In the spirit of the season, I posted a query on Facebook a week or so ago asking, “If you were hosting a Midwinter Masque and serving ‘joie,’ what would YOU serve?” Lots of fascinating replies, ranging from intriguing to downright peculiar. Butterscotch schnapps? Really? Ice wine was one of the most popular entries, and there were quite a few votes for Goldschlager, too.
While I’ve always felt it should be a clear liqueur with a unique taste, there was one suggestion that really piqued my curiosity even though it didn’t meet all the criteria: St. Germain elderflower liqueur. It’s pale gold in hue, not clear, but according to their story, it’s made with elderflower blossoms hand-picked in the French Alps. It’s not Camaeline snowdrops, but it’s pretty darn close! I had to order a bottle, and will report accordingly after I’ve had a chance to sample it.
I’ve been having fun with spirits in general this year, trying my hand at making infused vodkas. Caraway and ginger were a couple of early successes, and I made an Ultimate Bloody Mary vodka infused with hot pepper, fresh dill, cucumber, and celery. It’s a fun way to experiment with various flavor profiles.
In book news, there’s not a lot to report. This is the time of year when I’m digging in and getting a lot of work done. But I do have the cover of Naamah’s Curse, which comes out in June 2010, posted on the homepage this month! Quite lovely, no? And yes, yes, I will post a sample chapter in time, but not until closer to the release date. I’m also happy to say that Santa Olivia has gone back for a third printing. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there will indeed be a sequel, Santitos at Large; but it won’t be out until 2011.
Many readers have been asking about availability of the first three Kushiel titles as e-books, and Kushiel’s Avatar for Kindle. It appears as though Tor Books, who published the first trilogy, are working gradually to make their backlist available in all e-formats. Hopefully as demand increases, they’ll be able to meet it. If you’re searching for hardcovers, I’m afraid I have no special insight or hidden stash, but AbeBooks.com is a likely source for used copies. Unfortunately, copies in new-good condition are expensive. Such are the laws of supply and demand, alas.
There are quite a few new additions to the Tattoo gallery this month, and a couple of new pics in Fan Photos, including the first-ever Anafiel Delaunay costume I’ve seen! French-speaking fans looking for a discussion forum for the books should be sure to check out Le Monde de Kushiel – Terre d’Ange.
Thanks to everyone who sent good wishes on the new puppy last month! Maya the Mangy One continues to battle mites and is a disturbing shade of Easter-egg pink, but otherwise happy and thriving. She recently discovered the joys of destruction, and our house is frequently filled with a fluffy blizzard of disemboweled stuffed toy guts. Oh, happy day!
Almost forgot to write an update this month!
Two words in my defense: New puppy. Yep, there’s a new member of our household, a four-month-old rescued pitbull puppy named Maya. Very sweet, very loving, very mangy. I’d forgotten how much work puppies are! It’s hard to concentrate on writing when I’m constantly checking the clock, wondering if it’s time to take the pup for a walk. Again. In the rain. Trying to hold an umbrella over both of us while I wait for her to do her business. Or playing long games of fetch indoors to make sure she gets plenty of exercise, tossing an increasingly nasty, soggy squeaky toy.
But in truth, there’s not a lot else to report this month. I’m deep in writing mode, having begun work on the third volume of the Naamah trilogy, tentatively titled Naamah’s Blessing. I’ll be taking a detour into copyedit mode later this month, when the manuscript for the second volume, Naamah’s Curse, returns to my plate. The latter is still scheduled for release in June 2010, so I won’t be writing about it or posting an excerpt for a while yet.
I should note that due to a technical issue, I lost a handful fan emails last month, so if you wrote to me and didn’t receive a reply, my apologies! Feel free to resend. Although on that note, I do have one request for my readers. In the lead-up to Halloween, I fielded a number of inquiries about character costumes this year, many of which included a line to the effect of “If you don’t have time to answer, I’ll have to reread the book.”
Y’all, seriously! Please do. At least flip through it! If you can’t find the descriptive passage you’re looking for fairly quickly, maybe it didn’t make that big an impression on you after all, and you should rethink your costume idea. I’m just sayin’! I do my best to keep up with all my correspondence, but sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming.
In closing, check out the Tattoo and Fan Art galleries for more lovely new additions! I hope to have something fun and unusual to share next month, but time will tell.
September went by quickly this year! At least we had some lovely weather here in Michigan, after a rather chilly summer.
First off, good news for fans of Santa Olivia. There will be a sequel,Santitos at Large. Unfortunately, since my publisher didn’t know I was already working on it, secretive writer that I can be, there isn’t a slot available in the schedule until Spring/Summer 2011. I’ll do my best to make it worth the wait!
In other side project news, I delivered the manuscript for a novella titled “You, and You Alone,” which will be included in an anthology called Star-Crossed Lovers, edited by Gardner Dozois and George R.R. Martin. Impressive pedigree, no? I don’t have a pub date for it yet, but I believe it’s scheduled for release in 2010, and will post details when available. My novella chronicles the ill-fated love affair between Anafiel Delaunay and Rolande de la Courcel. Many readers have asked for this over the years, and now it’s on its way.
While I’m all for anything that celebrates diversity, I’ve found that a lot (not all!) of m/m romance written by women rings a bit false to me; a little too swoony. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to write a m/m romance that was in closer accord with the dynamics I’ve observed among many of my awesome friends… only with more tragic destiny, and less role-playing (okay, none!) based on oh, say, the prison seriesOz.
Lots of fun stuff to share this month! On the homepage, I’m featuring the covers of Parts 1 and 2 of the Japanese translation of Kushiel’s Dart, previously posted on Facebook, where you are welcome to friend me and take advantage of the occasional giveaway contest. Phèdre, blonde… so wrong! And yet Joscelin looks… pretty much like Joscelin. It’s funny how consistent depictions of him are. Check out the Fan Art Gallery to see what I mean, as well as the first pieces I’ve received depicting characters from Naamah’s Kiss.
There are also several new additions to the Tattoo Gallery, including a lovely Alcuin-inspired marque based on the design by elegaer, and a back-piece done with something called Chameleon ink, which only shows up under black light. Who knew such a thing existed? Not me! For the music-lovers among you, here’s a link from composer Morganne Baum to a lovely piece titled Lypiphera.
An audiobook listener suggested I should put the maps online, which is a very good idea… and one that I haven’t had time to pursue. I’ll try not to lose sight of the suggestion, though I make no promises.
In closing, thanks to all the Canadian fans who came to my event in Toronto last month! A good time was had by all, the signing was a successful one, and hopefully will lead to a repeat performance in the years to come.
In other noteworthy news, I finished and delivered the manuscript for Naamah’s Curse, the second book in Moirin’s trilogy, last month. It still has to go through the whole cycle of editing, copyediting, and proofreading, and won’t be out until next June, alas, but I’m happy to report that the initial response was great. Or in the words of my editor, “I just finished it last night. OMG! It was AWESOME!” Sweeter words (or acronyms), a writer cannot hear.
A lot of readers have asked about a sequel to Santa Olivia, too. No definitive news yet, but I have a proposal in and I’m working on it. All I can say at this point is that turning Loup and Pilar loose on an unsuspecting world is a lot of fun! Hopefully, I’ll have more to report next month.
On a more serious note, I’ve noticed some backlash against Naamah’s Kiss among Amazon.com reviewers. It surprises me a bit, because I never would have pegged this one as a love-it-or-hate-it book; but clearly, for some readers, it is. I understand readers missing elements like the deep intrigue or dark eroticism of the Kushiel books, but this goes beyond it. I’ve often said that no two people read the exact same book. There’s a certain mental alchemy that takes place to bring a written world to life in one’s mind, to render it vibrant, compelling and full of wonder. Sometimes, it doesn’t happen. The magic isn’t always there for everyone.
There’s a quote attributed to the estimable Steven Brust that says “All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what’s cool.” True words, I think.
One point on which I will comment is the notion that Moirin and Bao’s soul-matedness at the end seems forced. Well… yeah! It’s quite literally forced upon them, and one of the central elements ofNaamah’s Curse is the two of them trying to deal with this powerful bond that neither of them chose, all the while contending with forces trying to split them apart. I wanted to play out a very different kind of dynamic in this trilogy.
Anyway, I think it’s cool!
Once again, check out the Tattoo and Fan Art galleries for some lovely new additions. On the homepage, a photo of my rebuilt screen porch, one of this chilly summer’s highlights. Here’s hoping for a warm and sunny September in my neck of the woods! We deserve it.
It’s been a long, long month, and I’m glad to see the end of July! Although it’s been wonderful traveling across the country (part of it, anyway) and meeting readers, it’s tiring, too. People often ask if I enjoy doing talks and booksignings. I do. In many cases, I’m touched by the stories people share with me, amazed at the distances they’ve traveled. The nicest comment I heard on my tour was from a bookseller in Denver who said, “Everyone looks so happy as they leave!”
That meant a lot to me, because I want all my readers to feel special and appreciated, because… well, you are. And for my part, I always leave a booksigning with a warm, happy glow inside. And sometimes presents, too! Those cookies from a reader in Lansing were especially good.
But in between events, it’s a lot of lonely travel time; a lot of time in airports, on airplanes, in cars. Some writers can work anywhere and write on the road; unfortunately, I’m not one of them. I need my cluttered office, my own chair, and my big ergonomic keyboard. So as much as I enjoy the highlights of touring, I’m always happy to come home.
It was a bittersweet homecoming this year. My dog Elaine, my excellent companion of fourteen years, was in failing health. Upon returning from Comic-Con in San Diego, I had to have her put to sleep. She was a pitbull mix rescued from a local shelter, and for our first seven years together, she accompanied me to my day job at Hope College, where she flirted shamelessly and made countless friends.
One of my favorite memories of that time was when we had Lamidi Fakeye, a renowned Nigerian woodcarver, as a visiting artist. I’d been warned by the guest curator that for cultural reasons, Lamidi might disapprove of the presence of a dog in the office, so I was prepared to leave her home if necessary. But oh, no. She charmed him on the spot, and he immediately purchased an enormous box of dog biscuits the size of dinosaur bones. Every day that semester began with Lamidi strolling into the office and uttering a booming greeting, “Hello, my friend! Would you care for a biscuit?”
I’m pretty sure that until Chosen came out, more people knew of my dog than they did me. Maybe even Avatar. When I ‘retired’ to write full time seven years ago, I suspect Elaine was missed as much as I was. She was one of the good ones, and I will miss her, too.
On a closing note, there’s a new piece in the Fan Art Gallery, and I’d like to say a final thanks to Shawn Speakman of The Signed Page. You can see how much work goes into those online signings here. I definitely get the easy end of the deal! For readers who’ve never had the chance to attend a live signing, Shawn filmed the event in Seattle. On top of that, he was my social angel at Comic-Con, so many thanks!
As many of you happily discovered, Naamah’s Kiss shipped a bit early in places, so I got some early feedback; all of it good so far (though of course I’m writing this prior to leaving). I only wish you didn’t all read so fast! One of my favorite reviewers wrote a funny, insightful review for io9.com that made me laugh aloud, but there was a tiny error in it that sparked some thoughts about craftsmanship. To wit, she refers to Queen Jehanne as a princess.
I’m not nitpicking by any means; it made for a humorous angle, and it’s a minor detail (although Jehanne herself might have something else to say about it). But I suspect I know how it could occur. There are various little narrative devices I use to achieve desired effects. In Naamah’s Kiss, I wanted Snow Tiger’s character to have a distant, iconic quality, reflective of the Imperial hierarchy in Ch’in, warming slowly to a more human aspect. One of the simplest ways I tried to establish that distance is by referring to her by title instead of name more often than not; as often as I thought I could without it being jarring and obvious.
Hence, throughout the last third of the book, the word ‘princess’ is repeated a LOT. Small wonder it could stick in one’s mind!
Little details like this contribute in subtle ways. In a similar example from the latter Kushiel books, a number of characters close to Imriel call him Imri. The one character who never, ever does is Sidonie. Part of that is reflective of her reserved nature, but it’s also reflective of the fact that she never sees him as a harmless boy one would call by a diminutive nickname. She sees him at first as a dangerous threat, and then as a dangerous temptation, and finally as a worthy partner. In every instance, she takes him very seriously.
So, there are a couple of thoughts on the craft of writing, and how character is determined not only by what one writes about the character, but by how other characters react and respond to them.
In other news, it appears I will be attending Comic-Con in San Diego this year. No details yet! Also, I’ve pulled the email link from my site temporarily, and will restore it when things are less hectic. In the meantime, check out the Tattoo gallery for more great additions, and the Fan Art Gallery for a new set of imaginary movie posters – unless you’ve already seen them on Facebook. Feel free to friend me if you haven’t already! No guarantees, but I will try to check in from the road from time to time.
On the homepage, I’m featuring a photo of Snow Mountain in China, the real-life inspiration for my White Jade Mountain in Naamah’s Kiss.
And yeah, it really is that amazingly gorgeous.
Whew! It’s been quite a month since my last update. First, apologies to any readers who emailed me around the end of April/beginning of May and never received a reply. My computer had a complete and total meltdown (which sucked), and some correspondence was lost. Feel free to resend.
In happier news, I’m very, very pleased by the initial response to Santa Olivia, my post-punk desert bordertown fable. And in news that makes all of us happy, Naamah’s Kiss comes out this month! The official release date is June 24th, although it may ship early in some places. Please note that if you ordered a copy of either book from The Signed Page, it won’t ship until after June 29th when I’m in Seattle to sign them.
Which leads me to: Book Tour! The dates and venues are all posted to the left in the Events column. Only one new location (hello, Denver!) this year, I’m afraid… things are tight everywhere, including in the publishing industry. We do what we can!
At any rate, I’m excited about Naamah’s Kiss. It received a lovely starred review in Booklist, which said “Carey writes with meditative grace, eroticism, and excitement, equally assured with the intricacies of court and the bloody nature of battle.” Writing this book gave me a chance to look at the world I created through a fresh set of eyes, and bring to life a whole new cast of characters; and too, it gave me a chance to explore new frontiers in my alternate history. There are passages in the Ch’in sequence that are a virtual love-letter to the vast expanse of China’s immense history and stunning geography.
One word of warning: Readers hoping to find out what befell the cast of Kushiel’s Legacy may be disappointed. There are some scattered hints, but ultimately, I chose not to go into a lot of detail. For one thing, I didn’t want to burden the narrative with unnecessary backstory. For another… I didn’t really want to know. I prefer to imagine them all frozen in time at the end of Kushiel’s Mercy, living eternally in the happily-ever-after moment.
And this is Moirin’s story; my impulsive heroine with a generous heart, a great capacity for delight, and a tendency to throw herself headlong into any situation, no matter how complicated or ill-advised it may be. Naamah’s child, unwittingly sultry, compelled by desire; a child of the Maghuin Dhonn, possessor of subtle magic, unable to understand why the rest of the world finds it so strange that she worships a bear.
I like her a lot, and I hope you all do, too.
On an unrelated note, more and more I’ve been using Facebook to post regular updates with links to various giveaway contests, reviews, and other items of interest. It’s a convenient way to list time-sensitive opportunities in between monthly updates to my site. If you’d like to take part in this, just friend me!
In closing, pay a visit to the Tattoo gallery for a couple of lovely new additions, and the Fan Art Gallery for a very cool, first-ever piece of art inspired by Santa Olivia.
Santa Olivia comes out at the end of this month! I know a lot of my readers are more excited about Naamah’s Kiss, and that’s perfectly understandable, but I’m very fond of this little book; and yes, it is a little book by my door-stopper standards, which is to say it’s the length of a normal novel. However, it’s a bit disconcerting that as I write this, the news is filled with stories about the swine flu outbreak. In Santa Olivia, a vast pandemic is the cause of military cordon being established between the U.S. and Mexico. Hopefully, by the time the book’s released, the outbreak will be contained, and the worst of the threat will have passed. This is not an instance where one hopes life imitates art.
I’ve always called this book a synchronicity magnet, because odd coincidences surround it. I actually began writing a completely different version of it many years ago. It didn’t gel and I abandoned the project, but the concept of a heroine genetically incapable of experiencing fear stayed with me. More than a decade later, I returned to it. I’d lost the original manuscript, but I remembered the entire cast of characters. One might suppose that I named the two cleverest members of my band of rebellious orphans Jane and Jaime in a subtle tribute to my agent and editor, but in fact, the choice of names predates our association.
Then there was an incident with snakes, a particularly timely research article, the discovery of Pic St. Loup wine at a dinner celebrating the finish of the book, and my favorite synchronicitous moment when I was spacing out in an airport, envisioning the final chapters of the book in vivid detail, and a woman walked past with a rustic, woven basket strapped to the back of her rolling suitcase. That won’t make any sense unless you read the book, but trust me, it was a bit freaky at the time.
In hindsight, I’m very glad my first effort never got off the ground. I’m a much better writer now than I was then. Political events in recent years, particularly the debate over immigration and government sponsorship of paranoia-inducing propaganda and the euphemistically termed ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ inspired a backdrop of much more powerful themes.
For all that, I had a lot of fun with the book. It was good to challenge myself with prose far more spare than my usual ornate style, to write with a more muscular lyricism (and, fair warning, there’s quite a bit of profanity). It’s an unusual melange of elements, and only loosely a paranormal. There’s a lot of humor in it, and it features some of my favorite secondary characters ever. And it’s the one novel I’ve written that actually could easily be adapted as a movie! Not that anyone’s offering yet, but it’s fun to contemplate.
At any rate, I hope all my readers willing to take a chance on something completely different enjoySanta Olivia! If you’re on the fence about this one, you can take a peek at a great review from theSciFiGuy. And if that doesn’t sway you… well, Naamah’s Kiss comes out next month, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be doing a 5-city tour in late June/early July, and will post dates and venues as soon as they’re confirmed.
In closing, there are a couple of new additions in the Tattoo gallery. I’ve also donated signed hardcover copies of the Imriel trilogy (Kushiel’s Scion, Kushiel’s Justice, Kushiel’s Mercy) to author Brenda Novak’s annual Auction for Diabetes Research. Bidding starts on May 1st and continues through the end of the month. If you’re interested, you’ll find them listed under “Sci Fi and Fantasy” in the Categories column; and there are lots of other great items, too! Plus the opportunity to win a super cool touch-screen Hewlett Packard computer for the person who enters the highest number of overall bids,whether they actually win the bids or not.
All that, and for a good cause, too. Be sure to check it out!
Okay! As many of you have been asking for months, a link to the first chapter of Naamah’s Kiss is now available in the Extras column to the left. I hope you enjoy the sneak preview, and to all of you who were patient and didn’t bug me about it… thanks! 🙂
It’s obvious from the beginning that our new heroine Moirin is very, very different from our beloved Phèdre. Since I couldn’t outdo Phèdre’s sophistication, I went the opposite direction and gave Moirin a completely rustic upbringing. But she’s a child of Naamah as well as the Maghuin Dhonn, and very much a sensualist. In this chapter, when an unexpected gift of eggs appears on their hearth, Moirin cradles one in her hands, then touches the tip of her tongue to the shell.
That little scene pretty much foreshadows her approach to life. And yes, by the way, I did lick an egg to see what it tasted like. Writing sometimes requires odd bits of research to get the visceral details right. For the second book in the Naamah trilogy, I had to time myself chanting a prayer of penance over and over. I’ve been known to pace out fight scenes to get the choreography down; which looks pretty funny, since I’m doing it all by myself.
But it’s worth doing the research, whether it’s book research or sitting in my office chanting, to avoid making mistakes that force the reader to suspend their disbelief. Sometimes it happens anyway, and things slip through the cracks. Out of the blue, I realized one day that there was an anachronism in Kushiel’s Mercy. On Cythera, Imriel has a meal of grilled octopus and potatoes cooked in olive oil, very much like a meal I remember fondly at my favorite Greek taverna. The problem? In my alternate history, the New World hasn’t been discovered yet… so potatoes wouldn’t exist in Europe.
It’s a small slip, but I’ve had readers with strong backgrounds in history thank me for timeline-appropriate food references, and I know every one of them would be jolted out of the story by those damn potatoes. So I do try to get the details right, and remain within the realm of plausibility; when I take liberties, it’s usually done on purpose. There’s a reason I write fantasy, and not historical fiction!
In the monthly round-up, I’m featuring a photo of one of my favorite fan tributes; the Kushiel’s Dart Racing Lawnmower, seen here in victorious action. Check out the Tattoo gallery for several lovely and interesting new additions, including variations on the marque. Longtime fan Darrell Coon is doing a walk to raise money for March of Dimes, a cause near and dear to his heart. If you have a few bucks to spare for a fellow reader, donate here.
As an added bonus, author Sara Harvey has a new novella, for which I provided a blurb, out this month. You can check out her cool book trailer for “Convent of the Pure” on YouTube below.
What is there to say about Michigan in March? Not much good, I’m afraid! The world is bleak and damp, and depending on the temperature, my dirt-and-gravel driveway alternates between being an icy death-trap and a mucky expanse of mud. Still, it’s good writing weather, and all I can say is that I’ve been hard at work on the second Naamah book.
If you want a sneak peek at Santa Olivia, a link to the first chapter is now available in the Extras column. I’m happy to report that I’ve seen the first online review on FantasyLiterature.net (scroll down to the bottom), and it’s a good one. It’s nice to be appreciated for attempting something completely different! And it does get at the fact that this is only kinda-sorta a paranormal. One of my favorite quotes the book has gotten thus far was provided by Eric Van Lustbader, who wrote:
“Jacqueline Carey has created a postmodern fable of enormous scope and force. Santa Olivia is at once a cautionary tale of people caught in a web of lies and creeping terror, and a love song to the beauty and power of being different. At the novel’s heart is the kind of grace Carey is known for: an illumination of the strength that lies hidden inside all of us.” –Eric Van Lustbader, bestselling author of The Bourne Sanction
In terms of genre, I think “postmodern fable” nails it. And having written books spanning from complex epic fantasy to fast-paced spy thrillers, Eric’s an author who knows the value of stretching, diversifying and challenging oneself as an artist. He’s also very gracious in person, and I have fond memories of bonding with him over our mutual dismay at the incoherent conclusion of a particular highly-regarded novel at the time. And no, I’m not naming names!
All of which, coupled with a few requests I’ve received recently, has me thinking about blurbing books this month. In case you’ve ever wondered how those glowing quotes get on the covers of books, it’s usually the case that in order to give a book a helping boost, the editor sends copies out to relevant authors they hope will enjoy it, with a request to provide a quote if they do.
It can be a surprisingly difficult process, and every author has their own set of criteria; not to mention our own subjective prejudices. I find myself saying “No” almost as often as “Yes.” Sometimes I just don’t click with a book, no matter how hard I try. Sometimes a book’s flaws outweigh its strengths; and it’s particularly frustrating when it’s a talented and ambitious author, someone I want to love. It’s often easier to come up with a quote for a book that meets a modest goal than one that sets up high expectations and falls short. Ultimately, I try to set my own prejudices aside and gauge whether the book succeeds or fails on its own merits.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m a picky reader, and I can’t always get past my own preferences. Unlikeable protaganists are something I have a hard time with, for example. And here’s a little-known fact: By and large, I don’t like Victorian literature. Strange, but true! In the latter case, I’ve been able to look past my preferences on occasion. In the former, not so much, at least with the books I’ve been asked to read. Still, I do my best.
So, there’s a little inside peek into another aspect of the publishing industry! In other news, I’m once again working with The Signed Page to make signed copies available. We had to limit the number of personalized copies to 50 per title, and I’m afraid those sold out within forty minutes of my sending out an announcement to my email list (see link at lower left of homepage to sign up). However, you can still pre-order signature-only copies of both Naamah’s Kiss and Santa Olivia. Please note that I won’t be signing them until June 29th when I’m in Seattle, so they won’t ship until after that date, and your patience is appreciated!
I will be doing a book tour for Naamah’s Kiss in late June/early July, but the full itinerary of venues and dates hasn’t been finalized. I’ll post details in the Events column when they’re confirmed. Unfortunately, the tour’s not likely to be expanded this year. Things are tight all over, including in the publishing industry.
In closing, for something completely different, check out the moody musical stylings of the bandl’anguissette. Visit the Tattoo gallery for an innovative new addition, or read a vintage Q&A and essay I originally wrote for Romantic Times at BookSpotCentral. And on the homepage, just ’cause it’s cute, a baby alpaca named Tsunami… but occasionally nicknamed Naamah!
Snow, snow and more snow. That’s the story of the past month here in Michigan! Here on the far western side of the state, we have this phenomenon known as ‘lake effect snow.’ For days on end, every time I looked at the local weather radar, there was a big green cloud sitting right atop us, going nowhere. Somewhere in the middle of the month, I declared that we were living in Narnia and the White Witch was back in charge. Since then, a couple more feet of snow have fallen.
On the plus side, it’s good writing weather. I’ve been hard at work on the second book of the Naamah trilogy (which really ought to have a series name of its own, I just haven’t come up with one). There’s nothing I can say about it without giving away spoilers for the first book, but I can report it’s going well. I’ve finished proofreading Santa Olivia, and copyeditingNaamah’s Kiss. I’ve added cover art to the links on the left. All in all, it’s a light news month for me, albeit a productive one. And that’s okay, since I know you’re glad it means there are forthcoming books to look forward to.
It’s pretty here, I’ll say that for all the snow. I go for walks several times a week, which tends to be when I do a lot of my best creative thinking. I walk mostly around my neighborhood, but there’s one stretch that cuts through the woods, a path that only the deer and foxes use this time of year. As I flounder through snow that’s well over knee-deep, I find myself thinking about Imriel in the Vralian wilderness and feeling guilty at the lengths to which I push my characters, knowing full well that I would have given up after the first couple of miles.
But then again, it is fantasy! And this is the perfect time of year to curl up on a cozy couch with a good book, and enjoy someone else’s grueling adventures while outside the endless snow falls.
In the monthly round-up, I’ve posted a lovely piece of art from a series inspired by the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers on the homepage, and you can check out the Fan Art Gallery for a couple more unusual offerings, as well as another gorgeous marque in the Tattoo Gallery. There’s a new Kushiel RPG listed under Fan Sites on the Links page, and the nice folks at BookSpotCentral have made an essay I wrote for Borders long ago available online once more.
Happy New Year!
Despite everything, I have a lot to be grateful for in the past year. Family, friends, and fans; my own personal alliterative trinity! An amazing trip to China, where I was able to absorb the landscape in a way that will bring to life passages inNaamah’s Kiss I could never have envisioned through academic research alone. I’m delighted that the audio rights to the entire Kushiel’s Legacy series sold, long after I’d abandoned hope in the possibility; and I’m equally pleased that the French rights sold, as it seems only fitting.
I’m looking forward to holing up during the long Michigan winter months, and getting in some serious quality writing time. If the weather cooperates, I hope to do some cross-country skiing, too. After nearly cracking my tailbone last year when my scratched, scarred, 30-year-old skis stuck like glue to the snow-covered dunes and sent me pitching backward, I splurged and bought myself a brand-new pair of cross-country skis, and I want to use them!
I’m excited about the books I have coming out in 2009, and I’ll be especially curious to see how readers respond to Santa Olivia. It’s very different from anything else I’ve written, and it’s one of those books that’s hard to describe. It’s sort of a paranormal… but not exactly. As the official description says, it’s my take on comic book heroes and the werewolf myth… kinda, sorta.
One of the central conceits of the book is that the main character, Loup, is incapable of feeling fear. It’s an idea that’s been with me for a long time. I wanted to explore the ramifications of fearlessness, much as I wanted to explore the ramifications of love as a divine commandment in the Kushiel series. Although they’re very different inquiries that produce very different results, the thought process behind them is similar.
So there’s a little thematic notion to ponder in the New Year! We’ve gotten some wonderful blurbs from several generous authors, and I’ll be trotting those out in the months to come.
I’ve posted a lovely detail of a painting of Melisande and Phèdre on the homepage. You can check out the whole piece in the Fan Art gallery, as well as something cool and different: a custom helmet that just might be Lord Satoris’ Helm of Shadows. And just for fun, here’s a link to a pattern for the Knit as thou wilt Phèdre mitten.
Thanks to everyone who sends artwork, photos and tips! You help me keep the site lively.