swan_tower: (natural history)

If you’re in the Bay Area, don’t forget: I’m reading at Borderlands Books tomorrow, at 3 p.m.! (On Independent Bookstore Day, no less.) And I will have some very special news to announce . . .

***

I think one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about writing the Memoirs of Lady Trent is the way it gave me a reason to shore up some of the gaps in my knowledge.

Take African history for example. If all you had to go on was my high school education, you’d think that it consisted of human evolution, Egypt, and the slave trade, with nothing in between. (Nothing after, either, but that wasn’t a regional bias; my history classes bogged down on the Civil War and Reconstruction, so that the twentieth century is as the void to me.) I had the vague osmotic sense that there had been a place called Songhay, and that was it.

I could have fixed that at any time. But I’m much more likely to pursue reading about a topic when I have an immediate use for it — something beyond “man, I really ought to know more about X.” It’s pretty well-documented that we learn things better in context, rather than in isolation, and a writing project gives me context. A globe-trotting protagonist was therefore ideal, because she dragged my thoughts in all kinds of new directions, laying the foundation for future exploration. (Solaike in the upcoming Lightning in the Blood draws a lot of its social structure from Dahomey; that probably wouldn’t have happened without The Tropic of Serpents first.)

Islam is another good example. In college I took classes on early Christianity (which also means you wind up learning a decent bit about Judaism) and Hinduism, and some of my Japanese history classes touched on Buddhism and to a lesser extent Shinto, but Islam? Terra incognita for me. Sending my characters to Akhia was the kick in the pants that I needed to read up on it, to make myself conversant with at least the basics. I could have read a Wikipedia article to learn the difference between Sunni and Shiite, but it was easier to retain details when I had a reason to devote dedicated work time to the question. I wouldn’t call myself deeply well-informed on Islam now, but at least I’m not flat ignorant anymore.

Thanks to this series, I know more about Polynesia and how you can locate a flyspeck of land in a thousand miles of empty sea. I know some of the dynamics behind and resulting from Tibetan polyandry. And as I said on the Tor/Forge blog, I’ve learned piles about different kinds of climates and how people live in them.

This is one of my favorite aspects of my job. It’s constantly giving me reasons to learn new things, and I feel richer as a result.

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

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.

Read the rest of this entry  )

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

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More than six years ago, in January of 2011, I sent my agent the pitch for the Memoirs of Lady Trent. It consisted of thirty thousand words from the first book and a document approximately three thousand words long describing the setting and the plots of the various novels. Because I am crap at outlining, while those latter synopses bear some resemblance to the final story, it’s very obvious in hindsight that I was just waving my hands in an attempt to make it look like I knew where was going . . . and nowhere is that clearer than in the figure of “Lord Trent,” i.e. Isabella’s husband.

Here there be spoilers. (Up through In the Labyrinth of Drakes, though I’d say the only really bad spoiler is for A Natural History of Dragons. If you haven’t yet read Within the Sanctuary of Wings, you’re in the clear.)

Read the rest of this entry  )

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

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Tomorrow, y’all. Tomorrow, Within the Sanctuary of Wings will be available from all reputable vendors of books! If you’ve been waiting for the series to be complete before you pick it up, now is your chance to start! If you know someone who has been waiting for the series to be complete before they pick it up, now is your chance to tell them to start!

My upcoming tour schedule is here, with a new item added: a May 11th signing at University Bookstore in Seattle, where I will be joined by the inestimable Todd Lockwood.

Also, don’t forget that the illustrated edition of Lies and Prophecy is currently 30% off at Kobo. Just enter “APR30” as a coupon code at checkout to get the discount. The sale ends today!

Finally, I’ve contributed a number of items to this year’s Con or Bust auction. There are three lots:

Bidding is open now, and will continue until May 7th. It’s a great organization and a great cause, so go forth and bid!

. . . see you all tomorrow!

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

In the never-ending attempt to keep my stock of author copies under control, I’m offering up three copies apiece of Voyage of the Basilisk and In the Labyrinth of Drakes. You’ve got about three days left to enter!

Also, I’m still looking for icons! Renewing the call not because I haven’t been offered a good selection, but because I want to give more people a chance to win the two Advance Reader Copies of Within the Sanctuary of Wings. Get your image manipulating on and maybe get a book!

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

swan_tower: (*writing)

Jim Hines has been doing a thing on his blog where he genderswaps character descriptions to look at how women and men get depicted. He did it first with classic SF/F novels, then with more recent titles — including his own.

It’s an interesting enough exercise that I decided to go through my own books and see what happens when I genderswap the descriptions. Results are below. I skipped over the Doppelganger books because quite frankly, describing people has never been a thing I do a lot of, and back then I did basically none of it, so this starts with Midnight Never Come.

***

Read the rest of this entry � )

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

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Many thanks to everyone who has picked up items from the Great Swan Tower Moving Day Sale! It has been a great benefit to me, cleaning out the various boxes I keep my author copies in.

In the course of packing up, I found a stash of the US trade paperbacks of Voyage of the Basilisk squirreled away in a corner. (I’d been wondering where they’d gone.) So here’s an updated list of what’s available. Same drill applies: all you have to do is email me or leave a message here calling dibs on something and giving me your mailing address; I’ll respond to let you know whether it’s still available, and we’ll arrange payment. Shipping is included for orders within the U.S. Inscriptions on request.

You have one more week to order anything that strikes your fancy!

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

Just a quick notice to say that, unsurprisingly, the end of the month brought in a mini-flood of letters. I’m working diligently to get through them, and should have replies out the door by the end of next week at the latest. But I figure you all would prefer that I prioritize finishing the draft of the final book — not to mention that if I don’t take frequent and lengthy breaks, my cursive gets even worse than it usually is. :-P So it’s one letter here, one letter there, in between other things. And of course a few more may yet come in, things that were mailed before the end of February but took a while to reach Lady Trent’s mailbox.

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

What with yesterday’s World Fantasy kerfuffle, I forgot to post a reminder that the Month of Letters has begun! If you’d like to receive a letter from Lady Trent, instructions for how to do so are here. (Or, y’know — I’ll answer letters addressed to me, too.) I’ll reply to anything postmarked within the month of February, so get your pens going!

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

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As I have done in past years, I will be participating in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Month of Letters! Ish — the actual point of it was to send something via the mail every day in February, but, inspired by her example, I’ve used it as a time in which people can write to and receive letters from Lady Trent. The process will be exactly the same as in past years.

Time to go practice my cursive . . . .

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

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1) I sold a short story! “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review will be up at Tor.com some time next spring. As the title suggests, this is a Lady Trent story — the one I wrote while on tour this past May, in fact, and some of you may have heard me read it at BayCon.

2) I sold another short story! Continuing my unbroken streak, I will have a piece in the fifth Clockwork Phoenix anthology: “The Mirror-City,” which takes place in a Venice-like setting. Did I come up with it while in Venice? Nope; the idea is years old, and deadlines meant I actually had to write and submit the thing before I ever left for the real place. :-)

3) If you prefer to get your novels in audiobook form, you’re in luck: Warrior and Witch are both now available on Audible. With shiny new covers, no less!

And with that, I’m off to World Fantasy tomorrow. See some of you there!

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

swan_tower: (natural history)

. . . and an awesome one. :-D

You see, during our tour we made a pact. I wasn’t going to hold her to it, because I know she’s a ridiculously busy woman — but when I came up with my idea for a Glamourist Histories fanfic, we agreed that if I wrote that one, Mary would write the Lady Trent fanfic idea she had come up with.

And so she has.

It should still work just fine even if you aren’t familiar with Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. (Though if you aren’t: oh my god, you should go watch that show. It’s fabulous.) There’s also an AO3 version, if you have an account there and want to be able to do the whole bookmarking/reccing/etc thing — but you should still check out Mary’s post, which has an explanation for how the story came about. (As I recall my reaction, it looked a bit like this. Or that look Mako Mori gives Pentecost in Pacific Rim, when Raleigh says he wants Mako to have a shot at the co-pilot test and she looks like every Christmas for the rest of her life just got offered to her at once.)

I hope you all are half as entertained by the result as I was. :-D

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

swan_tower: cover detail from Voyage of the Basilisk (Voyage of the Basilisk)

Lady-Victorian

Because Mary Robinette Kowal is a mad genius, one of the stops on our book tour was the Oregon Regency Society’s Topsails and Tea event. And of course, if you’re going to go on a tall ship . . . you’re going to do it in costume, right? (Here’s another shot that shows more of the ship.)

In fact, I got to go on board twice. After our reading and signing on Saturday afternoon, we partook of the Evening Sail, during which I may have pretended I was Lady Trent on my way to see dragons. >_> And then before we left for Portland on Sunday, we decided to go back for the Battle Sail.

And, well. I had this other costume sitting around my closet, left over from a one-shot LARP, that I’d thought I would never have an excuse to wear again . . . .

Lady-Lieutenant

Yeah, I hauled a naval lieutenant’s uniform — bicorn and all — to Oregon, just so I could wear it on board a tall ship while there were guns firing. :-D

There’s another twist to this story, too. I didn’t realize, before I got to Oregon, that the ships involved in the Topsails and Tea event were from the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority: the Hawaiian Chieftain and the Lady Washington. Many of you may know the Lady as the Interceptor from Pirates of the Caribbean; some of you may have heard me rave about their “Two Weeks Before the Mast” program, where for a remarkably small fee and a fortnight of your life, you can volunteer on board and learn to sail. I’m intending to do that next year, as research for the book I’ll be writing after the Memoirs of Lady Trent are done, so this was a little foretaste of what’s to come. Between that and the fact that I was in uniform, I really felt like I ought to be doing more than standing around . . . .

Lady-Line

Yep, they’ll let you pull on a line or two if you ask nicely. ^_^ But really, this is what I’m looking forward to:

Lady-Aloft

Next year, my friends. Next year.

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

swan_tower: (Default)

. . . something shiny and new. I won’t show it to you yet, but here’s a hint:

paint supplies

Full tour schedule is here. If you live in or near Chicago, San Diego, Petaluma, Portland, Salt Lake City, Scottsdale, Houston, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Asheville, or San Francisco, I hope to see you there!

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

swan_tower: cover detail from Voyage of the Basilisk (Voyage of the Basilisk)

Aaaaaand it’s official: Voyage of the Basiisk is on sale now in the U.S.!

Voyage of the Basilisk cover

Tell one, tell all, buy early, buy often. :-) And, as a bonus, here’s the “title” music from the soundtrack I made for the novel. Ironically, the song is called “Desert,” but it’s from Cirque du Soleil’s water-themed show O:

Consider this the discussion thread for Voyage (and previous books in the series). Feel free to ask questions or post reactions in the comments — spoilers are welcome!

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

swan_tower: cover detail from Voyage of the Basilisk (Voyage of the Basilisk)

So these showed up at my house last night . . .

finished copies of Voyage of the Basilisk

The production folks at Tor continue to knock it out of the park: deckled edges, three-piece case (in this instance, lavender and deep violet), even dark blue ink for the text. I think my other novels are starting to get an inferiority complex, sitting on the shelf next to these beauties. :-D

One week to street date — I can’t wait!

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

swan_tower: cover detail from Voyage of the Basilisk (Voyage of the Basilisk)

Mary Robinette Kowal and I will be going on tour again in May, for Of Noble Family (her) and Voyage of the Basilisk (me — out two weeks from today!). We’re hitting a few of the same locations as last time, but also some new ones; check below to see if we’ll be anywhere near you!

Tuesday, May 5, Chicago, IL

Wednesday, May 6, San Diego, CA

Thursday, May 7, Petaluma, CA

Friday, May 8-Sunday, May 10, Coos Bay, OR

Tuesday, May 12, Beaverton, OR

Thursday, May 14, Salt Lake City, UT

Saturday, May 16, Scottsdale, AZ

Sunday, May 17, Houston, TX

Monday, May 18, Raleigh, NC

Tuesday, May 19, Chapel Hill, NC

Wednesday, May 20, Asheville, NC

I will also be at BayCon the following weekend, and may have a Borderlands event in there somewhere, too. I’ll post the details here when I know about that for sure.

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

swan_tower: cover detail from Voyage of the Basilisk (Voyage of the Basilisk)

If you want to whet your appetite for next month, Tor.com has posted an excerpt from Voyage of the Basilisk.

It seems a good excuse to remind you all that you have until the end of this month to send a letter to Isabella and get one in return. (Those of you who have sent one already will be getting replies soon: my progress on those has been slowed by the necessity of finishing and revising the draft of the fourth book.) I have to say, I’ve been touched by the number of personal elements people are incorporating into their missives; it’s wonderful to know that this story speaks so deeply to their own lives, in one way or another. I hope my replies will do that justice.

And now, back to the revision mines!

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

Draft!

Feb. 13th, 2015 04:37 pm
swan_tower: (*writing)

Ladies, gentlemen, and those who for reasons of gender or misbehavior count themselves as neither, I am exceedingly pleased to announce that I have a finished draft of the fourth Memoir of Lady Trent, at 88,748 words.

(What’s the title? You’ll have to wait to find that out until after Voyage of the Basilisk has been released. Because I’m mean that way.)

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

swan_tower: cover detail from Voyage of the Basilisk (Voyage of the Basilisk)

From now until the end of the month, you have a chance to get a letter from Lady Trent! Send your own missives to:

Marie Brennan
P.O. Box 991
San Mateo, CA 94403

letter-prep.jpg

Address the outside envelope to me, not Isabella; that way you can be sure it will be delivered. And remember to include your return address, or I won’t be able to write back . . .

I’ve got my ink and dip pen, seals and sealing wax all ready to go. Bring on the mail!

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

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