About ogresan

Richard Parks' stories have have appeared in Asimov's SF, Realms of Fantasy, Fantasy Magazine, Weird Tales, and numerous anthologies, including several Year's Bests. His first story collection, THE OGRE'S WIFE, was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. He is the author of the Yamada Monogatari series from Prime Books.

Reading and Writing. We’ll Skip the Arithmetic

This Wednesday evening I’ll be part of a group reading at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts. I’m rather fond of readings in general. Back when I was attending a lot more conventions, I generally preferred the author readings to panel discussions, even when I was on the panel and someone else was doing the reading. Maybe especially then.

There’s nothing quite like hearing the author read their own work, especially if it’s a story you’ve already read yourself. Now you can hear where the stresses go, and what the author chooses to emphasize or minimize. Literally hearing the work in the author’s own voice, aside from their narrative voice, which can be quite different.

I think I was completely turned on to readings at my very first World Fantasy Convention. I had the pleasure of hearing Parke (Pete) Godwin read then, and it was an eye-opener. I know I’ve mentioned Pete several times before, but something I wanted to point out here is that he was an actor for many years before he became a writer, and it showed in his performance. And I do mean performance. As an actor he knew how to work the lines and hold the audience’s attention. I realized then and there that the act of doing an author reading was or at least should be, at least in part, a performance, not just the person who wrote something reading it aloud. If you’ve ever attended a convention or library reading with an author who doesn’t know how to read (in the performance sense), you know what I mean. You miss out on most of the value of the work.

Now, I’m not an actor. Never was, never will be, and I don’t have nearly the chops that Pete did. But I always  take his example to heart when I do a reading, and I try to bring at least a little of that performance art to it. I do my best. I don’t always hit the target, but at least I know where the target is.

That’s half the battle.

Adulting Sucks

The main problem with being a grown-up, at least in terms of age, is now and then you have to be an adult. Not all the time, granted, but more often than is either comfortable or convenient. So I spent most of yesterday afternoon on chat hold because my phone had stopped working. You can tell how much I value my phone AS a phone because it took me almost two days before I realized it wasn’t working.

Because I had to make some phone calls in my role as alleged adult. Anyway, after several hours wasted it turned out to be a misaligned sim card. So I’ll have to adult again later today. Not looking forward to it.

As soon as I sign off here, I have a story to write (and other things to write, but this one has a deadline). I don’t look at that as doing grown-up things. Making myself sit down and get to work? Sometimes. But the writing itself?

Never.

To All the Cats I’ve Known Before

You’d think I’d be used to typing with a cat on my lap by now, but it does provide some complications. Like their tendency to flex their claws into my knee if I’m not petting them often enough. Which means, less typing. Could mean more thinking, if one takes the time to pet the cat long enough to generate a purr, sort of their version of the ‘Ohmmmm.” Good for meditative states, probably not so much for chasing down a theme.

If someone asks if I’m a dog or cat person, I’d have to say “yes.” I grew up with both, and have owned and loved several dogs over the years. But when First Reader and I married, our living situation was such that dogs were problematic. So we started with cats, and have more or less kept with them, save for the occasional beta fish. There was Early, the calico, so called because that’s when she wanted to play, and wake us up. She liked to sleep in my manuscript boxes. In the attic is a box of such boxes, and I have no doubt, if I opened a few and looked closely, I’d find a few Early hairs.

There was Cobweb, the Persian, who liked to eat the furniture. Fizzgig and Summer (pictured above), American Short and (Calico) Longhair, respectively. Fizzgig was probably as close to “normal” as any of them. Summer was a little nuts, even by cat standards. She was a rescue, as almost all of our cats were, save Cobweb. Summer hated men. I’m sure she had her reasons, but most of the time she was First Reader’s cat, and could barely stand to be in the same room as me. It was only in her later years, when I suspect she was getting a little dotty, that she warmed up to me at all. One day she even climbed into my lap. I had to call First Reader over to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. “Are you seeing this??” By this time she was an only cat. This suited her fine, and we resolved not to change it until she passed on. She was our longest lived cat.

There was also Valentine and Cameo, both gone way too soon. Sweet cats, both.

Now it’s Sheffield and Sterling, two gray and white brothers who forget they are brothers half the time and get salty with each other. Or just play too rough, I guess it depends on how you look at it. I hope they’re with us a good while longer, despite the fact that they take turns crawling into my lap when I’m trying to write.

Mice parts on the rug? I could do without that. No matter. It’s just part of the gig.

 

Good News From the Far East

Now that the contracts are signed (and stamped, where appropriate), I can announce that I’ve sold reprint rights to “Night, In Dark Perfection” to China’s Science Fiction World Magazine.  The story first appeared in Clarkesworld #39, December 2009.

This will make the second story I’ve had translated into simplified Chinese. Looking forward to the issue, even if I won’t be able to read it.

Calling in Sick

It’s what you used to do when, you know, you were actually sick. Or really, really wanted to make an out of town concert or somewhat and knew you couldn’t possibly make it back. That’s not something I did very often. I liked my job, liked working, and it helped me keep my schedule tight. I knew what was work time, what was writing time, and how to keep the two separate. I have to confess I still haven’t gotten this new existence thing sorted yet, but still working on it.

All by a rambling way of saying this has been a rough several days. That’s right; I’m sick. Probably a sinus infection. I’ve had them before, though I think this might be the first one since moving up here. To cut to the chase, I hadn’t eaten in nearly four days. I’m only exaggerating a little. I’d had a dish of fruit, a bowl of cereal, and two pieces of toast since Thursday. The thought of food was disgusting. It’s not that I couldn’t eat, I just didn’t want to.

I woke up this morning thinking, “Today I’ll try.”

Still wasn’t hungry, and certainly didn’t want anything I was capable of making, and didn’t feel like going out. Take out it was. I’ve had soup and a little mei-fun. Not because I especially wanted it, I just thought I should. So far so good.

But for anything like a proper blog post? I’m calling in sick.