Tuesday, November 19, 1996

Janes Plane

I picked up the book Ammonite at the Readercon you attended in Massachusetts a few years back. I enjoyed it very much. In your bio at the back of the book it mentions you were a singer in a band called Janes Plane. My question is did you release any tapes or cd's and where can I find one. Have you sung at any recent SF conventions and do you still do any singing work in between writing your stories? I haven't read Slow River yet but will let you know what I think after I finish it. Thanks.

The band never released any tapes or cd's (we had no money) but we did record one demo tape (which we never did anything with, because we had no money). And just as we started to get some notice--got invited to do a TV gig etc. etc.--our drummer left to work on a kid's television programme. We couldn't find another woman drummer. The band broke up. Then me and the guitarist wrote a bunch of songs and did a lot of acoustic stuff but I was horribly over-committed and something had to give. I'm ashamed to say it was the music. I look back now and I'm really not sure why it happened that way. I love to sing, I just...don't do it anymore. One of the reasons is that I don't have the stamina to perform at the moment. Performance is like sex: a whole body thing; all or nothing. And I need to Perform as opposed to just sing along with other people, or sing something at a party. I think this is because it *matters* so much to me that I can't bear to do it at less than one hundred percent. And, odd as it might sound, I'm shy. On stage is one thing; in front of just a few people is another. But I miss it. Sometimes I miss it quite a lot. Every now and again I wonder if I'll ever take it up again. Probably not.

I'll look forward to hearing what you think of Slow River when you're done.


update: for more on my adventures in the music trade, and more, read And Now We Are Going to Have a Party.

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Monday, November 18, 1996

missing England

Do you miss England?

Ah, yes. Often. I miss the beer and the chocolate and the television programmes. I miss my family and some old friends. I'll be going back there later this summer for three or four weeks to stay with my family in Leeds, Yorkshire. Kelley will join me after about ten days and we'll have a little holiday somewhere, go visit castles and abbeys, coasts and moors, pubs and twisty little streets.

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Sunday, November 17, 1996

writers I'm mad for

Which writers are you nuts for? Not who influenced you, but whose new books do you get excited about when they come out?

I would go hungry for a day in order to afford in hardcover the next Aubrey/Maturin novel from Patrick O'Brian, if and when it ever comes out. I'd miss dinner for William Boyd, and one for Joanna Russ. I'd do without lunch for Barbara Kingsolver and Dick Francis and Pat Califia's essays. I'd give up an evening in the pub to read a new novel by Elizabeth Lynn if and when that ever happens, and if Theodore Sturgeon and Mary Renault were still alive, I'd happily do without a seven-course banquet just to read whatever they'd write down.

And food is very important to me.


I was of course talking about the books Dick Francis wrote before his wife died; it got progressively worse after that. Ditto Patrick O'Brian, now I come to think of it--though sadly he himself is now dead too. Sigh. Then Barbara Kingsolver started doing too-close-to-inspirational-fiction-for-my-taste novels. Double sigh. But Elizabeth Lynn did start publishing again--yay!

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Saturday, November 16, 1996

Kelley's short fiction

Where can I find Kelley's books? I've looked everywhere.

She hasn't written a novel. Yet. Her short work can be found in Century #1 ("Alien Jane," which was short-listed for a Nebula Award this year), Pulphouse--both the magazine ("Diamondback Road") and the hardcover anthology ("The Hum of Human Cities"), Little Deaths, ed. Ellen Datlow, ("And Salome Danced"), F&SF ("Strings"), and The Year's Best Lesbian Erotica ("Salome" again). I know I'm biased, but her short work really is very, very good and worth seeking out. "And Salome Danced" was a runner up for the Tiptree Award, and Kelley won an Astraea award based partly on "Alien Jane."


Update: all Kelley's fiction is of course now available in her collection Dangerous Space.

Given the stories I mention, that I don't talk about Solitaire, and that there's no hint of the TV show made from "Alien Jane," (which aired Sept 1998) my guess is that this one is early. So I've used an arbitrary date of November 1996.

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Friday, November 15, 1996

Ammonite pronunciations

From: Anonymous

So how are you supposed to pronounce all those celtic names--and why did you make them unpronouncable in the first place?

One part at a time. I wouldn't dream of telling you how to pronounce something. I can tell you how *I* pronounce the names, but you paid for the book, you're the one doing the reading--say them any way you like. I pronounce "Echraidhe" as Eck-RAVE, "Aoife" as EE-fee, "Uaithne" as WAITH-nee and so on. Standard Celtic pronounciation.* Second part: I didn't set out to make them unpronouncable. I had originally intended to make the tribeswomen Mongolian (as you can probably tell from things like: yurt, fermented mares milk, herding lifestyle, clothes etc.). When I was writing Ammonite, though, I couldn't think of any Mongolian names, so I stuck in celtic ones as place holders until I could go off and do some research, but once I'd finished the book, I found myself unable to change the names--the characters had claimed them. Oh, well.

While we're on the subject of names, one person wanted to know whether the name Lorien (Lore, from Slow River) was lifted from Tolkien. The answer is that I don't know. I've read LoTR several times, so I suppose it could have been--but it wasn't a conscious steal. I've also been asked "Is there any chance Vine and Ash in the book are named after Melissa Vines and Amanda Hill?" The answer is no. Vine got her name from something that happened in her past, when she got the scars on her back...but that's another story.

Generally speaking, there is no significance in the names I use. I just pick something from a phone book, or make it up. I had one English Professor ask me earnestly if the Kurst (a rather sinister ship in Ammonite) was a reference to Conrad's Heart Of Darkness. I felt a bit mean disappointing him.


* I didn't know at the time that there's no such thing as 'standard celtic pronunciation'. There's p-celtic and q-celtic and, well, all kinds of ways to say stuff. I don't know the date of this one but my guess is before 1998, otherwise I'd be talking about horrible mispronunciations of Aud. I've assigned an arbitrary date of 11/15/1996.

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