swan_tower: (natural history)

I’ve got a post up at Tor.com about what it feels like to say goodbye to Isabella, and there’s an interview with me at Goldilox. Continuing on from yesterday’s post (and this time basically sans spoilers), there’s someone else I’d like to talk about . . .


Tom Wilker is the best accidental character I’ve had in a while. Maybe ever.

What do I mean by “accidental”? I mean that I did not, at the outset, plan for him at all. I don’t think he was even in the first thirty thousand words I wrote, before I set the book aside for a few years; I think I added him in when I came back to the story, because I realized Lord Hilford would of course have some kind of assistant or protégé along for the Vystrani expedition. Jacob was too new of an acquaintance to occupy that role; therefore I invented Mr. Thomas Wilker.

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

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medium-sized version of the cover for WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS

At long last, the series is complete.

This story has been living in my head for . . . about a decade, I think. I know I wrote the first third of A Natural History of Dragons in 2007 or thereabouts, before stalling out on the plot and setting it aside. I came back to it in late 2010, sold it in 2011, the first book came out in 2013, and now, my friends, the end of the story is in your hands. (Or will be, as soon as you run out and buy it.)

I’m going to be launching a new blog series, along the lines of John Scalzi’s THE BIG IDEA or Mary Robinette Kowal’s MY FAVORITE BIT, called SPARK OF LIFE: a place for authors to talk about those moments where the story seems to take on a life of its own, with a character doing something unexpected or the world unfolding a bit of depth you didn’t plan for. For me that mostly tends to happen in the depths of the tale, when I’ve built up enough momentum and detail for such things to spring forth. But in the case of this series, it happened less than a page in, because the spark of life?

That was Isabella.

Countless reviews have talked about how the narrator is one of the strongest features of the story. I’m here to tell you that, like Athena from the head of Zeus, she sprang out more or less fully-formed. The foreword got added a bit later, so it was in those opening paragraphs of Chapter One, where Isabella talks about finding a sparkling in the garden and it falling to dust in her hands, that she came to instant and vivid life. Part of the reason that initial crack stalled out in 2007 — or rather, the reason it got so far before stalling — was because I was having so much fun just following along in her wake, exploring her world and listening to her talk. The narrative voice has consistently been one of the greatest joys of writing this series. I have an upcoming article where I talk about how sad it is for me to be done with the story, because it feels like a good friend has moved away and I won’t get to see her regularly anymore. That’s how much she’s lived in my head, these past years.

Stay tuned on future Tuesdays for a glimpse at how other authors’ stories came to life. And stay tuned in upcoming days for some more behind-the-scenes stuff about my own characters!


In the meanwhile, the book is out, and so are the reviews. Here’s a spoiler-free one from BiblioSanctum, and two reviews on one page at Fantasy Literature; here is a SPOILER-TASTIC one at Tor.com. (Do NOT click unless you’ve read the book or are fine with having the big discovery of the entire series laid out in full. I’m serious.) (And while I’m at it, the same goes for that Gizmodo article that shows all the interior art for the book, because spoilers can come in visual form, too. Love ya, Gizmodo, but oof. Tor.com warned; you didn’t.)

Back in the land of no spoilers, you can read about my absolute favorite bit of Within the Sanctuary of Wings on Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog. It’s . . . a wee bit topical, these days. And I’m on the Functional Nerds podcast, talking about all kinds of things that aren’t this book, because they like to give authors a chance to branch out and natter on about roleplaying games and things like that.

And finally, I’m currently running a giveaway on Twitter. Name your favorite female scientist in any field (there, or in comments here), and get a chance to win a signed book of your choice from my stash of author copies. It’s already a stiff competition; we’ve had dozens of women named. (If you were wondering why my Twitter stream has turned into a sea of retweeted names, that’s why.) You have until tomorrow!

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

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Fans of Dice Tales may be interested to hear that I have a post up at Tor.com today on adapting game material into fiction. (With specific reference to Cold-Forged Flame, of course.)

I’ve also been interviewed at My Life, My Books, My Escape on the novella and the process of writing it.

And for those who are interested in these kinds of things, I’ve put up the soundtrack for the novella on my site. It’s shorter than a novel soundtrack, of course, because a novella is shorter than a novel, but there are still six pieces of music I associate with it — all of them, unsurprisingly, drawn from my old game soundtrack for Ree.

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

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A whole bunch of audio links have piled up in my inbox lately, so here — have things to listen to!

I’ve raved before about how awesome a narrator I have for the Memoir audiobooks. But if you haven’t checked them out, and need to hear just how fabulous Kate Reading is, here’s an excerpt from In the Labyrinth of Drakes. It’s spoiler-free, so if you haven’t caught up with the story yet, don’t worry about hearing anything you shouldn’t.

If you’d like to hear me reading from Cold-Forged Flame, the Varekai novella coming out this September, here’s a recording from SF in SF. My reading starts around 36:30, after M. Thomas Gammarino, and then there’s a Q&A after.

While I was in San Diego for Mysterious Galaxy’s birthday bash, I recorded with the Geekitude podcast, which is posted here. My segment starts at the hour and twenty-two minute mark, and we discuss a host of things, ranging from what it’s like to wrap up the Memoirs, to hitting your thirties and not being made of rubber anymore, to RPGs and my experiences with them.

Here’s a brief video interview I did with ActuSF during Imaginales. The questions are entirely in French — my interpreter, Hélène Bury, was translating them for me, but too quietly for the camera to pick up — but I answer in English, before Hélène translates it for the camera.

I don’t have a fifth thing. Curse the internet for establishing that five things make a post! We’ll have to be satisfied with 80% of a post instead.

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

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I’ve done a number of interviews and guest posts lately, so here’s a quick link dump:

Five Underused Mythological Creatures at Fantasy Cafe, in which I talk about weird things in bestiaries that show up all too rarely in novels.

Interview at Fantasy’s Ink; they ask me about my favorite characters and what I consider to be the most important element in a book.

Another interview, this one with Mike Underwood, who leverages the fact that we’ve known each other for more than ten years to ask me a lot of fabulous questions about gaming, Driftwood, and what martial arts master I would train with if I could.

“Time, Writing, and Tricks of the Trade”, a guest post at Bookworm Blues where I talk about the challenges of writing a sequel fifteen years after the first book.

“Kick(start)ing Myself into Scrivener”, a post at Book View Cafe on my first-ever attempt to write a novel in a program other than Wordperfect.

And finally, one that isn’t mine, but mentions me and makes for entertaining reading: Science in Fantasy Novels is More Accurate Than in Science Fiction.

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

swan_tower: from the cover art for my novel The Tropic of Serpents (Tropic of Serpents)

Interview first: I’m over at Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, talking about a whole host of stuff, ranging from The Tropic of Serpents to my essay on epic story structure to making up slang to about a dozen other things. Check out the link for a giveaway, too — either a copy of The Tropic of Serpents or a set of both books.

As for the contest, this is your one-week reminder; the deadline is coming up on May 15th. If you’d like to see your own dragon concept show up in the Memoirs of Lady Trent — not to mention read Voyage of the Basilisk before it comes out! — check out the guidelines and send in your entry!

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

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Things I’ve been saying in different places ’round the interwebz . . . .

“Seeing the Invisible” — this month’s post at SFNovelists is a review of Invisible, the ebook collection Jim Hines put together of guest posts and additional essays on the topic of representation. Proceeds from sales go to charity.

“The Gospel of Combat” — an excerpt from Writing Fight Scenes, which will be familiar to long-time readers of this blog. You can comment there for a chance to get a free copy of the ebook, though!

Interview at My Bookish Ways — in which I talk about a variety of things.

“The Dreaded Label ‘Mary Sue’” — guest post at Far Beyond Reality, talking about female characters who don’t apologize for their awesomeness.

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

swan_tower: from the cover art for my novel The Tropic of Serpents (Tropic of Serpents)

The full schedule for my joint tour with Mary Robinette Kowal has been posted at Tor.com:

Thursday, May 1, 6:00 p.m.
DePaul University
Chicago, IL

Friday, May 2, 7:00 p.m.
University Bookstore
Seattle, WA

Saturday, May 3, 2:00 p.m.
Powell’s Books at Cedar Hill Crossing
Portland, OR

Sunday, May 4, 3:00 p.m.
Book Bin
Salem, OR

Tuesday, May 6, 6:30 p.m.
Murder by the Book
Houston, TX

Thursday, May 8, 6:00 p.m.
Weller Book Works
Salt Lake City, UT

Saturday, May 10, 2:00 p.m.
Mysterious Galaxy (Part of the Mysterious Galaxy 21st Birthday Bash!)
San Diego, CA

Sunday, May 11, 3:00 p.m.
Borderlands Books
San Francisco, CA

And I would like to state for the record that Mary is a genius. She made a suggestion for something I could do during the events which — well, you’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you? (Yes, this is my transparent bid to build suspense and get you all to come.) I promise I’ll talk about it after the tour, for those of you who don’t live anywhere near our stops or can’t make it to the events, but for now you’ll just have to wonder. (Hint: it involves my husband marveling, once again, at what kinds of things can be written off as business expenses for a writer.)

Also, there’s a new interview with me up at Just a World Away, in which I talk a little bit about Voyage of the Basilisk (among other things).

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

“Keep Calm and Carry On” — my SF Novelists post for the month; a brief reflection on some of the recent trouble regarding gender and such.

Interview at SF Signal — in which they ask me about a variety of things, including photography.

“What Happens When Fantasy Novels Get Scientific?” — Me at io9, talking about the impulse to treat dragons scientifically.

Finally, not something you can read just yet, but: I’ve sold another story to Tor.com! “Daughter of Necessity,” which I read at FogCon after revising it half an hour before the reading. :-P It will be out some time in the fall, most likely.

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

swan_tower: from the cover art for my novel The Tropic of Serpents (Tropic of Serpents)

1) The funny thing about having a release date early in the month is that it sneaks up on you. After all, we’re still in February. That means The Tropic of Serpents won’t be out for a while yet, right? Wrong — it’s out next Tuesday, i.e. March 4th. (For those of you in the U.S. and Canada, at least. UK folks, your street date is the 20th of June. After that, Tor and Titan should be publishing more or less simultaneously, so you won’t have the added wait.)

Kirkus, by the way, not only gave Tropic a starred review; they listed it as one of their Best Bets for March. They even used the cover art as the top image for the post, which is yet another sign that Todd Lockwood and Irene Gallo are awesome.

2) If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ll have a chance to hear me read from The Tropic of Serpents at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 9th, at Borderlands Books. It’s my intent to also publicly announce the title for the third book there, as an added treat for my hometown peeps. ;-)

3) Also for Bay Area types, I’m going to be at FOGcon weekend after next. I unfortunately had to back out of one of my panels because of a karate belt test on Friday night, but I’ll still be doing several things that weekend:

  • Friday, 3-4:15 p.m. Narnia, Hogwarts, and Oz, Oh My!

    What are our favorite secret worlds? What do we love about them? Why is a secret world so useful for storytelling? What can we learn from the ways used to access these places? What about worlds which exclude some people from accessing them, such as adults or non-magical people–are these worlds problematic or necessary? Or somewhere between the two?

    M: Tim Susman. Marie Brennan, Valerie Estelle Frankel, Naamen Gobert Tilahun
  • Saturday, 10:30-11:45 Secret History and Alternate History; their similarities, differences, and how to write them

    Tim Powers, in books like Declare and The Drawing of the Dark, has brought us into the realm of secret history — the events that really took place around known historical facts. Harry Turtledove, Philip K. Dick, and many others have brought us into the realm of alternate history — the what-if-things-had-been-different. (Indeed, one could argue that Mary Gentle’s Ash is secret alternate history!) What about these works fascinates us, and how do we put them together?

    M: Bradford Lyau. Marie Brennan, Tim Powers, Tim Susman
  • Saturday, 4:30-5:45 Reading

    Marie Brennan, Alyc Helms, Michael R. Underwood

4) In non-Tropic-related news, I participated in the Book of Apex blog tour over at Books Without Any Pictures. There’s a review of my story “Waiting for Beauty,” a brief interview, and a guest post wherein I talk about how writing historical fiction helped me become better at worldbuilding in general.

5) And Now For Something Completely Different: I really love both of these art sets, one of Disney princess in historically accurate costumes (the last image is the best!), and one of celebrities cosplaying as Disney characters.

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

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It’s four weeks and counting until the street date for The Tropic of Serpents. The talk is starting . . . .

1) Excerpt from the book on Tor.com

2) Liz Bourke’s review on Tor.com (which I believe wins the prize for being first out of the gate)

3) Publishers Weekly liked it

4) So did Kirkus, but I don’t think that one will go live for a few days. (Holy crap, that’s three books in a row of mine that they’ve liked. I think it may be a miracle.)

5) Brief interview with the UK site Female First, on A Natural History of Dragons

6) I’ve sent pronunciations to the narrator for the audiobook of TToS. I’m delighted to say that Kate Reading is continuing with the series, and this one will be out a lot closer to the print date than the last one was.

7) Speaking of the UK, it occurs to me that ANHoD will be out there very soon! I actually don’t know the precise street date, but I think it’s in the next two weeks. (Again, #2 should follow in quicker succession, I think.)

I think that’s all for now. But as we get closer to the street date, things will be picking up rather rapidly, I imagine!

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

swan_tower: (natural history)
I think I mentioned before that Sword & Laser chose A Natural History of Dragons for their book club this month, and that they were also planning on interviewing me. That's gone live now, so you can listen to me in all my rambling ridiculousness. :-)

I have to say . . . 2013 has been a pretty good year for me, and A Natural History of Dragons deserves a lot of the credit for that. It's done really, really well: good sales, good reviews, multiple hardcover printings, made some year-end "Best Of" lists (NPR! Slate!). I think what's made me the most happy, though, is the number of people who seem to have gotten the book -- by which I mean, they're picking up on the stuff I tried very hard to put in there. Things like the effect of contrasting Isabella's older perspective with her younger actions, or the way in which the book is kind of science fiction, or the finer points of the gender commentary (like how those expectations constrain Jacob as well as Isabella). Every time I read a review that calls out an aspect like that, I glow a little, because really: as an author, that's pretty much what you hope to achieve. And this time, I seem to have done it.

I hope The Tropic of Serpents does equally well. And whether 2013 was a good year or a bad one for you, I hope that 2014 treats us all even better.
swan_tower: (natural history)
Bit of a belated announcement, but in an hour and a half (4 p.m. PST), I'll be interviewed on the Sword & Laser podcast. If you have a question you'd like me to answer, you can post it here! (A Natural History of Dragons is the general topic, but there are already questions about other things, too, so I don't think you're confined to only that book.)
swan_tower: (natural history)
Slightly belated, the final round-up for the blog tour. There will be other posts still forthcoming, but only in the sense that, y'know, I talk about my books sometimes, in interviews or guest posts or whatever. This is the last of the actual formal book tour.



The Sleeps With Monsters interview isn't about ANHoD specifically (but then again, by this time that's probably a point in its favor). Ditto the Skiffy and Fanty podcast, which isn't even really an interview per se; it's just us talking about mythology and fantasy and Star Trek and I can't even remember what all.

Guest posts:

Again, that last one isn't ANHoD-specific; it's more of a post I was asked to write, in which I mention ANHoD in the course of discussing how I name characters. But as long as I'm rounding up everything I've been posting on the internet lately, I might as well include it.

In that vein, I'll also mention my most recent BVC post is "The folklore mode of fantasy," in which I present my own personal home-brewed theory of which folkloric style fantasy as a whole most closely resembles.

And that's it for now. I'm revising the second book (and also facing some hassle wrt getting certain financial records for tax purposes), so I may be scarce around here for a bit.
swan_tower: (natural history)
We're nearing the end of the blog tour for A Natural History of Dragons, so I'll probably hold off after this post until the last stragglers have come in. (Where by "last stragglers" I mean "as much as another dozen, depending on how things fall out." You thought I was kidding when I said this blog tour would go on FOREVER . . .)

Four more guest posts:

And two more interviews:

And don't forget the Ides of March Book Giveaway! Ten more days in which to enter.
swan_tower: (natural history)
But first, a reminder: only a few days left to get a letter from Lady Trent. (If you've already written to her, the reply will be on its way shortly -- I delayed a little bit in order to get something cool to include with the note.)


New interview at The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia, another interview at Short and Sweet Book Reviews, and a guest post at Head Stuck in a Book. There were supposed to be a couple of others, too, but the scheduling of those appears to have gone astray.


I do, however, have my usual biweekly post up at BVC: "It happened to my cousin's best friend's roommate," wherein I discuss legends. Comment over there!
swan_tower: (natural history)
Two new giveaways popped up over the weekend: one at Short and Sweet, and one at WORD for Teens.

New interview over at Literary Escapism, where I'm asked about writing historical fantasy vs. secondary-world fantasy, and writing British-style stuff when I myself am American.

I also have a post up at Sci-Fi Songs wherein I talk about the soundtrack of the book. (Don't tell anybody, but I always wish somebody would ask me about the soundtrack. I put so much work into it, and then I'm usually the only person who ever hears it -- my music choices are too obscure for me to be able to put it together in a way that can be shared online.)

And, unrelated to dragons, it's time for my usual post at SF Novelists. This time it's An Open Letter to the Creators of Sexist Fantasy and Comic Book Art. (Comment over there; no login required.)
swan_tower: (natural history)
Before I get to the new links, remember that you, too, can receive a handwritten letter from Lady Trent! That runs through the end of the month.


(You thought I was exaggerating when I said I would be EVERYWHERE ON THE INTERNET this month. It ain't even done yet, folks.)

The Books and Things post, by the way, includes another giveaway. That's the only new one I've found in the last few days, though.


Was it really only a week ago that I was in . . . where was I on Friday? San Diego. Wow. And barely more than a week since the book came out! But so far, it seems to be going pretty well.
swan_tower: (natural history)
Update on the Con or Bust auction: bidding is up to $35 dollars, having just opened on Saturday. Remember that this copy of A Natural History of Dragons is signed by me and by Todd Lockwood, and furthermore that he drew another dragon on the first page! It's shiiiinyyyyyy . . . .

(I should mention that I'm also auctioning off signed copies of A Star Shall Fall and With Fate Conspire. We now return you to your regularly scheduled ANHoD update.)

Other giveaways: good lord, you can't throw a rock right now without hitting one. I'm probably missing a few, but so far I know of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight underway.

Three new bits of content as well. At Bookish, I talk about how I came up with the different dragon types, and at My Bookish Ways I answer various interview questions. Also, over at No More Grumpy Bookseller, I discuss why Victorian-ish fantasy is so popular right now (or at least, why I like it).

Finally, don't forget that Letters from Lady Trent is underway! I may delay my responses just slightly, to see if I can obtain something Extra Awesome to include in my replies . . . I need to go look into that.

Anyway, there's a few things to entertain you all, and I promise I'll be back soon with non-ANHoD-related blogging!
swan_tower: (natural history)
Where am I? What day is it? Friday? I guess I must be in San Diego, then. Wait, no, haven't gotten on a plane yet today -- I'm still in Portland.

(No really, when I woke up it took me an appallingly long time to figure that out, and also which direction to look in for the door.)

Updates! Giveaways first, since those are shiny: in addition to Jim Hines' (which is still ongoing), you can try to win a copy from The Bookish Babes (which has an excerpt and a brief Q&A with me as well) or Book Chick City (also with a guest post and an excerpt).

Or, if you'd rather rely on a charitable donation rather than luck of the draw, I have a DOUBLE-SIGNED COPY up as an auction item for Con or Bust, the travel fund for fans and writers of color to attend conventions. What do I mean by "double-signed"? I mean it has my autograph, and it has Todd Lockwood's -- along with a sketch of a dragon Todd drew inside. So that one's extra-shiny, and the money goes to a good cause.

Guest posts etc not mentioned above:

And finally, not directly related to ANHoD but live right now anyway, another SF Signal Mind Meld, wherein I discuss print and ebooks (luddite that I am) with a bunch of other people.

. . . I think that's it, at least for now. And if you'll pardon me, I have to go catch a plane!


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