If you happened to be outside my front window right now, this is what you would see. (Please don’t step on my flowers while you are there, you mad stalker! I actually got some bulbs going that the squirrels have so far neglected to eat.)
My birch trees are busting out fine new leaves, perfect little chlorophyll-laden shapes, with edges like serrated knives, and I have been writing Novel Writing III critiques about a meter from the bird feeder, which is exceedingly popular with the local sparrows.
Yesterday tasted of summer. It was bright and sunny and the house got a little bit stuffy. You could walk outside in a dress. No tights, no coat required. Kelly and I strolled out through a cherry blossom-infested U of T campus to Bloor Street, and a matinee of the film adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd. This was a speed version of Thomas Hardy. Look, a girl! Look, a boy! Another boy! A third boy! Unhappiness! Misery! Woe! Boom! Conveniently, we’re now back to one available party representing each of the sexes. Someone read the damned banns already.
To sum up my emotional reaction to this particular costume drama: the horses were pretty and nobody got hanged.
We came home, waited for it to cloud over, and climbed into the hot tub. This enabled me, later, to phone Vancouver, say “Thank you for giving me life!” and proceed to brag about how awesome a day it had been.
Today it is cooler and foggy.
I have a schtick on Facebook whereby I’ll often give the cats (whom we adopted 358 days ago, I’ll have you know) super-sekrit spy names for the day. Moose and Squirrel. Joe Dick and Billy Talent. Laundry Chicken and What’s Going On? Today it was Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap, which has spawned a small conversation about whether anyone could successfully reboot WKRP In Cincinnati and, if so, how? My position is that it would have to start exactly like the Battlestar Galactica reboot: Earth gets nuked, but Cincinatti survives. For obscure reasons (one friend claims this would be Johnny’s paranoia in action) the radio station was shielded against EMP.
Red Wigglers the size of Cadillacs would be roaming the Midwest, which makes it all seem like a mash-up with Dune.
Continuing on with the random, I am pondering a few fine linguistic details within the Stormwrack universe. A few of these came up when I was reviewing the copy-edit of A Daughter of No Nation. I got a query about when I use “in Fleet” as opposed to when I use “the Fleet.” (Answer: ‘in Fleet’ when they mean the city, and the words ‘in Tacoma’ could be used just as correctly. ‘The Fleet’ when we’re talking about the subsection that is a navy: “We’ll be sending the Fleet around to see if you’re in compliance with the Treaty.”) I had been doing this correctly but without conscious thought.
And here’s something that doesn’t happen to literary writers all that often: I had already known that the portions of the Hidden Sea Tales that take place on Stormwrack (as opposed to in San Francisco) were playing out, linguistically, in Fleetspeak. This means that those scenes played out in Fleet and were translated, by me, into present-day English. This is something that’s essentially invisible to everyone but my wacky imagination, but it became something of an entertaining conceit through the copy-edit process.
See, I’m no Tolkien. (I know, you’re shocked.) I don’t actually speak Fleetspeak. And the poor copy-editor really doesn’t speak Fleetspeak. So there was a bit of them going “Here’s a foreign word,” and me going, “No, that’s actually a real English science word. I had to look it up, too.” And them going “Here’s another foreign word ,” and me going, “It’s not foreign in Fleetspeak.”
Them: “Here’s another another foreign word.
Me: “Yes, that one’s Erinthian. Obvs. We can italicize that.”
None of which actually happened face to face, you understand. I’m describing a process of me talking to pencil marks on a 600-page manuscript that is now, blessedly, wrapped, taped, bar-coded and in the hands of Canada Post.
The c/e did a meticulous, thoughtful job and I’m so fucking grateful you can’t even imagine.
Finally, I am groping for a verb I can noun (or a noun I can verb) to describe a particular element of the magical inscription process, whereby a spellscribe takes an existing spell and creates a variation on it. I played with embroidering, but it’s long and unwieldy and not quite right. The embroidered spell? A broidery?
The closest equivalent to the variation/embroidery process would be someone taking a fiddly gourmet recipe and creating an undeniably different–but recognizably similar–food. Going from curried plantains in coconut milk to… maybe something with green mangos?
Why am I not currying plantains tonight? Why am I not currying plantains right now?
Yes, I’ve been very quiet lately, here in Blogland and also on places like the Book of Face. I want to write you all, I do. And there’s nothing particular keeping me silent except a mountain of busy. And “Hey, all, I’m working on stuff,” seems rather a dull thing to say.
A good chunk of the mountain has been wrangling The Nature of a Pirate, the third book in the Hidden Sea Tales. It’s moving along, and I’m happy with the process, but it’s not easy.
This year UCLA changed its classroom software, which has been a good and amazing thing, but which also means that I am recoding my classes as I simultaneously teach other classes. And the class last quarter and the one coming up are doozies: lots of thinking, lots of critiquing, lots of brain.
I’m also critiquing a whole novel for a one-on-one student. Again, lots of thinking.
I got our taxes off to the accountant this week! Go me!
I hope to be interesting for you all again soon.
The joke I’ve been making since I learned last week that Child of a Hidden Sea had made the 27th Lambda Literary Awards Finalist List, has been that my previous book, Blue Magic, is “way more gay.”
It’s easy to crack wise when these things happen, because it’s difficult to know what to say, beyond the obvious, about a nomination. The obvious being that I’m more than pleased… I’m thrilled, really, and also–hence the joke–surprised too. I am happy for my fellow Tor authors, Max Gladstone and Daryl Gregory, and for all the other nominees. I’m pleased to have personal connections to other people on the ballot, like Lloyd Meeker (we used to sing together in a choir called Out in Harmony) and one of my oldest friends in the world, the marvelous Keph Senett, who has a story in A Family by Any Other Name: Exploring Queer Relationships. These are the people in my neighborhood, the not-quite-imaginary place where queerness and feminism and activism and artistic expression all intersect to produce wonders.
It’s easier in person, of course. I got to brag up the nomination at the SpecFic Colloquium this past weekend, in between hearing Nnedi Okorafor, David Nickle, Simon McNeil, Alex Leitch and Derek Newman-Stile talking about everything from racism and ableism to gamergate and James Bond. I got to be all delighted and smug at my weekly writing date on Thursday, too.
The nomination injected a big dose of excitement into last week, in other words, and continues to offer up a warm glow of delight as the days pass.
Final edits for A Daughter of No Nation are done, done, OMG done, and the book’s back at Tor. Soon there will be copy-edits to proof. Meanwhile, I’m finishing up a short story for License Expired and then moving into polishing up The Nature of a Pirate.
So… blogging will commence approximately six minutes after I can form a sentence more complex than “Dur dur dur.”
I do spend a shocking amount of time saying “Get off da counter!” as it happens. CinCin has an advanced degree in incorrigible and she loves loves loves to mooch.
If you would like to kickstart this process whereby I become communicative again (kickstart in the old fashioned sense of the word, and not the “Let’s raise money for a rockin’ awesome project!” sense, though if you want to throw money at me of course I’ll knit a pink net to catch it with), feel free to suggest some topics. I’m often at my most interesting when I’m talking about something I hadn’t realized you all wanted to know.
Now that I have a shiny new cover for A Daughter of No Nation, I asked if anyone had any questions about the upcoming book, which’ll be out in November.
And Paul Weimer did! He asks:
Is Sophie’s brother coming back?
Yes. Bram is in both A Daughter of No Nation (or, sometimes, ADoNN) and the third book, whose tentative title is The Nature of a Pirate.
How much time takes place between the end of Child of a Hidden Sea and the beginning of ADoNN?
The second book picks up about six months after Sophie’s deportation from the Fleet at the end of CHS.
Will we ever see a map? (you knew I needed to ask that)…
Honestly, I don’t know. I have hopes that it’ll happen one day… but as you probably remember, there’s so much ocean on Stormwrack, and so little land, that any full map of the planet would look like a blue sphere with green pimples. Also, since I am completely incapable of drawing one, some assistance will be required. A better bet is getting maps of some of the great nations, one day: Sylvanna, for example, and Verdanii. I don’t think there’s going to be a map in this book, though.
What new characters are you most excited to introduce us to?
Hmmm, who’s the most exciting new character in the second novel? We do see a little more of Sweet, who has been promoted up from her bosun’s assistant position on Nightjar, and you meet Watts, a doctor they pick up en route in this second book. I think the most fun I had with characters you haven’t seen previously was probably with a certain monk on Issle Morta, who has some strongly held opinions about Garland Parrish’s life and career choices.
You also get a quick look at Sophie’s adoptive parents, Regina and Cornell Hansa.
Paul, thank you for the questions! And the floor’s still open, everyone–what else do you all want to know?