False Hearts Joint Cover Reveal!

I’m pleased to show off the US & UK covers for False Hearts, my near future thriller out next June through Tor. I think they look great side by side, don’t you? This is a book I loved writing and can’t wait for people to read.

The full cover reveals are on Tor.com and Tor UK’s site. You could also add on Goodreads if you fancy or consider preordering. I’ve also pasted the text below:

We’re pleased to reveal both the Tor Books and Tor UK covers for Laura Lam’s upcoming novel, False Hearts. It’s Orphan Black meets Inception: Two formerly conjoined sisters are ensnared in a murderous plot involving psychoactive drugs, shared dreaming, organized crime, and a sinister cult. Learn more about the novel and check out the full cover art for both the US and UK editions below!

False Hearts publishes simultaneously in the US and UK on June 16, 2016. From the catalog copy:

Raised in the closed cult of Mana’s Hearth and denied access to modern technology, conjoined sisters Taema and Tila dream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When the heart they share begins to fail, the twins escape to San Francisco, where they are surgically separated and given new artificial hearts. From then on they pursue lives beyond anything they could have previously imagined.

Ten years later, Tila returns one night to the twins’ home in the city, terrified and covered in blood, just before the police arrive and arrest her for murder—the first homicide by a civilian in decades. Tila is suspected of involvement with the Ratel, a powerful crime syndicate that deals in the flow of Zeal, a drug that allows violent minds to enact their darkest desires in a terrifying dreamscape. Taema is given a proposition: go undercover as her sister and perhaps save her twin’s life. But during her investigation Taema discovers disturbing links between the twins’ past and their present. Once unable to keep anything from each other, the sisters now discover the true cost of secrets.

The US cover, designed by Jamie Stafford-Hill:

False Hearts US Cover

Tor Books Editor Marco Palmieri adds:

How do you visually capture a book that, stripped of everything else, is about sharing—a shared heart, shared dreams, shared identities, shared fears, shared dangers? Tor cover designer Jamie Stafford-Hill experimented with numerous approaches for False Hearts, until he hit his eureka moment with the deceptively simple elements he combined so artfully to crystallize the novel’s elegant central idea. Just as importantly, Jamie’s cover depicts Taema and Tila, the remarkable characters at the core of Laura Lam’s amazing near-future thriller. To me, False Hearts reads like a brilliant mashup of Orphan Black and Inception, and this cover captures that perfectly. I can’t wait for people to experience Laura’s new novel for themselves.

And the UK cover, designed by Neil Lang:

False Hearts UK Cover

Bella Pagan, Editor at Tor UK, had this to say:

False Hearts is a thrilling, addictive and action-packed story featuring twins and the ultimate crime. This powerful near-future read needed a cover to match, that would bring out the potent mix of elements to give a real sense of the story within. And I think our UK design department have done a fabulous job, creating a look that I hope will really resonate with our UK and Australian readers and beyond. We’re planning fabulous finishes, such as printing it on scuffed up, cracked, silver foil for a wonderfully tactile look. Red end papers would look gorgeous too for that extra hit of colour.

The starting point was of course the title. We wanted to produce something that resonated with the title but had to be careful we didn’t go down an overly romantic path, possibly signalled by ‘hearts’. Yes, there is a hint of romance, but the book’s sensibility is definitely on the darker side! It has a feel of a near-future Martina Cole, given its gangland elements—with the glamour of Blade Runner and the feel of Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls.

I think that our designer Neil Lang has come up with a really clever solution… We wanted to hint at a struggle for identity, a dash of crime and a certain type of cool gritty-ness. We have the linked hearts, showing the personal story—but the fingerprints give it that crime sensibility to take the edges off a possible softness. We didn’t want to make it look either too science fictional or too ‘crime’, so that it would appeal to a really broad range of readers. Yes, we wanted it all! I’m also hoping that this elegant, simple cover will appeal to those who enjoyed Gillian Glynne’s Gone Girl, with its pared-back but effective look, as well as the authors mentioned above.

We’re really excited about both covers, and we hope you all are, too! Look for False Hearts from Tor Books and Tor UK in June, 2016.

Books Read in July

vicious1. Vicious – V.E. Schwab. Enjoyed it just as much as A Darker Shade of Magic. Sharp, strong prose, clever plot, compelling characters, a study of the shades of grey between good and evil.

2. On the Edge of Gone – Corinne Duyvis. I got to read this even before the ARC phase *proudface.* I wrote a short review on Goodreads.

3. Neuromancer – William Gibson (audiobook). I haven’t read this since I was a teen, and as I’m writing cyberpunk-flavoured thrillers myself, thought it’d be good to go back to the classics. This was one of the very first SF books I ever read. Enjoyed it more as an adult than I did as a teen.

the-likeness-1904. The Likeness – Tana French. Goodness me, but Tana French is a good author. Really, really enjoyed this, even if the premise requires a small suspension of disbelief.

5. Finding Center – Katherine Locke. This is the follow up to Second Position and just as awesome as the first. Go get this immediately if you like romance, ballet, and a sensitive portrayal of physical and mental disabilities.

I also did some beta reading and read the screenplay to Gone Girl.

Total books in 2015: 41

Books Read in May

Didn’t read as much as I’d like due to editing deadlines, but I still went through a couple.

1. Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Niell. A dystopian future similar to The Handmaid’s Tale. I can see why it’s gotten so much attention, but it didn’t quite work for me. I’d try another book of hers, though.

2. The Mirrored World – Debra Dean. Historical fiction set in Russia around Catherine the Great’s time. I enjoyed it but certain aspects felt glossed over.

3. The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes. Been meaning to read this for ages after really enjoying Broken Monsters. It was a creepy, enjoyable thriller starring a time travelling serial killer.

4. Fool’s Assassin – Robin Hobb. Re-read in anticipation of Fool’s Quest being out this summer. I want to read the sequel so badly it pains me.

burialrites5. Burial Rites – Hannah Kent. A story of a woman sentenced to death for murder in Victorian Iceland. Well-researched and written, and unsurprisingly, a sad read.

6. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution – Walter Isaacson. Partly book research, partly general interest. A good overview.

Total books so far in 2015: 31.

Books Read in April

I’ve been slack on the blog, but here’s the books I read last month:

Jennifer_Finney_Boylan_Shes_Not_There_sm1. She’s not There: A Life in Two Genders – Jennifer Finney Boylan. My mom lent this to me, as it was the Freshman Read at my alma mater last year. It was a wonderful memoir of a MTF trans woman and her experiences. Funny and moving.

2. The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black. Holly Black is one of my authors I go to for a comfort read.They always have characters you root for, a great atmosphere, and tight plots. This one is set in a small town of Fairfold where the fae are always nearby and have a way with meddling with lives.

3. The Martian – Andy Weir. I listened to this on audiobook. It was an interesting book, and how if I’m ever trapped on Mars, I’ll know how to grow potatoes.

4. In the Woods – Tana Franch. I loved this book. Excellently written and a great mystery. Detective Andrew Ryan is in some ways frustrating and unlikeable (though understandable considering the massive amount of stress he’s under in this book), but his partner Cassie Maddox is the real star of the show. Really want to read The Likeness now, as it stars her.

5. Waverley – Walter Scott. Re-read for an essay for uni, plus about a book’s worth of articles and excerpts of analysis. I’m writing about the supernatural and Gothic allusions in the book.

6. Loose Changeling – A.G. Stewart. Andrea is in one of my writing groups and she came to my Shadowplay launch in SF. I was excited to read her first book and it was fun, fast-paced urban fantasy with fae. A perfect palette cleanser after the rather dark In the Woods and the very dense prose of Waverley.

7. Second Position – Katherine Locke. If you love ballet films with Center Stage, do yourself a favour and read this book. It’s a romance about two ballet dancers whose lives have fallen apart. After four years, they run into each other again and wonder if they can ever hope to pick up the pieces.

8. Turning Pointe – Katherine Locke. Technically this is a novella, but I’ll count it anyway. It’s a prequel novella for Second Position and was just as lovely, and very sad as it’s set around the events that drove Zed and Aly apart four years before the book.

Total books in 2015: 25

The Second Vestigial Tale: “The Fisherman’s Net” is now Live!

And the hybrid author journey continues.

Info about “The Fisherman’s Net”:

This is a story set in Ellada, but otherwise has no overlapping characters with Pantomime or Shadowplay, so it is completely standalone. As the intro of the short story says:

This is a fable adapted by the noblewoman Lady Emilia Weatherwood. Her calling was to take Hestia’s Fables and to expand them into longer, richer stories that worked for a more contemporary audience. Her work is still much beloved amongst men and women throughout Ellada. Like the original stories, each has a message, but not every reader receives the same one.”

Professor Mildred Acacia, “Retellings of Hestia’s Fables,” Royal Snakewood University

For this story, I decided not to go exclusive with Amazon for three months. It’s currently up on Amazon and Smashwords. Once it’s approved into the Prime Catalog, Smashwords will distribute to most retailers (iBooks, Kobo, etc). I’m in the process of uploading it to B&N’s Nook Press. Amazon has been getting such bad press lately, and I wanted to make it available to as many people as possible. It means this one can’t be borrowed for free if you have Prime membership, but as it’s cheaper than “The Snake Charm,” I’m hoping that won’t affect things too much.

Speaking of “The Snake Charm,” I’ve lowered the price to $1.99 for at least the next two weeks to see if it results in an uptick of sales.

There will be at least 4 stories/novellas in total, and more if these prove reasonably popular.

If you would consider buying this short story and then perhaps leaving a review, I’d be very grateful. It’s 3.5k long. All profits from these stories are being earmarked for self-publishing the third Micah Grey book, should that be the way that book is released.

You can read the first 20% or so on both Smashwords and Amazon. I’ll come back and update this with more links as they go live.

Cover artwork is by Dianna Walla / Paper Tiger.

the-fishermans-net-cover

Untold centuries ago, the Archipelago was ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artefacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Sometimes, a person will be lucky or unlucky enough to discover that each piece of Vestige has its own tale to tell…

The Fisherman’s Net

A humble fisherman in a village of the coast of the island of Linde buys a trinket at the market, which he discovers is Vestige. The poor man soon becomes the best fisherman in the village and marvels at his newfound wealth. One day, he ensnares a most unusual catch: a Chimaera sea maiden that isn’t meant to exist. And he’s not sure if he can let her go.

Vestigial Tales are stories set in the world of the award-winning Micah Grey series. Step behind the circus ring from Pantomime, the theatre of Shadowplay, and more…

Add on Goodreads!

PURCHASE:

Smashwords / Amazon US / Amazon UK Amazon Canada / Amazon India / Amazon Germany / Amazon France / Amazon Spain / Amazon Italy / Amazon Japan / Amazon Brazil Amazon Mexico / Amazon Australia

ISBN (Kindle): 978-0-9929428-2-3

“They Swim Through Sunset Seas” – Coming Soon in Solaris Rising 3

solarisrising3Whee, a bit of good news – I have a short story called “They Swim Through Sunset Seas” out in the Solaris Rising 3 anthology, which will be released in August, I believe. It’s about a husband and wife team who are sent to an underwater science facility on a planet called Anthemusa. They’ve been sent to study the indigenous aliens, the Nyxi, which basically look like giant tardigrades, but multi-coloured and with wings. Things don’t go according to plan.

I quite like this story – I wrote it a few years ago and gave it a re-edit this year, and I’m so glad it found a home. A huge thanks to Ian Whates for commissioning it.

Here’s the first line:

“I thought I would write and tell you what happened after you died.”

It’s such a pretty cover. And my name’s on the front!

It’s on Goodreads!

It’s also on Netgalley! (Request please, bloggers!)

I’m sharing the table of contents with lots of great folks, and I’m looking forward to reading the other stories slated to appear. There’ll be a release at Foyles I believe, and I’ll actually be in London then!

Blurb:

Following the exceptionally well received, Solaris Rising 1 and and the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated Solaris Rising 2 series editor Ian Whates brings even more best-selling and cutting edge SF authors together for the latest extraordinary volume of new original ground-breaking stories.

These stories are guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight, and continue our mission to demonstrate why science fiction remains the most exiting, varied and inspiring of all fiction genres. In Solaris Rising 1 and 2 we showed both the quality and variety that modern science fiction can produce. In Solaris Rising 3, we’ll be taking SF into the outer reaches of the universe. Nina Allan, Aliette de Bodard, Tony Ballantyne, Chris Beckett, Julie Czerneda, Ken Liu, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Ian R MacLeod & Martin Sketchley, Gareth L Powell, Adam Roberts, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Cat Sparks, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Ian Watson and Seam Williams are just some of the names set to appear.

Books Read in January

1. Acid – Emma Pass. One of the Author Allsorts and a fellow shortlister on the NE Teen Book Award. I really enjoyed this fast-paced near-future dystopia, and Jenna’s various identities.

dragonkeeper2. The Dragon Keeper – Robin Hobb. A re-read for the first time since 2009. Nice to be back among Thymara, Alise, Sedric, and the dragons.

3. The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey – An audiobook listen. I’m afraid in many respects it wasn’t my cup of tea. I didn’t connect with the characters, though I found the worldbuilding interesting.

4. Dragon Haven – Robin Hobb. Another re-read, this time from 2010. The continued adventures of the dragons and their keepers up the river to the mythical Elderling city, Kelsingra. I love losing myself in Hobb’s words, and how effortlessly she weaves various viewpoints.

5. Fables Vol 14 – Witches – Bill Willingham. I love Frau Totenkinder.

6. In the Shadows of Blackbirds – Cat Winters. This was on the Morris list, and I can see why. A very accomplished debut with incredible writing and a great atmosphere. Was sad to see it end, but glad Cat’s writing an adult book set during the same time period.

7. Fables Vol 15 – Rose Red – Bill Willingham. The story continues.

cityofdragons8. City of Dragons – Robin Hobb. I’d not read this one before yet, as I wanted to wait until the whole series was out and then it slipped past in all the bajillion other books to read. I loved learning more about Kelsingra. There was even a scene that eerily reminded me slightly of the Chimaera Dance scene in Pantomime.

I also beta read one short story and 1.5 manuscripts for friends.

I set a goal of 80 books, so I’m already 10% through it. Currently listening to Mockingbird on audio and reading Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb.

Congratulations to Wesley Chu, the Lives of Tao, and Angry Robot Books!

I’m absolutely delighted to welcome to the blog today one of my closest friends, Wesley Chu, who has just signed a deal with Angry Robot Books for his debut, The Lives of Tao. We both submitted to the Angry Robot Open Door Month in March, 2011. When we both learned we had gone to editorial, we started chatting first on the AbsoluteWrite forums and then on gchat. We now pretty much chat every day, egging each other on and setting writing goals, angsting at each other and how marvelous and strange it is to transition from aspiring to professional author. I’ll even be crashing at his pad this summer for Worldcon, so I’m reasonably certain he’s not an axe-murderer.

I’m so happy that his wonderful, funny, action-packed sci fi book (think Chuck with aliens) has found a perfect home with the loveable but cross Angry Robots, and that we’re now colleagues and stablemates as well as best buds. So here’s Wes with a little more about The Lives of Tao.

Today is an important day. Alongside other momentous events such as my birth, my first back flip, and the first time Eva the Airedale Terrier learned to shake her head on command, I became a published author. This morning, Angry Robot Books announced a two book deal for my The Lives of Tao series.

Laura Lam, my literary partner-in-crime and future New York Times bestselling author, asked me to guest blog on her site. This is a first as well (today’s full of them!) and I’m not sure where to start.

For the first time, humanity will finally learn the truth about the alien puppet masters that have been living on our planet, and how their civil war caused some of the greatest wars this planet has ever seen. For years, I told everyone within hearing distance about these aliens who were manipulating mankind’s evolution by inhabiting our greatest historical figures. Most people just smiled and asked me if I ever met Tom Cruise at a Scientology meeting.

How else do you warn a civilization with the attention span of drunken hamsters about the impending destruction of Earth by aliens no one can see? A person can’t just go to the local authorities and report the danger. We all saw how that worked with Kyle Reese. All it got was everyone at the police station killed.

So I did what any righteous freedom loving citizen of the United States would do if they wanted to be heard and respected. I tried to get on reality TV. When that didn’t pan out (Why didn’t you turn around, Ceelo!), I opted for the next best thing. I wrote a book. Labeling it as a fiction wasn’t a mistake. I do want people to read it after all. But make no mistake. This series will be the most important set of books you will ever read! Learn about how a silly Mongol conquered the known world. Discover the real cause of the Spanish Inquisition.

The first book in the Lives of Tao trilogy will be released April 2013 by Angry Robot Books. People say the Angry Robots are just mad and want to take over the world. I call them Earth patriots.

Congrats, Wes! You can find out more about Wes and the hidden war among us at his blog and on Twitter.

Recommended Read: Earth Girl – Janet Edwards

A few weeks ago, I managed to nab a proof copy of Janet Edwards’ debut from Janet’s editor. I’ve been Twitter friends with Janet for a few months and really liked the sound of her book. But there’s always a bit of trepidation when you finally read a book by someone you know, because you worry it’ll not be your cup of tea. But, luckily, that was not the case with Earth Girl.

I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but the basic set-up is that, 700-odd years from now, humans have managed inter-planet portals and are scattered across the universe on various planets. However, a very small percentage of the population cannot portal offworld, and they are known as the Handicapped, sometimes called the more unsavoury names of a throwback, a nean (neanderthal), or an ape. These Handicapped have to live on Earth.

Earth Girl is interesting in that it’s sort-of a dystopia, but not really. Life as a Handicapped is not bad, but it is limited. Many children have been abandoned by their parents are are raised by ProMums or ProDads, psychologists carefully making sure their wards are mentally stable. They have limited career choices.

Jarra, an Earth Girl, is bitter at her lot and decides to join a non-Earth school, the University of Asgard, for the foundation history course, which is set on Earth. This has not been done before. She tells no one at the new school that she’s actually been on Earth all along, inventing a fake backstory as a child of Military parents. She anticipates showing them she’s just as good as the “exos” and then yelling at them and going back to her own life, smug at pulling the wool over their eyes. But then she realises that things are not going according to plan.

Jarra throws herself into this new life, rising to the rank of tag leader on the dig sites of the ruins of long-abandoned New York. She discovers more about her parents and grandparents and tries to ignore her attraction to a boy, Fian, whom she thinks would never accept her as just an ape girl.

Jarra is a strong heroine, though she is almost unbelievably good at everything–there are no challenges for her on the coursework and at times it’s like she’s teaching it, versus her teacher Playdon. Her main challenge is keeping her lies straight. She’s smart and capable and doesn’t take anything from anyone, but when she receives some shocking news, she’s thrown through a loop to an extent that she doesn’t quite realise.

The prose has a genuine teenage voice–it sounds like a long diary from an 18-year-old girl, peppered with slang terms and the blithe self-centeredness of youth. Sometimes, Jarra seems to skip over emotional points in the story where I would have liked to have seen more depth, such as her first kiss with a certain someone. It could just be that Jarra is uncomfortable discussing these things and this is why she remains vague.

Overall Earth Girl is a fun, quick science fiction read, with a well-realised world, lots of action, and some fun characters. It stands on its own quite nicely, and I do wonder if we’ll hear more from Jarra or perhaps another character in this universe down the line. Earth Girl will be published in August, 2012.

Rating: 4.5 stars

This review is crossposted to Goodreads.

Eastercon 2012

Eastercon 2012 will go down in my books as one of my favourite conventions, hands down. The weekend passed in a blur of laughter, geeky jokes, some panels, and lots of drinking in the bar. Hopefully, it’ll also be the only con where I have to walk around with a cane as well–I sprained my ankle badly a few days ago.

I knew the weekend would be good when my book sister and Strange Chemistry stablemate, Kim Curran, showed up at the airport with a sign saying “LAURA LAM – AUTHOR.” When you meet an online friend in person for the first time, there is always that niggling fear that your chemistry only works online, that you’ll meet in person and just sort of go “so…” and stare at the ceiling. Not so with Kim. We chatted about everything under the sun and it was ace.

Friday, Kim bravely ventured into the con on her own to ready herself for her first and only panel, and I hobbled into central London to meet my agent. Here was another case where I was a bit nervous that we wouldn’t get along as well in person, but it turns out that fear was unfounded and we got along swimmingly. Hurray!

I ventured back to the con and realised via Twitter that my editor, Amanda Rutter, was only a train ahead of me, so she waited for me at Terminal 1 and we took the bus up to the hotel together. We said our hellos to friends, and then Kim and I unveiled our secret, which was fun. Underneath our jackets and cardigans we were wearing Strange Chemistry t-shirts we’d had made, and we’d gotten one for Amanda as well. So we have a uniform.

Due to my sore ankle, I ended up camping out in the bar for most of the weekend with my foot up on a table. That’s my excuse, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. I went to two panels–“How not to suppress womens’ writing” and “YA Dystopia.” I also went to the George R. R. Martin interview, the BFSA awards (which I won’t go into…), and Tom Pollock’s reading (where he single-handedly made every author feel like their oratory skills were sorely lacking), and Adam Christopher’s reading (who, while he didn’t screech like a train, still did an excellent job). But mainly I was just hanging out with dear friends, and making some new ones.

I’m going to echo Adam Christopher’s quote of Paul Cornell–you do feel “cozy in the genre.” The genre seems to have its fair share of spats and trod toes, but overall it’s people having fun, dreaming up worlds and sharing our favourites. Even George R.R. Martin, who’s hugely successful, was able to just sit in the bar and chat with people, and hopefully no one was too weird to him (me included!). As always, I wish I’d been better about taking photos while I was there. It would have been nice to have a photo with me and Juliet, and photos of me, Kim, and Amanda in our t-shirts, and some candid photos of people laughing in the bar. I could make a little album for us to look back on in the future.

And here’s my obligatory “photo on the Iron Throne.”

Some shout-outs: Kim Curran, Adam Christopher, Amanda Rutter, Lee Harris, Anne LyleAdrian Faulkner, Emma Newman, Tom Pollock, Nick Harkaway, Tom Hunter, Nic Clarke, Niall Harrison, Janet Edwards, Rob Haines, Jenny SargentMichele HoweAmy McCulloch, Natasha Tanczos, Francis Knight (mwah, sweetie), Adele Kirby, and many more. I’m sure I forgot people, but I think I got everyone I nattered with the most.

Now I have post-con comedown. Hurry up, August, and ChiCon!