inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #0 of 57: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 16 Feb 13 07:07
    
Inkwell.vue is psyched to welcome Warren Ellis
(http://www.warrenellis.com/), preeminent author, graphic novelist,
columnist and speaker. His new novel, _Gun Machine_, was released by
Mulholland Books in January 2013, and is being developed for television
by Chernin Entertainment.

_Crooked Little Vein_, his last novel, was described by Joss Whedon as
"Funny, inventive and blithely appalling... Dante on paint fumes."

His graphic novel _Red_ was made into a successful film starring Bruce
Willis and Helen Mirren, and its sequel film is released in August
2013. His other graphic novels, including _Transmetropolitan_,
_Planetary_, _Global Frequency_ and _FreakAngels_, have won multiple
awards, including a Lifetime Achievement prize from the Eagle Awards
and the NUIG Lit & Deb's President's Medal in recognition of support
for free speech. _Ministry of Space_ became the first graphic novel to
win the Sidewise Award for alternate history fiction. His _Gravel_
sequence of graphic novels has been optioned by Legendary Pictures,
with Tim Miller attached to direct.

Previously a commentator for Reuters and WIRED UK magazine, he is
currently writing a weekly column for VICE.

His first non-fiction book, from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, is due in
2014. He lives mostly in Britain.

Leading the discussion is Patrick Di Justo, who writes the monthly
What's Inside column for Wired magazine, and is the author of _The
Science of Battlestar Galactica_ (Wiley, October 2010). His work
appears regularly in Dwell, Scientific American, Popular Science,
Gizmodo, and more. His touchstone for most journalistic dilemmas is
"What would Spider Robinson do?"

Let's get on with the conversation! If you're reading this, and you're
not a member of the WELL, you can send questions or comments to
inkwell at well.com.
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #1 of 57: Patrick Di Justo (justpat) Tue 19 Feb 13 08:53
    
Hello all!  Let's welcome Warren Ellis, and start to talk about his
Gun Machine!

Wait, that came out wrong....
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #2 of 57: Patrick Di Justo (justpat) Wed 20 Feb 13 06:26
    
To begin with:

Warren, those of us who follow you online have followed the
development of this book from your first tentative tweets. How did the
writing go?  Was your second novel easier than the first?
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #3 of 57: Warren Ellis (warrenellis) Wed 20 Feb 13 18:30
    
Took me a while to find it, but here I am...

GUN MACHINE was much harder than CROOKED LITTLE VEIN, not least
because I made it harder on myself.  CLV was, as much as anything, an
exercise to find out if I could get through a novel.  In GUN MACHINE, I
was questioning every sentence.  Each workday started with revising
what I'd done the previous day.  I knew that if this one wasn't better
than the last, there wouldn't be too many opportunities up the road to
try again.
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #4 of 57: Patrick Di Justo (justpat) Thu 21 Feb 13 23:07
    
The novel is set in New York, but speaking as a lifelong New Yorker it
feels to me like it's a parallel universe New York, where nearly
everything is just a _little_ different than it is in real life.  What
(if any) personal experiences of New York did you bring to the novel?
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #5 of 57: Warren Ellis (warrenellis) Fri 22 Feb 13 07:55
    
Well, I made it a little skewed partly because I haven't been to NYC
in a dozen  years and therefore wasn't going to attempt to sell a "real
down to the last particle of dirt" portrayal.  I spent a lot of time
there in the 90s, so some places in the book are places I've been
(though that Irish bar isn't there any more).  I also utilised friends
in New York -- most helpfully, Molly Crabapple -- to get me the sense
of some places that have changed since my last visit.

So I never aimed for complete verisimilitude -- you can see that when
the bus goes by outside the coffee shop in an early chapter.  But it
doesn't really call attention to itself, for most people.  I was after
that parallel-world "mostly real but kind of strange," if that makes
sense.
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #6 of 57: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 22 Feb 13 09:29
    <scribbled by captward Fri 22 Feb 13 09:49>
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #7 of 57: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Fri 22 Feb 13 10:47
    
To me, it seems like what New York might be like in five or six years.  I 
was going to say 10, but things are changing so quickly that the futurists 
are clueless at this point.
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #8 of 57: From Jason Beamish via E-mail (captward) Fri 22 Feb 13 11:32
    
Good day sir,

First, thank you, for all the reading.  How important is setting the
musical mood for your writing?  I know that you released a Spotify
playlist for GUN MACHINE.  Do you ever have a moment when you either
get stuck listening and not writing, or experience a minor block if the
sound it not correct?  Last question, does Lili ever think you are
clinically insane when she hears witch house, ambient and drone
bleeding through the walls?
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #9 of 57: Warren Ellis (warrenellis) Fri 22 Feb 13 12:19
    
My daughter Lili generally refers to all my music as "shit," and has
in the past claimed to have mistaken my musical choices as hard-drive
sound, road noises and insects fucking.  She is a horrible child and
one day I will sell her to organ traffickers.

I don't glitch out in the way you suggest.  But setting an atmosphere
with music does help.  Sometimes it's serendipitous.  I found a much
better pace for one sequence, for instance, when Mary Ann Hobbs played
a remix of Northern Structures' "Bolts" by Blawan on her late and much
lamented XFM weekend show.

(Her new breakfast show on BBC Radio 6 is MUCH too early for me to be
around, and I miss her voice and her ear terribly.  The Saturday night
show was always like a ride into the near future for me.)
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #10 of 57: Stoney Tangawizi (evan) Fri 22 Feb 13 13:26
    

"insects fucking"

!
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #11 of 57: From Bruno Boutot via E-mail (captward) Sat 23 Feb 13 02:18
    
Warren, you are a great user and observer of media. You have given
recently great insights on the difference between writing a book and
writing a comic. Along these lines, I wonder what you are thinking
about in term of media when you are writing a book?
You have written Machine Gun on a computer and I am reading it on a
computer. But are we still thinking of it as a tight package of printed
paper? How digital media are morphing the idea of a book, from your
point of view as a writer (as opposed to the state of the market etc)?
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #12 of 57: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Sat 23 Feb 13 09:23
    
Warren, I'm intrigued by your knowlege of early NYC history.   I was born 
there, and while I had a vague knowledge of Five Points, had never heard 
of the Collect Pond, or Werpoes.  Or how Pearl Steet got it's name, for 
that matter.  What had you been reading that brought these to your 
attention to where this stuff became useful to you, and important as plot 
points?
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #13 of 57: Warren Ellis (warrenellis) Sat 23 Feb 13 10:21
    
Rik, I wish I had a useful answer for you.  This feels a little bit
like the time on Twitter when I answered a question with something I
had learned at school and then someone asked me for a link.  I read a
*lot.*  Much of this stuff was just sloshing around in my head, and
really just required fact-checking to ensure I hadn't gotten it
backwards or something.  Sorry.
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #14 of 57: Warren Ellis (warrenellis) Sat 23 Feb 13 10:24
    
Bruno: a novel's a novel, regardless of how it's displayed.  I don't
think about the container at all.  It's words on a surface.  Digital
doesn't actually change that.  The only real changes digital have
brought, as far as I'm concerned, are delivery speed and the ability to
lift three Neal Stephenson novels at once.
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #15 of 57: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Sat 23 Feb 13 12:51
    
Warren, that actually answers my question, thank you.   
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #16 of 57: Patrick Di Justo (justpat) Sun 24 Feb 13 09:18
    
Warren, would you like Gun Machine be a movie?  Any fantasy casting
ideas? 

And how does the possibility of a movie sale affect how and what you
write?
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #17 of 57: Warren Ellis (warrenellis) Sun 24 Feb 13 09:29
    
GUN MACHINE has been in development as a tv series at Chernin since
last summer.  I don't do fantasy casting, especially when something's
in development.  It puts silly restraints and pressure on an active dev
process, and reduces the chances of being happily surprised by
circumstance.

I'm no stranger to film and tv sales.  I never let it affect the
writing.  Because it makes for bad writing.  I've seen a LOT of people
write comics and books specifically for an eye to film/tv sales, and in
98% of cases it's made for really shitty books and comics that attempt
to ape AV media instead of taking advantage of the pleasures and
effects of the media they're working in.

Of all the things I've written, my expectation of RED becoming a
successful movie franchise would be somewhere near the bottom of the
prediction scale.  You just can't predict what will be picked up, or
why.  So why try?
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #18 of 57: Dave Waite (dwaite) Sun 24 Feb 13 16:10
    

I love the workplace interaction between Bat and Scarly.  And while we
don't get much from Tallow in the way of personal feelings, We learn
allot about him from his interaction between Bat and Scarly.  He is
partnered with good cops in the CSU - even if they rather not be called
cops.  I really want to read, hear, or see more about them as
characters.  This has serial all over it and I thank you for that.

I loved the read and saw that it was open ended enough for a second
book.  I'd love to see the Tallow again and on screen, even the small
screen would be wonderful.  If you can comment...  Do you think you
will be involved in writing episodes?
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #19 of 57: Jamais Cascio (jamaiscascio) Mon 25 Feb 13 09:58
    
Hi Warren. 

I'm curious about the ways in which your process for writing
non-fiction differs from your fiction-writing process. Is there some
definable split between the two, or do you more-or-less work the same
regardless?
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #20 of 57: From Stefan Jones via E-mail (captward) Tue 26 Feb 13 01:37
    
I don't usually read crime fiction, but how could I resist _Gun
Machine_? It didn't disappoint. And dang, it has the seeds and a
cranking good movie or series.

I see what Patrick means by "parallel universe New York," but I found
the effect more uncanny than distracting.

As for the notion of Old Manhattan poking through: For most of the
early 90s I used to commute, every goddamn day, from my parents' house
on Long Island to Rockland County . . . up along the Hudson and across
a bridge.

I got, over many years, a feeling or impression of the land around the
Hudson. The great forested hills on either side of the river, the rock
outcroppings and vegetation and seasons. And it dawned on me that
Manhattan, that extraordinarily artificial place, was once like
all-that.

A wild place, then a thinly settled place.

Clinton-deWitt's leveling of the island was an extraordinary thing,
both ghastly and wonderous, the virtual elimination of wildness and
landscape over most of the island, turning land into a machine of
sorts. When I visit, I think about the land-that-was. And I love
stories about the old land's remnants, like my friend Rob's tale of
asking a Chinese guy in a Canal street restaurant supply joint to use
the loo, and then being led to a sub-basement which was a 3/4 *cave*
and had a stream running through it, which Rob was invited to pee in.

So. The Hunter's odd visions aren't so odd to me. 
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #21 of 57: Ed Ward (captward) Tue 26 Feb 13 01:38
    
There's some sort of small stream in the basement of the Metropolitan
Museum, or there was when I worked there in '66.
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #22 of 57: Administrivia (jonl) Tue 26 Feb 13 11:41
    
Short url for this conversation: http://bit.ly/warren-ellis

If you're not a member of the WELL, but you want to chime in, just
send your comment or question via email to inkwell at well.com. 
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #23 of 57: Warren Ellis (warrenellis) Wed 27 Feb 13 03:13
    
I'm on the road a bit, in London to do meetings and etc. Did an event
at Foyles bookstore last night. I think there will be audio. I think
there's an option for me to write an episode, in the eventuality of a
TV series, but there are many hurdles to clear first. TV is a process
of discrete stages - there's more of the logic of commerce to it than
film, but it's still a crapshoot.
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #24 of 57: Dave Waite (dwaite) Wed 27 Feb 13 08:49
    
I hope they keep Scarly, and keep her gay. There need to be more
positive characters in mass media that just happen to be gay. 


Was there any reason that you decided Scarly would be gay?  I like
that you did this and applaud your decision. 
  
inkwell.vue.461 : Warren Ellis - Gun Machine
permalink #25 of 57: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Wed 27 Feb 13 11:09
    
It seemed to me that she and Talia had the only loving relationship in the 
book, and even that had some passive-agressive kink to it.
  

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