I'm back on social media from today. And my last class at Bard until Autumn is tomorrow night. I owe the world a big post on life and the things that go with it.
But first, this one is important:
There are many peculiar places in the world, places that can hold your mind and your soul tightly and will not let them go. Some of those places are exotic and unusual, some are mundane. The strangest of all of them, at least for me, is the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland. I know I am not alone in this. There are people who discover Skye and will not leave, and even for those of us who do leave, the misty island haunts us and holds us in its own way. It is where I am happiest and where I am most alone.
Otta F. Swire wrote books about the Hebrides and about Skye in particular, and she filled her books with strange and arcane knowledge. (Did you know May the 3rd was the day that the Devil was cast out of Heaven, and thus the day on which it is unpardonable to commit a crime? I learned that in her book on the myths of the Hebrides.) And in one of her books, she mentioned the cave in the black Cuillins, where you could go, if you were brave, and get gold, with no cost, but each visit you paid to the cave would make you more evil, would eat your soul.
And that cave, and its promise, began to haunt me.
I took several true stories (or stories that are said to be true, which is almost the same thing), and set them in a world that was almost, but not quite, ours, and told a story of revenge and of travel, of desire for gold and of secrets. Two men, one very small, are travelling west to find a cave said to be filled with gold.
I wrote most of the tale on the Isle of Skye. When it was done it was published in an anthology called STORIES, and it won the Shirley Jackson Award for best Novelette, and the Locus Award for Best Novelette, and I was very proud of it, my story.
Before it was published, I was set to appear on the stage of the Sydney Opera House, and was asked if I could do something with Australian string quartet FourPlay (they are the rock band of string quartets, an amazing, versatile bunch with a cult following): perhaps something with art that could be projected onto the stage. I listened to FourPlay's music, and, possibly once I heard their take on the Doctor Who theme and the Simpsons Theme, and a cover of Cry Me A River I liked nearly as much as Julie London's (and I like that so very much), I knew wanted to work with them.
I thought about “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”: it would take about seventy minutes to read. I wondered what it would would happen if a string quartet created a moody and glorious soundtrack, as I told the story, as if it were a movie? And what if Scottish artist Eddie Campbell, the man who drew Alan Moore's FROM HELL, writer and artist of ALEC, my favourite comic, created illustrations for this most Scottish of my stories and projected them above me while I read?
I was scared, going out onto the stage of the Sydney Opera House, but the experience was amazing: the story was received with a standing ovation, and we followed it with an interview (artist Eddie Campbell was the interviewer) and a poem, also with FourPlay.
Six months later, we performed it again, with more paintings by Eddie, in Hobart, Tasmania, in front of 3,000 people, in a huge shed at a Festival, and again, they loved it; again, a standing ovation.
Now, we had a problem. The only people who had ever seen the show were in Australia. It seemed unfair, somehow. We needed an excuse to travel, to bring the FourPlay string quartet across the world (pop culture literate and brilliant musicians, they are: I fell in love with their work before I ever knew them).
Fortunately, Eddie Campbell had taken his paintings, and done many more, and then laid out the text into something halfway between an illustrated story and a graphic novel, and Harper Collins were publishing it in the US and Headline publishing it in the UK.
Mysterious promoter Jordan Verzar, who had put me and FourPlay together in the first place, saw his chance and struck, rather like an amiable Australian cobra, and before we knew it, everything was happening.
So we are doing the smallest tour in the world for this.
If you want to see me performing THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS, with the amazing FourPlay string quartet, and see Eddie Campbell's art projected, the words and the music and the images combining in your head to make a movie that only you will ever experience in that way, a night with special guests, I wouldn't be surprised, and also surprises (including things nobody has every heard read), then the only places you can see it are San Francisco, at the Warfield, New York's Carnegie Hall on June 27th, then in London at The Barbican (two nights) and it ends in Edinburgh, in Usher Hall on July 6th. And then we'll be done.
Right now, the Warfield on June 25th is already SOLD OUT.
BUT the Carnegie Hall is by far the biggest venue we are doing, and there are still many seats available at the Carnegie Hall on June 27. (The Dress Circle's just sold out, though.)
If you've read down this far and you're interested in seeing a unique and amazing evening, and you are anywhere in the US, the Carnegie Hall is the one to come to (unless you want to fly to the UK). New York is nice in June.
The Carnegie Hall night will have special guests. It will be the only place I'm also going to read the whole of the new HANSEL AND GRETEL before it's published. There will be a LOT of signed books there, even if we can't work out a signing (we're trying to but logistics are hard). And it's going to be a night to remember...
The two Barbican concerts on July 4th and 5th are almost sold out (they have just released some seats, so there are a few seats left).
Usher Hall in Edinburgh was only just added, and tickets only just went on sale. There are lots of seats there, and very much hope the Scots are kind to my Scottish tale.
Do come. I know it may seem odd, an author and a string quartet. But trust me, you do not want to miss it.
I wanted to put in a huge plug here for the anti-bullying website, Bystander Revolution. They've done some amazing interviews with people, and have advice. Here are their films talking to me.
On Saturday, if you are in the UK, you can get a free copy of STARDUST with your Guardian newspaper, if you buy it from Sainsbury's. This is a good thing if you like Stardust and read the Guardian. More info at this link, along with a way to win one of the limited edition beautiful special copies of OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. http://www.theguardian.com/books/competition/2014/apr/26/neil-gaiman-competition