (LJ, Tumblr, FaceBook, blog, whatever--but your site, not mine!) where all your friends can see it, explaining what it's for (either by referring back to this post, or to the audiobook itself)

2) Post a link to that in the Commments on this page, below

The most delectable 10 entries will each get a FREE DOWNLOAD of the new audiobook!

And don’t worry – if you’ve already pre-ordered your copy, you’ll be able to give your winning Download to a friend.
The winning recipes may also appear (with permission) on the CUISINE section of my new website (currently a WIP, but coming soon in all its glory!).

Contest ends at 5:00 pm EST on FRIDAY, August 23rd
-- in time for us to judge them, & to send out the Secret Audiobook Prize Code in time for you to for
THE FALL OF THE KINGS AUDIOBOOK Release Day: Tuesday, August 27!
FOTK final NGP cover
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EK: You're such a schmuck . . . I can't believe you killed [him]!

DS, calmly knitting a sweater for Holly & Theo's new baby: Can't go to jail for killing a character.  There's not a jury in the land would convict me.
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In the home stretch of a very elaborate music-voice-and-SoundEffects (SFX) mix for the forthcoming audiobook of THE FALL OF THE KINGS (for Audible/Neil Gaiman Presents). Delia & I listen to each chapter hot off the producer's mixing board (thanks to the magic of YouSendIt), and either crow with glee, or make suggestions.

We have just had to take out the actual Owl Hoot that she put in for "The door opened slowly, and the man announced his presence by hooting like an owl." (p. 358, Trade Paperback)

Delia: It's just 'hooting like an owl in Book Land.'
Ellen: No; it's 'hooting like an owl in Theron Crazy-land.'
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in its category, which was "Best Audio Drama" --because of all the Illuminated bits.

I really truly wasn't expecting it - I'm afraid I let out a SQUAWK! - What?! - and when we stood in our places for the applause (no speeches at the Audies), I blinked around the room like a sunstruck owl.

Then I sat down and managed not to burst into tears only through force of character with the knowledge that it would destroy my carefully-applied eye makeup, which took forever.

Good thing, too, because there were many pictures taken with everyone.  Which I will post.  Tomorrow.  Along with all my thanks to the many people who deserve it.

I had a rather spiffing dress. I must go take it off, now.
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In the "All Pleasures Must be Paid For" Dept.: Got the WisCon Cold. And so, while I will still be very well-dressed, I will not be hugging & shaking hands with my esteemed colleagues at the Audie Awards tomorrow night (assuming they'll still let me in! A room full of the audiobook world's finest voice talent . . . maybe they'll just make me carry a bell & clapper?) But on the No Good Deed Goes Unappreciated side: at our long-awaited lunch today, Amie Cousins presented me with my long-requested bottle of Australian Horseradish/Garlic+C cold pills! How's that for synchronicity?

At WisCon, had the very great pleasure of meeting Amy Butler Greenfield, and am now devouring her YA historical fantasy CHANTRESS. Also got to hang out a lot with Ysabeau Wilce, and talk about Flora & Hardhands & Tiny Doom . . . I will let her tell you about the results - for now, my lips are sealed!  There were many more merry meetings, but I think I need to go lie down now (as opposed to basking in memories until they reveal all names & faces. Debbie, Caroline, Brit, noodles, momocha, Karen, ah, English muffins . . . Oh, dear.  And cake.)

Last night we had Janis Ian to dinner here at Chateau Riverside.  We've met often at cons, but this was the first time we'd really had a chance to sit and talk.  (To my delight, she'd written some weeks back to say that she'd be in town for the Audies & BEA & the Lambda Awards [!!!], and did we have a little time?)  We cooked a simple home dinner, figuring someone who's on the road that much would appreciate it.  With her was the remarkable Ellen Myrick - shared the Theory of Ellens with her (which exploded like the Big Bang when Ellen Klages & I first met), and sure enough, she too is capable & bossy (well, that's what they call us!).

Tomorrow night we find out whether we won any Audie Awards - between us, Delia & I are up for FOUR!!!
Me for SWORDSPOINT:  Best Audio Drama
Me for THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD:  Best Multi-Narrator (eeeeeee!!! That would be Barbara Rosenblat & me!!!!)
Us for WELCOME TO BORDERTOWN: Best Anthology
Delia for THE FREEDOM MAZE:  Best Children's Title

This will never happen again.  So off we go.

Sorry I don't update here often enough - I tend to just blurt on Twitter or Facebook, and you're more than welcome to join me there.  Oh, and Tumblr, too - it's here, but it is, of course, mostly pictures.  Good ones, though!
ellenkushner: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))

This is Ellen’s assistant Katharine, back to announce the winner of our TPOTS Create Your Own Cover Contest, while Ellen nurses a head cold and gloats over all the art.

I’m glad to see that my rallying cry of “Lace! Leather! Silk and steel!” inspired so many of you to design your own covers for The Privilege of the Sword (aka TPOTS, which Ellen really does pronounce "teapots!") in honor of the release of the new audiobook, and I loved seeing the different covers that came in, from photos to drawings to digital collages.  (You can see all the entries as links in the Comments section of the original Contest post here.)

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest for the time and hard work you put into your designs. Both Ellen and I were impressed by the high quality and originality of the entries, and judging so many excellent covers was no easy feat. That is why, in addition to our Grand Prize winner, Ellen has selected two second-place winners, whose art you can see below.

We are thrilled to announce that the Grand Prize winner of the TPOTS Create Your Own Cover contest is…

         Taline Boghosian!         

TPOTS Winner p1TPOTS Cover Contest winner 2

TPOTS Cover contest winner 3TPOTS Cover contest winner 4

Ellen and I were blown away by Taline's exquisite design and thoughtful layout of the cover, which is for a hardcover with both front, back and side flaps. You can find more of Taline’s work here. In addition to receiving a limited edition copy of The Privilege of the Sword from Small Beer Press, Taline will have her art displayed on the official TPOTS Covers page. We'll announce it when the art goes up, so check back for that post!

And now for our two second-place winners, who will also receive a hardcover copy of The Privilege of the Sword. Well, one of them will, anyway—because one of our two winners, Elizabeth Evans-Gist ([profile] underthewetmoon), was already, by chance, the winner of our "What's your favorite imaginary book?" contest and has a copy of TPOTS on the way!

Here's Liz's subtle and elegant cover:

TPOTS Cover Contest runner-up 1

Tied with Liz for second place, we have this terrific cover art and design from [profile] vaultedthewall:

TPOTS Cover 2

We were especially impressed with the WIP posts she did as she worked on this cover; you can see them here on her Tumblr.  She also managed to get all our favorite characters in.

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you again to everyone who entered!!! Even if you didn't win, you can still perfectly legitimately acquire your own limited edition copy of The Privilege of the Sword here (at a discounted rate) - and/or download the new TPOTS audiobook, narrated by Ellen herself (with a little help from the great Barbara Rosenblat & a cast that includes Felicia Day and Joe Hurley) from Neil Gaiman Presents.

We loved each and every entry, and all the enthusiasm everyone has so kindly shown over the launch of the TPOTS audiobook.  

I think it's time to lock Ellen in a tower and make her write another novel, now, don't you?

She says she has to finish recording The Fall of the Kings first.  But I dunno . . . . 


Sep. 7th, 2012 01:14 pm
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OK, my brain just exploded:

“Switch back and forth between the Kindle book and the Audible Audiobook without ever losing your place.”

My friend Christina, who works at Audible (with Neil on the "Neil Gaiman Presents" line, among other great projects) & is its biggest cheerleader, says:

If IP were a sport, a few of my Audible colleagues would be Olympians. (Guy Story = Bela Karolyi? You be the judge...) Point is: I'm very proud of the people behind these amazing new features. Viva reading!

ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)
 ...even though I really really want one (with Felicia Day as Katherine, of course!)!

A screenwriter friend in LA recently wrote me*:

A few days ago I was working with a friend (an A-list feature writer-producer, loves fantasy).  My first pitch to her was TPOTS.  She at once advised me to think television instead of movie.  This was strictly from the point of view of selling the idea to a feature studio.  "Their demographic is entirely male at this point," she said.  She also told me that right now fantasy is a much harder sell than science fiction.  (Again, for features.  This is not the case in TV at all.)  The feature people would have zero interest in a character-oriented fantasy about a girl; they'd far rather have action-oriented SF about a guy.  Even if you could sell them TPOTS, she said, it would become all about the guy teaching her swordplay.  Who would be played by Russell Crowe.  Who would then take over the movie and be given a female love interest, etc.

Aggghhhhh!!!!! (gigglesnort)

Yeah. A Riverside TV series FTW!

Glad we got that straight.

So until that Blessed Time, I'm afraid if you want the Dramatized Version of The Privilege of the Sword - you'll just have to listen to the Illuminated Audiobook!

*Our conversation, btw, was partly sparked by Justine Larbalestier's excellent recent blog post, No, I'm Not Dying For My Books to become Hollywood Movies. I concur.
ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)
 FROM KATHARINE: With award-winning actors who have appeared on Broadway, London's West End, and numerous television shows and films, the cast for the new TPOTS audiobook is decidedly all-star. If you haven't heard the work of Barbara Rosenblat or Joe Hurley, you are doing your ears a serious disservice, as they are masters of audiobook acting and both lend incredible depth and talent to their roles in TPOTS.

Below, you can see the cast list for the production—we'll post another comprehensive one with all the smaller roles played in the near future, but this offers a look at the major players and links to more of their work, as well as the wonderful crew who made the book happen. Enjoy!

From SueMedia Productions

Narrators: Ellen Kushner and eight-time Audie Award winner Barbara Rosenblat

Featuring: Audie Award winner Joe Hurley (Alec Campion: the Mad Duke Tremontaine); The Guild creator Felicia Day (Katherine Talbert); Audie Award finalist (currently on Broadway in Newsies!Nick Sullivan (Lord Ferris; Arthur Ghent); multiple Audie Award winner Katherine Kellgren (Lady Artemesia Fitz-Levi; Teresa Grey; Flavia "the Ugly Girl"); and Neil Gaiman (Rogues' Ball Artist).

Supporting Cast Wilson Bridges, Jason Collins, Butch D'Ambrosio, Matt Mendillo, Bill Rogers, Sue Zizza

Original Score: Nathanael Tronerud

Producer/Director: Sue Zizza

Co-Producer: Ellen Kushner

Recording / Master Mixing: David Shinn

Editors: David Shinn, Marc Wiener, Alex Ghersini, Sue Zizza

As Friday evening edges ever nearer (not long now!), I hope some of you are planning to snuggle up and listen to the TPOTS audiobook at home this weekend—or that you'll take it on the road, treat yourself to an outdoor listening date to the park, or even break out your old boom box and broadcast it loudly on the subway, '90s-style. (Anyone who actually does this will win—well, I don't even know, but I'd have to dream up something amazing, because you would be my hero). 

Speaking of things to be won, on Monday we will launch our first contest for the audiobook, so make sure to check back for details on the rules and prizes. We'll keep you in suspense as to the nature of the competition, but prepare your pens, pencils, and paintbrushes, and carefully study any swords (or swordsmen) you may have lying around, as they'll serve as terrific inspiration. Okay, that's all I'll say—my lips are sealed until Monday!

ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)
 Yes, this week my FaceBook Page is all about Fencing!  Especially Women's Fencing!


Because Audible.com has thrown up an ad there for the new The Privilege of the Sword (TPOTS) audiobook, and I want to see it!

It is one of those things that pops up in response to your interests - and my liaison there (She Who is Known as Neil's Representative on Earth) rather cleverly thought that while the Olympics were on, we could bag a lot of eyeballs from Women's Fencing Enthusiasts, and bring them over to Riverside.  But in order to see the ad pop up myself, I must mention mittens fencing. And so must all my friends!!!  In comments on my page, I guess - and maybe even, as one person suggested, on their own?  ("Try getting your friends to mention women's fencing as well.. that sometimes helps direct the ads.") 

We are having a lot of fun in the Comments.  And I am learning all sorts of things about people's pasts with swords - Who knew Jane Yolen was a fencer in college? that Tiffany Trent does Chinese straightsword? that Lucy Sussex's student is "writing a book on a C17th French woman fencer and opera singer. Also burnt down a nunnery."  ?

Come join us - it's a great lark!  (FYI:  I am happy to accept pretty much anyone as a FB friend. Feel free to drop me a message letting me know who you are - but it's not a requirement anymore.)

In other news: I have a new computer.  And I fell down a manhole in Lowell.  But I am, as you can see, all right.*  

*I will write it up later today, as it's not the sort of thing that happens often - and, yes, I was thinking as I sat nursing my pride and my wounds, "I can use this!"  So don't want to forget.  A brief spasm of concern for the fact that latest research shows if you've experienced a traumatic incident you're supposed to think of fluffy puppies & like that, rather than to dwell on it . . . But so far my dreams have been benign and my bruises are healing, so I think that's all right.  One of the nice things about having a short attention span.
ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)
 FROM KATHARINE: For those of you who haven't yet gotten a chance to listen to the audiobook, here's the story of the excellent sample you can hear on Audible's The Privilege of the Sword page by clicking the green arrow beneath the cover image. (And for those of you who have heard the bookwe'd love to read your reviews, here or on Audible!)

The five-minute scene brings to vivid and musical life the Rogues' Ball from TPOTS, wherein we encounter the ribbon-wrapped Companions of the King, "devilish revelry" abounds, and the Mad Duke, much to Katherine's dismany, attempts to ascend a human pyramid. It also features the voice talents of Neil Gaiman and Dr Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog's Felicia Day, two amazing performers who loved the Riverside series long before they became part of the audiobooks.

Felicia Day's involvement came about, as many fortuitous things do, via the Twitterverse. In October of last year, Felicia (@FeliciaDay) happened to tweet that she loved the books of War of the Oaks author Emma Bull, an old friend of both Ellen and Neil's. When Ellen retweeted, Felicia responded (and I quote): "Holy crap that's Ellen Kushner. I loved Swordspoint too!"

Ellen tweeted back to ask if Felicia had read The Privilege of the Sword, mentioning that Felicia would make a perfect Katherine. Neil (@neilhimself) happened to stop by that corner of Twitter to chime in with a "Yes! I agree!" and the brilliant idea to use Felicia's mix of nerdy-girl-next-door charm and subtle badassery for the upcoming TPOTS audiobook was born.

Felicia, of course, wears many awesome and stylishly geektastic hats, and has been extremely busy founding the YouTube channel Geek and Sundry and creating the online book club Vaginal Fantasy Hangout. (Visit both, and watch several hours of your life disappear in a way you'll love). However, 
Felicia still made time in her schedule to drive to a recording studio in LA and record some key lines from Katherine's scenesincluding the famous Letters with Artemisia! 

And here's Ellen's report on casting Neil as the foppish and fustian architect of the artists' tableau at the Rogues' Ball: 

'Since Neil's the producer of NGP, and an old friend (and was so wonderful as Bogdan in The Witches of Lublin), we thought it would be fun to give him a "cameo/cookie" appearance in each book (after Swordspoint).  I knew immediately that it should be "the red-haired artist" at the Rogues' Ball - and Sue (of SueMedia Productions), when she read it, agreed! This is actually the only time in the entire book that the first person narrator is in an "Illuminated" scene (i.e., one with actors doing character voices, plus lots of SFX) - we broke our own rule in order to make that happen!  Now we're trying to figure out who Neil should be in our next production, THE FALL OF THE KINGS (scheduled for late fall 2012) - any suggestions?'

So the floor is open, Riverside fans—who should Neil play in The Fall of the Kings? And who else would you like to see on the cast list, if Twitter were capable of bringing us anyone our (and your) hearts desired?

ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)
 Award-winning illustrator Tom Canty created this exclusive cover for the new TPOTS audiobook, shown here without type for your full viewing pleasure. It's a gorgeous design, but the main thought that keeps running through my mind is how much I want those earringsanyone else frequently get the urge to rifle through the wardrobes of fabulously-clad fictional characters?
TPOTS Audiobook Cover Painting only

This, by the way, is still Katharine Duckett, who will be updating in Ellen's stead while she roams the hills, dales, and graveyards of Maine. I'll keep you posted on the lastest TPOTS developments (including several upcoming contests--stay tuned!!!) and generally ensuring Ellen doesn't have to be online any more than absolutely necessary while on Retreat. (If you see her here, tell her to stay away until August! She'll thank you, I promise.) 

You may be wondering how I ended up taking the reins of Ellen's LJ--or you may not, which makes me worry that you're somewhat disturbingly incurious, dear reader, and that I probably wouldn't leave you to watch my house for a weekend. Here's a brief rundown on my history in the world of speculative fiction and fantasy: While studying minotaurs and cannibals (no, but really, though) at Hampshire College, I interned for the fine folks at 
Small Beer Press, which involved drinking a lot of tea and combing through the slush pile, as well as working on great books like Liz Hand's Generation Loss and Poppy Z. Brite's Second Line

After graduating, I interned for 
io9.com, where I compiled the monthly Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy and researched crucial topics like the height of giant robots and the social forces behind increased production of zombie movies. Then I traipsed off to do the Peace Corps in southern Kazakhstan, which, with its abandoned Soviet mining cities, massive trash pit fires, and  packs of wild and occasionally rabid dogs, gave me all the material a writer of dystopian science fiction could ask for.

Now, in addition to my own writing, I work as Ellen & Delia's assistant, weeding the undergrowth of files and navigating the jungle of books at the Riverside apartment, promoting new books and projects like 
Welcome to Bordertown, and attending events with lots of lovely and interesting new people. As I write this, in fact, I'm sitting in Vagabond Café, which tonight will host NYC's monthly IAF Salon
 from 7 to 10 p.m. If you're in the city, come by, have a beer, see art, hear music, and say hello!

ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)
 It's here! It's here! The Privilege of the Sword Audiobook is now available on Audible.com, as part of the ACX/Neil Gaiman Presents list. 

Ellen reads all of the first-person narration for the book, with the support of an amazing cast that includes Joe Hurley, Felicia Day, Nick Sullivan, Katherine Kellgren, and, of course, Neil Gaiman himself. The immensely talented Barbara Rosenblat acts as omniscient narrator, Sue Zizza of SueMedia Productions creates the sounds of Riverside, and composer Nathaniel Tronerud provides a full soundtrack of original music commissioned exclusively for this book.

(And no, before you ask: Ellen has not suddenly and disconcertingly decided to refer to herself in third person. This is her assistant, Katharine Duckett, who will be bringing you updates while Ellen is on Retreat in the woods of Maine. More on me later!)

Visit The Privilege of Sword page on Audible to hear a sample, see reviews, and read what Neil has to say about the book. Go forth and listen! 
ellenkushner: (Bessie McNicol)
And so we left the House of Heart's Desire on Friday morning to ramble our way down to Liz Hand-- no, wait that's wrong*: In the morning,  we went to the Stonington Farmer's Market, looking for fresh eggs and smoked fish in that delightful fishing town at the end of Deer Isle.  And that is why we got such a late start heading down the coast to Liz Hand's.  Fortunately, we had stopped on Deer Isle to pick up pie at the Pie Lady's on Sunset Road - get past her Bible verses on the lawn outside her trailer, and she makes the hands down best Strawberry-Rhubarb on the Coast, bar none.  So we were able to bring a suitable Offering, which the Goddess of Hospitality found acceptable.  You do want to appease here, especially when she's cooking you dinner, and letting you sleep in her amazing little cottage on the lake.  We love it there:  It reminds us powerfully of the sort of magical space that Terri Windling creates wherever she lives and works.  And the conversation with Liz - about books we were all writing - was as filling as the meal.

And so we puttered around the cottage on Saturday morning until it was time to drive down (up? well, south, anyway) the Maine coast for another hour or so to the Audiofile Magazine Audiobook Narrators' Picnic & Clambake in Boothbay Harbor.

Oh, my friends!  It was amazing.  A perfect little inlet, where kids frolicked in the surf and found horseshoe crabs in tidal pools, and I got to go out in my very first kayak-on-the-ocean jaunt, thanks to a lovely woman who refused to change out of her swimsuit til she'd taken me out, since she thought I ought to try it. And the lobster (and steamers and corn and sweet potatoes and onions & fresh eggs) were all layered into seaweed and steamed on the beach over a huge wood fire manned by two Maine lobstermen; I got the guy in charge to tell me all about how he'd learned it from "the old guys."

And all around us were some of the great voice talents of the audiobook world - as well as some delightful up-and-comers-  eating lobster and drinking beer and talking about life and art..... Some of them were people I already knew from my work with Sue Zizza on the Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword (TPOTS) audiobooks for Neil Gaiman Presents.  Which was good, because I was feeling quite shy (and you know that doesn't happen often!).  After all, who was I?  Not really a professional narrator; I've only done my own books, with lots of help from Sue and her staff - and I discovered that just reading aloud is very different from Performing Audio - which is even very different from performing for Radio, which I certainly have no qualms about. I did get to wear the Gold Sticker of "Earphones Award Winner" on my namebadge, though - that was cool.  (It's kind of like getting a starred review in Kirkus, and we got one for Swordspoint! See? )

My very dear Barbara Rosenblat had even brought me some of my favorite esoteric European licorice, which we both share a taste for - she's my co-narrator on TPOTS, which is supposed to be released tomorrow!**  Robert Fass, our Alec in Swordspoint, was resplendent in a Hawaiian shirt & straw hat. And Dion Graham (St Vier in Swordspoint) was snappy in seersucker - but then, the man defines cool.

After the eating came the reading.  Everyone could choose to sign up to read their own selection for up to 5 minutes. (Stefan Rudnicki began, with a piece by Joe Haldeman! I'm afraid I squeaked; another friend suddenly in the room!)   I had determined in advance that I was not going to put myself forward in such august company.  But at the "intermission," I realized I really wanted to.  I was charmed and delighted by the warmth of the gathering; the non-showiness of the way people read, just to please themselves and each other. . . at the variety of the selections, each of which said so much about the person reading.  I went to the signup sheet, and there was a spot left - at the end, right after two of the biggest names in the business, Tavia Gilbert and Robin Miles!

Reader, I begged. And the blessed Tavia let me cut in, and go between her and Robin.  Don't read from something of yours! Delia hissed at me over her knitting (she does love to listen to people read while she knits), when she heard my mad plan.  But, really, what else did I have prepared at a professional level?  So I did the opening paragraph of TPOTS, and then the bit where Katherine meets the Mad Duke for the first time.  I'm pretty sure I clocked in at <4 minutes, as befitting my station. But, oh, it was a LIVE AUDIENCE!  I do love a live audience - so much more than sitting in front of a microphone in a tiny room with grey foam on the walls.  And I've read that bit aloud many times.  I think it went well. People were very nice about it afteward.  And at least I felt that I had had the courtesy to give these wonderful people a little more to go on about this stranger suddenly in their midst.

And then we bade fond farewells to everyone, stuck the extra seaweed-roasted eggs in the car to be made into The World's Best Egg Salad later, and drove about 2 miles up (down?) the road to where one of my best friends from college, Nick Azzaretti,was performing with the Booth Bay Players!  No lie.  We'd missed the first half, where he sang Tevye's "Do You Love Me?" in honor of his & his wife Kate's 25th anniversary(!!!) - so to my boundless delight, he got his "Golde" to do it with him afterwards, just for us.  I'm afraid I cried.  It was lovely, and we drove down dark deer-studded country roads til we got to their house and kipped down, as usual, in Chiara's room. She somehow grew up and went off to college, but she left a great bunch of Terry Prachetts on the shelves - as well as any number of books signed by a couple of Virtual Aunties, and all the Dido Twite books - so that was all right.

And the next day we got up and ate blueberry muffins and then drove back up (down?) to the House of Heart's Desire. Where now I sit typing in an upstairs room while the wind blows in more and more sharply from the sea in the dark.

*I think I may be forgiven for my confusion about Friday, as I recall that Thursday night was very exciting, with Neil Gaiman tweeting that he was recording the TPOTS Introduction prior to its release, on his way to the airport for a few weeks in the UK - he was also recording the intros for three James Branch Cabell audiobooks, which should be out soon - and who but Margaret Atwood tweeted back to say she loved Cabell, and since I was part of the original tweet I got to join that conversation!

And when we finally got home, I sank into the huge bathtub under the window where the sun was still dappling the trees - and hence the bathwater - and opened one of the many New Yorker's we'd brought with us to Maine to read (you know that one, right?) - and there, in the article on Ben Stiller's life, carreer, and trials making his new Walter Mitty movie, was this:

At the end of a casting session, Stiller read with Brian Scott McFadden and Dion Graham . . . [Stiller has them try various things and directs McFadden] To Graham, he said only, "You could maybe do a bit less, because you have a lot of natural charisma."

Dion!!! Our Dion, who reads Richard St Vier in the "illuminated" bits of our Swordspoint audiobook!!! (You can hear him in the 5-minute clip on the webpage.) Stiller is so right about that.

**And now, my friends, I am going to withdraw from the public arena to the Contemplative Life for a few days. I've been online this week in Maine a whole lot more than I'd intended, what with all the excitement of the runup to the TPOTS audiobook launch. Which should be tomorrow!!!!!  But I came up here to rest and to write, and I'm going to try to do that in the days remaining (including Delia's & my anniversary trip to Lowell).  And so I yield the floor to my assistant, Katherine Duckett, who will be keeping you posted.

Enjoy July!

ellenkushner: (Thomas the Rhymer)
And so we have arrived at the House of Heart's Desire: big house in Maine near Blue Hill, looking out over the Reach to Deer Isle, alone here, settling in to do nothing but read, cook & Write for 10 days.

Came upstairs the first morning (yesterday) to find Delia still in bed, finishing Ysabeau Wilce's new Flora Segunda novel, FLORA'S FURY. Since this is to my mind one of the greatest fantasy series of our day, I am very pleased that she's done so I can read it next!! We got to spend some quality time with Ysabeau at Readercon - I am so sorry we are missing her reading tonight at KGB (w/ Leah Bobet) in NYC!! Go if you can. She promises an excerpt from a novella about Buck. Droooool.  

Readercon was superb, and deserves - and will get - its own post.  It was full of remarkable delights for me, as always, and this time I want to get them down before I forget!

Meanwhile, here in Maine, I find myself more tied to the computer than I had intended, since we're putting the final touches on the TPOTS audiobook, prefatory to getting it to launch NEXT WEEK, if all goes according to plan.  But I hope I can get all that settled today, and begin going off-line tomorrow to settle down to a more 19th century Writing Life (but with hot water On Demand).

In one of those delightful coincidences that the goddess Synchronicity sometimes arranges, I also just learned that the brilliant online magazine Strange Horizons will be reprinting my Riverside short story, "The Death of the Duke," on the last week of the month.  Which is perfect, as we'll have just brought out TPOTS audiobook, and have already begun prepping for THE FALL OF THE KINGS.

This begins, as always, with me reading it aloud to Delia while she sits knitting in the evening. (Last year, we were here at the end of August, and I was reading TPOTS to her - so it's a Tradition!)  We began last night.

ellenkushner: (Default)
 I am hunkered down here in Chateau Riverside, listening to rough mixes of each chapter of THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD (TPOTS) audiobook as they come in from SueMedia, as Sue & David & I prepare the audiobook for release. (They're on Long Island, I'm on Manhattan's Upper West Side . . . and YouSendIt is our new best friend!) We are fussing over every sound and music cue, trying to get the beats exactly right, the emotional tone of everything Just So!  Yes, we are insane. No one should be putting this kind of labor into a 15-hour book. But it's a labor of passion for all of us: Not only am I The Author (and Narrator), but my years of public radio production experience have made me exquisitely sensitive to the nuances of the interplay between text and sound - and I guess that's always been the way I process things anyway. Sue & David are, of course, the consummate professionals in the world of Radio Drama - it's so exciting having them putting that to work in our "illuminated" audiobook: I hope we're setting a new standard for a certain kind of book! Our deepest thanks to Neil Gaiman Presents (not only the great NeilHimself, but the colleagues at Audible who help it along) for encouraging and supporting this second book in the Riverside series.

And huge, GIGANTIC thanks to my friend, the artist Thomas Canty, who did the original U.S. Swordspoint cover for the Arbor House Books hardcover - picked up by Tor - for letting us use it for the Swordspoint audiobook (which came out in November 2011 - and if I've pressed the right buttons, it's the Icon for this post!) . . . and then generously created a NEW image specially for the release of the TPOTS audiobook!

ACXtpotsCover With Type-1

The book is scheduled for release the third week of July - I'll give you the exact date when it's confirmed.

And I'll be posting more thoughts - and some backstage gossip - about TPOTS Audiobook between now and then!
ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)

And here are my notes from our all-day recording session at DuArt on W. 55th Street!

Bill Rogers, playing Lord Ferris' footman:  Am I afraid of him?
EK:  Not really - it's just a Butler Line.
Nick Sullivan (Lord Ferris):  I've got an eyepatch, just remember that.

Katherine Kellgren (playing Teresa Grey & Artemisia Fitz-Levi & Flavia & whoever else we needed, all equally brilliantly) - well, actually I can't quote Katy specifically, but suffice it to say that when I asked her if she could do the Modiste with a Devon accent (because there are no French people in Riverside), well, she did it.  Also, she asked me whether I wanted the read (Teresa's line) to be "a young forest god, dappled golden" or "a young forest god: dappled, golden." With my Assistant Director hat on, I couldn't remember what I'd meant, so I told her what Delia told me when I was rehearsing my own lines:  "Trust the author."  And then, of course, I remembered that I had hand-tooled every single comma, so if there wasn't one, it meant "dappled golden." So we did.

And she & Jason Collins as Lucius Perry made me cry. 

Wonderful moment:  Hearing the Mad Duke, actor Joe Hurley, drifting down the hall to our first session muttering over and over to himself, "I intend . . . to make a swordsman of her!"  He was inspired in his performance by some of my favorite Peter O'Toole movies - and at one point in the session even paused to pronounce:  "I'm a movie star - not an actor!"  (10 points to everyone who can identify that quote.)

Hurley as the Duke & Nick Sullivan as Ferris had incredible chemistry - it was definitely one of those times when the actors read it even better than you hear it in your head!

And to top it off, my beloved nephew AJ turned out to be working (internship for HGTV) in the same building!  (He figured this out when he saw the photo on my new Tumblr....)  So he came to our floor after work, and ended up PA'ing for us, and then recording some voice wildtrax for the crowd scene at the Rogues' Ball.  So happy.

The above notes do not do justice to the utter wonderfulness of the 8.5-hour session, and I know I'm not telling you things like how many scenes we're illuminating, or what else people are playing, or, well, things - but I'll save that for another post.

. . . . Oh, OK:  I do all the Katherine first person narration, and Barbara Rosenblat is the 3rd person narrator. And Neil Gaiman may get a "cookie."  SueMedia Productions, like the Swordspoint audiobook , with music again by Nathanael Tronerud. And a really gorgeous new image by Tom Canty, coming right up!

We're hoping to have the The Privilege of the Sword audiobook out on Audible.com's Neil Gaiman Presents/ACX sometime in June 2012.

(Yes, I know the icon is for Swordspoint audiobook - I'll change it later.)

October 2014

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