When did you first start writing?
I think I was around twelve, after reading Fred Saberhagen’s Swords series and getting my first itch for fanfic. Then I began an epic story about all my best friends, featuring different-colored unicorns. This book is, thankfully, lost to the ages.
Who are your biggest writing influences?
As a child, I was most influenced by Anne McCaffrey and Robin McKinley. As an adult, it’s been Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, and Connie Willis.
Where did the idea for THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY come from?
I used to write for role-playinggames, and in 2005 (post–Hurricane Katrina), I got together with some friends to do a print‑on‑demand RPG book about New Orleans to benefit the Red Cross. New Orleans has such a history with myth and magic, I had the idea to see the city from a zombie tour guide’s POV, so I wrote a short story called “The Shambling Guide to New Orleans.” After I wrote that short piece for the book, I began thinking of other cities that would have an underground monster population that might be in need of guidebooks.
Category: Orbit UK
by May 22nd, 2013-
With THE RED PLAGUE AFFAIR (UK|US|ANZ) released so close to the birthdate of Arthur Conan Doyle (that’s today!), and its two Victorian sleuths owing much to Sherlock Holmes (after all, which fictional detectives do not?) we asked the author, Lilith Saintcrow, to tell us a bit about Doyle’s influence on her work.
THE RED PLAGUE AFFAIR is the second of Bannon and Clare’s adventures and the follow up to THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR. Listen to the audiobooks here.
For a long time, I didn’t even know Sherlock Holmes existed. Instead, I loved another boy.
His name was Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown.
I had two battered, ancient Encyclopedia Brown collections when I was a kid, probably from some garage sale or another. Most of the stories have receded into the mist that is my bad memory for everything before I was 20, but I remember a particular story where Leroy figured out an ambulance was the getaway vehicle because the stupid criminals put someone in it feet-first.
I was completely enchanted by the idea that a regular kid could, just by observation, change the course of events. This seemed a superpower anyone was capable of acquiring, with enough stubborn persistence and attention to detail. I mean, flight and superstrength are pretty badass, but I think most kids start suspecting neither are truly available outside their imaginations pretty early on.
I am not sure when I first began to suspect that my dear Leroy was an homage to someone else. It was probably at the point that Young Sherlock Holmes blazed into my consciousness, and I immediately marched into the library and started looking for “based on the stories of.”
Imagine my surprise upon meeting Holmes and Watson, two middle-aged men decidedly less attractive to the twelve-year-old girl I was. Arthur Conan Doyle’s prose style gave me a little difficulty, but much less than Shakespeare and only a little more than Louisa May Alcott. Plus, there were murders. Chases. A network of street kids bringing information. Cocaine. Music. Horses.
Irene Adler. Read the rest of this entry »
by May 21st, 2013-
“It is the greatest gift of my people, that we can bring our dreams to life for other eyes. Fantasy is a tool; like any other tool, it may be used poorly or well. At its best, fantasy reveals truths that cannot be shown any other way.”
– Sören Kristiaan Hansen, aka Deliann Mithondionne, the Changeling Prince (BLADE OF TYSHALLE, book two of the Acts of Caine)
A few years before I was born, an American journalist named Edward R. Murrow hosted a program on the CBS Radio Network called This I Believe. Each episode only lasted five minutes, of which three and a half were given over to an essay by a different contributor, each speaking about the specific personal convictions that they felt gave their lives meaning. In the generally terrifying atmosphere of the early Cold War, this program was the closest the 1950s ever got to a viral video. It was the most listened-to English-language program in history at that time, and it spawned books, and records, and other radio programs – some of which continue to this day.
When the good folk at Orbit decided to pick up my Acts of Caine novels, they asked me to contribute a blog-post-slash-promotional-essay or two for their website. I dislike writing about myself in any kind of biographical sense; if I thought that where I was born, my family, education, hobbies and pets and private life generally were any of your business, I’d write memoirs, not heroic fantasy.
I also have very little interest in commenting on my stories. My comments are the stories. Now – despite my dislike – I’ve done both of these things, and reasonably often, because that’s what people keep telling me I have to do to promote my books. The Good Folk, however, gave me license to write whatever I want.
I want to write about what I believe.
Most of what follows will be about story, because I make stories the same way I breathe: even to pause requires an act of will, and if I ever stop, it’s because I’m dead.
So… This I believe:
Not all honest writing is good, but all good writing is honest.
What’s not said is as important as what is. Often more important. Most of the trick to writing is knowing what to leave out.
It’s easier to make people cry if you’ve already made them laugh. And vice versa.
Whatever a story’s other virtues, if it’s not entertaining you, you’re wasting your time. A story is only great if it’s great for you. Personally.
What any work of art means depends on who you are when you look at it. What you get out of a book depends on what you bring to it. A book is only marks on a page (or pixels on a screen). The story is what happens in your imagination as you scan those marks. Books aren’t deep. Some readers are.
We’re thrilled to congratulate Kim Stanley Robinson, whose 2312 won the Nebula Award for Best Novel of 2012.
The Nebula Awards are selected and presented by the members of the SFWA, and honor the best in science fiction and fantasy across a number of categories. The awards were announced over the weekend at the Nebula Awards Banquet in San Jose, CA. Visit the SFWA for a complete list of the nominees and winners.
As an editor, there’s no better feeling than reading a submission that blinds you with its sheer brilliance. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s one of the most exciting things about working in publishing.
Bitter Seeds was one of those submissions. I’d heard some positive murmurings coming out of the US about Ian Tregillis’s debut novel, but began reading the book with no particular expectations – and was left amazed by its vivid prose, bold action sequences and the wonderful depth of its characterisation. Not to mention the underlying plot that regularly crosses into the realms of sheer genius.
Bitter Seeds – and the other two books in the Milkweed Triptych, The Coldest War and Necessary Evil – have something of the chameleon about them, in that their underlying plots are constantly shifting and evolving. Just when you think you might have figured them out, they’ll change direction and completely shatter your expectations (my jaw dropped so many times when reading this trilogy that I attracted more than one strange look from my fellow commuters).
These novels are also chameleonic (totally a word, I looked it up!) in the sense that they weave so many different elements together to form something unique. At heart, the books are adventure stories – Nazi superhumans battling British warlocks – with a dangerously high dosage of action and espionage. Yet these novels are also subtle and extremely intelligent, weaving plots that shock and delight in equal measure, not to mention packing a serious emotional punch when the stakes are at their highest.
There are a host of complex, memorable characters within the pages of these books, such as Raybould Marsh, who must constantly balance his loyalty to his country with his love for his family, and Will Beauclerk, whose powers may end the war but destroy him in the process. Yet most memorable of all is Gretel, a gypsy orphan who wields a manipulative power so great that life itself is just another pawn in her Grand Design – the ultimate outcome of which only she knows.
One thing is for sure: you’ll certainly never see it coming.
Praise for Ian Tregillis and the Milkweed novels:
A confident and thrilling debut” – SFX
“An imaginative tour de force” – KIRKUS
“[An] astonishing, brilliant, pulse-pounding debut trilogy” – CORY DOCTOROW
“Compelling, fascinating and frighteningly convincing” – FANTASY FACTION
“Ian Tregillis is a major new talent . . . I can’t wait to see more” – GEORGE R. R. MARTIN
With the RED PLAGUE audiobook coming out on the same day, and the audiobook of THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR (UK | US | ANZ) – Bannon and Clare’s first adventure – also coming to the UK and Australia on the 21st, we thought we’d share a treat with you to whet your appetite for some Victorian mystery-solving, magic-wielding action!
For newcomers to the series who want to stay spoiler-free, here’s the prologue to THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR . . .
And for everyone who’s read IRON WYRM, here’s the first chapter of THE RED PLAGUE AFFAIR. Enjoy!
The Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas has announced the finalists for the 2013 John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Here’s the full slate:
- The Hydrogen Sonata, by Iain M. Banks (US | UK | ANZ)
- Any Day Now, by Terry Bisson
- Existence, by David Brin (UK | ANZ)
- The Rapture of the Nerds, by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross
- Empty Space, by M. John Harrison
- Intrusion, by Ken MacLeod (UK | ANZ)
- Railsea, by China Miéville
- The Fractal Prince, by Hannu Rajaniemi
- Blue Remembered Earth, by Alastair Reynolds
- Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer, by Adam Roberts
- 2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson (US | UK | ANZ)
- Slow Apocalypse, by John Varley
- Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson
Congratulations to Orbit authors Iain M. Banks, David Brin, Ken MacLeod, and Kim Stanley Robinson, as well as to the rest of the finalists! The winner will be announced during the Campbell Conference in Lawrence Kansas on June 14th.
Chat with author and podcaster Mur Lafferty next week in a live, interactive event brought to you by Shindig! You may know Mur as the host of the award-winning “I Should Be Writing” podcast or for her work with “Escape Pod,” which publishes audio science fiction short stories — now get to know her as an urban fantasy author.
This event will be live on Wednesday, May 22nd from 6:30-7:30 EDT. RSVP today.
The Dagger and Coin series continues in the third installment, THE TYRANT’S LAW (US |UK | AUS) — available now. Familiar characters will face new challenges, alone, and nothing can stop the great war now. Read an excerpt here or start from the beginning of the series with THE DRAGON’S PATH (US | UK | AUS).
There have been a lot of great things said about the latest novel so far. Here are a few highlights.
Praise for THE TYRANT’S LAW
“The third novel in the Dagger and the Coin quintet (after The King’s Blood) undermines expectations in the most satisfying ways. This smart, absorbing, fascinating military fantasy, exciting and genuinely suspenseful, will keep readers on their toes.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The time taken has worked to perfect effect in this third book, wherein each character is crafted to perfection and the story comes to its own monumental, glorious peak….Easily the best of the series, and perhaps the best book this reviewer has read in the last 12 months.” – RT Book Reviews (4.5 Stars)
“Daniel Abraham continues to write quality novels that feel familiar and yet entirely unique at the same time, and The Tyrant’s Law is a fine addition to one of fantasy’s strongest series.” – A Dribble of Ink
“For folks who have to discover him, kindly do so at the earliest as the Dagger and the Coin quintet is epic fantasy handled by an exquisite writer who is at the top of his writing game.” – Fantasy Book Critic
“…it is difficult to distill into one review the pure enjoyment the settles into me when I read these books (or as I’m coming to realize, anything Daniel Abraham writes).” – Robert H. Bedford
Ready for more? Head on over to Mur’s website to listen to the first and second chapters of THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY in an ongoing audio serialization of the novel. Don’t feel like waiting? Pre-order the entire audio book today from your favorite retailer. This book releases on May 21st!