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JasperFforde
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Registered: ‎08-24-2007
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Any Questions?

Hello! Jasper Fforde here.

Those frightfully pleasant chaps at B&N dotcom have invited me to drop in every now and again over the next few weeks and respond to any questions you might have, so here I am.

I’m currently writing a new book at present so will be dropping in for a couple of hours or so every evening (my time) so you may have to wait twenty-four hours for a response - but respond I will, even if my answer to your question is ‘er... don’t know.’

Speak soon

Jasper
Melissa_W
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Re: Any Questions?

We're not worthy! We're not worthy! (Sorry, watched Wayne and Garth last night)

I was wondering what your revision process is like. Do you create a plot/timeline and stick to it or do you just write until you think you've got something and then go back and rearrange? There are so many plots and side-plots so I should think you would need to just write and follow where the mind leads.

Thanks!
PS - New book? May we have a little hint? :smileyhappy:



JasperFforde wrote:
Hello! Jasper Fforde here.

Those frightfully pleasant chaps at B&N dotcom have invited me to drop in every now and again over the next few weeks and respond to any questions you might have, so here I am.

I’m currently writing a new book at present so will be dropping in for a couple of hours or so every evening (my time) so you may have to wait twenty-four hours for a response - but respond I will, even if my answer to your question is ‘er... don’t know.’

Speak soon

Jasper


Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
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songgirl7
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Re: Any Questions?

I'm also interested in hearing more about your creative process. Where do the literary references come from? Do they organically pop into your head at the appropriate times, or do you look for references to fit your story? How do yoo desyde wich wurds to mispel (and do these intentional mispelings and mispuncutations drive your editor nuts)?

I asked this question in a different thread, but I'll pose it again here: Will there be another Nursery Crime book, or did the epilogue in The Fourth Bear mean the end of Jack and his adventures?
See what I'm reading now: Goodreads.com


"I can't stop drinking the coffee. I stop drinking the coffee, I stop the standing, and the walking and the putting-words-into-sentences doing."
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marlohill
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Sherlock Holmes:

Mr. Fforde,
Did you enjoy writing about Sherlock Holmes or killing him off the way A. Conan Doyle did?
Marlo Hill
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kalanikaloni
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Re: Any Questions?

Will Bowden ever get to play a larger role in any of the books? I just love the guy.
-katamari damacy-
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Kini
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Re: Any Questions?

With First Among Sequels set 14 years after Something Rotten, and certainly plenty of room to explore after FAS (shame on, and kudos to, you for that cliffhanger ending!), do you think you'll ever write a "filler" book to cover the years between those 2 books? Or will you continue to handle that time as flashbacks?
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Coralee
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Re: Any Questions?

I would simply like to know if the way that you write is the way that your brain works? My oldest daughter and another friend of mine seem to think along the same lines. One is a musical genius and I swear music is constantly running in the background of his mind at all times - hence the spaciness that seems to occupy him at all times. I was just wondering if you understood what I mean and if something along the lines of Bookworld is constantly running in the background all of the time for you as well?
Author
JasperFforde
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Re: Any Questions?

[ Edited ]
"I was wondering what your revision process is like. Do you create a plot/timeline and stick to it or do you just write until you think you've got something and then go back and rearrange? There are so many plots and side-plots so I should think you would need to just write and follow where the mind leads.

Thanks!
PS - New book? May we have a little hint? "



The revision process begins after the first word has been written, I suppose. What you're looking at when you read one of my books is a series of ideas in a constantly improved and ultimately curtailed series of ideas that begin as a mild concept and are then made vaguely plausible before being upgraded again to plotline status before being repotted after I've taken clippings to grow new ideas.

Confused? Me too. Books are very intuitive things and oddly, because I've never studied writing in any form or function and am truly within the legion of the self-taught, I've no real idea how I do it - just vague notions as I go back over my work and try to figure how and why it does all hold together.

Just recently I was attempting to put together a list of what I grandly refer to as 'writing principles' that I tend to stick by in an attempt to explain to myself what I am doing, and number 15 on the list is 'Make it plausible'. This is important, as I have tended from day one in my writing career to take very odd ideas and them make them not only plausible but likely. Take the TN series. The kicking off point for this was the idea that someone kidnaps Jane out of Jane Eyre. Clearly not something that happens in our world. But to 'Domesticate' the fantasy I had to create a background to this concept in which these things could and would happen - Thursday's world had to be a place where everyone loved literature enough to go to Richard III audience participation plays and all the rest of it. Even Thursday is that way so that the bizarre elements of the story seem, well, ordinary. Thursday was moulded by the notion of plausibility. Like the Nursery Rhyme characters living in Jack's world, nothing that happens within those worlds seems odd in the least.

Perhaps this is a long winded way of explaining it, but the construction of the fabric in which the silliness occurs is as important as the silliness itself - perhaps more so. A fantasy world that is ordinary is recognizable, familiar, and hopefully, real enough to give serious drama to the people who live there. If readers care about the characters there is almost no limit to what you can put them through.

None of this really explains the revision process, but it gives perhaps an idea as to how it all comes together. Thursday's world has to have its own framework of logic, and the ideas that I use within it are all logical extensions of the world. I think of an idea and then run with it until it either bares fruit or is hounded to death. It's my Principle 5: 'The Logical Consequence of an Idea'. Take a small idea and run with it. If it works within the framework of the world, stick with it. If it doesn't, let it go.

New book? Any hints? Sure. It'll be mainly paper and ink.

Message Edited by JasperFforde on 09-10-2007 04:55 AM

Message Edited by JasperFforde on 09-10-2007 04:56 AM
Author
JasperFforde
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Re: Any Questions?

[ Edited ]
"I'm also interested in hearing more about your creative process. Where do the literary references come from? Do they organically pop into your head at the appropriate times, or do you look for references to fit your story? How do yoo desyde wich wurds to mispel (and do these intentional mispelings and mispuncutations drive your editor nuts)?"

I asked this question in a different thread, but I'll pose it again here: Will there be another Nursery Crime book, or did the epilogue in The Fourth Bear mean the end of Jack and his adventures? Literary references. This is an interesting idea, and aside from being a great deal of fun in a 'sharing an in-joke' or 'finding an easter egg' sort of way, I think the real humour to making jokes about Shakespeare and the Brontes goes a lot deeper.

The NCD series were written first; and in these I was tapping into the vague notion about taking stuff from our shared childhood (Nursery Crimes) and asking questions about them that were surely always there, but we never thought to ask - Why did Humpty Dumpty fall off the wall? Was he pushed? Why were Mummy bear and Daddy Bear sleeping in separate beds? Marital Discord within the Bear family unit? And what was that porridge thing all about? This is in itself I think a rich seam of potential - Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Stories are generally quite static in one's head, so when I start messing with them, there is a sort of 'finding a door you never noticed before in the spare room of your house' feel about it. Everything seems familiar, and yet, there is something new - something exciting.

After the first two NCD books failed to find a publisher, I started looking around for a new series, and since I had begun to run out of Nursery Stories in the NCD series, I began to pinch characters from classical fiction (Dorian Gray was the first to be 'appropriated' in this manner). This was actually a far better idea, because what I think I was doing was taking VERY SERIOUS STUFF and having fun with it. Sadly, Shakespeare Bronte and all the rest have morphed from popular entertainment to study texts, and I wanted to do something along the lines of turning cartwheels on hallowed ground - puncture some of the pomposity, but still maintain a certain reverence for the source material - 'reverent irreverence', as I call it. I'm certainly not the first to do it - you will recall Monty Python's 'Wuthering Heights' with Semaphore flag and the Reduced Shakespeare's '37 plays in 90 minutes', but it was still there to be used. A book that featured Jane Eyre, Time Travel, werewolves, toast, dodos and the Crimean war. That's my kind of book.

All the books I feature strongly I will have read, but some are hunted down for their relevance to a particular plotline; Sherlock dying at the Rheinbach falls was prime Thursday stuff I've been keeping for a while. clearly we all know he survives and Thursday rescued him - but how does she do it? Other ideas just slot together perfectly. When Emma Hamilton and Hamlet are chatting each other up, they both notice they have a best friend called Horatio.

Yes, there will be a third in the NCD series. 'The Last Great Tortoise Race' will be out in the summer of 2010.

Message Edited by JasperFforde on 09-10-2007 04:55 AM
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JasperFforde
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Re: Sherlock Holmes:

[ Edited ]
"Mr. Fforde,
Did you enjoy writing about Sherlock Holmes or killing him off the way A. Conan Doyle did?
Marlo Hill"


Well, as you'll see in the previous thread, I always thought Sherlock dying at the Rheinbach falls was prime Thursday stuff. I've kept it in reserve for a later book, although you will notice that I built in the 'Conan Doyle books are impossible to bookjump into' plot device to create a natural threshold guardian for Thursday to battle against.

Interestingly, Doyle killed off Sherlock because he felt the Baker Street detective was eclipsing what he thought was his serious work - he thought the Challenger series was far far better, which in many ways it sometimes is. When he finally acceded to public pressure he only brought back Sherlock in an adventure that predated the Rheinback/Moriarty interlude, but after that huge success, even he could see he'd have to write in some miraculous return for his super-sleuth, and he did.

Thursday meeting Sherlock is yet to come - and if there is anyone who could throw some light on Sherlock's death it is, of course, Sherlock himself...

Message Edited by JasperFforde on 09-10-2007 04:56 AM
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JasperFforde
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Re: Any Questions?

[ Edited ]
"Will Bowden ever get to play a larger role in any of the books? I just love the guy."
 

-katamari damacy-I hope so. He was originally there to play the St John Rivers part from Jane Eyre - you will notice how every character in The Eyre Affair has an equivalent in Jane Eyre? Daisy Mutlar is Blanche Ingram, Rochester is Landen and so forth. I like Bowden, I must say - very steadfast and loyal to the death, if a bit fussy at times.

Message Edited by JasperFforde on 09-10-2007 04:57 AM
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JasperFforde
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Re: Any Questions?

[ Edited ]
"With First Among Sequels set 14 years after Something Rotten, and certainly plenty of room to explore after FAS (shame on, and kudos to, you for that cliffhanger ending!), do you think you'll ever write a "filler" book to cover the years between those 2 books? Or will you continue to handle that time as flashbacks?"

Hmm. Don't really know. The only reason it was set 14 years into the future was so I could have a grunty teenager to 'save the world by doing nothing', which was one of the initial concepts I jotted down for the novel.

The short answer is that anything is possible. TN is the broadest canvas there is - because this is fiction about fiction, there is no genre I can't cover somewhere in the books. Since most stories take place over the time span of a week or so, It would be quite easy - although I always feel that if you get used to ancillary characters (such as Jenny), then to write a novel where they can't be mentioned because they don't exist yet might seem a bit odd. But hey, odd is good. I like odd. Anything is possible.

Message Edited by JasperFforde on 09-10-2007 04:58 AM

Message Edited by JasperFforde on 09-10-2007 04:59 AM
Author
JasperFforde
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Re: Any Questions?

[ Edited ]
"I would simply like to know if the way that you write is the way that your brain works? My oldest daughter and another friend of mine seem to think along the same lines. One is a musical genius and I swear music is constantly running in the background of his mind at all times - hence the spaciness that seems to occupy him at all times. I was just wondering if you understood what I mean and if something along the lines of Bookworld is constantly running in the background all of the time for you as well?"

Ooo. Again, can't really say. Clearly my mind is wired this way, but that's not to say that it's something you can't learn - I got it from somewhere. But the very strange thing for me is that none of this seems terribly odd in the least - most of my ideas belong (at least to me) in the 'well, how else could it have turned out?' category of plot devices. The porridge problem could really only come out one way, as does the notion of the missing Agent Godot ending up as a head in a bag. You see, it all slots together. Plot points will automatically pair off as they find their own mates in a symbiotic exchange where the best set-up naturally gravitates to the most appropriate pay-off. The trick is to have plenty of each to make it all work. And a large empty space in one's head for it all to happen.

But I guess you're right. The books are a reflection of the way I think. They have to be, really.

Message Edited by JasperFforde on 09-10-2007 04:59 AM
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Kini
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Re: Any Questions?

Thanks for the answer. I can definitely see the point about ancillary characters. (Jenny . . . hmm . . . can one be ancillary if one only exists in the mind of one person? Interesting.) Sometimes, I'm frustrated by that kind of thing; other times, I'm frustrated by lack of detail about events mentioned. Six of one, half dozen of another. I certainly think the end of SpecOps and startup of Acme would make for interesting reading, although maybe as a section of a book and not the whole of one.

It occurs to me that you could really do anything for the undefined years, since the timeline is so changeable. Things that were happening in FAS weren't entirely true (like Goliath's comeback), yet Thursday had no way of knowing they weren't, since it was time's current perception. So what version of 'reality' would that 14 year timespan depict? As with life, nobody's picture of an event is exactly the same, so perhaps that's a nonsensical question anyway.

Oy. My head hurts.


But hey, odd is good. I like odd. Anything is possible.

Odd is very good. I think we all like odd, or we wouldn't be so enamored of TN!

~ Kini
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suetu
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Re: Any Questions?

In another thread, I just posted that one of my favorite things about this new book is the intergration of contemporary fictional references like Harry Potter and Temperance Brennan. What a fun surprise!

I saw you thanksed Kathy Reichs in the acknowledgements. How did Temperance's appearance come about? Did you seek out Kathy, or did she seek out you?

(BTW, I have a friend who writes a NYT bestselling fiction series and who is a huge fan of yours. Wanna get hooked up for the next TN novel? :smileyhappy: )
Susan
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jenniferK
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Re: Any Questions?

Mr. Fforde I have bee curious, what are some of your favorite books? Mention so many characters in your stories I sometimes wonder what you love to read when you are not writing.
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songgirl7
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Re: Any Questions?

[ Edited ]
I've another question: Where and how does one obtain a Grade II Cheese license? Humboldt Fog (Class B) is my favorite.

Where ever did you get the idea to make cheese an illegal substance? Hilarious.

Message Edited by songgirl7 on 09-11-2007 08:21 PM
See what I'm reading now: Goodreads.com


"I can't stop drinking the coffee. I stop drinking the coffee, I stop the standing, and the walking and the putting-words-into-sentences doing."
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ronincats
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Re: Any Questions?

I was strolling down the twenty-sixth floor of the Great Library in Chapter 6, where Thursday was saying, "The council governs dramatic conventions, strictly controls the use of irony, legislates on word use and, through the Book Inspectorate, decides which novels are to be published and which ones scrapped."

And I began to wonder. Nowadays, with electronic books making self-publishing a possibility no matter how awful the book, will the job, or even the function, of the Book Inspectorate have to change drastically? Before, after all, it was preventing a book already formed, either typed or laboriously printed, from being typecast and published in paper. Now books can get out there in almost primevially raw form and have a wide audience on the Internet. Surely this makes the job much more difficult?

Rhonda
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JasperFforde
Posts: 16
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Re: Any Questions?

"Thanks for the answer. I can definitely see the point about ancillary characters. (Jenny . . . hmm . . . can one be ancillary if one only exists in the mind of one person? Interesting.) Sometimes, I'm frustrated by that kind of thing; other times, I'm frustrated by lack of detail about events mentioned. Six of one, half dozen of another. I certainly think the end of SpecOps and startup of Acme would make for interesting reading, although maybe as a section of a book and not the whole of one.

It occurs to me that you could really do anything for the undefined years, since the timeline is so changeable. Things that were happening in FAS weren't entirely true (like Goliath's comeback), yet Thursday had no way of knowing they weren't, since it was time's current perception. So what version of 'reality' would that 14 year timespan depict? As with life, nobody's picture of an event is exactly the same, so perhaps that's a nonsensical question anyway.

Oy. My head hurts.


But hey, odd is good. I like odd. Anything is possible.

Odd is very good. I think we all like odd, or we wouldn't be so enamored of TN!

~ Kini"


It's a good point about wanting to know about ancillary events and characters, but there is a thin line between having fun explaining the wacky Thursday world and it looking as though I'm infodumping too much, or worse - trying to show off. The trick is to have not too much so it looks forced, but don't be so mean so no-one can figure out what is going on. It's a tricky level to find, not helped by Thursday telling her story in first person. If it doesn't really interest her, then she won't talk about it, and a lot of Thursday's world is very ho-hum to her. Which means I have to use all sorts of tricks to enable her to talk about things she wouldn't normally. The Gravitube is a good example. I want to explain how it all works, but to do so would be annoyingly boyish, nerdy and factoidy - so I have Thursday take Snell on a 'Deep Drop' to Sydney. Snell hasn't been, Thursday has, so she explains what's going on. And to camouflage it further, the chapter is actually about Thursday's Fiction-Infraction when she changed the end of Jane Eyre. If you have a re-read I have Thursday actually not want to explain the Gravitube - in much the same way as you really wouldn't want to explain jet engines to someone who hasn't flown!

Sadly, I think the Fantasy genre can be easily bruised by too much infodumping as the concept overshadows the characters, which is something to be avoided. A fact here, a fact there - and the reader can make up their own picture. It's probably better that way. Hey, reading is the most visual medium after all!

2nd point: Yes, anything could have happened in those 14 years, and one of the interesting things about the TN series is that I can bend the past to fit whatever happens to be going on. I agree it is playing fast and loose with my readers a little bit, but the thing I've learned about writing is that once you set the ground rules, there isn't much you can do that's off-limits. And the TN series DOES allow for a bit of post-book-modification.

I'm hoping people will think: "Okay, yes Pickwick was a boy and she's now a girl - but hey, Jasper must have a good reason for it, and I actually prefer it - to hell with the facts - read on, McDuff!"

Jasper
Author
JasperFforde
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎08-24-2007
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Re: Any Questions?

"In another thread, I just posted that one of my favorite things about this new book is the interrogation of contemporary fictional references like Harry Potter and Temperance Brennan. What a fun surprise!

I saw you thanksed Kathy Reichs in the acknowledgements. How did Temperance's appearance come about? Did you seek out Kathy, or did she seek out you?

(BTW, I have a friend who writes a NYT bestselling fiction series and who is a huge fan of yours. Wanna get hooked up for the next TN novel? )

Susan



This is a question that comes up quite a lot: "Why not more contemporary characters?" Well, this is an area awash with legal implications, not least copyright, which naturally I must and do respect. (The Potter gag was all about this, of course) The thing is, you only know for sure you've infringed it is when a judge says you have, but there are quite clear pointers over ground rules. If I had Winnie the Pooh actually appear and say something, or appear and not say something but did something relevant, then it would be an infringement. However, it would be theoretically possible to have another character explain that he had seen Winnie the Pooh in a corridor, or for me to list Winnie the Pooh as one of several characters hanging around a bear's honey bar or something. (But then again it might not. Disney own the character's rights, and they are notoriously aggressive over their assets) Incidentally, when I had Godot appearing as a head in a bag in TN3, Hodder's lawyers decided I couldn't have infringed, as Godot doesn't actually appear in 'Waiting for Godot', but admitted they might have warned against it if Beckett had still been alive.

In another universe where Winnie the Pooh was in the Public Domain, I would have had Pooh as the Fourth Bear. As it was, I had to make do with the 'Vinnie Craps'character name instead.

The Kathy Reichs thing came about because Kathy was interviewed in a magazine and said she thought Thursday was pretty cool, so I emailed and asked if she'd like Tempe to appear in a 'Character Exchange Program'. Kathy was up for this and when I submitted copy for her to approve, she didn't change a word. Nevertheless, we still had to make sure all the legalities were taken care of.

Mind you, using characters from the classics is actually a lot more fun as they arrive with a 'don't mess with this, Fforde, it's serious' sort of baggage that adds a certain frisson. Miss Havisham has a certain permenance and immovability to her, which makes it funier when I decide she's a dotty old bird who likes fast cars.

JF
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