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Saturday, December 22, 2001

Saw Lord of the Rings last night, and thought it was thoroughly wonderful. It was a movie in its own right, and it mapped so strangely onto my own mental Fellowship of the Ring: my Saruman is not Christopher Lee, although he was astonishing; my Gandalf, on the other hand, is the one in the film portrayed by Ian McKellan. Jackson had done an amazing job of staying faithful to the book in all the right ways.

I would have liked to have seen more of the world from a hobbit's point of view: the Elves gain so much in the book from Sam's delight in and obsession with them, for example.

When I was a kid you'd get amazingly faithful BBC adaptations of classic books -- eight or twelve one-hour episodes to build a minor Victorian novel, recreating all its felicities. Sometimes I found myself sighing for that. But not often... Because how often do you get taken into a personal vision, by a group of people who care enough about the vision to create it, and to recreate it, in detail and in nuance?

The film of Lord of the Rings is a map to the territory which, every now and again, becomes the territory itself. And if half of the kids who walked out of it last night going "Huh? What kind of an end was that?" go and get the books to find out what happens next, I'll be happy. Reading Lord of the Rings can be -- possibly should be -- an initial journey to a world as real and dense as this one.


Dave McKean sent me a copy of his huge hardback book of short comics, PICTURES THAT TICK. It's gorgeous, and the final story, about his father, is one of the most moving (and physically and emotionally beautiful) stories I think Dave's ever done. Many, many years ago, in an all-but forgotten magazine called Heartbreak Hotel, Dave did a one page strip about his father (who died when Dave was young) and what made Dave become an artist. Now he's looking at it as a father himself, and he's made something that would be my nomination for best short story of the year, in any medium.


Those copies of Harlequin Valentine (by me and John Bolton) that were on a slow boat from Singapore are still on a slow boat from Singapore, but Dark Horse have air-shipped out a thousand books and sent them to comics shops all over America (and possibly the rest of the world) so each store gets a single copy, and the stores can show people what the book looks like.


The sky is a brooding and ominous battleship grey, and we're under a winter storm watch, which means that we're about to get dumped with the first real snowfall of the year -- the kind that will stay on the ground for the next three or four months. The atmosphere ought to be strange and dark, with St S�ens's Danse Macabre or something equally brooding echoing from the stereo, but my assistant Lorraine and daughter Maddy went to see Mamma Mia the other night, which means that the house echoes with repackaged Abba hits (and a seven-year-old, clutching her CD booklet, singing along -- surprisingly tunefully -- at maximum volume).


The original plan from HarperCollins was to put up a page with "Nicholas Was..." on it as text, and with an audio of me reading it from Warning:Contains Language and to e-mail the URL out to everyone on the mailing list, but the time-crunch of the Christmas Holidays meant that it didn't happen, and they just e-mailed the text to people instead. Next year...


Someone wrote to the FAQ line asking what a typical day in the life of an author was like. I'm not sure there are going to be any typical days until March... but I'll try and pick a day at some point and keep a record of the day as it goes along.

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