Thursday, December 23, 2010

You can now order THE CIRCLE CAST from


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

For the past week or so I've been trying to come up with a movie pitch based loosely on my childhood, and some of the things that went on between Lisa and me when we were sixteen and then a little later. The story has been very resistant to plotting. I find it hard to write about my own life. For one thing, I'm disinclined to make everyone out to be as horrible as they would need to be for great drama. Lisa and I watched THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, a drama about a family of intellectuals all of whom are various flavors of atrocious people. I do not hate my family as much as Noah Baumbach does.

And yet, and yet, and yet, THE CIRCLE CAST is what I know. And in some ways, it comes out of the same family michegas that my movie about 16 year old Alex came out of. I've always felt close to Morgan because I've always had a deep anger I didn't dare express. And I've always wanted to find the magic in the heart of things. I've always wanted to find out the mystery.

'S funny. I feel like I don't know my childhood like I know Morgan le Fay and the whole King Arthur story. It rings true to me. My own story feels a bit implausible, really.



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Saturday, December 11, 2010

We're working on the electronic press kit (EPK) for the book, to be sent to bloggers and teachers and librarians and other influential folk in the hopes they'll read and recommend the book. My marketing assistant has been after me to create a Twitter account for Morgan to tweet from. I sent her a memo last night that might be interesting:

I was thinking about the tweets you wrote. It seems to me that if Morgan were tweeting, it would be things like:

Today I sheltered in darkness and warmth. Yesterday, out in the bright and cold. Summer overflows. Winter makes sharp choices.

Bitter cold today. Quiet descending into the bones of the land.

Strange how the fallow time is only till Solstice. But it’s true. You can feel Earth stirring after Solstice, even if Water is frozen.

Lit candles and said ancient words. But the powers themselves are wordless. The words are for us.

I don't know if anyone would want to read that, but she would tweet about magic. Occasionally about vengeance. Or pain. Or longing.

I think the Buffy tone is not right. I bet lots of YA books go after that tone. The tone of this book is serious.

I think what sets this book apart is that it takes magic seriously. You could read this book and, if you had the ability to do magic, you could go do magic. It's not about waving a wand around and saying things in Latin. It's about invoking power into yourself through will and talent and craft.

I think the book also recreates the time well. It's set in the time when Arthur must have lived -- in Post-Roman Britain, not in medieval England. And it presents that world in a gritty way, based on detailed historical research. For example, our book's Ireland has no chimneys, and no horses to ride, only chariot ponies. Christianity is only just coming to an illiterate, pagan, barbarian land, and it's a new, scary thing. The Irish still refuse to wear armor in battle.In Britain, the ruling class consider themselves Romans, but Rome has been sacked. I think the book gives a refreshing sense of how you felt living then, and how different that was from now, or from Sir Thomas' Malory's medieval England, or from Britain only a hundred years before under the Roman Empire. It was a time when all bets were off.

Teachers and librarians will probably dig the history more than the magic. And some bloggers will dig the magic more than the history.

I think it's a mistake to present the book as something it's not. We would lose the natural audience of the book, and the book would turn off any readers drawn by a flip presentation. This is the book for readers who think HARRY POTTER is, well, a bit cutesy, and THE MISTS OF AVALON is a little too modern and New Age and ... reasonable.

Morgan is not reasonable. That's why I love her. She is Celtic. She is a hard core, old skool character, like Medea, or Judith in the Bible. I don't know how many YA novels allow their heroine to be seriously flawed. I think Morgan is fascinating because her tragic flaw -- her inability to let go of vengeance -- is exactly what gives her strength and even her identity. She is a heroine because she is flawed.

I think the EPK should make these points. To recap, TCC:

a. takes magic seriously

b. shows a strange time in a gritty, realistic, you-are-there way, that happens to be historically dead on

c. has a badass heroine whose flaw gives her strength, but denies her grace.

Oh, and, "poetic terseness." I love that.



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Sunday, December 5, 2010

From the Toronto Star:
Montrealer Alex Epstein explores the youth of infamous Morgan, King Arthur’s half sister (and ultimately his nemesis), in The Circle Cast: The Lost Years of Morgan le Fay (Tradewind, 300 pages, $12.95, ages 13+). Shipped off for safety when her father is murdered and her mother taken by Uther Pendragon, Morgan lives in exile in Ireland. First welcomed, then enslaved, she develops her gift for sorcery wherever she is — even for a time in a small Christian community. Revenge for her father’s death is her sole desire, and to that end she turns magical knowledge, lust, love and all her abilities as a strategist of war. This has the darkness of Celtic magic — not fanciful, period romance — and a poetic terseness that suits its stern, passionate hero.

I'm pretty happy about that. I think that describes the book extremely well.

UPDATE: I just spoke with my printer. Books are already on their way to stores. They should be at stores in Eastern Canada by Wednesday, which means I would hope they ought to be in stores by Monday. In the US you have to order from (just click on the cover of the book) or wait till next year.



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