France Wrap-Up

The rest of the pictures from France are up, in two albums:

These are all from the roughly 48 hours or so I spent in Paris before heading to Epinal for Les Imaginales. It was a busy couple of days 🙂

Notre Dame Eiffel Tower Arc de Triomphe Entering the Catacombs

A few other random thoughts and observations from my time in France…

  • So many dogs, and not just on the streets, but in restaurants and stores and hanging out at booths at the festival!
  • Food was wonderful. I’m not entirely sure what all of it was, but I don’t think I had a single bad meal while I was there. (One frustrating restaurant experience, but even then, the food was great!)
  • French convention panels are very different than the ones I’m used to. The moderator asks questions of the individual authors in turn, so there’s not much back-and-forth among panelists. You’re also expected to talk about your book a lot, which took some adjusting for me.
  • Everyone I encountered was friendly and polite.
  • I did not win the Prix Imaginales in my category. On the other hand, I got to spend a week in France with amazing, wonderful people. I figure that’s plenty of winning for the week 🙂

I’m mostly recovered from the trip, and am wrapping up the final revisions on Terminal Alliance. I’m also hoping to get Invisible 3 packaged and ready to upload to various ebook retailers within the next couple of weeks. Cover reveal should be coming very soon!

 

Bibliothèque Municipale d’Epinal

On my first day at Les Imaginales, a pair of librarians came up and invited me to visit the Epinal Library. What I didn’t realize — they may have mentioned it and I just missed it — was that they were giving us a private tour of the rare books room.

Epinal Library Rare Books Room

It was amazing. One of the true highlights of my trip to France. My interpreter Lionel, an author himself, was as awestruck as I was. Especially when they brought out the first book. If I’m remembering right, this was from the 8th century.

8th century religious text

The next one wasn’t quite as old…being from the 9th century. This Gospel of Saint Mark was a youthful 1200 years old.

Gospel of St. Mark: 9th Century

The cover is metal and ivory. I’m not sure what kind of jewels those are. The circular areas on the corners were for holding relics. Here’s a glimpse of the interior:

Gospel of St. Mark: Interior

You can see the full set of photos on Flickr. (Or you may have already seen them on Facebook.) It was such a wonderful experience. My thanks to everyone at Bibliothèque Municipale d’Epinal for their time and generosity.

I’ll end with a map of Michigan from one of the books that was “only” a few centuries old. Michigan sure looked different in the old days…

Map of Michigan

Back from Les Imaginales

I got back to Michigan late on Monday after a wonderful week in France for Les Imaginales.

The festival was amazing. The whole town participates and helps to sponsor Les Imaginales, which felt like a cross between a book fair, convention, and renaissance festival. The town is gorgeous, the food is delicious, and there were dogs everywhere–even in restaurants or sitting under a table in the book tent 🙂

I’ve posted photos from the book fair on Flickr. I’ve got a bunch more to get through and post, but I’m doing them one batch at a time.

The best part, naturally, was getting to hang out with some wonderful author friends from America, and to meet new authors, fans, editors, and fellow geeks from France and elsewhere.

It was fascinating to see the differences between French and American conventions. The panels were very different. Instead of a free-for-all conversation, the moderator asked each author a question, one at a time. There wasn’t much interaction between the authors. It felt a bit more formal, but also made sure everyone got the chance to talk and contribute. You were also expected to talk a fair amount about your book and how it related to the topic. At home, I try to avoid doing that too much, but in France, it’s expected that you’ll talk about your writing and help the audience learn enough to decide whether or not they’re interested.

Which means the best time to be in the book tent is immediately after you’ve done a panel. (I didn’t figure that out for my first panel, and probably missed some sales since I didn’t immediately go to the tent afterward. D’oh!)

I’m still trying to get caught up on everything. In the meantime, have a few pictures. (Or check out the full album on Flickr or Facebook!)

A shot of Epinal at night

Authors en route to Epinal

James Morrow and Christopher Priest

Château d’Épinal

A bit of historical reenactment? I really don’t understand French history…

My thanks to everyone at the festival for inviting me, for their hard work organizing the event, and for making this such a delightful week.

Les Imaginales Schedule

Next week, I have the honor of being part of Les Imaginales, the international festival of fantasy literature in Épinal, France. In fact, I’m doubly honored, since Le Bibliomancien (the French edition of Libriomancer, translated by Lionel Davoust) is one of six finalists for the Prix Imaginales award in the foreign novel category.

Les Imaginales has posted my schedule for the fair. Here’s everything I’ll be up to in France:

Tuesday, May 16

Thursday, May 18

  • 10 – 11 a.m. Coup d’envoi des Imaginales (Opening kickoff)
  • 11 a.m. – Noon. La fantasy…

Friday, May 19

  • 2 – 3 p.m. Livres et lecteurs… (Books and readers)

Saturday, May 20

  • 9 – 10 a.m. Petit Déjeuner avec Jim C. HINES (Breakfast with Jim)
  • Noon – 1 p.m. Entretien avec Jim C. HINES (Interview with Jim)
  • 4 – 5 p.m. Ils viendront vous traquer… (They will come to hunt you down…)

Wait, what? Is Google translating that last panel correctly? What kind of festival is this?

Anyone know of any good bodyguard services in France?

Traveling with Depression

I’ve talked before about dealing with depression. Last week’s trip to Buenos Aires, combined with next week’s trip to France, got me paying attention to the ways depression impacts and is impacted by travel, especially bigger trips like these.

It hit me the most on my first day in Buenos Aires, after I’d been dropped off at the hotel. I was exhausted from the flight. I’d missed my pills the night before during all of the travel chaos. I had nothing scheduled that first day, and I was alone in a new city where I didn’t know the language.

This blend of exhaustion and anxiety is just the type of situation my brain-weasels love, and as I settled into my room, I could feel them digging in. I knew intellectually that once I was out interacting with my publisher and doing the press interviews they’d lined up for me, my brain would snap into Performing Writer mode, and I’d be okay. But for now, all I really felt like doing was locking the door, turning out the lights, and waiting for tomorrow to arrive.

Intellectually, I had a pretty good idea what was going on in my brain. I knew I was tired and jet-lagged and overwhelmed, and I’ve gotten better at recognizing when depression is getting the upper hand. Unfortunately, recognizing the problem doesn’t make it go away. In at least one way, it made things worse, because it fed right into the self-recriminations.

  • “Think about all the people who were so envious of you getting to come to Buenos Aires, and now that you’re here, you’re depressed? What’s wrong with you?”
  • “Here you are in a brand new country, and all you want to do is hide in your hotel room? Sad.”
  • “Maybe you should stop accepting these invitations. Let someone who’d appreciate them go instead of wasting these opportunities on you.”
  • “Coward.”

Knowing it’s the depression talking doesn’t make it stop. Knowing the self-recriminations are a trap doesn’t stop them from pulling you down.

Ackbar: It's a trap!

Eventually, I made myself leave the hotel and go for a walk. Just a few blocks to look around and get my bearings. (And yes, to catch a few Magikarp.)

It helped. The brain weasels didn’t vanish, but they quieted down significantly as we wandered and looked around, absorbing the new sights and sounds. I knew I needed food, so I wandered into a McDonald’s.

  • “What kind of loser goes to another continent and eats at McDonald’s?”
  • “Pathetic.”

I needed that dose of familiarity, and after staring at the menu for a few minutes, I went up and asked, “Habla Inglés?”

She had just enough English to tell me she didn’t speak English. Pretty much the equivalent of my Spanish. But I managed to order anyway. She asked a question. I had no clue. But after a few rounds and some hand gestures, I realized she was asking for a size. I pantomimed small, medium, and large, saying them in English without thinking, then asked for a medium.

She got a big grin on her face and repeated “Medium,” adding, “I spoke English!” She was so excited she forgot to charge me. (Yes, I reminded her.) The whole exchange left me smiling.

#

This is such an odd post to try to write. I had a wonderful time in Buenos Aires. I’m so happy and honored that I got to go. I was also depressed about the trip, especially that first day or two. Both of these things are true.

I’m going to France next week for Les Imaginales. I’m feeling anxious. I suspect the depression will hit me in much the same way, especially that first day when I’m exhausted and have nothing scheduled. I’m mentally berating myself about feeling stressed instead of excited. I know, intellectually, that this will be another wonderful experience.

But brain weasels don’t give a shit.

  • “Now you’re depressed about going to France? You are such a disappointment.”

It’s just over five years since I got my diagnosis. Since I started taking antidepressants and talking to a therapist. It’s frustrating to be reminded that, like the diabetes, this isn’t something we’ve been able to “cure.” Instead, it’s something I try to manage. Like the diabetes, some days I do better than others, and some situations make it harder to manage.

To everyone I met and talked to in Buenos Aires: It’s not you; it’s me. You were amazing, and I had a genuinely great time, despite this chemical imbalance in my brain.

And to the brain weasels, I’m sure I’ll see you again next week. Hopefully I’ve learned enough to get you back into your cages. But just in case, maybe I should Google the McDonald’s closest to my hotel in Paris…

Back from Buenos Aires

BA topiaryTuesday afternoon I got back from a week in Buenos Aires, where I got to be a part of the Buenos Aires International Book Fair.

Huge thanks to my publisher, El Ateneo, for the invitation and for arranging things. Especially Marina and Canela, who showed me around and provided translations as needed, along with some delicious food!

Thanks also to the US Embassy, who covered much of the cost, arranged to get me to and from the airport, and generally worked to make sure I had a good experience.

It was great getting to meet so many enthusiastic readers and fans. I am delighted and honored by all of the kindness you showed.

Photo of me taking a selfie at my book fair presentation

I have a lot of photos up over at Flickr. Some of them were taken while I was on a bus tour of the city, so they may not be perfectly and artistically composed, but I don’t care. I loved getting to see so much of Buenos Aires.

One of my favorite places, naturally, was the El Ateneo bookstore:

El Ateneo bookstore

El Ateneo was originally a theater, and has been named one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. I could have stayed there all week, despite not being able to read any of the books. Best of all, they had a nice display of my books in the front as you come in the door.

There’s so much more to talk about, from all the kissing to the fact that my hotel was close to a waterway, which meant I caught about 100 Magikarp. But I need to get back to work, since I’m leaving again in a week and a half, and there’s way too much to do between now and then.

I hope you like the pics!

PS, I almost forgot! My publisher must have been happy with how things went too, because as soon as I got home, they sent my agent an offer to buy the second princess book. So The Mermaid’s Madness will be the next of my books to come out in Spanish! 😀

Jim C. Hines