As I suspect is the case with most writers, the question of author photos has been, for me, a vexed one. My ten years working in a bookshop gave me strong views on what not to do: booksellers take great delight from jacket pics that are vain and pretentious. But what to do instead?

Since my publication debut in 2006 I’ve been using a selfie I fondly call ‘half-headed me and my evil eyeball.’

It was partly inspired by this shot of one of my heroes, Alan Moore:

alan_moore1

As I explained at my school events, it also came from the hypothesis that if young readers saw my whole head it might put them off my books. ;p

I took the pic myself, treated and cropped it on my computer and thought the problem solved. However, as became apparent in the years since, it wasn’t. Repeated requests from schools, libraries, festivals and other interested parties for something ‘less arty’ and in higher resolution persuaded me at last that a rethink was required.

I’m lucky to know a photographer called Sylvie Joly, aka The Opsimath, whose work I think is fabulous. I contacted her, and here’s the result:

SamEnthovenbySylvieJolyFeb2014

(Click for full size)

See that looming shadow, past my shoulder? It’s a Chinj from my book The Black Tattoo, beautifully knitted for me by my friend Elaine. This pic below was my second choice:

ChinjAndBlokeBySylvieJolyFeb2014

Thank you, Sylvie!

…Meanwhile as of last week I’m now on Wattpad, where I plan to put out some stuff. Come and take a look.

On my Facebook profile I’ve been nominated to list some of my favourite things.

Fifteen films I never forget:

Akira

Ed Wood

Wild At Heart

Hero

Mind Game

Sexy Beast

Porco Rosso

Once Upon a Time in the West

Men in Black

Delicatessen

Finding Nemo

Black Cat White Cat

The Life Aquatic

Speed Racer

-and, hell yes-

The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Ten Favourite Books:

Stone Junction by Jim Dodge

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes

The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

True Grit by Charlies Portis

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith

Burning Your Boats (collected short stories) by Angela Carter

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal

-and-

The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola.

The books list was harder than the film one. To discover another four hundred and ninety(!) books I love, check my LibraryThing profile. :D

How has your summer been? Mine’s been ace. I’ve spent it binge-reading the works of Georges Simenon and Christopher Isherwood, dreaming up thrilling ideas for my next book – and making a racket with this:

ThereminDelight

It’s a theremin. I hope one day to play it with even a quarter of the delicacy, style and haunting beauty of virtuosos like Lydia Kavina and Thomas Grillo. For now, however, I’m more than happy to sound like flying saucers, the scream of rifts in time and space and the fatal frequencies conjured by the hapless Crawford Tillinghast in H. P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond.

It’s been a long, bloody and entirely self-inflicted slog but Draft Three of my new book is FINISHED.

Check out what I got for a tenner in a secondhand bookshop to celebrate:

AFineCatch

I’m especially pleased with the middle one – a lovely hardback of Beast by Peter Benchley. In view of my own book’s cephalopodal elements my chancing across this titan of Squid Lit. now is eerily appropriate. :D

I’m in full deep dive mode on Draft Three of the new book. As a matter of fact I recently upgraded my writing bathysphere to one of these:

TheIsolator

The current challenge, as often before with stories of mine at this stage, is characterisation. You’ve heard of authors who know their characters inside out before they start to write, or claim that their creations come to life and drive the story themselves? I’m not one of those. My tendency with early drafts is to focus on plot, world-building, action, structure – stuff. But of course the people in stories need attention too. Hence the question above, as posed (often) by my editor Ruth K. during the redrafting of Crawlers and resounding in my brain ever since.

That gas tank? Mine’s full of coffee. And sometimes Scotch. ;D

Books are a large part of my life, and for most of the past two months my life has looked like this:

Boxed

Now it looks like this:

Booksed

Happy New Year :D

A wholehearted THANK YOU to City of London Academy and to Lydiard Park Academy for the warm welcome both schools gave me this month. Some feedback on my performance just came in from students at the latter:

‘Everyone was silent – nobody could take their eyes OR ears off him.’

‘I found Sam Enthoven really passionate about his work.’

-and-

‘I was very excited about seeing an author; when I saw him he was excited about his new book, funny and, well, a bit mad! But in a good way!’

For details about my school visits and how to book one, see my page at Contact An Author.

This is 30d – or as L. and I call it, The Thod.

Thod

For more than thirteen years for me it’s been been my airship, my space station, my Batcave and my Fortress of Solitude. It’s been a gateway to imaginary dimensions. Places I’ve gone while living inside it include Hell, the secret levels of the Bank of England and the Barbican, and (most recently) a room inside the head of a giant alien lobster lurking at the bottom of the sea.

I’ve got a lot of good memories of this place. Here’s to making more in the next.

Sam

 

On Trapped By Monsters this week, the best fantasy series being written today: the Gentleman Bastard sequence by Scott Lynch.

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