December 22nd, 2011

a brief, musty foray into bookshop wonderland

Well, I was going to keep the previous post (the illustrated Mortal Engines short story) hanging about at the top of my blog during the holidays, but I just wanted to get in one more entry, and link to another lovely, very book-ish, short story.

It all started a few days ago when I was cycling to Greenwich to do a bit of Christmas shopping and, lo and behold, the Magic Bookshop was open! I've only seen it open once, ever, and it felt a bit magical. (I made a blog post about it here.) So, of course, I had to go inside. When the Narnia wardrobe has snow in the back of it, you don't wait until the next time, because then, most likely, you'll only find the back of a wardrobe.

Well, I had the most marvellous time exploring for a couple hours, and I'll post some photos of the things I found in there. But it called to mind a story I'd just been reading by Audrey Niffenegger, Moths of the New World, which inhabits and revels in that world of musty old bookshops and crumbling, yellowed pages. Stuart, our friend Hayley Campbell and I had lunch with Audrey the day after I emerged from the Magic Bookshop, and Audrey said that she's working on a whole collection of stories about this strange, wonderful Library in the afterlife, which includes Moths and her graphic novel, The Night Bookmobile. The Library's a bit like the British Library or Library of Congress, in that it stores every book ever written. These books are the 'real' books, they're alive, and every other book is just a copy of that living book. Some of these books manifest themselves as people, like the shy, yellow-haired woman in Moths of the New World. On rare occasions, these real books escape from the Library, and we might encounter them.

Audrey signed and drew this little picture on my copy of her story (not the real book), printed in a slim volume tucked into The Observer one weekend. The good news is, if you missed it, you can still read it online. So get your cup of tea, and you can climb through the dusty bookshelves to Moths of the New World right here.

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christmas toast

Ah yes, my Christmas card! Sorry if yours hasn't arrived, I was a bit patchy this year about sending them out, and I realised I forgot to tick off names before I posted the first few batches. Durr. Keepin' it simple, oh yeah.

Merry Christmas from Vern and Lettuce, and hugs and badly sung carols and lots of toast with jam.

Gary, Lauren and I had our festive Christmas bubble tea studio lunch, then Gary got some prezzies for himself at Deptford Market and I bought a bunch of cheese.

Here are some lovely drawings from the drinks party my agent, Jodie Marsh, threw for us in Clerkenwell. The one on the left was drawn by David O'Connell and written by Sally Nicholls and Jamie Smart drew the one on the right. Jodie thought they were fab. (If you can't read it, Sally wrote: Hmm... I'm not sure we can sell post-structuralism to ten-year-olds. Have you thought about adding some zombies?) Jamie's is easy to read.

I've just been having a cup of tea and re-reading this lovely book, The Christmas Truce sent to me by one of my very favourite illustrators, David Roberts. The guy had about two weeks to make this book and didn't even have time to send in roughs, just finished artwork, but true to form, he's totally nailed it. David Roberts rocks. The Christmas Truce itself is pretty cool, too, when a bunch of German and British soldiers in WW1 put down their guns for a little joint party session, sing-song and football.

And Kate Beaton rocks, too! If you don't have her new comics Hark! A Vagrant, then it's high time you did. She makes funny comics about history, but also slips in a lot of literary stuff, often books I remember reading when I was growing up, such as Nancy Drew. I love how she took a bunch of Nancy Drew books and spun each cover into a comic strip. Here's an excellent interview with her that I just found over on the Forbidden Planet International blog:

(Here's the YouTube video link if it's not showing up.)

(An excerpt from this Crusoe series by Kate Beaton)