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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing

You may have seen other authors posting this meme. I was tagged by my new excellent friend, the lovely Leigh Evans, and I thought it would be fun. Answer some questions; tag some of my author friends to do the same. Here goes!

What is the working title of your next book?
Dust and Light, the first book of the Sanctuary Duet.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Unfinished business! My novels Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone took place in a deliciously complex world. A civil war raged in a kingdom suffering a disastrous decline in the weather. Magic was confined to a group of wealthy families - known as purebloods - who provided their services to cities, nobles, clergy, or whomever else could afford to pay for them. To nurture and preserve their magic, purebloods kept themselves detached from ordinary society and politics.  They created a mannered, disciplined subculture, linking themselves to their clients by strict contracts.

It had been great fun to develop and structure the pureblood culture – but as it happened the hero of Flesh and Spirit had spent his life running away from his pureblood family. In fact he called the life of a pureblood sorcerer “slavery with golden chains.” But his jaundiced viewpoint  left many aspects of pureblood life unexplored. When I started considering what project I wanted to work on when I finished The Daemon Prism and the Collegia Magica series, I wondered if there might have been someone else interesting raised in the pureblood social structure—someone who embraced and believed in it—and that’s when I met Lucian de Remeni-Masson.

Unlike most pureblood sorcerers, who inherited the talents of either the mother’s bloodline or the father’s, Lucian demonstrated gifts in both his mother’s artistic line and his father’s bloodline magic of history. That’s when the story took off.

What genre does your book fall under?
Mythic fantasy with a strong mystery element.  Or something like that.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, I never do this – or if I do, I don’t tell. I’ve found that my readers have such widely varying images of my characters, so I don’t like to skew them too much. The lesson came clear when I had readers casting Seyonne, the hero of Transformation, with everyone from a young Daniel Day Lewis to Orlando Bloom! Suffice it to say that Lucian is a lean, good-looking young man of twenty six with typical pureblood features: dark, straight hair, aquiline nose, and dusky skin.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Maybe I can distill it into three. Lucian de Remeni, pureblood sorcerer with a bent for portraiture, has grown up in wealth, privilege, self-discipline, and the conviction that his beloved family’s magical talents are the gods’ gift to a troubled kingdom. But a family tragedy begins a spiraling downfall that sweeps the young sorcerer into a life he had never imagined. Banished to the crude society of a bustling necropolis, Lucian’s task of becomes the key in two murder investigations which threaten to upend the war for Navronne’s crown and unravel the very foundations of pureblood life.

Before I go on, I want to tag those who are next up on this branch of The Next Big Thing.

Diana Pharaoh Francis is the author of two fantasy series – the Path series and the Crosspointe Chronicles – and the fabulous Horngate Witches urban fantasy series.  I’m jealous when I report that not only does she write exciting adventures, but she is also a professor of English at the University of Montana, rider of horses, wife, mom, and exceptionally fun person to hang out with at a science fiction convention.  You have never met a professor like Di!

Cindi Myers has authored more than forty novels, spanning romance, historical, western, and women’s fiction.  Her work is consistently excellent, and she is the most focused and productive writer I know.  I go hang out with her on mountain retreats just hoping to absorb some of her professionalism.  Again, it just isn’t fair that she’s gorgeous, generous, and a great teacher.

Mindy Klasky is the author of fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal chick-lit novels, and under her alter ego, Morgan Keyes, a fabulous new YA fantasy called Darkbeast.  A reformed lawyer and law librarian, Mindy sat alongside me on our first ever convention panel – My First Novel at the 2000 Chicago WorldCon.  Our first books had come out one month apart, from the same publisher, and as women of other professions, we bonded immediately.  Now with twenty-eight novels between us, I guess our panel was a success - our friendship certainly is!

Compared to these three, Linda Joffe Hull is just a newbie.  But her first novel, The Big Bang will likely leave all of us genre writers in the dust. Library Journal describes it as "a fun, sexy suburban soap opera with a touch of mystery." I’ve known this book since it was a baby, and believe me it is like nothing else out there.  Neither is Linda, who is also fun, smart, and sexy!

And now back to the NBT questions:  

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I've worked with agent Lucienne Diver of the Knight Agency from my first sale thirteen years ago. Dust and Light will be published in 2014 by New American Library/Roc Books.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Knowing how unlikely it is that I'll reach the end of the story before my deadline of June 2013, it will have taken me a year and a half. I would love to think I could be a third of the way into the second (as yet untitled) volume of the duology by that time, but I'm not placing any bets.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My books have been compared to those of Robin Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, Mary Stewart, and Lynn Flewelling.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My favorite authors of my favorite kinds of stories - murder mysteries, historical political intrigues, and world myths. The heart of Dust and Light is the interweaving of two mysteries - the strangling death of a young street urchin in the royal city and the savage massacre of a wealthy family by rampaging fanatics. The resolution of these mysteries leads my hero to dangerous discoveries about the fundamental nature of pureblood magic in Navronne.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? These books are not a sequel, but a parallel story to Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone, involving entirely new characters. (Dust and Light actually begins a bit more than a year earlier than Valen's story.) One will be able to read either pair first. But for those who've already read the Lighthouse books, there will be some "Easter eggs" – references to some old friends and places. I think that will be fun.
Read more of this post!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Autumn in Review - September

Time to wake up this blog! I just sat up and realized it's Thanksgiving - well no, that's already passed. I think I'll start with a quick review of what's been happening this year. Out of order and higgledy-piggledy, but here goes. Let's start with September...

On one weekend,  I took a Sunday hike with kids up to Lake Isabelle in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area.  Our terrible drought here in Colorado was made visible when we arrived at the lake.  Not fire damage, thank goodness, but just dry.  Most of the lake just wasn’t there.  Here’s what we saw on a glorious autumn day.  Note the barren strip around the current water line -a beach where there shouldn't be one.   Here’s a view of the same lake in a greener year.  We did have a good time stomping on the wooden bridges along our hike to make sure no trolls came up to grab us.  None did.  Whew!

The Colorado Gold Writers Conference, sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is always a September highlight. The workshops are great, but I find myself sitting for a great deal of the conference hours in the large, open, and most welcoming bar/lobby of the Denver Renaissance hotel. It’s a great time and place to catch up with writer-friends from all over the region, as well as meet new ones. I gave a morning Master class on characterization, as well as a workshop on writing first person. I also did an hour's discussion with authors Warren Hammond and Mackay Wood on violence in fiction – why an author may choose to use it, and what we considered our own boundaries and favorite techniques for writing violent scenes. I also had to give a kick-off speech, seeing as how the members of RMFW had voted me in as their 2012 Writer of the Year. It is a great honor, and I was treated royally.

What I Was Working On: workshops for Colorado Gold, proof pages for The Daemon Prism mass market, the New Boo, the Obama campaign

What We Were Watching: Merlin, Mad Men, Bronco football

More about the New Book soon.  Watch for The Next Big Thing. Read more of this post!