The Indorsia.com blog has been up and running now for two full years, with at least one update per month, until September of 2014, when a scarcity of news about the first book - What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World - and a paucity of promotional material about the upcoming second book - The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens - resulted in the first missed month.
One of the highlights of my summer was being a Visiting Writer at the Thalia Book Club Camp in Manhattan's Thalia Theater and getting to work with some really terrific kids. In the picture below I'm holding a pillow case and pretending to be Charlie Brown on Halloween, saying “All I got was a rock!” (The audience's reaction was stony.) Things picked up, though, when each kid reached into the pillow case and pulled out something they had “found in a sofa,” and they then improvised skits about how those objects - keys, remotes, wallets, watches - led them on wacky adventures.
Some of the contents of the pillowcase. The least recognizable are a thimble, bell, yo-yo, and (upper right) a nineteenth-century glass magic lantern slide depicting a wizard waving a wand at a cauldron. The kids got together in groups of three, each got an object, and then they combined their three objects into a story. (Pick three objects. Try it yourself. This is as interactive as this blog gets.)
The last time I had been in the Thalia Theater (One of New York City's great revival houses) was in 1969 for a Marx Brothers double feature and yes, my chewing gum was still under the seat. (And still viable, which was terrific, since Teaberry is so tough to find these days.)
My favorite muse has always been Thalia, the muse of comedy. (A close second is Errata, the muse of misinformation. In college I wrote a poem entitled "An Odd to Errata." which, in the second edition, included a slip of paper explaining "Odd" was supposed to be "Ode.") (You had to be there.)
It is also the release day of the paperback version of What We Found in the Sofa! (There is, oddly enough, no National Sofa Day. Whoever is responsible for these things has been lying down on the job—but not often enough.)
So you now have three reading options:
Hardcover on the sofa;
Paperback in the hammock;
Or eBook on the toilet.
So there’s no reason for you not to read my book.
(Unless, of course, you’re restless and constipated.)
My daughter. She says the paperback edition of SOFA is much funnier than the hardcover. (Her exact word was "lighter.")
July 2nd is the one year anniversary of the publication of What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World, and what better way to celebrate than to unveil the cover of the French edition? Here it is:
Ce Qu’on a Trouvé dans le Canapé puis Comment on a Sauvé le Monde is ten letters longer than the English title, making the entire book heftier and therefore a much better value than its American counterpart. Google Translate says the French title means What We Found in the Hors d’oeuvre and How It Saved the Newspaper, so, obviously, Google Translate had the same high school French teacher I did.
At the bottom of the cover it says “Un Roman de Henry Clark.” This is the first Roman I’ve ever written, if you don’t count Sophia Loren when I was thirteen. (Sophia never wrote back, although I did get a rather terse note from Carlo Ponti.)
Availability: Au printemps, by which I mean spring of 2015 and not the fancy Parisian department store where books like mine are kept in a bin in the alley outside the back door. You might, more profitably, try Les Cousins d’Alice over on Rue Daguerre, next to the baguette place. (My book will be in the Very Distant Cousins section.)
As a great personal favor to me, my publisher will be releasing The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens on my daughter’s twenty-ninth birthday, April 14, 2015. They had to bump two James Patterson books to other dates (meaning some days in 2015 will see the release of four Patterson books) and cancel a J. K. Rowling (one that she wrote under the pseudonym James Patterson) but Little, Brown Young Readers went to the trouble to rearrange its calendar to make the April 14th release date possible, and I’m grateful.
April 14th is an auspicious day.
As my daughter is always quick to remind me, April 14th is the day Lincoln was shot, and the day the Titanic struck the iceberg. But, as I always remind her, Lincoln died on the 15th, and the Titanic sank on the 15th, so the 14th really isn’t all that bad. It’s just a day when trouble tends to get started.
April 14th is also the day the Donner Party departed Springfield, Illinois, bound for California with an insufficient number of picnic baskets.
So all in all, April 14th is the perfect day for the debut of one of my books.
(It’s certainly a great day to celebrate the birth of my beautiful daughter.)
The Sakura medal is voted on by the students in Japan’s international schools, and in the middle-grade category there is usually a field of twenty or so books, making the Las Vegas odds on Sofa winning to be about 100 to 1. Still, I feel it’s a great honor just to be nominated, whether Godzilla had anything to do with it or not.
Song playing on the soundtrack:
Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train."
When I was growing up, we used to call a hashtag the “pound sign,” and it only came up during particularly complicated phone calls. (When Lewis Carroll was growing up, the pound sign was £, which is why Carroll never tweeted, except on those rare occasions when he imitated a jubjub.)
Sofa is on the 2014 list with only ten other books, and the company is very good. Kate DiCamillo picked up the Newbery Award earlier this year and was allowed to keep it, whereas when I picked it up I got my hand slapped and was told I was getting fingerprints all over it and what was I doing in that part of the building, anyway?
Ever since I was a kid, and saw Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, I’ve wanted to be a Giant Disembodied Talking Head.
Chaplin’s movie inspired me to be either a Giant Disembodied Talking Head, or a Little Tramp. The Giant Disembodied Talking Head seemed a better choice. I finally got my wish this past week when I Skyped with a really bright bunch of sixth-graders, who had some excellent questions and really seemed to have enjoyed What We Found in the Sofa. I was in New York, they were in Indiana. My face got projected on the wall of their school library and, for some reason, it didn’t occur to me to open with “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope.”
I’m hoping there will be other opportunities.
used hand-painted glass slides to achieve its effects. Traditionally, two magic lanterns were used in such shows, so that the image from one slide could be superimposed over the image from another, thereby creating an illusion of motion - many years before the invention of true cinema.
A sample is included below, in the form of two antique glass slides combined in a looping GIF image. I’m doing this in the absence of any book news (the Time Travel book is about to go to the copy editor; the Sofa book is selling reasonably well, thank you) and also because it’s been a long February and I’m feeling nostalgic.
The Legend of Washington's Tomb
It is said that on midnight every February 11,
the anniversary of George Washington's birth
(if you're using the Julian calendar, as what
John Lennon fan doesn't?)
the ghost of George Washington emerges from his tomb, looks around, sees his shadow, runs back in the tomb,
and we have another six weeks of winter.
End of Legend
It's hard to believe, but some people found my magic lantern shows amusing. A somewhat lengthy excerpt from one can be found here. Some of the images you've seen elsewhere on this website are from antique magic lantern slides, of which I have a modest collection.
In case you were wondering.
The event was held in the evening, the theme was Camping Out, and each author sat next to his or her own campfire in the school gym and read to the kids, who went from author to author dragging their pillows and sleeping bags behind them, so it actually may have been a ploy to mop the gym during an ongoing custodians strike.
I had never seen an inflatable campfire, and when I expressed trepidation to the event organizers, they assured me the school was equipped with inflatable smoke detectors. There was a billboard outside the school depicting Smokey the Bear holding a hatpin, next to the slogan ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT INFLATABLE FIRES. (Had I known in advance, I would have brought a bag of inflatable marshmallows. The Stay-Puft brand, as seen in Ghostbusters.)
For me, the most memorable moment of the evening occurred when I looked up from my book, from which I had just read a passage about three kids finding a crayon between some sofa cushions, to see a fifth-grade boy sitting a few feet from me, engrossed in a book three times the size of mine. I asked him what it was. He held it up so I could see. It was The Collected Works of H. P. Lovecraft. So I’m reading about crayons, and my audience is reading the Necronomicon. I told the kid Cthulhu would get him for this. (And, I swear, as I said the name Cthulhu, all the campfires in the room deflated a little. It was a creepy moment.)
The event was a great success. By the end of the evening the kids were pumped, and the campfires much less so. Mine had a distinct list to it, and so did I. I'm not as good at sitting cross-legged on the floor as I used to be.