Archives for September 2014

Manguel on editors

The story has often been told of how Coleridge dreamt his “Kubla Khan” in an intoxication of opium, and of how, upon waking, he sat down to write it and was interrupted by “a person from Porlock,” thereby losing forever the conclusion to that extraordinary poem. Persons from Porlock are professionally employed by the publishing companies of the Anglo-Saxon world. A few are wise and ask questions that speed on the writing; a few distract; a few quibble away at the author’s vaporous confidence; a few destroy the work in mid-creation. All interfere, and it is this compulsive tinkering with someone else’s text that I have to question.

Without editors we are likely to have rambling, incoherent, repetitive, even offensive texts, full of characters whose eyes are green one day and black the next (like Madame Bovary); full of historical errors, like stout Cortez discovering the Pacific (as in Keats’s sonnet); full of badly strung-together episodes (as in Don Quixote); with a cobbled-together ending (as in Hamlet) or beginning (as in The Old Curiosity Shop). But with editors – with the constant and now unavoidable presence of editors without whose nihil obstat hardly a book can get published – we may perhaps be missing something fabulously new, something as incandescent as a phoenix and as unique, something impossible to describe because it has not yet been born but which, if it were, would admit no secret sharers in its creation.

—Alberto Manguel, ‘The Secret Sharer’
(collected in Into the Looking-Glass Wood)

My own comment:

The nihil obstat has been removed. The principal function of editors was never to edit books, but to reject them, and they rejected a lot of very good books because of their personal tastes, or their unsound judgement of what was and was not commercial, or simply because too many good books were submitted to them and they could not publish them all. Half the point of being independent authors is that when we write a good book, we can take it straight to the public without giving an intermediary the power to reject it. To replicate the editorial function of traditional publishing would not only be foolish, it would destroy our reason for doing business.


Talent is what, if you succeed, people who don’t know why will say it’s because of. And if you don’t succeed, people who don‘t know why will say it‘s because you haven’t got it. Talent is the Snark; but the Snark is actually a Boojum, and the name of the Boojum is Luck. People do not want to believe in Boojums, so they try very hard to hunt for Snarks.


The ebook of Death Carries a Camcorder has just gone up for sale at Our 3.6 Loyal Readers should be warned that all the essais in the book have previously appeared in this space, but I am making them available in ebook form to reach a slightly different readership. Other ebook retailers will be added soon, and a print edition is in the offing.

Get yours here for $2.99.

(And thank you all for your support!)

LORD TALON’S REVENGE now available from CreateSpace

The trade paperback edition of Lord Talon’s Revenge is now for sale via CreateSpace for the trifling price of $16.99. I know some of my 3.6 Loyal Readers have been waiting a long time to get their hands on a printed copy. Well, here is your chance – with apologies for the delay.

Order your copy here!

The book should be available on Amazon within a few days, and from other fine booksellers when and if they discover that there is such a book.

The summons

(An introductory epistle to my serial in progress, Where Angels Die. Comments are most welcome.)


Hannon, first Baron Vail, Lord and Chatelain of Angel Keep, Knight Commander of the Most Noble Order of the Ram, Brevet Colonel of the Host of Assistance in Northern Anai,

to His Serene Excellency Kimraz li Jansun, Rector General of the Covenant of Justice, Commander Palatine for the Pearl Islands, greeting. May the Ram of Heaven continue to bless you and your Order.

It is still summer by the calendar as I write these words, but already the first snows are falling. It is the demons’ own weather, and as always, it heralds their attack. Already the demons, or rather, the wretched mortals whose bodies they have taken, have fallen upon us in main force. Not three days ago, we drove off their first assault with great loss to ourselves. We are trapped within our fortifications by the storms, and no strength of troops can be sent to our aid. I am sending this letter by my hardiest and most trusty messenger, with Prince Jasru’s prior approval, in the hope that he may get through safely: for I have desperate need of Your Excellency’s help.

It was agreed between you and His Highness that there should be five paladins of your Order stationed here at Angel Keep, to repel the demons and give succour and exorcism to the souls they have possessed. Three of our five have fallen in battle. I entreat Your Excellency to send at once three tried and battle-hardened paladins in their place; more if you can find them. We cannot hope to resist the demons without your help.

Also, of your courtesy, send word to your sister Order, asking them to send several experienced Daughters of the Covenant of Mercy at the earliest fair weather. Our own Angels are sufficient in number, but young and untested, and the tumult of battle has shaken their courage. Our chief D.C.M. is a lady of spirit and capacity, but in Your Excellency’s private ear, she is not entirely satisfactory as a leader.

Timely gifts are double gifts, as the poets say. We live or die by the speed of Your Excellency’s help. The men you send will decide whether Angel Keep shall stand or fall. By Heaven and the Ram of Heaven, send them soon!

Given under my hand on the thirteenth day of the fifth month,
in the year 839 from the coming of the Ram,


Post rumblings

My recent medical difficulty knocked more out of me than I suspected. I have been mired neck-deep in lethargy for the last three weeks, with just enough vim or zorch to go about getting the various tests and pokings and proddings that the doctors ordered.

I still have not repaired my keyboard, since, to my dismay, that turns out to be a hugely expensive procedure. [Read more…]