My Favourite Authors – Robin Hobb

All of this. Read Hobb if you haven’t already. Thank me later. 😉

Panoply

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post ever since I started this blog series. I’m not sure I can convey what Robin Hobb means to me as an author. She’s my all-time favourite writer. She’s my greatest influence. Her stories pull me in and shake me up like no others. I have a circle of wonderful friends I wouldn’t have without her books. I’ve met her twice, and have five of her books signed. Her stories are magic… beyond compare in scope, depth, and intricacy.

And nothing about that paragraph does justice to how I feel about her work. The only way I know to share that feeling is to get people to read her books. But I started this blog series knowing she was top of the list… so here goes.

I received Assassin’s Apprentice from my best friend for my 18th birthday. I’d never…

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The Grey of Gender

In the build up to the ebook re-release of Pantomime & Shadowplay on December 3rd (they are available for pre-order), I am reposting some of the articles I wrote in 2012/2013 for the initial blog tours.

Content note: genital surgery. 

Before writing Pantomime &Shadowplay, I was interested in gender, but now I’m passionate about it. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I was always surrounded by different sexualities, races, abilities, and gender presentation. But for all of that, when I decided to write about a character who fell between genders, I knew I needed to learn more. I am always consciously aware that, as a cis-gendered woman, I am very much an outsider looking in, and my goal is to tread carefully and with respect. I’m not sure I always succeed, but I do always try.

I read a few books on gender theory, and then started researching intersex especially. What I found made me cry. I had no idea that babies a few days old were operated upon to make their genitals look “more normal,” even though that can take away a lot of sensation and, of course, the doctors half a 50/50 chance of choosing the sex that the child’s gender identity won’t identify with. I didn’t realise that a lot of the time, those surgeries can later have complications, resulting in many other surgeries.

Read the read on the Uncorked Thoughts blog.

Why the Circus and Elladan Worldbuilding

In the build up to the ebook re-release of Pantomime & Shadowplay next month (they are available for pre-order), I am reposting some of the articles I wrote in 2012/2013 for the initial blog tours. Just a note that the end of this article makes it seem like Gene and Micah are two people rather than the same person–this was the marketing approach taken the first time around, but that’s not the case this time.

Why the Circus and Elladan World-building

Big Show Main Entrance

This question has come up a few times in various interviews—why did I set your book in a circus? And the answer is that it was a happy accident.

Micah Grey was 27 when I started his story. I started a book with him in 2007 or so, but I kept struggling with that book. I thought a good idea would be to write about my character as a teenager, and I thought it would be interesting if he had been in a circus: it’d give him strength, flexibility, and theatrics. So I started a “short story,” which then became a long short story, and then a novella, a novelette, and then a novel. With sequels.

Read the rest on the Book Adoration blog!

Top Ten Settings I’d Like to See More of in YA Fiction

In the build up to the ebook re-release of Pantomime & Shadowplay next month (they are available for pre-order), I am reposting some of the articles I wrote in 2012/2013 for the initial blog tours. This one is a Top Ten Tuesday from January 2013.

I found this guest post very interesting to write, as settings in YA are something I’ve thought about but never fully articulated. Normally, I speak more about characters, but a setting brings a character to life. I’m enchanted by rich worldbuilding.

It also sparked some interesting Twitter discussions when I put out a call for what other people want to see more of in YA when I was stuck on the 10th setting.

  1. Asian-inspired fantasy. I recently read Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Mariott, which is a pseudo-medieval Japanese Cinderella and Count of Monte Cristo fantasy. Whew. But it was absolutely wonderful and one of my favourite reads of 2012. I also recently read Eon by Alison Goodman, which features dragons and a girl disguised as a boy, which I enjoyed. There’s Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff, and the Tales of the Otori books by Lian Hearne, which I haven’t read. But there’s not all that much, and I’d like to see more as there’s such rich mythology in that corner of the world.
  2. African-inspired fantasy. I realized… I haven’t read any except for Frostfire by Zoe Mariott, and though that had a wonderful cast of (diverse!) characters, didn’t feel super African-inspired, perhaps because for that book the reader is in the isolated setting of the hill guard. I can’t believe there aren’t more. In adult fantasy, I’ve read Anansi Boys and there’s Zoo City. I put out a call on Twitter and had a couple of recommendations: Akata Witch and Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor. So there’s a gap in the market. Any others out there?

Read the rest of the list on the Bookworm Dream blog!

 

Autumn & Winter Holidays in Ellada

In the build up to the ebook re-release of Pantomime & Shadowplay next month, I thought I would repost some of the articles I wrote for the initial blog tours onto this site. This is a piece about winter holidays in Ellada that originally appeared on Starmetal Oak’s blog in late 2012, which closed down not long after.

snowflake

The holidays are upon us. In the country of Ellada in the world of the Archipelago, the pseudo-Victorian world where my debut Pantomime is set, the winter holidays are both similar yet different to ours. Pantomime is set in spring and summer, so these holidays don’t appear until Pantomime’s sequel, Shadowplay.

There are two main autumn and winter holidays. The night before the longest night of the year is called The Night of the Dead. It’s slightly similar to our Halloween in that many feel the barrier between the living and the dead grows thinner. Many people hold dinner parties with séances for entertainment. Others who are more superstitious will stay inside, windows shut tight, so that the dead cannot come to haunt them.

The longest night of the year is known as the Lady’s Long Night or the Long Night of the Lady. Elladans and most others in the Archipelago worship two deities—the Lord of the Sun and the Lady of the Moon. The longest day of the year is, coincidentally, the Day of the Lord, but it’s not as largely celebrated, at least not among the common people. Micah Grey doesn’t celebrate it in the circus, for instance. After all, they already spend most of their waking hours in daylight.

But the Lady’s Long Night is a lavish affair, when people celebrate that the worst of the winter and darkness is over. A huge procession twines through downtown Imachara, the capital of Ellada, with floats topped with people dressed as the Chimaera out of myth dressed all in white. Many go to the cathedrals to listen to choirs and pray to the Lady of the Moon. Gifts are exchanged. It’s a time of hope and cheer to remind them of the good in life, just after they were reminded of the sinister in the Night of the Dead.

Monthly Roundup: October 2015

Books Read:

  1. Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3) – Leigh Bardugo

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

2. Sequel to the Potion Diaries – Amy Alward

This was a beta read, but since it’ll be out next year, I’m counting it. It’s just as fun as the first!

3. Zer0es – Chuck Wendig

Five hackers—an Anonymous-style rabble-rouser, an Arab Spring hacktivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll—are detained by the U.S. government, forced to work as white-hat hackers for Uncle Sam in order to avoid federal prison. At a secret complex known only as “the Lodge,” where they will spend the next year working as an elite cyber-espionage team, these misfits dub themselves “the Zeroes.”

But once the Zeroes begin to work, they uncover secrets that would make even the most dedicated conspiracy theorist’s head spin. And soon they’re not just trying to serve their time, they’re also trying to perform the ultimate hack: burrowing deep into the U.S. government from the inside, and hoping they’ll get out alive. Packed with electric wit and breakneck plot twists, Zer0es is an unforgettable thrill ride through the seedy underbelly of “progress.”

4. The Girl with All the Gifts – M.R. Carey

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad

5. A Cold Legacy (The Madman’s Daughter #3) – Megan Shepherd

After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.

6. Fevre Dream – George R.R. Martin

When struggling riverboat captain Abner Marsh receives an offer of partnership from a wealthy aristocrat, he suspects something’s amiss. But when he meets the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York, he is certain. For York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet. Nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York has his own reasons for wanting to traverse the powerful Mississippi. And they are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious his actions may prove.

Marsh meant to turn down York’s offer. It was too full of secrets that spelled danger. But the promise of both gold and a grand new boat that could make history crushed his resolve—coupled with the terrible force of York’s mesmerizing gaze. Not until the maiden voyage of his new sidewheeler Fevre Dream would Marsh realize he had joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare…and mankind’s most impossible dream.
Here is the spellbinding tale of a vampire’s quest to unite his race with humanity, of a garrulous riverman’s dream of immortality, and of the undying legends of the steamboat era and a majestic, ancient river.

I also beta read a synopsis and fifty pages, a short story, and a novella for three friends.

Total: 59.

Writing:

This month I finished the first draft of Shattered Minds, going from 85k to 93k. I then did the first read-through/preliminary edit, where it expanded to 97k. It’s now off with betas, and I’ve had a few sets of comments back. No big rewrite required at this stage, so that’s good. This month I also worked a fair amount on Shiny Project (first draft is around 1/5 done) and did a little more research on Betwixt Book. Lastly, I did proof pages for most of False Hearts. So pretty productive.

Events-wise, I had two workshops at the Central Library and one session at Robert Gordon’s College. I also went to a training workshop on creating creative partnerships, and have some leads I still need to follow up on.

Travel:

This is the first month I didn’t travel anywhere in a few months. It’s been nice to stay at home.

Goals for next month:

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. I was tempted, but it doesn’t really work with my schedule this time around. I’ve never been a super fast drafter, but consistently writing 20-25k a month adds up to 250-300k a year, so, ya know, that’s fine. My goal is to finish False Hearts proofs and integrate beta comments on Shattered Minds, hopefully either finishing or making good effort on the next draft. Then I want to keep working on Shiny Project and still keep doing my background research on Betwixt Book.