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Cover reveal: House of Shattered Wings (US edition)

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So… September is just around the corner, and I’m quite happy to reveal the US cover for House of Shattered Wings, aka “OMG OMG so pretty” (also, creepy. Yes, this is a dark fantasy book, why do you ask? :p). The art is by Nekro, who also did this lovely piece I pinned on Pinterest a while back.

A book about a devastated Paris, fallen angels and the ruins of a once great House? Sounds about right!

(more seriously, I really like this. It’s got oodles of atmosphere, it says creepy in all the right places, and the burning feathers are just a lovely touch from the opening scene of the novel. This is meant to be Morningstar’s throne in Notre-Dame, in its current state, and I love the ruined city in the background! I’m sure that makes you want to pick up the book, right? *big grin*)

And here’s the cover copy:

In the late Twentieth Century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins. The Great Magicians’ War left a trail of devastation in its wake. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.

More info here, and you can pre-order the book here: Amazon.com|Barnes and Noble|Book Depository|Amazon UK (obviously the last amazon link is the UK edition, which won’t have this cover). Out tail end of August (August 20th for the UK edition, beginning of September for the US edition).

Where Ghosts Words Dwell Launch!

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Aka the sekrit project! Quite happy to announce we’re lanching “Where Ghost Words Dwell”, a website dedicated to words that didn’t make it into our final manuscripts. “We” is a group of authors that will slowly be revealed: the website is the brainchild of Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, and in the coming weeks we’ll be featuring posts by Victor Fernando R Ocampo, Karin Tidbeck, Joyce Chng, Tade Thompson, Haralambi Markov, Cindy Pon, Vida Cruz, and more writers! Posts are anonymous: you will have to follow the links embedded into them to see who wrote them and where the final version of the words appeared.

The first post is up. Er. No prizes for guessing who wrote it. No prizes for guessing where it was excerpted from, either! (but it’s the first long bit of House of Shattered Wings on the internet–come read it and wonder what words did make it into the final version ^^)

We would love to hear what you think, either at the blog itself, or here–and would also be quite grateful for signal boosting!

RIP Terry Pratchett

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Terry Pratchett has died, and I feel like there’s a big hole in the world. I didn’t know him personally, but I knew his books–I taught myself English (and puns on British life) with the Discworld (one of the very first books I bought when we moved to the UK was Hogfather, still a perennial favourite), and came to the fantasy and science fiction bookshelves of Waterstone’s because that was where you could find his books. His books followed me from teenager reader to adult writer of SF, and I always enjoyed reading the latest one (and I did the embarrassed fangirl thing at Interaction in Glasgow, too). It’s hard to state how much his writings have shaped me and what I write today.

My condolences to his family and friends. The world is a darker, hollower place without him.

Hugo Awards Deadline

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Just a quick reminder that tonight (11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time) is the deadline for the Hugo Awards. You can nominate here.

If you’re still looking for something to put on your ballot, my awards consideration post is here, with a list of stuff I’ve liked in the past year. I’ve tried to focus it on online and diverse works–would be quite honoured and grateful if you had a look at some of it.

Sale: “Lullaby for a Lost World” to Tor.com

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Sale: “Lullaby for a Lost World” to Tor.com

Er. So I’ve sold the story I wrote last week to Carl Engle-Laird at Tor.com. Wow. I’m over the moon. I love what Tor.com is doing (and I love their art too, which is always striking), and I’m really glad I shall be appearing with all the cool kids.

This is a bit of a change from my usual stuff: it’s, er, dark post-apocalyptic fantasy [1]. With a twist.

Many thanks to Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, D Franklin, Gareth M Skarka and Mur Lafferty for the seed of this; and to Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, D Franklin and Rachel A Marks for the read!

They bury you at the bottom of the gardens–what’s left of you, pathetic and small and twisted so out of shape it hardly seems human anymore. The river, dark and oily, licks at the ruin of your flesh–at your broken bones–and sings you to sleep, in a soft, gentle language like a mother’s lullabies; whispering of rest and forgiveness; of a place where it is forever light, forever safe.

You do not rest. You cannot forgive. You are not safe– you never were.

[1] OK OK. I do write creepy, even in SF ^^

Books books books

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Now that my life is no longer about edits, a few books:

-Zen Cho, Sorcerer to the Crown (ARC obtained from publisher). Zacharias Whyte is the newest sorcerer to the Crown, and he’s got his work cut out for him: he’s black in a society that has no liking for people of colour, suspected of murdering his predecessor and guardian; and to top it all, the magic that England was relying on is steadily draining away. As he travels to Fairyland to determine the cause of the magical penury, Zacharias picks up Prudence, an impoverished gentlewoman who is determined to make her own way in the world–and who has a decidedly peculiar inheritance. Magic, mayhem (and interfering aunties) in a Regency setting: it’s a hilarious book, but also one that pokes sly fun at the social conventions of the time and the place of women and POCs. Sort of a cross between Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and PG Wodehouse, with a postcolonial slant. Also, it’s got Malaysian vampires, and they’re awesome.

-Pat Cadigan, Tea from an Empty Cup (book bought). I first read this ten years ago, and it hasn’t lost its power. It’s short and punchy–a double tale of a murder investigation in an immersive artificial reality and a woman looking for her friend and getting caught in some shady dealings involving stolen virtual artefacts, and access to a special level in said artificial reality). I loved the world building (in a dystopic future where Japan has disappeared and the survivors struggle to find a sense of national identity, something that really resonated to me as a second-gen whose maternal country was lost to war for a while); and the artificial reality is amazing–I’m sceptical of SF’s ability to predict the future, but Pat Cadigan was square on, on both the saturation of the AR by ads, and the gaming culture that develops around it, with its accompanied mysticism, its prizing of avatars and things found online and its search for hacks, new levels and new sensations (which reminded me of MMORPGs and Second Life).

(a few minor quibbles: I wasn’t quite sold on the idea of racial memory, or on the idea you could tell someone’s racial mark-up just by looking at them–as a diasporan, the elevated mysticism and mythology that develops around the lost land of Japan feels very accurate, though sometimes a little too forced and forceful for my personal taste. And sometimes the world building rang a little hollow–I wasn’t sure what Yuki did for a living or how she was able to drop everything to follow Joy Flower. But that’s very much a function of this being a short and to-the-point novel).

-Nghia M Vo, Legends of Vietnam: An Analysis and Retelling of 88 Tales (book bought): I’m really conflicted about this book. On the one hand, it’s a reasonably good book of fairytales and Vietnamese folklore, with legends from the North, the South and some (all too few) from ethnic minorities. It provides context, both cultural and historical (and it’s got all the proper diacritics, which is awesome for following up on stuff), and there are lots of tales and tidbits that I’ve heard but not seen elsewhere, so I think it’s fair to call it the most complete compilation I’ve seen yet. On the other hand… the commentary sometimes grates. There’s the odd swipe at passive Vietnamese, incapable of banding together or of understanding progress, unlike Western nations (which is just wtf); and a lot of sallies against the Northerners  (and I know there was a war; I know unforgivable things were done and I’m not minimising the pain people went through; heck, I live in its shadow. But I really don’t think a book of fairy tales is the place for this kind of stuff). Of note, there’s a bunch of tales in the post-war years, but I can’t comment on these because I found them triggering, and had to skip this section.

-Kari Sperring, The Grass King’s Concubine (book bought)  This is a book with several narrative strands: one in the present, where Aude, born to wealth, runs away and seeks to understand where her family’s fortune came from; and one in the past, where a man called Marcellan enters the Rice Palace, domain of the Grass King, the mythical being who embodies the earth and the harvest. In the present, Aude gets kidnapped by the Grass King’s bannermen, and taken to a deserted, devastated Rice Palace, where she is told she must fix what her ancestors broke…

This is slow, intimate and quite wonderful. I love the contrast between the Brass and Silver Cities and their endless hunger for wealth (and one of Kari’s strengths, I think–in addition to lush prose–is that she nails social class, social oppression and the way the progress of the Industrial Revolution was built on the misery of the many), and the Rice Palace and its fairytale logic; and the driving mystery of what exactly happened in the past is very well done (and going to an unexpected conclusion). It seems at first that the two halves (the Industrial Revolution cities and the Rice Palace) belong to two wildly different books, but on finishing the book you realise that the unifying theme is the devastation of greed and hunger for power–and that, in that respect, the present is not so different from the past–it’s a very clever and subtle juxtaposition, and it works all the better for never being outright said.

I have a couple quibbles, the first is that you should avoid reading the cover copy before you start the book, because it has the worst spoilers I’ve seen in quite a while; the second is that the ending feels a teensy bit rushed–and by far the most major one is that this begs for a sequel, and there is none yet! (I have a plan which involves pestering Kari until she gives in ^^).

Next up: Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings!

March/April Events

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March/April Events

Just a quick heads-up that I’m doing a bunch of writerly stuff in March/April:

  • Tuesday, March 25th, 17h30-19h30: North London Lit Festival (Middlesex University, Hendon Campus): Speculative Fiction authors Stephanie Saulter and Aliette de Bodard, chaired by Farah Mendlesohn
  • Saturday, March 28th & Sunday, March 29th: Luxcon 2015, (Tétange, Luxembourg). I’ll be Guest of Honour, and there’s a bunch of things I’m going to be doing (reading, signing & panel).
  • Friday April 3rd-Sunday April 5th early morning: Dysprosium, Eastercon 2015 (Park Inn Hotel, London Heathrow). Hanging around, meeting friends, the usual…

I’ll hopefully have print copies of On a Red Station, Drifting handy, grab me if you want one! (and/or if you have something else you want me to sign and/or if you want to chat. I’m at these things to meet people, and if it doesn’t look like I’m making a beeline for some prior engagement, or to my room in order to collapse, I’m always happy to stop and chat)

Snippet

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Oh dear. I blame Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, D Franklin, Gareth M Skarka and Mur Lafferty for this snippet. I just. I don’t know where this story is going or even if it’s worth writing. Only that it has unicorns.

They bury you at the bottom of the gardens–what’s left of you, pathetic and small and twisted so out of shape it hardly seems human anymore. The river, dark and oily, licks at the ruin of your flesh–at your broken bones–and sings you to sleep, in a soft, gentle language like a mother’s lullabies; whispering of rest and forgiveness; of a place where it is forever light, forever safe.

You do not rest. You cannot forgive. You are not safe– you never were.

ETA: and I have a first draft at 2600 words. And no idea what to do with a dark unicorn story 0_0