Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hugo Nominees

Howdy. Back from a wee trip to Florida, catching up with some family I haven't seen in about ten years, stroking alligators, getting an actual sun burn... That last embarrasses me, but I guess I've emerged from the New England winter a pale version of my former self. Oh well.

I wanted to mention that the Hugo Nominees have recently been announced! I love the Hugos. My only experience with them so far was getting on stage to pick up the John W. Campbell Award a couple years back. Very, very fond memory. If I have my way, I'll get back stage one day for a big "H".

I've got nothing in competition this year, though, so there are no sour grapes at all in pointing at the Nominees!

In the Best Novel Category, we have:

Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

The rest of the list is available at the Renovation website: HERE.

By the way, in case you didn't notice, four of the five are female authors! The Guardian thought that was deserving of note, and talks about it HERE.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

NPR on Game of Thrones

If you visit me regularly, you might have noticed that I'm one of those NPR listeners. Love getting my news over the radio, with a nice, wide-range of topics and issues discussed.

Imagine my delight the other day when the topic became George RR Martin's HBO series. It's news, I tell you. News!

If you're interested visit here to take a listen. George himself says a few things.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

So, My Next Book Will Be…

Yes, it’s official. I’ve come to terms with my publisher, Doubleday and Anchor Books, for a new book contract. I sold them on a proposal that - for one book, at least - returns me to straight historical fiction in the vein of Pride of Carthage. It seems I can’t help but be drawn to writing about enemies of Rome. In this case, my subject will be the slave rebellion lead by the gladiator Spartacus.

You might ask, “Spartacus: The Novel? Really?”

To which I’d say, “Yep.”

Honestly, I’d be interested in writing about this event for a long time. As with any terrific subject, writers and filmmakers have touched on the Spartacus story in various ways over the years. I hope to give my own spin on it, one that uses the full potential of a novel to capture both the large-scale drama of it and also create intimate fictional portraits that bring it to life. I’m itching to get back into the gritty, brutal, beautiful terrain on ancient Italia. I sense a long research trip coming up…

It’s early days yet and the actual writing is yet to be done, but here’s a bit of what I wrote in my proposal…

“Spartacus. You know the name, but how much do you really know about his rebellion? It’s great stuff, ripe two thousand years after the fact for a grand retelling. Spartacus was a gladiator that led a slave uprising that shook Rome between 73-71 BCE. He escaped his brutal imprisonment with a small band armed only with kitchen knives and simple weapons. Within a year, tens of thousands had broken their chains and joined him. For three years he ranged up and down the Italian peninsula, defeating every army Rome threw at him, winning allies and followers all the way. He was eventually defeated, but the reasons why have more to do with insurmountable odds and with the follies of others than with any mistakes on Spartacus’ part. There’s a reason his name and story has lived on. His is a terrific tale, and I’d like to tell it for our times.

Pride of Carthage, my Spartacus novel will be an epic about an inspired enemy of Rome, told through a variety of points of view that capture the complexity of the entire conflict. Like Hannibal, Spartacus commanded with panache and deadly skill, drawing a vast host of followers and racking up victory after victory in the process. And, like Hannibal, his actual exploits may be best brought to life with a rigorous historical novel, one that combines the amazing but incomplete historical record with a novelist’s embellishment.

Spartacus’ story has three components that convince me to embark on this journey. 1) A larger than life, mythic persona that’s rooted in a real life, personal story. 2) Panoramic battles that pit charismatic underdogs against a vastly powerful oppressor, complete with twists and turns of fate that match every inspired victory with hair-pulling betrayals to balance them. 3) A foundation in social, economic, political issues that continues to have resonance and relevance two millennia later.

Various groups have mythologized Spartacus in various ways over the years, but none of them have done it like I would. What I love about his story is how tangible the tension is between his personal objectives and the larger drama that his inspired actions put him at the center of. The inner conflict is evidenced in the historical record. On one hand he wanted nothing more than to flee the nightmare of gladiatorial slavery and return to his rugged, Thracian homeland (Bulgaria). On the other hand, he couldn’t escape the effects of his brilliant leadership. His oratory skills and personal charisma made him a magnet that drew thousands upon thousands to him, all of them looking for freedom, for justice, and for revenge...”

So that, friends, is a big part of what I’m going to be working on the coming year. Just between us, though, it’s not the only thing. I’ve got more than one thing cooking these days, and that has me very excited. I’ll report on more when I can...

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Copy Edit Returned

Today I returned the copy edited version of The Sacred Band to my publisher. I've lived with it for the last two weeks, revisiting the story in full, with lots of comments/edits/corrections/questions to respond to as I did. Good fun. The process always makes the book better.

And, most importantly, that's another step completed on the march to publication!


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Never Let Me Go

I had a strange experience watching this film. It was well-done and acted, and calmly intriguing, but about halfway through I began to go, "Yeah, but, what about..." and "I'm not sure that makes considering..." and "Oh, come on, why don't they..." There were aspects of the world and how the characters inhabited it that didn't quite makes sense. If you're interested in the details check out the link to reviews I have below.

By the end, none of my queries were answered with answers. Instead, they were undermined with questions. Gudrun and I talked about it quite a bit. She'd read and enjoyed the book, but couldn't answer my questions either. I walk away wondering if the world Kazuo Ishiguro (author of the book on which it's based: Never Let Me Go) created made the questions I wanted answered beside the point. It's like by the end your supposed to walk away with the questions, not with the answers at all.

This is all leading up to me saying I think I liked it quite a bit. It's something of a puzzle that I didn't solve, but that I find intriguing. HERE's a link to the Rotten Tomatoes site for it - with lots of connections to various reviews.

Carey Mulligan is a terrific actress, by the way. I think she has the potential to have a wonderfully diverse career.

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

The 100th!

I just noticed that Acacia: The War with the Mein has received it's 100th review on Amazon. I'm rather pleased. It's nice to be in triple digits. To make it even better, it was a very kind review! (I doubt anyone is really going to forget GRRM in place of me, but I appreciate the praise.)

So, I will sit back today and smile. My books are being read. What a wonderful thing.

(I'm not really sitting back, actually. I'm copy editing The Sacred Band, laying tiles on our kitchen floor and maybe scaling that ladder for a little more painting outside. Life does go on...)

Just for the record, though, there's no reason to stop at 100. I'd happily see more reviews! If you've read any of my books and have things to say go ahead and do it!