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.
If you are curious about what happens when I write horror, this is one of the stories. This is, in fact, the story that I won’t let my parent read.
It’s on Escape Pod, if you want to listen, read by Veronica Giguere. They also have it in text form.
Here’s a teaser:
Grete snipped a diseased branch off her Sunset-Glory rosebush like she was a body harvester looking for the perfect part. Behind the drone of the garden’s humidifiers, she caught a woosh-snick as the airlock door opened. Her boyfriend barreled around Mom’s prize Emperor artichoke.
Something was wrong.
The whites showed around Kaj’s remarkable eyes, a blue-green so iridescent they seemed to dull all the plants around them. “Mom and Dad got me a Pass to a down-planet school!”
The blood congealed in her veins. Kaj would leave her. Grete forced a smile. “That’s the outer limit!”
“I didn’t even know they’d applied. Fairview Academy—game design.” His perfect teeth flashed like sunshine against the ink of space.
Well, this is a lovely way to start off the novel’s life cycle, don’t you think?
“Kowal has always had a talent for integrating historical fact into her series, but her use of the cold summer of 1816 coupled with the original creation of the “coldmongers union” transforms a simple weather phenomenon into a fascinating and moving examination of class.” – Regina Small, RT Editor
Over at John Scalzi’s blog, I have a post in his series The Big Idea. This is where authors talk about some aspect of their work that is at the core of the story. Here’s a little bit of it as a teaser.
“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.”
Jane Austen, Emma
When I pitched Without a Summer to my editor, I described it as, “Jane Austen’s Emma against the Luddite rebellion.”
When we talk about Luddites today, we think of people who are backwards and don’t like technology. What was actually going on with the Luddites was way more complicated than that. The Regency was a time of great social change. It’s when we see the rise of the middle class. It has the beginning of steam power and the start of the industrial revolution. The Luddites were a movement that began to protest the introduction of automated looms.
April 14, 2007, I was trying to wrap up the ending to Shades of Milk and Honey and totally stalling. Totally. I’d written myself into a corner and couldn’t find my way out, but I have this friend who is really good at action scenes, Michael Livingston. He is also the namesake of Captain Livingston.
So, I pinged him in chat and we brainstormed through the scene until we came up with an sequence that worked. I have it for you but I am not kidding when I say that it is full of spoilers. I mean FULL of spoilers.
Giant, massive, spoilery, spoilers that give away all of the plot details in one giant lump of text.
But, I also think it is useful to see how an idea evolves and the things that go into shaping the ending. You’ll also note that there were things that I was planning to have happen, which didn’t actually make it into the final.
So if you are curious, click away to see the brainstorming session as it was recorded in chat six years ago. Continue reading ›
We’ve — and by we, I mean my wonderful agent — have just sold Hungarian translation rights on SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY, GLAMOUR IN GLASS, and WITHOUT A SUMMER to publisher NOUVION Trade Sociedad anonima under the imprint of IPC Books Kft.
According to Google translate, which is so reliable, the first book would translate as Árnyalatai Tejjel és Mézzel, the second one would be….glamour üveg, and the third would be anélkül, hogy a nyári. I suspect that none of those are what the actual books will be called. I am, however, completely delighted and cannot wait to see what it looks like.
Hm… I’ll have to find someone to read some of the aloud to me so I can hear what it sounds like. I love languages and don’t have any Hungarian in my repertoire at all.
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 [...]