10.5k words. Like pulling teeth all the way, I swear… Set in the world of the novel, around 60 years before actual novel, and temp title is “The Death of Aiguillon” (which I do not like, but will think of something better afterwards).
In the end, as she had known, Huyen crept back to the House of Aiguillon.
Dawn was barely breaking over Paris–a sick, vague pink tinge to the maelstrom of spells that filled the entire sky like roiling clouds. No sun, no stars; merely the acrid taste of spent magic that settled in the lungs like the beginnings of a cough; and a haze over the cobblestones that could hide anything from explosives to chimeras.
The great gates hung open. Through the haze, Huyen caught a glimpse of bodies, lying like discarded puppets in the gardens; and of what had once been the corridors, now open to the winds with the familiar peony wallpaper singed and torn–Huyen remembered running with one hand following the flowers, drawing a line through the corridor as a way to find her way back to the kitchens–another time, another age. The House had succumbed, and nothing would ever be the same.
Off to bed now, and then to catch up on all the other stuff that was running late…
Once upon a time, in a far, far away galaxy, I began working on this odd little project. It had started as a urban fantasy set in 21st century Paris, where families of magicians held the reins of power in every domain from banking to building. Then I couldn’t make it work, because the worldbuilding wasn’t clicking with me. I wrote perhaps three chapters of it before it became painfully clear that my heart wasn’t in it.
So I nuked Paris.
Well, sort of. I made up a Great Magicians’ War, comparable in scale to WWI: a war that devastated Paris, making Notre-Dame an empty shell, the Seine black with ashes and dust; and the gardens and beautiful parks into fields of rubble. I set the action back several decades, to have a technology level equivalent to the Belle Époque with magic; and I added Fallen angels, whose breath and bones and flesh are the living source of magic; and whose power forms the backbone for a network of quasi-feudal Houses who rule over the wreck of Paris. And, hum, because it’s me, I added an extant colonial empire, a press-ganged, angry Vietnamese boy who’s more than he seems; Lucifer Morningstar (because you can’t have a story about Fallen angels without Morningstar); and entirely too many dead bodies.
In short, I mashed so many things together that it started looking a bit like the Frankenstein monster right before the lightning hit; but my fabulous agency (John Berlyne and his partner John Wordsworth) didn’t blink (at least, not too much!), and duly sent out my little novel, called The House of Shattered Wings. And lo and behold, the awesome Gillian Redfearn of Gollancz picked it up, along with a sequel. To say that I’m thrilled is an understatement: Gollancz is a superb publisher, and their list includes many friends of mine—I can’t wait to see where this goes.
In HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS, Paris’s streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. De Bodard’s rich storytelling brings three different voices together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a young man wielding spells from the Far East.
Release is slated for August 2015. You can pre-order here at amazon or Waterstones if you want a shiny hardcover (I’ll work out other vendors later, promise. I don’t need to tell you how crucial pre-orders are to a book’s success–so get in early, get in strong, and make this a big big success). If you don’t feel like pre-ordering right now, no worries. There’ll be plenty of opportunities :p
ETA: and here‘s a fresh new page devoted to the book, with more detailed copy.
More on the book when I have normal (ha! Who am I kidding) non-zero energy levels.
(picture credits: Kirkstall Abbey by Rick Harrison. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License).
And first draft of novella complete at 32k words. Title “The Citadel of Weeping Pearls”, it’s a loose sequel to On A Red Station, Drifting: set in the Imperial City two emperors and 60 years later, with a cameo from Linh and the Great Virtue Emperor. Featuring 4 POVs, entirely too many characters (I think I’m at 15 named ones plus 23 dead emperors’ ghost simulations), and a sort of complicated structure like a Chinese knot: four threads merged together to fill in the absence of a fifth character (it started out as a sort of meditation on the five elements, so there’s one character per element, and the fifth one is the one in the centre, who never speaks up). It’s out to readers at the moment; guess we’ll know soon how much of an ambitious failure it is… *g*
There was a sound, on the edge of sleep: Suu Nuoc wasn’t sure if it was a bell and a drum calling for enlightenment; or the tactics-master sounding the call to arms; in that breathless instant–hanging like a bead of blood from a sword’s blade–that marked the boundary between the stylised life of the court and the confused, lawless fury of the battlefield.
“Book of Heaven, Book of Heaven.”
The soft, reedy voice echoed under the dome of the ceiling; but the room itself had changed–receding, taking on the shape of the mindship–curved metal corridors with scrolling columns of memorial excerpts, the oily sheen of the Mind’s presence spread over the watercolours of starscapes and the carved longevity character at the head of the bed. For a confused, terrible moment as Suu Nuoc woke up, he wasn’t sure if he was still in his bedroom in the Purple City on the First Planet, or hanging, weightless, in the void of space.
Just a quick post to say that J Damask/Joyce Chng could really use some support right now, as she’s undergoing treatment for a breast disease–in addition to the health issues and the draining side-effects, it doesn’t come cheap. You can buy her books here:
-Rider Trilogy: Young Adult SF. A cross between Dragons of Pern and Chinese culture–Agri-Seer Lifang never expected to ride one of the fabled Quetz; much less the depth of the bond that develops between them… More info here . Book 1: Rider/Book 2: Speaker/Book 3: Chaser (forthcoming)
-Oysters, Pearls and Magic: a novella set on a planet colonised by Asians–and the story of their tumultous relationship with the sea.
-Jan Xu/myriad series: urban fantasy set in Singapore. The MC is a mother-of-two and member of a pack of Chinese werewolves. Wonderful sense of atmosphere and great multiculturalism–plus, how many UFs do you know that are set in Asia? The first two books are a bit hard to get hold of, but book 3 was just released, and you can read it without prior knowledge of either book 1 or 2. (I’m told books 1 and 2 will be reissued in the future, will let you know when more news).
And if you want to read samples, hop on over here and have a look at Starfang: The Rise of the Clan (a space opera with werewolves, politics and intrigue).
-The Booksmugglers have started publishing fiction on their blog. They’re focusing on fairy tale retellings: the two I’ve read so far have been very good indeed, original and striking. S.L Huang’s “The Monster Hunters” mashes together a lot of fairytale tropes while tackling hard subjects of abuse and female agency.
The other story, which has just published, is Yukimi Ogawa’s “In Her Head, in Her Eyes”, a creepy SF/horror retelling of the Japanese story “Hachikaduki” (Girl with a Bowl on her Head”).
-Alyssa Wong’s “Santos de Sampaguita” over at Strange Horizons is a tale of dead gods, aswangs and weddings–it’s the visceral and heartbreaking tale of a woman coming into her power.
-And finally, J. Damask’s Heart of Fire, the third in her Myriad/Jan Xu cycle of werewolves in Singapore and how they uneasily coexist with Chinese dragons, jiangshi (reanimated corpses) and European fairies, has recently published. I love the mingling of influences in those, and the sense of real place evoked by someone who is a native of Singapore, as well as the strong focus on families and the bonds that make or break them.
In related news: there will be a print edition of On a Red Station, Drifting, published through Createspace. I haven’t publicised it because I’ve been sorting out admin stuff, but here’s the cover, courtesy of Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein (and many many thanks to Colin F Barnes, who in addition to giving me tons of advice on self-publishing, covers and print publishing, also did my interior design).
Pretty pretty cover (link here if you’re reading the LJ/DW mirrors).
Upcoming from Fata Libelli, end of the year. The artist, Omar Moreno, is also working on a cover for the Xuya collection, “El Ciclo de Xuya”.
PS: I’m not *quite* back online full time. The household has caught the crud, and we have a few RL problems (scheduling issues with the snakelet, our childminder and the H. Nothing serious!) which means this blog will get toned down even more than usual while we sort them out. Posts this week thanks to WordPress automatic scheduler ^^