Thursday, February 18, 2010

Through the Blood—Mette Harrison

When I first wrote THROUGH THE BLOOD, I had only the idea that there was a king being executed and that he had magic.  The rest of the story came as I was writing it.  And rewriting it.  I remember Ed writing to me and saying that he couldn't use the b-002 story as it stood because of some important questions the reader was being kept in the dark about, such as what is the king's magic, what is the relationship between Haber and Elwell, and even why was the king being executed.  He said that he felt this information was being artificially withheld, that the characters knew it and I knew it, but only the reader didn't know it.  The truth was, that I didn't actually know the answers to those questions.  But of course, this information needed to be clearly conveyed because without that information, it was difficult to care about the characters and to feel the real impact of the surprise at the end.  Maybe there is some part of my hind brain that did know the answer to those questions, and it just had to be coaxed into spitting it out properly.  I am not sure I want to know exactly how my writing brain works fully.  It would take away all the mystery and angst and then why would I write?

--Mette Harrison

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mudlarks—Kat Otis

Last summer, I attended a writing workshop where each of the participants was supposed to write a short story... in one day. I b-004 brainstormed this vague idea about poor kids with magical powers but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with it. Finally, I decided to set my story in London, since I'd just spent six months living there. I've never been big on cities, but somehow London wriggled its way into my heart anyway.

Maybe it's because of the Thames River.

The Thames fascinated me from day one. Every time I rode the Tube over the river, I got up from my seat to look out the windows. Which way was it flowing? How high was the tide? What boats were out on the river? Were there kids playing on its banks? What could I see reflected in its shimmering surface? Whenever I had a day off, I liked to walk the South Bank or the Thames Path and I even went out during the February 2nd "blizzard" to walk (err, hike? wade? flounder?) along the riverside.

After I added in the London setting, my main character quickly developed a very special relationship with the Thames.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Speaking of history, I've taken a few liberties with it. The curfew was a medieval phenomenon which only applied to the area within London's walls; Fleet Street and Saint Bride's Church are both outside the city gates. And while there were cunning men (and women) in England, they were never incorporated as a livery company. They also never operated out of the Middle Temple – that was and is an Inn of Court, the abode of lawyers.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Odd Jobs—Josh Vogt

b-003Part of Odd Job's inspiration came from reading another all-dialogue short, They're Made Out of Meat, by Terry Bisson. The format captured my interest: two disembodied alien intelligences discussing humanity's fleshiness and debating whether they should allow us "meaties" into their intergalactic fellowship. I loved how much was conveyed through dialogue alone and fiddled with variations of the style for fun. Most of my stories, whether shorts or novels, are often rooted in conversations characters start having in my imagination. So one day, I typed out the opening line, "According to your resume, Mr. Whisk, you spent five years as the Man in the Moon." I let the conversation flow out from there, as Mr. Whisk described his experiences. After I had enough conversation, I had to decide whether I wanted to create a framing scene, character descriptions, etc., but in the end chose to leave it all dialogue and give readers much more room to play. It's a story I hope folks enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing.

--Josh Vogt

Thursday, February 04, 2010

When Giants Fart…

…the whole world stinks. Which kind of sums up the atmosphere in the publishing and authorial world for the past week as publishing giant Macmillan and distribution giant square off and try to decide whose bean processing plant is the most odiferous.

Without getting into the smelly details (which have been discussed on other sites), the gist of the problem lies in the pricing of e-books. Amazon wants a fixed ceiling of $9.99 for premium (read: popular) titles; Macmillan wants flexibility in their pricing, with premium selections fetching $14.99. Sometime on January 29, Amazon pulled the buy button off all titles owned by Macmillan imprints from its website. Offerings from Amazon vendors unaffected, but Amazon itself refuses to sell any Macmillan titles.

I’m not out to further the debate between readers, writers, publishers, and distributors; that’s been done elsewhere. (See Tobias Buckell’s lengthy write up, or LE Modesitt’s for reference) My purpose in this post is to promote some former Freaks who have been run out of doors (as it were) by this fiasco.

David B. Coe (IGMS #9, Cassie’s Story) has a new paperback out. The Horsemen’s Gambit is the second book in the Blood of the Southland series, and follows protagonist Grisna the Weaver as he tries to put a stop to the plagues being perpetuated across his land. Publisher’s Weekly called The Horsemen’s Gambit “intense and appealing.” You can find The Horsemen’s Gambit at Macmillan’s website or at Barnes and Noble.

Ken Scholes (IGMS #9, The God Voices of Settler’s Rest) is the author of the acclaimed fantasy series, the Psalms of Isaac. Lamentation begins the series with the mysterious destruction of the great city Widwir. The Lord of the Nine Houses, Rudolfo, sees the destruction and sets out to investigate. The story of war in the Named Lands continues in Canticle, which was released in October ‘09. Publisher’s Weekly has said of Scholes “…[he]ingeniously fuses epic fantasy and postapocalyptic science fiction... Abounding in prophecy, myth and mystery, this grand-scale saga is a towering storytelling tour de force." You can find Scholes’ books at Barnes and Noble, Borders, or…just about anywhere but Amazon.

John Brown (IGMS #1, Loose in the Wires; IGMS #8, From the Clay of His Heart) is the author of the fantasy Servant of a Dark God. In Servant, soul-eaters steal the days from men and beasts. Surrounded by ancient lies, and pursued by the soul-eaters, young Talen must stop the rise of a dark god. Library Journal said of Servant of a Dark God: “This well-wrought tale of families in conflict against both politics and religion represents a welcome addition to large-scale fantasy.” You can find Servant of a Dark God at Borders, Barnes and Noble, or…just about at any bookseller except Amazon.

--Scott M. Roberts

Assistant Editor