A round-up from Rob

Rob Writes:

“It has been a good few months.

In August 2002, Earthlight published the hard-cover edition of The Iron Grail, book two (of three) in the Merlin Codex. At the same time they re-issued paperback editions of Mythago Wood and Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn, with wonderful covers by Larry Rostant.

Mythago Wood and Gate of Ivory were written fifteen years apart, but run very much in parallel with each other. Gate of Ivory begins the search for the truth behind Christian Huxley’s destruction as a human being, manipulated and abused by the wood itself. In Mythago Wood he begins as an amiable, if obsessed, young man, but having disappeared into Ryhope Wood for a few months he emerges, aged by years, as a violent and transformed man. I am extremely interested in discovering what exactly has happened to him during his ‘time-lapsed’ absence from the real world. Gate of Ivory is the first half of the quest. I plan a new book to answer the question fully.

The other two novels in the Mythago Cycle were re-issued by Earthlight in March 2003. Lavondyss has not been in print since 1990, and it is a true pleasure to welcome it back. It is a much more substantial novel than Mythago Wood, perhaps a little more demanding, but it explores deeper themes. The Hollowing is my own account of the European ‘trickster’ figure; ‘trickster’ is there in just about every manifestation you can imagine. I am attaching a short article on the writing of these two books, first published at Alien On Line and used here with their permission.

In the summer of 2002, The US company TOR books offered for, and obtained, Celtika and The Iron Grail; Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor there, also bought Mythago Wood and Lavondyss for re-issue in the States, after an absence of more than a decade. Their edition of appeared in March 2003, a beautiful looking book, using the artwork of Larry Rostant. Mythago Wood will appear in the summer of 2003.

The head of Tor books is Tom Doherty. I met him formally for the first time at the International Conference for Fantasy in the Arts (ICFA) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last March. He’s a very charming and welcoming man, and to my delight I discovered that he’d been printing – under the TOR imprint ‘Forge’ — retellings of the Irish Epic stories – the Ulster Cycle – by Randy Lee Eickhoff. These are wonderful retellings, full of verve and action, full of fun, full of inspiration. I didn’t know about them; maybe you did; but if not, check them out: The Destruction of the Inn; The Three Sorrows; The Feast. There are others.

France has been particularly good to me over the last year. The whole has been re-translated and printed by Denoël. At the Nantes Science Fiction Convention (Utopiales) in October 2002 the series was awarded the Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire, a very special prize, a very great surprise to me, and an enormous pleasure to receive. Gilles Dumay is my editor at Denoël and I owe him a vote of thanks, and a large glass of Lanson.

Sebastien Guillot at Editions Gallimard will print the paperback versions of the Mythago Cycle, as well as a translation of my third SF novel Where Time Winds Blow. The Emerald Forest, my novelisation of Rosco Pallenberg’s script and the John Boorman film, is also due to appear again. That book goes on! The very latest – excellent news — is that Celtika has been translated (by Thierry Arson) and appeared in May 2003 from Le Pré au Clercs, edited by my old friend and partner in ‘Milford Workshop Crime’, Patrice Duvic.

On a sad note: whilst at the Nantes convention I was interviewed by a good friend, a wonderfully energetic man, a true French ‘bon viveur’; Jacques Chambon. He had originally been my editor at Denoël. I had great respect and liking for the man; far too young, and far too soon, he died quite suddenly just a few weeks ago. Some of us are in the privileged position, because of what we do, to meet wonderful people from different countries and different cultures; we become friends, as well as having a professional relationship. Jacques was one such man. Au revoir, Jacques. You will be missed very much.

The Iron Grail was awarded the Czech and Slovac Republics’ equivalent of the Nebula! It’s official title is the Czech Academy Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Award for Best Novel 2002. It is more familiarly known as ‘The Newt’. I questioned this and discovered it is named for Karel Capek’s War Against The Newts. I have never read War Against the Newts, but intend to do so. It is still in print after 60 years! The Czech publisher Polaris has published all my later work, and the editions look fabulous, with covers and interior drawings by Zdenka Bouskova. The translations – all fourteen! – are by Petr Kotrle, who also translates Orson Scott Card, George Martin and now – at long last! – Garry Kilworth.

The Italian publisher Mondadori has just won the commission to reprint the whole Mythago Cycle. And in Spain, Ediciones Gigamesh will be re-publishing Mythago Wood, with an option on Lavondyss, and Grupo Editorial Ceac will publish Celtika with an option on Iron Grail.

Meanwhile, the winter in Finland has ended, the translators and publishers have crawled out of their snow-covered shelters, and washed the fat-lined seal-skins with which they wrap themselves during the long and terrible Finnish winter nights, and Leena Peltonen has finished her translation of GRAIL, and Pirkko Mikkola, at Karisto Oy, is even now cranking the hand-press, singing her songs of praise to the Old Gods of Lake, and Birch, and Snow, and getting the novel into print.

I love my Finnish editions.

Absolutely latest news is that Darren Nash, the new editor at Earthlight (Simon and Schuster), has commissioned me to write a third volume of The Merlin Codex. It has a working title The Broken Kings. So it’s head down and graft for the next few months.”