Writer's Blog

A place where I write about the writing life and writing projects in progress

October 28, 2012

  • Ode to my co-author, on his 40th birthday
  • Haven’t posted here in ages because… well, I’m busy writing. This new book has an insane deadline. But hopefully things will lighten up.

    As most of you know, I have written and edited four books with Robert Smith?, the Paul McCartney of our McCartney-Lennon pairing. Today he turns 40. Last night a wonderful party was held for this occasion and Robert’s lovely partner Shoshana asked me if I could make a speech for the occasion. How could I say no to her? This is what I said…


    imageI have been asked to give a few…ish words tonight about our honoured guest, Dr. Robert Smith? Robert…what is there to say about you that hasn’t been said? Tenured professor. Published author. World traveller and adventurer. Media sensation. The most famous mathematician in the world outside of Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years. Legend of manhood. Really, what is there to say on the occasion of your turning 40?

    What is there to say except…about bloody time.

    No. Really. On behalf of those of us who have passed the threshold into our fifth decade, I want to say: thank god you’re 40. We’re sick to death of you making achievement after achievement and having the inevitable subtext of it being “and it’s so remarkable he’s achieved this while so young.”

    Do you really think it’s been fun hearing about your super spectacular achievements on the boundaries of curing AIDS, charting Bieber Fever, publishing book after book (oh, wait I think another one got published right now), having exploits that are a combination of Indiana Jones, Paul Bunyan and Paul Erdos and generally rubbing it in our faces that you’ve been doing all this in your 30s?

    Today, that is over.  Today all your remarkable achievements become ordinary, contextualized into part of a long lived career. Dr. Smith?, we have a cardigan for you and some butterscotches for your office.

    Personally, I think you’ve been faking it for the past couple of years. I mean, honestly, listen to your Facebook status updates:

  • spent all day being a media personality. I guess Hallowe’en must be around the corner!

  • “Dr. Smith? This is Saskatoon Radio calling. Justin Bieber’s in town. We need you.”—Actual phone call I got today.

  • working on three books at once: just starting to write one, submitting a second to the publisher and proofreading [another]. Somewhere in there he has a day job as well.

  • in Boston, where tomorrow he’ll be interviewed for a documentary on zombies for Discovery Channel. As you do.

  • My Bieber Fever model made the Huffington Post!

  • flying to Senegal. Well, it does involve a two-hour limo ride to Montreal first and a stopover in Morocco. But he’ll be based in Senegal for the next three weeks, teaching disease modelling to French-speaking students.

  • went to an axe-throwing party tonight… and survived not only unscathed, but with some successful targets to his name.

  • just took a microlight plane over Victoria Falls (just him and the pilot, in the open air). He even got to fly it for a while! Fear of flying: officially over.

  • You can’t be possibly doing this yourself. You must be cloning yourself, or hiring a sweatshop of look-alikes or something.

    I swear to god, if this keeps up I shudder to think of the Facebook status updates of the future:

  • Found out that the King of Norway is a fan of Doctor Who; or so he told me when he pinned the Abel prize to my lapel. And gave me his phone number.

  • Going to the premiere of Braaainnns! The Movie and meeting Winnie Cooper. Squee!

  • Discovered Time Travel and decided to go out dancing with Anneke Wills and Twiggy in 1966. As you do.

  • Who knew? My theory of stopping a zombie invasion actually *worked*

  • Now a few of you might be asking, “what is it like to work with such an internationally famous mathematician and writer.” Honestly, I don’t interact with him all that much. Most of the work we do for our books tends to go through his agent. I kid. Actually, I can offer one piece of insight: Robert Smith? The man who has a question mark on the end of his name as a manifesto and not an affectation at all?

    Don’t let the iconoclasm and fabulousness fool you. Robert is, without a doubt, the world’s biggest pedant.

    Oh my god. I have written two books with Robert, edited another two with him, and worked on another couple with him, and the biggest argument we ever got into involved whether or not internet should be capitalized (he won that one by the way). We can get along through just about anything that’s contentious but we’ll have a ten-round fight about whether or not it’s appropriate to use italics to emphasize prose.

    Honestly, you haven’t lived till you have received an acerbic lecture in track changes about grammar from “RS?”. My favourite remains to be this one to our copy editor Crissy on our last book Who is the Doctor about the word Scooby-Doo being hyphenated. Said Dr. Smith?, and this is a direct quote, “You don’t need this hyphen, because both the capitals and the italics take care of it. No one will imagine that it’s a ‘Doo affair’ that’s being modified by ‘Scooby.’”  It was then pointed out to Dr. Smith? that Scooby-Doo was being hyphenated by our copy-editor because the name of the cartoon character is a hyphenate…

    But that’s Dr. Robert Smith? for you. There’s a reason why he’s number two in page ranking on Google to the guy from the Cure: he’s a man of singular vision, talented, brilliant, funny, iconoclastic, and a genius. He’s also a wonderful collaborator and I’m proud he’s been one of my very best friends for the past 17 years.

    But more than that… I’m so glad he’s finally 40. About bloody time.


    Oh, about that party… the theme was to dress as the person or profession they most wanted to be. Naturally, I dressed as Robert Smith? Here’s a cameraphone photo of me with Robert (who apparently wanted to be Colin Baker’s Doctor Who)


    And Shoshana really loves him. Who else would go to the trouble of getting Robert a vegan birthday cake with a TARDIS on the icing!



    Posted by graeme | (2) Comments | Permalink

    October 02, 2012

  • The Next One
  • It all started with an e-mail to our editor…


    Four months later all the waiting is over, all the discussions have been concluded, all the contracts have been signed… and it’s official: Robert and I are doing a follow-up book to Who is the Doctor which will come out autumn 2013 for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary.

    We’ll share the details of what it is we’re doing down the road, but suffice it to say Robert and I are very busy right now. (You might find updates to this site a little sporadic for one thing!)  But yay! The second book has been commissioned!

    Posted by graeme | (0) Comments | Permalink
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