Tag Archives: gregory maguire

Beyond Words: A Fantasy Author Charity Calendar Project

Lauren Zurchin, professional photographer and managing editor of the SF/F blog Lytherus, contacted me the other day about a new project. Basically, she wants to dress up fantasy authors in custom-made costumes and photograph them for a calendar. She has a decent roster of authors lined up, several of whom I’ve read or at least heard of: Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, Christopher Paolini, Gregory Maguire, Tad Williams, Patrick Rothfuss, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Lauren Kate, Lauren Oliver, Maggie Stiefvater, Gail Carriger, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.

Ms. Zurchin explains further:

This project is huge, and with the support of these authors I’ve taken to Kickstarter to raise the bare-minimum funds needed to make this project a reality. Every author involved in the project has offered limited edition exclusive items up for grabs — prizes that are only offered this one time and never again. Kickstarter contributors can find limited edition prints of their fantasy calendar photo (signed), wall posters (signed), “personalized packs” (containing prints, autographed calendar, and more — personalized and signed by the author), and calendars signed by all fourteen of the project’s participants. There are several high-end prizes up for grabs, including Skype chats with a few of the participating authors. […] The Kickstarter runs through the end of February and aims to raise $15,000.

Enough to pique your interest? Visit the Kickstarter page.

And here’s where things get interesting (aka, the “why you should care” bit): proceeds from the calendar are going to support the charities First Book (which donates books to schools and children’s programs) and WorldBuilders (which raises donations for Heifer International through auctions of author-donated goodies). Worthy causes both. Ms. Zurchin goes into more detail on her website.

I contributed. I don’t have any particular attachment to any one of the authors but I like fantasy photography and the fact that it’s of fantasy authors is a cute idea. And raising funds to make a product that will ultimately be sold for charity sits well with me.

P.S. – For those of you with an interest in seeing authors being awesome, I still have a few of these left.

P.P.S. – I have absolutely no idea how Ms. Zurchin found me. I’m just pleased she did, because otherwise this never would have appeared on my radar.

The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire

The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire: While I was reading this, I was really enjoying it, but now that I look back, I can’t quite figure out what it was trying to do. There’s a lot of humor and a fair bit of tragedy, but not a whole lot of story. A woman goes mad when she gets clonked on the head by a statue of the Virgin Mary. A trio of gay men befriend a gaggle of elderly nuns. A teenage girl is self-righteously angry but also rather hilariously dumb. A man with HIV gets ill. People mistreat each other. A man is hopelessly obsessed with his married ex. But when the story ends, nothing’s really all that different from when we started. I guess you can assume that everybody gets over their issues and and turns over a new leaf, but who can tell?

On the bright side, Maguire doesn’t trot out the thesaurus quite so often as he does in his fairy tale retellings (Wicked, et al), which made for a less frustrating read. All in all, it’s not bad for a free book, but not something I’d want to read again. I like books that tell a story, and I felt like one wasn’t really told here. I can deal with the open-endedness, but I finished this feeling more like the plot was simply set up and then left as an exercise for the reader.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire: Here is the story of Iris and her sister Ruth, famed stepsisters of the Cinderella tale. Like Maguire’s earlier Wicked, it is a retelling of a famous story from the villain’s point of view. Also like Wicked, the heroine of the canon is portrayed as self-serving and cruel, while the villain is merely a social outcast, trying to puzzle her way through the world as best she can. The Cinderella story is nearly unrecognizable for about two thirds of the book, while it discusses Iris’s love of painting and Clara (Cinderella)’s bizarre self-imposed seclusion, but in the end there is a prince and a ball and a lost slipper. Despite a general confusion throughout most of the story, I turned the last page feeling at least most of my questions had been answered. I don’t know that I will go out of my way to read more Maguire – I grew weary of so much unneccessary use of hundred-dollar words and such impossibly flowery dialogue – but I am glad I read this one. I like fairy tales and all their retellings; hopefully the popularity of Maguire’s version will not overshadow others’ attempts to show the other side of the story.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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