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Interview on latest book

This interview, slightly revised below, appeared recently on The Wonderings of One Person blog.

Please tell us a little bit about you.

Recently, after 10 science science fiction novels, I developed an interest in historical time-periods and decided to try my hand at historical fantasy. I have been a great admirer of Michael Moorcock’s Glorianna and Naomi Novik’s Tremeraire series as well as the American history fantasy novels of Orson Scott Card (Alvin Maker) and D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker Chronicles. At a time in my career when I was feeling the need to branch out from science fiction, I found myself with several intriguing ideas for quasi-historical settings laced with magic. I’m very energized by this new direction!

My first fantasy novel, A Thousand Perfect Things came out last August. It combines the reason of the Victorian Age with the magic of an alternate India. I’ve had some lovely comments and reviews on this book. Including these:

  • “A smart, engaging fantasy.” — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 100 best books of 2013
  • “A heady mix of romance, history, action and adventure–a real mélange of both exotic and domestic flavors, blended like a fine imported tea.” — The Sleeping Hedgehog
  • “Beautifully written, emotional, full of adventure, scandal and intrigue with a host of seriously cool, original monsters and exciting scientific ideas.” — Adventures in SciFi Publishing

My only series (so far) is the sci-fantasy quartet, The Entire and The Rose. Book One, Bright of the Sky, was one of Publishers Weekly’s top books of 2007. I’ve been a finalist for a number of awards in this genre — and last, but not least, I’m going to the World Science Fiction Convention in London in August!

Why did you choose to pursue the art of writing?

This may be an odd answer, but I think it was the last possible thing left for me. That is, I don’t think there’s anything else I’m very good at. I do love writing stories, fortunately!

What was the inspiration for AThousand Perfect Things?

The British Raj in India. I happened to pick up a book on that subject, and was fascinated with India’s beauty and resiliance. I had already decided that I would write a Victorian-era novel, but it was at that point that it shifted to a Victorian woman in India. What I love about fantasy mixed with history is that I can create unusual worlds that are still recognizable, and even famliar. Using the ground of history anchors the reader to something “real.” We can sink into, say, an 1857 English countryside manor, and feel that we know the place. From those recognizable surroundings we can then enjoy the slow unveiling of indigenous magic and extra-normal events. It’s not all totally new.

What kept you going throughout the writing process?

An outline. That sounds so ordinary, but honestly, on page 220 a writer is thankful for a path through the forest, even if it requires some adjustment as you get familair with the territory.

Is there a singular character that really touched your heart and why?

Tori Harding, my main character. She was the reason I wrote the story. I wanted to explore the ambitions and growth of a young woman of high (but thwarted) ability who found her way out of the maze of Victorian restrictions. Since I was also interested in the question of “having it all” and the way ambition can twist people, I was moved by Tori’s choices and her decisions. What do we do when we are offered ultimate power?

Can we expect to hear more from these characters in the near future?

I have two novels coming up that will not be set in the Victorian age. (One is set in a quasi-rennaissance milieu; another takes place in the 1930s.) So I have no plans for another Tori novel at this time.

How has this story touched your life?

As an author, you have to come to terms with your love of writing, the lottery-like chances of selling well, and your longing to create a great story that might turn out to be just a bit beyond your grasp. It is a crazy-making business if you’ve been around publishing long enough. How much success is enough? Why isn’t each novel as powerful as you first imagined it would be? How do recognize when it’s time to shift paths and take creative risks? These questions haunted me while writing A Thousand Perfect Things. At the end, I felt that I had been on a deep personal journey.

#SFWApro

 

Got Conference?

New York Times bestselling author, Jess Walter

New York Times bestselling author, Jess Walter

Two weeks until the fab writers conference in Easter Washington, Write on the River. Join us May 16-18 in Wenatchee  for workshops, chats with authors, agent/publisher appointments and a keynote by the amazing Jess Walter!

Conferences like this one can instruct, inspire and impact your writing life. And in Wenatchee, the weather is warm, and wine country beckons for an extended stay.

We’ll have our usual emphasis on fiction and nonfiction, along with key workshops on self publishing. Our guest agent is Andrea Hurst. Special sessions from Larry Brooks, one of the most sought-after writing teachers in the country. He’ll teach a class on Saturday and a half day master class on Sunday. Fifteen workshops to choose from, all in the beautiful campus setting of Wenatchee Valley College.

Write on the River Conference

May 16 (evening keynote) and May 17-18

Register here. Info on workshops/faculty:  WOTR website.

Our lineup of workshops includes:

FICTION

LBrooks

Larry Brooks

  • Characterization
  • The structure of the novel
  • Short stories
  • Poetry
  • YA writing
  • an evening with Jess Walter (Friday, May 16)

 

 

Wendy Call on creative nonfiction

Wendy Call on creative nonfiction

NONFICTION and PUBLISHING:

  • Creative nonfiction
  • The nonfiction book: how to begin
  • Agent and editor appointments
  • Internet marketing
  • Publishing: what traditional publishers are looking for
  • New publishing: hybrids and do-it-yourself

 

 

Jason Brick on self publishing

Jason Brick on self publishing

Agent Andrea Hurst

Agent Andrea Hurst

 

 

 

 

 

My Victorian World

What does a Victorian world look like? Science fiction and fantasy authors have created a rich variety, from Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate to Mark Hodder’s Burton & Swinburne series, just a couple random picks from that great range of steampunk offerings.

Here is a glimpse of my own Victorian world, in A Thousand Perfect Things.

Big ben reversedOn the surface . . . my Victorian world is a recognizable one, with elegance, manor houses, and women seeking good matches. It is a world of carriages and colonialism, matchmaking and manor houses. My alternate England is a land where science reigns supreme, but where a woman, no matter how brilliant, cannot be admitted to the realm of science.

On the other hand . . . not all is so calm. England’s men of science are so enthralled by logic and engineering that they condemn an alternative way of knowing that is very real: magic. The continent of Bharata (an alternate India) is a kingdom of the most powerful magics. Tired of the colonial yoke, Bharata’s mages send attacks of magical terrorism to England, such as enlivening iron statues and sending them on killing rampages. A 500 foot high cobra made of water rises out of the Thames and wreaks destruction. Read More…

Twenty feet from being Stephen King

Today’s offering is a guest post from Louise Marley, an award-winning author of historical fiction as well as science fiction and fantasy. Her musings on the writing life and the reach for stardom are generous and profound. Enjoy!

___________________________________

“There’s never a level playing field,” says Sting, in the brilliant documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom.  You can skip this little essay and go straight to your television to watch that film if you like. It speaks for itself.   As a metaphor for the show-biz aspects of writing, or indeed of any artistic endeavor, it has no equal.  And it comes accompanied by spectacular music.

The documentary traces the lives and careers of back-up singers, those gifted and hardworking artists who Sting filmstand twenty feet from the “star” and whose names hardly anyone outside the industry knows.  Some of them made substantial, long-lasting careers.  Some even had glimpses of stardom.  Others, through no lack of talent or discipline or effort, remained—and remain—obscure.  The great Merry Clayton made a life in music, and won the respect of everyone who worked with her, but she’s hardly a household name.  Darlene Love tried a solo career, was betrayed and marginalized, and only succeeded after she had been in the business for more than twenty years.  The incomparable, mesmerizing Lisa Fischer is the most perplexing.  Hers is a voice of enormous range and beauty, and she possesses an enviable musicality, but again, hers is not a name the man on the street could call to mind.

Stephen King is a very, very famous writer, and he has legitimately earned his stripes.  Even his nonfiction memoir is a compelling read.  He also seems to be a thoroughly nice man, and a generous one.  To my knowledge, no one resents his success, but is he that much better than all the other writers in his genre?  Or does he possess that elusive and indefinable something that makes him a “star”? Read More…

Best little writing conference around

You gotta love it. Write on the River in Wenatchee. Join us in wine country May 16-18 for sunshine, workshops, exciting teachers, and the great Jess Walter.

Featuring:

Jess WalterJess Walter, Keynoter. Friday evening, May 16. Author of Beautiful Ruins. Walter is brilliant and funny, humble and inspiring. Meet Jess and enjoy an evening of words and wine. Separate tickets to this event only $15.

 

 

HurstGuest agent, Andrea Hurst who will hear pitches and talk about Crafting Fiction and Memoir that sells.

 

Sunday Master class and Saturday story engineering class with Larry Brooks, author of Story Oct 13 HeadshotPhysics and the Wolf Schmidt thriller Deadly Faux.

Beth_Bacon_Booktrope

 

Guest Editor Beth Bacon from Booktrope, a hybrid publisher that has the chops to produce a quality book, put together a marketing team, and share the revenues with the author.

 

Plus: Nonfiction with Wendy Call and Peter Stark, science fiction and fantasy with Nancy Kress and Jack Skillingstead, fiction with Craig English, social media with Jason Brick, YA writing with Suzanne Selfors and much more!

Registration now open!

@SFWAauthors