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Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

Hurt Me by MLN Hanover

02.08.11
by Daniel Abraham

Podcastle has just put up probably the best short story I’ve written.  Other people may like other stuff I’ve done better, and that’s cool.  But personally — privately — this one just makes me smug.

There’s a story about this story.  It’s not actually mine.

"Hurt Me"'s first home.

What happened was Ty had this idea for a story, and we used it as the example when we had this conversation about plot structure.  We talked about how the scenes could build one on the other, and how you try to finesse information control, and how “plot” is a weird sort of cluster of different things depending on context, and that should have been it.  Ty wrote a draft of it that wasn’t quite what I would have done, but it was good, solid work.

The problem was I wanted it.  I wanted it bad, and I wanted it the way I would have done it.  There is no bigger faux pas than stealing your writing partner’s story.  There just isn’t.  Okay, there is, but it involves spouses and hotel rooms, and what I wanted was that story.

And, being a mature fella at the height of my powers, I did what anyone would.  I whined to his wife.  I really didn’t mean for it to get back to him.  I was just venting, but she mentioned it to him, and he — because he hadn’t had any other big plans for the thing — said I could have a go at it if I wanted to.

No one in the history of literature was ever happier than I was.  I had permission.  And I got to do it exactly the way I wanted, the way the story wrote itself in my head in the weeks and months after Ty and I talked about it.

Parents aren’t supposed to have favorite children, but of all the stories I’ve written, this one is my favorite.  If I ever sell the movie rights to it, Ty gets half the money.

In the meantime, the podcast is free.  Please do feel free to send this link around to everyone you know.  If there were one thing in my career I’d love to see go viral, this one’s it.

11 Comments

Killing Rites

02.05.11
by Daniel Abraham

There is that beautiful moment when the manuscript is finished and before you go to bed, when it is the best book ever written.  So deeply felt and emotionally honest that it shines above everything else you’ve done and everything you’re going to do.

You sleep, and by the time you wake up, it’ll be crap again.  But that one sweet moment when it’s great?  Oh, it’s a nice one.

Mmmm.

So yeah.  That was fun.  Break’s over now.  Heading for bed, then doing the final polish pass before I send it and (hopefully) the pitch for the next two in the series out on Monday.

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No, Really Not A Freaking Game

02.04.11
by Daniel Abraham

One of the real joys of living where I do is the number of really first class authors who are in easy driving distance.  For almost a decade, I was in a critique group that included (just to name the top sellers) Walter Jon Williams, S. M. Stirling, Melinda Snodgrass, Ian Tregillis.  I’ve gotten to see books by each of them grow from an idea into a book, or sometimes series of books.

Looks like the thinking person's Tom Clancy, dunnit?

I was there when we planned out Walter Jon Williams’ new novel Deep State, and I was also around when the Green Revolution in Iran started lifting scenes out of it.  When Walter says the news back then was uncomfortably word-for-word what he’d been writing, I can attest that it was pretty eerie for me.  And I’d just been critiquing it.

But then a few of us got together and found ways to gin it up so it wouldn’t look like Walter had been cribbing from the events in Iran.

Now it looks like he was cribbing from Egypt.

I am, as I have stated elsewhere, a massive Walter Jon Williams fan, and was before I met him lo these many years ago.  He has written some of the best space opera there is in the Dread Empire’s Fall series, which CALLS OUT LIKE THE SOULS OF THE DAMNED FOR MORE BOOKS.  If someone out there who knows someone could politely ask our dear friends at HarperCollins to suggest he might drop them a proposal for a few more, I will personally buy you a drink.  Or dinner.  Or clean out your garage.

He wrote New Weird before New Weird existed, and a raft of pitch-perfect short stories, and a critically under-appreciated science-fiction mystery that you have to be from New Mexico to really grok.

I love the new project he’s pitching which I am thus far sworn not to speak of.

Deep State is out now, and as with all Walter’s books, it’s a damn fine read.  I’m just hoping that the third one in the series comes true too…

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The No Longer Secret Project Considered

02.03.11
by Daniel Abraham

So, as I said before, the cat’s out of the bag.

Most of my work writing comic books and graphic novels has been adaptation work, and specifically adapting George.  I started off with the Fevre Dream project for Avatar Press and moved on to an adaptation of George’s novella Skin Trade (also for Avatar, but not yet penciled).  I did a six-issue story in the Wild Cards universe which has just some into print after being rescued from obscurity by Dynamite.

Not a portrait of the script writer

I enjoy writing scripts.  The ways that they’re different from prose make them interesting and challenging.  (For instance, in prose, dialog is action.  In scripts?  Yeah, not so much.)  But this thing that I like best about these particular projects isn’t that they’re comic books, but that they’re adaptations.

The project as we’re looking at it now puts the action of A Game of Thrones into several graphic novels over the next couple of years.  It’s a big job, but one that we have the room to do right.  And it’s just about the only work I’m doing these days in which my job is to be more or less invisible.  If I’ve done my job the way I’d hope to — the way my artistic ambition is leading me — you won’t see me in it at all.  You’ll see George’s story and Tommy’s vision of it.  I’m a translator, and my mandate is to take the story George created and make those things which were told in peculiarly textual ways and find mechanisms to do the same thing visually.

Hmm. I wonder if this Abraham fella can write a comic script. If only there was something I could buy to find out...

Just so folks know, I’ve already completed the first three scripts and I’m working on the fourth.  I expect to be cranking them out at about one per month (or slightly faster, just to stay ahead of the production schedule — if I am the rate-limiting step, I’ve failed).  At this point, I do know things about the Song of Ice and Fire story that aren’t in any book.  Tommy and I are working out how to make sure he has everything he needs to make the books work he can be proud of, and I’m having lunch with George about once a month to go over any questions I have about what can be changed without doing violence to the overall story arc and what obscure little grace notes *need* to be there.  It’s fascinating, and it’s giving me an understanding of some of the deeper structure of the project that’s made the whole thing more enjoyable for me.

And no, I’ve got no spoilers to share.  :)

If I may now address the questions I anticipate:

1 ) Will the comic book be based on the books or on the HBO show

I’m expecting it t be based on the books.  The comic book and the HBO series are both translations (in to different media) from the same source.  I don’t expect Tommy’s Eddard Stark to look like Sean Bean.

That said, there are constraints that moving into visual storytelling imposes, and from what I’ve seen, there are solutions that the comic book will reach for that are very similar to the ones the guys at HBO chose.  There’s some stirring about a venue where I might get to talk about that in greater detail as the two projects steam ahead.  We’ll see how that plays out.

2 ) How long will it be?

We went back and forth on this a lot, looking for the balance of enough pages to do the thing right without overloading Tommy and making it impossible, how to break individual issues of the comic book at dramatic high-points without making any changes to the original story.  We’ve settled on 24 issues with the tacit understanding that we’ll flex a little to make it work.  We’re all more interested in living up to the books than keeping a strict, legalistic boundary on things.

3 ) How dare George do anything besides A Dance with Dragons?

George isn’t doing this.  I am.  They are paying me so that George isn’t doing this instead of A Dance with Dragons or the book after that or the book after that.

No, I don’t know the status of that project, and yes, I did delete your comment about it.

So.  Any other questions that I missed?

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Secret Project Revealed

02.02.11
by Daniel Abraham

Well, after. Months of waiting to announce it, the moment comes when I’m connected to the world through a smartphone.

I’ll talk about it in more detail tonight, but A Song of Ice and Fire is going to be a comic book, and I’m adapting the scripts.

More at:

http://grrm.livejournal.com/194025.html

3 Comments

We’re back!

01.31.11
by Daniel Abraham

As folks may have noticed, the site’s been down for a few days while the brilliant team over at Orbit redecorated for us. I’m sure we’ve got some fine tuning to do over the next few weeks, but I’ve got to tell you, the joint looks pretty spiffy to me.

And in celebration, we’ve got the first full-length review of The Dragon’s Path.

All in all, not a bad day.

2 Comments

What the internet was made for?

01.27.11
by Ty Franck

Overweight middle aged white guys talking about space ships.

The only thing that saves this is that we have the incomparable Carrie Vaughn doing the interview, and she is neither middle aged, nor overweight, nor a guy.

Leviathan Wakes Interview part 1

Leviathan Wakes Interview part 2

Leviathan Wakes Interview part 3

Go watch us natter on.

6 Comments

Video Killed The Radio Star

01.27.11
by Daniel Abraham

The fine folks at Orbit got me to talk to a camera for a while. And I hardly look like a serial killer at all.

On The Dragon’s Path:

On Good and Evil:

On Character:

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Dragon’s Path and Killing Rites and… and… and…

01.26.11
by Daniel Abraham

Just a couple bits of news:

1 ) Your friend and mine MLN Hanover is spending the next couple three days finishing up the first draft of Killing Rites.  It will officially be turned in to the publisher (along with a pitch for the next couple books) by this time next week.  Woo hoo!  This one’s been harder than the last ones, but I’m tickled with how it’s coming out.  And I get to play with a character whose company I’ve been missing.

2 ) Yeah, the secret project is still secret, but when it’s announced, oh you will know it.  Oh yes.

This might be the cover art. It might not. Until I open the box, the cat is both dead and alive, right?

3 ) My authors copies of Wild Cards: The Hard Call are apparently in the mail to me. I am inordinately pleased, because ohmigod was that project a struggle.  I have to say that Eric Battle was a real pleasure to work with, and I’m quite pleased with how it came out in the end.  Or I assume I am.  I should probably get a copy in hand before I squee too loud.

4 ) The first officially released excerpt of The Dragon’s Path is presently up at A Dribble of Ink.  Because of the way the book’s built, there will probably be a few more sections leaking out over the next couple of months.  I’ll let you know when I know.  For now, please send all your friends and acquaintances over to Aidan, comment, debate, and generally maintain the level of conversation.  Or something.

5 ) The Science Fiction Book Club is going to be featuring Dragon’s Path as one of its alternate selections.

6 ) Oh, and Publisher’s Weekly mentioned a few sci-fi and fantasy books they’re apparently looking forward to.   Dragon’s Path is #2 on their wish list (um, if you list them alphabetically).  My personal fave on the list (besides me) is Carrie Vaughn’s tale of a forensic accountant in a world of superheroes.

7 ) If you’d rather hear them on tape or CD, Leviathan Wakes and Dragon’s Path are both going to be recorded by your friends and mine at Recorded Books.

8 ) Fred Saberhagen fans! Golden Reflections is almost out.  It’s a reprint of Fred’s novel Mask of the Sun with brand new stories set in the same universe as written by folks like Harry Turtledove, Walter Jon Williams, David Weber, Jane Linskold, and me.

Okay.  More actual thought later.  Must go finish book…

5 Comments

A Surreal Life, Revisited

01.25.11
by Ty Franck

The TCA holds an annual press tour where Networks present their new shows to the critics.  These presentations often take the form of a clip show followed by a panel.

Along with the other networks, HBO was there to present its new shows, and wouldn’t you know it, but my boss’s new show was on the list.

So I go to Hollywood for just under a week as part of a celebrity entourage.  Surrealism commences.

To begin with, everything is first class.  And I mean everything.  HBO arranged cars to pick us up and take us to the airport (we didn’t use them), we were both flown first class to LA, and a car was waiting for us when we landed.  It was a Mercedes, very plush.  That will matter later.

We were whisked off to the Four Seasons where we each had our own palatial room.  We discovered we had a sizable per diem attached to each room as well, so food, minibar, and the occasional massage were also going to be on HBO’s tab.

Now, before I go on, I should mention that I haven’t always been a lowly PA for a celebrity writer.  Prior to my mid life crisis and lengthening hairline, I was a corporate guy.  Senior management at some relatively good sized companies.  I’ve traveled the corporate version of first class before.  It was nothing, nothing like this.

Just hanging out in my Hotel I ran into Neil Peart of my favorite progressive rock band and got to shake his hand, and then later rode an elevator with Liev Schreiber.  I didn’t shake his hand.  He was in a jogging suit and had an iPod on.  I just nodded in a way I hoped was cool.  He nodded back in a way that actually WAS cool.  We parted before our combined cool could disable the elevator and plunge us to our deaths.

Oddly enough, the least interesting part of the trip was the TCA media day.   We did get to watch about fifteen minutes of the Boss’s new show, and that was fun.  But once the media circus ramped up, it was just a constant Brownian motion as actors, writers, and producers milled through tight hotel hallways and packed into cramped rooms to be interviewed by every magazine and media news show on the planet.  For most the evening I followed the Boss around and made sure he was hydrated so the lights didn’t kill him.

Of course, I did get to meet and shake hands with Sean Bean (Dude, fucking Boromir!), and with Peter Dinklage.  Peter has absolutely blown everyone away with his portrayal of Tyrion in the show, and I’d have loved to buy the guy a beer and chat with him, but alas that was not meant to be.  I also ran into Emilia Clarke in the green room, but she was at the center of her own personal whirlwind and so we didn’t get to do much more than say hi in passing.

Once the media day was over, things settled down a lot and some fun could be had.  The Boss’s agent and my pal Kay was in town, as well as our mutual friend Melinda.  I decided to pop over to their hotel one evening for an hour or two and grab a drink.  To do this, I walked out the front door of the hotel, said to the doorman, “I need a car to take me over to the Sofitel,” and one minute later a black Rolls Royce pulled up to the curb.   This same black Rolls came back two hours later to take me home after my third gin and tonic.

And I have to tell you, having now been chauffeured around in high end Mercedez and a Rolls, I can actually tell the difference.  The Rolls was just the most lush vehicle I’ve ever ridden in.  Is it worth its six figure pricetag?  I couldn’t say.  But if you ever get the chance to be driven around in one while sipping expensive bottled water, I’d say go for it.  Yes, it is a wasteful display of meaningless indulgence, a whole lot of money on wheels for the sole purpose of letting everyone around you know you are their better.

But it was a sweet ride.

I haven’t even gotten to the book signing where the Boss had a line that wrapped around the building.  Or the former swimsuit model who came to the signing to meet the Boss and I and hung all over me while pictures were taken.   And then told me she might be an elf in the Hobbit movie (I’m hoping you get it!)  Or the fan party thrown for the boss after the signing with cute girls in custom made Westeros T-shirts and the constant stream of gin and tonics (Brotherhood peeps know how to party).  It was a freaking whirlwind of a week.

Most surreal moment?  Being in the middle of all this hubbub and having three agents want to meet with ME about MY book.  Am I a tiny blip on this radar?  Oh, hell yes.  But I’m on there now.  And I’ve seen where it can wind up.

And that’s effing surreal.

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