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Shattered Wings Thursdays: House Hawthorn

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Welcome back to Shattered Wings Thursdays, the weekly feature of art related to The House of Shattered Wings. 19 days to release of the Roc hardcover edition (and 21 days to the Gollancz trade paperback). Getting closer and closer!

Today: another of the magical factions!

Hawthorn is… well, mainly Silverspires’ rival in the book. It’s in the Southwest of Paris, close to the border with Boulogne-sur-Seine, and it’s also on low grounds and quite close to the Seine, as a result of which it took a big hit during the years of the war (and had to abandon some of the ground it occupied on account of its becoming too dangerous for people to go there).

Hawthorn is currently headed by Fallen Asmodeus–a fairly recent change: before that, the House was headed for a long, long time by Uphir, a powerful and ruthless Fallen who nevertheless failed to see where the true danger to his House was coming from. Twenty years before the start of the novel, Asmodeus led a coup that deposed and killed Uphir, and became uncontested leader of the House. The colors of the House are dark grey and black, its arms are a hawthorn tree circled by a crown, and its motto is “Spina Inter Flores” (“the thorn among the flowers”). Its philosophy of life can best be summed up as “our own first.” House Hawthorn is well known for clinging to its dependents, and to bring swift and unpleasant retaliation to anyone who brings them harm.

Notable characters from Hawthorn: Samariel, Asmodeus’s long-time lover; Madeleine, House Silverspires’ alchemist (who was originally from Hawthorn but fled); and Elphon, Madeleine’s childhood friend (who died the night of the coup).

Previous iterations of this:

1. Meet nuked Paris
2. The Fallen
3. The Houses
4. The Immortals
5. The Colonies
6. House Silverspires

Read Chapter One!
Read excerpt from Chapter Four!

Pre-order now

Full Pinterest board:
Follow Aliette de Bodard’s board House of Shattered Wings on Pinterest.

(and there’s a map of the book’s key locations at the bottom of the novel’s page)

Semi-hemi-darkness notice

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Semi-hemi-darkness notice

In which I take a holiday…

I’ll be off with snakelet & family to a secluded location so I can write sleep. Email is (mostly) on hiatus, though if I owe you a thing it’s going to hopefully get done that week or the one after that! (you know who you are). Book promo stuff will still be posted: expect Shattered Wings Thursday to still happen. Social media might or might not happen (trying to get a little less addicted to the stuff).

And I will see you in London for those of you who are here: Blackwell’s High Holborn with Anna Caltabiano Wednesday August 5th 18:30 onwards (book tickets here, it’s free but you need to register your attendance); and Fantasy in the Court at Goldsboro Books here on August 6th 6:00pm-9:00pm (tickets £5, book here. Lots of other cool authors here!). FYI, The House of Shattered Wings finishes printing end of July, so hopefully there’ll be copies around.

The August newsletter will be a little late due to the aforementioned holiday, expect it around August 4th (earlier if I get through the to-do list faster than expected–one never knows!)

(and yeah, I know there was no July newsletter. Very sorry about that, but real life went a little bonkers on me).

Shattered Wings Thursdays: House Silverspires

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Welcome back to Shattered Wings Thursdays, the weekly feature of art related to The House of Shattered Wings. 26 days to release of the Roc hardcover edition (and 28 days to the Gollancz trade paperback). Getting closer and closer!


Ludwig Rösch (Austrian, 1865-1936), Die Pilgramkanzel in St. Stephan. Pastel on paper, 65 x 52 cm.

So, by popular (well, twitter) request, the last few episodes of this will focus on the different magical factions of the city of Paris: I won’t have time to do them all, as I’ve only got 3 of these left, but I hope to tackle some ground!

House Silverspires is the heart of the book: its setting, and a place a lot of characters in the book call home. It stretches, as said before, over Ile de la Cité: only the eastern part is inhabited, the Prefecture, Commerce Tribunal and other buildings in the West are only sparsely populated. Though founded by Lucifer Morningstar (oldest and most powerful among Fallen), House Silverspires is currently headed by his Fallen student, Selene, after the disappearance of Morningstar twenty years before the start of the novel.

As said previously: the colours of Silverspires are red and silver, and its coat of arms is the sword of Morningstar (one of those big, unsubtle two-handed swords) against the silhouette of Notre-Dame. Its motto is “Aspicete solem ortum” (“look to the risen sun”). Its philosophy of life can best be summed as “whatever works”. Anything is acceptable as long as it keeps intact its dominant status in the city, and the House has a (well-deserved) reputation for ruthlessness and playing fast and loose with rules (though Selene has pursued a gentler policy). It is also, unquestionably and even in decline, the foremost House in the city, an impregnable fortress with an iron grip on politics.

Notable characters from Silverspires: Selene’s lover, the archivist Emmanuelle; Javier, the House’s priest (and resident Spanish-French) who acts as Selene’s right hand; Madeleine, the geeky alchemist who provides the House with its magical artifacts; and Isabelle, a newly arrived and naive Fallen.

Previous iterations of this:
1. Meet nuked Paris
2. The Fallen
3. The Houses
4. The Immortals
5. The Colonies

Read Chapter One!
Read excerpt from Chapter Four!

Pre-order now

Full Pinterest board:
Follow Aliette de Bodard’s board House of Shattered Wings on Pinterest.

(and there’s a map of the book’s key locations at the bottom of the novel’s page)

Giveaway winners: signed hardcovers of THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS

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Giveaway winners: signed hardcovers of THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS

So… by the magic of Rafflecopter, the following people have won a signed hardcover of The House of Shattered Wings:
-Peter S K
-Michelle Clarke
-Jessie M

Congratulations!

Yeah, I added a third hardcover as there were so many entries! Really delighted at the enthusiasm for this.

If you feel like you missed out: the RT Book Reviews giveaway of 5 ARCs is still on-going here. (and even if you don’t, there’s an extra excerpt with the giveaway, featuring geeky alchemist Madeleine and Head of House Hawthorn Asmodeus).

Other House of Shattered Wings news: Freda Warrington at Book Riot lists it as one of 5 books to get into paranormal fantasy (honored to be in the same list as NK Jemisin!):

One of the darkest and strangest fantasies I’ve ever read, containing the creepiest villain ever, the appalling Asmodeus, it haunts you long after you’ve finished it.

(yes, the same Asmodeus that’s in the excerpt. Isn’t life fun? :) )

Quick heads-up: THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS excerpt + giveaway!

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Quick heads-up: THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS excerpt + giveaway!

Just a quick heads-up that the RT Books website has a large chunk of The House of Shattered Wingsfeaturing a third point-of-view character who isn’t in Chapter One: Madeleine, the geeky alchemist of House Silverspires. And it comes with a chance of winning an ARC of the book with the pretty “burning feathers” cover ^-^

Go check it out here!

A few recent sales

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I’ve been really, really remiss with these:

  • My Xuya story “Crossing the Midday Gate” will appear in Athena Andreadis’s awesome looking To Shape the Dark (full TOC here), an anthology about women scientists and a successor to her Other Half of the Sky (which had “The Waiting Stars” in it). Mine is a biologist dealing with the fallout of a plague, and how to earn favour once again…
  • My sort-of-Xuya story about virtual realities and access control “First Presentation” will be in David Brin’s and Steven W Potts’ Chasing Shadows, alongside work by Neal Stephenson, Robert Silverberg, Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, Stephen Gaskell, Nancy Fulda… *gulp*
  • “The Death of Aiguillon” will be published in Yanni Kuznia’s A Fantasy Medley 3, with work by Jacqueline Carey (!), Kevin Hearne, and Laura Bickle. This is set in the universe of my upcoming novel The House of Shattered Wings, and follows a kitchen girl after the fall of the House of Aiguillon and the refuge she finds in a Paris torn apart by the Great Houses War. I’m pretty psyched about this one: it’s coming out from Subterranean Press and will be published at the end of 2015.

Shattered Wings Thursdays: the colonies

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Welcome back to Shattered Wings Thursdays, the weekly feature of art related to The House of Shattered Wings. 33 days to release of the Roc hardcover edition (and 35 days to the Gollancz trade paperback). Getting closer and closer!

(Detail on map of Saigon by Favre, 1880)

In the alternate universe of devastated Paris is still pretty close to the 19th/early 20th Century; and that means that France still has a pretty large colonial empire. Post-war, it’s actually fragmenting a bit because the colonists have trouble communicating with home (there are, say, ships to Vietnam but there aren’t very many of them). But “fragmenting” mostly means people setting up their own private kingdoms, and not any kind of independence, of course…

Vietnam is not yet called Vietnam in the book because that’s either a very old (Nguyen dynasty) or fairly recent name. It has three political subdivisions: Tonkin (north), Annam (centre), and Cochinchina (South), all with slightly different statuses; and it’s part of Indochina (which also includes Cambodia).

Previous iterations of this:
1. Meet nuked Paris
2. The Fallen
3. The Houses
4. The Immortals

Read Chapter One!

Pre-order now

Full Pinterest board:
Follow Aliette de Bodard’s board House of Shattered Wings on Pinterest.

Giveaway: two hardcover copies of THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS

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Giveaway: two hardcover copies of THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS

So… the copies of The House of Shattered Wings hardcover have hit writer central. Isn’t it the prettiest?

I’ve got two to give away–you could get your hands on this ahead of release! (it’d of course be awesome if you could subsequently leave a review at amazon/goodreads/etc., but it’s not compulsory)

Want one? Just enter below. It’s a simpler giveaway than the previous one hopefully! It’s open anywhere in the world, I’ll sign and ship these ASAP.
(it’s also not compulsory to subscribe to the mailing list to enter. It’s just that I wanted to give an advantage to people who already on it)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Still undecided? In addition to all the buzz, it recently got a Publishers Weekly starred review: “…a fantastical spy thriller that reads like a hybrid of le Carré and Milton, all tinged with the melancholy of golden ages lost.” I’m sure you want to read that, right?

Things I learnt about using a wok on a glass stovetop

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Things I learnt about using a wok on a glass stovetop

So… as part of my “Aliette goes learning new ways of cooking”, and after the baking experiments, I’m now into using a carbon steel wok (mostly, I confess, because our non-stick one died about a month ago and I was really sick of replacing it every few years). I read Grace Young’s Breath of a Wok and Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge cover to cover, bought a wok from our local Chinatown, and then proceeded to do my own experiments [1].

There’s surprisingly little that I could find about using a wok on a glass stovetop, and I thought that I would accordingly post about it, if only to share. A lot of the stuff in Grace Young’s books and online focuses on electric stoves (which means coils, I assume), and warn you that an electric stove isn’t powerful enough to do stir-frying and you need to crank up the heat to maximum.

On my stove at least, this results in disaster. Because woks (and the de Buyer steel pans that I have) don’t like being heated fast, and also don’t much like having the radiant element of the stove right under them. And as a result, they warp, which is a big pain in the neck (and not something you can remedy once it’s happened, at least not without a lot of work that I’m in no way ready for), and they “dance” on the stovetop, i.e. don’t lie perfectly flat. The Wok Shop in San Francisco has an FAQ which describes the problem, which makes me think I’m not the only one to have it.

A carbon steel wok would probably warp as well on an electric coil or gas stove (though I suspect the flames of gas are a less violent contact than the full heat of the radiant element), but the thing is you probably wouldn’t notice it. Glass stovetops, unfortunately, are really unforgiving in that regard: the bottom of pans has to be absolutely flat, whereas it’s not really a problem if your wok is slightly warped and you’re cooking with gas or coils.

It might be linked to the wok gauge, but I’ve got a thicker de Buyer steel pan which has the exact same problem, so I suspect a wok would have to be very thick (and very heavy, and kind of defeating the point of reacting fast to the heat), in order not to warp. Also, I’ve killed one wok not knowing this (the one I have is my second one), so for what it’s worth…

(you might have a less, er, eagerly destructive glass stovetop which doesn’t heat up fast. In which case you can safely ignore most of this advice)

So, accordingly, my new cooking rules with a carbon steel wok on a glass stovetop:

  • Find the right burner: on my stove the largest burner (which is actually larger than the wok base) is the friendliest and the least likely to warp the wok.
  • Heat it up gradually (every stove is different. Mine must heat up fast, because I need to do 5 minutes on low heat, 5 minutes on low-medium heat and 5 minutes on medium heat before the wok is at the right temperature)
  • If you have one of those powerboost things on the stovetop that make the stove heat up faster, for the love of God do NOT use it, it’ll kill the pan in the long run.
  • Watch for temperature (on my stove I go to 7-7.5/9, seldom to the maximum). You’ll notice that the de Buyer FAQ for their steel pans says never go above moderate heat. Trust me, even moderate heat on an efficient stove is good enough for stir-frying.
  • After you’re done, let the wok cool on the stove. Never EVER take it straight into the sink to pour some water into it.

(in the interest of full disclosure: my wok is the Ken Hom 31-cm carbon steel. My stove is made by Bosch but I have no idea which model it is, as it came with the house. Also, all of this applies to thin carbon steel pans like the de Buyer ones).


[1] If you want a quick book review: they’re great books because they focus on one technique and have inserts on how to do things, rather than being a compilation of recipes (I like compilations of recipes, but sometimes you need to pause and learn a bit about technique). The Breath of a Wok has a slightly better and slightly more expanded wok selection and wok care section (at least I found it more useful), and Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge is better on preparing ingredients for a stir-fry (cutting them, blanching them, etc.). Sky’s Edge is also more focused on the Chinese diaspora (mostly in North America and the Caribbean) and on how they adapted their dishes.
[ETA: edited some grumbly things which didn’t bring a lot to the review]
I’ve got some light peeves, but nothing serious: I thought both books were superb and well worth a read and/or add to your cooking library if you intend to go wokking.