Dear Sir, by whom I mean “Dude whom I don’t know at all, who just friended me on Facebook”:
I am in receipt of your message reading “How are U?” (Or, sometimes, simply: “Hi.”)
Thank you for your interest in me, but I have learned from experience that if I reply to your apparently innocuous stub of a note by asking What do you want? I’ll inevitably get some variation on “To be your BFF! And eventually fall in LOVE! <3″ Plus, sometimes, poetry.
(Here’s a great link on workshops for aspiring poets.)
I like to keep my social media door open as wide as possible, and I accept all connection requests. I try not to unfriend or ban without cause. However, for the record, I already have a soulmate, and I’m not in the market for a new one. While I have befriended people, sight unseen, via the Internet, this particular strategy of yours is not going to lead to our developing any kind of meaningful connection. Demanding of me without offering anything of yourself is no way to start anything.
If you are simply shy and you have legitimate business: a question about my writing, a query about my UCLA courses, a cashier’s cheque, a convention invite, an offer to buy one of my photographs, interview requests, a comment on one of my posts, an offer to be my unpaid intern, a literary award, or free accommodations in Paris, please feel free to revise and resubmit your note. Shoot for about 200 words introducing yourself and explaining the purpose of your communication. Points will be awarded for good grammar; it is a personal flaw of mine, but I will think less of you if you can’t tell its from it’s and Ur from your, you’re and even yore.
Otherwise, the question of How I am is adequately covered, moment to moment, by my Twitter updates and Instagram feed.
The launch of Child of a Hidden Sea has been exciting, perhaps even something of a whirlwind. To anyone who bought the book, posted a review, tweeted about it or even went “Whee!” in the privacy of their kitchen, I want to say thank you. Your support is delightful and humbling and amazing, and I feel very blessed.
If you still want to know what the fuss is about, I have been blogging hither and yon on various topics to tie in to the book release. Here are four places where you can find me being giddy, serious, instructive, and apocalyptic by turns…
The Campaign for the American Reader asked what I had on page 69 of the novel.
In the Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, I talk about how completed unsuited I would be to surviving the collapse of civilization. Or even the global coffee supply chain.
An interview at author Kaleigh Maguire’s book blog, where she asks (among other things) what advice I’d give writers who are just starting out.
And in my final post on Magical Words today, I bring my penetrating insight to bear on the plot of Back to the Future.
In case none of that does it for you, here’s a kitten picture:
Tor has posted the first chapter of my new book here for your reading pleasure. It begins thusly:
Sophie Hansa had barely worked out that she was falling before she struck the surface of an unknown body of water.
First, there’d been a blast of wind. A tornado? Rushing air, pounding at her eardrums, had plucked her right off the ground. Howling, it had driven her upward, pinwheeling and helpless, over the rooftops of the houses and shops, carrying her up above the fog, in a cloud of grit and litter, trashcan lids, uprooted weeds, discarded heroin needles, and a couple very surprised rats.
Those of you who’ve read “Among the Silvering Herd,” and “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti,” might notice that the novel starts about a dozen years further on. Gale Feliachild is older, and Garland Parrish is no longer the first mate of Nightjar–he’s the captain. (Then again, chapter one doesn’t quite get us to Parrish, and Gale’s got a lot on her plate, including a near-fatal stab wound and a niece who overshares when stressed, so maybe that’s not obvious.)
I’m so excited to see this book making its way out to you all! If you have any questions or comments, throw them my way–either here or at the Tor site.
A couple of you have asked about things that inspire me, so I thought I’d mention that this trilogy owes a huge debt to the BBC Nature team and particularly the various series presented by Sir David Attenborough. The moth migration and resulting prey bonanza described in this chapter were inspired by any number of real-world natural events. Here’s one such event, from Life in the Undergrowth. It’s sardines, and not insects, but it’s amazing footage, the kind Sophie Hansa aspires to shoot one day. You can see the predators gathering, above and below, to take that bait ball apart.
The BBC videographers lavish resources on photodocumenting parts of the natural world I can only hope to visit one day, along with parts I’ll never see, either because they’re inaccessible or, sadly, likely to disappear in the not too distant future. I transmute their work into fiction. Inspiration, like everything, is an ecosystem of sorts.
My recent Child of a Hidden Sea prequel, “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti,” is now available as an e-book. You can, of course, read it at Tor.com for free, but if you prefer your Kindle, Kobo or Nook, the story is up at Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, B&N, and in the iStore.
Here’s a taste:
“Had that soldier heard of you?” Parrish asked.
Few people took notice of Gale, or remembered her when they did. This was the work of a spell her parents had written when she was a child, making her forgettable, beneath notice. They’d meant for it to keep her safe. They hadn’t foreseen that it would lead to her into spying.
“I’ve fallen into a reputation here in Erinth,” Gale said. “When I moved into the mistress suite—”
“There are buildings, near the palazzo, reserved for courtiers and special pets of the Contessa. My home—”
“Castello di Putti, they call it,” Royl put in. “In Fleetspeak, Strumpet Court.”
One of the things I sheerly love about having my stories come out as Tor Originals is this spill out to the e-book world. I tend to write long stories (though I have been working on brevity, of late), and I think my usual 8,500 word length fits well with the e-book format. At a buck, they’re rather a good deal. And the folks at the Tor site showcase their authors’ work so beautifully, with superb covers. It’s heady to have an attractive shelf of my fiction readily available to anyone who wants it.
Here it is–the cover of my upcoming June novel, Child of a Hidden Sea. The artist’s name is Karla Ortiz and her blog’s here.
The text from the book jacket reads:
One minute, twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa is in a San Francisco alley trying to save the life of the aunt she has never known. The next, she finds herself flung into the warm and salty waters of an unfamiliar world. Glowing moths fall to the waves around her, and the sleek bodies of unseen fish glide against her submerged ankles.
The world is Stormwrack, a series of island nations with a variety of cultures and economies—and a language Sophie has never heard.
Sophie doesn’t know it yet, but she has just stepped into a political firestorm, and a conspiracy that could destroy a world she has just discovered…her world, where everyone seems to know who she is, and where she is forbidden to stay.
But Sophie is stubborn, and smart, and refuses to be cast adrift by people who don’t know her and yet wish her gone. With the help of a new-found sister, and a ship’s captain who would rather she had never arrived, she must navigate the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack, and win the right to decide for herself whether she stays in this wondrous world…or is doomed to exile.