Just this second got greenlit to announce a Secret! *ahem*
ARCHIVIST WASP, my postapocalyptic katabasis coming-of-age ghost story thing YA novel, with monsters and priestesses and supersoldiers and a saltlick!, has been picked up by Small Beer's fiction-for-all-ages imprint, Big Mouth House.
How excited an N am I? Lo I am a VERY EXCITED N INDEED. Specifically I am an N excited with the very specific sort of excitement that comes of realizing you are about to be working with the publisher who was at the top of your list of potential publishers because you suspect they are just that good a match for you. And also because they are straight awesome. No question.
If you are an excited you as well, you must go forth and kiss the exalted feet of Ysabeau Wilce, who is an Extremely Sneaky Instigator.
- Was supposed to fly out of Albany. This did not happen. Allegedly my flight did actually run on time, but as I did not learn this until after I'd returned, and before I'd left I'd heard from at least two people whose airlines had lied to them about grounded flights being on time, AND given that Julia Rios (skogkatt) and Moss Collum and Claire Cooney (csecooney) were about 20 minutes from my house to pick me up by the time I even got my internet back, the flying did not happen.
- What did happen instead was 8 hours in a car, arriving at 2 in the morning in Torontoish, having eaten apples and listened to lots of new-to-me music and doing a 3-hour Les Mis singalong with Claire, wherein I amused myself by remembering most of the lyrics to songs I hadn't heard in fifteen years. Only stopping at rest stops, because Moss and Julia are superheroes and drove straight on through.
- This was one of those new-to-me songs, which csecooney theorizes is what my brain probably sounds like.
- Speaking of groundless slander which I will neither confirm nor deny, pattytempleton asserts that I look like a spy who is trying not to look like a spy. Make of that what you will.
- Did read from the recentlyish-finished novel. Did have an enthusiastic audience. Did appreciate this.
- Live music. Sexy dancing women.
- Attended readings, my absolute favorite of which was handful_ofdust's. She does things with language that should be illegal, and this was one kickass story I can't wait to see in print.
- Very much enjoyed the Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours (tithenai, csecooney, pattytempleton, sevenravens, plus banjo, harp, and cookies). Greater than the not insubstantial sum of its parts.
- Helped set up a launch party! This does not sound like much in the grand scheme of things but was a definite highlight of the con. Mental note: volunteer often.
- Lots of delicious food eaten in delicious company. There was salad! in! the con suite! And fruit! So much fruit! And excellent excellent Indian and Thai food and more salads. Also salads. And at least two very creative very tasty drinks. And rather more than two non-creative ones, though also tasty.
- There seem to be five or so different kinds of friends at cons. There are the ones you already love and look forward to seeing. The ones you already know so well online but have never yet met in person, and get along with fabulously because how could you not. The ones you pass and exchange hellos and waves with in the halls and wish you could hang out with more, but scheduling always gets in the way. The ones you're just getting to know, and get along with, but you know you'll like them even better next year. And the ones with whom you get introduced, shake hands, and then proceed to exchange polite hellos with and wander off -- then get to know much better, all suddenly, purely by chance, and instantly click with, shortly before it's time to leave, and you find yourself sort of wanting to rewind the con so you can get that process started fortyeight hours earlier, but of course it wouldn't work that way, not if you tried to do it deliberately, it's the element of chance that makes it so astonishing.
- So many books in my suitcase. Leaving home with a suitcase containing no books and returning home with a suitcase containing a couple dozen books is, in my view, a winning condition. At least I did not quite have to resort to piling my clothes on my head like a hat, as earlier predicted. Though I did have to jettison some stuff. I've never checked luggage for a flight and I don't aim to start now.
- Still strange coming home from cons, adjusting from talking to hyperintelligent adults to talking to a four-year-old, albeit a super smart one. It's like speaking different languages. He still keeps running up to me and hugging me and saying he missed me. I missed you too, kid.
- Still only about half unpacked. Still have only read one half of one book. I don't care about unpacking, but half of a new book since Sunday, when I have two huge piles of new books waiting for my attention, is inexcusable.
- I love the cumulative nature of the con-going experience. How each time I'll meet a bunch of new people, really click with one or two if I'm lucky, and go to the next con knowing that many more people to spend time with. The flipside of that is of course that it also gives me more people to miss. Bah.
- I know I am forgetting things but it was all amazing. My favorite con weekend yet.
- Readercon next year! Hope to see you there!
I think I'm supposed to tag more people to do this. Eh. Do it if you want to, and show me! I love seeing what you all are working on.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing
What is the title of your book? Working title is ARCHIVIST WASP. Either a project shows up waving its title around on a banner or it, um, doesn't. This didn't. Working title. Beta readers seemed to think it worked so we're going with it.
Where did the idea come from for the book? Oh dear. Hrm. I've been carrying the seed of this book around in my head for about half my life now. Maybe longer. Apart from that ... I always tell people that this book wears my heart on its sleeve. I've basically taken most everything I love, mashed it together, and dumped it into this story. Somehow it seemed to hold.
What genre does your book fall under? It's basically a SF story embedded in a postapocalyptic fantasy story. With a teenage protagonist and a coming-of-age thing. And a whole lot of violence. And katabasis. And ghosts. Really your guess is as good as mine.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I'm terrible at this. I can never picture characters vividly, in terms of build or facial features. I only really see their personalities. If that makes any sense. It probably doesn't help that the whole time I was writing this it looked like a cartoon or a graphic novel in my head, so trying to translate these characters into real people is ... not happening.
What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book? Hmm. An unwilling ghosthunter/priestess of a rather unpleasant post-apocalyptic cult travels through the underworld with the ghost of a supersoldier to solve a mystery and attempt to win her freedom.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? It's already generated a lot of interest within one agency only to be turned down because it had elements of YA and adult fiction in it so it wasn't immediately apparent how it could be marketed. I suspect this will become a pattern. Honestly, with this book in particular, I don't really care whether it makes a pile of money. This book is intensely personal to me and I just want it to find its readers.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? Weeks. Maybe six of them? Usually it takes at least a year. I have a 4-year-old. I'm slow. But this book, once I decided to let it out, just ... fell out. I'm in the process of working myself up to deciding to let other related books fall out. It's ... a process. I make a pretty shitty parent when I'm in the midst of a project that's eating my brain and I can only work on it when my son is either in preschool (mornings only!) or asleep.
What other books would you compare this story to in your genre? Um. I honestly have no idea. Beta readers? Help?
Who or what inspired you to write this book? Ahahaha. I don't think I had a choice. This book has been trying to tear its way out of me for almost fifteen years. I'd been stomping it back down because I knew if I decided to write it it would utterly take me over. It did and still is and probably will for some while yet. But it's 100% the book I meant it to be and I can't really say that about the other ones I've written. Usually I hate the guts of every word I write after I've written it. Not so here. That's oddly refreshing.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? Hunting ghosts with a saltlick, so as to learn from them about the long-gone preapocalyptic world. A rather unforgiving Golden Bough-ish mythology. Made-up constellations: Ember Girl, Carrion Boy, Catchkeep, the Ragpicker, the Chooser, the One Who Got Away. Ritualized combat to the death. Personalized underworlds. Katabasis. A war, and what it took to stop it. Unlikely Alliances. Hopefully-subverted tropes. Dead would-be superheroes. Things-that-are-not-as-they-seem. Child supersoldiers. Grail quests. Having to wear the trophies of people you never wanted to kill. A genetically-enhanced badass who just wants to be normal. Elaborate schemes to get out of bad situations ... which backfire, as elaborate schemes will do. A bridge made out of the tokens of the dead. A house full of ghosts in jars. People of opposite genders who can work together and efficiently in a totally nonsexualized way. Chosen Children who actually ain't. Swordfights. Monsters. Parallel mysteries. Treachery. Origin stories. The psychometry of the dead. Freedom, and what you have to do to earn it, which is very seldom pretty.
If all goes well, I shooooould be reading from this at World Fantasy with the indomitable Ysabeau Wilce. You have NO IDEA how freaking pumped I am to read from this thing. It's like I'm five and this is a million Christmases. They'll have to peel me off the ceiling. Come play!
It doesn't say, but I'm co-hosting that Mythic Poetry reading with time_shark. So come to that! It'll be fun!
Also also, because a couple of people have asked, if you'd like to order caramels from my etsy shop and have them delivered at the con, let me know and I'll throw together a custom listing wherein you don't have to pay anything for shipping. Win-win!
Friday July 13
Saturday July 14
I just drafted my third full-length novelthing. (Well, apart from the one I wrote in my freshman/sophomore years of high school, the less said about which the better.)
Something funny about this. Let's recap.
I wrote my first novel the summer after I graduated from high school, because I fell down the stairs and fucked up my ankles and spent the better part of two months sitting in bed. I got five legal pads filled with notes, murdered I don't know how many trees with my rather copious use of index cards, and got the first half or so written. I finished it when I was 20 or 21. It took two years and change.
My second novel, Blithen's Tarot, I also spent about two years on. Shopped it to the interested agent, interested agent changed her mind, it's on the back burner. But yeah, again, two years and change.
This last one, which doesn't even have a working title, took about two months. And that's with full-time mommying and also running a fairly bustling little etsy shop. I'm still not entirely sure how it happened except that this book basically ate me alive. I literally enjoyed every moment of writing this thing. I woke up every morning excited to get back to work on it, and drafting it made me feel more depressed than relieved, like what, over so soon? I wanted to back off of it for a week before I went back in for revising, but this thing has other ideas. I'm sitting here next to a pretty lengthy page of notes I took on it in the lousy day and a half I managed to keep my fingers out of the file. The last two, I was so happy to have them put behind me. This one, I never want to climb back out of.
I have no idea whether it's at all marketable. I could probably pitch it as YA, and will try to, as the protagonist is sixteen. I've been referring to it over on Facebook as a postapocalyptic katabasis ghost story, and it is that and it isn't. I'm terrible at synopses so I'm not even going to try, but in a nutshell it condenses so many disparate, mismatched things I love and somehow built them into itself: postapocalypse, katabasis, and ghosts, but also a Golden Bough-ish mythology and stars and a strong flawed ghosthunter-historian-priestess girl and (hopefully!) overturned tropes and dead sort-of superheroes and contested cities and loss and freedom and grail quests and knife-fights and swordfights and history and breaking oppressive systems down and Unlikely Alliances and trial by ritualized single combat and things-are-not-quite-as-they-seem, and about a million other things I won't tl;dr you to death with now. And also a saltlick. For catching ghosts with.
I've never had so much fun writing anything in my life.
2. this, in which I'm flattered to be listed with sovay, a genius in any light.
3. prospective agent does not in fact want to represent Blithen's Tarot, despite previous enthusiasm, and without requesting rewrites. Onward, I guess. First, though, writing new bookthing abovementioned. Prospective agent has "great confidence in [me] as a writer" and is very eager to see more from me. Deciding whether I want to pursue that if it means giving up on a book that my readers generally thought was pretty strong, and after only one rejection. Eh.
4. two poems written last year, two Rhysling nominations. Pretty cool.