So today I saw my kid dance, really dance, for the first time.
His name is Griffin. He (and his twin brother) just turned 1. For the past several days he’s been showing signs of rhythm — a fragment of music would rise from a wind-up toy and he’d bop his little torso. Tonight, we were on the rug with books and toys and Griffin was doing his Project. This involves a group of small items that Grif becomes intent on transferring from one place to the other and then back to the first place again. From the top shelf to the bottom shelf to the top shelf to the bottom shelf and then, just to mix it up a little and be unpredictable, to the floor. The television was on and ‘American Idol’ came on. I am horribly and shamefully addicted to the show and have been since the first episode of the first season, when for about five minutes I thought Simon Cowell was kind of hot. Carrie Underwood strutted onto the stage singing a country-rock song and I looked down at my little curly-headed son who can’t walk yet. He was standing and holding onto the edge of the coffee table, where he’d been deeply engrossed in his Project…and he was dancing. He let go with one hand and was bopping and shaking his little booty. He did it for the entire length of the song.
Mama was so proud.
I ordered a limited illustrated edition of China Mieville’s KING RAT from Earthling Publications and it arrived the other day — a really lovely thing, signed by the man himself. God, I love books, the heft and feel and smell and look of them, although for some (silly stupid) reason I haven’t gone much beyond the world of regular hardcovers and paperbacks, other than to find a cool and interesting present for my husband (for his 33rd I gave him the original draft of a Winston Churchill speech, which I found online, sold through a rare-books store in Manhattan. For his 34th I’m eyeing a signed first edition of CATCH-22, one of his favorite books ever, but the price is steep). So I was asking myself why haven’t I taken bigger advantage of these presses, collected these kinds of books by writers I have such a soft spot for?
I was reading the foreword (by Clive Barker) when it struck me that China and I have something in common, writing-wise. We both wrote first novels that qualify as what my publisher calls ‘edgy urban fantasy’ (in other words, fantasy set within the ‘real’ world containing elements of horror and violence) — but more importantly, both books deal on some level with, were inspired by, music, and not exactly the classical kind. Cities are important — to us, to the music, to the books. KING RAT is steeped in London; my book ranges across a number of places but uses — albeit loosely, especially since evil, demons, and supernatural drugs are involved — the rave music I was experiencing in San Francisco, Miami, Burning Man (annual art and music festival in the Nevada desert).
So for some reason I’m pleased by that. PERDIDO STREET STATION blew me out — I liked THE SCAR and IRON COUNCIL as well, but STATION was like a revelation that went right through me. Fantasy was my favorite genre when I was a kid — fantasy, horror, some thrillers — but at some point I stopped reading it. Mieville got me interested in it again, and if BLOODANGEL brands me as a writer of ‘weird fiction’ I will not fret about being labeled as a ‘genre’ writer.
I’ll be psyched. And inspired.