WillBuckingham.com has been down for a few days, due to a twitchy problem with the configuration of the server. It is now back up and running, so apologies for any interruption of service.
I’m hoping in the next couple of months to give this website a bit of extra love and some much-needed updates. Things are busy over here in Yangon, and internet is less reliable than I would like, so I’m a bit behind. But hopefully the gremlins, demons, bugs and glitches from the last few days will remain squashed.
The advance reader’s copies of my children’s novel, Lucy and the Rocket Dog arrived in the post this morning, with illustrations by the exceptionally talented Monica Arnaldo, and they look absolutely stunning. The book is about a girl scientist, her dog, the theory of relativity, time dilation, space worms, friendship, loss and the here, there and everywhereness of space. It is due to be published by Knopf in the USA in the summer of 2017.
Last night, I stumbled across the Chinese edition of The Snorgh and the Sailor, and I was delighted to see what they’d done with the book. The title in Chinese is 长鼻子冒险家和长耳朵冒险家, or “Long Nose the Adventurer, and Long Ears the Adventurer”. I was wondering what the Chinese translators would do with “Snorgh”, and I think that “Long Nose” is an admirable solution. The cover text is nice as well, with the long nose and ears integrated into the Chinese character for “long” (click the image above to get the full-sized cover). Very clever! And to my surprise, the format is taller than it is wide, so I’ll be interested to get my hands on a copy to see how they have worked on the page layout.
As I am no longer in China, I like to imagine that Long Nose and Long Ears can act as ambassadors on my behalf. I’ll be following their activities closely. There’s a nice review of the Chinese edition here.
Meanwhile, over in Turkey, my wonderful publishers over there, Büyülü Fener, have let me know that their Turkish Snorghs have arrived in the office, and apparently the book is looking good. The Turkish title is Şnörk ve Denizci.
So there I was, warming my toes by the fire in my little house, listening to the howl of the wind, when there was a knock, knock, knock! on the door. I put down my pen and went over to see who it was. ‘Writers don’t like visitors,’ I muttered to myself. ‘Particularly not when they are busy writing.’
But when I opened the door, I found it wasn’t a visitor. Instead it was the postman. And the postman handed me an envelope. I took the envelope and closed the door, then I went back to sit on my chair by the fire.
I opened the envelope and pulled out a book. And it was not just any old book. Instead it was a copy of the newly published picture book, ‘The Snorgh and the Sailor at Christmas’, a sequel to ‘The Snorgh and the Sailor.’
There was a letter inside the envelope too, that said the book was written and illustrated by the amazingly talented members of class Primary 4D, from the Riverside Primary School in Falkirk. I looked at the map. The book had come a long way: miles and miles and miles, all the way from Scotland. I hadn’t realised that the Snorgh had travelled so far away.
The cover of this new book looked promising. It made me want to read on. So I opened up the book and discovered that since I’d last seen him, the Snorgh had come home from his adventures with the Sailor, and was living once again in his ugly little house. But the pictures also made me sad, because it was winter, and the Snorgh’s marsh looked very cold, and his nose was very red.
Then I remembered that it was a couple of years since I had last called on the Snorgh, and I wondered how he was doing. I felt a bit guilty that I hadn’t gone to visit him for a while, and decided that I would do so this summer, when the weather was warmer.
I read on, and found that—to my dismay—the Snorgh seemed to have become even older and grumpier since I’d last seen him. But just as I was feeling very sorry for him, and wondering where the Sailor had gone, I turned the page, and there was a ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ at the Snorgh’s door.
It was the Sailor, back from his adventures. And I was surprised to find that he’d got himself a job since I last met him, delivering presents for Santa. He even had a proper Santa-hat and everything. But he’d clearly he’d bitten off more than he could chew and needed some help.
So the Snorgh and the Sailor set off again on another Great Journey, delivering presents for Christmas. And I’m not going to tell you exactly what happened, because that would ruin the surprise. But ‘The Snorgh and the Sailor at Christmas’ is a great sequel. It is exciting and funny and just a little bit sad, at least on the page where the Snorgh is lonely and has a very cold, red nose. And when you come to the end of the book, you will smile. Which means, in my opinion, that it must be a very good book indeed.
I’ve not posted here for a while, as I’ve been busy settling into life here in China, where I’m currently spending a year at Sichuan University. But I thought I should post this beautiful image of some of the illustrations from the now imminent Turkish version of my novel “Lucy and the Rocket Dog” (translated as Lucy ve Laika). The illustrations are by the extraordinarily talented Oğuz Demir, who has captured the spirit of the book perfectly. The book is about space dogs, the theory of relativity, friendship, and science.
Readers who don’t speak Turkish (like me!) will have to wait until 2017 to read the English version, which is due out from Knopf in New York. But if you know Turkish, then you can get hold of a copy of the book soon at your favourite local bookstore!
It has been very busy recently, with moving house back home in the UK, and then — only a few days later — relocating to China for a year. I’m here in China to take up an associate professorship at Sichuan University, in the College of Literature and Journalism. About which more below.
But first, I should say something about goats! Because I’m delighted to say that my author copies of Goat Music, my latest novel, arrived today in the UK. They are four thousand or so miles away, and so I haven’t really had much of a chance to look at them yet. But from the photograph below, courtesy of Elee Kirk, they are looking good.
Goat Music is a bit of a departure from my usual work. It is an attempt to write a kind of modern-day satyr play, taking up the myth of Apollo and the satyr Marsyas, as well as pillaging the ancient Greek playwrights, to weave a tale about music, power and its abuses. In this sense, it forms a pair with my earlier book, The Descent of the Lyre, although the sensibility is somewhat different. In the UK, you can get hold of a copy here. It’s on general release, so should be easy to track down. I’d be interested to see what people make of this one, as it’s by any measure quite a curious book. Read more
I’m very pleased to announce that my novel Goat Music has just been published. It is a reinvention of the tale of Apollo and Marsyas, and features fallible gods, singing frogs, musical goats, and at the centre of it all, an irrepressible satyr. It has been very kindly blurbed by the wonderful Jonathan Taylor, who says the book is ‘playful and shocking, disturbing and brilliant.’
You can get the novel at the usual outlets, and if you are in the UK, from hive.co.uk.
I’m delighted to say that I’ve sold the rights for my forthcoming middle-grade children’s book, Lucy and the Rocket Dog. The book is about space-dogs, friendship, relativity, wormholes and other such matters. Knopf over in New York have acquired the rights, and so the book should be coming out in the summer of 2017. The Turkish edition, Lucy ve Laika, is coming out in the autumn of 2015.
Jonathan Chatwin has written a very nice piece in the Asian Review of Books about my Sixty-Four Chance Pieces. We met up the other week down in Birmingham, and spent an enjoyable Saturday morning talking about writing, China and other matters. Here’s an extract from Jonathan’s write-up:
The tales of Sixty Four Chance Pieces wear the scholarly and creative struggles of their creator lightly. Playful and inventive, they link imagistically to the I Ching but do not require prior knowledge of the text, and generally avoid direct allusions to Chinese culture or history. The literary reference points are Western: Italo Calvino is a key influence on the text, particularly his novel inspired by the tarot, The Castle of Crossed Destinies, whilst there are also echoes of Borges and Garcia Marquez.
Buckingham’s stories are glimpses into worlds familiar yet somehow distant, their landscapes and cultures verging on the mythical… Eclectic, with a healthy dose of humour, the stories of Sixty Four Chance Pieces act as provocations to consider the nature of our respective political, social and personal realities….
This coming week, on Tuesday 14th July, I’m doing an event at the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, reading from and talking about my I Ching-based novel-of-sorts, Sixty-Four Chance Pieces: A Book of Changes, then leading a workshop on writing and divination, putting the I Ching to work as a tool for writing. It should be fun and relaxed, and all are welcome. The time is 7pm, and the suggested donation is £1 for members and £3 for non-members. I’ll also have advance copies of the book on sale (not yet out in the UK), at a reduced price. Do come along if you are in town. Find out more at the event’s Facebook page. Or, if you are not a Facebooker, email me for more information.