swan_tower: (*writing)

Ten years ago today, my first novel came out.

This isn’t an April Fool’s joke, nor was it then. In fact, I’m happy to say that my less-than-entirely-auspicious debut date turned out just fine for me: ten years on, the book is still in print (though it likely won’t be for much longer). In the interim, I’ve published ten other novels, with twelfth due out on Tuesday, which ain’t a bad run for that span of time.

In celebration of that anniversary, and as a lead-up to the publication of In the Labyrinth of Drakes, we’re going to have Five Days of Fiction! Each day will feature a question, with guest answers from various authors of my acquaintance, and a chance for others to weigh in via comments or Twitter. Anybody who responds to the question will be eligible for a book giveaway: some days it will be one of my books, while others will be books that have had a big influence on me. You have until the next day’s question gets posted to answer; after that I’ll pick a winner.

***

To start us off, let me ask: what’s the earliest story you remember ever writing? Pretty much all of us made up stories at some point, even if we didn’t wind up pursuing it as a more serious hobby or career. How old were you? What kind of story was it? Did you ever show it to anybody?

One lucky respondent will receive a copy of Doppelganger — not Witch; I’m scouring the wilds of the internet to find the original edition, the one that came out on April 1st, 2006.

For me, the answer is a little mystery story I wrote when I was (I think) eight. The woman babysitting me and several other kids that summer taught us out to make little bound books with cardboard and cloth; mine was red, and I wrote a story about a girl named Jessica whose cat was stolen. I felt obliged to fill all the pages of the little book, so as I went along in the story, my handwriting got larger and larger . . . and then in desperation, when Jessica was going to get on a plane after rescuing her cat, I listed everything she packed, because I didn’t want any blank pages left. Yeah. Not exactly proof of future genius, that. :-P

And now for the guest responses! Find out what ~fabulous~ ideas the pros had when they were six . . . .

***

Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

On December 8th, 2004, I sold my first book.

I tend to think of myself as having sold it on November 2nd, which is when I came home to find a message on my answering machine (we still had answering machines back then; it was the Stone Age) from the editor I’d submitted Doppelganger to, asking me to call her back. In reality, that was the moment at which I moved from “maybe someday I’ll sell a book” to “I am going to sell this book, and soon.” But I didn’t have an agent, and Warner Books didn’t buy unagented manuscripts — I’d kind of sneaked Doppelganger in the back door — so the phone call was basically to tell me I should go find an agent, pronto. Which I did: I officially signed on with one November 16th. But the deal wasn’t official until December 8th, ten years ago today.

In the interim, things have gone pretty damn well. I have nine novels out there, and two more within the next year. My books have been translated into several foreign languages. I’ve gotten a World Fantasy Award nomination. I’ve experienced my share of the vagaries in this line of work, but on the whole, I feel confident in calling my career a success. Heck, Doppelganger and its sequel are still in print! That isn’t likely to still be true ten years from their publication — it took about a year and a half to see the first one on the shelf, so the anniversary of that would be April 2016 — but they’ve trucked along in a manner that I will, channeling my Scandosotan ancestors, call “quite respectable.” Everybody tells you to expect your first book to sink like a rock; having mine still out there eight and a half years on is pretty darn pleasing.

In celebration of this day, please tell me what your favorite book is (or favorite author, if picking a single title is impossible), and why!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

Possibly the easiest way for me to encapsulate the character I talked about in a previous post is by linking you to this song.

It’s an amazing remix all on its own. I love the way it builds, wave-like: it keeps climbing and then receding, stepping back to a quieter level when you expect it to bust out in full Linkin Park screamo yelling. :-P But more than that, it fit beautifully with Ree at the pivotal moment of her story, the brink of her metamorphosis from the broken, lost thing she had been for eons back to her original self. “I’ve felt this way before” . . . she’d been shattered, and had tried to piece herself back together — thought she had succeeded — but then during the course of the game she was shattered again, falling back to square one, so far from her goal it was almost impossible for her to believe that she was actually closer to it than ever. “Against my will I stand beside my own reflection” . . . she sold half her soul to someone else, not realizing that was what she was doing, and she had to reclaim it. “Without a sense of confidence, I’m convinced that there’s just too much pressure to take” . . . the problem with her Seelie side was that it had too much confidence, without the fatalism of her Unseelie half to temper it, which is how she got broken again, and then the symbolism of the diamond and pressure over time pretty much guaranteed I had to use this song. This was Ree at her lowest point, one step away from victory, and the tension that builds throughout this evokes those days perfectly in my mind. There’s more to it than one song, but I can point to the song and say, this. This is why I can’t forget her story.

When I make soundtracks for characters, or for games I run, or for novels, many of the songs are filler. They go in because I want the whole story in music, and so I pick the best matches I can; in the really good soundtracks, even the filler is pretty solid. But this? This is why I go to the effort. For the one or two or five songs that are the story, the ones that become so linked with the narrative that they end up feeding back into it, and it can be eight years later and hearing them still brings the story to life in my head. This is Galen walking into the chamber below the Monument. This is Dead Rick getting his memories back. Here’s the entire second half of Doppelganger, according to my half-dozing brain when I was in the middle of writing the book; I can quite literally map segments of the novel to the various stages in the music, because my subconscious had decided this was the outline it was writing to. (Much like what happened here, though that was on a smaller scale.)

It’s no accident that I also love film scores. Pairing music with story — turning music into story — is one of my favorite things. Since I’m not a composer, I have to settle for the mix-tape approach. Sometimes it works out very, very well.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (*writing)
[livejournal.com profile] mrissa has posted her Minicon schedule, with a panel on which comes first: the story or the setting. To quote the description,
Which Came First

The chicken or the egg? The story or the world? Does the story you want to tell determine the setting, or does your chosen setting demand a certain kind of story to be told in it? Are there some types of stories that simply cannot be told in a particular setting? How do creators balance these seemingly opposing forces in imagining their tales?

Which has gotten me reflecting on that question and how I would answer it. Off the cuff, I thought I probably start more with the setting -- hi, anthropology, yeah. But does that hold up when I actually look at the data?

(For simplicity's sake, I'm going to keep this to novels, but I will include unpublished novels in the list. It's probably a different ballgame if I look at short stories; that, however, would require more time than I want to devote to this right now, and a refresher course as to what the heck I've written.)

Cut for length; I have more novels than you guys know about. )

Final tally: seven for setting, seven-ish for story, two for character, and three that don't classify easily (two that were both setting and story as a package, and one that was a thematic argument). It's noteworthy that four of the seven counted as story-first are later books in a series. In one sense you would think sequels would be setting first, since the milieu is already fixed; but I'd argue they're more likely to be story first, since the books I counted that way are born not from their world, but from me having another plot I wanted to explore. For contrast, I can offer up one I forgot to include in the list, namely the second of Isabella's memoirs: that one came about via "okay, now I want her to go to a West African kind of place," with the plot built around it. It's a distinctly different trajectory for me than when the setting is just lying there, and I think up a plot.

Unsurprisingly, the prime failure mode for my projects appears to be when there's a big lag time between those two components -- one shows up without the other close behind. The end-of-the-world thing has a plot, but only vague sketches of a setting; ditto the epic fantasy one. The dream piece and the pirate one have cool settings, but I'm not quite sure where the story is going. All of those have been sitting around for years, going nowhere. Of the other unfinished projects -- the lady knights and the Japanese one -- both of those are just waiting for their moment, i.e. me to get a contract. I could write either in a heartbeat.

As for the novels that got written, but not well, I don't think there's a clear pattern, except that their disparate elements never came together like they should. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with their starting points.

<looks at the last two questions in the panel description> Nah, not gonna touch those. The answer to the first is "yes," and the latter presupposes one agrees that setting and story are "opposing forces." Ah, panel blurbs -- you say the silliest things, even for good topics.
swan_tower: (*writing)
[personal profile] mrissa has posted her Minicon schedule, with a panel on which comes first: the story or the setting. To quote the description,
Which Came First

The chicken or the egg? The story or the world? Does the story you want to tell determine the setting, or does your chosen setting demand a certain kind of story to be told in it? Are there some types of stories that simply cannot be told in a particular setting? How do creators balance these seemingly opposing forces in imagining their tales?

Which has gotten me reflecting on that question and how I would answer it. Off the cuff, I thought I probably start more with the setting -- hi, anthropology, yeah. But does that hold up when I actually look at the data?

(For simplicity's sake, I'm going to keep this to novels, but I will include unpublished novels in the list. It's probably a different ballgame if I look at short stories; that, however, would require more time than I want to devote to this right now, and a refresher course as to what the heck I've written.)

Cut for length; I have more novels than you guys know about. )

Final tally: seven for setting, seven-ish for story, two for character, and three that don't classify easily (two that were both setting and story as a package, and one that was a thematic argument). It's noteworthy that four of the seven counted as story-first are later books in a series. In one sense you would think sequels would be setting first, since the milieu is already fixed; but I'd argue they're more likely to be story first, since the books I counted that way are born not from their world, but from me having another plot I wanted to explore. For contrast, I can offer up one I forgot to include in the list, namely the second of Isabella's memoirs: that one came about via "okay, now I want her to go to a West African kind of place," with the plot built around it. It's a distinctly different trajectory for me than when the setting is just lying there, and I think up a plot.

Unsurprisingly, the prime failure mode for my projects appears to be when there's a big lag time between those two components -- one shows up without the other close behind. The end-of-the-world thing has a plot, but only vague sketches of a setting; ditto the epic fantasy one. The dream piece and the pirate one have cool settings, but I'm not quite sure where the story is going. All of those have been sitting around for years, going nowhere. Of the other unfinished projects -- the lady knights and the Japanese one -- both of those are just waiting for their moment, i.e. me to get a contract. I could write either in a heartbeat.

As for the novels that got written, but not well, I don't think there's a clear pattern, except that their disparate elements never came together like they should. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with their starting points.

<looks at the last two questions in the panel description> Nah, not gonna touch those. The answer to the first is "yes," and the latter presupposes one agrees that setting and story are "opposing forces." Ah, panel blurbs -- you say the silliest things, even for good topics.
swan_tower: (natural history)
As in previous years, Patrick Rothfuss is running Worldbuilders, a charity auction/lottery to raise money for Heifer International.

He's been adding prizes in batches, and mine just went live. By donating, your name will go into the lottery, with a chance to win not only copies of Warrior and Witch, but a signed ARC of A Natural History of Dragons. Plus there's, like, a bazillion other awesome prizes -- you can check out the site for more.

Go forth! Donate!
swan_tower: (Default)
I'm going to take care of two problems here today:

1) I would like to raise funds for the American Red Cross in the wake of Hurricane Sandy,

2) I have way too many author copies around the house, that I'd like to get rid of.

So we're having a book sale here at Swan Tower. Comment on this post, or e-mail me at marie{dot}brennan{at}gmail{dot}com, and I will sell you the following books at the following prices, including autographs and (if you request it) personalization to you or another person of your choice.

Note that the prices are a bit higher than they might otherwise be, to ensure that packaging and shipping doesn't take too big a bite out of the Red Cross donation total. (I will send books overseas, too, but since this is for charity, I will probably ask you to kick in a few bucks extra to cover the increased cost of shipping.)






Please spread the word wherever you think people would be interested. I'll try to keep this list updated in a timely manner, so that you'll know how many books are left of each type. ETA: Total raised thus far = $245

The sale will run for one week (so, through next Thursday morning, the 8th of November).

Guerrière

Apr. 26th, 2011 03:53 pm
swan_tower: (Warrior/Witch)
Lirez-vous français?

If you can read the above sentence and the answer is "yes" (or rather, "oui"), drop me an e-mail at marie[dot]brennnan[at]gmail[dot]com. I have two copies of Guerrère -- i.e. the French-language translation of Warrior -- looking for good homes. (No residents of France, please; I'd prefer to send them to people who can't find the book in their local shop.)
swan_tower: (Warrior/Witch)
The second half of Dancing the Warrior has gone live.

If you missed the first half, it's here. If you missed the post about what this story is, that's over here. If you want to know the story behind the story -- i.e. where this thing came from -- that's up on my website. And if you're interested in winning a signed copy of both doppelganger novels, but haven't yet chimed in on the comment thread with your Hunter name, never fear; there will be a second drawing two weeks from now.

Enjoy!
swan_tower: (*writing)
Pretty much everything I've sold lately is coming out this month. Dancing the Warrior, "Love, Cayce," and now "Coyotaje," in Ekaterina Sedia's new anthology Bewere the Night. The TOC includes people like Cherie Priest, Holly Black, Elizabeth Hand, Genevieve Valentine, Marissa Lingen . . . I could keep going, but you can see the whole list for yourself. I don't have my author copy yet, so I haven't read it, but I'm pretty excited about this one.

Also, don't forget about the giveaway for Dancing the Warrior. All you have to do is let me know what your Hunter name would be, and you'll be entered to win a signed pair of the doppelganger novels.

And now, back to the page proof mines.
swan_tower: (Warrior/Witch)
Five years ago this month, my first novel was published, under its original title of Doppelganger.

In celebration of that anniversary, I dusted off -- by which I mean "rewrote from the ground up" -- an old novella related to that series, and sold it to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. The first part of Dancing the Warrior just went live, and the second part will be going up in two weeks, with the next issue.

But wait! There's more!

You can enter to win a signed set of both doppelganger novels (the new edition, wherein they are known as Warrior and Witch). I'll be giving away two sets, one for each half of the story. All you have to do is comment on the story thread, telling me what your Hunter name would be. Full rules are here; the important bit is that you do need to be a registered forum user, so that we can properly identify entrants. But registration is quick and easy.

Five years. Jeebus. Where did they go?
swan_tower: (A Star Shall Fall)
I hope that one of these days I will regenerate enough brain to post about a bunch of things piling up in my head: Ada Lovelace, Babbage's childhood attempt to summon the devil, the manga I've been reading lately, etc. But that day is not today -- not if I want to also get my writing done at a reasonable hour -- so let's just get on to the reminders and such.

First, something unrelated to A Star Shall Fall: if you missed it over the holiday weekend, I'm the most recent guest on Jim Hines' "First Book Friday" series, talking about Doppelganger.

Second, [livejournal.com profile] tchernabyelo, you're the winner of the birthday giveaway! Since you clearly don't need to be introduced to the Lymond Chronicles, you can have your pick of either Fire and Hemlock, or Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, or (if you already know and/or have both of those books) something else entirely, which we can discuss in e-mail. Drop me a line at marie [dot] brennan [at] gmail [dot] com with your mailing address and your preference.

Third, [livejournal.com profile] kinderjedi is the winner of the Sirens discussion giveaway. Same instructions as above, except that your prize is a signed copy of A Star Shall Fall.

Fourth, if you envy [livejournal.com profile] kinderjedi their win, you have a until the end of the day Wednesday (where I think "end of the day" is defined in a vaguely East Coast U.S. fashion) to leave a comment on the BCS forum thread for "And Blow Them at the Moon," after which I will pick one commenter to receive a signed copy of the book.

And fifth, if you're curious about the book itself, Kelly at Fantasy Literature recently reviewed it, so you can see what she has to say.

Oh! Sixth! (Which makes this TOTALLY a post, even if the five six things individually are not all that substantial.) I will be doing a reading and signing at Borderlands Books on September 25th. That's in San Francisco, for those who are anything like local, and it starts at 3 p.m. I hope to see some of you there!
swan_tower: (Warrior/Witch)
Recently Jim Hines has been doing a "First Book Friday" series on his blog, inviting authors to tell the story of how they sold their first novel. This week, I'm up to bat, talking about how Doppelganger (later known as Warrior got sold to Warner Aspect, almost six years ago.

Nifty!

Aug. 23rd, 2010 04:46 pm
swan_tower: (Warrior/Witch)
My author copy of the German omnibus edition of Doppelgänger and Hexenkrieger just showed up. It's hardcover, and has new cover art and everything! Verra shiny, sez I.
swan_tower: (*writing)
First, I've been given the go-ahead to announce the sale of my novelette "La Molejera" to Paraspheres 2. Yay!

Second, I neglected to mention the other week that Newton Compton will be publishing Warror and Witch in Italian. Also yay!

Third, and unrelated to my own writing, Janni Lee Simner is running a really cool contest for her upcoming book Thief Eyes, based on the Icelandic Njal's Saga. I thought it was nifty enough to demand a signal boost. :-) Janni read part of this at World Fantasy, and it sounds like it will be a great book.
swan_tower: (Warrior/Witch)
Nice bit of news yesterday: Luebbe, the German publisher of my doppelganger books, has licensed Weltbild to put out an omnibus edition, both books in one.

Oh! Yeah!

Sep. 25th, 2009 12:08 pm
swan_tower: (Warrior/Witch)
This news came in while I was out of the house a few days ago, and by the time I came home hours later, it had slipped my mind.

Francophones among you may be interested to know that Bibliothèque Interdite has made an offer for a French translation of Warrior and Witch. That's my second foreign sale (the first being German), and a step closer to something I could actually read. (i.e. Spanish. Or better yet, Japanese -- not that I could read it at anything better than a snail's pace, but it would make for interesting practice.)

So now I get to have more adventures with international tax law. Isn't being a writer just nonstop fun?

Round two

Sep. 24th, 2008 11:03 pm
swan_tower: (Default)
Question the fourth: What's your daily/weekly routine like now out in the Land of Sunshine and Magic?

Answer the fourth: I don't really have one yet. I despise living among boxes, so the last four weeks have been spent alternating between a madness of unpacking and a madness of novel-finishing, with no particular structure. (Interspersed with the occasional bit of flopping on the couch to watch Supernatural with [livejournal.com profile] kurayami_hime and [livejournal.com profile] kniedzw.)

I do, however, intend to get into more of a regular routine, and in fact I have a series of posts planned on that exact topic. So stay tuned for adventures in the life of I'm A Full-Time Writer Now.

***

Question the fifth: What are you doing to keep your idea inputs levels where you want them?

Answer the fifth: I assume this means, how do I keep feeding my mind so it will come up with ideas? At the moment, I lack sufficient brain to process much in the way of non-fiction, so I've just been catching up on a variety of novels and TV shows -- feeding the mind with fiction. But that's because I've been way overworked for a few months now; once I've regenerated a few grey cells, I'm planning on resuming a practice I had a few years ago, wherein I tried to read some of the nonfiction accumulated on my shelves. I may, for example, go on a kick of reading about ancient China, because there's a series of short stories I'd like to write that requires research in that direction. Or, y'know, that book over there about the Mongols, just because I don't know much about them. Or whatever.

But yes -- if I want to get much out of my brain, I am going to have to be careful to keep feeding it. Grad school used to take care of that for me, but I haven't been in classes for two years now; it'll be up to me to keep the food supply going.

***

Question the sixth: Will you be writing any more books in the world of Warrior and Witch?

Answer the sixth: You know, one of these days I'll do the smart thing and post the answer to this question on my website. I'm kind of afraid to know how many times I've answered it in e-mail.

So here it is in a blog post: I'm not currently planning to, no. Yes, there's the question of the younger generation, and the Cousins, and Mirei and Eclipse (though I rather feel like where that one's going is obvious), but none of that is a conflict. It's just consequences to the work the characters have already completed, and that does not an exciting book make. If I come up with a conflict that excites me? Sure. My publisher would have been happy for me to do a third book two years ago, and I don't imagine it would be terribly difficult to convince them to take one later on -- not so long as the first two keep selling. But I finished the story I was telling; I'd have to come up with a new one before I'd sign on for another installment.

The closest thing I have to an idea is much smaller and more personal, and it keeps stubbornly resisting my attempts to make it grow enough plot to be a worthwhile book. But if such a book ever happens, the likeliest scenario is that it will take place about ten years later, and it will be about Indera. I think she's up in Kalistyi somewhere, under another name, doing something else entirely with her life -- not sure what -- and I know she would run into whatever Amas/Hoseki is calling herself by then. Because if there's one question I want answered, as the author, it's what would happen when Indera comes face-to-face with her. (And, I suppose, how Indera has come to terms with herself. Or failed to do so. Whichever.)

Or maybe I could make it be a short story, though it's hard to imagine writing it in a fashion that doesn't require the reader to be familiar with the novels. Anyway. The idea sits in the back of my head, and if one day it jumps up and starts waving its arms, it'll get written. But poking it with a stick isn't getting it anywhere, so I leave it alone.

***

Go here to ask me more!
swan_tower: (Warrior/Witch)
Things have been so crazy-busy that I haven't said anything about this before, but today is the street date for Warrior and Witch (the novels formerly known as Doppelganger and Warrior and Witch). Not that this means much, since they've been on shelves in many places for the last week or more, but y'know. Anyway, I highly encourage obsessive-compulsive tendencies toward completism, so go buy the new editions, to go along with the old!

Can anybody make me an animated LJ icon that shifts back and forth between the new covers? I'd like to have one all-purpose icon for that series.


Edited: Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jimhines for the timely satisfaction of that request.
swan_tower: (Doppelganger)
[livejournal.com profile] jimhines has been running a series for a while now on his LJ, putting lolcat-style captions onto SF/F book covers. This week yours truly is part of a quartet, mocking an eminently mockable trend in certain kinds of covers.

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