Author: ilanderz (Page 1 of 45)

Reflections on Peter Pan

Peter Pan: The Story of Peter and Wendy (A Thrushwood Book, Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, New York, 1911 edition)

Peter Pan, by Scottish writer J.M. Barrie.

A play turned novel, published in 1911.

I can hardly believe I’ve never read it before, but I haven’t. I’ve seen a version of the play, in Stratford. I don’t remember much of the play. Saw the Spielberg movie Hook; don’t remember much of that either.

A friend gave us the novel years ago, as a gift. It appears to be a first edition, though half the first page is torn. I stumbled upon it a couple of weeks ago and picked it up to see what all the fuss is about.

The first thing that struck me is that it’s funny. Laugh out loud funny at least twice. The second thing that struck me is that while being a product of its time (the indigenous people of Neverland, although portrayed as a noble tribe, are saddled with a most unfortunate name, one recently ditched by an American football outfit), its wit and cleverness and whimsy stand the test of time, for this reader at least.  

A dog as a nanny. A boy returning for his shadow and a girl sewing it back on. Imaginative. Children who can fly. Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning. Evocative. Pirates and fairies and Indians and mermaids. Adventure! A boy who refuses to grow up. The stuff of myth, and the Big Idea behind the book, what makes it tick even more than the crocodile who swallowed the clock.

The book rings true in part because it’s brutal and mean. This ain’t Disney. Barrie doesn’t write what he thinks you want to read. Peter Pan is selfish and inconsiderate. Charming and charismatic, but narcissistic and cruel, with a lousy memory to boot. He’s nobody’s idea of a good friend, at least not after you’ve grown up and know better. And the whole lot of them, all the lost boys, are bloodthirsty murderers. Sure it’s pirates they’re killing, and it’s all based on make-believe, but it’s a proud thing in this tale to have run somebody through with a sword.

Characters are deftly drawn, some at least. Peter flies right off the page. Hook is surprisingly complex. Mr. Darling is hardly believable but you can see him, hear him, laugh at him. Wendy lives and breathes and even grows. Tinkerbelle is jealous, spiteful, not much to redeem her, and then, rather callously, is dead and gone before you know it, just like Mrs. Darling, dispatched with hardly a backward glance.

It’s a good thing Peter Pan (or Peter and Wendy, as it was originally called) was published in 1911. It would not see the light of day today, I don’t think. Not with hundreds of thousands of books published a year with which to compete. The boy who never grows up is a terrific concept, but it wouldn’t stand much of a chance against J.K. Rowling’s the boy who lived, so much richer and better realized.

Still, I’m glad Barrie wrote it, and I’m glad it was successful enough to have endured long enough for me to have found it now, at the age of 57. There’s enough of a kid left in me for it to have resonated. And the adult in me respects the craft behind it. The creativity, the skill. The confidence, the whimsy.    

Wish I’d read it when I was ten, though.

I might have adored it then.         

A Time and a Place Podcast Update

I just posted Chapter Four: Friends Like These of the podcast version of my novel A Time and Place up on Podbean. The entire podcast (so far) is available via the big purple link below. Check it out by following the link at the bottom of this post, or at various places throughout.

A while back I promised to explain why I’m posting it as a podcast.

A few reasons.

Number one, I’m about to launch another podcast with my friend and fellow writer Mark Rayner, author of such fine fare as The Fatness and Alpha Max. (More about that podcast later, in another post.) Investigating how best to launch a podcast, I came across Podbean as a potential hosting service but wanted to try it out first. How though?

It just so happened I have all the audio files for A Time and a Place right here on my hard drive, originally created for the audiobook version. So I thought what the heck, I’ll put it up as a podcast, see how that goes.

And I have to say that it went pretty smoothly, in terms of the mechanics of turning it into a podcast. Podbean is pretty user friendly.

But why turn a book currently for sale into a free podcast?

For a few reasons.

Number one, I first published A Time and a Place in 2017. It has sold fairly consistently since then, but sales have definitely dwindled in all its various forms, mainly because of next to zero visibility. I don’t do any paid advertising for it because it’s not worth it for just one book (ideally you want to have a series in place. I’m working on that.)

So it’s not like I would lose any money by podcasting ATAAP for free. Sure Podbean costs a bit of money, but I’ll be paying for it anyway, for the other podcast Mark and I will be doing. If anything, podcasting A Time and a Place could conceivably make me money by increasing visibility for the book. For instance, if someone listens to a few episodes and decides they don’t want to wait around for the next chapters (which drop once per week). Or someone who listens and just wants to show their support by purchasing a copy in some form.

It’s also potentially monetized because I’ve placed a sort of “tip” jar on the podcast home page. (It ain’t easy to find, but it’s there at the bottom. Just look for the word “Donate.”) If you do opt to donate, thanks! (You will, very likely, be the first to do so.)

It’s not like I need the money. But creators like me do need to be careful about giving our art away for free. It potentially devalues not only our art but all art, no matter the medium. Ideally, when we do give it away for free, we do so strategically, to generate further interest in our product(s). To quote author Cory Doctorow, my problem isn’t poverty, it’s obscurity. (It’s less of a problem now for him than it is for me).

So how’s the ATAAP podcast going so far? From the beginning of my writing journey I resolved to be honest and transparent about the whole process. Same holds true for this podcasting venture. Four chapters in there have been a total of 78 downloads. 41 for chapter one, 21 for chapter two, 11 for chapter three, and 4 for chapter four. It’s been downloaded from Canada, the United States, Australia, France, England, and Russia. 70.0% from Google Chrome, 10.0% from Podbean, 10.0% from Podcast Addict, and 10.0% from Spotify.

If you’re one of those listening, I hope you’re enjoying it.

Self-Publishing Colloquium

Photo by Saliha from Pexels

I’ve been invited to participate in a Twitter self-publishing colloquium by fellow writers Paula Johanson and Celu Amberstone.

Honoured to have been asked, I readily agreed, and then promptly went to the dictionary to figure out what a “colloquium” is, and whether Paula had spelled it correctly. I mean, what the heck kind of word has “uiu” in the middle of it? I should not have doubted her. She spelled it correctly. I cannot spell it correctly without saying the letters “uiu” out loud as I’m writing it.

And what is it? “An academic conference or seminar.” I guess you can have those sorts of things on Twitter, especially now that Elon Musk is running the joint. (With him there apparently you can have, do or say anything you like, world order and democracy be damned.)

It may sound like I’m being a bit flip about the whole thing. (That’s cause I am. ) But the flippedness ends now. (Not really, but a little bit.) Cuz I am in fact pleased to have been asked to participate and have every intention of taking it seriously, or as seriously as I’m able, which is every bit as serious as is required without being one iota more serious than that.

And what exactly are Paula and Celu asking of me? Initially, a series of ten tweets accompanied by a brief blog post (you’re reading that part right now) about the whole (hang on while I recite the letters out loud) “colloquium” (it didn’t work; I had to scroll back up in this post to get the order of the letters right).

But wait! I haven’t even really explained what it’s about.

According to Paula (who should know as she’s the one putting this whole thing together) it’s about “self-publishing your own fiction, and things you have learned.” And for me specifically: “What was it like preparing your father’s book and publishing it? What kind of reaction and feedback are you getting? What skills that you learned working for the CBC are you bringing to your self-publishing?”

So that is what I will be tweeting about tomorrow, Saturday April 30th around noon EST with Paula and Celu.

Paula adds: “I’m sure there’s lots you have in mind to say.”

Perhaps… but not right now. It’s Friday afternoon! And I have to walk the dog, after which I’m going out for wings and a movie with the guys. As you can imagine, there hasn’t been a whole lot of that sort of thing the last couple of years. Now that the damnpenic (sic) is over (hey, I can pretend just as well as the rest of our dumb elected officials) I can do that sort of thing again.

And tomorrow?

Our Twitter Colloquium on Self-publishing, hashtag  #SelfPubCol. I hope you’ll join us!

A Time and a Place: the Podcast

For reasons I will elaborate on in a later post, I’ve decided to podcast the audio version of A Time and a Place. One chapter at a time, possibly with supplemental material, entirely for free, every two weeks.

The audiobook version is still for sale in various venues. That way if you can’t wait for the next chapter, you can just purchase it. It’s also a means to support the book financially should you so choose.

But if you don’t mind one chapter at a time, you’ll find it here, and on various other podcast platforms, such as Spotify, once I get those set up.

In the meantime, here is the first chapter.

Hope you like it:

Chapter Eighteen: No Place Like Home A Time and a Place

Wildebear wakes up in the den of his house with possible brain damage and an opportunity to save someone from his past.  www.assortednonsense.com  Support this podcast
  1. Chapter Eighteen: No Place Like Home
  2. Chapter Seventeen: Interview with a Monster
  3. Chapter Sixteen: Scary Monsters
  4. Chapter Fifteen: Ansalar
  5. Chapter Fourteen: Feathers
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