Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cool things happening. The exciting thing for me is at the end, so you can skip to that...

This is going to sound egotistical at first, but bear with me. It's anything but.

I googled my name last night, as I do on a monthly basis. Mostly, I want to know if my musings have been picked up by anyone else. Find them in odd places, a blog about airport security, Jay Leno's official site, a random business blog, a random comic blog, etc.

Anyway, what pops up mostly are my books that I wrote in the early '80's; Star Axe,Snowcastles and Icetowers. They seem to be all over the place, but interestingly enough, they are in England, New Zealand and Australia as much as the U.S. because they had an English publisher as well. I find my name on lists of books people have read.

And I get a fair amount of ridicule. Mostly, because it belongs to a genre, sword and sorcery, that get little respect, even among the fantasy and science fiction folk. Thud and Blunder. You know. So people will pick up things out of context, and make fun of it. That's fine, especially when I see that I'm in good company....many big name authors, who I enjoy, are roasted as well.

An example is a guy getting excited, (in a very snarky way), to have found a "cross between Conan and Star Wars!"

Well, not really. I actually had the title Star Axe before I ever heard of Star Wars.

But, it's O.K. It makes me much more sympathetic to other artists, actually. I think people can say pretty mean things about artists, and it never occurs to them that the artist might hear it.

Strangely, after this much time has passed, I have a pretty nuanced view of my books. First of all, I think the author's voice is very different from the author himself. If you come in my store and say you read my blog, I'll immediately say, "I'm so much cooler online," just to forestall expectations and possible disappointment.

And I've learned, too, just from my own reactions, but also from what I get from others, that people who know you.....probably won't like what you wrote. Whereas, a complete stranger just might. I won't go into all the explanations as to why I think that is.

Fortunately, early on I ran into enough people who had read my book before they met me, who genuinely seemed to like my books, a couple of them really, really liked my books! The majority don't say anything at all, and I take that to mean their mommy taught them right.

Still, I know that I was beginner, I poured my heart and soul into them, but what did I really know about writing? It is what it is. I still think that a 14 year old in England, who has read Conan and LOTR's and see's those great Ramos covers and buys the book, might really enjoy it.

There never were any real reviews of my books. I ran across just one a year or so ago that gave me a 2 stars out of 5 review. But since he gave a Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin a 1 star, I kind of laughed. The Song of Fire and Ice cycle by Martin is the best fantasy written since Lord of the Ring's, and as far as I'm concerned, Martin is the American Tolkien.

Last night, I came across two reviews on Amazon. One, by a guy named Blue Tyson, who seems to review every book in sight, was less than complementary:

A Two Star review, out of Five Stars.

"Pretty ordinary sword and sorcery style novel, with, you guessed it, a Star Axe.

Not much of a story or character to be found here."

Hurts me to the core. But the other review was pretty cool:

A Four Star review, out of Five Stars.

"A small gem of fantasy, November 24, 2005
By dissimulo
While this book is not ambitious or unique, it is a tight, engaging fantasy story. I'm surprised it has never been reprinted and that there are no other reviews here.

Star Axe is a coming-of-age, sword-in-the-stone, epic-fight-vs-good-and-evil sort of fantasy. It is a similar style of writing to what you would find in Sterling Lanier's books, such as Hiero's Journey and Menace Under Marswood. It is a fun and easy read, but memorable. Not a fantasy great, but well worth picking up."

Another interesting thing that's happened is that my books are being put online; by three or four sites. Not sure why. They don't seem to be making money off them. Seems like a lot of work. Since my publisher hasn't paid me anything in 25 years, what do I care? It's kind of flattering to know that my books will be floating around in bits on the internet...well, forever.

I've thought it interesting that my books seem to be more interesting to people 25 years later than they were when they came out. That there are myriads of sites selling the books -- and after all, they are only getting older and more historic. So they are still going to be around after I'm gone, I guess. And it shows, there really is no substituting for having a real, live national publisher, otherwise how could my books have made their way to places like Finland and Norway and New Zealand?

Anyway, this all preamble to this.

I finally found the last name of the artist who did the covers to my first two books. I loved the art on these books, and felt very, very lucky. In fact, if my books have sold at all over the years, it probably has more to do with Ramos's covers than my writing. They were 'sword and sorcery' in appearance, while I thought of my books as 'heroic fantasy' which isn't quite the same thing, but I couldn't very well make demands.

The artist's name is Ramos Kukalis, and it appears he's had a successful career since doing my covers. I was able to find his homepage and e-mail him.

The following messages have been exchanged so far....:

"I don't know if you'll remember this, but my name is Duncan McGeary. We never communicated. I suspect we were both near the beginnings of our career, and my career of writing pretty much ended when I got married and started a business in 1984. Star Axe was my first book, Snowcastles was my second. I suppose this is a forlorn hope, but you wouldn't happen to have the original art, anymore? Or know who has it?

I've owned a bookstore here in Bend, Oregon for the last 28 years, specializing in S.F. and comics, but carrying pretty much anything else, as well.

I was delighted with your artwork; amazed really. I certainly liked them better than what Lundgren did to the third book, Icetowers....

I know it's been a long time, but maybe you have the artwork squirreled away in an attic or something.

Let me know.


Duncan McGeary

(If you want to know what I've been up to, I have a blog: The Best Minimum Wage Job a Middle Aged Guy Ever Had.)

Hope to hear from you, and glad that you're still doing your art. Good for you.

To Which he answered:Dear Duncan,

Well, memories came flooding back with your email this morning. "Star Axe" was one of my first major book covers and is one of my all-time favorite paintings. Whenever I give a talk or presentation, "Star Axe" is always the first image I show. It does indeed go back, and I have only the vaguest idea where I might have put it. I will look over the next few days through my "archives" (my wife has a less attractive name for it) and hope I can find it for you. If I find "Snowcastles", would you be interested in that as well?

By the way, my wife is a syndicated cartoonist ("PreTeena"), and has written a new graphic novel series called "Goofyfoot Gurl". The first four volumes are out, and she just completed V and VI. You might run across them in your capacity as a bookstore owner.

Thanks for getting in touch, and I'll do my best to locate the painting(s) for you.

Best wishes,

To which I answered:

Brings back the nostalgia, doesn't it?

Yes, I'd be interested in buying either painting, though I admit Star Axe is my favorite. Funny thing, I actually had to have someone point out to me that there was a ghostly head in the painting. too cool. Had a friend do a parady of the painting, with a frog, called Frog Axe. :>

Yes, I just heard about Goofyfoot Gurl reading some blogs yesterday. Has a Christian theme? I will definately order them for my store, thank you.

I am very very interested in getting the original art. Please let me know.

The name of my store is, Pegasus Books of Bend.


This is all very exciting to me. I'll let you know what happens.


Anonymous said...

So if there is money to be made off of writing novels, and you were able to get published, why stop?

You don't seem like the type to suffer from writer's block.

Duncan McGeary said...

Short answer? It's hard work, it conflicted with my work and home life, and I hated the marketing process. And, unless you're Stephen King, it doesn't pay all that well.

Long answer? I may try to address that on my blog in the near future.

Duncan McGeary said...

"You don't seem like the type to suffer from writer's block."


It's a little much, I know. I figure I'm probably wearing everyone out.

An alternate title to this blog might be:

A Long, Boring Conversation with Myself.

Ken said...

Hello. I just wanted to thank you. I'm in my mid 30's now and still recall with fondness reading and re-reading Star Axe over the years since my teens. Having the hero be someone who was buffeted by circumstances and carried through by others before realising his own potential are probably the things that made it stand out for me.

Thanks bringing me along on that journey.

lucas said...

Duncan! Mister Duncan McGeary!

I was just writing about you on my little corner of the web. Though I only caught Snowcastles (http://www.lateralbooks.com/?p=549), I have to say it has always remained rather lovingly on my shelf. It is good to see you've been doing well, and I'd like to let you know I'm in Australia (as you mentioned your books got around) and not looking down at swords and sorcery and I don't think you need any kind of pity at all for having written in such a genre. Quite the opposite.

I work in a bookshop myself, and hope to be getting my own little one some time. Thank you for your book. I greatly GREATLY enjoyed it.