Sunday, November 08, 2009

Hanging out in Sao Paulo

It rained last night and today is much cooler and overcast. A relief from the last week. People here in São Paulo work very hard and long hours and I have found that an arrangement to meet is liable to be cancelled at the last minute for one reason or another.

Mind you, it's not as hard as trying to get a cup of tea which is in fact impossible. And of course I'm dying for a cup of tea.

At a restaurant yesterday with my DCL editor Oticilia in the Museum of Modern Art I asked for tea. I was brought a cabinet containing perhaps 30 different kinds - but I searched through them in vain - they were all fruit teas. No cafe or restaurant will serve tea! Arghh!

Today in a supermarket I finally found a packet of English breakfast tea. Heaven! However the price - five pounds for a small packet - made me think well, perhaps the Brazilians are right to drink so much coffee after all. And they do drink a lot of it -- many small cups of super-concentrated espresso.

Another thing you can't get is an up-to-date English language newspaper - or the American and English ones when they finally arrived two or three days out of date. Why do they bother in the age of the Internet?

Otacilia had cancelled two possible appointments before we met yesterday. But we had a beautiful day going to the Botanical Gardens Parque Ibirapuera and drinking coconut milk from the green fruit through a straw. I encountered for the first time a lates tree, its huge dripping roots like Rasta dreadlocks. The gallery had an excellent exhibition of non-Brazilian artists influenced by Brazilian art, including a Welsh artist, Wyn Evans. I particularly liked Mateo Lopez' lace-like map cut-outs, Simon Evans, Marjetica Potrc and Franz Ackermann.

In the early evening yesterday I found myself at an opening party for a new venue for a school for comics artists, Impacto Quadrinhos (Quadrinhos is Portuguese for comics). Luke Ross, a local (he anglicised his name for the sake of his career) who is successful illustrating many marvel comics, was giving a workshop. He is an old friend of the artist I am working with, Felipe Cunha, who introduced me to him.

He seemed very happy with the way Marvel were treating him. Me, I'm still waiting for a copy of the compilation of Captain Britain stories, containing my work, which was published in the summer. This is the second compilation - I never got the first either. Nor have I been paid a penny.

The owner of Impacto Quadrinhos, Klebs Junior, used to work for Marvel himself and still does occasionally. He told me he lamented the fact that Brazil still doesn't have a market that can accept home-grown comics with a Brazilian theme and all of the artists that he represents as an agent have to sell their work in North America or possibly Japan.

It was somebody's birthday so we went to a bar off Avenida Paulista, the commercial centre of São Paulo. We stayed there for several hours drinking iced beer and eating polenta chips. Felipe had told me the other night that it might be possible to sell a 12 page story to Heavy Metal magazine. I had sent him on Friday a story set in the story world of Hybrids, but with Major Winter of the Jean Police as the central character. All of the characters from Hybrids appear in this story which could be the first of a series and is aimed at a more adult audience. At the bar we discussed this and Felipe really likes it. Now I have to add some dialogue.

It's great that I finally have time to write fiction and have started work on my next novel The Drowning, by starting to write out the scene cards. Quite frankly I'd rather sit in the hotel and do this then go out and exploring São Paulo, traffic filled street after street after street after street of charmless buildings. It feels more like a cosmopolitan European city rather than a developing country.

My laundry has got lost. Eleanor, from St Paul's School where I am teaching from tomorrow, said she would do my laundry for me as it would cost a fortune to let the hotel do it. I had to take it to the school yesterday but she wasn't there and Rita, the woman who met us at the airport, stashed it in an office. Eleanor came over today to the hotel to see Katy and I. Katy Moran is the other author from Britain who is teaching in the School's. She didn't know anything about the laundry being left there. I only hope I can get it back, clean, before tomorrow!

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