Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A new word!

I learned a new word today: Thomasson. Always exciting to learn a new word regardless, but in this case especially cool because it fits in so much of my writing. A Thomasson is the vestigial remnant of earlier buildings or architecture that no longer serves a purpose, but is still being maintained. Like a stairway that goes up to a blank wall, or a gate that doesn't fully cross an opening. (I love how carefully shined and polished that gate at the top of the article is.)

Those kinds of things are all over Spire City. I reference orphan alleys in at least one episode, and the tunnels and secret ways the characters use to cross the city are full of these kinds of no-longer-used features. And, too, the Boskrea stories take place in a city full of old ramps and ladders and stairways that no longer serve their original purpose. I wasn't familiar with Piranesi's Dark Prisons series of etchings when I first started writing the stories set there, but as soon as I discovered them, I saw how perfectly they matched the mood of the setting. And those pictures, to my eye, look full of Thomassons. (Though obviously they predate the term significantly...)

And what it brings to mind even more, is Gormenghast, that great sprawling castle of Mervyn Peake's architectural imagination. I will gladly admit that both Spire City and Boskrea are deeply influenced by his books (though not much by the writing style). Reading that article, I saw a perfect image of Dr. Prunesquallor, hands flapping as he climbed up a pointless staircase and back down the other side while Flay strode purposefully past. Steerpike would have paused to examine it and come up with a way to fit its presence into his vaguely ambitious plans. And Swelter, drunk, might have climbed up them, his weight threatening even the stones of the stairs, as he called on his kitchen workers to celebrate.

Now to keep an eye out for Thomassons around here...which may be much more difficult to find in a city that's not yet 150 years old...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New artwork, new artwork...yay!

Check out this awesome scene from Spire City, drawn by Worlds Beyond Art! Be sure to zoom in for the details, if it shows up small for you at first. Especially check out the ominous steampunk-dart gun in Mint's hand. Not aimed, not yet... I've loved working with Lydia and Isaia for these pictures. They really bring Spire City to life in a different way than words do. So cool. (I've been posting the sepia versions here on the blog, but I do have black-and-white versions as well. I will be making use of those too, at some point...)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A rather different sort of interview, with Nyki Blatchely

Yesterday, Nyki hosted me on his blog with an interview. And today I return the favor, but instead of asking the typical interview questions, I decided to take a different approach, based in part on his story in the anthology Unburied Treasure. His answers are delightfully absurd:

What are you listening to right now?

A heavy rock morris dance tune.

Porcupine or raccoon: choose one for a companion.

Difficult to say, as I've never actually met either, so I'm only going on reputation which could, of course, be slanderous. It's said, though, that porcupines get notoriously prickly if you forget their birthday, whereas raccoons just use it as an excuse to have a second birthday. So I suppose it really depends on whether they're planning on having a birthday any time during the quest.

Your story in Unburied Treasure involves a human seeking to undermine his dragon overlords. Is it dangerous to write such a political work? Have the dragons caused you any difficulties since it was revealed that you wrote such a seditious work?

Well, of course we radical activists have to take our chances. Did Hobbits for Justice get the anti-sizeism legislation passed in the Reunited Kingdom by playing it safe? Without the dedication of countless vampire campaigners, staking would still not be recognised as murder.

So… um, I sent anonymous letters to each of the dragons alleging that one of the others was about to steal their hoard. That'll have them fighting each for some years to come, and then they'll need a decade or so napping to recover. By the time they wake up, they'll have forgotten all about me. I hope.

Have you been hoarding gold? Where?

Me? Hoarding gold? Certainly not. The very idea that I'd be… er, where did that gold piece come from? What a coincidence.

If a dragon leaves London at 1:00 am and flies due west and second dragon leaves an hour later and flies straight toward your house, how much time will you have to flee? What books will you be sure to carry with you?

Well, I won't have to worry about the first dragon, as it'll be going in completely the wrong direction. The second will be a problem, though. It's difficult to gauge its speed without knowing whether it's a European or African dragon, and whether or not it's laden. But probably between two and five minutes.

I have around a thousand books, and I'll need absolutely all of them, so I'll need to get hold of a large lorry and load it within that time. If I really have to travel light, though, I'll just take a dictionary and thesaurus. And the Complete Works of Shakespeare. And a copy of each of the world's great religious texts. And all the major classical Greek authors. And all the major English poets since the fourteenth century. And all my favourite fantasy authors. And the ones that aren't fantasy, as well. That should keep me going for a while. Till I get to a bookshop, at least.

What pseudonym will you give your captors to keep them from learning your true identity? What nickname will you have the other prisoners call you?

I'll tell the dragons my name's Dan Ausema, of course. That'll have them confused.

And I'll tell the other prisoners I'm Bard the Bowman, which should get me respect in jail.

Do dragon prisons serve coffee? Tea? Cold drinks?

If they don't serve coffee, I won't be patronising their prisons. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, if this is the way the dragons treat their prisoners, they don't deserve to have any.

And last, on a more serious note, what do you have coming up? What projects are you working on at the moment or hoping to do soon?

I have a "flintpunk" story coming out later in the year in Plasma Frequency, who have already published two of my stories. It's called The Petrologic Engine, and can be best described as a serious, dystopian equivalent of The Flintstones.

I still have to do some fairly heavy revision on the second and third volumes of my trilogy The Winter Legend, while the first is doing its grand tour of agents, but at the moment I'm writing the first draft of a novel that's a sequel to At An Uncertain Hour and a prequel to The Winter Legend. Its working title is "The Empire of Nandesh", but there's virtually no chance that will be its final title. I'm writing it in four 1st person POVs, one of which is the Traveller, the main character of At An Uncertain Hour. I'll be revealing a fact about him that I've hitherto kept strictly secret.

After that, I have a loosely connected trilogy to write, followed by the final book in the whole ennealogy. So that should keep me out of mischief for a while.

I'm also self-publishing some of my stories that are now out of print. I'm a little ambivalent about self-publishing, which seems often to be an excuse to put out unpolished first drafts, but these are stories that have already been professionally edited. I've so far republished At An Uncertain Hour, after the original publisher closed down, and a short piece called Steal Away. I have a couple more lined up, when I can organise good covers for them.

Another project I've started is writing children's stories. It started with a story I really wrote to amuse my own inner child, and it's grown from there. The stories are aimed at around the 8-10 age-range and involve a sorceress and a young girl who's her apprentice — if I manage to get them published in book-form, which is the aim, I might called it The Sorceress's Apprentice. It wasn't really intended to make a point, but the feedback I've had is that there's a shortage of children's adventure stories with female protagonists.

Then again, as I'm sure you know, unexpected ideas are always just around the corner. You never know where this writing lark is going to lead you.

Many thanks for allowing me on your blog and giving me some… er, different questions from the usual ones.

Thanks for playing along!

Be sure to check out Nyki's website for more of his deep knowledge and excellent writing, including links to all his available works.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An interview with me on Nyki Blatchely's blog

Today, Nyki is hosting me at his blog with this interview. We chat about the Unburied Treasure anthology, Spire City, and the future, among other things. Check it out, and stay tuned here tomorrow (probably) for a rather different interview I conducted with him...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Podcast of "Planet Jumpers"

Even though I knew this was coming out around now and had been watching for it to appear at the EDF website (and in my email), somehow this slipped through without me noticing a few days ago. But here it is now, "Planet Jumpers" as read by Alexander Jones. It's really fun to hear someone else reading something I've written.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Episode 13, the season finale!

Here it is, the confrontation we've been building toward between Mint and Chels. As always, available directly from Musa and also from all the usual online bookstores (and likely some unusual ones as well), once it gets added, which can sometimes be immediate and sometimes take a few days, depending on the store. After this episode, life in the Weave will never be the same. And you'll have to wait until the end of November to see how that plays out...

So take this opportunity to get caught up on this first book/season. Or finally take the plunge and get started, if you hadn't earlier. And please, spread the word with me. If you've got a cousin or a coworker who would just love this story, let them know. And we'll see what kind of momentum we can get building for Season Two: Pursued!

(I've also added the trailer I posted the other day to YouTube now, so feel free to give it some views, votes, shares, etc.)

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A time travel story published in this anthology

There was some communication confusion last month when this was published, so I'm finally now getting around to posting about this story. I was approached about sending in a story for a contest. I didn't have any time travel stories on hand, so I wrote one that would fit with my Italo Calvino-esque Yahm Railroad stories in terms of style, "Village of the Time Travelers." The story is now included in this anthology of 16 time travel stories.

It's a twisty, whimsical story of a village that exists (existed? will exist) in many locations, perhaps every location, but only in a single moment in time.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Sneak Peek preview of the season one trailer

I've been playing around a bit with Animoto to create a brief book trailer for season one of Spire City. Animoto limits free users to 30 seconds, and there aren't a lot of ways to customize it, but it's a fun exercise, nonetheless, and I like how this one has come out. I'm still experimenting with other options on the site and may look into one or more other sites as well, and possibly try out some other layouts, too. Now if I only had the cover art for season 2, I could get started on creating one for that as well...

Give it a look, and feel free to share the link to anyone you think might be interested!

Spire City, Season One: Infected