On commissions, and why I can’t make you The Neverending Story.

As some of you know, I have Multiple Sclerosis. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it does mean that I have to take a figurative run-up at projects these days. A couple of years ago, when I was attending the Fairy Market down in Dartmouth, I managed to create about eight original books over the course of five months. That’s probably the most productive I’ve ever been.

Lately, things have deteriorated a bit, and I’m devoting my time to writing, which makes less mess, and can be picked up when I have the energy, and edited when I do something that – on reflection – doesn’t work as well as it did the night before. You can’t do that so easily with books. Once the glue has dried, you’re stuck with it. Pun intended.

That’s not to say I won’t be making any more books – I have plenty of paper and leather waiting for me when I have the energy and the inspiration to take on another project. But at the moment, I’m letting my bone folder cool down and focusing on less energetic projects, like the writing.

Speaking of writing, I’ve had a surprising number of lovely emails asking if I can make a replica Neverending Story book. Some people have asked for blank pages, some have asked to have the Michael Ende story reproduced within. Some have had a deadline of weeks or months, one person wanted it the following week!

I’ve had to turn them all down, of course, but I feel that I should explain my reasons, as not all requests are equal, and my polite stock answers don’t always go into detail. So here are some points regarding The Neverending Story, and why I won’t be able to make you one:

  1. I don’t have the energy. See above. You weren’t to know that my health was rubbish, so that’s entirely my fault for not updating the ‘commissions’ page sooner to reflect this.
  2. If I did have the energy, I don’t have authentic materials – I may be able to find a piece of leather that looks the part, but you would have to resign yourself to art clay decorations, until I find a willing metalworker to create trimmings that don’t push the book’s cost to unsaleable levels.
  3. The original book has gold-tooled lettering. Gold/gilt tooling requires special equipment I don’t have, and training I definitely don’t have. I might be able to carve the letters and apply gold leaf, but I couldn’t guarantee a neat finish, and I don’t like to sell anything that doesn’t look right to me.
  4. Even if I had the energy, focus, materials and expertise, you still can’t have it in a week. I work full time – the only time I don’t work full time is when I’m too ill to do so. A book can take 25-30 hours to make. You get the picture.
  5. I definitely can’t make a copy with the text of The Neverending Story inside. I’m tapdancing on the edge of the abyss for reproducing the Auryn, and I’m only happy with that because the book was an unsolicited gift, with no money exchanging hands. If you look inside the cover of most books, there will be a line that reads something like ‘you may not circulate the contents of this book in anything other than the original binding or cover’, or words to that effect. In other words, I’d be setting myself up for a lawsuit if I made money from selling the book.

That goes for Harry Potter-related work, too. As a gift, I can sleep relatively easy, because Warner Brothers are less likely to scent blood in the water if nobody is making any money. But the minute I turn somebody else’s work into profits, I’m in trouble.

And yes, in case you were wondering, I do write fanfic. I don’t sell that, either.

Not that anyone would buy it.

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