In Search of a Sequel

by wjw on July 22, 2019

So there was this science fiction convention being held at a spa hotel, which meant that in addition to seeing your favorite SF writers on panels, you could go to a sauna or a hot tub or a massage, or you could have your chakras aligned or your colon cleansed or whatever.  Instead of being confined to a dealers’ room, the dealers set out their tables in pleasant green courtyards, under the shade of trees.  It made for an agreeable, low-key convention experience.

I was wandering through one of the white, hygienic, eucalyptus-scented spa areas of the hotel when I ran into Norman Spinrad, who was sitting on a bench.  I joined him.

“I’ve been thinking about your early work, Williams,” he said in his distinctive way.  (I can do a fairly good Norman Spinrad impersonation, but you’re going to have to imagine it here.)

“Yes?” I said politely.

Norman shrugged.  “It’s okay,” he said.

He then launched into an analysis of some of my earlier books and stories. He was hard to follow because he was mumbling, but eventually I realized he was planning to write a sequel to Hardwired, my most popular novel.  He wasn’t asking my permission or anything, and though I was sensible of the honor, I wasn’t sure whether or not I liked the idea.  I rather thought that if there were to be a sequel to Hardwired, I should be connected to it in some way.

So Norman was using me as a sounding board as he worked out how the world of Hardwired would evolve, and this conversation went on for some time before I developed a plan to gain a measure of control over the process.

“The thing we have to work out,” I said, “is how we’re going to get Jerry Cornelius into the story.”

Norman’s blue eyes went wide, and he said, “Wao wao wao.”  I held out a hand for a high-five, and though it took a moment or two, eventually he slapped it.

So the way to gain a degree of agency over the project was to introduce a character created by a third party.  Score!

So Norman and I spent a long, exhausting hour working out a sequel to Hardwired featuring Jerry Cornelius as a protagonist, and I developed more and more enthusiasm for the project.

At which point my alarm went off, and I woke up.  I recalled that there were already a couple sequels to Hardwired, depending on how you count them, and that I had three novels to deliver before I could consider another project, with or without Norman or Jerry Cornelius.

I was several days into this year’s Taos Toolbox, and apparently the workshop’s relentless concentration on matters literary had inspired the whole dream.

Even though I’d got an adequate amount of sleep, I woke exhausted.  Apparently creating a Hardwired metanovel was so draining that I had no energy left.

I staggered in the direction of the coffee pot, but the coffee didn’t help.


Remember the Doom

by wjw on July 21, 2019

IMG_0204A useful reminder: if you’re plotting your next novel with index cards, it’s always handy to have this one in reserve.

Taos Toolbox 2019 is over, and the attendees are returning to the various corners of the globe whence they came.  I’d like to thank them for their talent and hard work, and wish them success in their future endeavors.  They were great to work with.

I’d also like to thank George R.R. Martin and Emily Mah for being exemplary guest speakers.

And I’d like to thank Nancy Kress for once again being the best writing teacher it’s been my pleasure to work alongside.

On to 2020!  The application period will begin December 1.

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by wjw on July 13, 2019

IMG_3981Here we see a lovely carpet of lupines.  They were imported from Alaska to Iceland because they are hardy plants that stabilize the soil, and the soil of Iceland has a tendency to get blown out to sea during storms.

Of course I am of the generation that, when the subject comes to lupines, promptly thinks of this:


Frozen Giants

by wjw on July 9, 2019

IMG_3977This was once a giantess who had captured a ship, and was towing it to shore to devour the crew.  Unfortunately she lost track of time, the sun rose, and she was turned to stone.

Seems kind of unfair that the ship and sailors were turned to stone as well.

Also, Iceland must be hard for giants in the summer, when the sun is above the horizon 22 hours per day.

I’m at Angel Fire teaching Taos Toolbox this week and next, and so my opportunity to write any long, thoughtful essays is going to be limited.

I’ll try to post a few pretty pictures, though.


Newly Arrived

by wjw on July 4, 2019

IMG_5125_edited-1Come just in time for the Glorious Fourth was a box of the uncorrected proofs of Quillifer the Knight, which will be available in bookstores the first week in November, the date having been moved, apparently, from the first week in October.

All the better for the holidays!

Here’s the flap copy:

Rogue. Joker. Lover. Reluctant conspirator.

The bumptious, ambitious young Quillifer has been knighted for services to the crown, but was then banished from court by a queen who finds him obnoxious.  Now, after a two-year voyage to improve his fortunes, Quillifer returns to court and is plunged immediately into a maelstrom of intrigue that triggers duels, plots, amours, and rollicking adventure.   Bounding back and forth from the high councils of state to the warm bed of his mistress, Quillifer must exert every ounce of seductive charm and low cunning in order to survive.

Queen Berlauda’s foreign husband brings war in his wake, along with a clutch of officials who enforce the royal will with violence, torture, and judicial murder. A dragon menaces the realm, and political conspiracy threatens the life of Quillifer’s young patroness, Princess Floria. It’s the traditional job of a knight to fight dragons and rescue princesses, but Quillifer is hardly a traditional knight, and he brings to the job an array of unorthodox skills that dazzles his swarm of rivals, seduces their wives, and threatens to overset the realm.

But there’s a greater menace to Quillifer than deadly political intrigue, for once again he finds himself hunted by the cruel, beautiful, and vengeful goddess Orlanda.

“ . . . chockful of derring-do, blood and thunder, swashbuckling, and other good stuff evocative of Rafael Sabatini, Sir Walter Scott, and the penny-bloods: venomous and dangerous court politesse, reversals, betrayals, cowardice, heroism, illicit sex, allegorical theatrical productions, dangerous hunting expeditions, privateering and, at last, open warfare . . . it’s not precisely a tale of Swords and Sorcery. Rather, you might dub it Rogues and Rogering.” 

                                                            —Paul Di Filippo, on Quillifer


The Whale That Didn’t Get Away

June 30, 2019

Finally a whale lets me get close! This is the skeleton of a long-finned pilot whale, floating eerily with a number of other whale skeletons in the attic space of the Whale Museum in Húsavik.  Most if not all of the whale skeletons were from strandings, though Iceland still does catch whales, some to sell to […]

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June 29, 2019

This is the less successful of the two photos I managed of breaching humpbacks.  But then any photo you get of a breaching whale is a success, no? I shouldn’t have written “humpbacks,” because there was only one humpback jumping this day, and he kept it up for some time, as if he were indulging […]

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June 28, 2019

Taos Toolbox 2014 veteran Chris Cornell died unexpectedly a few weeks ago, and his family has set up a memorial page for those who knew him. They have very kindly approached me to establish a scholarship in Chris’ name, and the page includes a link to Taos Toolbox, for those of you inclined to donate.

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June 26, 2019

This was described to me as “a church of the Hidden People.” The Hidden People are, well, people— they’re not dwarves or elves or trolls, who are supernatural beings who also hang around in Iceland.  They’re just people who are hidden. (Some people think the Hidden People are the same thing as elves, but Arni assured […]

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Pod People

June 26, 2019

Friend of the blog Pete Johannsen and his pal Connor (who seems not to have a last name) interview each other about my novel Voice of the Whirlwind.  Interesting ideas are raised, some of which I will have to think about for a while. It’s entertaining, it’s smart, and it’s about me!  Good Lord, how perfect is […]

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