How to Feed Magic: Cooking the Books with Chelsea Polk


How to Feed Magic: Cooking the Books with Chelsea Polk

I read and *loved* Chelsea Polk‘s glorious debut novel, Witchmark, from Publishing and Tor Books (I blurbed it, in fact!). Set in an alternate post-War world, it’s got magic, family, politics, the sweetest gay romance, and bicycle chases! Still time to preorder, by the way: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Macmillan.

It’s also filled with food — apples in particular, but other foods as well.

Fran Wilde and I sat down (metaphorically) with Chelsea to talk about the book and more. She also answered questions for our partners in crime The Booksmugglers!

Chelsea will be at 4th Street Fantasy in June, and celebrating the launch of Witchmark soon after, but you can hear her here first!

It’s all for Cooking the Books this month, both here and at the extension kitchen over at The Booksmugglers! (check out Chelsea’s Booksmugglers Bonus answers!).

This month’s Cooking the Books Podcast, #037: How to Feed Magic – Cooking the Books with Chelsea Polk contains:

  • Energy-replenishment Guidelines After Magic Use
  • The food you eat with friends
  • LGBT Romance Recs (along with some adult recs)
  • Improper substitution of fountain pens for food by Aliette Pen Bodard
  • The best way to cook steak and pasta
  • A few thoughts about post-war PTSD
  • Cookies
  • And much more.

Ready? Subscribe to the Podcast here! Or on iTunes! Or click play below:
(and consider supporting us on Patreon!)

Visit additional Cooking the Books content over on the The Booksmugglers!

(thanks as always to our friend Paul Weimer, who helps out with the kitchen cleaning–this time it was thick trail mix!)

Podcast #037: How to Feed Magic – Cooking the Books with Chelsea Polk

Chelsea’s Recipe: Trail Mix Oatmeal Cookies

I love oatmeal cookies. I’ll even eat them with raisins. but I greatly prefer the version I developed a few years ago, with dried cranberries, chocolate chips, and pecan pieces. this recipe is a relatively small batch of cookies, by my gluttonous standards – I make a dozen, and freeze the other half to make more later.
To make these cookies, you need:

    • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
    • 125g (about 2/3 cup) brown sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cardamom (cinnamon is a fine substitute)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 95g (about 2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
    • 120g (about 2/3 cup) rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup pecan pieces

Order of Operations:
In a medium sized mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together, adding egg, vanilla, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Stir in flour; mix in rolled oats in gradual doses, and then add cranberries, chocolate chips, and pecan pieces. mix well.
Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes, maximum 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350. Drop 1.5″ balls of dough on a cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes; leave on the sheet to continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Store in an airtight container to preserve the chewy texture. They will probably last in the refrigerator for several days, but I don’t have that kind of willpower.

C.L. Polk writes fiction and spots butterflies in Southern Alberta. She has an unreasonable fondness for knitting, single estate coffee, and the history of fashion. Her debut series beginning with the novel Witchmark is available from Publishing.

Cooking the Books is a mostly-monthly podcast hosted by Fran Wilde and Aliette de Bodard.

Check out our archives.

Announcing: The Church of Accelerated Redemption


Announcing: The Church of Accelerated Redemption

Very quick announcement as I’m hard at work on a novel (book 3 of Dominion of the Fallen, about which I hope to have cool news soon!). Here’s a re-release of an old, hard-to-find story I wrote with Gareth L Powell when I was still a baby writer (feels so far away lol!). I still remember googling all the Paris locations because I needed clear visuals, and I may have visited them all but my visual memory isn’t that strong! Anyway, this is a story about two of my loves: Paris, and artificial intelligences and the future. You can get it at Amazon (for the moment it’s not available at other vendors. We’ll keep you updated if that changes).

Aliette de Bodard, winner of the Nebula, Locus and BSFA Awards, teams up with BSFA Award-winner Gareth L. Powell to present an uplifting short story of machines and humans, of intense emotions and cutting-age technology culled from tomorrow’s headlines.

Installing a network for the Church of Accelerated Redemption is just another crappy job in a series of crappy jobs for Lisa, an American engineer stuck doing menial work in Paris. That the Church uses artificial intelligences to power its never-ending prayer machines doesn’t interest her at all: they’re paying, and she needs enough money to survive in an increasingly crumbling world. Until a demonstration outside the Church’s headquarters, and the appearance of Stéphane, an enigmatic man Lisa finds herself powerfully drawn to. What lies beneath his headscarf, why is he so interested in the Church–and how far will she be willing to go in order to earn his trust?

“Full of character and wit” – Zone SF
“Wonderful and full of promise.” – SF Revu

Where to Buy

Amazon US

Buy Now

Children of Thorns, Children of Water up for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette


Children of Thorns, Children of Water up for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette

So last week I couldn’t sleep—I was exhausted after 2.5 days of solo childcare (I assure you the 0.5 matters immensely), but apparently my body decided to be a jerk and I woke up at 4am. While waiting for tea to brew I idly checked my email, and found a thing marked “Confidential” in my mailbox.
I opened it and stared at it. The kettle switched itself off after boiling the water but I kept staring at the screen because it was 4am and surely it was a trick of super tired brain.

Spoilers: it was not.

Writers often get to sit on awesome things for a long long time, and this waiting was actually relatively short! It gives me great joy to say that “Children of Thorns, Children of Water”, the novelette I wrote as a preorder reward for The House of Binding Thorns, is up for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette (in a, er, very competitive category–will you look at that ballot  and everyone who’s on it °_°)

To everyone who read and considered my story of Bake Off in Gothic devastated Paris: thank you so much! This is by no means the detailed speech (still have to write that hahaha) but also thanks to everyone who weighed in on Facebook when I was brainstorming what kind of competition a magical faction would run for recruiting people, to Kate Elliott, Stephanie Burgis and Fran Wilde for believing in it (and especially to Steph and Fran for support with cover art and publicizing it); to Megan Crewe for super lovely super fast cover art; to Michelle Sagara for formatting the ebooks for me; to Gillian Redfearn, Genn McMenemy, Stevie Finegan and everyone at Gollancz for running the original giveaway; to Uncanny Magazine for its second life as a reprint, and to everyone who read and signal boosted it.

I’m over the moon.

And congrats and best of luck to my fellow nominees, and a special mention to Likhain whose art is awesome and to Fran Wilde whose short story is heartbreaking.

(also spoilers: it was super hard to go back to sleep in a timely fashion after the email hahaha!)

PPS: click here to read the story! And click here if you want to read more about the book in the same universe.

The Tea Master and the Detective, ebook edition (outside N America)


The Tea Master and the Detective, ebook edition (outside N America)

Thrilled to reveal the cover of the ebook edition of the Tea Master and the Detective outside North America. Isn’t it gorgeous? Also yesss I got an áo dài on a cover!!! (the áo dài is a traditional Vietnamese female dress). Art and design is by Dirk Berger , with many many thanks to John Berlyne for his help, as well as Likhain, Kate Elliott, Vida Cruz, Sebb, Stephanie Burgis and Patrick Samphire.

The book will be out April 2nd from JABberwocky, but you can preorder it right now on Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks!

If you’re in North America, Subterranean is now shipping both the book and the ebook: it will become available at major retailers March 31st, 2018.

Here’s the summary:

Once, the mindship known as The Shadow’s Child was a military transport. Once, she leapt effortlessly between stars and planets, carrying troops and crew for a war that tore the Empire apart. Until an ambush killed her crew and left her wounded and broken.

Now the war is over, and The Shadow’s Child, surviving against all odds, has run away. Discharged and struggling to make a living, she has no plans to go back into space. Until the abrasive and arrogant scholar Long Chau comes to see her. Long Chau wants to retrieve a corpse for her scientific studies: a simple enough, well-paid assignment.

But when the corpse they find turns out to have been murdered, the simple assignment becomes a vast and tangled investigation, inexorably leading back to the past–and, once again, to that unbearable void where The Shadow’s Child almost lost both sanity and life…

Where to Buy

UK hardback

Amazon UK

Ebook (outside North America)

Amazon UK Kobo (EPUB) iBooks

Buy Now

And here are a few reviews if you’re still undecided:

What people are saying:

The Tea Master and the Detective is the Sherlock Holmes retelling I always wanted and now I have it. And I want so much more of it.

Ana Grilo, Kirkus

A terrific piece of writing, taking the sentient community of ships from Ian Bank’s Culture series, the glittering belt of space habitats from Alastair Reynolds’ Prefect novels, and adding in a compelling pair as the title characters.

Ernest Lilley, SFRevu

“This slim volume packs a visceral punch. Absorbing prose takes the reader in the dark, frigid space between the stars, where ships can fail, physically and emotionally, as well as people. (…) an imaginative read.

Library Journal (starred review)

De Bodard constructs a convincingly gritty setting and a pair of unique characters with provocative histories and compelling motivations. The story works as well as both science fiction and murder mystery, exploring a future where pride, guilt, and mercy are not solely the province of humans.

Publishers’ Weekly

Ingenious… As a classical blend of far-future SF and traditional murder mystery, The Tea Master and the Detective should satisfy readers unfamiliar with the Xuya universe, but at the same time it’s an intriguing introduction to that universe, much of which seems to lie just outside the borders of this entertaining tale.

Gary K Wolfe, Locus

This book shows sharp, intelligent dialogue with wildly peculiar worlds and spaces. The elegant weaving of narrative is what we’ve come to expect from de Bodard’s unique style. This is the opposite of a closed-room mystery, an open-space mystery which pushes the boundaries of A.I-as-person and genius-as-misanthropic-detective. Deeply affecting and always entertaining, The Tea Master and the Detective should be your next read.

Tade Thompson

Where to Buy

UK hardback

Amazon UK

Ebook (outside North America)

Amazon UK Kobo (EPUB) iBooks

Buy Now

Nine Worlds 2018

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Nine Worlds 2018

Will be attending Nine Worlds, August 10-12 in London!

My schedule:

Friday 11:45am-12:45am: The Nine World Fountain Pen Meetup, Beaujolais

Come hang out with your fellow geeks around fountain pens and inks. Chat inks, colours and different fountain pen & stationery makers. Come try out pens and paper around nibbles.
Wondering what the fuss is about? Have you never used a fountain pen, or was the last time you did so at school or university? We swear there’s a lot more to pens than school blue! Come see us, we will have pens for beginners and inks of all colours to try.

Sunday 10:00am-11:00am: Fiction about Fiction, Alsace
Tanya Brown, Claire Rousseau, Aliette de Bodard, Jeannette Ng, Roz Kaveney

Many writers take inspiration for stories from other authors: from King Arthur to Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare, Lovecraft … our panel discusses whys and hows.
This panel is about stories that answer, retell, recast or continue previously-published stories by another author. We’ll discuss what provokes a writer to reimagine someone else’s world and characters; whether particular stories, or types of stories, are more fertile ground for transformations; how the ‘original’ and the transformative work relate to one another; and some of the problems a writer might encounter in the process of responding to an established classic.

Sunday 13:30-14:30, Bouzy
Emma Potthast, Aliette de Bodard, Jo Lindsey Walton, Russell A Smith, Jeannette Ng

A lot of SF depicts a fairly narrow range of migrations: settler colonialism eluding the existence of indigenous people, short,-term migration of relatively privileged people (such as envoys who eventually move back to their countries/planets of origin), or (more rarely) forced migration (indenture, slavery, convicts). It almost never seems to cover the majority immigration situation of an ordinary person permanently migrating to a dominant culture, and what that would mean in terms of everyday life (challenges, etc.) for migrants and their immediate descendants.

What is the origin of this? How can we challenge it? What would migration become in societies that move between the stars? And are there books and media that already tackle migration in a fairer light?

The House of Binding Thorns now out in UK paperback


The House of Binding Thorns now out in UK paperback

Just a quick note to let you know that the UK paperback of The House of Binding Thorns is now out! As a result, the ebook has also dropped in price.

Dragons, revolutions, betrayals in a Gothic devastated Paris where the Seine runs black with rubble, and where Houses fight a cold war of attrition amidst the ruins…

The official summary:

The multi-award winning author of The House of Shattered Wings continues her Dominion of the Fallen saga as Paris endures the aftermath of a devastating arcane war…

As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the Great Houses of Paris, ruled by fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.

House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Philippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal—to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic may be more than he can bear.

In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater Dragon Kingdom—and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear…

As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength—or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.

It’s on the following best-of-2017 lists:

Buy now
Read Chapter One Online!

(this is book 2 in a series, but it’s standalone and can be read without book 1. Though you’ll see more familiar things and Easter Eggs if you read book 1 first, naturally)