Mar 31, 2009

So I'm writing from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where Joi and I arrived late on Sunday night after about 11 hours on the road. I love driving, and now that I've mastered the UHaul truck feel more confident than ever that I'd be an awesome truck driver should the writing thing not work out. And I could decorate my cab smashingly, and listen to lots of audiobooks, and meet serial killers. We drove from Pennsylvania through West Virginia and Virginia and into Tennessee, and then Pigeon Forge gleamed and winked out at us like a miniature Las Vegas and we were home.

Here we are at a gas station in West Virginia with the coolest sign ever. Please note Joi refusing to pump gas:

Here we are entering West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee. It is true. I can drive a UHaul truck and take riveting photos at the same time. I missed the Virginia sign as it sneaked up on us and flashed itself just after we drove through this disturbing tunnel. But everyone knows Virginia is the wiliest state.

Then yesterday we spent the day at DOLLYWOOD. Which I went to once before maybe in 1995. Now they are celebrating some "Festival of Nations" there -- as if one goes to DOLLYWOOD for a multi-cultural experience -- so we saw some terrible Cirque du Soleil-ish typa show first, then dined on (well I dined on) a turkey leg glazed Asian style with a side of stir fried veggies. I remember years ago seeing some song and dance about the history of the Smoky Mountains but now that theater was showing some band from Ecuador I think. What has Dollywood come to? Anyway, we spent the day wandering around and we rode a rollercoaster and we took this steam train ride through the mountains ("The Smokies are a neverending song that change with every season, and every pair of eyes") and we watched the multisensory Dolly movie Heartsong (where butterflies start flying through the theater and rain comes from the ceiling) and we ate funnel cakes and fried green tomatoes and kettle corn and almond brittle and we bought post cards and rode a carousel.

Here we are elegantly waiting by the side of the road for the trolley to DOLLYWOOD. Behind us, you can see the alluring sign COUNTRY HAM (the Little House of Pancakes sign is just behind), which is where we had a scrumptious breakfast involving many grits:

Here is Joi being extremely inspired by the Tennessee mountains:

And here we are riding the carousel like all the coolest people do:

Then we took the trolley back to the hotel and got back in the UHAUL and glamorously made our way to THE MIRACLE THEATER.

Now look at this awesome brochure for the "stunning musical re-creation of the life of Christ told in epic proportion":

Joi was less convinced that this would be the BEST SHOW EVER so I bought the tickets and used my powers of VERBAL PERSUASION to get her to go. And it was indeed awesome. The show opens with a winged Lucifer flying over the audience from the back of the theater and landing on the stage, then engaging in a ferocious sword battle with many other winged angels and also narrating the history of creation to the audience. On a screen behind him, we see flowers opening and many exotic animales running through the jungle... and he's all expanding arms and looking up at the audience with his head bent down, his bald head gleaming and goatee dramatically pointing I-think-you-know-which-direction and his motorcycle boots clomping on the stage.

I do love me an insane over-the-top stage/passion play life of Christ, that crazy mixture of mouth-dropping hammy extravagance mixed with imagery that is (to me) genuininely powerful and moving no matter what. There were camels and horses and sheep on stage and walking down the aisles of the theater, tons of angels flying and swooping around, lots of dancing and singing and even a boat bucking and swaying across the stage during a thunderstorm.. There was Lucifer cackling and strutting about with a snake around his shoulders, listening in on people and hissing in their ears.. There was Jesus glowing white and performing miracles and calming a deeply slutty Mary Magdalene convulsing at his feet.

And of course there was the whole crucufixion scene, full on lashings and crown of thorns and crosses being risen, and it was as over the top as it could possibly be but also weird and moving and breathtaking and it was all extremely awesome, and the audience cheered during the resurrection scene and during a final battle where Jesus conquered Lucifer who then dissolved in a puddle like the Wicked Witch of the West.


Today we're heading into Knoxville to visit a few bookstores and have coffee with my second cousin Nathan and his wife Claire, and then we wend our way to NASHVILLE, where we shall spent the eve in a house on a hill in the woods with my lovely friend RIVER JORDAN.


Mar 29, 2009

So Joi and I left Brooklyn yesterday and drove to Pennsylvania, and today we drive to PIGEON FORGE, TENNESSEE. Joi is, if you do not remember, moving to LAWRENCE, KANSAS, for true love.

Here are some photos before we go:

Mar 27, 2009

Also, here is a photo of the wondrous and debonair KYLE CASSIDY reflecting on the very deep themes in his favorite book:

So I am verrrrrrrrrry glad that my readings are over for now, and that tomorrow Joi and I head off in our UHaul on a big adventure. Last night was fun -- I read at the Tribeca Barnes & Noble -- but I felt a little more nervous than I thought I would, and then it was a good turnout but tons of people ended up canceling at last minute or emailing me today to apologize for not being able to come. After, a few groups of us headed to Lucky Cheng's and it was very very fun, and my sister and Ms Trillian Stars and I headed home around 1am I think, and Trillian stayed over and this morning I introduced her to the wonders of The Millionaire Matchmaker. It was all extremely glamorous.

Here are some glorious photos.

The end.

Mar 26, 2009

So I had a really lovely reading on Monday night at Webster's Bookstore Cafe in State College. My mama made some very pretty white cupcakes with white cake mix and white frosting and white sparkly crunch sugar stuff on top and they were like CUPCAKES FROM HEAVEN ABOVE, and my sister was down from NYC and we had a big dinner beforehand with some friends and then, since I knew that about half the people coming had already been to my reading at the State College Barnes & Noble a few weeks before and I didn't want to read the same exact passages to them, I decided last minute to just read a couple of short scenes from Godmother and then read two big chunks from my mermaid book, from the opening two chapters (and the only two chapters written!). And as I was reading them I was thinking oh this is too long, and I should be reading from Godmother, this is a mistake, and then to my surprise it seemed like everyone afterward only talked about how much they liked the mermaid stuff. Even people I didn't think would like anything and were just there to be supportive. I think people reallly like mermaids. Not to mention mermaids swimming in big storms with shipwrecked men dropping around them, trying to save themselves a prince. WHICH IS AWESOME.

Speaking of mermaids, it looks like that book will probably come out next summer, 2010.. If not then, maybe a little earlier. And I have some due dates for handing the book in, first the opening 150 pages and then the whole thing, that will completely require me to WRITE EVERY DAMN DAY and actually be disciplined and hard working for once. It's exciting, because there's no reason I shouldn't be writing pages and pages a day (actually I only need to write about 2 pages a day to meet these deadlines), I just don't. And I'm feeling especially lame about that since lately I've been answering all these interview questions and everyone always asks about my writing schedule and I always say UMMM WELL I ASPIRE TO HAVE ONE and then they always say "Oh you just write when you're inspired" or "You need to wait for inspiration to come" and that's completely not true, actually, I can always sit down and write, I know what I need to write, especially now when I have a whole book to write and I know exactly what the book is -- and if for some reason I'm stuck.. the way to get unstuck is just to sit and write, anyway -- the fact is I just don't write in a disciplined manner because I'm not disciplined. So now I have to be, which is good. I've not really been in this position before... I mean I wrote and sold Rain Village and Godmother when I had a full-time job and now that writing is my full time job I gotta start treating it like one.

Oh! So I should be turning the book in October 1, and after that I shall immediately turn back to my Dante book and get a proposal together for that.

In other news, last night I saw Sunshine Cleaning, which was quite good.. Tho when a guy selling a van tells the main character's kid that if he talks into a CB his words will go "out in the heavens" you know there's going to be a cheesy ass scene on the way where said kid talks on said CB to said heaven. Which was bad enough. But then in a climactic moment the main character also talks on a CB to heaven -- "mom, can you hear me?" -- and THAT IS JUST DOWNRIGHT INEXCUSABLE.


That is my hot writing tip of the day. That, and be more disciplined than yours truly.

Now I am at my sister's and I have no plans today except to WRITE TWO PAGES and then luxuriate in the bath and in front of the tv because tonight is my NYC Barnes & Noble reading and it is a little nerve wracking. And then Saturday morning Joi and I head to the highway and into the wild blue yonder.

The end.

Mar 25, 2009

A gorgeous reminder!

Mar 23, 2009

Mayfly photo Hannah just sent:

I guess it is quite pretty. For a bug.
My last few days were incredibly social, and now I feel chock full of stories and wonders. I had lunch Friday with my old Italian professor, Dr. Triolo, and amongst other things he told me about attending the Palio horse race in Siena in 1961 and seeing Sophia Loren there..! And I had dinner with my old schoolmate Chuck and his gorgeous wife Rowan, and they make lustrous pottery and travel all around to fairs and festivals selling it, and I learned all about this crazy life they have and about the elaborate over-the-top lengths people go to at these festivals, like for the Society for Creative Anachronism's Pennsic event, where one "baron" builds a whole palace complete with chandeliers and running water. And Sunday I met this art professor James and he showed me these beautiful hard plates and jewelry he makes entirely from paper, and told me about this show he'll be having in Pittsburgh this fall where he'll be presenting a series of artifacts from the fictional perspective of a 24th century curator. And I had an interview for the Centre Daily Times and hung out for a while with the interviewer and photographer after, learning about the seedy dealings the one uncovered during her time as a reporter in Buffalo/Niagara Falls, and the foray into coupon-cutting the other has recently begun with adorable and breathless abandon. And I had dinner with my sister and Barb and Jill, and then my sister and I went out for drinks with our old friend Hannah and we ran into more old friends, Jim and Ted, and Hannah is now getting her PhD in etymology and is conducting this huge study about mayflies and is trying to re-introduce them into this creek here that they once populated and then disappeared from. Mayflies! She said mayflies are the most beautiful and most ancient insect, and that the kind she studies come out at night, only one week a year, and have these white abdomens as adults that make them glow as they gracefully dip into the water and fly up again. Now I am no bug lover myself and roodly yet glamorously exclaimed "ew!" a few times as she spoke, but how can one not be swayed by the passion of a girl who loves mayflies and lights up when describing them. When I'm back here in May, she's promised to take me down to the creek to look at them.

Please don't be too jealous.

The end.

Mar 20, 2009

So I have been in PA this last couple of weeks, doing lots and lots of work and seeing lots and lots of movies, plus I did the Master Cleanse for 7 days last week, which means NO FOOD, just this lemonade drink, and it's supposed to detoxify you and do all kinds of wonderful things and and it was surprisingly easy and I was surprisingly clear headed up to the last day, when I thought I might die and weird bumps appeared on my fair and delicato skin. So I thought maybe those are the toxins leavin mah body but if that's the case I want them to get back in there and GET OFF MY FACE. I basically holed up in my parent's house because I was watching their dogs while they were off in the Caribbean, and I sat by the fire and played with the dogs and wrote and had friends over and watched wondrous things like the original Friday the 13th, parts I and II, which I'd never seen, in the dark with friends and with the fire going. It was a lovely week, considering I was starving, and then I totally broke the fast in the wrong way, by eating wheat crackers, due to said skin trauma.

And last weekend I wrote this story about La Llorona-- the crying Latin American ghost lady! -- for the anthology Haunted Legends, edited by Mr Nick Mamatas and one Ellen Datlow, coming out next year, and I almost never write short stories but I had this one in my head and I wrote a few pages of it months ago and so sat down Saturday and wrote all day and late into the night and then finished Sunday morning and Nick rooooodly suggested some edits including cutting some of the "Wow, Mexico sure does smell nice!" stuff, as he roodly put it, and now they have done accepted it and I am happy.

And THEN yesterday I found out my US publisher -- Three Rivers/Crown/Random House -- is making an offer on my mermaid book, book 3, very likely titled The Sea Queen, which was bought last summer by my UK publisher Headline, and I was very very nervous they might pass given the economy and state of publishing generally, but they did notta thankgod.

Upon learning this news, and upon my paranoiac brain realizing I do not have to immediately send out resumes and try to get a job, I emailed a friend of my friend Rob who has an apartment in Berlin and said YES I would like to rent said apartment for September and October, maybe longer if I like it. This has been a plan of mine for a while, tho I've never been to Berlin. But my friend Eric is madly in love with the city and has told me about for years now and has convinced me many times over that I must must must go there, that it's a city I will love for about 500000 different reasons, not least of which is that it has that wild, wonderful energy of New York in the 70s and 80s. SO I AM. AND I might stop in London on the way over to meet my publishers there and do whatever else I can, maybe a signing, and of course laugh at the funny accents.

Yesterday I ALSO solidified my plans to attend FAERIEWORLDS this summer -- this huge crazy event held on a winery half an hour outside of Eugene, Oregon, where thousands and thousands of people come to celebrate fairies and other "nature spirits" apparently, and where tons of vendors sell magical typa things and there are all kinds of bands and artists and whoknows what else, since I have never gone and in fact have never gone to any festival or convention like this ever. HOWEVER, I cannot help but notice that I have written a book that has FAIRIES in it, and as I feel that anyone who puts on a pair of wings or some antlers and goes off into a field to dance around really should be part of my target audience, I am going to go with many books in tow, and I'm going with Signe Pike, as I think I've mentioned, a lovely writer and editor whose book Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Magic in a Grown-Up World comes out next year, and yesterday I rented a booth and did all that crapola and I'm gonna share it with LANA GUERRA and JESSE RENO and it shall be very very fun. And weird. And I'm gonna try to infect all in attendance with Godmother. And I'm writing about it for the Powell's blog. And I'm taking video which shall be used for my reader's guide that shall come out this summer when Godmother is released in paperback in England.

Speaking of which, LOOK:

I just got these a few days ago, the hardback is on the right and the paperback on the left -- here they are making out in front of the fire -- and the glitter on the paperback looks amaaaazin.

ALSO: next week I head back to New York, after having a reading here Monday night -- oh! I think I forgot to write about the reading I had on March 4, which was lovely.. -- and then the NYC reading is next Thursday, with a big party after at LUCKY CHENGS for my book and Joi's leaving NYC for true true luvv, and then SATURDAY Joi and I vamoose in a UHAUL truck, and we go to Dollywood, and Nashville, and then in Memphis WE'RE STAYING AT THE DAYS INN GRACELAND WHERE THERE IS A POOL IN THE SHAPE OF A GUITAR and free Elvis movies showing constantly. And then we head up to Columbia, MO, and then Kansas. And I shall stay for a week and a half and help Joi get settled and check out Kansas City and we're also taking a trip to OMAHA. I think I've already written about this itinerary but to me it is like a POEM that should be repeated as often as possible.

I'm about to head off to lunch with my old Italian professor, but real quick let me just say here are the movies I've seen JUST THIS WEEK;

-- The Reader, which made me cry cry cry and was lovely lovely lovely
-- The Watchmen, which felt to me like something written in some other, weird language, as I have not read the graphic novel or in fact any graphic novel front to end, but was entertaining enough
-- Wendy and Lucy, which is a tiny, heartbreaking movie about a girl and her dog
-- Last House on the Left, which, I'm not gonna lie, I liked a lot. I don't think I've ever been so tense watching any movie ever.
-- Gran Turino, for the second time, because Clint Eastwood is awesome and I love him and I have ever since BRONCO BILLY


Mar 8, 2009

Look at this wondrous review from the Boston Globe:

Carolyn Turgeon's "Godmother" could be read as a dark fairy tale or the fantasy of a literate madwoman, or both. Bearing the tagline "The Secret Cinderella Story," this ingenious novel is narrated by Lil, the fairy godmother who was responsible for preparing Cinderella for the ball where she would meet Prince Charming. In "Godmother," the story behind the fairy tale is a gloomy business. We've been led to believe that Cinderella and her prince lived happily ever after, but in this imaginative retelling everything went awry, and the fault was Lil's. For her misdeeds she has been exiled to Manhattan, a far cry indeed from the fairy kingdom. The elderly Lil lives alone in a deteriorating walk-up in the garment district. Every morning she binds her wings with an Ace bandage and goes off to work at Daedalus Books, a used bookstore in the West Village. She loves the bookstore, but it can't compare to her lost life in the enchanted lake. She longs to return home. When she meets Veronica, a beautiful, vivacious young woman with a history of romantic disappointment, Lil imagines that she can redeem herself if she can find Veronica the right man. "Godmother" is steeped in nostalgia for a lost New York, a glamorous place as fictional as the fairy realm. Turgeon writes beautifully. She tells this deliberately ambiguous story with delicacy and wit. This is a magical novel, in many ways.


Also, look at this beauteous collage my friend Heather made. I went to her lovely wooden house in the boondocks on Friday morning for coffee and talking and I fell in love with this. But she's always made gorgeous collages.

In other news, I am now on the second day of the Master Cleanse.

That is really all my news.

The end.

Mar 7, 2009

So my reading on Wednesday night went very well and I was nervous because I'd only picked out the little bits I was going to read over lunch that day with Massie at HOSS'S and wasn't all that well prepared, but I am so much better speaking to a crowd now than I was for Rain Village, so much more relaxed and more focused on the audience's experience rather than my own nervousness, and it went swimmingly and I think about 50 books were sold and since I went to high school and college in State College there were lots of old friends and old coworkers from the Diner where I worked from age 17 till 25 or so and my great old Italian professor who first taught me Dante and many of my parents' friends, and so on. And there were red velvet cupcakes. And my mama made adorable bookmarks with glittery stars on them, and I had a bowl full of glass slipper tattoos, and when someone asked about the accordion I promised that by the next book, the mermaid book, I would play a full on mermaid song that would make you feel like you'd done slipped underwater and grown fins.

Oh and the community relations manager Meredith wants to have a book club meeting for Godmother, and we scheduled that for May 7, at which time I will be staying up in Cornwall-on-Hudson for a few months but will come back to PA for a visit.

Also: Thursday Godmother came out in the UK (and I think across Europe), in hardback with the lovely glittery cover, and I came home yesterday to find a byooootifull huge bouquet of flowers sent from Headline, my publisher there. The paperback comes out there in July and they're putting together a reader's guide which shall, among other things, include lovely fairy recipes and audio and video clips provided by yours truly.

Yesterday I was feeling quite down, I have to say, probably just drained from all the stress and nerve-wrackedness from bookly things, which makes me even more quick to delicato tears than usual, and so I went to lunch with my mama and later out to see MALL COP with Massie and her mama, and Massie made me a card with a photo of the MALL COP on the cover to cheer me up.

I mean really.

And now I have slept about 5000 hours and am going to watch my parents' dogs for 8 days while they are in the Caribbean and plan to write write write in this house alone and also do the MASTER CLEANSE, starting today. This is a rare opportunity for self-enclosure. Cause soon there are more readings and then a two-week road trip with Joi out to Kansas and then Cornwall and then a trip out West for FAERIEWORLDS and then come fall I plan to spend a few months in BERLIN.

The end.

Mar 4, 2009

I like this review from here:

03-03-09: Carolyn Turgeon Wants to Introduce You to Her 'Godmother' : A New York Fairy Tale

Anybody who reads this column regularly probably knows the employees at their local independent bookstores. But how well? Carolyn Turgeon imagines in 'Godmother' (Three Rivers Press / Crown / Random House ; March 10, 2009 ; $13.95) that there's quite a bit we may not know about the employees of our favorite local bookstores.

In the opening pages of 'Godmother', readers meet Lil, an old woman who works in a used bookstore. Readers will recognize themselves in the character, just the first of many clever turns by the author. Lil loves the smell of old books — don’t we all? Especially in bookstores. And as well, Lil loves the whole "Found" Magazine aspect of books, those little notes that sometimes drop out, grocery lists of ancient "I love you" messages. It's a pretty good gamble that people who read books will like to read about other people who like books as much as said readers. And that they'll empathize with booksellers. With careful, lush language and evocative prose, Turgeon puts readers in the first-person perspective of Lil with complete confidence.

Of course, it turns out that Lil has wings.

And no, thank whatever bearded deity you happen to impose on a cloudy sky, she's not an angel. She's a Fairy Godmother with a shameful past. It's the Godmother aspect that gets her the huge feathered wings; otherwise, she might be ready to apply for a supporting role in the NY Opera version of David Cronenburg's The Fly — because most fairies apparently have insect wings. And the shameful past, well, it has to do with a lass named Cinderella, and the unfortunate role Lil played in the what actually transpired but has been you know, cosmeticized by earlier authors.

Turgeon doesn't play her fairytale New York for laughs. Instead she immerses readers in a sensual, visceral world that happens to include a variety of magical creatures which she renders as believable characters. Once the fairies are real, they can complicate the plot in ways that humans cannot, which allows Turgeon the opportunity to play with plot imagery and characters in a rather unique manner. She can have fun with a purpose, use the fantasy tropes to tell us not about fantasy, but about reality. She manages to do this while telling two stories in the space generally allotted to one.

Readers will have to be on their toes to find 'Godmother.' It's a trade paperback original with a rather bland cover that's not likely to get shelved with genre fiction and not likely to be noticed with literary fiction. It belongs on both sets of shelves, really, which is verboten in today's bookselling climate. It's worth the search (and you should look for it at your local independent — I mean, the main character does work at an independent bookstore!), no matter what your literary inclinations are. It has the surreal aspects of the best genre fiction and the literary chops to appeal to a much wider crowd. It's certainly fun, and moreover one of those books that is guaranteed to change the way readers perceive the world. You'll never look at your bookseller in the same light.
So I took the train back to PA from NYC on Friday--I do love me the train, those hours of listening to music and staring out at all these mysterious towns and farms and forests passing by, wondering what mysterious and diabolical things people are up to there--and then spent Saturday in State College PUTTING UP FLYERS for my reading at B&N tonight, since I can't control a whole lot with this book at this stage but at least I can try to make the readings jam-packed with people and loveliness AND RED VELVET CUPCAKES. And Saturday night I played poker with a smashing group of people who got more and more annoyed with me the more I won, and I wanted to get home early but ended up staying out late late late cause I thought it would be downright UNCIVILIZED to cut out early with everyone's moolah and if I was in a Western, which I occasionally suspect I am, I could very well get shot for such an act.. And then Sunday I went to Ithaca with my mama and her two dogs, so they could get treated at the fancy animal clinic there, and I spent hours in a Best Western typing up bookly things, like THIS DELIGHTFUL PIECE OF GORGEOUSNESS, and of course watching the shocking and pure bull crapola finale of THE BACHELOR, and then got back to State College last night just in time to elegantly collapse.

So tonight is my first of three book readings for Godmother, and I forgot how hard it is to actually pick out bits from a book to read to an audience, since moments that immediately come to mind usually need some sort of context or build up to make them so good, and you need just some very lovely and strong and alluring stand-alone bits. But here is one I think will work, and I am GENEROUSLY SHARING IT WITH YOU.

She deserves this, I thought. Suddenly, I wanted, more than anything, for this girl to find relief. She had been made for him. I was a fairy. I could close my eyes, stretch out my wings, and be back by the lake within moments. The coach was ready, the horses stamping their feet furiously, anxious to fulfill the duty I’d conjured them for. The coachman sat with the reins in his hand. And Cinderella radiated pure light. She would be the most beautiful woman at the ball.

Everything was in its place.

I closed my eyes and breathed in. “It is time,” I said. I ignored the pain pounding through me. In a few more minutes, it would all be over.

I snapped my fingers and the coachman jumped to the ground and opened the carriage door. Inside, the velvet seats were as red as blood. I turned to Cinderella and watched the dying light on her face, her skin, the ice blue of her dress.

He would take one look at her and forget me.

“Come,” I said.

She did not move. My own emotions were too strong, too ferocious, for me to read what was happening inside her. Just go, I thought. Go! I forced myself to think of the fairy lake. The water that wrapped around me like a pair of arms. The way we never felt anything at all resembling longing, because our world was already perfect, so full it brimmed over. In moments, I would be there.

Cinderella still stood, and I saw she was shaking.

She reached up just as I was about to go to her. She ripped her hair out of the swept-up bun I had conjured for her. I watched, unmoving, as the rhinestones scattered down into the grass. Watched her kick off the glass slippers. They tipped over into the grass. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

“I am not going,” she said.

Mar 3, 2009

Godmother finally comes out today.

So go buy it, go write reviews of it, send it flowers, tell friends and enemies about it, write about it in yo blogs, throw parties in its honor, tell booksellers how it's changed your life, give it a big fat kiss, ask it if it'll go steady with you, send it to me if you want it signed, buy a copy for your mama and your best friend and your one true love... ALL OF THAT!!!


Love eternally,