Category: fiction

“A Burning Sword for Her Cradle” to Ellen Datlow’s Echoes

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Thrilled to announce I’ve sold “A Burning Sword for her Cradle” to Ellen Datlow for Echoes: the Saga Book of Ghost Stories, out Fall 2018.

It’s, er. A story about war, immigration, hauntings passed down the blood, and the cost of the future. Basically “Aliette does horror”, which means food, strong-willed aunties and families. Also creepy ghosts because obviously!

Snippet:

Now

Bao Ngoc has set her appointment with the witch at dawn–because it would make her leave the house in the dark, at a time when neither her sister nor her brother-in-law would be awake.

Things, however, never work the way they’re supposed to.

She’s made her morning worship at her ancestral altar, leaving oranges and apples for her parents’ spirits, mouthing the familiar litany beseeching them for good fortune, gritting her teeth against the agony in her chest. Now she’s rummaging in the kitchen for coconut water, opening the cupboard in the darkness. In the background, the familiar buzz of the fridge, a warbling Bao Ngoc keeps–with effort, with pain–from turning into the angry remonstrances of ghosts.

New Xuya novella forthcoming from Subterranean: The Tea Master and the Detective

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New Xuya novella forthcoming from Subterranean: The Tea Master and the Detective

I’ve been sitting on this forever but am super happy to report that my novella The Tea Master and the Detective will be coming out from Subterranean Press in March 2018, with lovely art by Maurizio Manzieri.

This is my “Xuya meets Sherlock Holmes” book: in a galactic empire infused by Vietnamese culture, a detective and a mindship must team up to solve a mystery. Very loosely inspired by A Study in Scarlet, if Holmes were an eccentric scholar, and Watson a grumpy decommissioned war mindship. I had lots of fun writing this: it’s full of digs and references to classic Sherlock Holmes, plus all the detective stories ever. It turns out that grumpy mindship is best mindship when it comes to writing! Also, gender swapping everyone made for rather fun situations (the ending had me tearing out my hair but I’m so happy it all worked out).

Many thanks to Fran Wilde, Genevieve Cogman, Tade Thompson, Liz Bourke, Lynn O’Connacht, Ava Jarvis, Stephanie Burgis, Seth Gorden, Samantha Henderson, Fran Wilde, Likhain, and Kate Elliott. As well as to John Berlyne, Yanni Kuznia, Geralyn Lance, and everyone involved with the book (I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone!).

And special thanks to Vida Cruz, Victor Fernando R Ocampo and Tade Thompson for helping me with cover copy!

Here’s the summary:

A new novella set in the award-winning, critically-acclaimed Xuya universe…

Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.

A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow’s Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow’s Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow’s Child with her.

As they dig deep into the victim’s past, The Shadow’s Child realises that the investigation points to Long Chau’s own murky past–and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars…

Available for pre-order now as a lovely signed hardbound edition, coming out March 2018: it’s a limited print run so I don’t know how long it’ll last (my last limited edition chapbook sold out rather fast!). You can hop on to the Subterranean website to check it out and get your very own copy!

Where to Buy


Preorder Now

Cover reveal for “A Thousand Beginnings and Endings”

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Cover reveal for “A Thousand Beginnings and Endings”

Happy to reveal the cover for Elsie Chapman and Ellen Oh’s A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, in which my story “The Counting of Vermillion Beads” will appear. It’s a retelling of Tấm Cám, except set in a science fantasy palace where girls compete to become high-ranking officials of the Everlasting Emperor–and it’s about sisterhood and families and the threads that never really can be snapped.

And best of all, it’s only one of a stellar lineup that includes Shveta Thakar, EC Myers, Cindy Pon. Eeeeeeeeeeeee!

The wonderful cover is by Feifei Ruan.

The book is not out till June 2018, but you can preorder it now!

Where to Buy

Amazon US
Preorder Now

New story: Children of Thorns, Children of Water at Uncanny Magazine

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New story: Children of Thorns, Children of Water at Uncanny Magazine

My story “Children of Thorns, Children of Water” has now been published at Uncanny Magazine. You can read it here.

This is set in the Dominion of the Fallen, my Gothic ruined Paris with Fallen angels, dragons, alchemists and magicians (aka my love letter to 19th Century Gothic fiction and manga and anime like Fullmetal Alchemist and Black Butler, which includes novels The House of Shattered Wings and The House of Binding Thorns ). It’s a standalone: an excellent introduction to the universe, and a good return to it if you’re already familiar with it!

What you get: dragons, creepy magic, cooking (!).

In a Paris that never was, a city of magicians, alchemists and Fallen angels struggling to recover from a devastating magical war…

Once each year, the House of Hawthorn tests the Houseless: for those chosen, success means the difference between a safe life and the devastation of the streets. However, for Thuan and his friend Kim Cuc, — dragons in human shapes and envoys from the dying underwater kingdom of the Seine — the stakes are entirely different. Charged with infiltrating a House that keeps encroaching on the Seine, if they are caught, they face a painful death.

Worse, mysterious children of thorns stalk the candidates through Hawthorn’s corridors. Will Thuan and Kim Cuc survive and succeed?

Read Online!

If you’ve already read and enjoyed it, why not try The House of Binding Thorns in which you get to meet again Thuan (aka, the queer, bookish dragon prince with amazing talent for getting himself into trouble), as well as a host of other characters?

(or you can also pick up the full issue of Uncanny Magazine, which has fiction by Seanan McGuire, Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw and other fine folk)

The Dominion of the Fallen Reading Order (Novels Only)

Book 1. The House of Shattered Wings | Book 2. The House of Binding Thorns

Excerpt

With thanks to Stephanie Burgis, Kate Elliott and Fran Wilde

It was a large, magnificent room with intricate patterns of ivy branches on the tiles, and a large mirror above a marble fireplace, the mantlepiece crammed with curios from delicate silver bowls to Chinese blue-and-white porcelain figures: a clear statement of casual power, to leave so many riches where everyone could grab them.

Or rather, it would have been, if the porcelain hadn’t been cut-rate–the same bad quality the Chinese had foisted on the Indochinese court in Annam–the mirror tarnished, with mould growing in one corner, spread down far enough that it blurred features, and the tiling cracked and chipped in numerous places–repaired, but not well enough that Thuan couldn’t feel the imperfections under his feet, each one of them a little spike in the khi currents of magic around the room.

Not that Thuan was likely to be much impressed by the mansions of Fallen angels, no matter how much of Paris they might claim to rule. He snorted disdainfully, an expression cut short when Kim Cuc elbowed him in the ribs. “Behave,” she said.

“You’re not my mother.” She was his ex-lover, as a matter of fact; and older than him, and never let him forget that.

“Next best thing,” Kim Cuc said, cheerfully. “I can always elbow further down, if you insist.”

Thuan bit down the angry retort. The third person in the room–a dusky-skinned, young girl of Maghrebi descent, who’d introduced herself as Leila–was looking at them with fear in her eyes. “We’re serious,” he said, composing his face again. “We’re not going to ruin your chances to enter House Hawthorn, promise.”

They were a team: that was what they’d been told, as the House dependents separated the crowd before the House in small groups; that their performance would be viewed as a whole, and their chance to enter the House weighed accordingly. Though no rules had been given, and nothing more said, either, as dependents led them to this room and locked them in. At least he was still with Kim Cuc, or he’d have been hopelessly lost.

For people like Leila–for the Houseless, the desperate–it was their one chance to escape the streets, to receive food and shelter and the other tangible benefits of a House’s protection.

For Thuan and Kim Cuc, though… the problem was rather different. Their fate, too, would be rather different, if anyone found out who they really were. No House in Paris liked spies, and Hawthorn was not known for its leniency.

Harbinger of the Storm Kobo deal

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Harbinger of the Storm, my Mexica imperial succession novel with star-demons and priestly intrigues, is available on Kobo for $1.99 for today only!

The year is Two House, and the Emperor of the Mexica has just died. The protections he afforded the Empire are crumbling, and the way lies wide open to the flesh-eating star-demons–and to the return of their creator, a malevolent goddess only held in check by the War God’s power.
The council should convene to choose a new Emperor, but they are too busy plotting against each other. And then someone starts summoning star-demons within the palace, to kill councilmen…
Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, must find the culprit before everything is torn apart.

Want a copy? Go here (offer should also be valid at other Kobo websites!).

Read for Pixels fundraiser and Google Hangout

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I’m delighted to be taking part in this year’s Read for Pixels’ fundraiser, which aims to fight violence against women. The fundraiser just went up, and I’m offering a Parisian Bundle, which will let you curl up with The House of Shattered Wings, good food, and a print of gorgeous artwork by Likhain, featuring Françoise and Berith, two characters from The House of Binding Thorns (a Fallen and her mortal lover). You can also get a Skype call with me if you’re so inclined. And there are plenty of goodies from the likes of Laini Taylor, Mary Robinette Kowal, Michelle Sagara…

This weekend only, author Karen Rose is matching all donations up to $4000, so now’s the time for donating if you want to!

To support the fundraiser, I’ll be taking part in Read for Pixels’ Google Hangout on Sunday March 19th, 4pm Paris Time. I’ll be reading from my forthcoming The House of Binding Thorns: ruined and decadent Paris, magical intrigues, dragons in human shape, and kissing and stabbing (not necessarily in that order :p), and taking questions about my writing.

More info here, and access details to the livestream channel here.

House of Binding Thorns excerpt!

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Tor.com has published an excerpt of The House of Binding Thorns (chapter one, to be more specific). In which we return to the House of Hawthorn, its Fallen head Asmodeus, and to alchemist and angel essence addict Madeleine–aka “character in deep trouble” ^-^

Read Chapter One Online!

More book info here (coming your way April 2017 from Roc in the US and Gollancz in the UK/RoW!)

Citadel of Weeping Pearls cover and release details

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Hadn’t gotten around to this yet, but here’s the cover for The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, my Xuya novella that was a finalist for the Locus Awards in 2015.

It will be available March 28th 2017 from all major retailers (and in print through Createspace) thanks to the JABberwocky Books Programme.

Art and cover design by Maurizio Manzieri.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls was a great wonder; a perfect meld between cutting edge technology and esoteric sciences—its inhabitants capable of teleporting themselves anywhere, its weapons small and undetectable and deadly.

Thirty years ago, threatened by an invading fleet from the Dai Viet Empire, the Citadel disappeared and was never seen again.

But now the Dai Viet Empire itself is under siege, on the verge of a war against an enemy that turns their own mindships against them; and the Empress, who once gave the order to raze the Citadel, is in desperate needs of its weapons. Meanwhile, on a small isolated space station, an engineer obsessed with the past works on a machine that will send her thirty years back, to the height of the Citadel’s power.

But the Citadel’s disappearance still extends chains of grief and regrets all the way into the fraught atmosphere of the Imperial Court; and this casual summoning of the past might have world-shattering consequences…

A new book set in the award-winning, critically acclaimed Xuya universe.

More info about the book, including excerpt!

Revealing: Children of Thorns, Children of Water, an exclusive preorder reward for House of Binding Thorns

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I’ve spoken of it before, but preorders are super important–they help establish enthusiasm for the book, and also boost sales in that all-important first week. As an author they also feel special to me, because readers are making a great gesture of faith on a book that hasn’t been delivered yet. Last time, for The House of Shattered Wings, I offered an exclusive small ebook of short stories (which you can now read for free here). This time around, I considered several options, but in the end the exclusive short story was, once again, the one that polled best. So I set out to writing a really short prequel story set just before the beginning of The House of Binding Thorns, which would introduce some of the new characters, showcase some old favourites, and get readers ready for enjoying the book.

Except, erm.

I ended up writing a novelette. All 12,000 words of it. So much for short, but on the plus side you should get an immersive, detailed read :p

So… preorder The House of Binding Thorns, and you get access to “Children of Thorns, Children of Water”, an exclusive prequel short long story set just before the events of the book. Here’s the cover:

I’m over at the Gollancz blog explaining a bit about how Megan Crewe designed it.

If you don’t feel like hopping there, here’s more info about the story:

In a Paris that never was, a city of magicians, alchemists and Fallen angels struggling to recover from a devastating magical war…

Once each year, the House of Hawthorn tests the Houseless: for those chosen, success means the difference between a safe life and the devastation of the streets. However, for Thuan and his friend Kim Cuc, — dragons in human shapes and envoys from the dying underwater kingdom of the Seine — the stakes are entirely different. Charged with infiltrating a House that keeps encroaching on the Seine, if they are caught, they face a painful death.

Worse, mysterious children of thorns stalk the candidates through Hawthorn’s corridors. Will Thuan and Kim Cuc survive and succeed?

You can get the ebook of Children of Thorns, Children of Water if you preorder The House of Binding Thorns (ebook, audiobook or physical book): Gollancz has kindly agreed to fulfilling the US preorders in addition to the UK ones, so whichever edition you preordered (aka “the one with the sword” or “the blue one with the thorns”), just go here and fill in the form to get access.

And here’s where to preorder!

Buy now

If you’re a newsletter subscriber, my next newsletter is going out tonight, and will feature an excerpt from Children of Thorns, Children of Water. If you’re not a subscriber, there’s still time!

And here’s some review quotes, just in case you’re not convinced:

Starred Publishers Weekly Review for HOUSE OF BINDING THORNS

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First reviews of The House of Binding Thorns are coming in… And Publishers’ Weekly gave it a starred review!

“Meddling gleefully in the affairs of devils and dragons, this affective sequel to 2015’s The House of Shattered Wings touches the heart as often as it cuts throats (…) Having fully crafted her world, de Bodard is now completely in control: she can move swiftly from gentle poetic touches to bloody Grand Guignol gestures, and she sure-handedly holds the reader by exposing the vulnerabilities and needs that drive even the seemingly all-powerful figures of rebel angels and ancient serpents to surrender to a higher collective power.”

Full review here.

More book info here! Coming quite soon now (sayth the author, hiding under the bed).