15 Oct 2013
by Jeffrey Thomas
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(WONDERBOOK, released this week from Abrams Image)
WONDERBOOK. Aptly named. But how to even describe it? Well, here’s what the publisher (Abrams Image) says:
“This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, Wonderbook energizes and motivates while also providing practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. Aimed at aspiring and intermediate-level writers, Wonderbook includes helpful sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names in fantasy today, such as George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, and Karen Joy Fowler, to name a few.”
And I myself have a little contribution, in a section on revisions. Along with other writers such as Peter Straub, I was asked to describe an instance of revision to one of my works. I recounted a radical change in direction I took at the halfway point of my SF thriller HEALTH AGENT (released in 2008, but written between 1987-1989). My comment appears as a “revision snake,” in one of the sizable book’s innumerable clever and original sections.
(My "revision snake" from WONDERBOOK)
The book is in fact so imaginative and downright bizarre in its graphic design, and profusely illustrated (primarily by the delightful Jeremy Zerfoss), that it can easily serve not just as an aid for writers, but as a coffee table art book as well. It is tremendous fun throughout; a veritable treasure chest of, well…wonders.
The editor is Jeff VanderMeer, who supplies a mind-boggling amount of instructive and entertaining content, including a look into his own creative process while writing his recent novel FINCH (and one can imagine this book bringing a whole new wave of readers to that excellent novel).
(WONDERBOOK editor Jeff VanderMeer)
So kudos to Jeff VanderMeer, all the terrific writers who contributed articles and essays, the astonishing artists, and to Abrams Image for bringing forth such an utterly unique creation. I’m proud to be, in some small way, a part of the proceedings.
As I write this, WONDERBOOK is ranked #391 at Amazon.com. Here are some links to order it, at Amazon and elsewhere:
And then there’s…
WONDERBOOK at YouTube (this link is for HD, preferred quality):
WONDERBOOK at Abrams Image:
The official WONDERBOOK website: