Check it out! Here for the holidays, a preview of the cover ofKushiel’s Mercy. I have to say, this is definitely one of the more sumptuous covers. And yes, to those of you wondering, I will post a sample chapter or two as it gets closer to the release date. But that’s not until June, so be patient.
Last month at Darkover, I was on a panel on the topic of writing; how to get from a concept to a manuscript. All the panelists were published novelists with multiple titles to their credit. As is often the case with this sort of panel, I was struck by how very different all of our writing processes were. Some create elaborate genealogies and maps beforehand; others don’t. Some draft extensive plot outlines; others fly by the seat of their pants and make it up as they go along. Some edit painstakingly as they go; others dash off a first draft and fix problems later. Some skip ahead when they get stuck; others sit and stew until they find the solution.
There’s no right or wrong way. Aspiring writers sometimes get frustrated when authors they admire tell them that the only way to learn how to write is by writing, but it’s true. A lot of my creative process takes place on an intuitive level. I can discuss the mechanics of writing – I outline in my head, I edit as I go, I can’t skip ahead, I write 3-4 hours a day, I don’t set target word counts – but that’s just what works for me, and those really are just the mechanics. On some deeper level, the how of it remains a mystery. How does one outline an 800 page fantasy novel in one’s head? I don’t know; I just do. I nurture multiple sparks of inspiration, thinking about them from myriad angles, until characters, plot, setting and theme come together in a cohesive structure.
Pretty unhelpful, huh? But that’s the only way I can describe it. I once read a review of a Stephen King novel which suggested that the reason he so often writes about writers who may or may not be losing their marbles is that on that deeper level, we really don’t know how we do what we do, and it can drive you crazy if you think about it too hard.
However it works, here’s to the fact that it does! The holidays seem like a good time to celebrate life’s mysteries, creativity among them.
In the update roundup, here’s a link to Writer Unboxed where I did a three-part interview with fellow fantasy author Juliet Marillier. You might have to poke around to find the earlier parts, but it’s a site worth exploring. There’s a new Terre d’Ange MUSH for the role-players among you. And once again, there are cool new offerings in the Fan Art, Fan Photos and Tattoo galleries.
Whatever you celebrate, here’s wishing all my readers a joyous holiday season!
I’m off to Baltimore to attend Darkover again this month! Let’s hope I have better luck getting there than I did with ComicCon. As of this writing, they’re still working on programming, but it should be posted soon.
In writing news, readers will be happy to hear that I’ve begun work on the Next Big Project, so called because I don’t have a working title for it yet. However, it’s the start of a new trilogy set in the D’Angeline milieu. I can’t say much about it untilKushiel’s Mercy is released next summer for fear of divulging spoilers, but suffice to say that it will definitely take place a few generations later and feature a whole new cast of characters, as well as a return to a female protagonist.
The decision to create a new heroine was wholly a matter of creative inspiration, but I feel good about it for other reasons, too. Of course there are exceptions, but I’ve noticed a trend in a number of new works that have made a splash in the fantasy genre over the past few years: A marked scarcity of female characters. One recent release even commented on it in a meta sort of way. This is nothing new for the genre, but the trend had been moving in the other direction for a while and now seems to be reverting to type. And after reading several in a row, I couldn’t help but feel woefully neglected. In some instances, there were valid reasons dictated by the book’s premise, but in others, it felt like the author just kinda sorta forgot women existed most of the time. So while I’m not setting out to deliberately redress the balance, I’m glad to be doing my part nonetheless. And of course, I plan to create some kick-ass new male characters as well.
In other news, I’m finishing up the copy edit on Kushiel’s Mercy, which is one twisty, turny ride of a book. After this, the last stage is the final proofing. Hopefully, we’ll do a better job catching typos and errors in this one. Yes, yes, I’m aware that Justice is plagued with a number of them and will do everything I can to correct it in future editions. I’m keeping a list!
The monthly update roundup contains fun new entries in the Tattoos, Fan Art and Fan Photo galleries, and fans may want to note a new link for the KushielMUX. On the homepage, I’ve got a picture from a signing this summer at one of my favorite stores, Borderlands Books in San Francisco. And the update wouldn’t be complete without a Halloween photo! Ironically, since I chose to write about gender representation this month, yes, that’s me as a handsome and dashing pilot with my sexy 1960s stewardess girlfriend.
I’ll tell you, there’s nothing like rockin’ a fake mustache to freak out your friends and loved ones!
Last month, I was griping about the summer ending, but it’s a gorgeous fall day as I write this and I can’t complain. October is one of my favorite months. Here in Michigan, we get the most vivid blue skies in October. It always reminds me of the skies in “Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry,” a famous medieval book of hours.
I actually used that reference in a short story I wrote many years ago called “Mythopoetry in Motion.” It was about fall, mythology and NFL football. One of the first places I submitted it was a prestigious literary competition with a $5,000 prize. Big, big money for a short story. It didn’t win, but I got a hand-written note in reply saying, “Gorgeous and brilliant! This one almost made it! Try a lit mag – it’ll sell!”
That was in the encouraged-to-death phase of my struggling writer years, when every rejection I collected was a tantalizing near-miss. That phase went on for longer than I care to remember. I persevered, and in the end, it paid off. But y’know, that story never did sell. Lured by the promise of that first glittering near-miss, I kept submitting it to literary magazines, updating it every year to reflect the current NFL scene. (Which, yes, I actually did know a lot about at the time. I know, I’m full of surprises.) Eventually I got tired of the updates and let it go… which was probably a good thing.
And I guess that’s the moral of the story! Sometimes you have to let go, but don’t stop trying. And be forewarned when using pop culture references that may quickly be rendered obsolete.
In current writing news, I’ve finished editing Santa Olivia, the bonus project that will be released under a pseudonym. I don’t have a publication date for it yet, but I’ve heard early 2009 is a possibility. A long time to wait; but hey, it’s a bonus project! And for everyone anxiously awaitingKushiel’s Mercy, it should be out in June 2008. As soon as I have official word, I’ll post it on the site.
Elsewhere, the first volume of the series was released last month in a new German translation. I did an interview with a popular fantasy site, Phantastik-Couch, which is online in English and German, as well as what I understand is a rave review in German.
Here’s a small treat for everyone who’s wished my work was available as audiobooks. No, no such deal in the works, sorry, but an excerpt of Kushiel’s Dart is available as a podcast from Nobilis Erotica. In case the “erotica” part didn’t tip you off, this is definitely a not-safe-for-work excerpt!
What would a month be like without additions to the galleries? I don’t know, it hasn’t happened yet! Check out Tattoos, Art and Photos for more gorgeous offerings.
Oh, and on the homepage? The cat in the hat is our own Ami. Make up your own Lolcat caption!
The days of summer are dwindling! I’ll be sorry to see it go.
Not much to report as August was the month of many visitors and little work accomplished. Such are the perils of living in a resort town. So instead I thought I’d share this photo of sun tea brewing on my patio and my secret recipe: 2 bags lemon ginger herbal tea, 1 bag black tea, 1 bag green tea. It’s delicious and refreshing! As you might suspect from the frequent descriptions in my books, I have a fondness for food and drink. I’m glad to be living in an era where there’s so much good stuff readily available. Even as a poor, struggling writer, I’d make sacrifices elsewhere rather than forgo my culinary pleasures.
I was tickled last month to attend the opening of a new restaurant hosted by Janice Dickinson, “The World’s First Supermodel.” Yes, although it may come as a surprise, I’m a big pop culture geek. And it may come as a surprise to other pop culture geeks among you to hear that Janice was actually quite sweet. When my girlfriend and I stopped by to thank her for coming, she pronounced us both beautiful women, grabbed our faces and gave us great, big, smacking, lipsticky smooches. While that in no way relates to writing, it still makes me giggle! And it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised by someone with a public persona. It makes me understand better why readers are happy to discover I’m not a raging diva.
On the media front, there are a spate of new interviews online, including Weird Tales, Word Nerd and a podcast from Adventures in SciFi Publishing. And if you’ve appreciated the service that Shawn Speakman at The Signed Page provides, consider making a donation to his page in the Light the Night Walk to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It’s a LOT of work putting those signings together, and they’re still shy of their goal as of this writing.
Be sure to check out the galleries this month! There are new additions in Art, including a couple of pieces all the way from ‘northern Skaldia,’ more lovely Tattoos, and a couple of great costume pics from a science fiction and fantasy ball in Melbourne, Australia in the Fan Photo gallery. The one of our favorite anguissette and Cassiline dancing will make you go “Awwww.”
That’s all for now! Try the tea. It’s good, really.
Well, I was hoping this month’s update would be all about my adventures at Comic-Con, but alas, it was not to be. After many hours, three canceled flights and two rebookings, I never got further than the tarmac of the Grand Rapids airport. I’ve managed to avoid a major travel jinx for quite a while, so I suppose I was due. But in the immortal words – or word – of Kevin Kline’s character Otto from A Fish Called Wanda, “Disappointed!”
So it goes. On the plus side, at least I wasn’t stranded somewhere in between Michigan and San Diego. Still, my apologies to anyone hoping to catch me at Comic-Con. Hopefully, there will be another opportunity.
Otherwise, things are quiet. I’m about to go into editing on the bonus project I mentioned last month and have discussed in a few interviews. The working title is Santa Olivia, and I describe it as a post-punk desert bordertown fable, with boxing and cute girls in love. It’s completely unlike any of my other books and will be published under the pseudonym Madalon Easton (which, for trivia buffs, is a combination of my paternal and maternal grandmothers’ names).
It’s a whole lot of fun, and I needed a break from Terre d’Ange. The Kushiel books are vast and lush and gorgeous, but writing nothing else is like eating an overly rich diet. I need a palate cleanser in between feasts!
That said, I’m gearing up to begin work on a third D’Angeline trilogy. It will take place a few generations later than the others and explore fresh aspects of the entire milieu and different themes with a whole new roster of characters. There are a number of threads I could have picked up on the heels of Kushiel’s Mercy… but it just didn’t feel right. It was time to let our beloved heroines and heroes pass gracefully into legend and look to new horizons.
And that’s all I have to say about that… for now.
August’s creative offerings include fabulous new entries in the Fan Art, Fan Photos and Tattoo galleries. There’s another new event, LunaCon listed under the Events column. And on the homepage, courtesy of reader Jen, is her kitten Phédre, aka Faybaby, ruling the roost with a velvet paw.
I’m telling you, I really need to consider advertising in Cat Fancy!
UPDATE: Comic-Con appearance cancelled, sorry!
Another book out, another tour finished. Whew!
Thanks to all the readers who turned out to make this a successful book tour. Every year, the audiences are a bit larger… and this year, you came farther away. You came from Tucson and Salt Lake City, from Tennessee and Wisconsin. I’m amazed and awed at the distances some of you traveled!
You shared the stories that connected you to the books, and the tattoos they inspired. You gave me gifts of artwork, of favorite novels, of flowers and dragons. Most of all, you let me do what I love for a living.
I’m happy to say that Justice is getting a great response. And to all those who are wondering, no, this isn’t the end of Imriel’s story. There’s one volume yet to come; Kushiel’s Mercy, which will be out next summer. And yes, although I don’t have details I can divulge yet, there will be more D’Angeline adventures to follow; as well as a bonus project, which I’ll discuss in the future.
Now, I plan to take a couple weeks off. I’ll leave you with a few bits of fan funnery. You can download lovely Kushiel-inspired wallpaper or check out the progress of one of my favorites, the Kushiel’s Dart Racing Lawnmower. There are new additions to the Tattoo and Fan Art galleries.
If any of you creative souls have something you’re feeling especially proud of, drop a line to Entertainment Weekly at email@example.com and submit it to their Obsessive Fan of the Week feature! It’s not that I think you guys (okay, most of you) are really that obsessive, but hey, maybe EW will decide to show the books a little love.
Please note a late addition to the Events column – I’ll be attending Comic-Con in San Diego later in July. I hear it’s quite the scene! And in another nod to toward the east, I’ll be back at Darkover in Maryland in November.
Also, I have a new German publisher who plans re-release the original Kushiel trilogy there. LoveLetter Magazin is doing a piece in the hopes of raising interest in the books, and they’d love to interview a few fans who’ve gotten a version of Phèdre’s marque. If you’re sporting a Kusheline tattoo and are willing to be interviewed, send your name and email address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s all for now. See you next month!
Out in North American stores this month, Kushiel’s Justice! The official laydown date is June 14th, but it looks like it’s already shipping from the online stores, so it may appear sooner.
A word of warning: While we finally got the one spoilerish blurb pulled from B&N.com, they promptly posted a review by their own editors… with the same spoiler. And it turns up in the Booklist review. I guess it’s hard to avoid since it’s a major plot point, so… if you don’t want to be spoiled on this one, don’t read the reviews until after you’ve read the book.
It also makes it hard for me to talk about Justice in real specific terms. As the description indicates, is driven by the romance that erupts between Imriel and Sidonie, fraught with political peril. But then… a bunch of other stuff happens, too. Dire spells, shapeshifting magicians, tangled threads of possible futures. Snow! Lots of snow!
I’ll be on the road for most of the last two weeks of June and then taking a vacation over the first two weeks of July, so expect slow replies to email and bookplate requests. I’m doing booksignings in Ann Arbor, MI; San Diego, CA; Seattle, WA; Beaverton, OR; San Francisco, CA; Half Moon Bay, CA; Holland, MI; Lansing, MI. Check the Event listings to the left for details. East coasters take heart; I’ve also added a listing for a Guest of Honor stint at LunaCon in Rye Brook, NY next spring.
In the monthly news roundup, there’s a new interview online at the Fantasy Book Critic, who also reviews Justice. There’s a free book giveaway contest at Author Island. An enterprising Canadian reader has started an online petition in the hope of convincing my publisher to send me on a Canadian book tour. It’s too late for this year, but hey, it can’t hurt!
There are fabulous new entries in the Tattoo and Fan Photo galleries, including some very cool henna work in the latter. For the record, I only add permanent tats to the Tattoo gallery; all temporary versions go into the Fan Photo gallery. Except those that were in the Fan Art gallery because I was inconsistent, of course.
In closing and on a somber note, at the request of reader ruthie, I’m posting a link to a site dedicated to finding Madeleine McCann, who was abducted while her family was on holiday in Portugal; a four-year-old girl who happens to have a distinctive mote in her right eye. While I’m glad to contribute in any small part to the effort to find her, I’ll also note that for every such high-profile case, there are thousands of others that don’t receive the same media attention, and humanitarian crises that go underreported and sadly ignored.
So in the spirit of Imriel’s mantra, whatever you can to do good, do!
Bonus! The second chapter ofKushiel’s Justice is online. Hope that helps tide you all over until next month! And beware, B&N.com still has a spoiler up. Yes, still.
In other news, Kushiel’s Scion is out in paperback this month. If you’ve been waiting, now’s the time.
Things are starting to get busy as the release date for Justice draws near. It looks like the schedule for the book tour is confirmed, so the list of booksignings in the Events column to the left is final. Don’t forget, if I’m not coming to a town near you, you can still order a signed, personalized copy from The Signed Page!
There’s a new interview online at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist. He’ll be featuring a giveaway of copies ofJustice in the near future. If you want to stay up-to-date on this and other special offers, sign up for the mailing list in the lower left corner. And yes, I’ll stop pushing the mailing list soon, but right now, it makes my publicist happy. Plus, it cuts down on the emails I receive from readers saying, “I missed your booksigning! I wish I’d known!”
Lots of fun stuff from my wonderfully creative readers this month. I’ve posted a couple of choice items here on the homepage. Thanks to Allison for the awesome photos of the Phèdre-as-Mara costume she created and wore at Dragon*Con and AWA 2006! It was hard to pick just one. I might post another on a slow month; the “Phèdre goes window shopping” shot was awfully fun. And speaking of fun, thanks to Jerry in Florida for what has to be one of my favorite fan tributes ever: the Kushiel’s Dart Racing Lawnmower! Too cool.
And check out the Fan Art Gallery and Tattoo Gallery for more great additions. There’s a pair of briar rose vambrace tattoos you won’t want to miss! !
Okay, this is going to be a quick update, but it’s a juicy one! First, as many readers have asked, yes, The Signed Page is hosting another online signing. As an added bonus, they’re hosting a contest for fans with webcams. After I sign the books on June 20th, I’ll do a 15-20 minute interview with a randomly chosen winner. Please, please, please, direct any and all questions regarding this to Shawn Speakman at The Signed Page! I’m clueless about the technical details.
The book tour for Justice is beginning to take shape and I’ll have venues posted soon. Looks like it’s back to the West Coast with a few signings in Michigan. Sorry, everyone else! You can still order signed copies from The Signed Page prior to June 20th. If you want to stay updated on other events, please sign up for the mailing list in the lower left corner to receive my periodic email newsletter.
Apologies also to anyone who got inadvertantly spoiled (spoilered?) reading the text at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. And although they’ve updated to the correct book description, B&N still has a spoiler from a Library Journal blurb on their site, so beware.
In spoiler-free news, I’ve posted the other item you’ve been clamoring for: The first chapter of Kushiel’s Justice! Letters from Melisande… it makes me a little nostalgic. No one was more fun to write than Melisande in her villainous heyday.
And… that’s about it for April. Check out the Tattoo gallery for more cool additions, and visit The Marques of the Night Court to see lovely interpretations of the marques of each House.
Warning! I know everyone’s been waiting for the book description, and I’ve been playing it coy. Well, Amazon.com has it posted… but they used the wrong text, and there’s a major spoiler in it. While it’s supposed to be corrected, as of this writing, it’s still there. I’m sure the coast will be clear in a few days, but for now, if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t look! UPDATE: Still not fixed as of March 6. Avoid barnesandnoble.com too!
As penance, here’s the description from the Advance Review Copies:
“Imriel de la Courcel’s blood parents are history’s most reviled traitors, while his adoptive parents, Phèdre and Joscelin, are Terre d’Ange’s greatest champions. Stolen, tortured, and enslaved as a young boy, Imriel is now a Prince of the Blood, third in line for the throne in a land that revels in beauty, art, and desire.
What was once a mere spark of interest between himself and his cousin Sidonie now ignites into a white-hot blaze. But from commoner to peer, the whole realm would recoil from any alliance between Sidonie, heir to the throne, and Imriel, who bears the stigma of his mother’s misdeeds and betrayals. Praying that their passion will peak and fade, Imriel and Sidonie embark on an intense, secret affair.
Blessed Elua founded Terre d’Ange and bestowed one simple precept to guide his people, love as thou wilt. When Imriel and Sidonie ultimately choose duty over love, they unwittingly trespass against it. But when dark powers in Alba, who fear an invasion by Terre d’Ange, seek to use the lovers’ passion against Imriel, the gods themselves take notice. Before the end, Kushiel’s justice will be felt in heaven and on earth.”
So there you have it! And yes, speculators; as most of you guessed, it’s Sidonie on the cover. And yes, I will post a sample chapter, but not until next month.
By the way, if you haven’t signed up for my mailing list, now’s a good time to do so. The link is on the lower left hand side of this homepage. I use it to send out announcements of booksignings, contests, convention appearances and any other items of special interest. There are likely to be more of these as the release date for Justice nears; but it’s seldom more (and often far less) than a couple emails a month, so it won’t flood your inbox, I promise. Your privacy is assured, your email address won’t be shared with anyone, etc.
On to random fun stuff, courtesy of my ever-innovative readers. The fabulous gown featured on the homepage is named Naamah’s Star and it was created by To Die For Designs. And courtesy of reader Susanne, we have a marvelous photo from atop the walls of Lucca, trees and all! A lot of you thought I made that part up, right? Nope, not this time. And once again, there are new interpretations, ongoing and otherwise, of the marque in the Tattoo and Fan Art galleries.
Thanks, guys! You never cease to amaze me.
New cover art! I know a lot of you have already seen it on Amazon.com, but now it’s officially up on my site. The cover copy should be coming soon, and will put an end to your speculation. And yes, I will post a sample chapter or two as it gets closer to the release date.
Well, after an unseasonably warm December and much of January, it’s winter here in Michigan. We just got hit with a couple feet of snow. I’ve posted a shot of my backyard here on the homepage. I’ve been extra diligent about keeping that snow-capped birdfeeder filled for my little friends. The chickadees are especially brazen. They sit on nearby branches and “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” at me with great irritation for the entire minute or two it takes me to refill the feeder. The other day, one landed on it as I was hanging it back on the hook. We both did a double-take, and I could almost see him thinking, “Holy crap! One of those big two-legged things is still attached to it! What was I thinking?”
Yeah, not a lot to report, so you get a quaint woodland tale instead! But there is some nice news.Kushiel’s Scion has been nominated for the Romantic Times Bookclub Award for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel of 2006; and Library Journal named it to their list of Best SF & Fantasy 2006, calling it “A stellar example of sensually exotic dynastic fantasy.” Hey, I didn’t even know that was a subgenre!
And as usual, you readers have something of interest to contribute. Check out the Tattoo and Fan Art galleries for more new offerings, including one of the most unique Kushiel-inspired tattoos I’ve seen.
Happy Valentines Day to all!
Happy New Year (a little late)!
I have no excuse for the tardy update. I procrastinated all month, then sat down to write an update on New Year’s Eve. Nothing came to me. Eventually, I gave up. I felt a few twinges of guilt on New Year’s Day, but it didn’t stop me from lolling on the couch, drinking champagne and watching a marathon of “Ugly Betty” on the Soap channel.
It was a great way to usher in 2007. I try to spend time being mindful over the holiday season, reflecting on life’s blessings and mourning the world’s sorrows… but sometimes you need to take a time-out and wallow in guilty pleasures. And champagne.
So, lots of questions about the cover for Kushiel’s Justice! I’ll answer one: No, it’s not Phèdre. You’ll figure it out when the cover copy’s released. Hey, with six months to go, I’ve got to find some way to draw out the suspense! But I posted it without comment in part because it’s not the final version. That will likely come later and may be totally different. We shall see.
For a change of pace, this month I’ve got a link to an audio interview I did at KeyCon in Winnipeg last year with Barbara and Ghislaine, avid readers starting a new blog. They were both delightful and the interview features an added benefit – you get to hear characters’ names pronounced by real Francophones.
I’ve also got several marvelous new Tattoos, Fan Photos and Fan Art, which is probably the only place you’ll ever see Imriel depicted. I’ve lobbied for it, but I don’t think he’s going to get his own cover, so it’s up to you artists! Keep ’em coming. And on the homepage, because it’s such a fabulous shot, is Laurel in a Phèdre-as-Mara costume. She was quite the hit appearing in costume at a signing in San Francisco.
And once again… kitties! Well, one kitty. The folks at Kushiel Bengals sent me an update, and it seems Joscelin’s feline namesake acquired Champion status in his very first adult debut. I know nothing of the world of cat shows, but I guess that’s what happens when you name a contender after the Queen’s Champion. Somewhere in the alternate world that exists within the confines of my head, Joscelin Verreuil is looking bemused, while Imriel grins and Phèdre laughs with delight.
Here’s wishing all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous year to come!