Tag: novel

UK cover reveal for House of Shattered Wings

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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.

Tim Powers, author of THE ANUBIS GATES

 

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.

 Mary Robinette Kowal, Multiple-Hugo award winning author of THE GLAMOURIST HISTORIES

 

Original and intriguing, this novel is a strange delight and a foretaste of great things to come.

Justina Robson, author of THE GLORIOUS ANGELS

 

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.

 Kate Elliott, author of the SPIRITWALKER trilogy

Why don’t you pre order a copy? 🙂

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Cover reveal: House of Shattered Wings (US edition)

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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).

Imagination, the cliché shelf, and the inner librarian

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Imagination, the cliché shelf, and the inner librarian

“We’re our father’s prejudices and our swordmaster’s dead men; our mother’s palate and our nurse’s habit of speech. We’re the books unwritten by our tutor, and our groom’s convictions and the courage of our first horse.”

This is a Dorothy Dunnett quote (from The Game of Kings, which I heartily recommend): it’s nominally about how the people who raise you influence what you later believe, but I’ve always thought it applies to other, more writerly things, too. See, the thing is… imagination doesn’t exist in a vaccuum.

I kind of feel like I’m barging through open doors with a battering ram–and I know everyone’s experiences are different–but I always think of my subconscious for stories as this huge, badly curated library which gathers all the books I’ve ever read, all the movies I’ve ever seen, all the words I’ve ever heard… And some books, some movies, some words are closer to the entrance, because they’re more recent, because I loved them more, or for whatever other reason. I go into this huge library with  a question (a half-formed idea for a novel or a short story, a plot point that I can’t solve, a character that needs a better personality): to continue the analogy, it’s like I’m looking for something in a book, but I’m really vague on what book, just that I’m adamant the book is in the library somewhere, and I’m not going out of said library until I have something to hand (aka “librarian’s nightmare” :p). And, if I brainstorm long enough or let everything rest long enough, presto! My subsconcious will provide me with an answer: my inner librarian will come back smiling and hand me a book, which I’ll use as an answer to my problems (until the next time, obviously!).

But the trouble with huge libraries and a crap filing system is that it’s very, very easy for the inner librarian to just hit the shelves closest to the entrance when you need a book–and the shelf that’s right by the entrance, the “recently returned books” shelf? It’s generally the one that’s full of clichĂ©s. It’s the tropes that I’ve seen over and over in media, the easy answers to complex questions; the archetypes of behaviour that feel so weighty because they’ve been reinforced by years of societal pressure (the encyclopedias in several volumes that insist that women really like pink and shopping and don’t have a brain, that real men don’t cry, etc.). Which means that I’m very, very wary of the clichĂ© shelf: I have a habit of second-guessing the first things I come up with, because in 99.9% of cases they’re just lazy thinking. You have to go deeper into the library.

(by which I don’t mean you shouldn’t reach for tropes. Sometimes a trope really is what the story needs; sometimes you don’t want complex and you don’t want to question everything, and that’s quite OK! Not every story needs to smash all the things. But I feel like this should be a deliberate choice, and not simply a default because said trope happened to be the thing nearest to hand)

One of the reasons why I do so much research *before* I start writing a book? It’s because of this. Research adds books to the library (and adds them, very often, to shelves close to the entrance). Research means that I have things close to hand that are useful and relevant: it means that, when I need a random plot point in, say, a Confucian society, I won’t have my characters throw a large sports event (Confucians tend to think sports is best avoided); or, when I have a 19th-Century dystopic French society with a highly hierarchical class system (well, hello, House of Shattered Wings!), I won’t have a servant barge into the office of the head of the House and talk to them like an equal. And I need the foundations to be there before I start plotting; or my plot won’t make sense within the universe that I’m creating–I need my shelves to be filled with the right books to get the right answers when I’m brainstorming.

One of the funny things with the imagination-as-library thing, though, is that some things still end up being close to hand no matter what you do–it’s like my subconscious keeps making them bubble up (I have a thing for family as restriction vs family as loving environment, and also for evil trees in fantasy stories, apparently. Go figure. Clearly there’s a childhood thing there that I’m not aware of).

Again, it’s not necessarily a problem: some unity of themes is expected as an author, but I’m aware some of those continuously bubbling-up things could be problematic; and it’s useful from time to time to take a long hard look at them. It’s very easy to feel like I’m reaching deep within the library, but still getting the clichĂ© shelf or its little friend, the “inverted clichĂ©” one: the one where all women behave like men (which looks OK on the surface, but really means that you still attribute a higher value to maleness); where POCs rule the world and set up a racial segregation system that looks exactly like the ones in our world, except in reverse (again, looks OK on the surface; can be done very well, but can also end up playing into dominant folks’ fears that all POCs are secretly out to get there and/or promote the idea that “oh, it’s not so bad because everyone would be as bad as us, on the exact same terms, if given power”); where violence is committed by women/POCs/marginalised folks but still remains the driver of the plot (again, some stories are all about violence and that’s OK! It’s just that there is more than one way to skin a cat subvert a clichĂ©).

So, anyway, that’s me and my subsconcious aka the inner librarian; and why it’s important to never ever trust the first, easy answer to a question :p What about you? Do you have an inner librarian? How do you feel your subconscious works? How do you use research in your books?


[1]We can also argue about what “strong” means and the different kinds of “strong”, but this isn’t the article for it!

Brief update

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Never got around to it, but…

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).

Snippet below:

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.

“The House of Shattered Wings” and a sequel to be published by Roc

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“The House of Shattered Wings” and a sequel to be published by Roc

So… remember my novel that is going to be published by Gollancz on August 20th, 2015? The one set in a post-apocalyptic Paris ruled by Fallen angels–featuring a Vietnamese immortal with a grudge, a washed-out alchemist and a naive and idealistic Fallen?

People have been asking me about a US release; and I’m quite pleased to announce that it’s happening! (*squee*). The fabulous Jessica Wade at Roc has picked up The House of Shattered Wings (along with its unnamed sequel): it will be published in hardcover in August 2015 (more squee. My first two hardcover editions. There’s something special about hardcovers and I can’t wait to hold these in my hands).

Among other squee-worthy things, I get to share a publisher with the fabulous Zen Cho (whose own book I’m very much looking forward to); and other people whose books I read as a child/teen (I’ll actually always associate Roc with Guy Gavriel Kay, which makes me feel… very outclassed).

You can find the press release by Zeno here.

A reminder of the cover copy:

A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in Heaven.

Paris has survived the Great Magicians 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…

So. Belle Epoque aesthetic (swallowtail coats! Top hats!). Political intrigues. Magical Houses in Parisian landmarks, from Notre-Dame to Saint-Lazare Station to La Samaritaine. Dead bodies. What are you waiting for?

Oh, right. The pre-order link (pre-orders are good for authors. And for editors :)). The book is available for pre-order here on amazon.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go jump up and down for joy…

(picture credits: Kirkstall Abbey by Rick Harrison. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License).

Best of 2014 and 2015 lists

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Best of 2014 and 2015 lists

Shameless self-promo post:
-Very happy to see that three stories of mine made the Tangent Online Recommended Reading list (along with many, many other friends’ stories): “The Breath of War” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, “A Slow Unfurling of Truth” in Carbide-Tipped Pens, and “The Frost on Jade Buds” in Solaris Rising 3. Particularly proud about “The Breath of War”, which got two stars from the reviewer.

-Meanwhile, The House of Shattered Wings, my forthcoming novel from Gollancz about Fallen angels, political struggles and a Vietnamese immortal with a grudge, has made several “Most Anticipated of 2015” lists: most recently at Cheryl Morgan‘s blog, Ana Grilo’s list at Kirkus, Lady Business, Fantasy Cafe, D. Franklin at Intellectus Speculativus, and Mihai Adascalitei’s Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews. Aka, wow, very humbled. Thank you everyone!

Can haz first draft!

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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).

Snippet:

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…

House of Shattered Wings and one sequel sell to Gollancz

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House of Shattered Wings and one sequel sell to Gollancz

So…

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.

Official synopsis:

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.

Here is more official info at the Bookseller, here at Zeno Towers; and here at Gollancz.

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).

My favourite parts of novel writing

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So, actually, it turns out that my favourite part of novel writing (aside from the heady feeling when you’re a few chapters in) is revisions. Aka, the moment when I have finally understood why the novel is not working, have made a checklist of everything I need to fix, and am settling down in front of the computer with a cup of tea, and a determination to tick off those checkboxes one by one. Which is, I guess, another way of saying that I vastly prefer knowing where I’m going ^^

I am done with revisions, and have sent novel off to agent (also, the H rocks as a first reader, but we all knew that. We had a bit of a narrow brush when the snakelet attempted to chew the printed manuscript, but we’re good now). Also, I learnt entirely too many things about Belle Epoque etiquette from Baronne de Staffe (my favourite bit: men give way to women because women are vastly superior), and about servant hierarchy in big French households (I was only familiar with that time period through novels written during the era, so I hadn’t quite realised the ubiquitousness of the servant class. It was quite impressive to read up on who did what, and also quite fun to imagine how this would have changed a few decades after that, if WWI hadn’t quite happened the same way).

Anyway. In honour of the sending off of the manuscript, here’s a snippet of later on in the book:

He remembered a cold, cold Hall much like this one; a lieutenant in the red-and-gold of House Draken, telling bewildered boys about the glory of dying for one’s House, for one’s country; and him, standing in the riot of colours streaming from a tall stained-glass window, and struggling to remember the power that had sustained him in Indochina. 

Meanwhile, I’ll go off and grab my missing sleep…

First draft!

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First draft!

105 000 words. Sekrit project aka the sort-of-urban fantasy set in Paris. Of course, it’s a first draft and more full of holes than a colander, and my next task will be to fix those before lobbing the draft to my kind crit group so they can deservedly savage constructively criticise it.

But for now I will bask in the knowledge of a job well done.

Here, have a snippet:

It was Ninon who first saw her. Philippe, though, felt her presence first, but hadn’t said anything. It wasn’t a wish to protect the young Fallen so much as to protect himself–his status in the Red Mamba gang was precarious as it was, and he had no desire to remind them of how much of a commodity he could become, given enough cruelty on their part. And Heaven knew, of course, that those days it didn’t take much for cruelty or despair to get the better of them all, when life hung on a razor’s edge, even for a former Immortal.
They’d been scavenging in the Grands Magasins–desperate and hungry, as Ninon had put it, because no one was foolish enough to go down there among the ruins of the Magicians’ War, with spells that no one had had time to clean up primed and ready to explode in your face, with the ghosts and the hauntings and the odour of death that still hung like fog over the wrecks of counters and the faded posters advertising garments and perfumes from another, more innocent age.

(picture via Patron of the Arts)