N.K. Jemisin

Out now!

The Killing Moon

The Kingdom of Gods

In the desert city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Along its ancient stone streets, there is no crime or violence. Priests of the dream-goddess, known as Gatherers, maintain order: harvesting the dreams of the citizens, healing the injured, and guiding the dreamers into the afterlife. . .

When Ehiru-the most famous of the city's Gatherers-is sent to harvest the dreams of a diplomatic envoy, he finds himself drawn into a conspiracy that threatens to drag the dreaming city into war.

Learn more.

Quick Question: What constitutes “hype”?

See the subject line. I ask because I’m genuinely curious: what’s hype? What’s “too much hype”? At what point is there so much hype that you’ll refuse to read something (“overhype”)?

When The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms first came out, I remember that the third review I saw complained about how much hype the book had received. I know this is a matter of perception and relativism. It’s entirely possible that the reviewer had been running in circles where everyone was talking about the book… but in my circles, no one was (at that time). And where did this hype come from? Like I said, it was only the third review. I’ve never been lucky enough to get the kind of ad campaign that I think of as hype — subway posters, Comic Con banners, TV commercials, full-page ads in schmancy magazines. But clearly my definition of hype does not match others’.

So what’s your definition of hype?

ETA: A great discussion popped up on Twitter (my feed) as a result of me posting this there, between myself, Cheryl Morgan, Niall Harrison, and several other bloggers, readers, reviewers, etc. Look at the Tweets of 11/8, from approximately 11 am EST.

The Two Shahars

It might seem a bit unfair to put both Shahar the Matriarch (whom I’m going to call Shahar1) and Shahar the — whoops, spoiler —

– Last Arameri Ruler –

— in the same Character Study. But since I deliberately constructed the younger Shahar’s life as a “what-if” reflection of her ancestor’s, I thought this might be the best way to do it. I’ll call the younger Shahar “Shahar2″ for lack of a better description. And as you noted above, this one’s full of spoilers; if you haven’t read The Kingdom of Gods and you care, stop now.

OK, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Continue reading ›

Thinking Out Loud

In honor of The Kingdom of Gods finally being out in all markets, I decided to share this: an old post from my other blog, which was originally friendslocked because it contained early thoughts on the latter books of the Inheritance Trilogy. Thought it might be fun to share because it’s a look inside my head during the earliest development phase of the book you can now hold in your hand and read, and because it contains one of my “eureka” moments — the kind of thing that led me to name this blog “Epiphany”. The “we” that I’m referring to below is, well, me and my muse, for lack of any better description. I don’t actually know. It’s just the way I tend to talk to myself when I’m thinking like this.

Beware profanity; my muse is vulgar. There are spoilers here, for those of you who haven’t read the latter two books. And note that a lot of things changed along the way, so don’t regard this as “canonical”! It was written after I’d finished The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms but before it sold, while I was noodling up the worldbuilding of The Broken Kingdoms and The Kingdom of Gods.

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Magic should have rules, conventional fantasy-writer wisdom says. You’re not supposed to have omnipotent beings running around being all omnipotenty. So even though the trilogy is about gods, I’m supposed to limit them. I need rules.

Eff that. Dungeons & Dragons thinking. Everything’s so mechanistic, quantitative; we’re too wedded to that. Somebody somewhere is going to want me to roll up Nahadoth’s damn stats even though by his very nature he can never have them — no. No. These are gods. If you can’t write them in a way that transcends game mechanics and the usual genre expectations, go write wizards like everybody else. Or become a better writer.

Must consider these gods qualitatively/holistically.

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Drinks from SLEEPOVER OF THE GODS

Belated — I got a request for this while at WFC, since we had the menu and ingredients available at the party but no one had pen/paper handy to jot them down. These were the drinks created and served by the incomparable Michael S (the guy behind the makeshift “bar”):

Peanut Butter & Jelly: Cachaca, Castries Peanut Creme, Welch’s Grape Juice
Rummy Bear: White rum, blue Curacao, lemon juice, simple syrup, with gummy bear garnish
Lollypop: Gin, Framboise, orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup
S’More: Pinnacle whipped-cream flavoured vodka, creme de cacao

Some notes: Frangelico can substitute for Castries. Other notes, from Michael:

Brand recommendations: I don’t have a preferred cachaca; the one in my drinks cupboard is Pitu. I’ve already described the nut-liqueur thing. Any white rum will do, same for the curacao. Just make sure it’s blue (and do not buy Hypnotiq, which while it’s blue is quite narsty). My favourite gin is Plymouth; if you can find Old Tom that would be really cool. There’s an Italian wild-strawberry liqueur called Fragoli that, if you can find it, would be a fine replacement for the framboise. If you can’t find the Pinnacle whipped-cream vodka, buy any vanilla flavoured vodka instead. And finally, I tend to use the clear creme de cacao, but if you want a chocolatey-looking S’More, then feel free to buy a coloured chocolate liqueur.

So now you can have your own twisted childhood-themed party!

Recovery

So, last week was Launch Week, culminating in the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego. I flew out there on Thursday, came back yesterday on a redeye, and will probably be feeling the aftereffects for many, many days.

Because I had a little party, while I was there:

There was Twister involved.

Photo credit Paul Berger

The SLEEPOVER OF THE GODS (it’s supposed to be capitalized; imagine it in a Movie Announcer Voice) party was a hit and a blast. In keeping with its theme of slightly warped childhood (to honor our God of Childhood Sieh, protag of The Kingdom of Gods), guests were invited to wear pajamas and play silly kiddie games. Hungry Hungry Hippos proved to be an unexpected hit — people are serious about getting those marbles, man. And for those who wore jammies, they got special prizes including a free copy of the book, a badge ribbon (“Planets make great toys” or “GODS RULE”), and a drink served in a sippy cup. The sippy cups proved to be more aggravating than cute. Hey, I haven’t used one for 30-something years; not exactly something I remembered. And although I did attempt Twister, it was nearly a disaster, because I am not flexible enough to do a split, and yet I did one. Then couldn’t get up, because my footie pajamas had no traction. I wasn’t hungover the next day, just really, really sore. As one should be, after playing drunken Twister on a balcony, in pajamas.

I also fully expect some karmic fallout because while New York was gripped by an early freak snowstorm, I woke up every morning to this:

the view from my hotel: palm trees, bright warm sunlight, mountains

There were cabana boys, you guys. Cabana boys.

I considered this party to be not just the launch of a book, but a farewell to the Inheritance Trilogy, which is now complete. In token of which, when I did my reading at WFC, I actually read the first chapter of The Killing Moon, first book of the Dreamblood duology, because it’s about time for me to start promoting that. Still, the Inheritance books were my first opus — not the magnum, because I’ve got lots more left in me — and that deserves a little celebration. So thanks to everyone who came to the party, and helped me say goodbye to my gods.

Also, many, many thanks to the members of Altered Fluid who were at the con, who a) helped me advertise the party, and b) saved my bacon when at the last minute my plans for going on a groceries/liquor run fell through. And many thanks to Orbit US, who helped me throw the party, and the WFC fellow congoers, who were remarkably tolerant of a group of noisy people in pajamas having a pillowfight above their heads.

No, I didn’t win the World Fantasy Award for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I’m OK with that; I think Who Fears Death is a fantastic book and I’m happy to lose to Nnedi Okorafor, who’s a friend. The launch was my main concern this weekend, and it went perfectly — and I’m stupendously happy about that.

Character Study: Sieh

Been holding off on this one for quite awhile, because I couldn’t think of a way to discuss it and avoid spoilers for The Kingdom of Gods. But now that KoG is finally out everywhere (!!!) I can tackle my favorite character in the whole Inheritance Trilogy.

Spoilers, tho’. Seriously. If you haven’t read KoG, might want to skip this one ’til later.

Continue reading ›

World Fantasy 2011

Heading off tomorrow, on Launch Day — I’m launching from the ground and flying to San Diego! GET IT? Launching — um, yeah, OK.

Anyway, while I’m there I’ll be doing a little of this and a little of that.

  • Friday: 8:00 PM: I’ll be at the mass autographing.
  • Saturday, 11:30 AM: Reading from The Kingdom of Gods or maybe The Killing Moon, I can’t decide
  • Saturday, 9:00 PM: SLEEPOVER OF THE GODS, the KoG launch party! Special prizes for people in pajamas.
  • Sunday, 1:00 PM: World Fantasy Awards banquet, at which I find out whether The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms won. ::ulp::
  • Monday, Stupid O’Clock in the Cracktime: I return home, and collapse into bed to recover from stress/hangover/lack of sleep/travel.

Aside from this, while I’m at the con I am doing nothing specific. Most likely I’ll spend a good amount of time in the hotel bar, because that is what a writer does when she has nothing specific going on at WFC. May be in my room frantically attempting to finish first pass edit of The Shadowed Sun, if I don’t finish it on the six-hour flight there. So if you see me out at the bar, I am most likely chillaxin'; come over and say hi!

Wait a minute Mr. Postman…

You brought me some cool stuff, and I’d like to thank you!

First interesting mailbag item this week was from the folks at French fan site Elbakin, who gave me an award a few months back for best fantasy translation (for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, or, Les Cent Mille Royaumes). I just received the actual prize, and it’s a gorgeous hand-tooled leather book cover —

front of a leather book cover inscribed with book's title, author, and Elbakin Prize 2011 in French

book cover held open to reveal French copy and inner surface

worked-leather logo of Elbakin, a stylized dragon in red

…Niiiiiice. It’s absolutely beautiful. Now that’s a prize.

Next up is something I ordered from Etsy: a cover for my new 11-inch MacBook Air. I wanted something more interesting than the usual stuff, and most of what I found in Etsy’s shop was Japanese print or steampunky designs. Not bad, but I fell in love when I saw one of this shop’s covers done in Malian mudcloth, with Dutch wax print interiors. I had to order a custom one, since they didn’t have an 11-inch size in stock, and this was the result:

case for a macbook air, made from Malian mudcloth. Has a gourd and star design.

This photo doesn’t do it justice, so go look at Threads of Change’s shop and see better images of everything they make. And in a beautifully ironic extra touch, mine is lined with wax cloth that has an Adinkra symbol imprint meaning “the supremacy of God”. Probably not aimed at my books’ gods, but I think they’d be pleased nevertheless.

Ursula Le Guin Big Read Panel tonight

FYI for NYC locals:

TONIGHT: Weds., Oct. 19th
7:00 p.m.
@ The Center for Fiction
The Wave in the Mind: A Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin
Authors John Wray, N.K. Jemisin, Ellen Kushner, Michael Swanwick, and
moderator David G. Hartwell discuss Ursula K. Le Guin’s legacy from
the Earthsea books to her influence on today’s new writers.
Wine & booksigning after

If you’re in the area, come join us!

Fantasy Matters Focus: On Why the Universe is a Shrimp Poboy

…or a hoagie, actually, but I prefer poboys.

To clarify this cryptic header: Fantasy Matters, a fantasy review/fan site, is doing Inheritance Trilogy Week in honor of The Kingdom of Gods‘ release! They reviewed The Broken Kingdoms yesterday, and today features a guest post from me, on the macro-scale worldbuilding that went into the Inheritance Trilogy. Also, hoagies.

Future features are to include a post by an expert on the theology of the trilogy and of course a review of book 3, and there’s already an interview with Nubia Palacios, the artist who did the Yeine concept drawing I shared here a few months back. So check it out!


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