Somewhere on this site is the quote from Cato the Elder that I used for years in reply to queries about the absence of an ‘official’ website about me or my work. Cato is said to have remarked, ‘I’d rather the Romans ask why there are no statues to Cato, than have them ask why there are.’
I love that. I think it is a wonderful thing to have said and, of course, the fact that I’m ‘here’ right now means – alas – that I can’t use it any more.
Essentially what happened to this curmudgeonly Canadian isn’t that complex: it began to seem more and more quixotic to deny the legitimacy or utility of a proper site, especially given the amount of time I spend online myself, and Deborah Meghnagi (whose fault this is, of course) when she proposed doing a website, not only understood my wish list but took the concept further than I’d have thought possible, in a very short period of time.
What did I want? Mainly that the site serve a purpose beyond the facile promotion of an author. I wanted elements here that would make it worthwhile for someone to surf to this url; they could learn something, be amused, be challenged, be moved to do work of their own. In particular, I wanted to showcase the thoughts and talents of other people, insofar as their thinking and creativity had been triggered by my own writing. Seeing that happen is one of the great joys of writing, for me.
Deborah Meghnagi’s site seems to me to steer in this direction in many different ways.
I’ve always been intrigued by how exercised writers and readers become over cover art (and this is particularly true in sf) and I have strong views of my own. I also have some sense of the complexity of the issue, in different markets and languages, and I’m conscious of the dual purpose of the art to be both aesthetically pleasing (to a wide range of people) and to serve as an advertisement for the book within. The tension between author, artist, art director, marketing department, and reader is genuinely interesting. I have a hope that the Art Gallery here will engender some thoughts on all of this, and on differing tastes and styles in different countries, and I’d be delighted to see the site become a debating ground for discussion. (Polite, one dares hope?)
Obviously if Deborah’s site also becomes a venue for new scholarship, personal essays, art and music – as she’s requested and enabled – it will go even further in satisfying my own ideal of showcasing what others can do. I’m happy to serve as a touchstone, and to learn things here myself.
At the same time, it would be disingenuous to deny that many or most people surfing here will want to know more about my books (and Deborah hasn’t been in the least shy about making sure I understand this). That creates an opportunity in itself, once one lays Cato’s ghost to rest: some of the most satisfying questions I get are from readers wanting to know where they can learn more about the periods or themes I’m working with. This website allows me to answer: to offer a (truly) selective bibliography of books and resources for each of my novels. I’ve done that. I’ve also given Deborah some of the essays I’ve written over the last few years, and she’s diligently tracked down (and obtained permission to use) various interviews given. Holly Ordway has furnished a biographical note which offers probably more than I’d want to reveal, but what the hell, I’m not Salinger or Pynchon.
I can’t be. I’m here.
I’ll also be here at intervals – by way of a promise extracted by an extortionate website designer – with notes and essays on various subjects. I want to write about cover art, about translation, about the blurring of the author-text line among readers these days (and that’sironic here, isn’t it?), about storytelling and ‘serious’ fiction…
I am grateful to all those people who seem to have materialized in cyberspace at this address, both as contributors and as surfers, but if there’s a thank you that must be made specific, it is – of course – to Ms. Meghnagi. I am the beneficiary of a combination of bludgeoning, blandishment, and blistering efficiency that may only co-exist in someone born in England and living and working in Israel. More research on this question clearly needs to be done. I can only hope none of you are ever forced to contend with one of Deb’s ‘to do’ lists in the midst of the chaos of the rest of your life.
And now I’ll cross ‘write me an introduction’ off the list, and welcome you all. I’ll be around. I’ve even been given a colour of my own.
© Guy Gavriel Kay