I’m a published journalist now.

14,September, 2009

I really have no idea where they got that picture – I have no memory of it ever being taken.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6832189.ece

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Atop the Acropolis

6,September, 2009

I seem to see Athens it terribly chic.

Atop the Acropolis it’s terribly Greek.

There’s Venus, Adonis and us cheek-to-cheek.

Oh how chic, to be Greek cheek-to-cheek.

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Beefy Commies

4,September, 2009

I’m in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol – the main harbour for the Russian Mediterranean fleet.  Part of the controversial Ukrainian independence deal was that the Russian still get to birth their fleet here.

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Everywhere you go there are beefy Russian sailors and even beefier Ukrainian men that look like they just came out of a casting call for Rocky IV.  (Isn’t that the one where he fights the Russian?)

I think maybe the reason we Americans hated the Russians for so long was because they were handsomer than us.  The road from the harbour is filled with memorials to the war dead, all built in that imposing Russian block style and adorned with that hard soviet calligraphy.

As a child of the cold war I can’t help but feel a bit uneasy.  I was taught to hate this race and fear the sound of this language.  It occurs to me that if this was the 60’s the only way I could have been here was as a spy.  If I had been caught walking around with my tiny spy camera – I would have been banished to a Siberian salt mine as the US State Department denied my existence.

A video – Where am I?

3,September, 2009

Galloping Senility

1,September, 2009

I’m sitting in a seaside café in the Ukrainian city of Yalta. I know nothing of Yalta except that after WWII it’s where Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt met to sort out Europe. What a meeting that must have been. I now know the girls on the beach are pretty and you can get a good omelette at this café with a name in an alphabet I’m not familiar with.

I should explain that I’m in port from a cruise ship and not wandering around Eastern Europe with galloping senility (‘Galloping senility’ is a term a teacher of mine – a nun – accused me of having when I was nine.) I know I should make every port a learning opportunity but these days I just look for a good cup of coffee and free internet access. When I got on this ship I didn’t even know where it was going. I only knew I boarded in Istanbul and left in Athens. Yesterday I was in a town in Turkey and I didn’t even know its name. There is something very pleasant about walking around with no idea where you are. Maybe I’m just practicing for the onset of senility.

Little Ideas

31,August, 2009

John Scalzi’s wonderful science fiction blog, Whatever, has a section called Big Idea, where authors discuss the idea that sparked their novels.  I submitted an essay for Big Idea but John said that since Shadowmagic  is published in the UK that his American readers would find it too difficult to buy it (even though it’s sold through Amazon.com.) Oh well, Whatever’s loss is Gratuitous Socks’ gain.

Here is my essay   Little Ideas.

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Little Ideas

There was no Big Idea for Shadowmagic, just a lot of little ones that added up.

I have always loved first person narratives about a serious situation where the main character keeps his/her sense of humour: Corwin in Nine Princes in Amber, Jim diGriz in the Stainless Steel Rat and (even though, John, I read your book after I wrote Shadowmagic) John Perry in Old Man’s War.  For my first Little Idea, I wanted to create a character like that.

My second Little Idea was to try and create a book that would be as captivating for my 12 year old son as Roger Zelazny’s Amber series was for me at that age.  While writing Shadowmagic I spent half my time trying not to just transcribe Nine Princes in Amber – hopefully I succeeded.  What I did take away was a first person character that was transported into a fantastic situation where he didn’t have a clue as to what was going on.   The reader learns at the same time as the character.

Little Idea three, came from a video game I used to play on the Atari ST – Dudgeon Master.  DN had an interactive map that only revealed new areas of the dudgeon after you found them.   The idea of a land that appeared fully formed only after the rightful king found it was a big part of the first plotting of Shadowmagic.  As the book became fully formed, that idea almost disappeared.  But if I can give a reader just a tiny experience of the feeling I had, in the wee hours of the morning, as I screamed at the sight of a giant dungeon rat appearing on my monitor – I’ve done my job.

Four, Macbeth.  Don’t worry folks, there are no thys and forsooths in Shadowmagic but the idea of a character that allows a soothsayer’s prophesy to shape their life -only to find that the prophesy was completely different to what was expected – has always intrigued me.

Five, and this is a biggie, was a play I saw, years ago, in a little theatre in Cork, Ireland.  It was called Women in Arms and I don’t even know who wrote it.  It was a play about a group of people who told stories from Irish mythology to keep their spirits up.  From that I learned of the ancient Irish texts like: The Tain and the Ulster Cycle.  Stories, that I think, put the Arthurian stuff to shame.  Through my love of Irish mythology I found the myth from the O’Neil clan about how the Red Hand of Ulster came to be on the flag of Northern Ireland.  Telling it would be a spoiler but trust me – it’s a good one.

Six, I wanted Conor, my main character, to realise that his father was much more than he thought.  I’m a dad- cut me a break.

Lastly, I wanted it to have humour.  I make my living as a stand-up comedian and humour is literally my life.  I’m a firm believer that there is no situation so dire or so tragic that still doesn’t allow or need a good joke.  It gets me in trouble at funerals sometimes but I still hold firm to that philosophy.

I wrote Shadowmagic just to see if I could.  I didn’t even expect it to be published but the response I have received from it has been amazing.  It’s given me faith in my writing and (if I may be overly dramatic) it has changed my life.  I won’t make that claim for you readers but I’m sure you will like it.

John Lenahan

***

Product Description from Amazon.co.uk

A Lord of the Rings for the 21st century. Only a lot shorter. And funnier. And completely different. Conor thought he was an average teenager. OK, so his father only had one hand, spoke to him in ancient languages and was a bit on the eccentric side but, other than that, life was fairly normal. Until, that is, two Celtic warriors on horseback and wearing full armour appear at his front door and try to kill him. After that, things get pretty weird. Shadowmagic is a fantasy adventure for young adults (although grown ups will like it too). Written by one of the most popular magicians in the country it brings a fresh approach to the genre and will have a broad appeal beyond the fantasy sections.

About the Author
John Lenahan is a popular TV magician who became the first person in 85 years to be expelled from the Magic Circle. He has had a prime time BBC1 TV show called ‘Secrets Of Magic’ and also a BBC2 series ‘Stuff The White Rabbit’. He was the voice of the toaster in ‘Red Dwarf’ and has made guest appearances on numerous variety shows. He has toured with Jack Dee, Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood. Shadowmagic was an award-winning podcast novel prior to being signed to Harper Collins

Have a look at Shadowmagic’s  reviews on www.bookarmy.com

Danny & Me

29,August, 2009

Britain’s finest broadcaster, Mr. Danny Baker was kind enough to have me back on his BBC Radio London show to promote Shadowmagic.

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Have a listen here if you missed it and then never miss another one of Danny’s shows again.

JL

Shadowmagic in Harrods

28,August, 2009

I had a book signing event in the Waterstones Bookshop in Harrods today.

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I sold out the allotted books in under two hours.

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Man am I good at this selling stuff.  I even sold two books to people that didn’t speak English.

John L

A lovely piece of dialog.

26,August, 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a program that I refused to watch because of it’s obvious banality.  My then young son wanted to watch it but we as concerned parents wouldn’t let him.  Then, as my wife and I were driving in the US listened to a highbrow arts review program on public radio, the presenter astonished us by claiming that Buffy was the best show on TV.  So we gave it a go and you know what?  They were right.  Humour, suspense, pop culture satire, subtle right of passage metaphors – this show had it all – along with a great cast and courageous writers and producers.  (They did one episode were no one talked and another that was a musical.)

I know I’m either preaching to the choir or to those who will never see it since it finished half a decade ago but I was reminded about how wonderful the show was when I happened on it today while channel flipping and I heard this lovely piece of dialog:

“You have to have patience.”

“I tried patience but it took too long.”

Today and tommorow.

26,August, 2009

I’m on Danny Baker’s Show today (Wednesday Aug.26) on BBC Radio London 95.5  at 4:00 pm  and tomorrow (Thursday)I’m sighning books and performing magic in Harrods.  In their Young Adult Book section. (That’s a floor above the Waterstones book section.)