Feb. 8th, 2013
As some of you may be aware, I've spent much of the past 20 months or so writing a book whose title, after much negotiation, has been settled as
A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir
The Essential Reference Guide
The Essential Reference Guide
The work has been especially intensive over the past few months, which is why I've been so rarely posting here. It's also why my beard is halfway down my chest, there are bags under my eyes, and I can't watch so much as a YouTube video without my hand reaching instinctively for a pen to make notes.
Well, finally, today, the Introduction -- the last piece to be written -- went off to the publisher, Limelight Books. (The vast bulk of the text went in on Wednesday.) Of course, because the northeast is suffering Storm Nemo at the moment, already under several inches of snow with lots more to come, as far as we can establish there's no one actually in the Limelight offices to receive this final little attachment, but it's there for when they next log on.
The book's a shade under 700,000 words long, which means it's about two-thirds of the length of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and about half the length of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Of course, for those two books there were teams of contributors; here it's been just me. It's well on the way to being as long (about 80%) as all twelve of the Legends of Lone Wolf put together -- except, of course, that encyclopedia-words are, because of their informational density, worth 3-4 times as much as fiction-words. As far as I can recall, the final, biggest edition of my solo Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters was about half the length of this new book, although of course the Disney volume also had about seven million illustrations.
The noir book has a trifle over 3,500 individual movie entries, with basic details of a further few hundred movies (possibly as many as a thousand) -- sequels, remakes, etc. -- appearing within those entries. Before you ask: No, I haven't watched all 3,500 movies. At a guess, I've seen about half of them, and, beginning three or four years ago (i.e., long before the project was contracted), I watched and noted about a quarter of the 3,500 specifically for this book.
I can hardly believe the job's over. Well, it isn't, of course. I have to contribute ideas for the illustrations, of which fortunately there aren't going to be too ginormous a number. (My editor rejected flat-out my request that they all be of Veronica Lake, Lizabeth Scott and Elizabeth Sellars, with perhaps a sprinkling of pix of Gene Tierney and Jane Greer and Jean Simmons thrown in. How philistine of him!) There'll be liaising with the copyeditor and then proofreading -- the latter a major, time-consuming task; in fact, everything's a major, time-consuming task when you're dealing with a text this size. (When I printed out a hard copy for my own editing purposes, it took me two trips to carry it through from the printer to my desk in the next room, because the prospect of dropping a stack of ~2,400 pages . . . And, as the scribbled-on pages mounted up to my right, I had to move stacks of them away from time to time because they were blocking the light from my desk lamp!)
Tomorrow I'm going to start looking at the various story ideas I've filed over the past couple of years, and perhaps over the next few days I'll even write some of them. I also have to finish the proposal for The Young Person's Guide to Bullshit, a job I started last summer or so but had to abandon when I realized I was making a hash of it. (That's what watching too much Elizabeth Sellars will do for you, you see.) I have a number of other proposals I need to work up. Not much rest ahead, obviously, although my every instinct is telling me I should go to bed for a week with a stack of good books.
Just for this evening, though, I'm basking in relief that the biggest solo book I've ever written is finally did, over, done, delivered, dammit.