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December 2004

Nancy's cosutumeA strange month, last November. On the one hand, it felt like it lasted forever; on the other, I can’t believe the holidays are upon us. I’m still adding new Halloween photos! Enjoy the impressive array – one, I’m told, included a contact lens with the scarlet mote. Now that’s commitment. And check out the Tattoo and Fan Art galleries for more additions, too. Thanks to everyone for sharing!

A couple of Banewreaker reviews are available at sffworld.com and SF Reviews.net. There’s a good one in the November issue of Locus Magazine, too, though it’s not available online. .

Several of the reviews comment on the fact that characters on both sides of the struggle are sincere in their convictions, which is true. And once again, I find myself drawing parallels between issues I’m exploring in this duology and current events. As an American, I’m disturbed by the extremity of the polarization emerging in this country and the extent to which opposing sides vilify one another. Actual facts have become increasingly irrelevant; truth is determined by whoever controls the dialogue.

So, too, in Banewreaker. By and large, the Dark Lords of classic high fantasy (from which, yes, this work is very deliberately derived) become bad guys in the first place through an act of rebellion against the established hierarchy of authority, for which they’re vilified. Satoris is called the Sunderer, which no one questions, and yet… he didn’t strike the blow that Sundered the world.

Funny how that works.

Maggie's Lily MarqueBut perhaps there is indeed a purpose to it all. As a writer, I’m free to create one; free to postulate that adversity is necessary for growth, and evolution is a long, bloody stuggle toward enlightenment. As a citizen of the world, I can only hope it’s true.

And since this is the month (at least in my hemisphere) in which we celebrate the return of the light after periods of increasing darkness, that’s a good note on which to close. Here’s wishing all my readers happy holidays! May all your loved ones be safe and healthy, and joie to all on the Longest Night!

November 2004

November 2nd. Vote!

In other November news, it’s Banewreaker time! The official release date I was given is November 12th, but it’s already available at online stores, so it looks like it’s hitting the shelves early.Order from Amazon.com

It feels like it’s been a long time coming, although it hasn’t; at least not in book terms. But I began writing the novel that became The Sundering duology back in the summer of 2001. A lot has happened in the intervening years, and the world has changed. There’s a passage inBanewreaker where one of the characters wonders whether they would have been wiser to make their battlefield “the hearts and minds of Men.” It struck me, as I read the copyedited version, that since I wrote those words, world events have rendered the phrase a cliche. I almost altered it, but in the end, I decided to let it stand. It speaks to the fact that the issues we wrestle with in fantasy can have meaning and relevance in the real world.

Shannon's costumeSo, there you have it. Go, read, enjoy. As regular visitors know, this duology is quite different from the Kushiel trilogy. If you prefer it, you’ll be glad to know that Godslayer, the second volume, is tentatively scheduled for release in August 2005 (and this is a two-part story). If you’d rather get back to Terre d’Ange, you’ve got Kushiel’s Scion to look forward to in 2006. And if you’re just damn glad there’s good, thought-provoking fantasy being written, I hear you.

Beth's jack-o-lanternSpeaking of Terre d’Ange, thanks to Shannon for the great photo of her Melisande-inspired costume and to Beth for the truly unique rose marque jack-o-lantern! Also, it seems I was unclear on my D’Angeline Top Ten list contest… I meant to imply you only needed to send one reason why “It’s Good to Be a D’Angeline.” But a lot of folks sent full lists, and on the flip side, I had to disqualify a few entries from people who neglected to include a reason at all. Sorry! At any rate, congrats to the winners: I didn’t have time to notify all the recipients, but your bumperstickers are in the mail. And to everyone else, thanks for playing!

Many of the entries featured lovely and thoughtful reasons, all of which I appreciated. However, since the nature of a Top Ten list is to be funny, I selected ten that made me laugh to post on the site, as follows.

Top Ten Reasons Why It’s Good to Be a D’Angeline

.10. A whole nation of hotties
9. Might get an anguissette for your birthday
8. No Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on your door
7. Tattoos hurt so good
6. Scions of Anael never have to buy perfume
5. Pansexual culture doubles your dating options
4. Marching songs easy to adapt to a hip-hop beat
3. You can have cool accents in your name, just like Phèdre’s
2. One word: Joie
1. Imriel will be a grown man one day….and someone’s gonna have to show him the ropes!

October 2004

Here’s a theme for this month’s update: Dragons!

I spent Labor Day weekend attending DragonCon in Atlanta. Wow. I knew it was big, but nothing prepares you for the sight of 20,000 science fiction and fantasy fans. I was invited by Storm Constantine to take part in the Gothic Journeys track. I met lots of great people, sat on some good panels and had a very nice Q&A session.This first ever photo of me with an actual marque-bearing reader was taken there. Unfortunately, I forgot to make a note of her name.

On the last evening, one of the other authors, Lynn Flewelling, and I hung out for a couple hours and watched the spectacle. The costumes were amazing, and sometimes bewildering. “Why is that woman with the purple flogger following around an Oompa Loompa?” “I don’t know, but I’m not loving that do-rag on Legolas.” “Ah, but it’s an ELVISH do-rag!”

And thanks to the generosity of reader Kellen, I have a special offer this month. She created these “Love As Thou Wilt” bumperstickers and I have a batch to give away. I’ll send a bumpersticker to the first 15 readers to write to contest@jacquelinecarey.com with a unique “Top 10 Reasons it’s Good to Be a D’Angeline” entry along with a mailing address. However, I’m going to be on vacation during the first half of October, so… the contest starts October 15th. Hold your emails until then —any received before the 15th will be ineligible.

Also on the dragon front, the first reviews of Banewreaker are out. I was particularly pleased with a comment in Publishers Weekly’s review, which is posted in full on Amazon.com: “Perhaps nowhere in fiction is a dragon described as remarkably or as lovingly, a creature of unbelievable power yet also of gentle tenderness.” Taking on all the tropes of epic fantasy was a daunting task, and that was one element I really wanted to get right. Everyone’s got their favorites, and for me, Ursula K. LeGuin’s dragons in the original Earthsea trilogy set the standard. They were awesome and unknowable, beyond the comprehension of human morality. I wanted my dragons to be worthy of that standard. It was good to hear that they just might be.

There are several new pieces in the Fan Art gallery, very impressive ones, and an interesting addition to the Tattoo gallery. It’s not a marque, but it was inspired by the description of Phèdre’s.

I’ve added a booksigning to the Events column and a link at the top to The Signed Page, where you can order signed copies of Banewreaker until November 1st. I won’t be doing a lot of traveling this time, so if you’re interested in obtaining your own signed, personalized copy (or buying one for a gift), it’s a good way to go.

One month until the U.S. presidential election! All you intelligent, thoughtful folks have gotten registered, studied the issues and made up your minds, right? Well, here’s a new challenge. Talk to an apathetic friend or family member, share your passion and convictions, convince them to care. Democracy is a marvelous thing, but it only works if we all take part in it.

Now, more than ever, it matters. As one of my readers reminded me upon being called into service in the Middle East, “All knowledge is worth having.” These are good words to live by.

Here’s hoping and praying for a safe return for all of those serving abroad.

September 2004

It’s done! At least for now. Until I get my editor’s notes, the first book of the Imriel Trilogy is finished and delivered. The tentative title is Kushiel’s Scion. It’s a natural, and in fact a number of readers suggested it. But my titles have a way of getting changed, so I’ve learned not to get too attached.

So, that’s the big news. The summer-that-never-was is winding to an end. Our weather here in Michigan has been chilly! The only truly hot days I encountered this summer were in Seattle, of all places. I’ve added a couple of photos from the Writer’s Weekend conference there, courtesy of Megan Hart. There I am, along with Megan in the red gown, Tor editor Anna Genoese with the resplendant decolletage, and a guy named Lancer in his wedding zoot suit. These were taken the evening of the Flowers of the Night Court dinner. Check out the flushed and shiny faces — it was almost a hundred degrees there that weekend. Fun, though.

It also struck me as a valuable experience for writers on the verge of a professional breakthrough. I haven’t actually attended that many writers’ conferences — I do most of my work in “Fortress of Solitude” mode — but this one had informative panels and opportunities to schedule one-on-one meetings with real live editors and agents. If you’re looking for something along those lines, I recommend this one.

Other additions to the site this month include a couple new pieces in the Fan Art Gallery courtesy of readers Kris and Mandi; a vision of Mara, and an anime-style interpretation of several of our favorite characters. Also, there’s a new interview with Enchanted Art Works ezine in the Articles and Interviews section scheduled to go live on September 1st.

As you may have noted in the Events column, I’m off to attend DragonCon in Atlanta, where I’ll be taking part in the Gothic Journeys track. It should be interesting! For those wondering about other appearances and booksignings, as I note in my new FAQ, I add them to the Events column as soon as they’re confirmed. If it’s not there, I’m afraid it’s not in the works. Don’t forget, though — The Signed Page will be taking orders for signed, first edition copies of Banewreaker later this month! It’s hitting the shelves in about six weeks.

Register to vote!On a closing note, once again, I’m reminding all eligible U.S. voters to get registered and informed. We all love to lose ourselves between the pages of a good book, but it’s also important to remain engaged and pay attention to the world around you. To ask the hard questions that need asking — of our candidates, of our media, of ourselves. To make up our own minds. To vote.

It’s the least we can do. Really.

August 2004

Et voila! As many of you have already discovered, at last I’ve come through on my long-standing vow to undergo a complete redesign of my website. I’m delighted with it, and I hope you all like it, too. Props to Mark at Purple Toupee for my brand new graphic identity, and to Julie at JabberDesign for the snazzy website design. Thanks, guys!

For the record, the mailing list is up and running, but it will be very low traffic. I’ll only use it to send periodic notices about special events or upcoming releases. If you’re looking for a discussion forum, check the fan listings on the Links page.

Along with working on updated site content, I spent last month finishing the first draft of the first book in the Imriel Trilogy (and no, I haven’t decided on a title yet). Now comes the editing and polishing process, which may take a while. Since it’s not going to be released until 2006, I plan to take my time! Then a little downtime, and it’s on to the next one. I’ve already begun doing research.

I also attended the Writers Weekend conference in Seattle as a Guest of Honor at the end of the month. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people there. A special thanks to Karen for the invitation and for the fabulous Flowers of the Night Court Masque dinner — hopefully, there will be photos forthcoming — and to everyone who made it such a lovely experience!

It’s funny, but it often surprises people to discover that I’m… nice. A relatively pleasant, approachable human being. Since I’m known for writing a trilogy centered around a theology of love and featuring what is perhaps the most relentlessly polite and deferential heroine in the annals of fiction, I’m not sure why many expect me to be a raging diva. And yet, they do.

It’s the Melisande Factor, I suppose. But really, how often do you see Melisande being anything but perfectly pleasant? Sure, she might be apologizing for the fact that unfortunate circumstances require her to order the death of your loved ones, but she does it graciously.

Seriously, most of the authors I’ve met — and to be honest, I haven’t met as many as one might think — are nice people. We’re regular folks. We don’t move in rarified circles. We appreciate our readers. We’re happy to meet you at public events. We will gladly sign your books, shake your hands and have our pictures taken with you. That’s why we came. You’re the ones who make it possible for us to do what we love.

Oh, I know there are Diva Authors out there. Some are real characters and it’s kind of fun to hear the horror stories, but for me… eh. Life’s too short to play silly ego games. There’s nothing more disappointing that meeting someone you’ve admired from afar and finding out they’re petty or haughty or monumentally self-absorbed in person. It’s a bummer. No one wants to walk away from a personal hero thinking, “Wow, what a jerk!” Nice is a lot better.

On a completely unrelated note, I spent the last week of July watching coverage of the Democratic National Convention. Politics make for a surprisingly good spectator sport. Now, I’m sure that all of my readers, having accompanied Phèdre as she rescued her beloved country and pondered the burdens of personal responsibility as they went through the thetalos with her, fully embrace their own responsibilities as citizens of the world. But just in case… if you’re eligible to vote in the U.S. and you haven’t registered, get yourself over to Rock the Vote and apply.

No excuses!

July 2004

Ah, summer! A time to relax, to luxuriate, to… procrastinate.

I’ve not done as much as I’d like of the first two, but I’ve done a very good job on the latter this month. I’ve been working hard on the first Imriel book, keeping up with my correspondence and preparing for a thorough overhall of the website, but my monthly update fell by the wayside. Today I muttered to myself, “Thirty days has November, April, June and… whoa! June!” As we head into a holiday weekend, this will be a hurriedly written update. But that’s kind of okay, because, well… there’s not much to report.

Seattle area residents might note that I’ve added a signing to the Events calendar. It’s being held in conjunction with the Writers Weekend conference, but the signing is open to the public. They’ll have copies of my books — and others– available for purchase, and of course, you may bring your well-worn, treasured volumes, which I will happily sign.

A couple of lovely new marques have been added to the gallery, with thanks to Kristina and Tara for sharing them! And thanks also to Minx, who graciously permitted me to share this scintillating suggested usage for one of the Kushiel’s Dart temporary tattoos I give away along with my bookplates.

As a special preview of another offer, check out The Signed Page, a site that offers readers a chance to order signed first edition copies of selected titles. For a span of time beginning in September, Banewreaker will be one of those titles, but there are others available now.

Click for large viewSpeaking of Banewreaker and previews, I had a chance to look over the near-final draft of the map. Ordinarily, maps are pretty prosaic items, but check out the nice illustrated details on this one. Very cool.

And so, there you have it — short, but sweet!

June, 2004

I have some news this month… not exactly bad news, though I’m afraid it’s not likely to make many of you happy. Due to scheduling conflicts created by splitting my forthcoming project into two volumes, Banewreaker and Godslayer, the projected publication date of the first Imriel book has been pushed back to Spring 2006.

To be honest, I don’t mind having a bit of breathing room; more time to edit, tweak and polish. But I know a lot of readers are eager for the next installment of the D’Angeline saga, and… well, as an old saying goes, there’s no sauce like hunger. I’ll do my best to make it worth the wait, and in the interim, you’ll have a whopping two-part epic tragedy to enjoy!

We don’t do a lot of tragedy in our popular entertainment these days, which is kind of strange when you think about how many of the Great Stories throughout the history of literature are tragedies. I know, everyone likes a happy ending — I do, too. But there’s a cathartic power in tragedy that doesn’t exist in any other form of story. It, too, serves its purpose. And if it’s done well, there’s a majesty to it that uplifts us through our tears.

In a reflective mood, I find myself wondering if we haven’t been glutted on too many happy endings, especially here in America. It’s become too easy to turn away from things we’d rather not see, rather not know. That’s been challenged by world events in the past month, and it’s been on my mind a lot. There are a few things I’ve read that might very well have taken place in the Mahrkagir’s festal hall. Ill thoughts, ill words, ill deeds.

Tragedy reminds us that heroes may have fatal flaws; that the good guys don’t always win. Reality reminds us that the good guys aren’t always the good guys. So, perhaps the time is ripe for this duology of mine. I know I could do with a bit more fictional tragedy, and a whole lot less of the real thing.

TashaOne of my favorite tragedies released in the past decade was Baz Luhrmann’s movie, “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet”. Some critics complained about the modern setting and the flashy MTV-style cinematography and editing, but I thought it served to frame the contemporary relevance of the story. I loved the fact that Baz kept Shakespeare’s original dialogue. For me, the contrast infused the Bard’s gorgeous language with urgent life.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but when it comes to certain things, I’m a sucker. It’s not just the romance… Mercutio’s death scene gives me chills. “A plague on both your houses!” Oh, indeed.

And on a happily non-tragic note, thanks to Margaret for sending her very spectacular marque for the ‘gallery,’ and to Tasha for sharing her fabulous Phèdre costume!

May, 2004

Happy Spring, everyone! I know, according to the calendar, it’s been spring for quite some time, but hey, here in Michigan, it snowed in April. It hasn’t felt terribly springy until now.

So, I’m entering the final stretch on Book One of the Imriel Trilogy — and no, I haven’t chosen a title yet. Of course, with big books like these that means I still have a couple hundred pages to go. But it’s at a point where I’ve got lots of things in motion, and I find myself laying wake in the middle of the night, plotting and strategizing. In the grand scheme of things, I know what happens, but there are always spots where there are a few different ways it could play out. I have to play them over and over in my mind to decide which one truly feels right.

I did a signing last month at Kazoo Books, where a reader solemnly informed me that in case I hadn’t realized it, fans can read faster than I can write. Umm… yes. Yes, I was aware of that. : ) I, too, read faster than I write; by a ratio of at least 200:1. We do the best we can!

There were three other authors taking part in the signing — Steven Harper, Anne Harris and Sarah Zettel. One of the owners made the mistake of giving us all kazoos, whereupon we began marching through the store, playing them loudly and obnoxiously. I was warned that this might be detrimental to my image, but I’ll post a photo if I get a copy. No sound file, though. And by the way, if you’re looking for signed first edition hardcovers of either Dart or Avatar, check with Kazoo Books. I left ’em with a couple in stock.

Speaking of photos, I’ve posted a couple from AggieCon, which I attended in March. AggieCon with Che McLeodOne is me with my most excellent student host, Che McLeod, who kept me on time, well-fed and helped me pick out a pair of sunglasses — which, by the way, I wear all the time. The other is at the autographing session with Todd McCaffery, my funny and charming fellow Guest of Honor.

AggieCon with Todd McCaffery & fanI don’t have any events scheduled for a while. I need to a) Finish Imriel One, and b) Get my lazy butt in shape after a sedentary winter. There are writers who say they hate to write, but they love the feeling of having written. I could never understand that — for me, when I’m really in the groove, writing is the best thing ever. It’s like reading a great book, only three times as intense. And then one day I was talking to a workoutaholic at the gym, who simply couldn’t understand that no, I really don’t enjoy working out. Ever. I like the feeling of having done it, but the process… eh. Not so much.

When I was still working full time and scrambling for every spare minute, I used to go to the gym over my lunch hour. By 11:30 am, I’d start dragging my feet and whining. My staff of student workers laughed at me as I prepared for the Bataan Death March toward my own personal fitness hell. Thinking about it that way, I get the perspective of writers who hate to write. I feel sorry for them — they’ll never know what they missed. But then again, I’ll never know the joy of an endorphin high. I suspect it’s all a myth.

In closing, check out Tor’s snazzy new page of Women in Fantasy. Very nice! And thanks to the folks who sent suggestions for a secular word for “Amen.” I’m not sure “You go, girl,” “Hell, yeah,” or “Whoomp… there it is,” are exactly what I’m looking for, but I appreciate the thought!

April, 2004

Banewreaker SynopsisCheck it out! I posted this on my homepage a few days ago, but here’s a first look at the cover of Banewreaker in the Events column. Not the final version – yes, my name will be spelled correctly – but I thought readers would enjoy a preview. It looks very cool; a nice Pre-Raphaelite feel for the art historians in the crowd. And at last, you can click on the cover for a more fulsome synopsis than I’ve previously posted.

It’s a difficult project to describe, because in some ways, it’s extremely simple: It’s a good vs. evil epic fantasy written as a tragedy from the losing side’s point of view. Simple. But the execution, the actual story… not so simple. It’s actually telling both sides of the story, so all the different plot lines interweave, fray, break, and are ultimately rewoven into a whole. And I had to keep track of all of them, which was a challenge.

As an example, when I watched Fellowship of the Ring, I found myself muttering through the Mines of Moria. “What are all those orcs doing there, anyway? Were they posted on the off-chance that the Fellowship might pass through? And where are they getting provisions? Cannibalism? What’s the rate of attrition? An army travels on its belly, and that’s an awful lot of hungry orcs to feed!”

There may be answers in Tolkien’s writing – I haven’t revisited the trilogy for a while – but the upshot is that it’s a complicated process. The trick, of course, lies in making it look easy. And that’s pretty much a true statement for any of the arts. Whether or not I succeeded, I can tell you one thing – writing these books left me with a lifelong fondness for trolls and ravens.

The Imriel Trilogy… what can I say? The first book is rolling along beautifully, and I’m having a great time with it.

I did take a break last month for a historic first: My first stint as a Guest of Honor. Thanks to everyone at AggieCon for the invitation and kind hospitality! It’s the oldest student-run science fiction & fantasy convention in the nation, and I’m amazed at the hard work and dedication of the Texas A&M students (and alumni) who put it together. It’s a massive undertaking, and they’re sleep-deprived, caffeine-driven marvels.

All in all, it was a lot of fun. Aside from getting to know some of the students and meeting other writers, my favorite part was being a judge for the costume contest. As a veteran float-builder, I still think Jabba the Hutt was robbed! The only downside is that I was forced to reveal myself as a hopeless mundane. Sure, I’ve read almost all the right books, but there were fabulous costumes from anime, TV series and video games that had me at a loss.

Of course, I didn’t tell them the terrible extent of it. Yes, I have my guilty pleasures, and some of them are of the shallow, pop-cult variety. As a fantasy writer, it’s one thing to admit that I’ve never seen an episode of Stargate or Babylon 5, and that the only computer or video game I’ve ever played is an old 2-D version of Duke Nuke’em. It’s quite another to confess that, given time, I could probably name the cast of every season of MTV’s The Real World. Well, not London, of course. But you get the idea.

On a closing note, I did an interview with Strange Horizons magazine last month, which you can read online here. Michigan readers, stop by Kazoo Books in Kalamazoo on April 24th for a special Science Fiction and Fantasy sale and booksigning. And there’s a new entry in the tattoo gallery — thanks to Jackie P for sharing a photo of her gorgeous marque, acquired as a symbol of freedom, strength and pride in oneself.

Is there a secular word for ‘Amen?’

March, 2004

Well, if you’ve been waiting for Kushiel’s Avatar to come out in paperback, your wait is ended this month! And that, I’m afraid, is about all the book news I’ve got. February’s a short month, but it seemed to go awfully fast, even with that extra Leap Year day.

Part of that is because this is the time of year when one of my non-literary obligations comes due: Mardi Gras! Once again, we defied the Michigan winter and celebrated Fat Tuesday in high style. As a member of the Mystick Krewe of the Kalamazoo, founders of this fine celebration, I dedicated many hours to building our fabulous UFO float.

Mardi Gras 2004 - "Space Odyssey"

When I wasn’t building a flying saucer in a friend’s basement, I’ve been writing. I’ve passed the halfway point in the first Imriel book, and I’m really enjoying it! And other than a trip to Texas for AggieCon later this month, that’s pretty much all I’ll be doing for a while.

Back to work…

February, 2004

As I write this, the world beyond my office window has dissolved into howling white madness. Yes, it’s snowing. Again. But hey, that makes a new entry into the Events column all the more appealing! I’ve been invited to be a Guest of Honor at AggieCon next month, and right now, Texas is looking mighty good.

In other news, the Emerald Magic: Great Tales of Irish Fantasy anthology is scheduled for release this month. I know one short story won’t do much to tide all of you over, but it looks like a good line-up in the anthology. I’m looking forward to reading it. Next month, Kushiel’s Avatar comes out in paperback, which I know many of you have been awaiting! As far as I know, we’re still on track for a November release of volume one of the Banewreaker/Godslayer duology. I’ll post official data when I have it. This site will undergo a major overhaul later this spring, and I plan to get some new information about that project here.

Otherwise, I’ve been hard at work on the first book of the Imriel trilogy. All I can say at this point is that it’s going well! These books will be different, more intimate in scope — after all, you can only save the world, or at least the SAME world, so many times — but powerful in a different way.

You might note a couple new pieces of fan art — an elegant version of Phèdre’s marque sent by Allison, and a drawing of our favorite anguissette herself, sent by Diane.
However, there’s another picture I’ve included….

Call it a tribute to the Valentine’s Day spirit! This is from the New Year’s Eve wedding of Darryl and Velva Felton. She’s an ardent fan of the Kushiel trilogy, and over the holidays, Darryl arranged to send me copies of the trilogy to be inscribed to her as a surprise gift. Here they are, sharing their first dance as husband and wife.

Darryl and Velva FeltonSo the next time someone tries to tell you romance is dead, tell them to think again! It’s alive and well, and in this case, wearing a sangoire wedding dress.

Here’s wishing a lifetime of joie to Darryl and Velva, and all you everyday heroes and heroines out there.




January, 2004

Happy New Year, readers!

And what a year it’s been. On a personal level, I had a good year in 2003. Kushiel’s Avatar, a book I’m very proud of, was released to a growing readership. It made the extended New York Times Bestseller List for three weeks, which was a milestone event in my life. Not the last, I hope, but surely a fabulous first! I met a lot of great people on my book tour and through my site, and have heard stories that touched me and made me laugh. Christine's artAnd as you may note, this month, I’ve added three new marvelous ‘marque’ photos to my impromptu gallery here. Thanks to taeden, Tina and Missy for sharing them! And thanks, too, to Christine, for a wonderful piece of fan art.

I completed Elegy for Darkness; or so I thought. It underwent a title change and became Godslayer. But, wait! There’s been another change. After a fair amount of new material was added in the editing process, it became too large for a single volume. It’s going to be divided into two books — Banewreaker andGodslayer, with an encompassing subtitle to be determined.

There is a certain poetic justice at work here. As I’ve indicated, the story is a straightforward good vs. evil epic fantasy with a twist: It’s told from the POV of the losing side. While it’s not based on The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s work is an obvious inspiration, since he’s the granddaddy of postmodern epic fantasy. And LotR too was conceived of as one single volume, until its size necessitated its division into three parts.

Whatever its title, it’s another book of which I’m proud. It was an ambitious project, more so than I realized when I began it. It has so many threads and voices, at times I despaired of bringing them all together — and yet in the end, I was able to do so. It’s very different from the Kushiel trilogy, and it’s terrible and beautiful and sad. It also has marvelous dragons, which is something I’ve always wanted to write.

Now, I’m working on the project I announced last month: Returning to Terre d’Ange for an Imriel trilogy. And aside from the fact that I don’t have a working title (feel free to send suggestions), I’m happy to say that it’s going really well. Like Kushiel’s Dart, this begins with a coming-of-age arc; but a markedly different one. Imriel is a wonderfully complex, conflicted character with boatloads of baggage, and it’s pleasure to hear his own unique voice emerge as he matures. It’s also very cool — and a little weird — to view Phèdre through someone else’s eyes.

On a broader front, it’s been a disturbing year. A great deal has happened in our world that makes me uneasy. I grieve at the loss of life that has ensued as we waged an ill-advised war on dubious grounds — of our American troops and those of our allies, faithful to their own vows to protect and serve, and of the untold numbers of innocent civilians. I can only hope that at some point in the unforeseeable future, the gain will merit the cost. And I will continue to believe, with a stubborn and passionate idealism, that whatever our true goal, there had to be a better way to achieve it.

One of my favorite small, symbolic moments in Avatar is when Phèdre & Co. are preparing to depart from Saba, and she sends Imriel to rummage in their baggage for three steel needles. Upon receiving them, the wise old Sabaean woman Semira proclaims them a sign of the future they will seek to build, in the spirit of the ancient and abandoned Covenant of Wisdom. “Not swords to cleave, nor armor to turn a blade, nor plows to harrow, but a needle to stitch and bind.”

Perhaps we need a Covenant of Wisdom for the 21st Century. What form, I wonder, would it take? Our world is complex, interconnected and fast-moving, and there are no easy answers. But one could do worse than taking Anafiel Delaunay’s axiom — and we will learn, in the first Imriel book, where he got it — as a starting point.

All knowledge is worth having.

So here’s to the pursuit of knowledge leading us to wisdom! Best wishes to all of you and yours for happiness, health and good fortune in the year to come.