Just a quick heads-up that I put chapter one of my upcoming Gollancz/Roc release The House of Shattered Wings online for your reading pleasure
It is almost pleasant, at first, to be Falling.
The harsh, unwavering light of the City recedes, leaving you in shadow, leaving only memories of relief, of a blessed coolness seizing your limbs. Nothing has turned yet into longing, into bitterness, into the cold that will never cease, not even in the heat of summer.
Welcome back to Shattered Wings Thursdays: your weekly picture and teaser text about The House of Shattered Wings, excerpted from the Pinterest board I’m running for the novel. We are now 55 days away from the release of the Roc edition (and just a teensy bit more away from the Gollancz edition).
Here’s today’s picture:
Aka, pretty close to my mental image of Lucifer Morningstar, pre-Fall…
One of the key differentiators in The House of Shattered Wings is the presence of Fallen angels. Fallen are immortal, ageless, and sterile: they have no memory of anything before their Fall. When they Fall, they lose their wings and manifest as human; and for a brief moment until their innate magic heals them, they are at their most vulnerable: amnesiac and wounded and struggling to understand what they are doing in the mortal world. Needless to say, in a world where Paris is a devastated city where everyone struggles to survive, this makes newly Fallen particularly sought after–and generally not to give them hugs or flowers…
The firstborn and foremost of Fallen is Lucifer Morningstar, the founder of House Silverspires on Ile de la Cité; his power, invested in wards and other protective spells, kept the House at the top of the hierarchy of power, even in a devastated city. However, Morningstar has been missing for twenty years, and Silverspires has slowly declined in importance and strength…
There are other magical beings besides the Fallen, but this is a topic for another blog post ^^
The RT review of The House of Shattered Wings is online here. I’m just going to excerpt the relevant bits: the book is a Top Pick for August, and the review contains, among many awesome things, this, “It’s a whirlwind, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s one of the best fantasy novels of 2015.”
Also, it’s subscriber-only, but I’m reliably told that Publisher’s Weekly lists The House of Shattered Wings as one of the top ten books for Fall (alongside Laura Anne Gilman’s Silver on the Road, a book that sounds fantastic, Fran Wilde’s Updraft which I have on my ereader and am looking forward to, and Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, which is a delight).
Here’s what they say: “This intense novel depicts warring factions in a magical alternate version of 20th-century Paris, where decadence mingles with fear.”
Intense. With Decadence and fear. Yeah, sounds about right
So… apparently it’s two months until the release of The House of Shattered Wings (eep!!) With that in mind, I thought we’d start doing a little related content on the blog; and what better way to whet your appetite than evocative images? I’m already running a pinterest board for the novel here: over the next two months I’ll excerpt the images I prefer and provide some commentary that will hopefully make you want to read the book
Ok, so let’s start with basics: this is Paris in the novel. Your basic nuked city setting: following the Great Houses War (aka magical factions tearing Europe apart from 1914-1918 ), Paris is now a devastated city, its monuments scorched ruins (with the occasional magical trap), its streets covered in soot; and the Seine… the Seine not only runs black with ashes, but has become the place you really don’t want to get close to: the accumulated spells have turned dark, and people who walk too close to the river banks get snatched and dragged underwater; or strangled by tendrils they can’t see… Even bending over a bridge can rapidly turn lethal.
Nice place to live in, isn’t it? :p
Also, yes. If you’re holding an island like Ile Saint-Louis,Ile de la Cité, or Ile aux Cygnes, (Paris’s three islands), you now have a virtually impregnable fortress, if you don’t mind the fact that your river banks are totally off limits lest you lose your own people. The major setting for the novel is Ile de la Cité, which is the location of House Silverspires, sixty years after the end of the war: the city is still devastated because the damage was extensive and the infighting between Houses has never really stopped, but people are doing their best to live among the ruins.
Broadly speaking, the technology and clothing are a distorted version of the Belle Epoque: there have been some changes since then, but the Belle Epoque is understandably seen as halcyon days, a Golden Age everyone more or less overtly longs for, or regrets.
Have been up to a number of things (including baking and preparing for the upcoming Nebula Awards, aka “eep, my first over-the-pond flight in 2 years! ). BTW, I don’t know how much I can publicy say about that, but there’ll be shiny book-related stuff at the Nebulas, so if brace yourself if you’re attending :p (also me in a Gothic tailcoat, looking snazzy. And jetlagged).
Not much book stuff, but I’ve been focusing on shorts: answering proofreader’s queries to the upcoming “The Citadel of Weeping Pearls” (in the Oct/Nov. issue of Asimov’s (the short version of this is that one should never put the simu-ghosts of 24 dead emperors in the same story unless one is prepared to do a lot *more* work to keep them straight and separate), and writing a couple new pieces!
Among them is this one, which is, er, mostly a retelling of this legend as a Xuya story (it’s always fascinated me. Mostly because I can’t imagine wasting away on an obsession, I guess).
In Da Trang’s nightmares, Pearl is always leaving–darting away from him, towards the inexorable maw of the Sun’s gravity, going into a tighter and tighter orbit until no trace of it remains–he’s always reaching out, sending a ship, a swarm of bots–calling upon the remoras to move, sleek and deadly and yet too agonisingly slow; to do anything, to save what they can.
Too late. Too late.
Yes, there are remoras. And crabs. And er. Angst. A lot of angst
Also, a brief reminder that today is the last day for getting a signed ARC of The House of Shattered Wings, my Gothic dark fantasy of a devastated Paris, fallen angels and political intrigues (and dead bodies, because this is a Bodard book :p): enter here!
 I think of it as prep for this summer, where I’ll be flying to Spokane on a *much* longer journey aka 3 connecting flights and 17 hours of zombie-inducing state…
Very very pleased to reveal “my precious”, aka the UK cover for House of Shattered Wings(picture me curled up around my computer, making Gollum noises). Who said “dark and creepy and beautiful”?
It’s a very different beast to the US cover–classier and more refined, but I really like the details (the window and its reflection in the water, broken up by debris; the jewel-like wings, which are very appropriate for my Fallen, whose magic is beautiful, addictive and highly prized. And the arches. This is totally the inside of Notre-Dame before I nuked it )
Just as a reminder, House of Shattered Wings comes out August 20th from Gollancz in the UK and Commonwealth/August 18th from Roc in the US. The UK cover copy is below.
A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in Heaven.
Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.
House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, 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, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation. They may be the architects of its last, irreversible fall…
Here’s some of the things people have been saying about it (for those who’ve been following, yup, there’s two new quotes by Justina Robson and Michelle Sagara. I’m a fan of both of them and feel immensely lucky there ^^):
THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is a Gothic masterpiece of supernatural intrigues, loves and betrayals in a ruined and decadent future Paris — wildly imaginative and completely convincing, this novel will haunt you long after you’ve put it down.
Darkly entertaining. de Bodard makes Fallen Angels entirely her own in this post-apocalyptic Paris near the turn of the century. The personal politics of necessity blend and clash with the politics of the powerful as people—mortal and immortal—attempt to survive.
Michelle Sagara, author of THE CHRONICLES OF ELANTRA and THE HOUSE WAR series
THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS exists in a rich, evocative Paris that is thick with magical history. Pathos and beauty intertwine in a novel filled with longing.
An intense, beautiful, brutal journey written with an eye for the stunning, vivid detail and the cruel demands of duty, loyalty, and leadership. Its portrait of a ruined Paris ruled by fallen angels is one I won’t soon forget.
Quite pleased to announce I’ve sold my novella “The Citadel of Weeping Pearls” to Asimov’s for their Oct/Nov 2015 issue, aka “Xuya meets time-travel”. More info (including rough cover copy) here.
It’s about the same length as On a Red Station, Drifting, so more of a short novel, really (34k words); with four POV characters and a fairly complex plot that includes an entire imperial court, thirty-two dead emperors emulated on complex hardware, and a science laboratory in a derelict tea-house; and a lot of familial relations and moral quandaries. Basically, if you liked On a Red Station, Drifting, you’ll probably love this one (and it has a cameo from Linh, too!). And if you didn’t like it–it’s a way more ambitious piece with a bigger scope, so maybe more to your taste *g*
This blog will now lapse back into darkness while I sort out my childcare and my copy edits simultaneously (hint: neither of them are particularly efficient…)
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).
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 . 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.
I’ve finished a new Xuya short story, “In Blue Lily’s Wake”, which takes place in the Dai Viet Empire after the civil war (the one mentioned in numerous stories like On a Red Station, Drifting and The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile).
From the planet, the mindship’s corpse had seemed to loom large enough to fill the sky–hugged tight on a low orbit, held back from plummeting towards the surface only by a miracle of engineering–but, once in the shuttle, Yen Oanh realised that it was really quite far away–the pockmarks on its surface blurred and hazy, the distorted paintings on the hull visible only as splashes of bright colour.
“How long until we arrive?” she asked the disciple.
The disciple, Hue Mi, was a young woman barely out of childhood; though the solemnity with which she held herself made her seem older. “Not long, Grandmother.” She looked at the mindship without any sense of wonder or awe; no doubt long since used to its presence.
The ship, after all, had been dead for eleven years.
(FYI, I put longer snippets of stories in the newsletter, if you want to subscribe . Yes, totally shameless :p)
On the novel front, I’m on my edits marathon: I’ll post more when I’m done with said edits, but right now I’m a bit busy wrangling a manuscript that won’t behave and hoping to be finished as soon as I can. I’m posting tidbits on twitter , under the hashtags #amrevising #novel (I really should start a #shatteredwings hashtag…) and some hivemind questions on Facebook (it’s easier on FB because you don’t have the 140 characters limit). To give you an idea, my last question: “if a cathedral gets nuked and no masses are celebrated there any more, are the ruins still consecrated ground”? (yes, it’s Notre-Dame. A significant chunk of action takes place there!)
Have fun, everyone. Normal (well, sort of normal) service resuming ASAP.