One of the projects I’m currently working on is a second picture book called It’s Hard to be a Filipino in Hebrew. It’s the story of Charlie, a Filipino kid growing up in the Central Station area of Tel Aviv. Charlie wants to be a superhero… while having to come to terms to living in a society which doesn’t accept him as part of it.
I’m working with Israeli artist Adi Elkin, who I think is fantastic, and she is able to work from real life, going around the Central Station area (the setting of my current SF project of linked short stories as well) to really capture the setting, I think.
As a taster, here is the finished page 18, with some accompanying text.
Eran wants to be an air force pilot when he grows up. His dad was a mechanic in the air force. He and Charlie play at being pilot, outside the Kingdom of Pork store, next to the shawarma place where suicide bombers twice blew themselves up.
‘No, idiot, that’s a race car!’
They fly over the borders and bomb targets in Syria and Lebanon. When you’re a pilot, you can go anywhere. You can fly. Charlie wants to fly, but he doesn’t want to be a pilot.
He wants to be a superhero.
But who ever heard of a Filipino superhero?
No one’s even heard of an Israeli-Filipino.
Going To The Moon has been reviewed over at SF Signal:
Going to the Moon is the story of a young boy named Jimmy who wants to be an astronaut. He wants to go to the Moon. Jimmy also doesn’t want to have to fight his constant, taxing struggle against the Tourette’s syndrome that dominates his life. He doesn’t like the dance-like involuntary movements it causes in him. He’s bullied, in the way young people who are different are often bullied. The corprolaia of Toruette’s syndrome means that he involuntarily uses curse words, even though he doesn’t want to. As such, the book doesn’t shy away from trangressive words. Words I can’t use in this review.
The real heart and soul of the book is found in the pictures by Paul McCaffrey. They are beautifully and colorfully drawn. But there’s more to the book than just Lavie’s words and the pictures. Like the best picture books, the text and the images engage and interpolate with each other, in a dialogue that makes the book stronger for that interaction. The theme of aliens (and Jimmy himself is definitely an alien in some ways) is reflected in the imagery much more than the text. To cite another example, the use of curse words in exclamation in the imagery reminds me of the innovative subtitles in the movie Night Watch.
And the end brought tears to my eyes as the reader figures out what Jimmy and the friend he makes are too young to realize. Curse you, Lavie Tidhar…your audacity strikes me again.
It’s not a book you’d want to read to your children, because of the language. Although its about a young boy and his concerns, its a book for adults. And it moved me. It will move you, too. – read the full review.
Photo (c) Sandy Auden 2012
And I am interviewed at SF Signal about the process of creating the book:
CT: How did you end up collaborating with Paul McCaffery? When you were writing the book, did you know he would be illustrating it?
LT: Terry put us together. It took a long time to find the right artist, if I remember rightly. But once the connection was made, it was obvious he was the perfect person for it. I love his artwork, and he gives the book this wonderful slightly-off sense – it’s innocent, and charming, and really emotive, I think, and that weird physical perspective of the characters really works. I guess I’m just a fan!
CT: What was the collaboration process like?
LT: To begin with, I had to do sort of word-sketches for each page of illustration. I had to take the original text and really clarify how it was meant to be split into pages, and opposite each page of text I had to write down notes for Paul, on how I envision the page to be, what should be in it and so on. So in a way it was a little like writing comics, only you’re not writing panels, you’re writing full page illustrations. Then Paul went away and then the pages would start coming in, and then, in a few cases, we’d have back and forth on them, what worked and what didn’t. So sometimes the first illustration was spot on, at other times we went through several tries to get to the one we were most happy with.
CT: What was the most difficult aspect about writing the book?
LT: The whole thing was a challenge – in the best possible way! I think the hardest thing though was having patience – we all knew this was a long-term project, it’s literally taken years from conception to actualization – I think I’m actually still in a bit of shock that it’s real and physical and in my hands. – read the full interview.
I’m delighted almost beyond words (well, almost!) to announce that at long last, my picture book Going To The Moon is about to be released!
Going To The Moon is the story of Jimmy, a boy with Tourette’s Syndrom, who wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. The story follows Jimmy’s bullying at school and his evolving relationship with his chief tormentor, Ronnie. (Warning: contains graphic language!). It also includes aliens! Paul Cornell was kind enough to blurb the book, calling it “a brilliant interaction between art and words.”
The amazing art is by Paul McCaffery, who really brings it to stunning, vivid life.
This is a project very close to my heart. I owe Terry Martin, of Murky Depths, a huge debt of gratitude for believing in this project, for making it happen, for hooking me up with Paul and for shepherding the whole thing through until, at last, we have a book. It’s taken… a long time – and I think the end result is absolutely stunning. I only wish I could take more credit for it!
This will be officially released at the SFX Weekender in February – I’ll be there, holed up in Pontins with a dalek and 6 pounds of frozen sausages! And will be happy to sign copies etc. Meanwhile, you can pre-order the book directly from Murky Depths (it’s right at the top, just click on cover picture to be taken to the pre-order page) or, for your shopping convenience, from Amazon UK. But if you order direct, 10% will go to charity!
Going To The Moon is coming out at the same time as The Great Game, my next mass-market novel and the third Bookman Histories book. Both will be launched at the SFX Weekender – did I mention frozen sausages?
My next graphic project is the graphic novella Adolf Hitler’s “I Dream of Ants!”, with art by Neil Struthers – this will also be published by Murky Depths, possibly later on in the year.
Going To The Moon – artwork sample
I’m delighted to say issue 15 of the British Fantasy Award winning magazine, Murky Depths, is now available! It contains the first episode of my new comics serial, Adolf Hitler’s ‘I Dream of Ants’, about a man who fears his house is being over-run with ants, his increasingly desperate attempts to get rid of them, and the ants’ own retaliation… it’s illustrated by Neil Struthers, and will continue in subsequent issues of Murky Depths. This issue also includes stories from Al Ewing and Juliet E. McKenna.
I’m delighted to say that Going to the Moon, my picture book about a boy with Tourette’s, is edging ever closer to completion, with artist Paul McCaffrey doing an absolutely amazing job – here is a sample page I received yesterday – I couldn’t wait to share it!
One night, Jimmy stayed up late and sneaked into the living-room and turned on the TV.
There was a movie on he wanted to see. It was a scary movie. It was about aliens who come from outer space and take over people’s bodies.
After he watched that movie Jimmy couldn’t sleep. He thought maybe the aliens were already here. Maybe they were trying to take over HIS body.
Got back from a nice week in the desert to find my laptop giving me a blue screen of death… which I managed to fix last night. Sigh of relief all around.
Also came back to a full post box, including copies of the American edition of The Bookman, my copies of the US edition of An Occupation of Angels (of which some news, soon!), and copies of my graphic short story, “Mr. Spellman’s Last Dance” in the comics anthology Grave Conditions.
There’s a new review of An Occupation of Angels, reading, partly:
An Occupation of Angels is exhausting, but in a good way. Tidhar delivers a supernatural spy novella that gallops along at a break-neck pace. True to his usual form, Tidhar drops you into the middle of the action, only feeding you pieces of information as they naturally come up in the story. The result is that you’re endlessly intrigued, both by what’s happening, and where and when it’s happening. Tidhar never falls into the trap of standing back and admiring the alternative history he’s created. Rather, he uses it, with all its richness and mystery, as an effective backdrop to a cinematic thriller, and the reader is left hungry for more.
Also news that The Night Train will be published in audio at Escape Pod (and I’ll have more news about that story, too, soon).
Well, I’ve been thinking about it for over a year, so I’m going to give it a go! I’m going to launch a webcomic. I’m not 100% sure how and how often this is going to happen, but I’d like to give it a go. It’s going to be about politics and geekdom. Sort of.
It’s kind of fun. I’m playing with it at the moment – I can’t draw and have no artistic talent whatsoever, so this is going to be a very lo-tek, DIY sort of thing. I quite like the idea!
Which is to say, not much else to report at the moment – working on several books, and making sushi tonight.
I got some lovely fresh salmon today. I’m going to make sashimi (of course), ngiri and maki. I might make tuna and cucumber maki to go with the salmon. I never made sushi until last week! But I’ve always wanted to.
The latest issue of great British indie zine Murky Depths is about to hit stores, and is currently available for pre-order. It features my latest comic strip, Mr. Spellman’s Holiday, a second collaboration with Indonesian artist Andre Siregar. We are hoping to put together several Mr. Spellman stories (about a Holocaust-surviving ventriloquist) into a small graphic novel.
But that’s not all! Murky Depths #13 also features a comic strip from one of my favourite writers, the great Robert Rankin himself!
MD is by far one of my favourite magazines, a wonderful collection of both comics and prose fiction. Do check it out if you can.
Awesome comics/fiction/art magazine Murky Depths has just arrived in my mailbox. It contains my 3-pager “Finger”, about a severed finger and the boy who finds it – something like a nursery rhyme in comics, with awesome art by Neil Roberts.