February 17, 2019

Disaster In Progress

DIP is the endearing term I use to refer to my next novel. It's not the only project I'm working on, but it will be the next novel. Some time.

I think I mentioned here before that I keep a file with one-page pitches of all my ideas for novels, screenplays, spec pilots, whatever. For years, the DIP was the last page on that file. It was only a very short description and a footnote saying I wasn't yet good enough to undertake it, but some day I would. I'm still not good enough, but I've been fiddling with the project in my spare time for years now, and it kept me especially busy while I was living in New Yorksurprisingly, because it is actually set in Catalonia, but I'm writing it in America, in English. And it's going to be something very weird, and very personal, and completely different to anything I've done before; and there are bits I'm really proud of but they're like fragments of a shipwreck in the maelstrom that is the Disaster In Progress. But my editor at Doubleday really liked some samples, so it is going to be the next novel.

I often think that the research, the notes, maybe even the plotboards are a writer's excuse to delay the actual work of phrasing what's in your head. So maybe this thing here is just a waste of time. But it's cute!

The white squares represent units I haven't written yet, or that I have aborted. The colored squares are units I've writtenkind of. The struck-out squares are those that I'm happy with.

When all the squares are filled and struck-out, the novel will be ready.

Good thing we're looking into developing some TV shows too to keep you guys entertained, right?

January 31, 2019

January 7, 2019

Some thousands of words about covers

So I want to share something with you today, but first, some backstory.

Recently, during a panel at Denver Comic Con, some authors discussed whether book cover artists actually read the books they illustrate. My position was that mine did, at least since I publish in the US.

I know this isn't always the case. Never was, never will be. It's how the industry works. For my first novel, Dormir amb Winona Ryder, released by a big Catalan publisher, designers sent me five proposals that were, at best, illustrations based on two-word concepts jotted down by someone who had read it. Emphasis on "at best": one was just a flower pattern. We went with a sixth proposal, just as random.

For my next book, Vallvi, I insisted (tooth and claw) on drawing the cover myself. In the end, they accepted the illustration, but went with their own design. (Left is the actual book, right is my proposal.)

This said, I have good reasons to affirm that my cover artist at Doubleday, Michael J. Windsor, reads my books before doing his job. First, I've met him and he's told me so. Second, just check out the back of the jacket for This Body's Not Big Enough.

That little thing in front of the car is a roadrunner. The roadrunner is a very minor theme in the book. No way a synopsis, even a thorough synopsis, would mention it. This is the kind of thing that tells me whether the artist has read the book or not.

And now, here's what I wanted to share: this design for the Brazilian edition of Meddling Kids is clearly by someone who has *SO* read the book.

The illustration, I'm told, is by Jefferson Costa. And I think it's my favorite design for anything I've written, ever. It's not that the looks are perfectly dark and fun, it's not just Kerri's lavish red hair and the car that really looks like a Vega Kammback Wagon (and I even like the color). I mean... let's zoom into some details:

That little Kerri there seems to be reading something longer than a mysterious note to the BSDC. I'd say she's reading a love letter. (Also, check out the six-limbed wheezies!)

A figure lurking from the *round* attic window of Deboën Mansion. That's a very accurate rendition of my words.

And that's Pierce in Andy's hand. What can I say. Bravo, Brazil. Hope you enjoy the book as much as the artist seems to have.

December 21, 2018

Santa Must Die

It's been eleven years since I wrote this holiday-themed page for El Jueves. It was one of my first contributions to that magazine, and it's still one of my all-time favorites, so I just translated it to English. Art is by the beautiful Catalan cartoonist Gras.

2018 has been a(nother) terrible year nationally (goes for both my countries), but very good personally. Thank you to those of you who made it so. Happy holidays.

November 8, 2018

The Process

Often in panels and Q&A's comes up a question about the writing process, so it's reasonable to think this might interest somebody.

Rules I usually follow when I write

- I start writing long before I have a plan, the minute I come up with a first paragraph. I don't do lay-outs or synopsis. Usually all I have is a premise, and an idea for a climax; I'll come up with the middle as I go.

- I write in the order people will read it, never skip ahead. Not a chapter, not a graph. If I'm stuck thinking of a good joke, I'm stuck. I don't write a bad joke, I don't write "[insert joke]".

- I don't write drafts. The first version has to read like a finished work. It's not the finished work; I edit a lot; but it has to be a finished work.

- I don't bother to figure out things that won't be in the book. If I'm not talking about a character's background, they don't have one.

- I try to keep the number of characters at a minimum.

- I do little research. It's boring, and it tends to contradict or nuance the more interesting scenario that I had envisioned.

- Brevity is an underestimated quality.

Rules I'm following in my current work in progress

- None of the above.