Tuesday, February 05, 2008

102 pages. So far.

Chapter 7, so far 102 pages long and not quite done yet (probably tonight), will, I think, be more than twice as long as any of the other chapters/stories in the book. It also has some bits (written in the very small hours of last night) that are scarier than anything since the first couple of pages, and it does some very odd things with viewpoint, too. But I know that it's almost done since I've started worrying about the eighth and final chapter, and you don't do that until the one you're on is nearly done.

"The Witch's Headstone" (which will be chapter 4 of The Graveyard Book) was picked by Locus as one of the year's best novelettes. This makes me happy.

My assistant Lorraine just came in and said "USA Today mentions that Bill Clinton, Jenna Bush and Stephen Colbert are all up for Audies. They don't mention that you are up for three of them." Nor would I expect them to. But I see that Joe Hill's also up for two, so Joe and I can sit out on the edge of the awards banquet, nibbling our chicken and watching the awards all go to other people. (My usual Audies experience -- I did get one in 2003 for Two Plays For Voices, though.)

One of the award nominations is for my collaboration with Michael Reaves, Interworld, which was reviewed, along with China's Un Lun Dun in the New York Times this week. It's an odd review -- I think that rule number one for book reviewers should probably be Don't Spend The First Paragraph Slagging Off The Genre. Just don't. Don't start a review of romance books by saying that all romance books are rubbish but these are good (or just as bad as the rest). Don't start a review of SF by saying that you hate all off-planet tales or things set in the future and you don't like way SF writers do characters. Don't start a review of a University Adultery novel by explaining that mostly books about English professors having panicky academic sex bore you to tears but. Just don't. Any more than a restaurant reviewer would spend a paragraph explaining that she didn't normally like or eat -- or understand why other people would like or eat -- Chinese food, or French, or barbeque. It just makes people think you're not a very good reviewer.

One can assume that if a reviewer is reviewing a book then it's interesting enough to be reviewed. If you as a reviewer, begin by explaining why you don't like a genre, then you put up the backs of everyone who does, and is interested, and probably would be reading your review in the first place. And you lay yourself open to the cardinal sin of dim reviewers, which is excusing something from being part of a genre because it's good. (Edit: See also my comments, and the poem quoted, at

Just assume that horror, or YA, or whatever it is, deserves the attention you're giving it, and then review it as best you can.

(As a reviewer, you are probably allowed a couple of "I didn't think I liked these, but this [book/film/restaurant] changed my mind" reviews, but you had better know what you're talking about before embarking on them...)


Kendra Stout, who did the awesome Scary Trousers tee shirt over at Cat Mihos's Neverwear store informed me that David Tennant was actually a fennec fox. (She is a zookeeper by profession. She knows these things.) When I said that I didn't think he was, she made this, to prove it:


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