I’m so pleased that A Daughter of No Nation is included in the Charlie Jane Anders round-up, on io9, of the most thrilling SF and Fantasy books coming out this fall. It’s in great company, with books by Jim Butcher, Steven Baxter… woah, Salmon Rushdie (wasn’t expecting that!), Nnedi Okorafor, Kameron Hurley, Ann Leckie, Tanya Huff and so so many others.
Some of those fall books are coming out in mere minutes, so this week will bring you not one but two author interviews here on my site, along with a write-up about S.M. Stirling’s The Desert and the Blade.
The next couple of weeks will be entertaining and action-packed. There will be Heroine Question interviews on Wednesdays, but I’m not sure what else the blog may hold. We’ve built a bit of downtime into the early part of the month, and chief among the things I’m looking forward to doing with that time is hitting TiFF like a movie-going anvil. Kelly and I plan to see at least 13 films. As an appetizer for that fabulous experience, we’re also going to a special event tonight, where Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro is introducing the 1943 adaptation of Jane Eyre as part of the Gothic Master Class he’s conducting there.
Will Orson hold his own against Toby Stephens? My assumption is no way. But I cannot wait to hear what del Toro says about the Gothic form!!
Three good things about this week:
Duacon! Jessica came, she saw, and she conquered, by which I mean we walked the streets of Toronto… far more than she probably expected. It is a trait of mine that the concept of “Not far” conflates all too easily with the cold hard fact of “Five miles later, I promised we were nearly there…” Do not trust me to have a grip on distance, my dear friends. Note my walking speed and ask me for an ETA. Or stand your ground, and demand to use transit.
Okay, tangent over! We dined out, we paid homage to the cats and the hot tub, and J and I spent an afternoon on that nice beach on Toronto Island. We did not actively workshop fiction, but we did go out for multiple writing dates, and talked shop constantly.
Kelly came home! Five nanoseconds after Jessica left, Kelly had a work retreat out of town, or too far to walk, whichever distance is longer. About the night apart, the less said the better. But it was a joy to watch the purple dot of my darling’s GPS coordinates inching home along the major commuter routes yesterday evening. I did this using an app that the iStore calls Find My Friends. It was even more of a joy to have her back home again.
Oh, what was the third best thing this week? Was it watermelons? Seeing horse cops yesterday? Having someone contact me to ask for a secret spy name of their very own, thereby indicating that my sense of humor is not, in fact, a trial to all who know me? (I wasn’t actually worried about that last bit.) Getting a reprint request this morning? Or was it… turning The Nature of a Pirate in to my editor at Tor? Oh yeah, that last thing. Let’s definitely go with that.
Today’s victory dance shall be… the Charleston!
In unrelated news, my WordPress page has about 24,000 users, most of whom have the sort of names and e-mail addresses that lead one to believe they are spammy hacky bastards, as opposed to real humans interested in my blog. Is this problematic?
Friday happened and I didn’t manage to post anything… honestly, because I forgot I was trying for a few gratitudes to wrap up the week. But…
One of the things that is exceedingly lovely for me is that notes are coming in from my trusted readers on the nth-draft version of The Nature of a Pirate, and the feedback so far leads me to believe that it’s about as good as I think it is, with a few fixable flaws to give it personality.
Even now, Kelly is typing madly at the last of what I know will be an excellent and insightful round of comments.
Two: I have begun work on what I hope will be a short story (as opposed to a novelette, or a novellismo, or a novella, or some other deitydamned long thing, that is) and I’m dictating the draft. Its working titles are “The Perils of Slow Reflexes in Meatspace” and/or possibly “The Euphemism Font.” Dictating meant I could work anywhere, and I spent a happy couple of hours on the shore of Lake Ontario today, looking at all my fellow sun-worshippers, enjoying the breeze, committing fiction, laughing at doggy antics and taking the occasional bird photo. Then I went to the bakery and bought a serious load of Forno Cultura cookies and bread items, which is a source of gratitude all on its own.
Third and finally: I am beginning to bash away at the beginnings of having a Redbubble store for a few of my best photographs. What this means, eventually, will be that a handful of them will be up all the time for the ordering, as prints, greeting cards, tablet skins, and what-have-you. And when someone asks for a print of something specific, as sometimes happens, I’ll add that to the mix, possibly on a limited-time-offer kind of deal.
What it means now is a lot of experimenting and play, some of it with photos that will only be up until I determine exactly what I want. One of the current experiments is the above shot of CinCin, which–thanks to Cats of Instagram–is now and will probably remain the shot of mine seen by most humans anywhere ever.
If you’ve asked for a print in the past, still want it, and remember the shot (or can even describe it using your words) let me know and I’ll bump it up the queue. And yes–the dragonfly close-up will go up soon, I promise, once I’ve racked up a few more experiments.
Or you should, anyway. Is my argument.
As I write these words it’s Thursday the 23rd, and I am sitting in Luma, which is the upstairs restaurant at the Tiff Bell Lightbox theater, at King and John Streets in Toronto, having what Kelly and I like to call a Superglam Writing Date. It’s a lovely spot for it–spacious and comfy, with good coffee for me, interesting wines for Kelly and a little plate of cookies and random shards of the dessert menu, made for sharing. The staff are pleasant. The crowd is upbeat and bubbly, pleased with the fact that most of them are dining, drinking, and then heading into a darkened room to share a brainy film experience with strangers. The music is neither too intrusive nor laced with yeeoldey hits of days gone by. (And you never get cuss-laden misogynist rap, which is more than I can say for the Jimmy’s on Gerrard.)
Normally I would be writing fiction and nothing else on an outing like this, but I am taking a little break from The Nature of a Pirate while some trusted writers and readers gnaw on it. The goal is one more pass through the text, starting Monday, working from their comments, and then a submission to my editor by summer’s end. After that, I will probably write some grant applications and short stories while contemplating my next novel-length move.
A few things I’ve been involved in lately:
- SF Signal’s Mindmeld asked what fictional character I (and Kelly, and several other writers) would offer Canadian citizenship to. I chose: the Tick. My argument is that Toronto, while lovely, could use a lot more of the surreal.
- Also on SF Signal, the full ToC for License Expired has been released. It is a wonder to behold. In addition to a gleamingly awesome author line-up, including Kelly, this Ian Fleming inspired anthology has some fantastic story titles: my Moneypenny story is called “Through Your Eyes Only,” for example, James Alan Gardner will be giving us “The Spy who Remembered Me,” and Claude LaLumiere’s story is entitled “You Never Love Once.”
- Finally, I’d like to announce that my Tor.com novelette “The Color of Paradox” has been selected by Sandra Kasturi and Jerome Stueart for the Canadian Best Of antho from ChiZine Publications, Imaginarium 4, where it will appear with stories by So Many People!! Peter Watts and Gemma Files and Kelley Armstrong and Peter Chiykowski and Eric Choi and Cory Doctorow and Helen Marshall and David Nickle and and and… it’s an incredible line-up, and I am lucky to be in it.
All very pleasing things, and I hope to announce another reprint sale soon, once the contract’s in and done. Is the summer being similarly kind to you? I definitely hope so.
photo by Kelly Robson
Tomorrow I have another author interview coming up on the site, this one with David B. Coe, who has a book out this week and will tell you all about it tomorrow! So today I am having an early go at the three great things posts I’ve been (somewhat) getting up on Fridays, to celebrate the random and not-so-random sources of joy in my week.
What’s tricky about this is that I’ve already bibbled a bit about the awesome run to the African Lion Safari and Niagara Falls, and getting to reconnect with dear friends in the process.
What else happened? Here’s three things:
One: Lovely people have been offering up bouquets of support for various projects. A relative texted me this morning, just to let me know he’d pre-ordered A Daughter of No Nation, for example, and a couple of friends are reading the third book in the trilogy, The Nature of a Pirate, to let me know if the plot cogs in the mystery are 1) sufficiently mysterious; and yet 2) not overly opaque. One of them mentioned diving into a second read a week later, which is above and beyond the call and much appreciated; the other wrote me out of the blue to quietly hint he’d love a shot at the unpolished manuscript, even though it’s been taking me a hundred years per page to read his current novel. The last couple of rounds of notes-from-editors on some of my upcoming stories have been insightful, too. Good readers make the sausage tastier.
People are wonderful, in other words, and I am incredibly blessed.
Two: As I was teaching this week, I came up with the following analogy, which I think holds up even without the conversation that sprung it, and which I can probably turn into a whole essay at some point.
Making up POV as you go is as valid as any kind of pantsing, but at some point you will have to decide who’s telling your story. Once you do, you’ll know how the narrative voice will handle your various characters’ names. Once you know that, you can clearly establish how each character generally refers to the others, and be consistent from there.
Imagine being a professional driver of some (improbably) generic stripe. Imagine that each morning you get up, go to a parking lot, and get to choose between driving an ambulance, schoolbus, limousine, hearse, taxicab, an armored car, a catering truck… you name it. The thing you do with your day is, arguably, more or less identical: you’re operating a motor vehicle. But which of the vehicles you choose–an apparently simple and innocuous decision–is going to determine whether you’re spending the day surrounded by preschoolers or rushing to the scene of an accident.
In all of the above cases, weaving all over the road is unprofessional. But choosing a vehicle at random and then trying to figure out if you’re transporting a coffin or picking up Robert DeNiro at the airport… one could argue that it’s a bit outlandish.
Figuring out which POV you’re going to use to drive the story isn’t innocuous. Don’t underrate it.
Three: My good friend and teaching guru Linda Carson teaches a color course at Waterloo University, which means among other things that she has one of the coolest boards on Pinterest. She asked me to do her an Instagram favor this week, and a side effect of that was that I found out about this. Human ingenuity in the pursuit of cool beauty makes me happy. I expect this will make you happy too.