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.
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....
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?
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.
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?
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.
Ed Ward (captward) Fri 22 Feb 13 09:29
<scribbled by captward Fri 22 Feb 13 09:49>
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.
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?
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.)
Stoney Tangawizi (evan) Fri 22 Feb 13 13:26
"insects fucking" !
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)?
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?
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.
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.
those Andropovian bongs (rik) Sat 23 Feb 13 12:51
Warren, that actually answers my question, thank you.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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