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April Musings

April 15, 2007

Here’s a shot of me in Much Ado About Nothing last month. I’m demonstrating for Claudio (played by Andy on the left) and Don Pedro (played by Travis on the right) how lovesick Beatrice is for Benedick. My favorite scene to play. Note my fluffy shirt and Stevie Nicks sleeves.

The end of the semester is fast approaching, and with it the London trip. I’ll be taking 12 students to London for ten days in May. I’m getting pretty excited. I always love being in London, but the anticipation is enhanced by going with a bunch of folks who haven’t ever been before. We’ll be in the city for eight days altogether (there are two days travel on either side), and there are two day trips out to Canterbury and Oxford/Stratford. While there, I’ll catch up with my friend Sunie, who’s coming over from Exeter one night to hang out, and hopefully also my buddy Dan Shea from University of Houston: Dan’s taking a group of students for a UK tour at the same time, and it looks likely that his time in London will overlap ours.

I’ll work in some research as well–my publisher wants a dozen or so additional illustrations for the London book, and I’m working on getting access to the Museum of London’s photographic archives to search for images. I’m waiting for an email back from the photo curator right now.

I also hope to have a travel journal web site set up through the university. If this works, we’ll be able to do daily blogs from London and post photos, commentary, and possibly audio and/or video podcasts. I’ll post the address here once we’ve got it set up, so you can follow along vicariously.

All in all, heaven for an anglophile literature geek like yours truly. Plus I can’t wait to eat great Indian food and to re-find the Turkish place in Hampstead where I ate last September.

Beyond those preparations, I’ve been reading (of course). I read the entirety of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s as powerful and surprising as everyone says it is, especially in one three-and-a-half week gulp. As Gaiman often does, the experience has made me re-think ideas about the power of storytelling and wonder how the new perspective will impact the stuff I’m writing now.

My novel has expanded in design somewhat, not due to the Sandman, but through an organic sort of process that’s been fun to be inside of. My protagonist’s two siblings (older brother and sister) have become more important, and it looks now like they’ll each have their own plotlines that move parallel to the main one, intersecting it occasionally and (hopefully) converging on it towards the end. It’s a self-consciously Dickensian move, in keeping with my initial idea to write a ghost story about punk rock and Buddhism told in a big Dickens-like narrative. The working title is Jake Starling, but that might change since Tim and Liz have become more central. I had the brief thought to name it after the collective noun for starlings (like a murder of crows or a gaggle of geese), but a quick Google search taught me that the collective noun for starlings is “murmuration.” That’s a beautiful word–and a delicious piece of ontomontopaeia, but A Murmuration of Starlings doesn’t sound like a workable title. Ah well. It’s only around fifty pages at this point; there’s a t least a year to think about titles.

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