la_marquise: (GKC)
Today is the last day to nominate for the World Fantasy Awards for 2013.

http://www.wfc2013.org/wfballot01.html

This blog is promoting Michelle Sagara's wonderful Silence, Chaz Brenchley's House of Bells and Liz Williams', WOrldsoul in the novel category; Aliette de Bodard's 'On A Red Station, Drifting', and C E Murphy, 'No Dominion', for novella; and, in the short story category, Jacey Bedord's funny and charming 'Djinn Bottle', Aliette's wonderful, Nebula-winning 'Immersion', and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, 'Song of the Body Cartographer'.

I could in very remote theory have a horse in the novel race, but I have no expectations. There are many many very fine books out there.
la_marquise: (Marquise)
Today I have a guest blogger, the fabulous Morgan Keyes, talking about her new book (aimed at younger teens) Darkbeast. I've been a fan of hers for years: she writes with wit and charm and tremendous pace. And this new book is fabulous.
There's also a giveaway, for US readers only, sadly (due to postal problems). Anyway, over to Morgan.

Darkbeast 150 dpi

Many thanks to Kari, for allowing me to visit and tell you about my middle grade fantasy novel, Darkbeast. Due to the generosity of my publisher, Simon & Schuster, I will give away a copy of Darkbeast to one commenter chosen at random from all the comments made to this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight.

In Darkbeast, twelve-year-old Keara runs away from home rather than sacrifice Caw, the raven darkbeast that she has been magically bound to all her life. Pursued by Inquisitors who would punish her for heresy, Keara joins a performing troupe of Travelers and tries to find a safe haven for herself and her companion.

In preparing to write Darkbeast, I realized that some animals have all the fun. I mean, just look at The Grass King's Concubine – those ferret women have instant charisma. In Kari's own words, they are "short and sharp and, sadly, very smelly, all teeth and noses and curiosity." Like Keara's companion, Caw, the ferret creatures draw our attention from the first moment we meet them.

But what about animals with less charisma? What about snakes? And spiders? And lizards? And toads?

Sure, there are some people who can't get enough of amphibians and arthropods and reptiles. But a whole lot of people – a whole lot of readers – are frightened by certain animals. Some might even say they are repulsed.

So what is a conscientious author to do?

Right off the bat, I decided that I couldn't cater to people's animal fears. If snakes aren't your thing, well, I'm sorry, but Slither is an important supporting character on Keara's journey. (If you're truly phobic, I'm especially sorry, but you probably have a lot more severe problems avoiding the beasts than merely reading a middle grade fantasy novel.)

Next, I decided to help my readers along a bit, to ease them over their animal-dislike humps. I gave them characters to read about who change their attitudes about uncharismatic animals. Now, if I gave you specific examples, I'd be spoiling the story, but suffice to say that Keara herself starts off hating snakes. If a twelve-year-old girl can overcome her aversion, a lot of adult readers can also.

Finally, I reminded readers that these aren't just ordinary animals. These are darkbeasts. They are magical creatures, with the ability to bond with humans, the capacity to absorb evil deeds and take away negative emotions. Darkbeasts can guide a child along twisting paths between right and wrong, helping that child to become a mature, responsible adult.

And the darkbeasts know, the entire time they're doing their job, that they are doomed. They will be sacrificed when their human turns twelve years old. Nevertheless, the darkbeasts serve, bound by tradition, bound by religion.

That selflessness, that dedication actually makes me feel quite sympathetic to the darkbeasts. What are a few extra legs, or a slimy skin, or a few warts in the face of such commitment?

You can discover your own darkbeast by taking this personality quiz:

What darkbeast did you get? And what animal would you choose if you had all the animal kingdom as an option?

Morgan can be found online at:

http://www.morgankeyes.com
http://www.facebook.com/morgan.keyes.author

Darkbeast is for sale in bricks-and-mortar and online bookstores, including: Amazon | B & N | Indiebound

Morgan Keyes grew up in California, Texas, Georgia, and Minnesota, accompanied by parents, a brother, a dog, and a cat. Also, there were books. Lots and lots of books. Morgan now lives near Washington, D.C. In between trips to the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery of Art, she reads, travels, reads, writes, reads, cooks, reads, wrestles with cats, and reads. Because there are still books. Lots and lots of books.

Morgan Keyes
la_marquise: (GKC)
With the help of my lovely assistant, the marquis, we've selected the winners of the two competitions.

Caption Competition:

[livejournal.com profile] aitgereda for: "Fearing the Mighty Sunshine Powerup, the dragon attacks!" -- prize, Darkening Skies by Juliet E McKenna

[livejournal.com profile] bugshaw for: "It is the English Summer. I found it outside. I caught it and killed it and left it to die on the rug. PRAISE ME" -- prize, Dangerous Waters by Juliet E McKenna.

Competition for 2 advance copies of The Grass King's Concubine

[livejournal.com profile] mirrorshard
[livejournal.com profile] next_friday

Mystery Prize

[livejournal.com profile] jen_qoe

Well done to everyone. Please could you all get in touch with me via lj message or email and send me postal addresses, so I can send out your prizes.

Oh, and the answers to the Dumas competition.
According to Dumas, Aramis' real name is Rene d'Herblay.
The historical figure on whom he was based is Henri d'Aramitz.
Athos' first name, according to Dumas, is Olivier, which as [livejournal.com profile] jen_qoe spotted, occurs in his stage play, La Jeunesse des Mousquetaires.
la_marquise: (Default)
So: my good friend and fellow Write Fantastic writer Juliet E McKenna [livejournal.com profile] jemck has had a book out recently, Darkening Skies, the second volume in her Hadrumal Crisis series. In honour of this, she's given me a copy of the new book plus a copy of its predecessor, Dangerous Waters to give away.
I'm a big fan of her books: she writes wonderful grown-up characters, twisty plots and great action sequences, and this new series is all about the costs and penalties of using magic in politics (a subject that is too seldom thought through, in my opinion). I am loving this new series.
So, to win a book, caption this photograph of Ish. The two best suggestions get the books!
undignified Ish 1small
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As I said last week, this is a good summer for new books, and for books that have become available outside their first place of publication. [livejournal.com profile] gillpolack's Ms Cellophane was first published in her native Australia, and has been very hard to get elsewhere. Now, it's available to the rest of us in e-book form.
Gillian is a writer I admire hugely, and a writer who is not afraid to confront challenging issues. Ms Cellophane is a book about a challenge that many of us face: ageing while female. Western culture insists on eliding and disappearing women from the age of about 40 onwards, on treating us as less important, less visible, less valuable. Not because of any loss of ability, but simply on grounds of what we look like: we aren't as appealing, therefore we should be good and not impose.
It drives me insane, seeing so many intelligent people thrown away. It drives Gillian crazy too, so she wrote about it. Here she is, talking about her book:

Cellophane Time
Why did I write cellophane time into a fantasy novel? I was past that bizarre and unnerving period of my life by the time I wrote it. People had stopped walking past me and had returned to occasionally remembering I enjoyed dining with them. I was employable and visible. I had dealt successfully and rather unorthodoxly with my own cellophane issues, partly through my fiction, partly through teaching, partly through agitating on committees, and partly through the careful application of chocolate to those in need. When I reached forty it mattered that my job prospects had taken a giant dive and that I was single and that I couldn't get served in shops. By the time I reached forty-two, I had found my solutions.

I had my solutions, but the tendency of our society to demand a significantly lower and far less visible status for women over forty still annoyed me. Some of this annoyance was because I never seem to read main characters who are remotely like me in any of my favourite novels. Forty-two ought to be known for more than Douglas Adams' joke. Redoubtable women surrounded me at forty-two and still surround me now. Also redoubtable men. Some of the redoubtable men made it into novels: the redoubtable women never did.

I adore reading. I love books that are varied and tell many different stories. I don't mind if the vast majority of the people I read about have nothing in common with the people I know, but just sometimes it's nice to discover oneself in a piece of fiction. Or to see familiar scraps of lives. Or to experience through the written word challenges that are close to home and not all about someone else's life, with that someone else set at a perpetual twenty years younger.

I resolved to write a novel that was all about a woman in her early forties, entering her cellophane time. She discovers that Australian society sees through her, that most of the wonderful freedom and job satisfaction and being part of a community vanish from her daily existence. She is more vulnerable to bullying and to loneliness. She has to manufacture her own identity. I gave this experience to the protagonist quite intentionally. All the things we don't talk about. All the things we don't write about. I wanted to create a narrative from sequential silencings.

It happens to so many of us. It happens earlier and longer and differently to visible minorities or those with visible disabilities. Those who don't get to experience cellophane time at all are privileged and are seldom aware of their privilege. They need to have the opportunity to read about middle-aged women, too.

Most people seem to read Ms Cellophane as a charming light horror, rather suburban, with a touch of romance (today I'm describing novels like vintage wines - I ought to apologise for this, but I remain unrepentant). I find it delightful that readers love it and that it was a Ditmar finalist. I like this. It means writers don't always have to centre our stories on young men and women of majority culture. It means that not all fantasy has to be high adventure or include quest objects and kingship potential and dragons. A small fantasy set mainly in a single household, with a rather interesting mirror and other threats that readers may themselves have experienced can work.

Ms Cellophane will never be a standard novel. (None of mine are: I am usually non-standard in sneakier ways, though.) It will push boundaries and alert people to privilege very gently, for that's what it's intended to do. It won't do it by shouting in anyone's face or by winning prizes for unconventional thinking. This is because I'm tired of the half-hearted social change that's created through shock tactics, just as I was tired of novels that leave me on the sidelines, forever doomed to be boring.

Other people will win prizes for changing the world, but I'm very happy that readers take my novel as intense and as immersive and as something very much for them. The bottom line isn't my writing. The bottom line is that I was one of many, many readers who want to see fragments of their own lives occasionally reflected in their speculative fiction.

You can buy Ms Cellophane here.
la_marquise: (Marquise)
I blogged last week about D B Jackson and his new historical urban fantasy, Thieftaker. He very kindly agreed to write a guest post for me about the book and the history behind it (which, as a Briton who hasn't studied any US history earlier than the 1920s) I have to say I find fascinating.
Over to David:

In recent weeks, as I have pimped-- er, I mean, promoted my latest book, Thieftaker, book I of the Thieftaker Chronicles, I have been asked repeatedly how I chose the historical backdrop for the book. Thieftaker is set in Colonial Boston, several years before the American Revolution, and I believe that much of the curiosity I’ve encountered stems from the fact that I didn’t place the book and its sequels squarely in the war period.

Wars receive a lot of literary attention, and with good reason. War years are almost always fraught with tension, drama, violence, roiled emotions, etc., all of which make for good stories. Indeed, there are already some very good novels set in the Revolutionary War period. But the decade leading up to the American colonies’ split from England saw their share of turmoil and excitement as well. When I was a graduate student, earning my Ph.D. in U.S. history, I found the late Colonial period utterly fascinating. Yet, even when I first began to work on the Thieftaker series, I had no idea that I would wind up setting the books in this period.

The idea for the Thieftaker series was sparked by a footnote that I read in Robert Hughes’ history of Australia, The Fatal Shore. (Yes, a footnote. In a history book. I admit it: I’m a geek.) The footnote described the life of London’s most famous thieftaker, the notorious Jonathan Wild. Wild was a brute and criminal who was responsible for nearly all the thefts that he “solved” as a thieftaker. He or his henchmen would steal goods, and then those things that Wild couldn’t sell for great profit he would turn around and return for a fee. He made a fortune, and all the while was hailed for his uncanny ability to recover stolen goods.

My first thought upon reading about Wild was “What a great idea for a book character!” I modeled my lead character’s nemesis, Sephira Pryce, after Wild. It might be the first time I have had a book idea present itself to me in the form of an antagonist rather than a protagonist.

But where would I set my story of thieftakers? In its first incarnation, Thieftaker was actually set in an alternate fantasy world. After discussions with my editor, however, I decided to shift it to a real world historical setting. My editor suggested London, but I have to admit that I was hesitant to set the book there. I know of so many books that have been set in London, and the truth is I really don’t know the city very well. On the other hand, having studied U.S. history, and having lived for a time in New England, I thought that Boston might be the perfect backdrop for the story.

In the 1760s, Boston was somewhat rundown, even seedy. Not long before, it had been the leading city of Colonial North America. But economic troubles had taken away some of its luster. Her sister cities, New York and Pennsylvania, had surpassed her in both population and financial prowess. I liked the idea of setting the Thieftaker books in a city like this. That sense of a town past its prime worked well with the noir feel I was searching for as a I wrote the first book. More, I felt that Boston’s fall from grace created nice parallels with my lead character, Ethan Kaille, a conjurer and thieftaker, who is also past his prime and down on his luck.

More to the point, Boston in the mid-1760s was becoming the hotbed of colonial protests against British authority. This was a place and time fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. Most colonists in the 1760s still considered themselves loyal subjects of the British Empire, but they were also starting to perceive that there was something unique about their status as Americans. For a character like Ethan Kaille, the hero of my book, who is trying to find his way in the world after serving nearly fourteen years in prison, this added uncertainty seems a perfect complement to his personal struggles. Nowhere were the ambiguities of colonial status more stridently argued than in Boston.

I begin my book on the night of 26 August 1765. As rioters are abroad in the city streets, protesting Parliament’s passage of the Stamp Act by destroying the homes of several representatives of the Crown, a young woman is found murdered. The riots are real, and my description of them is as historical accurate as I could make it. The murder is a fiction of my own creation. Together, the aftermath of the murder and riots form Thieftaker’s narrative core.

My biggest challenge in using Boston as the story’s setting lay in creating a magic system that would blend as seamlessly as possible with my colonial backdrop. Fortunately, Boston and the surrounding countryside already had a longstanding relationship with the supernatural. The Province of Massachusetts Bay had seen witch scares going back nearly a hundred years, including the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, which saw over one hundred and fifty people jailed and twenty executed. In Thieftaker, conjurers and witches are not the same thing. Witches are creatures of myth and nightmare; preachers rail against witchery and black magick in their sermons. Conjurers like my hero, on the other hand, are quite real. But while witches don’t actually exist, fear of them is constantly conflated with fear of conjurers. Ethan and others of his kind must keep their abilities secret, lest they be hanged as witches.

By connecting my imaginary magic system with the true historical phenomenon of witch scares, I was able to find that seamless blending of the fantastic and the historical I was after. The paranormal aspects of my story wound up reinforcing the sense of time and place that are so important to the book. And, in return, the historical references to something with which most readers are familiar -- that age-old fear of witches -- made the magic system seem that much more “real.”

In the end, 1760s Boston turned out to be the perfect setting for Thieftaker and its sequels. The combination of a city in decline, a political system on the verge of implosion, and a belief system that seemed to acknowledge the existence of “magic,” allowed me to weave my characters and my storyline into existing historical phenomena. And, perhaps more to the point, the richness of Boston’s history from that era allowed me to have a tremendous amount of fun.

*****
D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of a dozen fantasy novels. His first book as D.B. Jackson, Thieftaker, volume I of the Thieftaker Chronicles, has just been released by Tor Books. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.
David's website
David's blog
Twitter
Goodreads
And Amazon

Thieftaker400
la_marquise: (Default)
One of the things I'm liking about this summer is the number of books that I'm really looking forward to that are due out in July and August. And one of them is due out tomorrow: Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson, who is also the awesome David B Coe. I love David's books, and this new one looks even better than his previous ones.

"Murder and magic stalk the streets of pre-revolutionary Boston. Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker of some notoriety, and a conjurer of some skill, is hired by the father of a murdered girl to find her killer. Soon he is swept up in a storm of intrigue and magic, politics and treachery."

You can see the cover (which is gorgeous) and read sample chapters on David's website. Go, read, buy!

http://www.dbjackson-author.com/Book1ArtPage.php

http://www.dbjackson-author.com/FreebiesPage.php
la_marquise: (Goth marquise)
If I had to put my hand on my heart and name just one fantasy author who changed how I view the genre, how I write; one author who made me feel that there was space for someone who writes the sort of things I write, who has the background I do, it would be Judith Tarr, [livejournal.com profile] dancinghorse. A new Tarr novel has been an event for me since the very first day I picked up her first novel (The Isle of Glass). I have every one of her books. She's ranged from historical fantasy to subtle sf to really strong historical novels to young adult to wonderful genre-bending crossover. I love them all. Meeting Judy on lj -- and being allowed to call her Judy -- was a thrill and a gift and a treasure.
She;s running a kickstarter, to fund another of her complex, nuanced, elegant, mind-bending novels. You can read about the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/834883724/living-in-threes
GOo read, fund. It will be worth it. Because in Judy's case every thing she does really is magic.

Welcome

Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:41 am
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My friend and fellow DAW author, Lisanne Norman, has been on LJ for a while, but has now made her journal open. She's [livejournal.com profile] zaan: do go by and say hi. And read her books (the Sholan Alliance series): they're huge fun and very good.
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So my fellow DAWthor, and all round fine individual Benjamin Tate has a new book out this month. Called Leaves of Flame, it's the sequel to Well of Sorrows, which I read and raved about last year. This is one of the quirkiest, most original fantasy series I've come across in a while. I commend it to your attention.



So...

Jan. 3rd, 2012 01:56 pm
la_marquise: (Default)
It looks to be 2012. How did that happen? (I'm sure it was 2001 just now.) I hope it has started well for everyone and continues well, too.
I'm not doing a full review of 2011, if only because I'm not sure I did that much that was unusual (for me). It was an okay year, with good bits and bad bits, and no-one close to me died, and that works for me. Things that immediately come to mind about it: Eastercon and accidentally starting an bid for 2013 during the Closing Ceremony, because both [livejournal.com profile] jemck are Too Responsible; skiing through trees in Sweden, with only the marquis and birds for company; a squirrel taking revenge for his species and biting Horus back; Mooncat meeting [livejournal.com profile] a_d_medievalist and demanding she move in at once; discovering that [livejournal.com profile] desperance finds me humming while I write distracting (who knew?); amazing scenery in Oregon and unreasonable heat in San Diego; watching eagles from a Moorish fortress with the marquis; finding out just how many of my neighbours are visited by Ish at a local Christmas party. I went to a whole bunch of places I've never visited before, which pleases me (because, y'know, itchy feet). And the contract on The Grass King's Concubine was signed.

And today we've had high winds and heavy rain and hail and sunshine, all before lunch, and Ish has dried himself on me twice. The holiday season is done and this afternoon -- once I've been to the Post Office -- it's back to the writing mines.

Speaking of which, my friend and fellow historian [livejournal.com profile] helen_lerewth is now on lj. And she's published some of her short stories. I've been reading her stories for about 12 years, I think, and I've always hoped to see them in print. They are fabulous: barbed and witty, sharp and devious and strange. And right now, she's offering them for free, which is a gift, if you ask me. She has a really interesting take on the world. Please go and say hi, and do read her writing. It's well worth it.

Skirt of the day: black cord with purple piping.
la_marquise: (Goth marquise)
Happy New Year to everyone in LJ land, and may your next year be filled with good things.

In other news, Locus very kindly asked me to participate in a podcast on the theme 'History is Not a Theme park' with [livejournal.com profile] swan_tower at World Fantasy, and it's now live here: http://www.locusmag.com/Roundtable/2011/12/marie-brennan-and-kari-sperring-in-conversation/

I had such fun recording this with Marie and our hostess K: they are fascinating people to talk to and we covered a lot of ground. Do listen: I think M makes some excellent points (I say 'um' a lot, and sound alarmingly Welsh-Herefordshire). We ranged from the nature of historical research to things done in the name of writing, to what we're working on now, to the perils of living with or near a working writer, to What Is History anyway. It's long, but I think it's worth it.

I don't make New Year Resolutions: I tend to be too punitive with them, so the marquis made me give them up a few years ago. But I hope that in 2012 we can go on having the high-quality debates and discussions here on lj about all sorts of things, and that everyone out there stays well, happy and comfortable.

Good things

Sep. 7th, 2011 11:29 am
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Ding-dang-dong, goes the doorbell, and down I go (in my dressing gown, oh the shame) to open it and collect the post.
And into my hands is given a shiny brand new copy of House of Doors, by Chaz Brenchley ([livejournal.com profile] desperance), 'a haunting tale of terror from a master of the genre' (this is true. It says so on the cover.)
Happy Book Day, Chaz!
la_marquise: (Default)
I'm a member of the online sff novelists' support-group SF Novelists, who are a bunch of very cool people who very kindly let me join in their conversations. There's a website and a regular blog and all sorts of stuff to look at over here: http://www.sfnovelists.com/


And right now, the group is doing A Very Cool Thing. A subset of the sff writers have put together a volume of sample first chapters from their newest books (some out now, some due out very soon). It's called Opening Acts and you can read about it here:
http://www.sfnovelists.com/2011/08/01/sfnovelists-sampler-a-years-worth-of-reading/

It's a great line up --

7th Sigma by Steven Gould
Bone Shop by T.A. Pratt
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
The Brahms Deception by Louise Marley
Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee
The Cloud Road by Martha Wells
Dangerous Water by Juliet E. McKenna
The Dread Hammer by Trey Shiels
Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman
Fright Court by Mindy Klasky
The Heretic by Joseph Nassise
House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan
Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica
Jade Tiger by Jenn Reese
Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
Medium Dead by Chris Dolley
Midnight at Spanish Gardens by Alma Alexander
Play Dead by John Levitt
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
The Snow Queen’s Shadow by Jim C. Hines
Spellcast by Barbara Ashford
The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg
TruthSeeker by C.E. Murphy
Up Against It by M.J. Locke
With Fate Conspire by Marie Brennan



You can download it for free in various formats. Highly recommended.

There's going to be a second volume, too, with an extract from my The Grass King's Concubine.
la_marquise: (Marquise)
Today, I have a guest on my blog, Alma Alexander ([livejournal.com profile] anghara), who is awesome and who writes wonderful, textured, complex books. She has a new book coming out -- yay! -- and here's what she has to say about it.



"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth."
— William W. Purkey

It’s a lovely sentiment and it sounds like fine advice. But real lives are full of people watching and listening, of people who are going to hurt you, not necessarily because they want to but because they can’t help it. And sometimes, when you’re under a deadline, or the kids are screaming for dinner, or you’ve just received your twentieth rejection slip this month and this writing lark is losing its appeal, sometimes the word “heaven” just doesn’t seem to have that much meaning here on earth, outside the firmly closed and padlocked Pearly Gates.
In works of fiction, things are of necessity artificial and exaggerated – and what you get is extremes ranging from Danielle Steel and the soap opera romances to Cormac McCarthy and “The Road”. In fiction, people want the extremes. They want them because, well, that middle-of-the-road territory is something they’re already living – and they either want to indulge in improbable fairy-tale lives of the people whom they can never be, or gloat over how much better their lives are than those of people whom they never want to be..
Sure, there are novels that are firmly set in everyday angst – they are generally known as Literature with a capital L and they win lots of obscure prizes.
In genre works, outside the manicured Literature Lawns, things tend to gravitate either to the utopia or the dystopia side of things. But that’s the draw, that’s what brings the reader in. You don’t want to read an entire novel where Nothing Happens, where your character sits, if not in bliss then at least vague contentment, drinking lattes in corner Starbucks cafes and watching dreamily as the world passes by. You want to read the story where somebody barges in and holds up the Starbucks – or a strange/alluring/disgusting person or visiting alien wanders into the café from the street and makes you sit up and look twice – or a strange Noise keeps occurring but nobody except you seems to hear it or care – or there’s an unannounced solar eclipse – or you think you’ve just seen a wolf lope past the outside seating area and go trotting purposefully around the corner and you have this uncontrollable itch to find out where it’s going and why – or…
Well, you get it. Life – and story – is not really about trying to make everything perfect or seem perfect. It’s about muddling through, and being curious, and occasionally going past signs that say “no entry” because you have to know what’s on the other side of that door. It’s about finding the middle ground by trying to keep both utopia and dystopia at bay.

The key to living a life, fictional or real, is taking one step at a time, and making a binding choice every time you do it. You take a step in THAT direction or THIS one, you turn THAT way or THIS way, you sing THAT song instead of THAT one, you follow one wolf over another. Sometimes you live to regret those choices. And sometimes you are left breathless with relief at the ones that you have made. And there is absolutely no way of knowing which of those it is going to be until one or the other hits you in the face.
There are only a handful of large choices. But if you think that the myriad of little ones, seemingly insignificant ones, that you make every day don’t add up to life-changing decisions too you aren’t thinking it through. Choices are cumulative. Enough of them carry a weight that will force you in certain directions even if you weren’t aware that that was where you were heading.
In a sense every work of fiction ever written is about some sort of choice that happens on the pages of the book – or, sometimes, just beyond them, a choice just before the story-proper in the book begins which has driven your character to that beginning, or the choice that lies in waiting like a monster in the dark just after you close the covers of the book and leave the character to his or her inevitable fate. And choices can change according to circumstances, or knowledge, or instinct, or experience. And sometimes it can be difficult in the extreme to point to one choice or another as having been the “right” choice. Perhaps there is really no such thing as the “right” choice, not as a gigantic monolithic thing as and of itself – just the right choice for a particular situation, set of circumstances, moment in time.
I wasn’t really setting out to write about choices when I began to write “Midnight at Spanish Gardens”, my new novel, but somehow there it was – those characters just turned up, and secrets started spilling out all over the table, and the secrets were all about choices. And then they were presented with the biggest choice of all.
If they had a chance to change their lives, utterly, to choose to live an existence that was completely different to the one which they called their current reality, if they could get to unchoose things and choose all sorts of stuff anew, if they could suddenly make and unmake decisions using an alternative set of criteria – would they do it?
What constitutes a life? How much of a life’s minutiae needs to accumulate and accrete for something to be “set in stone”? Are you really who you think you are? Are you the kind of person you think you might be, if only this had been different, if only that hadn’t happened to you, if only…
It’s where that lovely advice at the top of this post comes in. It really isn’t quite that simple – or at least it seems to be right until you unpack it to a deeper level of meaning.
You gotta dance like everyone’s watching, and you don’t care what most of them think, and those few that you do care about you already know will be cheering you on.
You gotta love despite having been hurt, knowing that you’re probably going to be hurt at least once more in a given lifetime, but love anyway, because the alternative is far, far worse.
You gotta sing like you know everyone’s listening, and realize that a bunch of the winces on people’s faces merely mean “hell, it could be worse, it could be me.”
You gotta make your own heaven on earth, and live with the fact that no heaven is ever perfect anyway.
You gotta choose.

In closing – a few words about me, and a few more about the book -

My main website is at http://www.AlmaAlexander.com (take a look at the bibliography page!) and I also have a website dedicated to my YA series, Worldweavers, at http://www.almaalexander.com/worldweavers/ , and you can find a book trailer there, as well as excerpts from those books and also ordering information. I blog regularly at http://anghara.livejournal.com and if people want to get to know the real me that's the more dynamic site right now. I'm also on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/alma.alexander , or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alma-Alexander/67938071280 ) and if you want to read more literary and writerly essaylets you might visit www.StorytellersUnplugged.com on the 30th of every month and keep up with me there.

If you want to look into purchasing any of my books, you can go to several places:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_tc_2_0?rh=i%3Astripbooks%2Ck%3AAlma+Alexander&keywords=Alma+Alexander&ie=UTF8&qid=1308346776&sr=1-2-ent&field-contributor_id=B001IXNUQ4
(if you are after actual books) or
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Alma+Alexander&x=12&y=21
(if you're after a Kindle ebook)

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/anghara for other ebook editions (and go there to keep an eye on the Alexander Triads project, themed collections of short stories…)

Or visit your friendly neighbourhood indie store and ask them to get my books for you if they don't have them...

For "Midnight at Spanish Gardens", you can preorder the book here:

http://www.skywarriorbooks.com/OurBooks.html
and it will shortly be available here
http://astore.amazon.com/skywarriorbooks-20
and here
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MHBonham


News!

Jul. 15th, 2011 05:56 pm
la_marquise: (Living With Ghosts)
I am delighted to be able to announce that The Grass King's Concubine is officially sold to DAW and should be out in 2012/3. It's a two-book deal, for both Grass King and its sequel. Remember my elevator pitch? 'Orpheus and Eurydice and the French Revolution, with extra ferret women.' Grass King is the underworld. Book two -- no title as yet -- will be the Revolution. I don't know if the ferret women will play a big role in the second book yet, but the Cadre -- the immortal warriors -- definitely will.

A day early, but definitely a very very fine present.

Skirt of the day: blue flouncey.
la_marquise: (Marquise)
Desdaemona, by the inimitable Ben Macallan, is now available for pre-order and well worth pre-ordering. What can I tell you? It's a haunting, daunting, twisting roller-coaster of a book, a glimpse through icy windows into fog-shrouded Otherlands, a trip, a trap for the unwary, spell which you can enter. You want this book. You need this book. This book will haunt and delight you.
And what can I tell you of Ben, who I have known, now, for a while. On and off, as his his nature: sometimes warm, sometimes cold, always intriguing. You've met him too: he's that guy you caught in the corner of your eye, the one with the lean face and the watchful eyes and the smile, the one that caught your hat and handed it back when it blew from your head on that windy bridge, the one who brushed past you in the cobbled back alley and left behind him a trace of wintergreen, the one who bought the last slice of lemon meringue pie ahead of you in the queue, then offered to split it with you.
There are more details here
And you can pre-order it here, for those in the US
Or here, in the UK.
Go on, you know you want to.

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