WFC, The 2nd Prelude

Okay, so give me a hard time if you like, but having very well-made cocktails midday, autumn, grey and rainy, sitting in a handsome 50s-look bar under a copper ceiling (!) with good company (albeit Australian) made me think of John Cheever. No, not ‘Mad Men’, I am (a little) more sophisticated than that. The Museum Tavern was perfect for the day.

Jonathan Strahan, reviews editor of Locus, came downtown from the convention hotel and brought Alisa Krasnostein, Publisher of Twelfth Planet Press. JS and I tend to try for at least one meal each time we’re at a convention. We covered a lot of ground, including why their most direct flight here was through Dubai. (Answer: coming from Perth, not Sydney.)

One of the virtues of a convention like WFC is the chance to get snapshots of the publishing mood from professionals in other countries. Why does the U.K. always ‘get’ Australian rights (and New Zealand, India, South Africa…)? How do Australian houses feel about it? How do readers feel? Actually, they haven’t all been thrilled to bits. One interesting law (which I’ve known about for a while) mandates that if the house that controls Australian rights does not have actual books on sale there within six weeks of a title appearing elsewhere in the English-language world, they lose their exclusive rights and must compete in an open market with houses in other countries (read: America).

This emerged because Australians became increasingly irked with the U.K. having their territory but sending 50-100 books by slow steamer, to get there … eventually. I’m exaggerating, but not wildly, according to my contacts Down Under. That law can actually make for some tricky timing and negotiations…

(I did say I’d use this Journal to do some backstories about the nature of the book world. No, that doesn’t mean naming the cocktail Strahan picked from a really very good list.)

Here in Canada, our biggest literary prize, the Giller, was awarded last night to Will Ferguson for 417. He’s another Penguin (not a Random Penguin, the merger will take a year or so, and the name will be the deadly correct Penguin Random House). It was major cause for celebration at Penguin last night and today – and on Twitter where the Tag Team Tandem were quite properly busy. (I mean, if they’ve lured me onto Twitter, they have to be there, right?)

I head up to WFC tomorrow to do a podcast interview, show up at the Opening Ceremony to support Gary Wolfe (good friend, MC this year) Peter Halasz, also a good friend and this year’s Chair, and the Guests of Honour who include John Clute (see earlier post here).

Then I am moderating a panel at the odd hour of 5 PM. It is right after the opening, so I plan to express my thanks to all of them for being our warmup act. (Good? Bad? Terrible joke?) Topic is “Fantasy and the Wilderness” and it interests me (that, need I say, doesn’t always happen with panel topics). I am allegedly a fierce moderator though haven’t (yet) used handcuffs and whips on panelists. Leaving that for entirely different sorts of author…

I am being told people like when I put photos in here. I will therefore manifest my almost unspeakable courage by attaching a picture taken so long ago there was no such thing, children, as the WWW (there was colour for photos, but this one is b&w, obviously). That’s the Canadian non-fiction writer Jack Batten, the English novelist Julian Barnes, et moi, before a reading night. No points for guessing who is who. Points for keeping a straight face, or applauding my bravery, or riffing on ‘where are the snows of yesteryear…’ Jack is probably explaining to us that he has heard of something called a ‘word processor’ that makes typing and revising easier and he predicts all writers will start using it. We are obviously being kind to him.

Before a reading at ‘ADifferent Drummer Books’. Long ago. Really long ago.

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