Tuesday, February 20, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 10

There's coin magic in AMERICAN GODS, of the conjuring kind. And just as I ran the medical parts (and the post mortem parts) past a doctor, I ran the coin magic past a top coin magician -- Jamy Ian Swiss, better known as a card magician. (I met him some years ago, at a Penn and Teller gig in Las Vegas I attended -- P&T had just guest-starred in the Babylon 5 episode I'd written, 'The Day of the Dead').

Jamy sent me a terrific professional's-eye critique of the coin magic, and I can make some subtle changes in the copy-editing (which I think will start tomorrow, Wednesday, at least on the US version -- I've been told I'll get the copy-edited manuscript by lunchtime). (And there's always a little nervousness in receiving a copy-edited mss. One never knows what kind of copy editor one will have got. On STARDUST I had a lovely one, who even made sure that the UK spelling grey rather than gray held throughout, because she thought it more appropriate. On the book before that I had a copy editor who, it seemed at the time, repunctuated practically every sentence for no good reason, leaving me muttering "Look, if I'd wanted a comma there I would have bloody well put a comma there" too often for comfort.)

But I was talking about coin magic, not copy editing. Sorry.

This is from my last e-mail to Jamy Ian Swiss, who was grumbling about the depiction of stage magic in most forms of fiction. And I thought it might be interesting for you, hypothetical journal reader.


One reason I wanted the coin magic in American Gods to be good magic, was to ground the whole thing in reality, and to introduce a world in which nothing you are being told is necessarily reliable or true, while still playing fair with the readers.

I know what you mean about stage magic in fiction though: too often it seems to read as if the writer hasn't done anything magical since getting the magic set aged 11 -- [example removed]

I think part of the reason that fiction has problems with stage magic is that the compact the magician makes with the audience is twofold: "I will lie to you" and "I will show you miracles", and fiction tends only to grasp the second half of that.


Now back to writing the jacket blurb. (Or at least, doing a draft of the plot bit that the publisher may or may not use. When it comes to the "Neil Gaiman writes good stuff" bits of the blurb they are on their own.)

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