However, I've kept Messaging open on my old Tumblr and added back all the Twitter people who've DM'd me over the past year, since I do intend to check DM's and Notifications now and then. I just won't be scrolling through my dash or dipping my toes into the Twitterstream every few hours like I used to.
I hope moving back to Dreamwidth/LiveJournal will lead not only to more creative uses of my time and a recovery of my increasingly shallow and scattered ability to concentrate (something that's become more and more of a concern to me over the past couple of years or so) but also some thoughtful and meaningful discussions with the friends and followers I still have.
So who's still out there after all these years? Drop me a comment and say hi, I'd love to hear from you!
Well. Not only does Snickers LOVE the treats (so no need to trick or force her into eating them), we're not even halfway through the bag and she's already moving much more comfortably. In fact, the other day she was up on the bed chasing her tail, which I hadn't seen her do since she was a kitten. Phew! Problem solved... at least, as long as I keep giving her a treat every morning for the rest of her life. Which is doable. So I am much relieved.
* * *
Second, I was surprised and delighted to discover that A Pocket Full of Murder is one of the ten Canadian middle-grade novels nominated for the Silver Birch Award this year. That means a whole bunch of 9-12 year olds will be reading my book this winter, along with at least four more other nominated titles, so they can vote for their favorite in the spring. I've always longed to be nominated for this award, and it's a big boost for the book generally, so I'm very thankful.
I'll be reading from Pocket and talking a little about the sequel this weekend, at the Local Authors reading portion of the Stratford Writers' Festival. All the other events are ticketed and this one is free, but it's also up against the #CanLitPit session where aspiring writers get to pitch directly to editors, so I'm not holding my breath too much for a big audience... still, it was nice to be asked and I hope the Festival does well.
* * *
And thirdly, speaking of Stratford and festivals, I had the pleasure of attending a matinee performance of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe at the Avon Theatre with my youngest son's school group today. I'd really been hoping to see the play, especially after my fellow Narnia purist grav_ity gave it her enthusiastic thumbs-up, but didn't think that I'd ever get the chance... except it turned out a few of the kids in P's class weren't able to attend, so the teacher entered all the interested parents in a draw for the remaining tickets and I was one of the winners. Which is a minor miracle, because I never win anything.
Anyway, I ended up sitting beside P and one of his friends, and we had excellent seats -- about five rows from the stage, bang in the centre. Where I proceeded to tear up halfway through Mr. Beaver's speech about Aslan in Act One and spent most of Act Two desperately wishing I'd brought tissues, because the production was fantastic. I'm so glad they stuck close to the original story, including a lot of the dialogue, instead of introducing a lot of flotsam for the sake of novelty or a false notion of drama (*side-eyes the movies of Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader*). I'd read an early review that complained about the songs being intrusive, but I didn't find them overly long or distracting at all, and the one about coming to Aslan's table pretty much killed me (as I said on Twitter, "I was not prepared for the communion metaphors").
And tomorrow Adrienne Kress is coming for our annual tea-and-catch-up, which is always a treat, and will be an especially happy occasion this time with her new MG adventure novel The Explorers coming out in 2017. I really enjoy Adrienne's narrative voice and my boys are big fans of her writing as well, so we're looking forward to this one.
I've noticed over the past couple of weeks that my eight-year-old calico, Snickers, has started moving quite tentatively, even gingerly at times. She still jumps up onto beds and couches and so on, and jumps down as well -- but when she gets down she stretches herself as close to the floor as possible before making the jump.
If she's in pain, it doesn't seem to stop her moving freely around the house all day, including up and down the stairs, and I can't see any evidence that she's favouring one particular leg or side of her body. She doesn't yelp or yowl when she jumps up or down, only meows at me now and then in a conversational way. Her eyes are clear and bright, her coat sleek, her appetite's as good as ever, and she loves to be petted (even head-butts me until I stroke her). She flexes easily and sleeps in all kinds of positions. But I do get the sense that she's not as comfortable as she should be when walking -- a little wobbly and a little stiff.
Has anybody else had something this happen with one of their cats? I know eight is middle-aged for a cat, but it still seems a bit too young for her to be moving like an old lady.
If she were showing any more alarming symptoms, or seemed to be deteriorating, I'd take her to the vet. But we just spent an unfortunate amount of money earlier this year trying to save our 22-month-old kitten who died of (I think) congenital kidney issues, so I'm hesitant to go that route unless it's really necessary.
Fellow kitty people, any thoughts?
There are a few tidbits for those who are wondering what's coming next -- and kerravonsen, there is a shout-out to you in there as well. :)
I don't think there's any one answer to that question myself -- the reasons are as diverse as the individual readers. Sometimes the author undergoes an ideological or philosophical transformation between books (or even just becomes bolder about expressing the views they already had) which leads to a irreconcilable conflict of my thinking and theirs, or pushes my tolerance for those differences over the limit. (See: Philip Pullman.) Sometimes it turns out that the things I loved best about the author's first book -- the style, the tone, the atmosphere -- don't carry over into subsequent novels because they were a feature of that story, not the author's writing as a whole (such as Beagle's The Last Unicorn, which I mentioned in the comments of Sherwood's post). And sometimes I eagerly expect certain things from a series or sequel to a book I really loved, only to find that the author had a completely different plan and veers off in a direction that doesn't interest me at all (I've heard several readers say this about Maria Snyder's Study books, for instance).
Then there's the rarer phenomenon when you love an author's prose but not their poetry (or essays, or what-have-you); or you think them brilliant scriptwriters (or lyricists) but terrible novelists, or the other way around. The ability to put together words in an arrangement that pleases you in one medium doesn't always carry over to others, and that can cause this kind of dissonance as well.
What about you? If you have a much-loved book or books by a certain author but found that most or all of their other works left you cold, what were your reasons for feeling that way? Feel free to comment on either my post or sartorias's as it pleases you; I'll see it in either case.
On one hand you have readers (myself among them) who wouldn't go so far as to call the book perfect, but who really loved it and thought it worth recommending to other fantasy lovers. On the other hand, you have people who were so horrified by the book's seemingly dismissive attitude to sexual assault and the hero's lack of respect for the female MC that they either DNF'd the book a few chapters in, or they found the whole experience of reading it to be irrevocably tainted.
Some of those people who disliked (or even hated) Uprooted are my friends, and I am not here to tell them they're wrong to feel that way, or to try and argue them into liking it. But there's a strain in current fictional discourse that's been really bugging me over the past few months, and some of the critiques of Uprooted suffer from it -- the difference between "I didn't love X, and this is why," which is perfectly legitimate and fine (and can even lead to interesting discussions) and "I didn't love X because it's gross and problematic, and if you like X anyway, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU."
I don't mind hearing that not everybody likes the same things I like. I do very much mind being made to feel that I am a lesser person, indeed a morally inferior one in desperate need of enlightenment, for liking them.
I am not here to defend Novik's choice to have her heroine sexually threatened, because I don't think it was necessary to the plot nor do I think that it added anything to the story. I did notice it, it did bother me, and I would have enjoyed the book a great deal more without that aspect. Nevertheless, it wasn't the dealbreaker for me that it was for some of my friends, and I think I know why.
Because I'm over forty, and I grew up reading different fantasy novels than they did.
That may sound flippant, but it goes deeper than you might think. In fact, I feel fairly confident in suggesting that the majority of people who loved Uprooted despite its faults are 40+ and/or grew up reading "classic" fantasy novels almost exclusively, while the majority of those who disliked the book enough to DNF or strongly criticize it are 35 or younger, and in their childhood and teens had a much wider, modern pool of fantasy to choose from.
In other words, the twenty and thirtysomething readers didn't grow up having to swallow the occasional bitter pill of sexism or casual racism in order to read books in their genre. They could afford to be picky, and that's why they find it baffling and even upsetting that older fantasy readers don't seem to hold books like Uprooted to the same high standard.
But for me, the habit of overlooking story elements I don't care for in order to enjoy the ones that I do was drilled into me decades ago. When I was a teen reading fantasy novels -- or any kind of novels, for that matter -- it was practically a given that the heroine would be sexually menaced at some point. How else would the villain reveal the true depths of his depravity? What other fate, barring death, could be serious enough to make our hearts flutter anxiously on the heroine's behalf, and make our satisfaction all the greater when the villain was thwarted? And how realistic would it be, really, if the possibility of the heroine being raped was never even acknowledged? You might be able to get away with that in juvenile fantasy, but come on, we're grown-ups here...
I'm not saying this is how it should be or that it's the only way to write a good story, I'm simply stating a fact: this is how it was in 1970's and 80's fantasy (and historical, and crime, and a lot of other genres). You had to be prepared for that, or resign yourself to not reading any fiction at all.
So those of us who grew up reading fantasy learned to adjust our expectations. To see sexual threats or assault as a warning sign (because the way it was handled could often tell you whether the author was indulging a fetish, or merely bowing to what s/he thought were the rules) but not necessarily a dealbreaker. For me, a dealbreaker was having the hero commit rape (I'm looking at you, Lord Foul's Bane) or having the villain rape the heroine on-screen (hello, The Fionavar Tapestry*), whereas having the heroine merely threatened or finding a way to fend off the assault seemed like a positive triumph.
None of this explains, or excuses, why Novik bowed to this particular old-fashioned convention in a decade where sexual assault in fiction can no longer go unquestioned or be easily overlooked. But it does explain why those of us who loved Uprooted were able to do so. Because we weren't surprised to find such an element in a classic-style folklore-inspired fantasy. We could sigh or grimace or roll our eyes as necessary, and then move on.
Furthermore, because Uprooted is so very clearly a tribute to the great female fantasists of the 70's and 80's -- authors like Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, and Ursula LeGuin, who made me think not only "I want to write these kinds of stories" the way Lewis and Tolkien and MacDonald had, but "I want to write like this" -- the overwhelming feeling that reading Uprooted produced in me was a deep nostalgic fondness, and a strong sense of faith in Novik's ability as a storyteller. Because if she'd read and loved the same books I loved as a teen, and her writing was giving me the same feeling as reading The Forgotten Beasts of Eld or Beauty or A Wizard of Earthsea, then I could trust her to tell the rest of her story in a way that would make up for the bits I didn't like so much.
And in the end, my belief was that she did.
So yes, my friends who didn't warm to the book immediately as I did, and felt that certain male characters' treatment of Agnieska was too offensive to ignore or forgive -- I understand, and I'm not trying to change your opinion. But I think it's important to understand how the generation gap between younger and older fantasy readers, and the books that most influenced us, play into this.
It's not that we don't see the flaws and the problematic elements, or that we don't care about them. It's that we can see virtues and delights in Novik's novel, many of them based on the older fantasies to which Uprooted is paying tribute, that make us love it anyway. Which is why Uprooted won the Nebula this year, because the people doing the voting are fondly remembering those older novels -- many of them also flawed, but nonetheless deeply resonant and influential -- as well.
* Oh hey, both those "classic" epic fantasies were written by men! What a surprise! No wonder nearly all my favorite 80's fantasy authors were women.
First, a friend on Facebook pointed me to a recent article at Tor.com featuring Quicksilver as one of Five Books With Asexual Protagonists (and furthermore declaring my post about writing Tori's character to be "excellent", which was a nice bonus).
Then today I got a package in the mail containing two US hardcover copies of A Pocket Full of Murder which, at first glance, seemed no different from the author copies I already had. I was mystified at first, but then I spotted the note tucked inside:
Your book has reprinted! Please find a sample copy enclosed.
And sure enough, when I checked the title page it turned out to be the SECOND edition. Whoop!
I am so, so, happy and relieved to know that the book is doing well enough to exceed my publisher's expectations -- and I suspect making this year's CLA Top Ten Best Books for Children shortlist probably had a good deal to do with the bump in sales, so I am grateful for that all over again.
I confess to opening the Word document with a little trepidation, as one never knows what sorts of things will come up in copyedits or how much work it's going to be. Plus I haven't looked at A Little Taste of Poison in a couple of months, and I've felt a bit shy of reading it again for fear I won't be able to see anything but its flaws -- a tendency that copyedits always tend to magnify, since the whole point is to point out errors that the author didn't catch.
However, not only are all the queries mercifully light, the CE closed with "Great ending! The whole book was charming and well-written -- a pleasure to work on." And that buoyed my spirits enormously, because I very rarely get those kinds of comments -- most of my CE's have been all business and if they liked the book there was no way to tell.
So I feel much encouraged now and able to go to work on the manuscript with a cheerful spirit.
The other place you can catch me on a daily basis is Twitter, where I'm generally accessible even when on a deadline (though it may take me a few hours to reply). I also have a Facebook page (including a Proper Author-Type Page for posting events and signings) but I rarely use it: I'm just not fond of that particular interface.
Please don't feel intimidated or worried on any level about writing for me. I know how dismal it can be to write under pressure and with a bucketload of anxiety about whether it will measure up to expectations, and I would hate to make you feel that way. Fic should be fun, even if it stretches us in new and unexpected directions. And you are giving me a gift just by writing a story about a fandom and characters I love.
I am on AO3 as RJ_Anderson and on FF.net as R.J. Anderson. (The FF.net archive is far more comprehensive, mostly because I am too lazy to edit and re-upload a bunch of old, mostly jossed fics to AO3.)
The following fandom-specific info is on my AO3 signup form, but just in case it gets lost or scrambled or you'd like to see it all in one convenient place, I'll copy it here:
( Read more... )
And that's it! Thank you so very much again, and I hope these few comments have been of some help to you and are not too harrowing. I can't wait to see whatever story you come up with!
So I am mentioning (not tagging, because that implies obligation, and that can be burdensome) two long-time favorite authors whose books deserve more attention than they've been getting, and one soon-to-be published author whose manuscript I adored and am excited about seeing in print:
Deva Fagan is the author of the delightful MG fantasy romps Fortune's Folly and The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle, as well as the sparkling YA science fiction adventure Circus Galacticus (oh, that Ringmaster!). She is clever, versatile, imaginative, and a lovely person to know.
Actor/Author Adrienne Kress has published two charming, witty, everything-but-the-kitchen sink MG novels, Alex and the Ironic Gentleman and Timothy and the Dragon's Gate, both of which my 10-year-old son loves and has read multiple times. Her just-released first YA novel The Friday Society has a fabulous one-line pitch (a "steampunk Charlie's Angels without Charlie") and I thoroughly enjoyed it; I hope a lot of other readers do too.
Emily Kate Johnston never ceases to astound me with her ability to write terrific stories and novels in a dizzyingly short period of time. (Okay, let's be honest: I'm jealous.) Her contemporary southwestern Ontario high school novel, set in an alternate history where dragons are a real and pernicious threat (no cutesy "taming the dragon" storyline here!) won my heart and, I'm glad to say, charmed my agent and US editor as well. You can look forward to seeing her debut in 2014, by which time it will hopefully have a title!
And now I'll answer some questions about my own most recent book...
What’s the title?
It's called Quicksilver. I chose the title as it seemed like a good fit with Ultraviolet, its sister novel. Then I spent the next few months racking my brain to figure out what it meant -- and I didn't really know the answer until I was well into the first draft of the book. First drafts are mysterious like that sometimes.
A short synopsis?
Quicksilver is the story of Tori, a 17-year-old girl who flees her hometown, changes her identity and goes into hiding when a ruthless policeman and a DNA specialist start asking dangerous questions about her strange biology and mysterious past. But protecting herself from the people who want to control her will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.
Where did the idea for this book come from?
It was totally Tori's idea. She's stubborn like that, and I knew as soon as I started writing her character in Ultraviolet that she was going to demand a sequel of her very own. Some characters take time for me to get to know properly, but Tori came alive for me the instant I named her, and she's held a place at centre stage in my imagination ever since.
What genre does your book fall under?
I'd call it a contemporary psychological thriller on the rocks with a science fiction twist. Hopefully it will leave the reader both shaken and stirred. (Although if Tori ever met James Bond, she would probably whack him upside the head with her toolbelt.)
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
All the K-Pop fans are going to laugh at me now, but I swear I had no idea who Siwon was when I found an old photo of him wearing glasses and decided he looked like my mental image of Milo. He's too old for the part nowadays, but if we're fantasy casting I don't see why we can't use a time machine. So here, have a picture:
( Read more... )
As for Tori, I've never found an actress who matched my mental image of her, but I did find this jaw-droppingly fabulous piece of artwork by Charlie Bowater:
( Read more... )
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Since 2009 I've been represented by the excellent team of Josh Adams at Adams Literary in the US and Caroline Walsh of David Higham Associates in the UK. Quicksilver will be published by Carolrhoda Lab / Lerner Books in North America and by Orchard Books in UK/Aus/NZ.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Six months, and I thought it was going to kill me. It wasn't even that the book was so demanding (though it was: I had to do a LOT of research into areas I'm not at all familiar with, like math and engineering) but that my elderly parents were going through a succession of health crises at the time, and juggling their needs with my publishing commitments was a challenge I'd not faced before on that kind of scale. So I had to beg for an extension on my deadline, and I felt horrible about it, but I knew that rushing the book would be the worst thing I could do in the end. I always want my books to be the best I can possibly make them before I send them out into the world.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Uh… Ultraviolet? That's really all I can think of, honest! Either my reading habits are woefully limited, or else my imagination is just that weird. (Probably both.)
What else about the book might pique a reader’s interest?
I guess it depends on how much they like any or all of the following: DNA analysis, cutting-edge technology, secret identities, mass transit, heroic rescues, dramatic text messages, unexpected visitors, pancakes, soldering, miniature dachshunds, makerspaces, excellent biceps, asexuality, Korean home cooking, road trips, radio telescopes, outrageous lies, tragic romances, not-so-tragic romances, and/or power tools…
Hi. I'm R.J. Anderson, a Canadian-born, US-published, UK-bestselling author for children and teens whose sixth novel, Quicksilver, is coming out in early 2013. And if you're an asexual reader who loves YA fiction but wishes there were more characters like you, there's someone I'd like you to meet.( Read more... )
Quicksilver will be in bookstores mid-to-late February 2013 in North America, early May 2013 in the UK. You can see the cover, read the jacket copy and check out some advance reviews on GoodReads, or preorder the novel via Amazon (US / Can / UK), Chapters Indigo or Book Depository.
Here's how you play:
1. Leave a comment with a number between 1 and 314.
2. I will reply with a line, or maybe even a whole paragraph if I feel like it, from that page of Quicksilver.
And that's all! Comment away! Or you can play on Twitter, where I'm @rj_anderson and the tag is #Quicksilver.
ETA 12/10/19: Contest is closed! Thanks for playing.
Once I was a girl who was special.
Now I am extraordinary.
And they will never stop hunting me.
The compelling follow-up to the bestselling ULTRAVIOLET, this psychological thriller will take your breath away...
-- Orchard Books (UK) blurb for QUICKSILVER by R.J. Anderson
I am happy to report that as of today, I turned in my last major revision of QUICKSILVER to my lovely UK and US editors. And after addressing their suggestions and those of my insightful beta-reading team, I am very pleased with the way the book has turned out. It gives me hope that readers of ULTRAVIOLET, and perhaps some new readers as well, will enjoy it too!
Unfortunately I also have some sad news to report, which is that the UK edition will not be coming out in November, as we'd originally hoped. Due to a succession of family health crises and other unforeseen delays, I was unable to finish editing the book in time for my publishers to get it ready for a 2012 publication date, which means that the paperback of QUICKSILVER will now be coming out in the UK in
January May 2013 instead. However, the North American hardcover publication date remains unchanged, so US and Canadian readers can look forward to seeing the book in March 2013.
I apologize to those who've been eagerly awaiting QUICKSILVER and are disappointed to have to wait
two six months longer! But these things happen sometimes, and I felt it was more important to give you a book I had really put my heart into writing and researching -- a book I could be proud of -- than to rush something out that wasn't my best work.
Thanks to all my readers for your patience and support! I can't wait for you to read this story, and I'm very excited to find out what you think of it.
Somebody at some point a few months ago (I can't remember who or under what circumstances, as I've been working doggedly on Quicksilver for the past six months while trying to get my mother through cancer treatment and a series of debilitating vertigo attacks, and everything that's happened to me since January is pretty much a blur) told me I should write something about the way I relate to fandom, which they thought was interesting and fairly unusual for a pro author. So here I am, writing about it.
First, ( my fannish credentials )
I'm far from being the only professional author who got her start in fandom, of course. Several people I met in X-Files fandom or HP fandom or Alias fandom, or any of the other fandoms I was part of in the early 90's, have since been professionally published and gained a fan following in their own right. Yet I know at least some of them still dabble in fanfic from time to time when a plot bunny hops across their path. And sometimes they write meta and get involved in other aspects of fandom, too--cosplay, fanart, going to cons as an attendee rather than a guest. Because they're still fans at heart, they still love the kinds of shows and movies and books and music they've always loved, and getting paid for their original work hasn't changed that. Why should it?
That being said, nearly all the pros I know who are still involved with fandom use a pseudonym. And often with good reason, ( because... )
I don't hide my identity, however. Like Diane Duane, Peter David and a few other stout or possibly reckless souls, I do my fannish activity under the same name as I publish my books.
One day, perhaps, I may come to regret this. But so far, using the same name for all my writing and meta and fannish interaction hasn't caused any problems for me. For one thing, my fanfic has pretty much the same content and rating as my original novels, and in some cases is even a bit tamer than the canon I'm writing for -- so it's unlikely that a parent is going to go ballistic if they find their tween or teen reading my stories.
Another reason I don't bother with an alias is that I am no longer a BNF  in any fandom, if I ever was; which makes any accusation of me profiting unduly from another author's work to be a pretty long stretch.  So I still have the profile on Fanfiction.net that I set up when the site first opened. I'm on AO3 and Fiction Alley and a few fandom-specific archives as well. I'm a happy member of sounis, and though now and again some other member recognizes me and says something nice about my writing, I keep my replies brief because I'm not there to talk about me, I'm there to share in the Queen's Thief love.
Here's my philosophy of fandom in a nutshell: ( it's not about me )
Anyway, that's how I do fandom, for good or ill. Because I am still a squeeing fangirl at heart, even if my pro commitments keep me too busy to write a lot of fanfic or meta these days. And unlike some pro authors I know who have had nasty experiences with fans harassing them for not writing more fanfic instead of those STOOPID ORIGINAL NOVELS HOW DARE YOU, I've had a pretty easy ride in fandom on the whole. The tiny group of readers I have who've stuck with me since my pre-published days have been lovely, kind, supportive people; and the modest amount of fanart, vids and fic I've seen for my books has been created by enthusiastic young readers who have no idea I've got any fandom history at all. And as long as that keeps up, I've got no reason to go underground.
And when, as happened this afternoon, I get a bunch of thoughtful, enthusiastic reviews for a fic I wrote back in 2003 from a reader who has no idea I've written anything professional at all, it makes me just as pleased as a good review for my published books does. Because I put all the same heart and skill into my fic as I do into my published work, even if the skill set involved is a little different. And because, as a fan, I know how enjoyable and worthwhile a well-written fanfic can be.
 This was before I had any idea that Anne McCaffrey was militantly opposed to fanfic based on her work. Sorry, Anne.
 We will draw a merciful veil over the Spies & Detectives' Convention crossover with Manimal and Simon & Simon, in which my self-insert Mary Sue accidentally stabbed A.J. Simon with a letter opener and had to nurse him back to health. And an even more merciful veil over the everybody-gets-mutant-abilities crossover that had twenty-six characters but only sixteen pages.
 All 120K of it. I still feel like I owe that poor editor at Del Rey an apology just for subjecting him to the first three chapters.
 Naomi Novik, for instance, is heavily involved in fandom and it's no secret that she writes plenty of fanfic herself; but most people don't know her fannish alias, and she prefers to keep it that way. I know of two or three other well-known authors who take a similar stance.
 Big Name Fan -- i.e. an author or artist whose name everybody in a given fandom will probably recognize, even if they haven't seen their work.
 Since I got published I have only written one piece of fic based on another author's books, and I think said author and I are on pretty similar levels at the moment as far as book sales go. So if somebody reads that particular fic, they're just as likely to be a reader of mine discovering her work as they are to be a fan of her books discovering mine. And since the story is so heavily based in her world and characters, it isn't really an advertisement for my own imagination so much as proof of my mad fangirl love for hers.
 I did mention it on my Teaspoon profile, in the first flush of my "Squee, I'm going to be published!" enthusiasm, but even then I didn't mention the title of the book. And it's changed now.
(Before we got on the elevator, however, I should mention that he also serenaded us with a rendition of Derek & Clive's "Jump", which is pretty much the sort of song one would expect Neil Gaiman to perform on short notice. He has quite a nice singing voice and can even keep a tune unaccompanied; clearly his wife has trained him well.)
(And before that he told us a few bits of trivia about his Bradbury-nominated [and later winning] script for "The Doctor's Wife", such as that it was called "Bigger On The Inside" until practically the last moment, and then Steven Moffat decided to change the title on the grounds that it was too spoilery. To which Neil objected, saying that he could think of any number of other story ideas that could be called "The Doctor's Wife", but Moffat said patiently, "Yes, but in the case of your story it's actually true.")
(All this happened late on the Saturday afternoon before the Nebula banquet, because Ellen Kushner, Diana Peterfreund, Franny Billingsley and E. Lily Yu had decided to sing folk ballads in an out-of-the-way corner, and invited me to come and sing along. Neil came looking for Ellen because she's an old friend, and the best bit was sitting across from Diana and Lily when they realized what was going on and watching their jaws simultaneously drop.)
(And that's about the whole story I think, except that the song we sang to Neil in the elevator was "Greensleeves", in four-part harmony, which dwindled to three-part and two-part harmony as we got off at the various floors, and Neil later described it as the best lift ride he'd ever had, which I have to agree with because it was tremendous fun and would have been even without him, but it's always nicest to have an audience.)
(Also, you should read E. Lily Yu's Nebula-nominated short story "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees" because it is really clever and she is a lovely person, whom I hope I shall meet again some day. Ditto on Ellen, Diana, and Franny, of course, and also on Delia Sherman, whose Freedom Maze is utterly wonderful and thoroughly deserved to win the Norton, so I am thrilled for her and not even sorry I didn't win.)
(And I also met Genevieve Valentine who is delightful, and then I bought her Nebula-nominated novel Mechanique to read on the plane ride home, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.)
ANYWAY, after that truly epic series of parentheses, the actual point of this post was to mention to any of my readers in the Toronto region that I will be signing the Canadian paperback release of Arrow this Saturday at Chapters Brampton along with Megan Crewe (The Way We Fall) and Leah Bobet (Above), and we will even get to speak and answer questions for a few minutes first, which makes it more of a Proper Event than any bookstore event I've done yet. So I am quite excited about that, and if you should happen to be in the Brampton area around 2 p.m., please stop in and say hello!
(And now I must go and put dinner in the oven, and then I shall collapse.)
Fictional romances which involve two people being so absorbed in each other that they end up being indifferent, insensitive or downright cruel to the other people around them are, IMO, not romantic at all. They are obsessive, unhealthy, co-dependent relationships and make me want to smack both the lovers upside the head.
This is why I started getting very unsettled by Nine/Rose after "The Long Game". It's also why I found the behaviour of Ten/Rose in episodes like "Tooth and Claw" deeply problematic and upsetting, and why Ten's pillow talk to Martha in "The Shakespeare Code" made me grind my teeth.
Similarly, there are a number of popular "oh-so-romantic!" novels I've read where the love interests are all gropey and kissy in front of friends who are single and/or suffering from unrequited feelings and/or going through tough times in their own relationships, and I couldn't buy into the romance or sympathize with those characters at all.
(And IMO Wuthering Heights takes the absolute cake for non-romances, because not only are Heathcliff and Cathy cruel to everybody around them, they're also cruel to each other. As a novel about massively dysfunctional characters involved in a gothic tragedy it's superb; but anybody who interprets WH as a great romance has, to my mind, a highly suspect idea of love.)
Full disclosure: I'm not even going to pretend that this view of mine isn't rooted in personal experience. When I was young and single I had a friend who constantly macked on her boyfriends in front of me, making me feel completely unwanted and intrusive. After one particularly cringeworthy display in the middle of a shopping center I took her aside and quietly asked if she and her boyfriend could reserve the passionate kisses and lingering embraces for times when I was not present, and her response was a plaintive "But we love each other!"
I'm sure she felt very strongly about her feelings of passion for her boyfriend being bigger and more important than anyone else's feelings, and how this demonstrated the Epic Quality of Their Love. But I'm also sure, to this day, that she was wrong. (Not least because she and that boyfriend broke up a few weeks later.)
Or to use a non-physical example, in my single days I once got a letter from a recently-married cousin saying, "Marriage is fantastic! I highly recommend it, you should try it sometime!" Which made me want to HULK SMASH because at that point I'd never even been on a date, and not for lack of wanting or trying either. But I swallowed my bitterness and wrote her a polite response saying that I would dearly love to meet a wonderful person and get married, but this was really not in my control, and that I was happy for her contentment in her marriage, but perhaps she might consider not saying such things to other single people in future because they could be quite painful and upsetting.
(Perhaps not surprisingly, she never wrote to me again.)
Anyway, I have now been happily married for fourteen years and have three children, but my feelings about this matter have not changed a whit, and I'm certain that I'm not alone. So to my fellow writers in the process of trying to create truly swoonworthy romances, may I suggest that before your characters rush into a clinch or share a sly in-joke or otherwise engage in exclusionary behaviour in front of others, you and they should stop and think a little about how those other people might feel.
Ultraviolet has been nominated for the 2012 Andre Norton Award!
This is the YA division of the Nebula Awards, which are legendary in the SF&F genre, so even being considered for the award is a pretty big deal, let alone actually making the shortlist. I am thrilled and honoured.
Here's the full list of nominees as posted on the official SFWA site:
- Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor (Viking Juvenile)
- Chime, Franny Billingsley (Dial Books; Bloomsbury)
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Hodder & Stoughton)
- Everybody Sees the Ants, A.S. King (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
- The Boy at the End of the World, Greg van Eekhout (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
- The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman (Big Mouth House)
- The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson (Greenwillow Books)
- Ultraviolet, R.J. Anderson (Orchard Books; Carolrhoda Lab)
For my fellow writers in the quasi-local area, I have more good news -- I'm going to be presenting a workshop on revision in Waterloo, ON at the end of March:
( Poster with details under cut... )
So if you need a pep talk before launching into your own revisions or would appreciate some general tips on how to go about it, this may be the seminar for you! Or just come and say hi and hang out with me and some other writers. Whatever. :)
And finally, a vid that has nothing to do with writing but I've been posting it everywhere since I discovered it last night, just because it is so INCREDIBLY CLEVER. And also broke my heart a little.
From the author's introduction at her journal:
In the beginning, there was Sherlock Holmes. And Holmes brought forth the brilliant doctor House, embodied by the lovely Hugh Laurie. Who prior to that in Fortysomething played a slightly less brilliant doctor, Paul Slippery, who begat three sons, the eldest of whom was played by the equally-lovely-if-somewhat-peculiarly-na
All I can say is, watch. Enjoy. Marvel at the parallels. Surely some of them had to be intentional?!