Sunday, May 22, 2022

Atwood and GRRM in my hometown.

The rebozo is finished -- well, the weaving is finished, but I need to fix a thing and then wash it. So I'll post pictures next week. 

I have a lot of to talk about this week anyway, and it's even writing related. Not mine, but that of a couple of my favorite authors. 

This weekend was the inaugural outing for the Santa Fe Literary Festival.

Lynne Cantwell 2022

It's kind of mind boggling that we haven't had a literary festival here before; we have world-class art, world-class opera, world-class food, and lots of resident authors, but no big events centered around books -- until now. So of course I couldn't miss it -- although I had to pick and choose amongst a ton of interesting author events because the ticket prices were insane, even with the discount for New Mexico residents. Here's hoping they're a little more reasonable next year.

Anyway, I settled on one Saturday session and one Sunday session. Yesterday's was Margaret Atwood. Picking her session was a no-brainer, as she's one of my favorite novelists ever. 

Lynne Cantwell 2022
(She was not actually blue, you understand. My phone camera did a weird color shift when I tried to take a photo of the jumbo screen above.)

I have to wonder whether the festival organizers knew, when they scheduled Atwood's session, just how topical it would be. She's famously the author of The Handmaid's Tale, of course. When the draft Supreme Court decision on Dobbs was leaked, she had quite a bit to say about it in a piece in The Atlantic, and she reiterated many of the points in the article yesterday. But she also talked about the writing craft a bit. She's a big procrastinator, she says, but once she starts writing, she's all in. She likened it to going swimming in the cold lake waters in Toronto, where she's from. First you dip a toe in the water a few times, but eventually you realize you're just going to have to jump in and get it over with. She said at that point you say, "It's not so bad" -- but of course you're often telling that to your friends to lure them in. As both a writer and someone who grew up swimming in Lake Michigan, I can confirm both the experience and the lure.

She's also written a trilogy of dystopian novels. She says she is sometimes asked why she doesn't write any utopian novels to kind of balance it out, and she said -- and it's true -- that if everything's going along perfectly, where's the story?

"Where's the story?" makes a nice segue to the session I attended today: George R.R. Martin, famously the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the series of fantasy novels upon which the Game of Thrones TV series is based, and which fans have been after him to finish since long before the TV show began airing. He wryly commented today that it appears he'll be writing the books until he dies. 

Lynne Cantwell 2022
(Again, the folks on the screen are a lot less blue in real life.)

Martin is a busy guy (to ASoIaF fans' endless chagrin: "Put that other stuff aside and finish the books!"), and he talked about some of his projects today. One of them is a TV series called House of the Dragon, a prequel to Game of Thrones based on his novel Fire and Blood. It's set to premiere on HBO on August 21st. He's also been involved with Robert Redford (yes, that Robert Redford) in creating a series based on Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn and Chee novels. The show is called Dark Winds and it's set to premiere June 12th on AMC. I'm pretty excited about this one -- it was shot on the Navajo Nation, which sprawls across New Mexico and Arizona, and Martin says they made sure to involve Native Americans as both actors and behind the scenes.

Martin didn't have a lot of writing advice -- he talked more about Hollywood, which makes sense as that's where his focus is these days -- but he did mention that every writer hates the question, "Where do you get your ideas from?" (Can confirm that, by the way.) He says the late sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison had a great response. He'd tell people that his ideas came from Schnectady. But then he stopped saying it because too many people believed him.

One Hollywood tidbit: Martin claimed that the high-concept pitch for Game of Thrones was "The Sopranos meet Middle Earth."

Atwood flew in from Toronto, but Martin -- and his interviewer, Douglas Preston, who is a prolific author on his own -- had a much shorter commute: both of them live here in Santa Fe. And they're both investors in a new excursion train operation called Sky Railway. Martin talked about how he used to have a toy train that went around the Christmas tree while growing up, and how having your own actual train is so much cooler.

It made sense, given the local connection, that attendees at the Martin session this morning got a little treat. It was yummy. (Yes, that's Frida Kahlo on my sock.) 

Lynne Cantwell 2022
And with that, we segue back to a poem about food by Atwood, which she read yesterday morning. I'm posting it here without permission and hoping her publisher doesn't come down on me for it (or, at least, comes down on this blogger first, since I stole the images from their post). Atwood's in her eighties, and she says it feels to her -- with war and shortages and so on -- like she's been through it all before.

These moments of bloggy trains, coconuts, and TV shows have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

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