Once upon a time, I blogged every day of the week. It was partly a way to keep writing daily and partly an attempt to build an audience for my fiction. To varying degrees, I did both. I managed it for a number of years until I fell out of it for all the reasons you fall out of a habit. Now, however, I am modestly trying to keep to a blogging schedule of every Monday. For the most part, I think blogs have shifted into other social media, and I use those a little bit here and there, but time is just not what it used to be, so I am pretty inconsistant unless asked a question.
At any rate: Welcome to a month after the Godless was released.
It’s a strange experience, still. Last week I caught up with a friend of mine. We met up in Glebe Books and he said, ‘Do you want to sign your books while we’re here?’ And I laughed and said that my books weren’t there. Then he pointed to the counter, where a stack of ten or fifteen were sitting, right where people would go up to pay for their purchases. It’s still pretty surreal to see a book of mine like that, really. Maybe I’ll never get used to it. I suspect not.
I heard on the weekend that Dead Americans had also had a bit of a bump in sales from the publisher, which I put down to the Godless. It is nice to see, regardless of what is responsible – a short story collection very rarely gets the love that a novel does, so in this way, for store presence, the two are quite opposite.
I watched the original Day of the Jackal and Serpico during the week, both of them cool films. Sidney Lumet, the director of Serpico, got two really fine performances out of Al Pacino in both this and Dog Day Afternoon, and while the latter remains my preferred, Serpico was pretty decent. Likewise the original Day of the Jackal, directed by Fred Zinnemann – it starts off a bit rough, but when it settles into itself, it becomes a pretty taunt thriller, and you could do a lot worse than checking it out.
Lastly, I finished Brendan Connell’s the Metanatural Adventures of Dr. Black, a collection of shorts and novellas that you could argue is a novel, and which follows the short statured, bearded, and cigar smoking Dr. Black through a set of adventures. At times slyly funny, at times surreal, and always with a deft hand at workplay, and a confident voice that is willing to break down the traditional structures of a story and a paragraph, it is a hugely strong book by Connell. His best? Perhaps. It’s certainly one of my favourites, and is of interest to anyone who likes a book that is both ambitious and aware of itself. Also, I’ll drop a small note into the design of the book, with features some sketches by the late John Connell, and which are worked between chapters, and on the back cover, adding to the air that the book is private creation, given out to a select group of men and women. Totally cool – totally worth scoring yourself a copy.
On Friday, the girlfriend and I adopted two black cats, around eleven months old each. Before we left for London we agreed that, upon our return, we would take in a new cat, and these two, brother and sister, came as a pair from the rescue shelter. They are both settling in well, and it is nice to have a new pair of animals around – and in truth, I have missed telling my friends how the cat is doing when they clearly have no interest in it. Good times, ahead.
Anyhow: the cats are settling in, becoming used to us, and finding all the hiding spots around the house that neither of us know about.
In other news, the Godless is moving along, appearing in stores, being shared by people around. A friend of mine took this photo in Dymocks in Perth’s CBD.
For my part, I just try and get people to talk about the book in places, to let word of mouth build. I tell myself that it is a long game I’m playing – there’s a paperback next year, a second book after that, then the paperback of that and the third book, but it’s such a strange experience seeing a book I wrote shelved that like that I vaguely feel a sense of panic that it’s not going to work out, that everything is a disaster already… and it’s around that time that I get up, walk away from the ‘net and the computer, and try to do something different for a while. Occasionally it makes a difference. Occasionally not.
At any rate, there’s a bunch of stuff that needs doing today, and I ought to go and do that, really. Also, I’ve lost track of one of the new cats again.
I got back from London on Friday, but having managed to board the flight with a cold that was only made worse over the next twenty four or so hours of travel, I spent the next three days sleeping and eating drugs. But it’s Monday now, and I feel a semblance of normality, and so what follows is mostly what I can remember, or at least what others assure me happened.
The big thing that happened while I was in London was that the Godless was released. It was pretty exciting, since it had been well over a year since I sold the series, and edits had taken place, and covers had been made. To have it out and have it so that people could buy it was pretty cool, but then, then–
This photo (not taken by me, but by Iain Triffitt) is of the Godless in Heathrow airport, believe it or not.
It was a bit of a holy shit moment, really. The Godless is my fifth book and I have, literally, seen one single copy of my work in a bookshop, once. It was a copy of Black Sheep, and I saw it a handful of years ago in Galaxy Bookshop, which is one of Sydney’s specialist genre stores. That’s been it. That’s the only time I have seen a book of mine in a store – which is not to say that they haven’t been there, because they have and people have sent me photos of them, but you’ve had to search for them, you have had to know about them beforehand, and you certainly haven’t seen a motherfucking stack of them in a goddamned international airport with a promo sticker on them.
So, it was pretty cool, y’know?
(Later, My girlfriend and I saw them at Gatwick Airport, and I have been told, by those who traveled more than myself, that you could even find it in trainstations and all over places, which is frankly mind boggling.)
There have been reviews on blogs, and I have been thankful to see that a number of them have understood what it is that I wanted to do with the book. If you’re curious, you can check out a few here at the Bookonaut, the Book Plank, Lynn’s Book Blog, Gizzimomo’s Bookshelf, and A Fantastical Librarian. As always, there’s some people who didn’t like it, but so far no one has compared me to Michael Chabon as a criticism, so I’ll spare you the link. You’d be surprised by how many misspell names and incorrectly report plot details, but that’s negative reviews for you. You don’t much care if you do not care. However, that said, if you have read the book and have liked it, I’d appreciate it if you did drop a few words on it at the various amazons and Goodreads - I am not sure if it makes a difference, but despite the above photo of airport success, the book still needs help to find its audience, and for its audience to find it, especially in this month of big releases by big names.
Anyhow, while the book was being released in the UK and USA, I attended Loncon, and met various people who I work with that I have not met before, and thought that they were all quite nice. It helped that the majority of them bought me food and drinks when they met me, as if they understood that the only way to win my approval was to purchase it quickly and cheaply, and who knows, perhaps it’s true, for I think well of them. I went to a few panels and I did my thing on them – including moderating the panel on Australian and NZ fiction after being told I was doing it five seconds before – and I met some lovely people there, and I did a signing. The book had only been out for a day, so I sat there politely surrounded by other peoples lines, and later introduced myself to Joe Haldeman, whose novel, the Forever War, I think highly of (and occasionally teach). But the signing was a good example of how to keep your feet firmly on the ground, I assure you. In fact, I believe I signed three things: a copy of Black Sheep, a copy of Above/Below, and an autograph collector’s card. To be honest, it was more than I thought I would sign. Later, however, I signed some books out at the Forbidden Planet stall and Steve Cameron took this photo of me while I was unawares.
He claims he told me was doing it, but clearly, such is naught but slander, for I would have looked much better if I had actually known my photo was being taken. But that, for those of you curious, is the UK hardcover edition of the book and that is me looking like I know how to sign a book.
After Loncon, my girlfriend and I drifted around London for a week and a half. We saw a castle, we saw the London Eye, we saw the River Thames, and we saw pubs. A lot of pubs – seriously, I didn’t realise that you would be able to find a pub every block in London, but you can. In some I tasted the worse beer I had ever tasted – micro brew with spices, come on – and in others, some that was not. There was food, as well. My girlfriend discovered the Branston Pickle. And we toured through bookshops, and museums, and went down to Brighton where a friend of mine told us about the jealous peir that burnt down the other pier, and ate in a vast array of mostly fine food (except for that pork pie I had in the same pub as that bad spiced beer).
It was a fine trip, thought I have to admit, I would have preferred to have begun it under different circumstances. My grandfather died the week before we left, and the funeral took place on the day before our flight. For a while, neither of us were sure if we would be able to take the flight, but after the funeral, there wasn’t much reason to stay. Still, I carried his passing around with me for the two weeks, I suspect, and at times I’m sure made me a little less personable that I normally am (which isn’t much, really). Both he and my grandmother had been born in England, and had lived there for thirty five years, both before, during, and after the war, and the memories of them lurked around in every corner. I saw the sea of red poppies at the London Bridge (I think) and thought about how the Royal Navy had used its own sailors to test gas masks and chemicals, an event that would take my grandfather’s eyesight in his age, and see him discharged from the Navy he loved. Still, what can you do with the memories but live them?
In that fashion, the trip was a bit bittersweet at times, but still, it shouldn’t get in the way of the good things that I saw and experienced, of which there were many.
And I mean, my book was in a fucking airport – how crazy is that?
My schedule at LonCon will look like this:
12.30 to 1.30: Worldbuilding Panel.
Capital Suite 9, Excel Centre.
12.00 to 1.30: Signing Books and Looking Friendly and Approachable.
Exhibit Hall Autographing Space.
3.00 to 4.00: Coffee Chat and Looking Even More Approachable in Polite Atmosphere.
London Suite 5, Excel Centre.
6.00 to 7.00: Reading the Other.
Capital Suite 3, Excel Centre.
2.00 to 4.00: Launch of Helen Marshall’s Gifts for the One Who Comes After and Rob Shearman’s Do the Same Things Different There, A Planned Meeting of People to Represent ChiZine and Burn Effigies of Someone Yet to be Decided (well, not really the last bit.)
Beijing Tent in Fan Village.
4.30 to 6.00: The Australian and New Zealand SFF Panel.
Capital Suite 3, Excel Centre.
And on Monday, I will be at Goldsboro Books signing some books for them from around 11.00, so if you happen by, come in and say hi, for I will appreciate such kindness.
There will probably be some other things, but this is what it is so far, but regardless, if you’re there, and you see me, please, come and say hi, and have a chat. I’m a terrible hermit who avoids these things, so the truth is, I probably won’t be at them all that regularly, and lets be honest, no one is really going to know me from any other random, so I’ll be all too happy to talk for a while. If you want something signed, that’s no stress, either. Just hit me up and try not to notice how terribly unprepared for you I am.
Anyhow, looking forward to seeing who I see.
Infamously, when the Wild Bunch was first sceened, a critic rose up afterwards and said, ‘Why was this film made?’
The fate of the film was anything but oblivion, fortunately, because I love it; but I also like that story and I cannot stop myself from sharing it here to begin with. It is Sam Peckinpah’s best film and, regardless of that critic’s opinion, the Wild Bunch is one that has continued to find an audience long after its 1969 release. If you haven’t seen it, the film follows five outlaws as they try to make one last good score, aware that their time of living by a gun is coming to an end, and it is defined by the impotence the men feel in a world changing around them. It is a film that details the slow, but violent suicide of this small group of men as they seek to reclaim a moral code that they have long ago left. It is, in all truth, great, with excellent performances by William Holden and Ernest Borgnine and Robert Ryan in particular.
I first saw it years ago and it left it a great impression on me – perhaps, in fact, a larger one that I ever realised, actually, for as I watched the film last night with my girlfriend, I realised just how much William Holden’s character of Bishop Pike looked like my internal visualisation of Aned Heast, the Captain of the Spine, in the Godless.
Here’s a clip from towards the end of the film: there should be sound when they walk up to the compound, a kind of marching music, but it’s not here in the vid, but the important thing is you can hear him speak, and have a close up on that face and the blue eyes. You can’t tell here, but Pike has a gunshot wound in his leg, an old one that causes him to limp.
I hadn’t seen the film for years – I saw it last long before I wrote the Godless – so Heast’s mirroring of Holden in the book is an unconscious one. But the look of Holden here, and the leg that is amputated and replaced with a steel prosthetic for Heast must have been inspired in a subconscious way by Holden’s struggle with the injury (of course, Heast doesn’t have a mustache; no character in any of my books has a mustache, because though William Holden is doing fine with his, most men are not doing fine with theirs).
What this means, of course, is when people ask me to cast my book as a film, I will now say, ‘Bring William Holden up from the grave, you bastards!’
In just under three weeks, the Godless will be released in the UK (four weeks for the US).
Because of that, two interviews were released with me this week. The first, with David Barnett, is on Tor.com, and comes with a psychedlic koala. As a small rundown of things I talk about, there are comics, title changes, why treating everyone equal is the way to go, and the words roughty roughty.
The second is less an interview and more of a discussion that Rjurik Davidson and I had for Fantasy Faction. We cover a lot of ground, including practices in world building, morality, Gary Oldman, equality, and social theory, just to name a few. It’s a pretty big discussion, so you ought to settle in with it, and enjoy the size and breadth of it. Also, the fact that the word fuck was censored, but anal remained, as well as a couple of my typos. Gotta keep on top of that fuck, though, right?
Lastly, I wrote an article on being a writer at the start of your career for Pop Verse. In response, someone said I am not as nihilistic as that and that with such a nice name, how could I be so nihilistic? To that, I say: thank you.
I take my flattery wherever and whenever I can get it. That’s a good life skill, if anyone is looking for one.
The Godless, known as Verflucht: Ära der Götter in German, has been released, a full month in Germany before the British edition (and a month and a week before the American). As can be seen by the image I nicked off German Amazon, you can ever read the inside of it, assuming you speak German.
At any rate, the german publisher, Piper, have linked an interview with me that I did late last year, and I thought, as a little mini celebration of the book finally being out there for the nation that won the World Cup, that I would provide the untranslated interview below. My German, being perhaps the worse German of anyone on the planet, I answered the questions in English, but to give you a confusing sense of whatthefuck, I kept all the titles in German.
Here we go:
Ben, thanks for doing this interview. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you’ve become a writer?
Hey, no problems. I’m always happy to talk.
I live in Sydney, Australia, with my partner, the photographer, Nikilyn Nevins. We have a cat and a bunch of books. Because the cat resists all organisation, we organise our bookshelves in strange new orders. Currently, we have our books organised by the date of birth of the author, which has, upon occasion, seen me email an author with a polite but invasive question about their birth.
As for an author, I suppose I became one due to a complete inability to stick around in another job. I was once a projectionist, and for a while I thought about becoming an academic (I have a doctorate), and I fell into teaching here and there for a while. But all of it was just something to do while I wrote. My first love has always been literature, and no matter where I have been personally, that has always been part of me.
I got told a while back by a friend that I’ve done the walk of a writer hard, and it has had its ups and downs, no lie there. I came close to packing it in a few years ago, but I have always been able to find that love, and hold onto it. At the end of the day, no matter what I will say about craft, about research, about art, about anything relating to writing and how to get there, if you don’t have that love, you’re kinda out of luck.
Your novel Verflucht will finally be out in Germany soon. What is it about?
Verflucht is set in a world where the gods have died, and their corpses lie on the ground.
They went to war, thousands of years ago, an act that had terrible repercussions for all the mortal life beneath them. At one point, the sun shattered, and the world was plunged into darkness for a week, which resulted in famine and starvation. At another, a giant god died in the ocean, and its blood turned it black and poisonous.
Yet, after this, mortal life continued, and adapted. The corpses of the gods became part of the landscape, and society entered a post-divine existence, of a sort. There are men and women who believe they will be gods, men and women who had said they were gods, and men and women who fear any return of them.
Mireea, where the bulk of Verflucht is set, is a city built on the Mountains of Ger. They are basically a huge cairn that covers the corpse of Ger, a giant god who controlled the elements. The people living on him built a city out of a gold rush and have become a trading city, one of the most prosperous in the world. However, they are on the cusp of being invaded by the Leerans, a nation who have fallen under the control of old priests, and intend to reshape the world in the eye of the gods, again. The only problem, of course, is that Lady Wagan, the ruler of Mireea, doesn’t want to give up her city. She has hired mercenaries, armed her populace, and told the Captain of the Spine to do whatever is necessary. Once you know him, you’ll realise why that’s a problem for the Leerans.
Verflucht’s narrative is split between three characters, creating an ensemble cast. The first, Ayae, is a cartographer’s apprentice. The second is Zaifyr, is a stranger who comes to the city alone, only to find himself drawn into the politics of the war, and the third is Bueralan, is the leader of a group of saboteurs who have been hired to slow down the Leeran Army, if they can.
Verflucht is your first “classic” fantasy novel. After all the other projects you have done, why have you entered the fantasy-genre?
I grew up reading fantasy and, in many ways, its my first and original love. The very first book I ever bought with my own money was Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman’s Dragon’s of Autumn Twilight. I still have the tattered paperback with me. My oldest friend, who once told a boyfriend that he has known me longer than his partner had been alive (we met in the first grade) bought the second of the series, and for years I only ever had the first and third. Years ago he gave me the second book, and I still have it.
I kind of drifted away from classic fantasy in my early twenties. There was no real reason for it, just one of those things that happened. I discovered other writers, other genres, and a lot of my writing went that way. I was hugely interested in racial representation and experimental writing, for example, and Black Sheep and Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth represent that. Still, it would be wrong to say I didn’t do anything fantasy based. For a long time I tried to get a series of short stories up and running similar to Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series, with characters called Allandros and Balor. I sold about half a dozen, I think, but for all the time I put into it, the rewards were pretty slim. I think maybe half a dozen people read them, really.
But I didn’t write a classic fantasy novel until Verflucht. Before it, I wrote a novel called Beneath the Red Sun, and it is really that novel that gave rise to it, because it was that book that almost saw me quit writing. I had written it before the global financial crisis a few years back, and I had an editor who was interested in it. That editor never read it, and since things weren’t working out with my agent as well as I thought they would, I left, intent on getting a new one. The global financial crisis happened around then, and everything slowed down, but eventually, I found a second editor interested and with an offer – only for that to fall through before a contract was signed. I didn’t have an agent then, but I got one shortly after. When that didn’t work out, she stopped returning my emails and calls, and soon enough, ditched me in a fine, impersonal email, leaving me with nowhere to go, really.
It was a pretty shit time and I was forced to take a step back and try and figure out what I was doing here and what I wanted.
In that time, I went back to a lot of the books I read as a kid, the things I loved, the reason I became a writer. I went searching for this fantasy novel I wrote when I was sixteen, but the drive it was on was long gone, the paper copy long lost. I took a big step back from the online life of being a writer, which was, I thought, becoming a negative place for myself. I just holed up and thought long and hard about what I wanted. During this time, one of my friends got married up in Darwin, and I flew up there for it. Darwin is this small little city with lots of outlying suburbs, and it takes forever to get anywhere, but that’s okay, because the heat is all lazy tropics heat, and one day, while my friend and I were driving round before her marriage, I was day dreaming about immortals fighting, and long, century like feuds, and the books I’d been writing, and I thought, I should make one more go at this.
When I got back to Sydney, I still thought it was a good idea. A fantasy novel that took all the stuff I loved as a kid, and put all the things I loved into it as an adult, and somehow, at the end of it, I had a new agent, a new publishing deal, and here I was, writing fantasy books and as happy as I’d ever been as a writer.
You probably thought that answer was going to be a simple one, yeah?
Do you have a complete outline for the whole series or do you allow the plot and character to evolve during the writing? How does your writing process work?
I know how it ends, to a degree. I know the very final scene in the book, but the faces in that scene change, and alter, occasionally.
I’m not huge on complete outlines. I tend to map a little, and then let everything evolve as it does. Mostly, this is due to the fact that I am a terrible re-writer. After I write an original scene, I will rewrite it like five, six times, before I rewrite the whole novel, and whole scenes again. Nothing really looks like it does when I first start it, though by the end, there’s less and less as everything falls into its outcome. But yeah, I rewrite a lot, and I tend to stop once I cannot stand the sight of it anymore.
On a day to day level, when I’m not teaching, I tend to rewrite, edit the previous days work in the morning, and write new words in the afternoon. If I’m handling about a thousand words of new work each day, I think I’m doing alright.
What’s the fantasy and sf community like in Australia? Is it as big as in Europe or the US? Are you in touch with other fantasy authors?
Australia is pretty small, really. Jonathan Strahan once described it as one phone call wide, one phone call deep, and it hasn’t really changed from that.
As for other authors, a few here and there, but I tend to keep to myself these days. But I’ve known Rjurik Davidson for years, for example.
Any plans for the books as a movie or tv series?
I mean, if it happens, all good, but it isn’t really a priority of mine. I don’t really need my books to be turned into a TV series or a movie. If it had been a desire, I would have written them as that.
What is your next project?
Well, currently I am writing the second book of Children, and then the third. After that, well, I kind of hope I am in a position to continue writing more fantasy books. The world I created is huge and its left me with a lot of cool ideas, but we’ll all have to see how this rounds itself out.
I have a few side projects that I keep going, however. My partner and I are working on a book based on Sydney, a novel that mixes photography and prose together, and I have my Dead American project to keep me busy as well. The fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of JFK has seen an influx of assassination books in the house, and it is very tempting – but you know, its not a priority.
Right now, finish this series, and hope people love it. Everything by the day, y’know?
How can readers reach you if they want to get in touch?
I have a blog, a facebook, and a twitter account. Feel free to come by them and say hi. It’ll be all good, as they say.
Thanks very much, Ben, for taking the time.
No problems at all.
In other news, I know the blog as been a bit quiet, for which I apologise. I have been busy, and when I have not been busy, I have been lazy. However, I have done a bunch of interviews, and pieces, which will be filtering online soon, and in August, my story, ‘Upon the Body’ will be printed in Nightmare Magazine, The Godless will be released, reviews will be linked (the good, the bad, the whatever), and in general, people will no doubt become sick of me.
Something to look forward to, that.
The Godless is beginning to appear in the world. It isn’t released until August, but photos of ARCs are appearing on twitter (Warren Ellis even has one), samples are appearing for people to read, and there are interviews and even reviews. Well, just one at the moment, but it is the Publishers Weekly review.
It is fairly positive:
“Fifteen thousand years ago, the true gods turned on each other for reasons beyond mortal ken. The outcome of their struggles is a landscape dominated by the corpses of dead and dying divinities. When fire fails to consume shop clerk Ayae, she discovers that she is one of the “cursed,” imbued with power by a divine spark. Her newfound abilities set her apart from the rest of the denizens in her beloved city of Mireea. The cursed are not the only legacies of the gods; as an army mysterious in purpose and savage in method advances on Mireea, determined to recover a treasure the Mireeans have forgotten, Ayae joins steadfast mercenaries and would-be deities in defense of her adopted homeland. Peek (Black Sheep) weaves multiple threads of the plot together with considerable skill. Ayae and the story’s other protagonists—reformed megalomaniac Zaifyr, baron turned professional saboteur Bueralan—are well developed, in contrast to the scenery-chewing monsters they oppose. Although this volume serves mainly to introduce the Children series, readers fond of open-ended epic fantasies set in vivid, and occasionally lurid, worlds will find it right up their alley.”
However, reviews are reviews, and what is better than reviews is excerpts, and Tor.com ran five days of excerpts last week, revealing the first five chapters of the book. Pretty cool, really, and you can, of course, go here and read a bit of the book yourself (and if you like it, please, share it around for others).
Lastly, I began doing some interviews last week, all in the name of getting word out, and helping promote the book. The first of them was with Stefan Fergus at his blog. You can read it here, if you so desire.
If you want an interview, or want to get into touch with me about anything in regards to the Godless (perhaps you want to discuss reformed megalomaniacs), then by all means, drop me an email.
Today, I return to writing.
Two weeks ago, I finished Leviathan’s Blood, and sent it off to my agent, my editor, and my test readers, and then I went and found a hole, and buried myself in it. The final three months of the book had been fairly intense, and I needed time to sit around and empty my head. Since the deadline for the third book is in a year, however, I can’t sit around for that long, though I’m going to ease back into it slowly, letting myself build up slowly to where I want to be. It’ll be maybe two weeks of half time writing, pecking, planning, and cleaning, before I fall into a decent work pattern, again. Even then, it won’t be like the last three months: you have to pace yourself in this gig, I’ve found. After all, a single book takes over a year to write, especially if you include edits (I added 20k to the Godless during edits, for example).
At the start of this book, however, the first thing I am going to do is get the book printed and bound in some cheap, black plastic shit. Then I reread it, mark it up with various notes, both for edits and for the new book – almost every page of the Godless is so marked – and it sits on my table as a reference alongside the previous one. Every time I need to make reference to something, or remind myself of something, I open it.
It’s not how I would start a new book, obviously, but the third book in a trilogy is a bit different, and it’s all a bit of a new experience. This is one I found quite useful for the second, so I’ll keep it for the third.
My experience of writing books at the moment is very different to my previous experience of writing a novel. It is not just the trilogy aspect, but the deadlines, and the expectations, which are both very reassuring when you’re embarking on a long project. Writing without a deadline imposed by someone else lends itself to doubt – ‘Why am I writing this?’ ‘Who will buy this?’ ‘I should do something else’ – which lends itself to procrastination, and can make the task of writing a book much longer than it should be. It is probably the hardest thing of writing a book without a deadline, the search for that constant desire to keep pushing forward, that constant bit of faith in oneself.
Whereas now, the questions are about balance between work and life, and so on and so forth. All of it important just as important, of course, but just different from the previous experience.
At any rate, it is back to it today, even if, I admit, back to it is really just easing yourself into it, much like as if you were a frog, and someone had just turned the lit the stove on low.