Ted Newcomb (tcn) Wed 6 Mar 13 16:29
Warren, I loved Gun Machine, from all angles. It was a special treat to have the early history of NYC blended in such a sensory manner - could just about taste and smell it. I'll never walk in The Ramble the same way again. Did the idea for the book 'drop' all at once? This seems to be one of those books that you know the end before the beginning, due to the precision of the plot. Any surprises while writing it?
Warren Ellis (warrenellis) Wed 6 Mar 13 18:31
Jon: memory fails. I honestly can't remember how deeply into GUN MACHINE I was when I wrote the CoCities Berlin talk. I do remember spending a lot of time reading about the Manhattan history -- there's a perhaps surprisingly rich amount of material online, as well as some useful maps, especially the Mannahatta Project one, at http://welikia.org/explore/mannahatta-map/ .
Warren Ellis (warrenellis) Wed 6 Mar 13 18:35
Ted: the "surprises" were mostly incidental stuff along the way, the spaces between the plot beats that you leave open for serendipity and inspiration. Other such things were the sort of thing you get if you live inside a character for long enough. The bit where Tallow finds out he's not invited to a certain event, for instance. That bit just happened, unplanned, because in the moment of writing I realised that of COURSE he wouldn't be invited. Once I'd built the central conceit, which came in layers -- the history stuff, a borrowed structure, ideas from John Schoenfelder, Tallow -- the general shape of the book, top to bottom, dropped pretty much at once, aside from a few gaps in the middle. But I like to leave those for myself anyway, even though I curse myself for an idiot when I reach them. It's how I breathe a bit of life into the thing.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 7 Mar 13 06:20
Thanks, that's the feeling I had reading it, that you had the structure from the beginning, but there were all these aha moments along the way, that I thought might even have surprised you. A real treat. This is one of those books that just envelops the reader as you enter the 'world'. The hunter's psychosis adds that layer of another perceived reality which changed how I read the book entirely, as well as a kind of archaeological understanding of NYC as it actually is. That was truly a gift. Thanks again. Was this an entirely different writing experience for you? I like that you leave gaps to put some flesh on the bones. First time I've heard an author mention the frustration of doing that. Wonder if you could talk a bit about how that whole process of moving from an idea to the life of a book works for you. Have you ever abandoned a writing project because it just didn't come alive?
Patrick Di Justo (justpat) Thu 7 Mar 13 08:42
I want to thank everyone who participated in this talk about Warren Ellis's new book Gun Machine! A special thanks to Warren himself, for taking the time to do this! This conference technically ends at midday today -- which for me is a few minutes from now, for Warren was several hours ago, and for many of you is several hours from now. The topic will remain open, but there probably won't be any more questions answered. Once again, thanks to everyone for taking part!
David Wilson (dlwilson) Thu 7 Mar 13 09:31
Hi Warren, I'm coming late to the party, just finishing Gun Machine. I especially liked the aura of precolonial and colonial Manhattan that you evoked. Just getting the origin of the street names is worth the ride. The poking through the ecology of Central Park was also up there. I knew all about the Leni Lenape Indians because I grew up across the Hudson in New Jersey. I know people who have vague and unfocused claims to Indian ancestry and it is important to them. Also there were closed off communities of mixed remnant Indian populations living in the Ramapo Mountains. They were called "Jackson Whites." I also really liked your discussion of the "tao of cop shows" and how you worked that into the narrative. Everything is morally compromised so when we see someone fixing a little bit of it, it restores our sense of order. Most people don't get to do that if at all. Your one reference to Stringer Bell from "The Wire" was a killer well placed homage. I liked the police procedural part of the novel but I'm a critical sonofabitch and really didn't like that there were too many coincidences between the bad guy characters and the cops.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 7 Mar 13 13:28
Thanks to all who joined our discussion of _Gun Machine_, and thanks especially to Warren Ellis for making time to hang out with us over the last couple of weeks. Here's a link for _Gun Machine_ at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Gun-Machine-Warren-Ellis/dp/0316187402
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