Lately, my daughter has been urging me to get in touch with my inner candy store and so, for Father’s Day, she gave me the two chocolate bars that have been the bane of my existence since elementary school.
I can still vividly recall the sixth-grade girl who, every time she saw me, would shout out, “Oh Henry – I want a Clark bar!” I’m pretty sure this had something to with my name, although, to be fair, it may only have been a coincidence and she may only have been very hungry. Still, I concede I’m better off than my aunt, Baby Ruth Zagnut, and my cousin, Rolo Kitkat. And, oh yeah, my college roommate, Chunky Butterfinger.
Since I think the artwork for The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens is both wonderful and not reproduced large enough in the book, I’m delighted that the enterprising artists have made some of the images available on objects that allow it to be
rendered in sizes larger than a Moby-Dick doubloon. (Above is the Moby-Dick doubloon from chapter 24 of The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens – and, oh yeah, chapter 36 of Moby-Dick – a coin only slightly larger than a postage stamp. Art really deserves more space.) The brothers Eric and Terry Fan have made it possible to enjoy their art while drinking from it, wearing it, or sitting on it, which is more than Rembrandt ever did with his art, or could have imagined doing.
(Clicking on an image will take you to the site where it’s being offered, and where you might find merchandise even more intriguing, and - surprise - not necessarily connected to my time travel book.)
Coffee mugs, too!
Those of you who fled to Montreal to avoid the excessive hype surrounding the release of my second book are probably outraged by the O. Henry twist of discovering the French edition of my FIRST book crowding out Jules Verne in all the Canadian bookstores. Well, serves you right.
The cover design is by Jean-Francois Martin. It says on his website that doing the cover helped him prepare for the World Typo Championship, which this year will be held in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-
llantysiliogogogoch, Whales. (This is my own somewhat free translation of
"Jean-François Martin se prépare pour le championnat du monde de typo avec une nouvelle couverture pour un roman des éditions Les Grands Personnes écrit par Henry Clark et intitulé Ce qu'on a trouvé dans le canapé puis comment on a sauvé le monde." It's possible Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-gogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch wasn't really mentioned.) (And I know it's Wails and not Whales; I was just attempting a little "typo" humor.)
Here's the back cover. I'm pretty sure the bit about me translates as "Henry Clark spends an awful lot of time on his sofa." (It's as if the French can see into my living room!)
And here's a map of the Paris Metro, with the names of the stations replaced with the titles of this spring's more interesting Young Adult books. (Clicking it will make it full size, but be prepared to jump back.) My book's the third stop on the red "Inclassable" line, making it an easy walk to the Louvre and the Apple store. (I'm hoping Inclassable means "unclassifiable," rather than "not classy.")
The book was actually printed in Spain, so, in future, I intend telling people I had both a French edition and a Spanish edition. This is one of the few benefits of outsourcing.
And - - I've just been informed the French edition has sold over trois copies! If I recall correctly from high school, trois is French for million! Incroyable!
Above is Terry and Eric Fan’s illustration for Chapter 17 of The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens. As you can tell, it’s based on one of the proposed designs for the Trylon and the Perisphere, the iconic central pavilion of the 1939 World’s Fair, before the design was chucked after a survey revealed fair visitors didn’t want to walk around inside a giant mouse.
As I post this, it's only one week until Time Travel's publication, so I figure we should show off more examples of the artwork, which, in the book, will be reproduced the size of a postage stamp because the author overran his 75,000 word limit and it was either that or use 4 point type and include a magnifying glass so it's only fair the art be given a larger showing somewhere. Below is the Fan brothers' rendering of Shofranka Camlo's charm bracelet, complete - sometimes - with the mysterious Vanishing Key.
And then there's this:
One of the more quiet, introspective moments from the book, an oasis of calm amid the antic action in the surrounding story, a serene break in which the reader can catch his or her breath after a few scenes that are, quite frankly, a little over the top.
FIRST FOLIO, NOW THIS is the name of the chapter from which I’ve taken this month’s sneak peek at the artwork for The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens. Again, the art is by the brothers Eric and Terry Fan, who have done a terrific job depicting a pig emerging from the pages of a book of Shakespeare’s plays. (It’s a big book and a small pig.)
The pig’s name is Iago. My book also contains a character named Orlando Tiresias Camlo, because I take for granted my readers have not only brushed up their Shakespeare, but are also avid readers of Virginia Woolf and Ovid. (As my grandpappy used to say, “If you don’t set the bar high, ain’t nobody gonna dance the limbo.” Whatever that meant.)
Avid Ovid readers, not to be confused with rabid Rabelais readers, are, along with whiskers on kittens, a few of my favorite things.
Here’s another sneak peek at some of the artwork from the upcoming The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens, showing a young person in nineteenth-century attire clinging to a log being swept toward a waterfall. (Of course there’s a waterfall. You don’t have a character cling to a log in a swiftly-flowing river without there being a waterfall.) It’s a deliberate echo of Eliza’s escape across the Ohio River in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a book that features prominently in The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens. Stowe, being a sensible writer, has her heroine cross the river in winter when it’s frozen. My characters lack all sense and try it in mid-August.
In The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens a first edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin plays the role of what Alfred Hitchcock used to call a MacGuffin, something that drives a story's plot but which the story's audience really couldn't care less about, like the bird in The Maltese Falcon or the ruby sneakers in The Wizard of Oz. At one point in TBTPTTH, a first edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin winds up in a Ziploc bag, and the Ziploc bag turns out to be more important than the book. (Such is the nature of MacGuffins.)
Here’s the second sneak peak at the Fan brothers’ (Eric’s and Terry’s) interior art for The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens. This month’s vignette is Nellie’s Erratic, which is not the diagnosis of a slightly deranged nineteenth-century woman but rather a large boulder situated near one of the picnic areas in Gustimuck Park, Ohio.
The boulder proves to be an important timemark for the heroes of the book. A timemark is like a landmark, only instead of helping you figure out where you are, it helps you figure out when you are. Nellie’s Erratic does this by the amount of graffiti on it: In the twenty-first century, you can’t see the rock for the spray paint; in 1852, there’s only the faintly etched Jake Smith Leaving for Californy June 10, 1849.
The character of Nellie’s Erratic is based on a boulder I once knew in Joshua Tree National Monument, Californy, back in the early 1970s. A park ranger by the name of Shifty (that’s what it said on his name tag) held out some tickets and asked if I was there for the Parsons cremation, and when I indicated I didn’t know what he was talking about he quickly tucked the tickets away and sold me a rock-deflecting umbrella instead, charging me only $200 and assuring me that as I was about to enter a falling rock zone, the umbrella was guaranteed to deflect any and all falling rocks.
As you can see from the photo below, it was money well spent. (Although, in all honesty, the rock fell directly behind me, so it wasn’t really deflected. But I’m not ashamed to admit - I jumped a little.)
Photo credit: Paul “G.A.F” Feldman, where the “G.A.F.” is said in the voice of Henry Fonda.
Here are the nunchucks that play such an important role in Chapter Four of The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens.
The artwork is by Terry Fan and his brother Eric; and I'm delighted to say they've done similar illustrations for each of the book's twenty-seven chapters. (That is, twenty-seven illustrations of different things; not twenty-seven illustrations of nunchucks. The book is weird, but not that weird.)
If you study the picture closely, you'll realize these nunchucks are made from two of the cardboard tubes found in the centers of paper towel rolls. Compare the illustration to this photograph of actual paper-towel-roll nunchucks:
The observant reader of this blog, if there is such a thing, will notice that each of the tubes in the illustration has six bands of dried glue circling it while those in the photo have five. Terry and Eric's nunchucks are made out of tubes from industrial-strength artist-grade paper towels. Artist-grade paper towels are twenty-eight percent more absorbent than the towels the rest of us use, because artists spill more things than the rest of us and the things they spill are twenty-eight percent wetter. (India ink, for example has a Specific Wetness of 8.4, more than twice the Specific Wetness of orange juice.)
This is the first of five sneak peeks at Time Travel's interior art. I intend highlighting one illustration per month until the book's April publication, or until I get a cease-and-desist order from my publisher or from one or more of the Fan brothers.
Next Month: Nellie's Erratic
Most recently, it happened in my kitchen.
Having finally tired of cold, raw dough cupcakes, I decided to have the wall oven replaced with one capable of rising above room temperature. When the old oven was removed, I peered into the dark opening.
"Can you see anything?" asked Lord Carnarvon, standing behind me with a group of assorted Egyptologists. (They were there for lunch. I like having Egyptologists over; some of them have fascinating stories.)
"Yes - wonderful things!" I replied.
Mainly, the kitchen's original wallpaper, dating back to 1950.
If that's not time travel, I don't know what is.
Here's a picture:
There was also a small, mummified squirrel, which the Egyptologists found more interesting.
The middle school featured in my next book - The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens - is named after Ambrose Bierce. Bierce was a writer, born in Ohio, and is best remembered for The Devil's Dictionary (1906), which contains such definitions as:
TSETSE FLY, n. An African insect (Glossina morsitans) whose bite is commonly regarded as nature's most efficacious remedy for insomnia, though some patients prefer that of the American novelist (Mendax interminabilis).
The middle school I attended was named after the thirty-fifth U.S. president, and has an historical marker in front of it to remind everybody. The marker celebrates the likelihood that the local Board of Ed could easily win on Jeopardy, by being quicker to the buzzer than the competition.
Pictured here on the day he sold What We Found in the Sofa. His mood is cautiously optimistic.