Mark James Russell

Books, blog and other blather

Month: September 2015

Alternative Pullocho

When I started writing Young-hee & the Pullocho, it was originally conceived of as a very different book. For one, it wasn’t not a book at all; it was a movie. Also, it was much more about contemporary Korea than it was about spirit worlds. I think it was called something abstract and lame like Lost Apartments.

But as I realized the movie wasn’t going anywhere, I decided it was a good time to turn the idea into a novel. It was an odd period for me professionally, and I figured if I wasn’t going to get a novel finished that year, I was never going to write one. So for a year, I ground it out, writing a bit more every day until the first draft was finally finished. I assumed that I was going to have to self-publish, which didn’t bother me given the changes in publishing in recent years. In fact, with books like Wool doing so well, I found the concept kind of exciting. And over that year, the story began to change, eventually becoming something much closer to the finished story.

Also, at this point, the title was The Pullocho.

Then in 2013, Tuttle Books offered to publish the book. It was much more of a traditional route, but I’m old fashioned, so I said “yes”. They asked for some re-writes and made some edits and eventually the book ended up as the Young-hee & the Pullocho that is on shelves now.

Now, I really like the cover the Tuttle came up with for the book. But back when I thought I was going to self-publish, I decided to put together a cover of my own. I commissioned an excellent Korean artist (who is also a friend of mine) who goes by the name THZTLR to make me a drawing, then I hired a designer to turn it into a book cover. The end result was something a lot darker and scratchier, but the original version that I wrote was probably darker and scratchier, too.

Anyhow, I thought I would post that original cover here, to give people a sense of what might have been…

Pullocho cover - small

Wie geht’s?

I just got back from a work-related trip to Berlin for the IFA consumer electronics show — and as it was my first trip to Germany, I managed to explore the city a bit (finding a couple of lulls in an otherwise crazy-busy schedule).

Gear S2 Showcase

Gear S2 showcase

Apparently the weather was well over 30 degrees up until my flight arrived. But right when the plane landed, a storm hit the city, temperatures dropped to 20 and stayed below 20 for most of my week-long stay. Still great for sitting outside, but much better for my metabolism and for walking around. Plus the dramatic change in weather led to some pretty amazing skies throughout my trip.

wild sky

wild sky 2

wild sky 3

I was staying in Mitte, along the Spree River, just a couple of kilometers from Brandenburg Gate, so it was quite a nice part of town. And IFA is held way out in the western side of Berlin. So when I went exploring, I made a point of checking out Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, on the eastern side.

Prenzlauer Berg restaurant

Prenzlauer Berg was a charmingly quirky part of town. Plenty of upscale restaurants and bars, but also places that gave “dive bar” new meaning (I think one bar had a “two hepatitis minimum”).

Prenzlauer Allee

German is a funny language.


Okay, I'm 12.

Okay, I’m 12.

I loved this big complex that surrounds Strausberger Platz and runs down Karl Marx Allee.


My attempt at a panorama.

Strausberger Panorama

Then on my last night, I discovered a wonderful cocktail bar called Bryk Bar. The owner (an owner?) Frank was very fun, and gave out a lot of great advice on good restaurants and even other cocktail bars. Here’s a pic of a strange but strangely good cocktail he called a Smoked Gin & Tonic (due to rosemary and other spices that he burned and blew into the glass).


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