Mailvox: on flaming swords

Kickass wonders about a well-known image:

Could I get an explanation on the flaming sword picture? I thought it was a joke but googled it.

I’ve  explained this before, but for those who didn’t know, this picture was one of many from a Star Tribune photoshoot for an article one of its writers was doing about my Eternal Warriors novels. He moved onto one of the big New York papers before he’d finished the piece, if I recall correctly, so it never ran, but the photographer liked them so much that he emailed a few of them to me.

I still remember laughing when he called me up after the interview with the writer and asked if “my characters, like, did anything interesting?”  I mean, what was I supposed to say, no, they all sit around and discuss their boring lives?  He got really excited when I mentioned that there were these angels and they got in big battles with flaming swords, until he realized that he was, after all, dealing with a writer.  Which led to his next question: “You’re not, like, fat or anything, are you?”  When I reassured him that I was not the pudgy little novelist he was expecting, he asked me to come down to the Star Tribune building in Minneapolis the next week and bring a sword if I happened to have one.

I didn’t, but there was one at the house at which I was staying – we’d already moved to Europe  at this point – which led to the funniest part of the whole thing.  It was winter, so it was cold, but it was also a bright sunny day, which led to my walking into the Star Tribune reception wearing a long black overcoat, black gloves, black shades, with a shaved head and carrying a katana.  The two female receptionists freaked out and called security, at which point I explained the situation and the guards had a good laugh.

We didn’t end up using the katana, however, as the photographer obtained a few swords from a nearby theatre as well as some flame-paste, so he just picked out a rather Conanesque sword, gave it a quick coat of paste, then set it on fire while I held it.  It was a little trickier than it looked because the burning paste tended to drip off, so I had to try to hold still for the photo while dodging the dripping flames at the same time.  It was more fun than the usual photo shoot and I shared the photographer’s disappointment that the piece never ran.  The reaction to the photo, however mockingly it may be intended, only tends to show that his instincts were correct as it made for a much more interesting author’s photo than most.