So my husband and I have finally started watching the HBO series Game of Thrones. Everyone has their own point at which the willing suspension of disbelief breaks. You have to be willing to accept certain things to enjoy a fantasy. Giant icewall, sure. Dire wolves? No problem.
Dragons? I’m good with that.
But will someone please explain to me why Daenerys Targaryen is not horribly, horribly sunburned?
She has no melanin. Look at her. I mean, I get sunburned sitting outside at my niece’s graduation for two hours. She is in an equatorial environment with bare shoulders.
Why is she not bright, bright red, with blisters and peeling skin?
This is one of my favorite photos from my recent book tour. The members of the Oregon Regency Society came out to hear me read at the Beaverton Powell’s. They came in full dress, which was loooovely. Afterwards, a group of us went over to the nearby McMennamins and then this happened.
I’m reading with Stacey Kade at the Book Cellar tonight at 7pm. I’ll be reading from Without a Summer and Stacey will be reading from The Rules, her new YA science-fiction novel. Come out! The Book Cellar has wine…
As a former award-winning corporate copywriter, Stacey Kade has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps. But she prefers to make things up instead. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their two retired racing greyhounds, Tall Walker (Walker) and SheWearsThePants (Pansy).
There are numerous local cultures surrounding writers, writing groups, and the conventions that writers attend. These cultural peculiarities influence the writing that emerges from those areas.
As writers, it’s important to be aware that this is happening. As a podcast crew, we’re aware that it’s happening around us, and in many cases because of us. We talk about some of the cultures we’ve been embedded in, how they’ve influenced us, and how we have, in some cases reacted against those cultures.
We also talk about how we can conduct ourselves when participating at conventions, again, with care taken to assess the nature of the cultures in which we’re stepping into.
Many of Jane Austen’s contemporary readers consider her magical. Mary Robinette Kowal went one step further and made her so.
Jane Ellsworth, the Austen-inspired heroine of three Kowal novels to date, lives the kind of British Regency era life an Austen character might have, with a delightful exception: She’s a glamourist, a professional magician who creates illusions by manipulating strands of the ether, that mysterious medium people once thought filled the air.
Kowal visits Milwaukee on Monday to read from her new novel “Without a Summer” (Tor, $24.99), in which Jane brings her younger sister Melody to London for “the season” in the hope of finding her a husband – and in which Jane and her husband, David Vincent, also a glamourist, battle a conspiracy that preys on public fears about an unusual cold spell.
Kowal is also a professional puppeteer. Her author visit to Boswell Book Company will include a short puppet show connected to a story in one of her books.
The actual audiobook is eight and a half hours of listening to me tell you a story about Luddites, winter, and the Regency. Oh, and magic.
The way you enter is very simple. There’s a new credit waiting for me in my account at Audible.com and I’m seeking suggestions on what to listen to next. All you have to do is to post in the comments the title of your favorite audiobook , on Audible, and at least one thing about why you love it. You may wax as rhapsodic as you like. (Make sure that when you fill out the form that you use your correct email.)
On Monday, May 13th, at noon Central, I’ll pick one of those recommendations randomly and the person who recommended it will get an audible.com copy of Without a Summer.
Waylines is a new online magazine with fiction, reviews, and interviews. I stopped by to answer some questions for them.
Our featured author for issue 3 is Mary Robinette Kowal, a Campbell and Hugo award winning author, who has just released the third book in her Glamourist History series, Without a Summer. When she’s not writing, she’s quite often busy doing voice acting, having recorded for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi. She’s also a professional puppeteer.
We caught up with her during her recent book tour and asked her about her thoughts on everything from puppetry to pod-casting.
One of my writing buddies in Chicago has a debut novel. Wesley Chu’s The Lives of Tao is sort of like Mission Impossible, if the team were possessed by hyper-intelligent aliens. You want action, conspiracy, and some humor? That’s what Wes is aiming to provide.
So what’s his Favorite bit?
Choosing My Favorite Bit is especially difficult for a first novel. After all, a debut is very special to an author, kind of like that first stuffed animal, first kiss, or that first Nintendo console. So for The Lives of Tao, I hemmed and hawed, trying to decide which of my precious tidbits to favor.
Do I choose the friendship that develops when Tao inhabits Roen and whips him into secret spy shape? Do I go with the humorous dialogue that is peppered throughout the book, or how about protagonist Roen Tan’s journey from overweight loser to suave super spy? The choice is like asking Michelle Duggar to pick which one of her nineteen (last time I checked) kids she likes best.
At the end of the day, I decided to choose one specific scene to be My Favorite Bit that I feel encompasses many of my other favorite parts of the book. It’s the scene where Roen got jumped by a team of Genjix at a nightclub and barely escaped with his life. Now, is this truly my favorite scene because I enjoy kicking my main character’s butt? I do admit to finding a perverse enjoyment writing him getting beaten up, but that’s not the reason why it’s my favorite scene.
See, you have to get to know Roen before he met Tao, the Prophus alien that inhabits him. Pre-Tao, Roen was an overweight loser who meandered his way through life. Life didn’t kick Roen down; he did that all by himself. He had many opportunities to succeed, but he simply thoughtlessly blew every single one of them. He had big dreams, but was too weak and lazy to realize them. He’s the guy sitting at the bar watching the world pass him by, thinking, “I coulda been someone. I coulda been a contenda.”
Well, he wasn’t a contender, and was just doing the minimum to scrape through life. Then Tao came along and put him to work. From months of dieting to daily morning workouts to combat training to forcing Roen to talk to the girl he was crushing, Tao pushed him to his limits and forced him to stand outside of his self-imposed comfortable bubble that had become his daily life. And of course Roen dragged his feet, whined, and pouted all the way. Roen and Tao got into their fair share of mental scuffles, which, of course, made it all the more traumatic when it took place in his head. It’s not like you could lock yourself in the bedroom, after all.
Eventually, Roen bought into Tao’s guidance. Slowly, his outlook on life changed. Little by little, Roen grew stronger, became healthier, and found confidence. He began to transform into that person he could have always been. Now, having an all-wise alien giving him advice might seem like cheating, but really, it’s all Roen. Tao just gave him directions. Roen earned his own successes.
So what does this have anything to do with Roen getting jumped at a nightclub and getting his butt kicked? Everything. Because Roen fought back. Because he didn’t crumple like wet tissue when the going got tough. The new Roen still pretty much came out beaten to a pulp, but he was able to keep his wits about him and find a way to escape. That scene was the one moment when Roen turned the corner to becoming a dynamic character. He proved to himself that he could change. That all that hard work paid off and that he did change. It was the moment that made everything else in the book possible.
There’s a belief in people who practice contact sports that a person’s mettle isn’t tested until the first time he takes a hit. Does he step back? Freeze? Cover up? Or does he fight back? In Roen’s case, he took a punch, and for the first time in his life, he stood up for himself and fought back. And that fighting back made all the difference in the world.
Wesley Chu was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Chicago, Illinois when he was just a pup. It was there he became a Kung Fu master and gymnast.
Wesley is an avid gamer and a contributing writer for the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. A former stunt man and a member of SAG, he can also be seen in film and television playing roles such as “Banzai Chef” in Fred Claus and putting out Oscar worthy performances as a bank teller in Chicago Blackhawks commercials.
Besides working as an Associate Vice President at a bank, he spends his time writing and hanging out with his wife Paula Kim and their Airedale Terrier, Eva.
This is a 16,200 word SF novella that I’ve written for Audible.com’s shared world anthology series, Metatropolis. I’m looking for readers who would be willing to give me their gut reaction to it.
Mostly what I’m looking for though are large story issues. In particular, things that:
You don’t believe
You are bored by
You think are cool
In other words, what I’m looking for is your reader reaction. I should note that for those of you who are interested in process, this is a raw draft. Basically I’ve hit The End and posted it. It’s also something that I wrote specifically to be read aloud, so I handle the text a little differently, knowing that a narrator will be involved.
Here’s the teaser for “Forest of Memory.”
[Note to narrator and director: The main character, Katya, is in her early thirties. She's lived her entire life connected to the web and this is the first time she's telling something from memory, instead of being able to look at old footage. The telling of the story should sound as naturalistic as possible. I want stumbles and places where it's halting as if she's reaching for the right words. I have stage notes in brackets and at times for non-verbal lines, like [aggravated noise]. Please act those instead of reading them. ]
So, I just want to reiterate the terms of our deal before we begin. My name is Katya Gould and I am agreeing to an exclusive with you, Username:Docent. I confirm that I have not told the full story before and will not. You agree that you will not share the experience with anyone. By “story” I mean the recounting of the three days that I spent in the company of the man I knew as “Johnny.”
Now that we’re clear on that, give me a moment to confirm that your payment is in my account… Got it. Thank you.
[deep breath, settling herself]
One of the questions you had wanted me to talk about was “Why.” Why am I telling this now after so much time has passed. The answer is that I’m not entirely certain. It may be a terrible idea.
He said he wanted witnesses, but no records. I thought he meant that I shouldn’t tell anyone what I saw in the woods, but I keep thinking about it and I think I was wrong. A witness is someone who reports what they observed, right? So, what he wanted was for me to tell you what I saw. To tell someone. Maybe everyone… I don’t know.
There’s a chance that agreeing to an exclusive is the wrong choice.
It’s so strange trying to remember without being able to pull up the recording and just look at it. I keep turning that those three days over in my head so that, in some ways, they’re sharper than any other memory in my life. In other ways, I think I’m wearing the edges off the memory by looking at it so much.
The magical book that might result if Jane Austen’s Emma were set against the Luddite uprising in the Year Without a Summer Up-and-coming fantasist Mary Robinette Kowal enchanted fans with award-winning short stories and beloved novels featuring Regency pair Jane and David Vincent. In Without a Summer the master glamourists return home, but in a world where [...]