10-30-04 Latest News

St. Paul Nasmith Book Signing Report
Xoanon @ 11:49 am EST

St. Paul  Nasmith Book Signing Report

not a hobbit writes: I wanted to tell you about Ted Nasmithís presentation and book signing on Tuesday evening at Bound To Be Read on Grand Ave. in St. Paul, Mn.

First, I have to say that you will love this new illustrated edition of the Silmarillion. I am told that this is the first edition of that wonderful book to contain any illustrations other than cover art.

A couple dozen politely enthusiastic local members of the Tolkien Society, this TORnSib, and a few others made for a rather intimate gathering, which meant we each had all the time for questions and contact with the artist that we could have wanted.

Unassuming and seemingly shy, Ted is on his first ever book tour. He spoke too softly, especially at first, but instead of spoiling his talk, this just served to keep everyone leaning forward and raptly listening to his every word when talking about the slides of his art for the book. He seemed to enjoy discussing the process of creating these pieces and choosing what would finally be used for the book.

Mr. Nasmith described how he had come to revisit the Sil in the 90s ďwith an eye to illustrating some of the many wonderful stories.Ē He emphasized that Professor Tolkienís LOTR, being full of exact, vivid descriptions, and having certainly been well illustrated over the years, was in contrast to an arguably more interesting Silmarillion, with many more stories, characters, high drama and mythical history, which was not at all fully developed or fully described. To Ted Nasmith, this means that the Sil is a barely delved treasure-trove of source material for him and other artists.

The fact is that Christopher Tolkien had never wanted nor allowed ďhisĒ (the emphasis mine) Silmarillion to be illustrated.

I think it is clear that Ted Nasmith loves the Tolkien source material, being fully versed in all of Tolkienís characters and tales, and enthusiastically discussing his many ideas for illustrations that he would still loved to do.

Itís not an easy process getting your art out there. Ted described sending about 80 smaller renditions of his paintings to Houghton Mifflin, with hopes of publishing a future collection. He was greatly, but not unpleasantly, surprised to find that the publisher then sent his work to Christopher Tolkien, who somehow decided, at last, that illustrations would be a good idea; Ted Nasmithís illustrations.

Thus began the process by which Christopher, the publishers, and the artist found themselves collaborating over a two year period for this edition of the Silmarillion. It wasnít always easy either, although that was only hinted at.

One interesting aspect of this collaborative process, was that Christopher Tolkien made it clear that he did not want any of Tedís monsters and creatures to be used in the book. We were shown some of these marvelous paintings, and, along with their creator, thought they should be put into a collection or used for calendars. We strongly encouraged him to pursue that.

Someone asked Mr. Nasmith what else he was working on and if he were getting bored with Tolkien. He named a few projects, one being a possible illustration of George R.R. Martinís next book, but he had a big grin on his face when he said that he was nowhere near done with Tolkien.

In my humble opinion, Mr. Nasmithís art is almost as emotionally powerful as is Howard Shoreís music. These beautiful paintings will, perhaps, make the Silmarillion more accessible for many and open up the realms of Tolkien to new and old readers alike.

If the tour comes to a bookstore near you, be sure to go and shake the hand of this great talent and fellow geek.

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Ted Nasmith himself replies to this report, thanks Ted!!

I've just had the pleasure of reading the news piece written by not a hobbit. Her sentiments and observations are much appreciated, but I thought I should correct one or two factual errors. {I donít blame her for the confusion, as the matter of bringing the illustrated Silmarillion out is a rather involved tale.}

First, most readers will realize that this new illustrated edition is not the first but the second one, and my story of how this first version was developed was described first, and then the second version a few years later. She is right that Iím normally fairly soft spoken, and everyone needed to listen more carefully. But that was partly a result of the lack of a functioning wireless microphone, however!

The original recipients of my set of Silmarillion sketches were actually the editors at HarperCollins UK, Tolkienís primary publishers, not Houghton Mifflin, as stated. The confusion for U.S. readers is understandable though.

Lastly, lest readers get the impression that Christopher Tolkien was in any way over-restrictive in his influence over the illustrations, let me state unequivocally that Mr. Tolkien was consistently and extraordinarily fair, flexible, and supportive in all my dealings with him while the illustrations were planned and executed. Any creative reservations he expressed were entirely reasonable and were his prerogative, and he always left the final decisions to me, something I may not have emphasized clearly. I wish more of my clients were as informative, respectful, and encouraging! He deserves especial credit for his part in helping gain me the time I needed to plan and execute these newest couple of dozen works, now integrated with the paintings originally published in the 1998 illustrated edition.

Aside from these few things, I much appreciate the kind words of your writer.