August 29th, 2008

problem cat

Cat V. Monkey - Last Tango In Paris

2 am
Cat: Edge over there a little, Monkey. You're squishing me.
Monkey: Mnnn. Hmm? *snork* whuzzay? *edges over*

3 am
Cat: Edge over there a little, Monkey. You're squishing me.
Monkey: Mnnn. Hmm? *snork* whuzzay? *edges over*

4 am
Cat: Edge over there a little, Monkey. You're squishing me.
Monkey: Mnnn. Hmm? *snork* whuzzay? *edges over*

5 am
Cat: Edge over there a little, Monkey. You're squishing me.
Monkey: Mnnn. Hmm? *snork* whuzzay? *edges over*

6 am
Monkey: *wakes up sleeping horizontally across bed* Huh? ow. My neck.
Cat: *enthroned in the middle of the pillows* *purrs mightily*
sf doctor FANtastic!

"The most satisfying part is when Harry Potter whacks Tony Soprano."

Questions, part one:

In "Dog and Crow" are you planning to expand the legend that Matthias Corvinus descended from the Fae that had passed through the region?

Well, it's very up in the air right now whether I'll get to write any more Promethean Age books, as I currently do not have a publisher for them. In some ways, this is kind of an immediate relief, as I had managed to get myself pretty overcommitted with a schedule requiring three novels a year. So right now, my focus is on the Jacob's Ladder and Edda of Burdens books.

However, I should have the first three Eddas books put to bed by mid-2009, and the last Jacob's Ladder book completed by the end of 2009 (I hope), which will free me up to decide what I'm doing next. At that point, economics and creative impulse will have to be taken into account--it's possible there will be more Eddas books; it's a rich world, and there's a lot to recommend that course. I may also try to continue the Promethean Age series. I have book five written in a complete draft. It needs some revision, but it's ready to go. And I have book six started.

All of which backstory leads me to say, the short answer to your question is maybe. I haven't started working on Dog and Crow yet, though I have done a fair amount of preliminary research, and Matthias Hunyadi "Corvinus" is a fascinating fellow. One thing I do know about the book is that if it does get written, the title characters are, of course, Corvinus himself, and Stephen Bathory (Báthory István--that's Stephen Bathory the Fifth, for those of you playing the home game).  And of course his brother Nicolaus. (Bathorys and Hunyadis coming out my ears, yo) will also have a role. 

I also know that it will be a book about the realities of living with a Dragon Prince, and the legacy of a Dragon Prince.

Sarah says you wrote the sex in ACtW, and you say she did. Emma says you wrote the torture in Refining Fire, and you say she did.

So tell us, truly--Emma wrote the sex, and Sarah wrote the torture, right?

God, I hope there was no sex in Refining Fire. If there was, please don't tell me.

When you thought of the first Promethean Age story, did it come with the whole sekrit history attached? Did you realize it was going to have the great big cool panorama effect it's developing?

Well, no.

Okay, I started working on Blood and Iron when I was in high school. And originally, I thought what I had was three graphic novels, which were titled, in sequence, Shadowhand, A Glass of Rain, and The Wolf and the Heather.

And then this guy named Matt Wagner published a little something entitled Mage, I'm sure you've never heard of it. *g* And I realized that even if I found an artist--always a sticking point!--I would be treading in some well-work footsteps.

So I began to revision Shadowhand as a novel. The book went through multiple rewrites, many of them drastic, to reach its final form, and along the way had about four titles. (My agent and I still refer to it as "Bridge" when we forget ourselves, from the third of those--Bridge of Blood & Iron. Eventually, the shortened form prevailed.) The published novel includes the plots of the original Shadowhand and The Wolf and the Heather. A Glass of Rain wound up being much of the foundation for Whiskey and Water.

Somewhere along the way, what I realized was that I didn't have just a nice little urban fantasy that owed and enormous debt of gratitude to (ahem) Emma Bull's War for the Oaks and Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, but a secret history. It was about the time that I figured out the stuff about the Dragon Princes and the Prometheus Club, actually, which was what gave the book a sense of scope.

Initially, back in the day, there was just the Seeker and the Merlin and the Kelpie and the Wolf and the Dragon and the Queen, you see, and random other characters. The Merlin was male, and much younger--an engineering student rather than a geology professor. Matthew's role was filled by a vampire with some long-term psychological issues about Merlins, and he actually ties in nicely to the whole Dragon Prince mythology due to his origins. The funny thing is, I came up with him before the Dragon Prince thing clicked. 

If I ever get to write Patience and Fortitude, you'll get to meet him; his (current) name is Daniel Tescher, and he lives on Joy Street on Beacon Hill in Boston. There's also a drag queen werewolf... and of course the returning characters.

Anyway, to answer the actual question, once I had the Dragon Prince thing, it was obvious that I was writing a secret history, and I had to figure out who they were. I had the Pendragon, of course, and Vlad Dracula--who I had already extensively researched for other reasons. And then I went scouring history for a couple more that would make sense, around the right time periods to have one showing up every five hundred years, and found my bloody-minded folk heroes that way. And that gave me, well, two thousand years of history to talk about. Which is room for a lot of books.

I notice that your prose style is often very connotative (I guess that's the word), as opposed to always being completely concrete. Is this a conscious decision or just the way you write?

Hmm. I'm not sure I understand the question. Connotative in this case could mean, I suppose, allusive? In other words, I tend to demonstrate things by indirection rather than stating them outright?

In answer, it's just the way my brain works. I was a poet for years before I started being able to write prose fiction, and it's much easier for me to think in parallel than is sequence. The hardest thing for me to learn as a writer is to be concrete and linear, because for me so much of the important part of the story is the thematic argument. Which is probably why I often find a lot of popular fiction very flat and unrewarding. Most people seem to prefer linearity.

Blood and Iron is the book that most closely reflects the way my brain works, and even that, I've been over thirteen times (at least) in an attempt to make it as transparent as possible. The stories that really feel like me to me, as opposed to me translated for people who are not me, are--let's see. "L'esprit d'escalier: not a play in one act" which is in my collection The Chains that you Refuse, and which I really ought to webify one of these days. "Sonny Liston Takes The Fall" (in The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy) is a perfect example of how I generally sense and process information. That's the way I write when I'm not trying to make myself understood and speak a common language.

Of course, my best-received stories (such as "Tideline" and "Two Dreams on Trains") are often very linear. But that's because I work to make them that way, and force them to be as concrete as possible. Because that's where craftsmanship comes in, I guess.

How did you come up with the story "Tideline"? Does it belong to any of the universes your other stories are in? (As a side note: The end kind of almost made me cry a little. Maybe >.>)

Well, thank you.

No, "Tideline" stands entirely on its own, as far as I know. Maybe someday I will find a connection or write another story in that setting, but I have nothing else right now.

As for where it came from--the piece was inspired by a necklace made by Elise Matthesen, our own Lioness. The necklace is entitled "Sinner in the Hands of a Mildly Startled Buddha," and you may see a picture of it attacking me in the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden here, taked by batwrangler.

Is there anything mythological-y in the Promethian Age books that come just from your head as opposed to being an allusion to another myth (the references are making me geek out every few pages, btdubs).

The Dragon Princes are all mine. Well, not the actual Dragon Princes. but the idea of Dragon Princes.

Who is your favorite character in Shadow Unit? To write, and in general (if there's a difference).

Oh, god, I love 'em all. I have to say, though, that Brady and Todd will walk away with any damned scene you let them near.

Where'd you get that cool userpic with the cat in the CPU? And can I steal it? :D

It's a repurposed LOLcat. And sure. *g*

You can ask a question here.
spies steed horseback

I'm a brown fox. I'm a town fox.

Questions, part two:

Apart from any health benefits, what would you say has been the biggest bonus you've gotten from all this athletic fun (climbing, archery, running, etc) you've been doing?

Well, I ran in junior high and high school; getting back into it has been really satisfying, because I had initially stopped due to joint problems. And I've been shooting--well, I got my first bow when I was sixteen (I still have it)--but there have been a lot of long hiatuses in there. I've been more consistent about yoga and weight lifting--that was easier to do in Nevada, where any kind of outdoor activity is just a loss seven months out of the year--although I have pretty much quit with the weights currently, as the climbing is giving me better strength gains than lifting ever did.

The biggest benefit for me of physical activity is that it's awfully good for your brain chemicals. Which is, after all, a health benefit, as is improved strength and wind and balance and confidence. I missed my athleticism. Also, climbing is just fun.

did Mebd like the glittery scurrying catnip toy we sent her?

Mebd, alas, spurns all toys except catnip bags and glitterballs.

Since I'm almost finished reading Dust (thank you so much and it rocks), what was your inspiration for it?

Oh, god. One inspiration? Pretty sure I can't boil it down that far. Books get built out of very complex patterns, for me, and assembled piece by piece over years until they finally fall into a pattern that makes sense to me.

I've had the character of Jacob Dust in my head for years, literally, and was just waiting for a place to use him. When I finally figured it out, the world just kind of fell into place around him. And I had a great deal of fun playing with the epic fantasy references in a science fiction setting.

Do you practice more to increase your strengths or weaknesses? Which one and why, and any other comments about learning and skillbuilding please.

I practice to increase my weaknesses!

Okay, well, here's the thing. When learning a new skill, generally speaking, one starts off with nothing but weaknesses. Slowly, one becomes better at certain aspects of the craft. And if you want to be good at something, you have to direct your practice towards gaining specific new aspects of the skill and then mastering them. However, you also have to be aware of your weaknesses and work on fixing them.

To resort to metaphor, if you're trying to play tennis, you need a good forehand, backhand, serve, and hustle.

On the other hand, we often (in my writer's group) talk about how "good enough" isn't. And that it's not the things you don't do wrong that sells a story--it's the things you do right. So you have to attain a certain level of competence in everything relating to a task you wish to excel at. And then you have to get as good as you can at as many aspects of that skill as you can.

When you start writing a story/novel, do you know how it's going to end? How far ahead do you "see" as you write?

Every single one is different. Most commonly, I figure out the denouement about a third of the way into the draft. The climax I usually write as I get to it. But sometimes I figure out the end first. *g* And on the novella I'm working on now, I have everything written except the climax and the denouement, and I'm totally stuck on how they happen. Which is why I am here answering questions.

You can ask a question here.
criminal minds reid forgive yourself

"Nympho? Is that one of the Marx brothers?"

Questions, part the tree:

You're one of the bloodthirstier women writers I know. Can you talk some about the role of violence in your work, and also about whatever reactions you might've gotten to your being a *woman* writer who writes such violent material? (Yes, I'm assuming there've been some, but if not, then not.)

That's such an interesting question. I don't think of what I write as particularly bloodthirsty--I'm not writing splatterporn, after all, or anything that really revels in violence. When I use violence in my work, it generally is there because violence sometimes happens in the real world, and while I try not to flinch from it, I also generally don't make it the focal point of what I write. I'm not, you know, writing in the tradition of Chuck Palahniuk.

I do generally write what people would refer to as "noir" or "high-mud," fiction, I guess, which in this context I would mean that I try very hard not to glorify the violence or make it seem clean or pretty. (Which would be why I picked this particular icon for this post, actually, because you have a love a TV show that'll demonstrate a protagonist chocking on his own vomit and then crying while snot runs down his face. Well, I have to love it.)

As for being a woman writer who treats violence that way--well, I've heard my work called "castrated" (books have testicles?) and "squeamish," actually--both of which make me laugh. And I've been praised for the poetry of my violence, which--well, yeah, there ought to be a kind of poetry in it, in the sense that poetry is truth.

But I'm not sure anybody commenting on it has noticed that I'm a girl.

After ACtW, I now have a jones to see you (with or without [info]truepenny) write a female ensemble cast. (Yeah, yeah, I know there's sorta one in parts of Carnival. Not the same.) What are my chances of seeing something of the sort?

Depends on if I have a book that warrants it. There's an awful lot of Blood & Iron that's woman-centric; the men, in general, are more in support roles (even the ones who have POV.) (Some readers have also commented on this, both in praise or dismay.)

I'd say, off the bat, that your chances are better with me than with truepenny.

Is there a book (or two or five?) by someone else that you wished YOU had written first?

I wish I'd written the ones I did write a little better. *g*

I generally like other people's books better than my own, actually. So if I had written any of my favorite books, well. Then they wouldn't be my favorite books.

How does the process of writing with a partner compare to writing alone?

Writing with a partner is just as much work, but more fun, because when you get stuck you get to send it to the other guy, and she writes the bit you were stuck on. And then elves come in the night and take out all your bad sentences. What's not to love?

Does the partnership generate the story, or does an existing story wave and say "write me with so-and-so?"

I'm not sure how the second of these would work. There is no existing story until it's written. Are you asking if one writer dictates the plot while the other does the work of actually putting the words on paper? Perhaps in some collaborations, but not the ones I've been involved in. The story--plot, characterization, worldbuilding, theme--arise from the creators jamming with each other, talking things over, and riffing on each other's ideas.

How do you pronounce "Mebd"?

"Maeve." Yes, it is the source from which both "Maeve" and "Mab" are derived, as far as I know.  She was the major instigator of the plot of the Táin Bó Cuailnge, and I always rather loved her and Emer and Scathac. I need to use Scathac in something one of these days.

You can ask a question here.

writing headbang

midnight and i'm awaiting on the 12:05

I am waiting for my clever. My clever is like Godot.

Basically, I now really most sincerely have one day's work left on this novella... and I just don't know what that work is.

I guess that means that, since the weekend is taken up with social obligations, I will hope that at some point in the four hours of driving I have to do Sunday, my brain will hand me the Thrilling Climax of this story.

In the meantime, a list, for my own reference.

for 2008

Finish Bone and Jewel Creatures
Last read-over of Seven for a Secret with attention to quotation marks.
Finish "The Tricks of London" (started)
Finish "Mongoose" with truepenny (started)
Finish Chill
Write S2 Shadow Unit episodes: "Lucky Day" coffeeem); "Wind-Up Boogeyman"; finish "Smoke & Mirrors" (started)

for 2009

Rewrite The Sea thy Mistress
Shadow Unit S3
Write Grail

When they get done:

Write "Smile" (Bone Garden) (started)
Write "Snow Dragons"
Write "The Horrid Glory of its Wings"
spies mfu facepalm napoleon

(no subject)

Well, I must be a real athlete now. I just took the tendon compression band off my left elbow so I could put the icepack on before bed.


Yes, I am more than a little silly.* You should see me taping my toes before I climb.

*On the other hand, the tendinitis is improving. So there.
  • Current Music
    Richard Thompson - Oops! I Did It Again