ellenkushner: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))

Oh, look what I just found under the Tree!  Um, a post KD drafted in October that we forgot to put up.....

Fortunately, it now doubles as a New Year's Gift to all.

It fits nicely over the  Small Beer Press hardcover edition of TPOTS currently on big dog sale for $9.95 for all your DIY'ers).  And Taline also says you're welcome to use bits of it for Icons if you like.  (I like!!!)  I adore ever square inch of it - it's like she reached inside my brain & plucked out the pictures!

Thanks again to the gifted Taline Boghosian for this amazing work, and to everyone who participated in the TPOTS Cover Contest, which we created to celebrate the TPOTS audiobook from Neil Gaiman Presents.  I've really appreciated all your reviews & Likes on that page, too.  I'm headed back into the studio this week to continue recording The Fall of the Kings, which should be out in spring.

* *

Attention all The Privilege of the Sword (aka TPOTS) fans! This is Ellen's assistant Katharine, here to present the final version of the winning design from our TPOTS Create Your Own Cover Contest.

Taline Boghosian’s superb and intricate design had many Riverside fans wishing for a dust jacket version of their very own. Taline has graciously obliged, adding a spine so that her cover will fit snugly over the hardcover edition of TPOTS and making the desig available to download and print in two different versions, no less!)

If you don’t already have your own hardcover copy, you can buy one here to use with Taline’s cover (although the Small Beer Press cover is gorgeous as well—maybe trade them out for special occasions?)

Taline also gives her kin permission for everyone to se any part of the cover to make icons (as long as it's for personal use). 

Congratulations again to Taline on her winning design, and many thanks for letting us use your amazing artwork!

ellenkushner: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))
TPOTS/teapots? cover photo

For those just joining us:

The frequently-used acronym for THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD is TPOTS.

And, yes:  I do pronounce it "Teapots!"

Thanks again, Alena & Kate, for this fabulous image!  It made my day. It's also up on TUMBLR here for handy re-blogging.

It was their joke submission to the TPOTS COVER CONTEST I ran last month to celebrate the release of the audiobook of The Privilege of the Sword, narrated by me, with Barbara Rosenblat & a host of fabulous actors, for Neil Gaiman Presents!  Their real cover is here.  Links to all the contest entries are here (in the Comments), and my 3 glorious winners are here.  But I didn't want you to miss this one!  Hope it starts your week off with a grin. 

* * * 
And now, back to work on the new novel!  It's going well.  Thanks so much for your help with the nasty nicknames, and all the stories that go with them.

. . .  And to my Teapot:  Today requires full-strength PG TIPS!
ellenkushner: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))
O how could I forget?!?

In all the excitement about the TPOTS Cover Contest Winners, I left out one category:

   Best Madcap Use of Photography in a Live Setting!   

TPOTS Cover photo

And the Prize goes to the dynamic duo of 
Alena McNamara aka  [personal profile] aamcnamara and Kate ("the Swordswoman in the Picture") Potter !

Alena explains:

I sent a message to Kate suggesting a "terribawesome idea": that she should dress up in Katherine-y clothes and do swashbuckley poses while I chased her around the Mount Holyoke campus with a camera.  She's a former fencer who's loved The Privilege of the Sword since I, er, gently encouraged her to read it (dating me comes with a reading list), so of course she said yes--and then texted me the next day to suggest a location for the photoshoot.  We took photographs across half of campus, but the location she suggested, the garden beside Abbey Chapel, produced the picture we chose for our entry.  

They will be receiving some kind of weird prize, if I can find one good enough.

Meanwhile, thanks again to everyone who entered the contest or helped to spread the word about it, and about the new Privilege of the Sword audiobook, whose release all this was in honor of.

I encourage you to go and look at the contest winners here - and also to dig back into the contest Comments for all the entries, which are superb.  Oh, and here is Kate & Alena's original post of the photo on Tumblr, for those who wish to ReBlog.

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 . . . . 

ellenkushner: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))
I am beside myself with joy at the many gorgeous entries so far! A lot of them are on Tumblr, tho' not all.

To recap: Contest rules are here. --And all Entries are linked in the Comments section, for your viewing pleasure!

You don't have to draw your own art - like my hardcover publishers (Small Beer Press), you can use "found" art (the limited edition, cloth-bound, gold-stamped, sewn binding version which is also the Prize): theirs is a detail from 16th century French painter Francois Clouet's "Portrait of Charles IX."

Creative use of Dolls Divine is also on the table.

All of this is in support of the new audiobook of TPOTS, from Audible/Neil Gaiman Presents. I hope that you will at least listen to the sample 5:00 we have up here, one of our special "Illuminated" scenes, which includes Neil Gaiman as a decadent artist, and Felicia Day as Katherine. All narrated by me.

Please tell your friends about the contest - and if you've already listened to the book, reviews & review-votes are much appreciated.

Thanks! Have a great and creative weekend.
ellenkushner: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))
One month ago yesterday, THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD audiobook went on sale (on Audible.com and iTunes), courtesy of Neil Gaiman Presents!

To celebrate that, we're running a little contest.***  It has to do with a very important element in TPOTS (yes, I pronounce it "teapots"):  the mysterious book known as
"The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death."**

It is the Book that our heroine, Lady Katherine Talbert, finds in the Mad Duke Tremontaine's library, which at first inspires and then infuriates her, until she sees it again some time later:

It was my very own copy of The Swordsman Whose Name was not Death.  I recognized the stain on the third page, where I had dripped apricot juice.  I opened the book at random, expecting now to find it silly stuff.  But it opened to Stella's escape from the city, right after she's lost the child and thinks Fabian's betrayed her, with Mangrove hot on her heels.  No one could find that silly. 
          Stella wants to despair, but Tyrian won't let her.  You have done tonight, he says, what ten thousand men could not.  Now show your great enemies what one woman alone can do.
          I am not alone, she says, and is about to make Tyrian very happy indeed when the hunting cats appear on the rooftops.
          I did not read the book straight through.  I read my favorite parts, and then the bits between them.  Fabian still never practiced.  Stella still nearly ruined everything by keeping secrets from those she should have trusted.  But it didn’t seem to matter.  If anything, I knew now that people were even stranger and more unpredictable than that, and that when we don’t know the truth about someone, we will make it up ourselves.

It is The Book Lady Artemisia Fitz-Levi's mother doesn't think much of:

“And don’t think I don’t know what kind of nonsense That Book’s put into your head.  ‘Fabian,’ indeed.  When we read it, my friends and I knew that he was a monster, a seducer and a cheat – we all agreed Tyrian was worth two of him – Helena Nevilleson was even planning to name her firstborn Tyrian, but her husband wouldn’t permit it.  To put such a thing on the stage, and with the Black Rose, of all people….”

Because, Yes!  Someone has adapted The Book for the stage!

“You mean – “ Artemisia caught her breath at the thought.  “They are going to perform The Swordsman whose Name was Not Death – in a theatre?
          “It’s already been played!  Lavinia Perry and Jane Hetley both have seen it, for Jane’s birthday.”
          “Lavinia says that Henry Sterling as Fabian is a pale and feeble joke, though Jane says she’d marry him in an instant.  But Lavinia has hardly a good word to say for the piece; she’s vexed that they’ve left out the entire bit about the hunting cats, though I can hardly see how they’d play that onstage.  Jane says it doesn’t matter, because Mangrove’s repentance at the end is even more affecting than it is in the book.  But Lavinia thinks it is not true to the spirit of the novel.”

But we'll let Artemisia's friend Lydia Godwin get the last word:

        “Oh, dear,” sighed her mother, “it’s that awful piece of trash about the swordsman lover, isn’t it?  My friends were mad for that book when we were young.”
         “It’s not trash,” her daughter said.  “It is full of great and noble truths of the heart.  And swordfights.”
* * * 
Literature, of course, is full of Imaginary Books, referred to in other works of fiction, but never actually published (on this planet, anyhow).   

What is your favorite Imaginary Book?*

Just answer below in Comments.  You've got til 5 p.m.EST  September 7th to come up with something.

We will pick a winner based on ancient numerical systems, the position of the stars, and what I had for breakfast.  The prize is a copy of the stunningly gorgeous, cloth-bound, gold-stamped, sewn binding'd Limited Edition Hardcover of TPOTS from Small Beer Press.

*I do have my own favorite Imaginary Book.  After Sept. 7th, I'll tell you what it is!
** Don't be confused by the fact that I have published a short story called "The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death."  It also has The Book in it, but it is not The Book. You can, however, read it online here.

*** The Create Your Own TPOTS Cover contest runs through Sept. 16th. Good luck!
ellenkushner: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))
 Lace! Leather! Silk and steel!

And, of course, Girls with Swords.


tpotsmass    600tpots_japan


Thomas Canty's original painting for the new TPOTS audiobook represents only the latest design in a series of gorgeous covers for The Privilege of the Sword around the world since it was first published in 2006. 

Whether it's high fantasy grace, gypsy punk cool, or stylized manga, all of the TPOTS covers convey the vibrant, complex spirit of Riverside and its denizens in their own distinct, creative way.

Now it's your chance to show us your vision of Katherine, the Mad Duke, and the world they inhabit - as it would appear on the cover of the next edition of the book!


That's right....


We want to see your art and design for a The Privilege of the Sword cover!


Visit Ellen's website to see the existing TPOTS covers, including covers from the Dutch, German, and Spanish editions, then create one of your own, that you think is perfect for your own private or dream edition of The Privilege of the Sword.

Post your cover on Facebook, LiveJournal, DeviantArt, Tumblr or anywhere else we (and your friends!) can see them.

Then post a link to your entry in the comments below by 11:59 p.m. EST (U.S.A. Eastern Time) on Sunday, September 16.

Ellen will judge all entries herself.  The winning entry (and runners-up) will be posted here and on the Covers webpage for all to ogle and enjoy.



An elegant limited edition trade-cloth hardcover of The Privilege of the Swordpublished by Small Beer Press!

So start drawing, painting, or otherwise creating, and spread the word to any artistically-inclined friends you know are just waiting for the chance to design a brilliant, beautiful sword fighting-inspired book cover. Thanks in advance for your entries—we can't wait to see your new TPOTS cover designs!

—Katharine Duckett
Assistant to EK

ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)
 I take this opportunity to inform you of the Great Books Cocktail Challenge from my public radio colleague Kurt Anderson:

FUZZY NOVEL:  STUDIO 360's Cocktail Challenge!  
Send us an original recipe for a new cocktail named after a classic work of literature.

Hmmm.... the jacket copy calls Swordspoint a "classic" . . . . and we've already got a bunch of truly amazing cocktail suggestions from last fall for it....!

Deadline is this Sunday.  You game?

And now:  
Anyone have any ideas for a PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD beverage?

Or is it just the Swordspoint, but with a pink plastic sword in it?
(Ouch! Ouch!! Don't hurt me....!)
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: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))
 In one of those Bursts of Synchonicity that comes so seldom to so few (except, apparently, me), this Monday the great online magazine Strange Horizons is scheduled to reprint a Riverside short story ("The Death of the Duke") - AND outgoing fiction editor Jed Hartman has found his tape of the interview we did in 2006, right before THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD was published!!!!! And they're going to print that, too!!!!

        I'm reviewing the transcript right now - and found the most delicious typo, which just as weirdly hooks up with the fact that Delia & I are at the Lowell Folk Festival right now, celebrating our 20th Anniversary (which I wrote a long post about here):

J: Can you describe what the original version [of TPOTS] was, way back in--you started working on this in '92? ish?

E:  No, it was before '92, because-- You know what? I would actually have to take out my notebooks and look at the dates. But it was hot in '92 because Delia and I were courting, having these intense discussions with her over dinner about this book, I remember it very well. It was in full cry in '92, and that was before the Justine incident, so I guess I was hot with it around then.

The word in red, of course, should be not.

But it was - ahem! - hot then, too, of course.

Being summer and all.

[And this was really ELLEN, of course - nobody else writes such elliptical sentences! But I just love what Katharine's been doing, here - and hope you do, too! -  so look for her again as Guest Blogger soon!] 

ETA:  Link to SH reprint story here - and don't miss Jed's lovely intro!.

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: (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!

Hey, look!

Apr. 25th, 2012 05:25 pm
ellenkushner: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))
It's the Allegory of Vice from The Privilege of the Sword!

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.)

ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)
Nathanael Tronerud, who composed all the theme music to the Swordspoint audiobook, just sent me this link to a LIVE PERFORMANCE of one of the themes he wrote for the audiobook.  (For the audiobook, most of the music was electronically produced.)

This is the Lord Michael Godwin Theme, performed live by invitation at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSU, Long Beach, on March 7, 2012.

ETA:  Nate's Program Notes:  "As the theme of a principal character (from the audiobook adaptation of Ellen Kushner's novel, Swordspoint) the music here attempts to capture the clockwork gears of Lord Michael's calculating mind. Though perpetually plotting, he is always a step (or sometimes several steps) behind his elder political rivals on The Hill, in particular the Duchess Tremontaine (who, as we all know, does not get involved with politics). The piece also moves us through the different points of Michael's story within the larger framework of the book, highlighting both his aspirations and his shortcomings."

I am utterly ravished to announce that we have just signed Nate up to write new music for the Privilege of the Sword audiobook, currently in production and scheduled for June 2012.  We will, of course, incorporate some of the Swordspoint music (for continuity, and because it's so good) . . . but I've been promised some new themes, for things like "Marcus & Katherine, the Young Detectives" . . . and, of course, Artemisia Fitz-Levi gets her own motif!  Can't wait.

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