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.

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.

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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!

Food for Writing

I’ve noticed that a lot of writers usually indulge their creativity in more than one way. Alas, I can’t sing or draw, and my violin skills are a good 20 years out of date (and were mediocre anyway, no matter what my father says). I really wanted to take kung fu as a kid, but my mom made me take ballet instead. You can probably guess how that turned out.

But my family also taught me many ways to love food, and indulging that love has been another art for me. I love growing food, in part thanks to many days spent hoeing and weeding my grandmother’s garden, eating her greens and tomatoes, and gathering sweet figs and pecans from her trees. I love canning and jarring and making my own preserves, when I have the time. I love catching my own crabs, thanks to long afternoons out crabbing with my mother. Even today, living in the middle of New York City, I still find ways to get down and dirty with food. My favorite thing to do on a quiet weekend is to visit the farmers’ markets and bring home inexpensive, locally-grown veggies and fruits and cheeses and meats. I even helped start a CSA, before I realized I couldn’t do it and hit the farmers’ markets without wasting food.

But what’s food if you don’t eat it? I’m no chef — though someday I’d like to take some courses, if I ever get the time and cash — but I do all right in the kitchen. And since I’ve apparently been tormenting the folks on my Twitter feed with my latest experiments, I figured what the hey; let’s spread the joy.

Herein follow some of my favorite recipes for “writer food” — a one-dish meal that can be eaten for a week or stored for months, hoarded for one or stretched to feed twenty; and desserts that are quick and simple to make but intensely satisfying. Writers don’t have to eat ramen, dammit; it’s possible to have good stuff yet live on a budget. I know. So try these.

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Stuff you should read while you wait

Dear US Readers:

I’m sorry. For whatever reason, the UK/Commonwealth version of The Kingdom of Gods released a good 3 weeks ahead of the US release date. So now you’ve had to endure the British-accent-inflected “Nyaa nyaa”s of your across-the-pond brothers and sisters. You’ve had to duck and dodge like Grant Hill in the playoffs to avoid spoilers. You’ve… had to… ::deep sigh:: …wait.

This was not my decision, although it works well for me by building buzz ahead of the US launch. But I’m not gloating or anything! So please, stop yelling at me. I’m sorry!

To distract you In the meantime, I’ve noted below a few really good books I’ve read lately whose authors you should go pester instead that you can enjoy or anticipate instead. They’ll help the time pass while I escape to Patagonia while you wait.

Crucible of Gold, the latest in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire saga. Some of you already know how much I love these books. In this latest installment — which I was privileged to read in an earlier form; see, being a published author gets you something besides sleep deprivation and early gray hair! — Temeraire and Laurence get called back into service from their lonely exile in Australia. They journey to South America, where they encounter the ancient empires of the Americas — and where Napoleon is up to some very new tricks. This one’s unbelievable fun.

…But it’s not out ’til March 2012. See? Other people have to wait, too! It’s not just you. There, there. ::pet pet::

Here’s one that’s out already!

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells. This one was a surprise; although Ms. Wells has been here for years (don’t call it a comeback), this is my first time hearing about one of her books. I have to admit I wasn’t wowed by the premise: a guy who doesn’t fit in looks for somewhere to call home. I should really know better than to judge a book by reductionism; after all, by that logic, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is just a small-town girl trying to make it in the big city. Anyway The Cloud Roads has riveting characterization, a tense and fast-paced plot, and some of the most original, exotic worldbuilding I’ve ever seen. I’d like to visit the Three Worlds — except they’re utterly deadly and I’d probably get eaten within the first five minutes. So think of The Cloud Roads as a story about a guy (who’s a humanoid dragon) who doesn’t fit in (because he looks like a cannibalistic humanoid dragon) looking (through an amazing, gorgeous, fascinating world) for somewhere (and fellow dragon-people among whom) to call home (which he then has to save from a rampaging horde of the cannibal dragon people).

Book 2 of this series isn’t out yet — I’m hoping to score an advance copy from the author, but in the meantime I’ve got to wait. So see? I’m waiting too. I understand. Does that make it better?

Cold Magic, by Kate Elliott. I’ve raved about this one here before, but the second book just came out! No waiting! And trust me, you want to read these books. They’re also some of the most original, gonzo worldbuilding I’ve ever seen — Ice Age Europe with gaslight technology and Victorian culture by way of the ancient Malian Empire, menaced by Celtic faerie myths. (No, really. It’s a beautiful, magnificent thing. Kate talks about how she came up with it here.) And swashbuckling Phoenician maidens! And hot romance! And ice vs fire magic! STUFF!! BLOWING!! UP!!!

(OK, I suck at marketing. But there really is stuff blowing up.)

So look! Go look at these. They’re very pretty books, aren’t they? Lovely cover art. Shiiiiny. Watch while I wave them in front of you. Just keep looking at them.

::steps back::

Go on, keep looking. Pick them up. Thumb through; they all have sample chapters online. I’ll be –

::steps back, from a distance::

– right here. Aren’t they great books? Keep reading.

::runs away fast::


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