John Scalzi has again been kind enough to let me post a Big Idea essay on the Whatever — this time, about Wild Hunt, cities, and the magic of new places. Go and take a look — or, if you’re coming here from that article, hello and welcome! I’m afraid I’m unlikely to have anything new for you for a little while, since I’m still stuck in a revision, but some of my fiction is linked in the sidebar, and some below — I’d particularly recommend “A Serpent in the Gears” just because I love it so (and because it’s not yet linked — I am terrible at updating my bibliography) or the novel writing text adventures. Or, if you’d like to read more authors talking about their work, take a look at The Magic District.
Part of the problem with being stuck head down in novel revisions is that I miss the fun stuff. (The important stuff is harder to miss, and aside from repeatedly banging my head into a wall Tuesday night, I’m dealing with it.)
But belated as this is, I need to get off my hinder and post about two very kind bloggers who asked me to be interviewed on their sites. Two interviews are online: Sci-Fi Fan Letter (in which I talk about the difficult parts of writing and decide not to live in my made-up world) and Over the Edge (in which I confess my identity as a stealth nerd (okay, those of you who know me are now wondering how “stealth” plays any part in my nerdiness) and give some examples from the internal soundtrack for Wild Hunt).
I’m really grateful to both sites for inviting me to their interviews, and I’m really sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to posting about it. Funny, how the Internet can both keep me from the novel work and the novel can keep me from the Internet…or maybe it’s just about procrastinating no matter what.
…It’s more likely than you’d think.
The grand debut of Professora Lundqvist, Colonel Dieterich, and dear, dear Charles is now up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies! “A Serpent in the Gears” was such a fun story to write, beginning to end, and I loved every part of it. In fact, I love this universe and want to have its steampunk babies write much more in it someday.
Here’s an excerpt. Go and read; I’ve had so much fun with this, and I hope you enjoy it too.
The captain pointed to a lens behind the helmsman. A gray cliff face, cut into deep letters of ten different scripts, receded from our view. “We’ve just passed the graven warning.”
I peered at the bow lenses, trying to get a better look at the warning itself. When I was a child, I’d heard stories (all disdained by my teachers) that the warning had been inscribed into the side of the mountains by an automaton the size of a house, etching the words with a gaze of fire. When I was older, my age-mates and I played at being the team engineered solely for the job of incising those letters, hanging from convenient walls and making what we thought were appropriate rock-shattering noises to match. After such tales, small wonder that my first view of the warning, some twenty years ago, had been so disappointing. Yet I could still recite by heart its prohibition against entering the valley.
The lenses, however, showed no sign of it. Instead, most displayed the same sight: a confection like matching wedding cakes on the mountainsides flanking the pass, the consequences for those who defied the graven warning. Thousands of snub spouts pointed towards us, ranging from full cannon-bore to rifle-bore, the latter too small to see even with the ship’s lenses. My eyes itched to adjust, and I felt a pang just under the straps of my andropter harness, where most men had hearts.
Last year around this time, I was fiddling with my editor’s revisions to Wild Hunt, judging how far I’d come with the early (and massively flawed) draft of the third book, and biting my nails to the quick over the impending release of Spiral Hunt.
Unfortunately, due to a number of problems coming together in a Great Conjunction of Awful, I ended up working overtime on the actual release date, as well as a couple days before and after. I barely had time to stop and remember that yes, I had a book out that day. And while I’ve since brought that into my everyday consciousness — enough that I can sometimes stop myself from getting depressed by remembering hey, I’ve got a book out there! And it doesn’t suck! — I do regret not enjoying that first release date.
So today I’m taking the day off, relaxing a little, and going out for high tea. Granted, eating little cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off is not quite the same as getting solidly drunk for a week (which was one of the first pieces of advice I had regarding how to handle the release date), but both have their therapeutic value. And this year, maybe I’ll shed some of my nervous habits about the books, now that there’s more out in the world. (First resolution: stop looking at the Amazon ranking especially when I have no idea what it means.)
If you’re interested in Wild Hunt but don’t know yet if you want to buy it, take a look using the widget on the left here. You’ll be able to read a good chunk of the novel, and by the time you hit the end of the offered pages, you’ll know whether it’s got your attention. And by then, it will be too late! *cue maniacal laughter*
And thanks again to everyone who’s read the books, everyone who reads this blog, and anyone who’s enjoyed my stories over the last few years. These stories are so much fun to create, and I’m so glad to be able to share them with you.
So, here’s my schedule for Arisia 2010, taking place next weekend in in the mighty Harvard ziggurat the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge. I’ll be there for much of the weekend, though whether I’ll be around much Friday depends on a number of factors (not least whether I’ve got brain left after the work week).
Saturday, 8 PM: Art Within Art
Poems, songs, and other art supposedly created within the world of a larger fictional text—what are your favorites, and what attempts have failed? Margaret Ronald, Meredith Schwartz, David Sklar
(I’ll be moderating this one, and I’m curious to see what we come up with, given that there are a number of different approaches to presenting art within art. Particularly depending on the medium — fictional films, for example, versus fictional paintings or music, versus poetry…hm…)
Saturday night: Wild Hunt release party!
Come by the party suite and get a look at the new novel! (Or just cadge some free food and talk geeky to me. ‘S all good.)
Sunday, 10 AM: The City as Character
New Crobuzon, The Sprawl, Newford, even Minneapolis in War For the Oaks. What authors use their cities in the most interesting ways? How does the city contribute to the story? Gordon Linzner (m), Meredith Schwartz,Margaret Ronald, Steve E. Popkes, Daniel Rabuzzi
(Yikes, an early-morning panel right after a late party. I’ll be lucky if I manage anything along the lines of “city good blerg need coffeee now.” On the other hand, there are a number of fantasies in which the city is more than setting; it’s the heart of the story. Hmmm…time to go make lists!)
Sunday, 4 PM: Reading, Margaret Ronald
Margaret will be reading a selection from her own works.
(Oh, boy. I have no idea what to read — Wild Hunt? The next book isn’t even close to ready yet…a short story? “A Serpent in the Gears” will be out by then, and I do love me some dirigibles…)
Sunday, 4:30 PM: fall down go boom Okay, maybe not. But I do tend to be a little fuzzy around the edges this late in a con. If I see you there after this point, have pity and don’t ask hard questions like “What is your name?” or “How are you doing?”
If you can’t make it to Arisia, don’t worry; I’ll try to hold another event later on to celebrate. If you can, come by!
(Incidentally, the reason I haven’t had Anything But The Book Week this time around? I’ve got a built-in distraction from the release date: the next book. Which is eating my brain. But in a good way, not a Lovecraftian way.)
Today’s Magic District post is more than a little disjointed, since I’m currently home sick with the head cold from hell (oh, sinuses, why do you hate me so?) but the gist of it makes sense. New Year’s resolutions are always, always something I fail at, usually by mid-February at the latest. (This is why February used to be such a bad month for me. That, and it’s frickin’ cold.) But this year around, I’m trying to look at it in a different way: making new mistakes. Hell, I’m good at making mistakes, so new ones ought to be a snap, right?
I’ll try to have more about the upcoming book (aaaaaaaaa!) and the release party at Arisia (AAAAAAAA!) up later tonight, depending on how much this cold knocks me out. Meanwhile, I’m off to drink chicken soup in hopes that my head will stop feeling like an overinflated football.