from Home, a project by the CompuServe Books & Writers Community
2005 Edition, with huge thanks to Diana Gabaldon, Silvia Kuttny-Walser,
Elvira Mittheis, Britta Schöffmann,
my ever-patient husband Michael ... and Joss Whedon.
from Krefeld, Germany (mostly, though, from My Amazed Brain)
I know that the Letters from Home (if you wonder what that is, take
look at the message where Carol Krenz proposed the project on Nov. 6, 2004)
are supposed to take a look around at your neck of the woods and report
what's going on. Since the Holiday Season is traditionally also a time to
look back and reflect, though, I hope I'll be forgiven if I do just that.
I didn't have a New Year's Resolution at the beginning of 2005, but I
had a few dates marked in my calendar. Back then, Diana still expected to
finish A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, which I was already translating pretty
much as her printer (well, her e-mail provider) spewed it out, by the end of
March, so I assumed attending the European Dressage Championships on the
last weekend in July as a photographer wouldn't be a problem (they were
supposed to take place in Moscow, but there were rumors early on that the
Russians wouldn't be able to finance them and that they'd be moved to either
Arnhem/Holland or Hagen/Germany, both places that I can reach by car in an
hour). I also blithely (and very gladly) accepted an assignment to translate
Dana Stabenow's A TAINT IN THE BLOOD into German, due September 1st.
There was one film that I was really, really looking forward to, and that
was Joss Whedon's theatrical debut SERENITY, based on his
wonderful-but-short-lived TV FIREFLY. Oh, and there were plans for a quick
trip to Scotland in October.
Little did I know.
So the year started with something I hadn't expected at all. I got to
visit Nadine Capellmann, the current Dressage World Champion, at her home in
Aachen. Nadine is a very sympathetic lady, and a very graceful rider. Her
new hope, Elvis, had been training in my home town for a while, and she
sometimes jokingly calls me Elvis' court photographer, so I was honored when
a fellow journalist and author (and my invaluable riding instructor), asked
me to take the photographs to illustrate a series of articles she was doing
for the American magazine DRESSAGE TODAY.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Diana said I could have the completed
manuscript of ABOSAA by May 1st,
and the American publisher announced September 27 as the release date for
the U.S. version. So I had an idea ... that was going to have Consequences.
I knew that Random House wanted to repeat the reading/signing tour
we did two years ago when the Lord John Mystery came out, so I called
Silvia Kuttny-Walser, the German editor, and told her that if we wanted to
do a tour, it would have to be before that date because the Americans
wouldn't let Diana go for months, once the book was out. So Munich made
plans with Diana, and set a German release date for the 6th
Little did I know.
Local dressage rider Heiner
Schiergen asked me to do his web site, wich was/is huge fun. And the
German version of LEGENDS II (which contains another Lord-John-story)
finally came out, titled DER MAGISCHE PAKT and featuring Diana's name
prominently on the cover. And Jessica Süss,
who is only 21 but practically grew up on horseback in circus arenas all
over Europe, started training my five-year-old Friesian stallion Talisker,
who is turning out to be ... pure joy to work with. And my e-mail-box
received increasing numbers of messages from fans titled “Book
#6 – when?”
On May 15, Diana sent me a message titled “Section
10 <puff, pant, gasp>”.
I was a bit taken aback that the message itself was so brief and
matter-of-fact, since she had said, way back when, that the
book would consist of ten sections, so this was it then, right? I sent
her congratulations on being finished ... and she said that, er,
hadn't she told me that there were twelve sections by now? So
here I was, three and a half months before this 1300-page monster was
to be released (and don't forget to allow a month for production) and
I realized that I still had almost a third of the book ahead of me.
This was pretty much the point when Diana, who of course had her own
nice chunk of the story to finish yet, started sending prayers to St.
Jerome, whom her research had turned up as the patron saint of
translators. Me? I went out and photographed some horses, in this case
a herd of pony colts at the Bönniger
Pony Stud Farm. Magic ...
16, Diana sent me Section 12. Her message, again, was brief, but this time
it was accompanied by the “sound
of every fibre in my body relaxing”,
so I felt safe enough to tell Silvia that I'd deliver the book on the first
of August. (I had told her the middle of July before, and I
don't want to know how many sleepless nights she
spent over this ...)
So, the European Dressage Championships came and went without me, and
I delivered the last part of the book in the wee hours of August 2. Seconds
later, the first parcel of galleys to be proofread hit my doorstep. Five
weeks until publication, six weeks until the first night of the tour. On
August 11, Silvie sent me a message titled “Geronimooooo!”
after sending the last of the corrected galleys to the typesetter. On
September 2, the postman brought me a copy of EIN HAUCH VON SCHNEE UND
ASCHE. It was unreal.
Almost unnoticed, I also received a copy of “my”
first Dana Stabenow mystery Das
verleugnete Grab (A Grave Denied) sometime in August. And
fortunately, my editor for those mysteries stretched my deadline for
the second one, which I should have turned in by September 1st
but did eventually finish early in November. Thank you, Elvira
Mittheis! So I could at least attend a few days of the CHIO in Aachen,
the world's greatest riding event. Got to see a few of the new
European Champions performing after all, and caught a few glimpses of
the new talent likely to compete at next year's World Championships,
especially Isabell Werth, who is back big time (heartfelt
congratulations!), and of course Nadine Capellmann and her truly
September came and went in a whirl of activity. The center of that
whirl was, of course, the tour with Diana (and my tour
diary made the click counter on my web site soar). Britta Schöffmann
asked me to do pretty much all the illustrations for a
new book she was writing on Horse Handling. And fate had it that a hay
field adjoining the stable where my horses are boarded got “fenced
in” by corn
fields so we could let the horses run free there without having actual
fences in the pictures I naturally took. Not an opportunity I get every day,
so I photographed the horses of several friends there and, finally, my own
two Friesian stallions. And I translated thirty pages of a soon-to-be
bestseller titled IM ZEICHEN DER SERAPHIM (THE FRANCISCAN CONSPIRACY) by
John Sack. Don't ask.
On September 21st, I saw
SERENITY. It was everything I had hoped for. What I hadn't dreamed of was
that I'd get to interview Joss Whedon (my other favorite storyteller,
next to Diana) and his two leading actors, Nathan Fillion and Summer Glau (I
already posted a report of that here). The disillusioning part, of
course, was trying to sell those articles afterwards. Everybody loved the
article I wrote about the release of the German version of the FIREFLY DVD
box, but unfortunately, they had formats to stick with, and they didn't see
how it could fit in. Ditto for trying to sell the interviews along with my
review of SERENITY. In the end, I was grateful to my editor Dietmar Kanthak
at the Bonner
not only did he not butcher the review itself, he at least honored my
obvious love for the film by doing all he could and printing a portrait I
took of Joss Whedon along with it. I hope that putting all the material up
on my web site did at least help a bit as well.
In December, the nice man who delivers parcels to my house got a lot
to do. Okay, a lot of it was self-inflicted, like the FIREFLY box set
I ordered for my daughter (whom I would never have expected to love
SERENITY so much), the ASTONISHING X-MEN and SANDMAN comics for my son
(no surprise here). Then I got the first parcel from Random House –
a box of (extremely yummy!) gingerbread from Silvia. Then, the second
– a small
burlap bag with greetings from Santa, filled with hundreds of tiny
chocolate bars. Berit Böhm,
the German publicist, had already sent me one of these last year, to
carry me though the work to come (little did we know) and she was kind
enough to remember me again. Danke! And a day before Christmas Eve ...
first an envelope from Random House, contaning a Christmas card from
Diana, astonishing enough, given that her Christmas cards ave a
tendency to arrive around Easter. A couple of hours later, Parcel Guy
rang and delivered this huge box, also from Random House. Inside a
card from Silvia's secretary, saying that she was sending this on
behalf of Diana –
and a boxed Book Club set of the first five of Diana's books. Now, the
Book Club editions of the books are usually not for the faint of heart,
since the covers make your eyes hurt. And your teeth. And your stomach.
And your toenails. I had no idea that this particular edition existed,
though, until folks started showing up with books from it at the
signings. I asked Silvia how to get it, and she said that it was a
limited edition and for all she knew, it was out of print. Diana must
have caught me drooling over the books (the illustration doesn't
really capture their beauty, but trust me, they are a sight to behold.
And to fondle. And to look at with incredulity, because two of them
have my name in them ...) so she asked them to send me the box.
|So, this year at Christmas, tears of
joy! Plans and hopes for next year? Scotland in June. The World Equestrian Games in August. Getting the
copy of SERENITY I ordered from amazon sometime soon. Holding the first copy
of Britta's book in my
hands. And of course whatever Diana comes up with next.
Love to all, Barbara