May. 4th, 2009 10:34 am
anghara: (Default)
A bit more linkery - I did a guest blog for Apex and it's up this week - here's a taste:

You will know my tribe - sometimes it will take a touch of a moon-sharp shadow to reveal us, but you will know us by what we carry, by the burden we bear, by the darkness that lingers in our eye - because we are of the shadow, because we are the tellers of tales, and the shadows are where stories are born.

Read the rest over there. Comments welcome.

Also, the Dragons Heroes and Wizards blog reviews "Gift of the unmage" and likes it a lot - too many nice things to quote, go read it - but here's something just to give you a glimpse of the review:

If I could open a door and step into this world, I believe I could live happily there without too much of an adjustment and never look back. Does worldbuilding get any better then that?

Watch that space for a review of "Spellspam", which is listed as currently being read, very soon... I look forward to it!


Apr. 23rd, 2009 10:45 am
anghara: (Default)
I have known the name of Lucienne Diver for quite a while, as an talented and successful literary agent - but recently, at a convention on the East Coast in March, I had the pleasure of actually meeting her in the flesh for the first time, as it were, when we shared a panel at the con. This was when I also discovered that she was also an author in her own right - and I invited her to visit my blog with a guest appearance to tell us more about that.

Without further ado, I give you... Lucienne Diver.

How does your author hat mesh with your agent hat? Does one help the
other or do you find yourself looking at books and clients

The hats don’t so much mesh like the crowns of upper and lower Egypt as
trade out, one for the other. I generally write first thing in the morning
before my inner agent wakes up. Once she does, I’m sunk. I’m thinking
about the pitch letters I have to write, the contracts I need to negotiate
or the checks I need to chase. That’s a different mindset all together,
completely separate from the creative impulse, though good writing is good
writing and as useful in writing pitches for my authors as for myself. Being
both a writer and an agent gives me special sympathy for what a writer goes
through with editorial comment, revisions, rejections, the nail-biting
period waiting for feedback. Therefore, I try to be especially good with my
response times and with providing feedback to my clients that not only
pinpoints what can be improved but offers suggestions on how to go about it.
I think that the best kind of agent and editor are those who help an author
fully realize his or her vision.

How did your book(s) come about? (in other words, where do you get
your ideas? )

My books always start with character. One or two people talking in my head.
So far, thankfully, none of the voices have shouted “Kill, kill, kill”
(sorry, channeling Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant there for a minute),
but they absolutely refuse to be silenced until I commit them to paper.

Generally, the voices come from some real-world inspiration. Playing Nice,
the romantic comedy I wrote years ago as Kit Daniels, started with an
overheard conversation between two baristas at my local Starbucks. The
scene it sparked doesn’t even exist in the final version, but it provided
the inspiration.

Gina, my fashionista who goes from chic to eek when she wakes up dead with
no reflection (thus no way to do her hair and make-up) started out as the
big-haired girl from high school who tormented my sister. It was fun to
torment “her” in return, dooming her to eternal life without tanning
options, etc., but to give her a novel, I had to come to respect and love
her as well, and so the character mutated into someone who can really roll
with the punches and come up swinging (and more human than when she had an
actual hearbeat).

How many hours in a day do you REALLY need to do everything you do?

You know the novel *The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything*? If ever I’ve
wanted fantasy to become reality….

What sort of thing do YOU read when you read fiction for pleasure - or
do you? What sort of books would you recommend to your own

I’m a voracious reader. Unfortunately, I have less time these days to read
books that I’m not representing, but I’m a big fan of Joshilyn Jackson,
Janet Evanovich, Laurell K. Hamilton and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (including
any pastiches done based on his work). I also love books on forensic
anthropology and psychology.

For books I’d recommend to my own audience: I’m also a huge fan of Rosemary
Clement-Moore’s Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil books and Rachel Caine’s
Morganville Vampires series. I’m also a lover of the classics, *The Witch
of Blackbird Pond *by Elizabeth George Speare, *The Changeover* by Margaret
Mahy, *A Wrinkle in Time* by Madeleine L’Engle…not that I can hope to
compare to any of these writers!

Lucienne Diver is the author of *Vamped *(think Clueless meets Buffy the
Vampire Slayer), a May 2009 trade paperback release from Flux. She’s also a
sixteen year veteran of the publishing business, representing over forty
authors of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, suspense and romance. She’s a
member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR), RWA, MWA and
SFWA. Further information is available on The Knight Agency website She also maintains a blog of agenting and authorial
musings: and can also be found via her author

anghara: (Default)
Born in the Pacific Northwest in 1979, Catherynne M. Valente is the author of the *Orphan's Tales* series, as well as *The Labyrinth*, *Yume no Hon: The Book of Dreams*, *The Grass-Cutting Sword*, and four books of poetry, *Music of a Proto-Suicide*, *Apocrypha, The Descent of Inanna,* and *Oracles*. She is the winner of the Tiptree Award and the Million Writers Award and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Rhysling and Spectrum Awards, and the World Fantasy Award. She currently lives in Northeastern Ohio with her partner and two dogs.

Visit her website at, or find out more about her books:

1. Tell us a little bit about the road that led you to "Orphan's
Tales". No,this is not a "where do you get your ideas" question. It's
more a questions of "what roads did you travel to get here?"

I began writing The Orphan's Tales almost immediately after finishing my first novel, The Labyrinth. At that point I had no notion of ever being published, didn't feel I was in any way ready to compete at that level, and was really just trying to figure out what writing fiction was all about, having been exclusively a poet until then. I had been re-reading Arabian Nights and was struck by the structure, the nested stories, but more than that by the idea of a book that contained an entire culture in increments, stories like bricks in a building or slats in a ladder. I was deeply excited by the idea of trying to write an entirely created mythos, not in the sense of what Tolkien did, which is a single narrative with many tributary narratives branching off from it, but by focusing on the tributaries and allowing the single narrative to be suggested by filling in the space around it with tales that did not directly address it but fed from it nonetheless. If that makes sense.

In the end, that idea joined up with a lot of thoughts about the nature of family, knowing where you come from, every person being the nexus of an almost unfathomable number of stories simply by virtue of their birth. Everyone is part of a nested story system in a very real sense, their parents and cousins and grandparents, all their stories that touch shoulders and toes.

2. There is something both hyper-real and totally dreamlike about your
world. Where do you draw the boundaries of what-is and what-could-be
and even perhaps what-must-never-be? Can a writer ever live in a
single and precisely bordered world or are all of us doomed to travel
through the shadows from one wondrous realm to the next, bound to tell
their tales?

I think the rules are different for each novel. You set your limitations and laws and only break them if it's really, really cool to do so. I allow the real world into the book I'm working on now, Palimpsest, in a way I would never allow it in The Orphan's Tales. As for how I live, how a writer lives...I think dwelling in books means you never live in one, singular world. Even simple objects resonate backwards and forwards, create associations that make them mythic--it's not just an apple, it's Eve and Snow White and Persephone and temptation and poison all in one. Everything is shadows, but everything is light, too, blinding light, and I think the choice you make as a human that consumes art is to see the strata of the quotidian, all the way down to dinosaur bones in your gasoline and all the way up to invisible pulsars in your night sky. It's not a bad trade for having your nose stuck in dead trees all the time.

3. I've seen the word "Scheherezade" bandied about as applied to your
"Orphan's Tales". Who do you think the true Scheherezade is here, you
or your storyteller character? How much of you is there in your girl
from the garden - alternatively, how much of her is there in you?

Well, I was a very lonely child. And I told stories compulsively--but I never had a prince. I told them to myself until someone at school caught me doing it and I was so mortified with embarrassment that it shut me up for a good long while. Of course any storyteller character has a relationship to the author, and to the other authors who come in contact with the book--we are always looking for myths for writers, aren't we? She is her own beast, though, and departed form authorial insertion a long time ago. But certainly she springs from my desperation and loneliness and feelings of abandonment as a child. If you write long enough, all your ugly, sad things come out sooner or later.

I will say though that one things struck me as I was getting ready for the sequel to be released: the girl in the garden started off alone, in the dark, friendless, much as I was when I started this book five years ago. I was adrift and searching and had very little in the way of human contact. But she ends the book as part of a family, and a very big story, much as I am now, part of a wide and varied tribe, having found a place in the world after all. I didn't intend that connection, but sometimes the subconscious is the smarter one, and it's there for all to see, now.

4.Storytelling has been around since the dawn of language. What do you
think makes the human mind and spirit so thirsty for tales?

Oh god, we just are, aren't we? That's like...why do we like to eat meat and drink water? Because we have sharp teeth and wet mouths and everything in our bodies was evolved to ingest them. I think as soon as one person wonders why the sun goes up on one side of the sky and comes down on the other, another person is ready with an amazing story about the land of night and the sun traveling under the earth. It's knee-jerk, it's instinct.

Maybe it's fear of death, too. For the Greeks to be forgotten was the most nightmarish fate imaginable, worse than actual death. But if you keep telling stories, Achilles never dies, you know? It's a way to ensure continuity, memory.

5. What was the most astonishing thing that happened to you while
engaged in creating the "Orphan's Tales" books? What was the scariest?

The scariest is always right before the book comes out, when there's total radio silence and you have no idea if anyone is going to read the damn thing, or like it if they do. You have to have a stomach of steel to get through that part, man.

As for most astonishing, I remember driving from Virginia to Ohio one night, and daydreaming, and the whole backstory for the girl in the garden just came to me, flooded my head, and I knew who she was and where she came from, why she was telling stories, the whole thing. I hadn't figured it out before, I was hoping it would come, and it did, just in one huge flash, and mostly because the highway is so inherently boring and monotonous. I had to pull over and scribble it all down before I forgot it.

6. If you had the opportunity to go back in time and tell a younger
version of you something that could change the course of her/your
life, what would it be?

Don't marry that boy, I'm telling you.

7. (if you wish to talk about it, and it doesn't have to be in great
detail if you don't care to do so) - Where are your stories taking you
to next? What do we have to look forward to?

I'm working on several books right now--one called Palimpsest which is an urban fantasy about a viral city only accessible in dreams, and one called The Spindle of Necessity about the Kingdom of Prester John. As well as a poetry collection, an SF novel, and a number of short stories.

I think ultimately I keep looking for a way to balance rich language with readability, and I'm getting better at it. I hope you can look forward to completely mad and wonderful worlds that never let you go.


Well, there you go. Any questions? Leave them for Cat in the comments!

Jig's up!

Aug. 11th, 2007 10:00 am
anghara: (Default)
Ever wondered what an author's characters REALLY think of the dramas they constantly get put through? What they REALLY think of the... well... er... [clearing throat] [nervous look around]

Without hanging around to find out if any of mine are getting ideas, I present to you my guest, Jim C. Hines, and his brave goblin warrior, Jig Dragonslayer. Uh, er, well, here's Jig, anyhow. Jim seems to be... a little tied up at the moment.


Jig Dragonslayer: Um . . . hi. My name is Jig, and I'm the "hero" of Goblin Quest and Goblin Hero, by Jim C. Hines. I guess he's called [ profile] jimhines around here. Anyway, Alma Alexander invited Hines to do a guest blog entry, but then she suggested he write it as an interview with me. And that means I get to do something I've wanted to do for seven long years, ever since he started writing these stupid goblin stories.

Jim C. Hines: Hi Jig, and thank you, Alma. Why don't we start by--

JD: Now, Braf!

JCH: Braf's here too? Hey, he's bigger than I imagined him. Stronger, too. Hey, let go of-- Ouch!.

JD: Make sure he can't untie the knots. Humans are sneaky that way. Always escaping and killing goblins.

JCH: You can't-- Hey, that pinches!

JD: Three books! Not to mention the short stories. I never did anything to you. Why have you spent the past seven years making me deal with dragons and hobgoblins and humans and armies and--

JCH: Don't forget the orcs!

JD: You know, Golaka the chef has seventeen different recipes for human. I know a lot of warriors who would love to sink their fangs into some nice, juicy author meat.

Braf: My favorite is the barbecued ribs, spiced with fire-spider eggs.

JCH: Right. Sorry. You wanted to know why? I was trying to help you guys. Most stories are from the humans' point of view. Or else they're about elves and dwarves. The only time you see goblins in any of the stories, all they do is charge in like fools and get themselves slaughtered.

Braf: That's the first tactic you learn as a goblin warrior!

JD: Will you just shut up and make sure he doesn't escape?

Braf: Sorry.

JD: Even if you wanted to write about goblins, why me? Why not write about a great warrior or a powerful chief? I'm half the size of most warriors, and I can barely see without my spectacles. My own fire-spider burnt off my hair!

JCH: Ha! My eyes are worse than yours, and I haven't had a full head of hair since college! Whether you want to admit it or not, people love you and Smudge. You may not be strong, but you're clever. You've outwitted a number of so-called heroes, and when that fails, Smudge just sets them on fire. People love reading about that sort of thing.

JD: Speaking of that, Alma mentioned something about you getting paid for these stories. Shouldn't I be the one getting paid? I'm the one running away from hobgoblins and lizard-fish and giant bats and . . . well, everything, really. So where's my cut?

JCH: Um . . . why don't I have you talk to my agent.

JD: Oh, I plan to talk to him next. And your editor, too. But first, I hear you've turned in the manuscript for the third book. What exactly are you going to do to me in this one?

JCH: You know I can't tell you. I'm still waiting for my editor to approve the final manuscript, and people on LiveJournal get awfully upset about spoilers, so--

JD: Braf? Tell Golaka to heat up the big pot.

JCH: Of course, telling you there's a war isn't much of a spoiler. The book's called Goblin War, after all. Braf has a small part in this one, and--

Braf: What do I do?

JCH: You throw rocks at people.

Braf: That sounds like fun. I'm good at that.

JD: Braf, there's room in Golaka's pot for two.

Braf: Sorry.

JCH: You also learn a lot more about your Forgotten God Tymalous Shadowstar. You meet some new goblins, and also an old friend. Well, maybe "friend" is an overstatement, but--

JD: I hear rumors the cover will have me on a wolf. A wolf! Is that true? Do you make me ride a wolf?

JCH: It's traditional for goblins to ride wolves into battle.

JD: It's traditional for goblins to be massacred by the heroes, too! Look, just promise me this will be the last goblin book.

JCH: For a while, probably. I'm working on a different series right now. But you've got a lot of fans, so there's always a chance I'll come back and write another--

JD: Go ahead and kill him, Braf.

JCH: But it's a very slim chance! Negligible, really. Too many series go on for far too long these days. I wouldn't want your stories to get stale.

JD: I think I'm going to kill you anyway. Do you remember that scene with the carrion worms from the first book? For that alone, you need to die.

JCH: Wait! What if I make sure you get a new pair of boots? And a cloak! A warm one!

JD: With lots of pockets?

JCH: Sure, why not. And a shiny new sword to go with it.

JD: And could you tell your American artist to make me look a little more like I do on the Czech cover art? That's a real goblin warrior, even if the skin color is a bit off. That yellowish tinge makes me look like a hobgoblin.

JCH: I'll talk to Mel and see what we can do.

JD: Let him go. But remember, Hines. I know where to find you. I know an awful lot of goblins who would love to pay you back for everything you've done to us. They'll show you what a real goblin war is like.

Braf: Full of real goblin casualties?

JD: I hate you both.
anghara: (Default)
The most excellent [ profile] chrisdolley will be taking center stage in this blog with a guest spot on June 22. Billing himself as "an English author living in exile", Mr Dolley's own LJ blog is always great reading, from updates on the household cats to the trials and tribulations of living in La Belle France. He is the author of two novels - his first, "Resonance", was published back in 2005 and went on to enter US SF&F bestseller charts a month after its release; his second, "Shift", is coming out in hardcover from Baen on July 3 this year.

He will be here to talk about life, the Universe, and everything - including his work and his new novel. Please mark your calendars accordingly, this will be something to look forward to.

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