(well, second, really. The rewrite pushed it from a slight 6k to a solid 7k words. With thanks to fabulous betas Victor Fernando Campo and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, who didn’t blink at the quick turnaround time and provided very valuable insight on what wasn’t working so well with it)
I settled on “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight” as the title; and here’s a snippet:
Green tea: green tea is made from steamed or lightly dried tea leaves. The brew is light, with a pleasant, grassy taste. Do not over-steep it, lest it become bitter.
After the funeral, Quang Tu walked back to his compartment, and sat down alone, staring sightlessly at the slow ballet of bots cleaning the small room–the metal walls pristine already, with every trace of Mother’s presence or of her numerous mourners scrubbed away. He’d shut down the communal network–couldn’t bear to see the potted summaries of Mother’s life, the endlessly looping vids of the funeral procession, the hundred thousand bystanders gathered at the grave site to say goodbye, vultures feasting on the flesh of the grieving–they hadn’t known her, they hadn’t cared–and all their offerings of flowers were worth as much as the insurances of the Embroidered Guard.
I’m going to sound like a broken record on this, but it’s for a good cause A quick reminder that Joyce Chng is undergoing medical treatment for breast disease, and that this obviously doesn’t come cheap. She’s hoping to fund some of it via Patreon: if you support her, you can access chapters of “Dragon Physician”, a YA with racing dragons.
The link is here. Please help and/or signal boost?
The short version of this con report is: Hispacon rocks, and you should all go
The long(ish) version: I had a great time at MIRcon, the Hispacon in Barcelona. It’s a small convention (70-80 attendees, if I understood correctly), but it’s a very friendly and enthusiastic one: spread over several locations, it had a junior track, a sister con in Catalan (MIRcat), and a bunch of really prestigious guests (Nina Allan, Christopher Priest, Karin Tidbeck and Felix J Palma). I survived the delivery of my speech (and Silvia Schettin kindly provided a great interpretation–I think we’re both very glad it went, well since we were equally nervous about it :p); had a delightful impromptu roundtable with Spanish fans which converted into a Q&A session in Spanish (the audience kindly shouted the translations of those words I didn’t know at me; though after that hour of answering questions, I basically was ready for a high-calorie meal and some quiet time); signed a bunch of download cards (my Spanish editor, Fata Libelli, is ebooks only, but they had brought over cardboard books with a download code); and enjoyed a spot of gastronomy. I caught up with pan tumaca and great ham; and had a tussle with the Lobster of Doom (it started out as a bunch of us ordering arroz negre, a local specialty of rice with squid ink. Following a misplaced order, we ended with rice with lobster. Which would have been fine, if said lobster had come with actual decent tools. A flimsy pair of pliers and a knife don’t count–though you’ll be pleased to know that I did prevail in the end).
I also got to hang out with fabulous people (caught the tail end of the interview with Christopher Priest; and the tail end of Nina Allan’s interview; and sadly had to miss out on Karin Tidbeck’s brilliant speech due to a signing session), brushed up on my (rusty) Spanish; and attended the Ignotus Awards. And, hum, got to snatch some sleep (desperately missed in the weeks since the snakelet started crawling around the house).
So all in all, a great experience. My deepest thanks to the organisers and everyone who contributed to making this a great experience: the con team (Gemma, Miquel, Ismael, Oscar, Lupe, Raquel, and I sincerely hope I haven’t forgotten anybody, apologies if I did ); Silvia Schettin and Susana Arroyo, my editors at Fata Libelli; Ian Watson and Cristian Macias for the great tour of Barcelona (and for showing me Gigamesh, aka the genre temple in Barcelona); Sofia Rhei for the company and the lovely book (the adventures of Young Moriarty–in Spanish!) and Leticia Lara for the great lunch, and the free copy of Alucinadas (an anthology of SF by women in Spanish, which I’m looking forward to reading).
I am given to understand that next year’s Hispacon is in Granada–what are you waiting for?
Want some more information about my work? I’ve done two recent interviews:
-One with My Bookish Ways, here. Some stuff about Obsidian and Blood, some stuff about my favourite authors, and some more info about The House of Shattered Wings.
-And here’s a video of my Dive into Worldbuilding Hangout with Juliette Wade and a bunch of other awesome folks:
. We discuss research into the Mexica culture, Xuya and mindships; and (of course) the novel!
Just a quick reminder that this weekend, I’ll be at MIRcon in Montcada i Reixac, not far from Barcelona.
I’ll have a few copies of Obsidian and Blood and On a Red Station, Drifting (and of course you can buy “El Ciclo de Xuya” and the forthcoming “En una Estacion Roja, a la Deriva” from the excellent Fata Libelli–that last will be out for the MIRcon). Silvia Schettin, my editor, has let me know they’ll quite probably have cards with QR codes, letting you buy the book, and letting me sign it
And, hum, I’ll do a speech. An actual 1-hour thing focusing on the writing of Xuya and the difficulties faced (ok, it’s going to be less than that because it has to be translated. I did consider doing it in Spanish to fit in with the rest of the con, but the sad truth is that my Spanish is nowhere good enough to resist a stressful situation like this. I speak well enough for every day conversation, but in front of a room full of people… is asking too much, I’m afraid).
The full schedule is here. Come see Karin Tidbeck, Christopher Priest, Nina Allan, Félix J. Palma and many other people!
The usual reminder (stolen from Kate Elliott): I go to conventions to meet people, so if I don’t look like I’m making a beeline for my hotel room to collapse, feel quite free to come up to me, I’d be quite happy to chat. As I said–I can handle Spanish, French, English (Catalan is not on the list of languages spoken, alas. I can understand it when it’s written down and that’s about it).
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.