The Real Paul Jones

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Orson Scott Card at Quail Ridge Books

Last night we drove over to Raleigh to hear Orson Scott Card at the Quail Ridge Bookstore. OSC is Tucker’s favorite author, of the moment anyway, and Quail Ridge is one of our favorite bookstores.
OSC is beginning a tour to promote his new book, Magic Street, which features a cast of entirely African-American characters as well as an homage to Midsummer Night’s Dream (he says).
First off, OSC announces that he will not read from the book because, in part, the audiobook version, which is not yet listed for sale, does a much better job than he could possibly do. Instead he will answer questions from the audience. He’s got several amusing answers in the can and as a guy who started as an actor and playwright in Utah, he can make the answers seem fresh and even improvised.
Several newsy items are announced. His extremely popular Ender’s Game is being made into a movie. The announcement that the guy writing the screenplay would be the same guy who wrote Troy was greeted by a level of disappointment that OSC obviously didn’t anticipate. [the Internet Movie Database lists Troy screenwright David Benioff not as the writer, but as the executive producer. Several others including OSC are listed as writers. The director of Troy, Wolfgang Petersen, is listed as the director for Ender’s]. OSC explained in various ways what Troy is a fine movie and how it shows how well Benioff and Petersen will understand and do a good job of Ender’s Game. At any rate, the movie isn’t due out til 2007.
In the meantime, OSC thinks that Magic Street might make it out as a movie first. According to him, Queen Latifah [warning Mama and Papas cover playing here] is looking at Magic Street. OSC even wrote one character with Latifah in mind after having had a conversation with her. He is very optimistic that Magic Street will be a movie and went on a bit about that.
He also had a lot to say about what a deal it was to write about/as black characters. Then true to OSC, and other writers, immediately said it wasn’t such a big deal. He did a lot of research, but then he really only talked intently to friends who are from the African-American culture.
OSC gives advice about writing that is teaching writing or not teaching writing. Mostly he rants about the Scarlet Letter for a while. His attitude toward the Scarlet Letter approaches that of a Scientologist’s toward psychiatry although it seems to be more for entertainment purposes. His approach to teaching writing too is highly varied and contradictory. First allow a lot of free writing. Don’t enforce rules. Then teach grammar and spelling. No Great Books. But he needed Great Books to be the writer he is. To be fair to OSC, he has age dependent contingencies for these suggestions. And he’s written a few books on how to write in his time.
Speaking of learning to write. About half the audience came over from the Duke Creative Writer’s Workshop in a big bus. The shoppers were given a choice of going to a Durham Bull’s baseball game or coming to a bookstore to hear OSC. Lots came. They were accompanied by their teachers, fellow WW grads Mimi Herman and Floyd Harris.
Much amusing OSC patter continued for about an hour then the signing began. Long lines with happy people.

1 Comment

  1. I was planning to go see him at Quail Ridge when fate intervened. I am immensely sorry I missed him, particularly after your account. He spoke to the John Locke Foundation a few years ago, which allowed me to put a face and an acquaintance with the name of an author I have long enjoyed.

    Thanks for the report, Paul. Looking forward to seeing Ender’s Game, the Movie. Cheers.

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