The Misenchanted Guestbook
Hello, and welcome to the second Misenchanted Guestbook Archive!
Because the Guestbook itself got unwieldy and slow to load I decided to remove older posts, but I didn't want to lose anything. I created one archive covering the period from January through April, 2000, and discovered that the Guestbook was still huge, so here we are again, with a second Archive, covering May, 2000, and the first week of June. A third archive continues from here, and others follow from there. The Guestbook is gone now, but I did preserve the entire contents and hope to get all of it posted in these archives eventually.
Because it's an archive and you can't add anything, I've reversed the sequence -- the oldest messages are at the top, and you can just read down. Nothing else here is changed; out of date information will not be updated. I've used the color scheme and hostess graphic from June, 2000, but in 2015 I modified the layout to be more mobile-friendly.
-- Lawrence Watt-Evans
Illustration by Kiri Evans
Thursday, May 18, 2000, 1:35:12 PM
You guys just aren't talking, huh?
I'm thinking of replacing the Guestbook hostess with a more recent drawing Kiri did. This would probably also mean changing to a green background.
Well, I didn't want to talk all the time and hog all the space. But since you mentioned it, be careful with that green. Green is sometimes difficult to look at. A more recent drawing would be nice, perhaps you can rotate them every so oftem, to keep them fresh.
Wow! Nice picture! Picture is cool, too.
Yeah, I liked it.
I am on the verge of declaring this guestbook a failed experiment. After the initial flurry, nobody's been posting but me and Chris, and we're both trying not to dominate the nonexistent conversation.
Is anyone reading this? If so, speak up. If not, I'll just drop the whole thing.
It would be sad to see something you worked so hard on, be scrapped. I am new too your home page but I am a long time fan. Hey Lawrence..Just a quick question: Are you going to GenCon?
The Guestbook is going? Nooooooooooooooo!! (sniff, sniff). What other author is so interactive? Keep the guestbook!
It would be sad to see the book go.
Nope, I won't be at GenCon. Plans for this year are RiverCon, Worldcon, and it now looks like I may be at the San Diego ComiCon (or whatever they call it now).
(I have a page listing my convention plans somewhere in the "Miscellaneous" area; you can get to it from the main page by following the link about places you can contact me.)
As for the Guestbook, I haven't decided definitely one way or the other; I'm going to give it the weekend, see who else (if anyone) chimes in, then decide.
I agree with Andrew and Chris--I'd hate to see the guestbook go. The only reason I haven't posted anything lately is because I haven't thought of any relevant questions I'd like to ask--until now...
I recently read your short story in the Ultimate Spider-Man collection. My question is, how do you like writing about superheroes as opposed to writing fantasy and sci-fi and horror? Do you find it as enjoyable as the others, or is there a difference?
Actually, I love writing superhero stories. The catch is that there's almost no market for them -- there are no magazines that use them, anthologies are few, far between, and often restricted to a particular set of pre-existing characters...
The Marvel anthologies paid okay, but not great, and stories needed to wade through a whole series of approvals, and they took all rights -- not really an appealing situation. Writing about my own characters is far more fun, but almost impossible to sell.
So I don't write a lot of superhero stories, but I'd like to. They're fun.
Of course, I could try writing more for comics, and in fact I've taken a couple of shots at it, but right now the comics market is shrinking, so there are dozens of far more experienced comics scripters looking for work; it just doesn't seem like where I should be putting my efforts. Especially since my track record in comics is not exactly impressive. I've had a few good stories, a few turkeys, nothing great, nothing that sold especially well.
(At least one of the worst turkeys wasn't really my fault -- I know a comics teacher who now uses it as an example of how an artist can ruin a good script.)
I'd love to see superheroes an established prose genre, but it doesn't seem very likely.
Oh, and you asked whether there's a difference. There is, really. Superheroes are a stylized genre with a lot of established conventions, even more so than fantasy, let alone SF or horror. I love playing with conventions -- taking some standard feature and finding a new twist to it, looking at some of the unexamined assumptions, and so on. Superheroes are GREAT for that.
Besides "Cool," my Spider-Man story, I've had two other superhero stories published. "One of the Boys," in the anthology SUPERHEROES, edited by John Varley & Ricia Mainhardt, looks at the convention of the superhero who's got powers because he's an alien, but who still looks human. And "The Sidekick," in BETWEEN THE DARKNESS AND THE FIRE, edited by Jeffry Dwight, looks at the whole question of why a kid would dress up in costume and become a sidekick.
All these standard features of superhero stories are just BEGGING for closer examination! So yes, it's a different sort of fun than fantasy or SF or horror.
As a budding writer, I think super hero stories would be cool to write, as you said. SF and Fantasy sometimes get a little repetitive.
Thanks for your response!
What about writing a script for an animated televison series, like Batman or Superman? I'm sure a gig like that would be difficult (if not impossible) to get, but would you be interested if someone approached you? The newest Batman series in particular is a surprisingly intelligent show that often plays around with the traditional conventions, like you mentioned.
If someone invited me to write for one of the animated series I'd certainly be interested in giving it a shot, but I did work very briefly for TV and radio back in the '80s -- nothing ever got broadcast, only one radio show even made it into production, but I sold a few things, and concluded that the money's good, the writing's not particularly hard, but the hassles on the business end are more than I want to deal with. Everything gets rushed, then delayed, people want idiotic changes, etc. -- all the usual horror stories are true. In one case, for example, I got paid $2,200 for a TV story treatment (for the new "Twilight Zone") for what was basically twenty minutes' writing, but I spent days talking to unpleasant people as a result, and the thing never got produced.
Other times I put in about as much time and never did get a sale. I could waste a lot of time that way.
So if TV comes looking for me I'll go for it, because it means they're seriously interested, but I am not going to pursue it.
My uncle sometimes copy edits scripts (most recently a script for one of the Batman cartoons) and he finds it a huge hassle. Not only is someone like DC Comics a huge company they are also very overly protective of their "product". My uncle couldn't even suggest changes without approval from about four people so I think I see where you are coming from Lawrence.
I hope you haven't given up on this guestbook! I like the new color, it reminds me of a relaxing walk in the woods. In hopes of keeping this guestbook open, I'll put forward a question: Do you ever write a story that you know for certain you will never submit for publication, but write it anyway because of a particular fondness for it?
I tend to think of this as apple-green, rather than forest green -- where I grew up in New England the forests were a lot darker than this.
The Guestbook's got a reprieve at this point, though it may be temporary.
As for writing stories I knew I'd never submit, nope. I've written stories that I didn't submit anywhere for years, ones I didn't know where I'd send 'em, but I always assumed I'd find a market eventually.
Some I've retired, on the grounds that I'm never going to sell them, but that's not the same thing.
There were a couple I didn't think I'd ever sell when I first wrote them which did eventually sell, though sometimes to weird and obscure markets -- "Tomorrow Never Knows," for example, which appeared in BONESAW. My agent refused to send it out, as it personally offended him. (At the time, my agency contract said they represented all my fiction, regardless of length; I've handled my own short fiction for years now.)
There have also been some written for a specific market that I assumed would never sell if that market didn't want 'em.
There were some I started, but didn't finish because I thought they'd be unsaleable -- my Carmen Miranda story, for example.
This is kind of funny, I feel like such a little kid. And I also feel like and idiot for being so excited. I don't know if another author who takes the time to maintain such an interactive web page.
Ok enough of the excitement, Hey Lawrence: I have a question about your Ethshar novels. One thing I have always loved about your writing is how you intertwine the other happenings in the world with the characters. Do you intend to do this with every Ethshar novel? I was just curious. It adds a lot to the stories and make you relive a little of the other stories when you read them.
Well, how much they intertwine will vary, but yes, there will be at least a little connection between each Ethshar novel and the others. Sometimes it'll just be a reference or two, other times there'll be crossover characters.
After all, that's part of the fun.
And in a way, I look at all the Ethshar stories as parts of a very large whole. I'm not sure exactly where it's going yet, but it does all hang together.
I have a question: How many novels did you write before you finally got one published?
It depends how you look at it, as there were various fragments and false starts -- one of which got past 40,000 words. If you only count actual finished novels, though, THE LURE OF THE BASILISK was my second.
The first wound up getting totally rewritten later, and became THE CYBORG AND THE SORCERERS.
I'd written a _lot_ of short stories and fragments, though.
How many short stories do you think you have shelved? One thing I have noticed over the years watching several of my friends who are talented artists and musicians they tend to underestimate their ability and even some of their work which I think is great, they think is crap. It would be cool to see you publish a book of unreleased short stories that you have shelved. So you think that could be a possibility?
Last time I looked I had maybe fifteen or twenty completed unsold stories -- but most of them are unsold for a reason!
As for stories I never finished, there are a couple of hundred. Many of them I do hope to get back to someday.
Is money a big factor in your writing? Will you write or not write a story based on potential pay out? I know everyone needs money to live on but does it ever greatly influence your work?
There are stories I write because I really want to write 'em, and stories I write because I want to sell to a particular market or make a particular point of some sort. I've never written anything purely to make money, though -- if I just wanted to make money I could've finished college and become an investment banker.
But on the other hand, there are projects I've abandoned or never started because I was pretty sure they wouldn't make any money.
Hey, I come back from vacation and not only has the guestbook changed color to a nice refreshing green, but now it's future is hanging by a thread. Hey, don't kill it. We just had one of those dead periods, like at a party and no one can think of a single sensible thing to say.
Anyway I'd like to say that I've been reading the first "Chicks" anthology and I really enjoyed getting briefly back to Ethshar in "The Guardswoman". Any chance of seeing her in a novel or another story?
See her again? Um... well, I hadn't planned on it, but it might happen. Another story about her is unlikely, but a small appearance somewhere should certainly be possible.
The way Ethshar works is that sometimes I have the crossovers and appearances planned out in adavance, and sometimes I get to a scene and realize, "Hey, So-and-So was in that general area at about the right time," and add it in.
I know I asked you for this via email a long time ago but I never seemed to be able to put one together. Do you have a complete list of all you publications and the Date they were released? I know I am missing some of your earlier work and I have been trying to track them down through used books stores.
Speaking of old books, I just picked up a slightly used copy of "Lure of the Basilisk" today and I am going to read it for the first time in 13 years, Wow! Oh if anyone is interested, I have an interview with Lawrence at www.macgorilla.com/lawrence.shtml
The most complete bibliography of my work I have handy is the one on the Misenchanted Page, which is complete for all my fiction up to 1995. (It doesn't include all the articles 'n' stuff, just the ones I could remember when compiling it.)
You can get to it with the links at the bottom of just about any of the pages.
What I meant about money influencing your writing is this: Piers Anthony said in a recent interview that he'll write an 80 page summary of a story and submit it and if the publisher likes it he'll write it, if not he won't. To me this seems to cheapen the creative process. Or maybe I'm just strange.
Not strange, just naive. (80-page proposals? Good heavens, what a waste of effort! Mine are typically about twenty pages.)
I have more ideas than I could ever possibly find time to write, so yes, I choose which ones to actually work on on the basis of whether I think I can sell them. It's just good sense. What's the point of wasting a lot of time and effort on something that's just going to sit in a box in the basement for the rest of my life?
Good points. Would you ever consider donating the rights for your out of print books to Project Gutenberg?
Nope. There are other ways to get them back in print without giving up any rights.
That's it; here's your list of handy exits:
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