Two new Xuya stories (no, I’m not chain-writing them! Just haven’t had a chance to blog about writing lately).
“A Game of Three Generals” (to be published in a forthcoming thing)
Every day is the same: Song Ha gets down to the refectory and spoons rice porridge into her mouth, feeling the salty taste of fish sauce against her palate–there used to be something subtly wrong with it, wasn’t there? But now it’s a familiar beat like a syllable in a poem–a daily counting out–she’s not sure exactly what, but it’s important that she doesn’t lose count.
“A Hundred and Seventy Storms”
This is the room where The Snow like a Dancer dies, year by year and piece by piece.
When they wheel in the cradle where she rests, she always thinks–for a bare, suspended moment–that it will be all right, that it will all end well–and then nausea tightens around her, and the white and stark walls seem to press down on her, unbearably sharp, a faint memory of Third Aunt and Cousin Lua asleep, and the incessant noise of machinery monitoring her, drips and feeds hooked into her broken, disconnected limbs.
And my brain has also decided that what I really need is a dark thriller story featuring Asmodeus and Samariel from The House of Shattered Wings/The House of Binding Thorns. I’m 1200 words into it and wondering why the heck I signed up for it (but the words are cool though! Small mercies…)
Safe delivery of Librarian into the world: check. All went well and we’re now back home while I try to keep my eyes open °_°
And, a bit before Librarian was actually delivered: safe delivery of manuscript of The House of Binding Thorns, the sequel to The House of Shattered Wings, to both my editors at Roc/Gollancz. Good thing I did that first…
Also, was rather chuffed to see that The House of Shattered Wings is on the longlist for a Legend Award, and the cover is on the longlist for a Ravenheart Award. Voting is open to anyone, and there’s a lot of other cool books and art on that list (Black Wolves!)–if you’re so minded to drop by, it’s here.
(I’m really pleased at that, because part of the reason I’m writing epic fantasy is because I found David Gemmell’s books as a teenager: The King Beyond the Gate and Tenaka Khan made a profound impression on me, and I subsequently devoured all the other Gemmell books I could find in libraries. I was really sorry I came into the UK SFF scene too late to meet him and tell him how much his books meant, and still mean, to me).
So… didn’t get around to this earlier because fatigue hit me pretty badly, but I had a great time at Mancunicon. It was my first time as a Guest of Honour (and, in time honoured fashion, I was 7 months pregnant, just like Finncon 2013 ^-^).
I arrived in the UK on Wednesday and had a great night out with the BSFA–many thanks to the BSFA, Andrea Dietrich, Chad Dixon, and especially to Ed Cox for the great interview!
Then met up with Zen Cho, who was travelling with me, and we got into Manchester easily (I love trains. So much easier than planes), and we chilled out until the con got into gear Friday midday.
The cooking demo
Things I learnt, in no particular order:
Got to visit the kitchens of the Hilton Deansgate–my first time in a professional kitchen. Wow, had no idea, that was very cool
Deliveroo is really awesome for takeaway food (eating in the room is really neat when fatigue levels are close to crashing). And many many thanks to Zen Cho for keeping my sugar levels up and my anxiety levels down.
Kari Sperring is an awesome interviewer–engaging and effortlessly keeping me talking (which is no mean feat when the room is full)
Apparently there’s a strong correlation between my having failed to prepare a speech (was too busy worrying about the cooking demo and completely failed to realise the awards were the same day) and my actually winning said awards. Kind of still flabbergasted at this one
Programming was very strong, only regret I didn’t make it to more panels. Also, Kari Sperring and I shouldn’t be on a panel about history together, we kind of encourage each other ^-^
The Saturday cooking demo was great–I was a bit worried because I’d never done that before, but it was well attended and we made a beautiful salad! Also, Zen Cho and I have a future as a comedy cooking duo if all else fails us
Mancunian weather apparently includes hail and horizontal rain. Which, even on the 23rd floor of a hotel, is something quite striking (and makes you glad you’re not under it. I’m given to understand Ian McDonald and a few others were, er, in the wrong place at the wrong time and got the brunt of it in their faces °_°)
Manchester doesn’t seem to have good Vietnamese restaurants (makes sense, there isn’t a big community there), but it does have awesome dim sum, yummmmm
To everyone whom I hoped to run into/who hoped to see me–I hope I managed to be at enough of the con that I could be grabbed/chatted with/listened to. I was always more tired than I expected, and being able to rest in the room made a big difference to levels of fatigue (yes, I know. Anyone could have told me I would be more tired than on a normal day. I’m possibly the only optimist who thought the, er, incubating would make little difference).
Going back took me most of Tuesday, but that was because I paced myself and allowed three hours’ changeover at St Pancras where I could sit and relax between trains.
My deepest thanks to the Con Committee, the con organisers/volunteers and the hotel staff for a great con; and to Gollancz for taking good care of me (and shipping my awards home, didn’t know what I’d have done otherwise!). Thanks as well to everyone who attended (and everyone who voted in the BSFA awards). It was a super experience. And now I get to sleep for the next two months before sleep becomes a thing of the long-ago past…
Just in time for this new April month: I’m now officially on leave. Yesterday was my last day at work and it was a bit weird, as I’m not returning until after summer’s end.
You’ll be asking why (or, if you were at Mancunicon, you will not be asking why).
The H and I are working on a sequel to the snakelet, called the librarian (as in, “baby going to be born in the year of the monkey” => “ape” => Terry Pratchett because of course always Pratchett). Delivery deadline is end of May, just in time for a wonderful summer of not sleeping…
For those wondering: The House of Binding Thorns has shifted a bit due to, erm, the wonders of the first trimester, but hopefully nothing major (sayth she, knocking on major bits of wood). I’m also looking like a beached whale at the moment and seriously considering two months of non stop Netflix streaming (alas, I’ve got a few things to do. But it’s tempting!).
It was an interesting exercise in being a public persona: the first trimester coincided with my brilliant plan to pack an October month full of events in France and abroad–I didn’t have any major health issues, but fatigue was always a bit of a problem. Also, it turns out that it’s a lot less easy to hide the second time around, making for a careful choice of clothes to make sure I didn’t get odd looks (the Gollancz festival in particular was really interesting as it was showing quite a bit by then ^-^)
ETA: just so we’re clear, this isn’t an April’s Fool in spite of the timing
Just a quick reminder that today is the last day for Hugo nominations (you have until 11:59pm Pacific time, and you can nominate if you’re a member of Sasquan, MidamericonII or Worldcon in Helsinki). You can find the nomination form here.
Please do nominate even if you feel you haven’t read widely enough: if you loved something, just put it on your ballot. This isn’t a quiz on the state of the genre, it’s a vote for things you liked in 2015 (and experience has shown that voters who recuse themselves as “not having read/watched enough” tend to overwhelmingly be marginalised folks, thereby biasing nomination results).
If you’re still looking for stuff to put on your ballot, here is my awards consideration post with stuff by me and a lot of other great people (insofar as I could and it made sense, I’ve included a lot of stuff available online for those last minute reading binges!).
I’m told by Farah Mendlesohn that this is the first time anyone has walked away with the two fiction awards in the same year (previously Keith Roberts won both art and short fiction in 1986). The Guardian has a lovely piece here, courtesy of David Barnett (and yeah this is me going “OMG I’m in the Guardian” in case you had any doubts).
My thanks to everyone who read and voted in the awards and to everyone involved from the BSFA. I was also honoured to be part of two very strong shortlists and highly suggest you check out the other finalists.
Me with Gillian Redfearn and John Berlyne in the bar shortly afterwards.
Just a heads-up that my Xuya story “A Salvaging of Ghosts” is now up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies for their Science Fantasy month.
Thuy’s hands have just closed on the gem—she can’t feel its warmth with her gloves, but her daughter’s ghost is just by her side, at the hole in the side of the ship’s hull, blurred and indistinct—when the currents of unreality catch her. Her tether to The Azure Serpent, her only lifeline to the ship, stretches; snaps.
And then she’s gone, carried forward into the depths.