ellenkushner: (Default)
...And the story of how we got here - after time in Devon with Terri, then WFC in Brighton, then visiting David Almond in Northumberland, Lizza Aiken (and Geoff Ryman) in London, then flying to Marseille where Brutish Airways lost my luggage & everything went pear-shaped for a couple of days til we were able to retrieve it and find a place to stay that had actual heat (and a huge fireplace) in the face of a sudden brutal Mistral wind . . . Well, I've been putting up posts & photos on Facebook, but I know some of you do not Indulge, so here is my latest post, because it seems more LJ-ish than FB-ish, quand-meme:

OK, behold me justabout weeping with simple joy. Did I mention that our  gîte is in an old stable? (Which is why we have big plate glass window looking out onto walled garden) Owner lives on the other side, in the house that would have owned the stable.  He just appeared with a jar of his wife's fig jam, and a bottle of white Minervois wine - because we said how much we'd like the red wine and the amazing celestial plum preserves he presented us with when we arrived.  His Sister-in-Law, who speaks great English, just turned up to ask if we needed anything. And then he reappeared & invited us to tea in an hour. Where I bet his wife has more treats in store.... Poor Delia is trying to write her novel.  I'm just looking out the window at the olive tree, the clouds scudding before the howling wind, and trying to get a grip on myself.... Maybe I'll write tonight.  Or maybe I'll just suck in more happy goodness, and let it all out in a novel someday.

Here is the gîte we are renting for the week.  I feel like I could stay here a month.  Maybe next time?


May. 6th, 2009 10:31 am
ellenkushner: (1French Swordspoint)
Color me crazy, but in the last 24 hours I have actually entertained the thought of getting on a plane next week and going to Imaginales next week for 3 days, because - hey! fares are low - and what kind of person am I if I can't do that?

While plenty of online people have been most encouraging, the ones who actually live & work with me have gently pointed out that hitting 21/2 writing deadlines & going to Wiscon & BEA & having my parents & 2 other friends visit might just be enough in the next 3 weeks, without the addition of a trip to France (via Frankfurt, renting a car & driving 4 hours to Vosges via Main to pick up my fabulous new step-nephew, Nils).

There are people I know who could still manage it - and of course I compare myself unfavorably to them. But at dinner last night with our delightful new friends Helen & Tim in their lovely Brooklyn Heights apartment, Helen pointed out that when she travels, she can still "find the sprocket" - those little holes in the sides of movie film, the tracks to catch yourself back into - if she has to - and so can Delia, we figured out; while Tim & I are of the other camp: travel, for us, is total release, delightful chaos....and the crash, when we land back home, tends to be severe. But I'm enchanted with that image (incomprehensible to those born after the dawn of the digital age?) - must remember now to remind myself from time to time to stop wriggling about, and "find the sprocket."

I just got a nice encouraging note from Imaginales about a possible future visit, so I guess I'll stay here. However, collecting Data for Decision-Making has given me the opportunity to be back in touch with all the French sf/f writers we met when we were in Paris/Nantes in Oct/Nov when A la Pointe de L'Epee first came out.

I often find Facebook French to be so idiomatic as to be incomprehensible - but this post, from Anne Verdier (who writes utterly engaging YA fantasy under her maiden name, Anne Fakhouri), going to the con for just one day, I guess, made me smile:
Anne Verdier cherche baby-sitter aux nerfs d'acier pour le 15 mai
She has 2 kids. But one friend responded:
je t'emmene au zoo et manger du gateau au chocolat?
Wow. I want a French babysitter , now.

I also got the chance to admire fellow-nominee (for his novel Acacia)David Anthony Durham's blog post about it. So beautifully laid out! So gracious, with the links! Another colleague to compare myself to unfavorably. Heigh-ho! As Maimonides said, we each have our own place in the world. I'm glad for his, and especially for his pointing out that we're all on a ballot with Terry Pratchett! Somehow, I did not quite take that in the first time. I guess we're all winners.
ellenkushner: (1French Swordspoint)
Color me étonnée et bien frappée quand'meme! [livejournal.com profile] mantichore just wrote to let me know that his French translation of Swordspoint, A la Pointe de l'Epee, is one of 5 nominees in the "ROMAN ETRANGER TRADUIT" (Foreign Books in Translation) category for the Prix Imaginales, a sort of French Hugo (or Nebula? or maybe World Fantasy Award, as it's Juried by "journalists, critics and specialists" - including the town's Minster of Culture!) which will be given out May 16th in the town of Epinal*, at the Imaginales festival.

Honestly, I'm overwhelmed and feeling like, merely by being nominated, I just won an Oscar or something: I spent part of my childhood in France, Delia & I have passed much happy time there, both in Paris and the countryside, and my connections in France are very dear to me. I can hardly believe this. I'm sure it's because Patrick's translation is so brilliant.

I actually got the notice earlier this evening, but didn't have time to look at the details since I've been rushing to get a short story in on deadline. Ah! Feeling like a writer again! How sweet it is.

*Oddly enough, just last week a former Boston friend now living in Paris (Linda Gardiner) was telling us about a tiny town in the South of France she'd stayed in, where the entire town gets together to vote on a Best First Novel prize every year. You can imagine the conversations in the town square, or in line at the bank! She explained that each syndicat (a geo-political entity in the French Republic) gets a regular sum from the government to spend on Something Fun. Some throw an annual music festival, some a night of bonfires and grillades (that would be St Martin le Redon, near Cubertou) . . . and some give literary prizes. As the website explains: Créé en mai 2002 à l’initiative de la Ville d’Epinal, le Prix Imaginales est le premier Prix exclusivement consacré à la fantasy en France.

Even if I don't win, I wish with all my heart and all my heart that I could be in Epinal for this.
ellenkushner: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))
Just to waste time, I googled "Theron" to see how many pages it would be before the entries stopped being about that actress, Charlize, and whether anything about The Fall of the Kings would turn up. On p. 15 (I skipped ahead) my first non-Charlize hit was Domaine du Theron, a French winery in the Lot valley, near Cahors.

The weird thing is, I've been there. In 2001 we celebrated Delia's birthday by renting a sprawling old farm called Cubertou*, and filling it with all our friends. Of course we explored the local wineries, and when we saw a sign for Domaine du Theron, we tore off in that direction. I think we had just recently finished Kings.

The wine was good. I still have the T-shirt.

* The Cubertou site tells me that the great guitarist John Renbourn (Pentangle et alia) is teaching guitar workshops there this summer with Remy Froissart!
ellenkushner: (1French Swordspoint)
One of my favorite interviews from the Nantes Utopiales Festival in November '09 is now up online. It's in French. Tell your Francophone friends! You can comment there, too!

There are also some cool reviews of À la pointe de l'épée (with comments, plus a link to the radio show I did in Paris) on French blogs here and here.
ellenkushner: (Palin Trickster sign)
Yeah, I know, I had the same reaction when I walked into the snappy little boutique in the Marais (where I ended up buying a cute little shirt from the discreetly placed sales basket, and [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman bought a very elegant cardigan sweater): "Merde, Obama!"? Was this Frenchwoman telling me she thought my choice for candidate - as evinced by my now-famous Button, worn all over France - was sh*t?

But then I remembered high school - or was it college? - theatre, where we had daringly gone around saying, "Merde!" to one another before a performance, in the belief that it was the way the French said, "Break a leg," i.e., "Good luck!"

Turns out it was true.

I gave her a broad grin, and a thumbs-up.

We flew out of Charles de Gaulle airport (outside Paris) on Tuesday afternoon. The Hindu (I assume; Muslims in India don't wear the red forehead deco, do they? And while "Indian-American" kinda rolls off the tongue, "Indian-French" is a bit of a mouthful) woman checking our passports & asking the ritual security questions before we were allowed to check in asked us if we were heading home to vote. We already voted by absentee ballot, we told her. She fixed us with an intense eye. "And who did you vote for?"

I thought they were only supposed to ask if we'd packed our own bags!

We got home late (good thing we'd voted in advance), and managed to keep our eyes open only long enough to see inconclusive results on TV. Woke up, predictably enough, at 3 a.m., and went to the computer to see the good news. It all felt a bit muzzy and unreal; I took an Ambien, and wasn't at all sure I wouldn't wake up in the morning to find it had all been a dream.

But it's not.

Yesterday, I got a note from my old editor in Paris, from the artsy little Left Bank house, Hoëbeke, that originally translated Thomas the Rhymer into French. I haven't heard from Aline in a couple of years; I didn't even know she knew how to use the e-mail! It was headed "Congratulations!" and I assumed it was going to be about the new review for A la Pointe de l'Epee . . . . but the note read: Just a word to tell you i’m very happy for you and also for the world ! I hope Obama will be a great president !

If marrying Terri out of our house made me feel like the Mother of the Bride, well, getting Obama elected makes me feel like we all just had a new baby over here! Between the folks here dancing in the streets, and the congratulations - and genuine hope and joy pouring in from the rest of the world, it reminds me a bit of the old historical novels where the heralds announce that the queen has borne a son and heir (who will, if we're lucky, turn out to be Charles the Good and not Louis XVI). But, to go all 18c on you, this Queen is Liberty, and her son is the son of Reason & Compassion . . . and has been sent to some excellent schools. Even if he isn't the True Prince we've been hoping for, may he do well enough to make us all proud.

On the last day we were in Paris, I lost my Hebrew Obama button somewhere on the streets. I hope whoever finds it picks it up and is happy. And no worries, as it turns out my mom in Cleveland still has the one she's been wearing. Mom!
ellenkushner: (1French Swordspoint)
So I'm in the lobby of the Novotel in Nantes at Utopiales, and our new friend Anne Fakhouri is asking me interview questions about A la Pointe de l'Epée, and there's this guy videotaping it all . . . and now it seems to be up on the French version of YouTube, here.

I don't dare watch it with the sound on. And it's really funny to see the way my face takes on different shapes when I'm speaking French. I did beg them to edit out the stupid bits, and I hope they obliged . . . . My body language, however, I think remains constant. I remember how the other kids in 3rd grade made fun of me when I came back from our year in France, talking with my hands - but it's good!

Drove back to Paris yesterday with my editor - sad to leave Utopiales, but it was a nice trip - even on the superhighway, we saw the spires of Chartres. Today is our last day in France. No idea what we'll do, but I'm sure it will involve pastry.
ellenkushner: (2French Swordspoint)
Well, it' s up now on the Libération (French newspaper) website.

All 16:51 of it. I was told to read for only 10 minutes, but I never got to time it out - it's only the first chapter, not very long, I thought - and Frederique told me she'd cut it later. She was, however, impressed with my reading - I guess kind of like a dog walking on its hind legs, an American reading aloud in French - and either her 'flu got worse and she didn't have the energy to cut, or she really did like it, because there it all pretty much is. Chapter 1, A la Pointe de l'Epee. (There's also a very nice photo - and, no, I didn't get new glasses - those are 2 frames back, possibly when I did my Libération interview for Thomas le Rimeur...)

We never did get to do our interview, because it took me so long to record my reading - with many stops to fix pronunciation & fumbles - that we ran outta time. Maybe next week. I've done a ton of interviews here & in Paris, many of them recorded, and I'll put links up when I get them all. Today's was actually with a video camera . . . yipes.

Today I signed books for about an hour and a half. Amazing. I didn't expect anyone to come, but there they were, one after the other. The French do not care so much about signed books per se ("that's more an Anglo thing," as the bookseller kindly explained to me when I offered to sign stock), but they like a "dédication" where they meet you and you sign it personally. Which I did. Mostly in French. My brain was exploding by the time I stopped. I had to come back to the room and read e-mail. Then I did the video interview. Then I ate a lovely dinner upstairs in the cafeteria - where the lousy buffet starters are better than anything I can get at home - with Hal Duncan, Lucas Moreno & friends. Now there's a "Cocktail" and I'd better put on that cool black blouse I schlepped all the way from NYC.
ellenkushner: (IAF)
We rode on the giant mechanical elephant this morning (with Robin Hobb. Greg & Astrid Bear got there ahead of us and rode on it first. Photos to come).

It is incredibly cold and grey and wet here. I have to go be on a panel now about the internet & American politics with William Gibson. I will probably not speak in French. (Our folklore panel yesterday with Robin & Karen Miller & my old pal Pierre duBois - moderated by my wonderful interviewer Jerome from Actusf.com was really good - and I think I actually managed to tell the story of the alligators in the New York sewers [égouts, right?].)

LATER: I did not have to do the politics panel after all. Took nap instead. Much better. We are meeting so many fantastic French writers! and editors! We must all meet up on a giant turtle in the middle of the Atlantic or something, soon!
ellenkushner: (1French Swordspoint)
Oh, boy! Marie sent me a link to many fine photos of the Monday night radio show in Librairie Scylla - including an excellent one of the two of us going main a main with microphones raised - it's great because while we're both clearly engaged with each other and with the subject, neither of us has her mouth open in that bizarre twist that photos inevitably capture when one is talking. There's also a super photo of my dear editor, Sebastien Guillot, with [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman. (In case it's not clear: I was sandwiched between 2 interviewers, Marie & Patrick, who was also running the board.) It's a terrific little bookshop, too. I kept seeing the names of my friends up on the shelves behind me, which made me feel oddly at home. And in case you're wondering, "the Borribles" in French is "les Zorribles" - say it out loud to get the joke.

Yesterday was 2 more interviews, both recorded - one for radio, one for online (for Actusf.com - which I understand has just reviewed A LA POINTE DE L'EPEE?) - and both with men who had really liked and understood the book! It drove me nuts not to be understand every sentence that they were throwing at me, since - particularly in the case of Patrick Van Langhenhoven of Radio Jeunes Reims - it was clearly a dense literary and sociological analysis of the text, such as one only dreams of in American reviews, let alone interviews! I sucked it up and answered as best I could. I also know that if we'd been speaking English I would have made much more complex and thoughtful answers; hampered by a, what, 300-word vocabulary?, there's only so much I can do. At one point I wondered if I was even speaking the truth (about my thoughts on writing), or simply making complete sentences out of words I actually knew. I'm fascinated by the way trying to think in another language with a different vocabulary also changes those thoughts. (I've actually been working on a story about Alec on Kyros which is chiefly about that, and now I know why.)

To fortify myself for the interviews, went with Delia & Cassie (who's here doing interviews for *her* new French translation) to L'Heure Gourmande for some "chocolat a l'ancienne." Not quite up to the standards of the Hill, but they did serve it from a large ceramic chocolate pot with a wooden paddle to churn it up.

Well, heigh-ho - off to Nantes in a few hours - looking forward to re-seeing some of the readers & especially the interviewers I've been meeting in Paris, and lots of new people as well! It is, I know, the same weekend as World Fantasy (waves to all the folks I'm missing there) - think of me in a parallel universe where the food is better and I've just written this radical new fantasy novel that almost nobody's read yet!

Oh, and even if you don't normally read Comments, do go back and look at the ones to my last post, as many Europeans are weighing in on the Election - a nice change of pace from Election Derangement Syndrome.
ellenkushner: (Default)
Well, Delia & I are off to Paris for Valentine's Day (and a few others)! Before I go, here's a link to a "Blue Moon" sale of goodies for your sweetie (including your sweet self) by Jodie Aragona, a jewelry designer/artist whose work I've mentioned in the past (& as a thank you for that, she sent me the world's most amazingly exquisite necklace! greyish pearls with a small pendant of apatite, peach tourmaline & tanzanite - it's as if she looked into my brain and pulled out something I loved but would never have the nerve to buy myself! In the excitement of the holidays, I forgot to write about this, so I'm doing it now. Delia is bound & determined that we will stay away from internet/e-mail while we're away in our 17c garret w/skyline, which will be lovely but makes me think that I have to write every single note for the past 6 months before we go!) Don't be scared by Jody's high-end pieces; one of the prettiest necklaces there, I think, is this one, on sale for $95 from $185. There's range.

So anyway, forgive me if I don't answer lovely comments right away. I read and appreciate!

Oh, and while you're ignoring Valentine's Day, check out Racheline Maltese's newest column for gather.com, listing "some of my favourite SF/F couples and relationships – some functional, some not, but all compelling and all personally meaningful to me in some way" - also my Sound & Spirit program on Breakups (an award-winner that a lot of listeners said made them feel better - co-written by our very own [livejournal.com profile] larbalestier way back when) - and, for the Romantics, My Better Half (co-written with Titi Ngwenya) and What I Did for Love (written w/Barbara Baig - yeah, the girls all had fun together on all these!).

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