Alright, so Friday of the first week it was off to Northampton for the Angela Carter conference. A nice bunch of folks there; right off the bat, I learned that Carter had written a lot of poetry before she became well known as a novelist, in fact she had thought that’s where she would make her mark.
I was talking the afternoon of that first day about Lost Girls, the Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie three volume comic that brings together kiddie lit heroines Alice, Wendy and Dorothy in a series of erotic adventures, which I was arguing followed the projections of Carter’s own study, The Sadeian Woman.
I had had a delightful interview with the two of them back in March and they said to be sure to call when I was coming to Northampton. I called on Friday but got the strange message that their number was “not accepting calls” so I thought, oh well. After all, I had been a bit nervous about their being there for the paper — as a medievalist I seldom have to deal with living authors who might take issue with my interpretations of their works.
The paper went well and generated some interesting questions, including one post-graduate student who pressed me on several aspects of my argument, but seemed satisfied with my further explanations. A handful of people came up afterward to make sure that I knew they had enjoyed the paper, but also that I knew Alan Moore lived in town, which I assured them I did. They shared some stories about seeing him around town; one student said he had talked to Melinda but was too intimidated to talk to Alan.
The next day it finally occurred to me to double check the number and found that I had left out a digit, so I called and this time reached Alan, who said that they had a visitor up from London, but that they might stop by the conference (he and Melinda are big fans of Carter). As it turns out, they wouldn’t have been able to come on Friday anyway, as they had a number of unexpected events that week.
So I was sitting in a panel listening to folks talk about The Passion of the New Eve when I saw one of the grad students at the door to the seminar room, looking anxiously through the glass. Seeing what he was looking for, he slipped into the room and crossed over to where I was sitting to whisper in my ear, “Alan Moore is here to see you!”
I have to say it was one of the more agreeable ways to be summoned in the midst of a conference. I gathered up my things and followed him, trying to be unobtrusive (well, not much chance of that, eh?). As we walked back to the lobby, he gushed quite nervously about talking to Alan, which made me grin. Sure enough, out in the lobby was Alan in his “Cthulhu 2008” t-shirt (“Why vote for a lesser evil?”) with another man, who turned out to be Steve Moore, his co-author on The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic. Alan gave me a big hug and a kiss and apologized for not being able to make it to my paper, though he, too, thought it might have proved more distracting to have them there.
He said they didn’t have much time, but of course we then sat for an hour or more chatting. He was just getting through chapter 27 (of 30) in Jerusalem, his latest novel. The chapter follows Lucia Anna Joyce around the grounds of St. Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton where she was hospitalized for schizophrenia. The chapter unfolds in her father’s singular style, which Moore said was finding difficult to write (no surprise there, eh?). Because I had both Moores there (Steve said at once point that he was “Alan’s evil twin”) I quizzed them about progress on the Bumper Book, which had been going slowly, and found that was mostly because Steve had been caring for his dying brother, which I was sorry to hear. But they were both looking forward to getting back to work on it, which was the reason why Steve had come up from London.
Part of the project includes a new tarot deck the two designed, with some notable changes, e.g. gems instead of coins or pentacles, because they had greater resonance, as well as blades instead of swords, so they could use spades as the iconic image, like playing card decks. There’s going to be so much in that book, including profiles of notable magicians over the years as well as discussions of ethics and magic (which digressed into a little snarkiness about chaos magic and many of its practitioners who have not impressed them). They thought there wasn’t really enough attention paid to intention among modern practictioners. Love charms, Alan said, are “only slightly less reputable than a roofie in baby cham.”
Well, I know Pádraig in particular will yell at me, but I didn’t think to take a picture of us together, nor to record the conversation, but we were just having a great time chatting, so it never occurred to me — although I did remember to get him to sign my copy of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910 which I’d purchased at Gosh on the off-chance that I would see him. And I did get another hug and kiss when at last they decided it was time to toddle on. I did get a chuckle out of the surreptitious attention from the other conference goers when they came out during the break, too, whispering and trying not to look like they were staring. Hee hee. I promised to send a copy of the paper once I got back and typed in all the hand-written changes I had made on the train on the way up while listening to the interview again, so I’ll send that off this week. Hope they like it!