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.

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::

The Neverending Interview

Ask me anything!

I do a lot of interviews. A lot. Of interviews. And those are just the ones from this year, which are online in text or audio form — I don’t reprint the ones in print magazines, or the ones in my own books (there’s an interview in the back of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Killing Moon). I’ve tried to keep track of most of them here or here, but frankly I know I’ve missed a few. Slippery li’l buggers.

Anyway, I’m fond of not reinventing the wheel, so I figured I’d start this post as a chance to collect in one place all the questions people would like to ask me. I’ll answer them here in the comments — but I’ll also create a new page to hold the answers, and make that page a permanent navigation link that anyone can get to. That way potential interviewers can, if they so choose, research what questions not to ask (again). Or I can just refer them here if they ask an especially common one.

Note: I’m not promising to answer every question you guys ask! I got books to write. Also, this isn’t school; there are stupid questions, or offensive ones. I reserve the right to answer with snark, or with bannination. I will also clearly mark spoilers, so feel free to ask about those, too.

Aaaaand, shoot!

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?)

What "catchphrase" should I use for book 3? (Vote for your top 3.)

View Results

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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.

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April 2014
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