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).
She’d never thought they’d lose him–that in one bloody, confused night as the neighbouring House of Hawthorn tore itself apart, he would take his sword and his wings, and walk out of the House he had founded; and never come back, leaving almost nothing behind–a scattering of things he’d infused with his power, a handful of ill-prepared students at the helm of a faltering House; and Selene, his heir by virtue of having been the closest to him.
From last week’s wordage, for all my write-a-thon supporters:
“Come on,” Isabelle said, pushing a small stone door in an unremarkable corridor; and Philippe, with a sigh, followed her.
To stop, awestruck, at what lay inside.
It had been a church, once. You could still see the columns and the beginning of the vaulted ceiling, a first row of arches gracefully bending towards each other; and the remnants of wooden benches, burnt where they had stood. The stained-glass windows were broken, or absent; but the gaze was still drawn, unerringly, down the nave and to the altar at the other end–or where the altar would have been, if it hadn’t been turned to rubble long ago, and the only things remaining were the wrecks of three statues–the centre one was least damaged, and had probably been a Virgin Mary carrying the corpse of Jesus.
No, not a church. A cathedral, like the pink-hued edifice the French had built in Saigon–he could still feel the fervour of its builders, of its worshippers, swirling in the air: a bare shadow of what it had once been, but so potent, so strong, so huge.
Snippet: He was tall and thin, with horned-rimmed, rectangular glasses–his particular affectation, since all Fallen had perfect eyesight–his hair dark, save for a touch of grey at the temple; his hands with the thin, long fingers of a pianist, even though the instruments he played on did not make music–unless one counted cries of pain and ecstasy as music (Madeleine knew he did).
Things researched: not much. Wrote 1.3k words in snatches between appointments.
Plot direction of the day: wondering how best to order three scenes.
Snippet: The Great Market had used to be held in the same place week after week–Les Halles, the belly of the city, the exuberant display of abundance of an empire that had believed itself immortal–against all the evidence of history. But Les Halles had been destroyed in the War; and the fragile magical balance that had followed led to an arrangement where the Great Market rotated between the major Houses.
Things researched: geography of Ile de La Cite. Zola’s life, of all things.
Plot direction of the day: drastic alterations to outline for chapter. Wondering how to cram in extra body count.
As you might remember, I’m taking part in the Clarion West Write-a-thon, and people actually went and sponsored me (!). So, accordingly, here’s a snippet from the novel-in-progress as a thanks to them (the first scene, in fact). Usual disclaimers apply–this is my alpha draft (aka I’ve revised it minimally so it looks good on the page but I’ve not taken a hatchet to it), it’s very much a work in progress and I’m not sure how much I’ll keep, etc.
Enjoy! (and if you want to sponsor me, it’s over there)
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.
The wind, at first, is pleasant too–softly whistling past you, so that you almost don’t notice when its cold fingers tear away at your wings–feathers drift off, blinking like forgotten jewels, catching fire and burning like a thousand falling stars in the atmosphere. Some part of you knows you should be experiencing pain–that the flow of crimson blood, the lancing pain in your back, the burning sensation that seems to have got hold of your whole body–they’re all yours, they’re all irreversible and deadly. But you feel nothing–no exhilaration, no relief; not the burning agony of your wounds. Nothing; but that sense of unnamed relief–that knowledge you won’t have to face the judges in the City again.
Nothing, until the ground comes up to meet you, and you land in a jumble of pain and shattered bones–and the scream you didn’t think you had in you scrapes your throat raw as you let it out–like the first, shocked breath of a baby newborn into a universe of suffering.
Meanwhile, I’ll be off researching the history of Ile de la Cité, and renewing my subscription to the Paris Library network…