The original cover of my novel, "Self-Portrait of Someone Else" published by Viking-Penguin, N.Y.
Once in a while, from the wiggling foggy ether waves of the internet, something pleasing arrives without the least fanfare. A couple of days before last Christmas, an email from a complete stranger concerning my first novel, “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”, with the subject stating, “I am a Super Fan”, had this to say, in part:
“I read A Self Portrait of Someone Else years ago. It truly changed my life at that age (late teens). I am not sure why but I have often referenced memories from the book when dealing with my own issues. I guess Tim was kind of an anti role model for me. (…) As a teenager, I carried a briefcase around with a pile of poems I wrote (kind of some stuff Tim would have written if he were a poet), pictures of an ex that overdosed and a copy of your book. Pretty much, that was all of my worldly possessions at that time in life.”
Sometimes the purpose of what I perform in relative obscurity suddenly receives such raison d’etre.
Cover of the re-issed version
Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category
The original cover of my novel, "Self-Portrait of Someone Else" published by Viking-Penguin, N.Y.
For a while now this story stuff I’m doing and letting you know about has become somewhat irregular. Once upon a time I was posting audio clips of stories on Mondays, written stories on Wednesday, then my videos on Fridays.
For me it became a bit of a mishmash of misplaced market-oriented gobbly-gook resulting in omnidirectional creative firecrackers.
Such busy routines may be useful for those entities declaring themselves ‘market-oriented novelists’, but these timely, business-like efforts caused my focus to go all asymmetrical.
It took a lot of time to do and not enough time left over to be. (To let the mind empty then wander then create then — new story!)
Much of my time during the last three years has been spent in interminable administrative tasks. Like an on-going To Do List That Would Not Die. My own private A4 sized zombie. No matter how much I did and was actually Really Productive, finishing one task usually added on another two or three more tasks for follow-up and/or investigating and/or digging deeply into more research. That’s how it goes with a publishing company: one thing always, always leads to another.
This included setting up a number of books, eBooks, connecting with audio and fabric distribution channels, triple checking formats and functioning, working with various designers on various projects, giving things A Try, making errors, making corrections, contacts hither and thither and roll-outs and videos and finding assorted virtual homes to expose my stories, their cozy homes away from home. A one-man interminable putting-things-in-place long drawn-out phase. But times ticks, things do get done, put firmly in place, and this month my To Do list has more white on it then black lines of do-me and I’m-waiting-to-be-done — a lot less of the relentless bang of attention-demanding bullet points.
So currently I’m like a side of beef taken from the flames: I’m now relaxing in my juices. Between now and the summer I’ll come out with an early novel, “The Nice Guy” and a story collection called “Intimate Dialogues”. After the copy-editing was completed, designs of their separate covers and interior layouts is moving forward. Recording and editing the audio versions, getting the eBooks in line and professionally formatted. After this, maybe a couple of more novels in 2012, or maybe a non-fiction collection, but definitely some more t-shirts and “mer-chan-dise”, and then there’s those videos….
Basta and great! I can scratch this Blog Post off my to do list. More shiny white on the sheet.
Recently the Children’s Authors and Illustrators on Facebook published a short interview with me, having mailed their standard questions. I don’t do many interviews, but here is what appeared.
Children’s Authors and Illustrators on Facebook
An interview with Vincent Eaton.
Tell us about yourself.
I write. Fiction, humor, exaggerated memoir, kid’s stuff as well as flash fiction. Make videos. Act and direct plays (some of which have won international awards), and been in movies, TV, ads. Am a voice over professional. A publisher of books. Was born & raised in Southern California, and while in high school was a surfer, had a station wagon for my surfboard and a cheerleader for a girlfriend, broke a swim record on the swim team. I now live in Brussels. Some have asked, What went wrong?
What is your latest published work?
“The Boy in the Sandwich,” which gets described as “A story for readers of all ages, from 8 and up, up, up!” (exclamation thrown in for free, and the link: http://hidden-people.net/boy-in-the-Sandwich.html). It’s about a boy who is about to eat his peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich and a blue spider pushes up the top slice of bread and tells him there’s a party going on inside with a lot of other grape jelly spiders, so “don’t chomp, don’t chew!” He gets dragged into the sandwich where lots of blue spiders have their party hats on, but then his brother chops and chews the sandwich and swallows him, later he almost gets eaten by a Bath Monster, invaded by little men while in his bed, and taken away in his dreams. Books has some illustrations, too.
Where did you get your ideas from?
Imagine them. I imagine some writers follow the news, others eavesdrop, lots make lists, a few steal. I daydream. Letting the imagination grow, fester, bloom, be a constant. It takes years, decades, of training, or letting go. Till you get to where you can dream up ideas rather than “get” them. It’s what cannot be taught at schools or writing courses. Imagining in your own voice. The most important artistic trait is letting go in order to let in.
What are you working on?
A number of books. After being published by Viking Penguin, N.Y., I found, because my interests take me from psychological thrillers to purely artistic novels to kids’ book to satires on self-help (plus my theater work), I did not fit into a niche, and was, in the limiting language of the market, “not saleable.” So I’m a sidelined indie making his way in a narrowed world. Presently, after the “The Boy in the Sandwich,” I’ll be launching an early work of mine that takes place in the 1970s in Southern California called “The Nice Guy” about a radical reaction to domesticity. After that, before Christmas 2011, a story collection, “Intimate Dialogues.” There’s other books impatiently in line shouting, “Me next!” for 2012.
Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring authors?
You learn to walk by walking. You learn how to think by thinking. You learn about love by loving. Same goes for writing. There are no short cuts.
Do you have a crazy story about an aspect of writing life, perhaps from a school visit or event?
I once had a tapeworm. It was an impressive personal experience. Invited to dinners, I would sometimes share some of the details of this experience with my dining companions. I usually got groans of laughter. I embellished the story during other dinners. I then performed it at a Café Theater, and then later at some storytelling festivals. I was asked to write it up. It was published online, and then a guy wanted to do a podcast of it. And it has taken on a life of its own, all arising, initially, from some dinner conversation.
Read it: http://fray.com/drugs/worm/
Hear it: http://bit.ly/1hCk6d
Is there anything else you’d like to add, such as a web site or blog?
Facebook Fan Page hidden people: http://bit.ly/9xfpW2
Last Friday, getting over an illness, I hauled my buns into a darkened recording studio where five other Belgian-based Americans gathered. We were there to be part of hubbub crowd scenes in Julie Delpy’s next feature film .“2 Days in New York”.
Usually for such work, someone connected to the film tells you when to make what kind of sounds or words that will be crafted as a sort of background soundscape by the sound engineer. For this film, there were scenes in restaurants, airports, gallery openings, and suchlike. The talent tries to make it fun, knowing we will end up as unrecognizable background.
So we sat down, all six of us, three men, three women, lined up in chairs, with me taking one on the end near the door in the event I felt something physical coming on from my illness. It was going to be a three to four hour session. We started with a woman suggesting, and it became your-turn, my-turn, our-turn, doing variations of sentences or conversational improv, until about forty-five minutes in, we had an entrance.
Light suddenly streamed into the darkened room and a woman saying, in French, “There are no taxis in Brussels. I called at 8:45 for a taxi and was told there would be none until 10:00. No taxis in Brussels. Impossible! Sorry I am late. How is it going?” It was Julie Delpy, writer-directer-actress-singer.
Okay, this was unusual. And she took off her coat, took control, and wanted to see what we had done, saying bonjour and started adjusting what had already happened. She took up residence at the table next to me. She was not well, wore no make-up or attempt at actress glamor and placed a see-through plastic bag of medicines before her. I felt empathy.
Often, between takes, she was sticking sprays up her nose, blowing said nose, sucking on a throat lozenge, taking a pill, digging around in her bag for something extra. I remarked, “I see you brought your pharmacy.” That lead to talking illnesses going around. Never heard her complain once about her feeling bad, although while waiting for the engineer to find the next scene I’d glance over and she’d be holding her head bent into her hands, very still.
Mentioning illness, she talked of her mother dying from cancer two years ago, and her own giving up smoking last year (“I began smoking when I was 14”), and the horror of her mother going through chemo, and “it may have been worse than her disease.” Then we speculated on how DNA and cigarettes impact, and diet. I told her my grandmother smoked until she was 65, gave them up and died of natural caused in her sleep at 96. “See!” she said. “It’s all a roll of the dice,” I replied.
Before working on a scene, we watched each individual scene to get a sense of it. Many of the scenes everyone laughed quite heartily (it’s a nervous comedy from what I saw). It must have pleased her, since we were, in a way, her first test audience, and I glanced and she was smiling at the laughter. There was one scene in a restaurant where the man playing her character’s father (her father in real life) complains that the prices on the menu was so high. Her character replies something like, “It’s not euros, dad, it’s dollars. They are not worth anything. So order whatever you want.” Our little audience roared, and Julie mentioned that many in the USA didn’t get that joke, “They say, what is so funny? Which is funny.” Seems even in Hollywood they don’t get the dollar’s weakness abroad. She said, “Everyone outside the USA always gets it and laughs.“
Later on, when there was a technical breakdown, a microphone going mysteriously screwy, I turned to Julie and asked, “So, “Before Sunrise”, “Before Sunset”. When’s the next one?” She said that after this film she was going to begin working on the script. “But I have no ideas. I don’t know what to write. I have nothing more to say about relationships. I don’t know anything about relationships. I want to write about computers and aliens, things that explodes. Anything, just not relationships!” She paused. “But Ethan will have ideas. He always has ideas. That will help. I need a couple of months break.”
I can report that Julie Delpy’s fingerprints will be on every sound mumble and frame of the film because she really does care. There was not one moment when she wasn’t completely frank, spontaneous and enthusiastic. Couldn’t detect any artifice. As the dubbing progressed, she made real effort to get everyone’s name, and had them all by the end of the dubbing session. She was unrelentingly kind, treating us all like artistic colleagues, and even accepted some script change suggestions. “Americans say pictures, not photos,” someone remarked, and she replied, “Really? Okay.”
I departed thinking highly of this talented artist, and I hope her film is extremely successful so she’ll be given the budget to make one with high-tech exploding gadgets that go off whenever some character says the word “relationship”.
To quote Roger Ebert, the film critic, “…Julie Delpy is an original, a woman who refuses to be defined or limited. Her first great roles were in Bertrand Tavernier’s “Beatrice” (1987), Agnieszka Holland’s “Europa Europa” (1990) and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “White” (1994); she was in Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” “Waking Life” and “Before Sunset” and she dumped Bill Murray at the beginning of Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers.” In between, she studied film at NYU and made herself available for 30 student productions.”
If you want to get a quick idea of her humor, CLICK HERE.
FIRST OF ALL: I have a short video greetings for 2011 if you want to have a look click here.
For those paying attention, all five of you, after serializing Brussegem, a snug hell during the last limping weeks of 2010, I’m looking at this as my publishing schedule for 2011:
THE BOY IN THE SANDWICH (children’s fiction)
HOW TO FIND YOURSELF (illustrated version)
Stories on Stuff (Dot Hippo – kid’s textiles)
THE NICE GUY (first novel)
SLICES (novel on business)
INTIMATE DIALOGUES (short stories)
Stories on Stuff (Polite babies)
THE NEXT GENIUS (Novel on artist)
THE BLUE SPOT IN MY HEAD (Part One in fictionalized trilogy)
Stories on Stuff (3 & 4 – kid’s for Christmas)
“The Boy in the Sandwich” will be presented for the world to lick and look at very shortly. Will be putting some free chapters online on a weekly basis, along with audio clips from the novel.
The comes the new, illustrated version of “How to Find Yourself (or a reasonable facsimile)”.
Maybe a couple of chapters of that, too (again), and me reading some chapters. Also free and weekly.
These two books were supposed to see the light of day toward the end of last year, but things got reshuffled and re-organized. The first “How to” book had to be fully reformatted and laid-out due to errors I wrote about somewhere in this blog during the last year. We can’t have that again, so took time to reorganize the publishing work flow. I thought each book would take three months from finished manuscript to launch, but there’s far too much to do properly; properly takes time. So now I’m aiming at a four month launch of each book, from final period to book available.
And adjust accordingly if that still doesn’t supply enough space & time. See whether I actually keep to the publishing schedule this year….
As I have had occasion to mention: I have well over a decade of experience in international publishing in one of the top three media companies. But it is one thing being part of a system, and being the whole system oneself. So refinement in my hidden people venture was called for. To Get It Right. And no doubt this, like life, will be an on-going process.
Beyond books, next up is a final setting up with audio book distributors as I have three audio books just about done and wanting life. Same with my Stories on Stuff T-shirts and textiles and whatnot spin-offs (with “Boy in the Sandwich” and “How to” coming fully born with illustrations…).
Meanwhile, I’m thinking up stories on t-shirts and for kid’s nightwear. Then I want to make a video, or write a play, or write a 300 word story. So that’s what I do: Whatever Comes Up Next.
Thanks for dropping by and reading. –Vincent