Early look at the Dreamblood covers

Orbit published its Spring/Summer 2012 catalog recently. I’ve got the physical copy, which contains a gorgeous two-page glossy spread advertising the book to retailers, but Orbit decided to also publish the covers on its website for all to enjoy. (Which is fortunate, as I no longer own a scanner!) So go look at The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun, and marvel at their dark glory! (They’re next to The Kingdom of Gods because that’s when I imagine the mass market paperback will come out.)

I love these covers — but note that they’re not final, and the final version could end up looking very different. Enjoy them while they last!

ETA: D’oh! Added the link.

Sample Chapter 3 of KoG

Posted a little early, because I’m going to be busy tomorrow and won’t have time to update. In which chapter 2’s cliffhanger is resolved… sort of…

Oh, and note the change to the website’s main page header! Preorder pages have been confirmed at all the usual retail suspects (except Borders, unsurprisingly). So preorder at will, preorder at will, preorder at will.

Party planning

I’m having a party at World Fantasy this year, because The Kingdom of Gods launches that very weekend. Got a suite already reserved, planning a theme — a slumber/pajama party, since that’s something Sieh would love — and ordering party favors. I’m going to have badge ribbons, among other things, so that people who come to the party can add it to their con badges. (If you’ll be at WFC, come! And bring your jammies!)

So what should go on the badge ribbons? (Or other marketing swag I might do?)

[poll id=”2″]

ETA: ARGH. The poll isn’t working. Sorry folks; this is my first time using this plugin, and obviously it doesn’t work. Maybe I did something wrong. Just give your choices in the comments; I’ll do the math myself!

Snippets 3: Kingdom of Gods outtakes

Previous Snippets posts can be found here.

The Kingdom of Gods was hard to write! It was the first time I’ve ever started a book without a clearly-established plan in mind — I knew where I wanted to go, but not how to get there — and under deadline pressure. So I wrote several starter versions of the book before I found the right voice and direction for it. Some of these got quite long; I probably wrote an entire novel’s worth of material in order to find the right way of telling this story. But that’s OK, because I did find the right way eventually, and that means none of these words, which helped me get there, were wasted. Still, there’s some nice bits in the trimmings.

This first scene is from an alternate version of The Kingdom of Gods that would’ve been narrated by Shahar. I thought at first that it would be best to stick to the series pattern of a female PoV character, if not protagonist (the story still would’ve been about Sieh) — but the problem with a female Arameri protagonist was that it would’ve been hard not to tread much of the same ground that I did in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Mortal politics with a side of godly shenanigans, that is — when what I really wanted to do was something drastically different. I wanted something that would not focus on the Arameri, though they’d still be important to the tale, of course. Something that would put the gods front and center, instead of those mortals caught up in the gods’ business. For that, I needed the protagonist to be a god — so although I really, really liked Shahar’s PoV, I couldn’t do enough with her. I reluctantly gave it up and started over with Sieh.

Here’s a taste of what could’ve been. An alternate take on the twins meeting Sieh, though it starts the same: with the two of them lost in the underpalace. Some of this obviously got recycled into the final version, as you might note in the sample chapters. This version would’ve been narrated by an aged Shahar to an unknown chronicler, years after the story’s events took place.

Continue reading ›

Publishers Weekly!

Forgot to mention this here, though I did on Twitter — famous fan James Davis Nicoll did an interview with me in Publishers Weekly earlier this week, to coincide with their review of The Kingdom of Gods. (Spoilers for the third sample chapter, which goes up next week!) Some excerpts from the interview, which is published in their print edition but also here at the Genreville blog:

JDN: One of the defining elements in the Inheritance Trilogy was obsessive and often destructive love. Another was a political structure notable for its brutality and authoritarian aspects. The two elements are linked in that one of the most obsessive romantics also was responsible for the political situation in the first; were you trying to make a more general point by featuring both so prominently and so inextricably intertwined?

NKJ: I’m guessing you’re leaving the identity of the obsessive romantic unmentioned because there are so many of them in the story! But honestly, I wasn’t trying to make a point about that. I don’t think that oppressive, authoritarian political systems have anything to do with love. Control is not a part of love.

With respect to the political structure, I wasn’t trying to make a point about that, either, or at least not consciously. I was trying to hold up a mirror to our own society, I suppose. After all, in the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms every child born grows up with a good education, good nutrition, a very slim chance of dying in war or poverty, and a very good chance of living to a venerable age. In real life we make the same rationalizations that the Arameri do, for far less benefit. So which world is truly brutal?

It’s good stuff; go check it out!

Where it comes from

I get asked a lot how I concocted the worldbuilding of the Inheritance Trilogy — the politics, that is, as much as the mythos. People ask me how on earth I came up with a society in which the law is whatever the hell the people in charge decide to enforce, for whomever they deem worthy of justice; in which the right to kill is not a moral question or a quest for righteousness, but merely a cherished privilege of power; in which the wanton destruction of entire peoples and landscapes is constantly obfuscated by revised history; in which a society that accepts and even applauds the suffering of an underclass constantly pats itself on the back for its enlightenment and magnificence; in which everyone, even children, must constantly fight for the right just to be treated as human beings, not pawns or chattel.

“How on earth did you imagine something like that?” people ask me. “Where do you get your ideas?”

Where, indeed.

Somebody tell me something good in the comments, please. It’s been a rough week.

Belated Happy Birthday to me!

Folks on Twitter and FB knew this, but it occurred to me I hadn’t mentioned the b-day here on the homeblog. D’oh, Web 2.0fail.

Anyway, I partly forgot to mention it because it wasn’t a big deal. Like anyone who works in education, I generally write off the month of September for stuff like, oh, a social life, complex thought, or a full night’s sleep. So I generally celebrate my birthday in October sometime. And given that this October will see the publication of The Kingdom of Gods… well, there’s just all kinds of stuff I can do with that. More on that later.

In the meantime, though — feeling especially birthday-celebratory? Want to give me a present? I’m not especially materialistic and pretty much have what I need to get by — but I would absolutely love to go bestseller with book 3. That’s a shiny, shiny little present that I covet greatly. So any of the below would help towards that goal:

  • Go to your local library and request The Kingdom of Gods, next chance you get. Even in this age of budget cuts, libraries respond to requests; they’re likely to order more copies if there are enough.
  • Preorder! Preorder! (Or from your local indie bookstore!)
  • If you haven’t read The Broken Kingdoms yet, remember the mass market paperback is just now out. Perhaps you’d like to read it before book 3 comes out in a month? Perhaps you’ve got a friend who’d like to read it?
  • Along those lines, The Broken Kingdoms has maybe only about 1/3 as many reviews and crits out there as The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Like The Broken Kingdoms? Hate it? Tell somebody what you think, either way!
  • Just spread the word that The Kingdom of Gods will be out next month. Nothing builds anticipation like… er… well… anticipation. So anticipate! (Yeah, OK, see how coherent you are after a 14-hour day.)
  • If you know of influential book blogs and/or podcasts out there that would like a review copy of the book, send ’em Orbit’s way. I don’t know what criteria Orbit uses for inclusion on its list of reviewers, but if a venue has a reasonable chance of putting info about the book in front of several hundred eyeballs, then I can’t imagine they’d say no.

And thanks in advance! Aww, you shouldn’t have! You’re so sweet.

Catching up with myself on gay YA

This has been a rough week, and it’s not over yet — just a lot of personal and day job stuff going on. But also a little bit of professional stuff, which I’ve caught only the narrowest edge of since, hey, rough week. Not much time for internets.

Still, I’ve been trying to follow the whole controversy that’s been going down the past few days regarding gay characters in YA. If you weren’t aware or haven’t been following it — here’s a good roundup — it’s basically the same kind of discussion we periodically have in SFF about the presence and treatment of characters of color, or women, or disabled folks, or whoever. Someone (two someones in this case) notices a problem and calls it out. The people who perpetuated the problem, rather than asking what went wrong and listening for possible solutions, instead react badly,* attacking the caller-outers. Hilarity, by which I mean a shitstorm of epic proportions, ensues.

I have not followed this as closely as I should, but today I just saw this fantastic interview with author Nicola Griffith, in which she relates her own experiences with agents, readers, etc., when they react to her queer characters. (Then she reads from the novel over which she fired an agent.) It’s funny, but listen closely. She’s describing how the roadblocks of this industry work. No one ever says, “I hate gay people and I’m going to try and prevent you from publishing anything that features them in a positive way.” Instead, it’s passive-aggressive questions like, “But why does she have a girlfriend?” And so on.

Go listen. And listen to the excerpt of the book. I’m going to have to check that one out myself, when I get some free time to read again.

*Because as many have pointed out, we live in a world full of bigotry but no bigots. No one wants to claim their own little slice of the Contributing to the Problem pie, even though everyone should get a little.

“After” Table of Contents, and Imposter Syndrome

Just got the final table of contents for the Datlow & Windling forthcoming YA dystopian anthology, After.

Introduction
The Segment by Genevieve Valentine
After the Cure by Carrie Ryan
Valedictorian by N.K. Jemisin
Visiting Nelson by Katherine Langrish
All I Know of Freedom by Carol Emshwiller
The Other Elder by Beth Revis
The Great Game at the End of the World by Matthew Kressel
Reunion by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Faint Heart by Sarah Rees Brennan
Blood Drive by Jeffrey Ford
Reality Girl by Richard Bowes
Hw th’Irth Wint Wrong by Hapless Joey @ homeskool.guv by Gregory Maguire
Rust With Wings by Steven Gould
The Easthound by Nalo Hopkinson
Gray by Jane Yolen
Before by Carolyn Dunn
Fake Plastic Trees by Caitlin R. Kiernan
You Won’t Feel a Thing by Garth Nix
The Marker by Cecil Castellucci

I’ve been writing for almost 30 years. Most of it was crap. I’ve been publishing work for almost 10 years. Some of that is crap, too. But I’m still occasionally — OK, often — painfully aware that I’m just a n00b as these things go. And occasionally — OK, often — I am boggled by just how far I’ve come. It’s not so long ago, after all, that I would never have dreamt of submitting to an anthology like this. Hell, it’s not so long ago that I was terrified to even speak to Ellen Datlow — I mean, I was scared even to say hi, it was that bad — for fear of saying Something Terrible that would instantly scuttle my career. (Somehow.) Imposter Syndrome is not logical. Usually I’m able to fight it off, but sometimes? OK, usually? I look at things like this ToC and think, HOLY FUCKING SHIT. I’M IN A TOC WITH [unintelligible blur of names I never thought I’d say in conjunction with my own name]. And I pinch myself, to see if I’m still awake.

Hmm.

::pinch::

Ow. OK, then.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT.

How much status do you quo?

Consider this a thought experiment.

Awhile back, I wrote about change theory, and the notion that the only way to unfreeze a stable system is to heat it up in some way. This isn’t exactly a new or unique ideology; it’s one held by radicals of whatever stripe, and to a degree it’s been proven by history. Every fallen empire, every long-lasting regime that’s been overturned, every stagnant system that’s undergone a sudden and drastic change, has shown that change is always possible, no matter how ingrained or set-in-stone the pre-change status quo seemed to be.

But systems operate on many levels, and some of the most pervasive, and the most powerful, are nothing you can point to or measure. So. Look around yourself, at yourself. Consider the stable systems that surround you and inhabit you. Micro, macro, doesn’t matter — but it needs to be a system you’re dissatisfied with, and that you want to change. The educational system in your country. The way video games are made. Your relationship with your significant other. The revolution of the planets around the sun.

How ya gonna change it? What do you think it would take?

Seriously. Say you’re absolutely certain that this world would be a better place if we existed within a Dyson Sphere. What would you do, can you do, within your lifetime, to help bring that about?

I ask this because I spent part of my day talking to a college student who was absolutely convinced that there was no way he could learn calculus. He just didn’t get it. Math wasn’t “in his blood”. He wasn’t smart enough. And no amount of effort on his part would change his ability to do it.

I spent an hour telling him otherwise. I roped in another student — an older one whom I knew had overcome the same deadly, corrosive self-flagellation. I gave him simple, change-a-little-a-day strategies that I’d discussed with math professors who’ve been doing this stuff for decades. (“Just do one practice problem every evening. Just one.”) I shared personal stories, because holy crap do I know how brutal those little internal voices can be. But in the end, he couldn’t hear any of us; the little voices drowned us out. Change was impossible, because he believed it to be.

What are the little voices in your head? What are they stopping you from doing? How much more could you do with your life, if you only believed?