Here’s something you may not know about my newest book, Tarnished: it started as ideas for two books, rather than one. My editor pointed out that I’d plotted a filler book and I needed to skip it to get to the meat of my characters’ experiences, so I figured out what part of that original book wasn't filler and should be saved and dumped the rest. That learning experience stood me in good stead for all my later novel-plotting. Since then, all my single book ideas have worked out as single books.
At the end of my first book, Silver, my two main characters, werewolves Andrew Dare and Silver, realized that the Roanoke pack alpha was dangerously incompetent, and they needed to challenge him. The reason I plotted the next book that turned out to be filler was not because I was afraid of showing that confrontation—I had it all planned out in my head already—but because I've always disliked it in fiction when characters decide they must lead…and they’re instantly perfect at it. Who is ever perfect at anything the first time they do it? And even if they have some natural ability, why would anyone trust them until they've proved themselves? Why would they be confident in themselves, even? If they've never led before, they don’t know if they can do it!
The original outline for the book had Andrew and Silver proving their leadership skills to themselves and others, but the trouble was that then the book ended. What I hadn't realized was that while it was important to show them learning those skills and confidence, they then had to apply those things to the task I set out for them at the end of Book 1. Otherwise my poor readers would have seen the characters getting ready for a battle…that didn't happen until the next book. That’s pretty unsatisfying!
With that realization in mind, when I looked at the original outline once more, I suddenly saw all kinds of slow, flabby sections that I’d put in unconsciously to make up for the fact that my idea was too short for a whole novel. My characters traveled to another city, waited for a while, and then came back after nothing of importance had happened. Mostly, they discussed things, which can seem like something is happening if you’re not careful.
Brief discussions do have a place in your novel, of course! The heroes have to make a plan before they do battle, and they also often have to emotionally process events before they can truly change. What suckered me in this particular case, though, was using discussion to do worldbuildng. Worldbuilding is huge in my series, since part of the way I aim to be different from other werewolf books is using my archaeology background to give my werewolves culture. They’re a separate species, not humans who have been cursed or turned, so they’re born to a whole suite of myths, religious rituals, children’s games, etiquette, and all kinds of things passed down to them by their ancestors.
In the first book, I made a considered decision not to have a human or outsider protagonist, because I wanted readers to find out about the werewolf world from the inside. I should have remembered that for my original outline of Book 2! That outline had—and Tarnished still has—a human point of view character. That meant the werewolves could explain things to her—and in the original outline, explain things they did. Explained, discussed, and basically sat around for pages at a time. Once I started writing Tarnished in its current form, and there were a lot more things happening, I realized that rather than having characters tell each other the details of the world, I could show the details subtly as the action happened. That was something I knew already, but when there’s too much empty space in a novel, the lure of cramming in one more religious myth that has nothing to do with anything is pretty strong! Especially since I've heard from readers that they really enjoyed the worldbuilding in Silver.
So after the experience of creating the original outline and then tossing much of it out and writing Tarnished instead, I’m much more careful about several things when plotting novels. I make sure that if my characters learn something throughout the course of the book, they put it to use accomplishing something important at the end; and I make sure that I slip in worldbuilding in the course of the action, instead of having the characters sit and talk and talk.
I’m writing this the Saturday before Mother’s Day. On Tuesday, my novel MENDING THE MOON will be published. There’s a lot I could say and have said about this book, but maybe the foremost thing in my mind right now is that it’s largely about two mothers.
Tor Books came to me four years ago and asked for a mainstream novel. I decided to write about the aftermath of a horrific murder, because what most interests me about such situations isn’t something I see written about a lot. In fiction, murder tends to result either in a revenge plot, a mystery, or a procedural. I wanted to write instead about the psychological process of surviving such an event, about what it does to people’s heads and hearts.
One of the mothers in the book, Melinda Soto, is dead. She’s the murder victim, and large sections of the novel are written from the viewpoints of her adopted son and her closest friends. The other mother, Anna Clark, is grieving her son Percy. He was the murderer, and he killed himself after the crime. Anna doesn’t know why he killed Melinda. No one knows. I don’t know. What’s important in the book is that everyone knows who committed the murder, and the murderer is dead, but neither of those facts brings peace or closure.
Possibly relevant autobiographical notes:
First: When I was a freshman in high school, my geometry teacher was murdered by a student, a disturbed young man she’d tutored assiduously, whose grades had skyrocketed, and of whom she was very proud. He slid into her house through an open window and strangled her while she slept. He said he hadn’t wanted to kill her, because he loved her, but voices were telling him to kill someone, and if it hadn’t been her, it would have been someone in his family. She had two children, and I remember watching their stony, furious faces during the memorial service. Her killer was arrested a year later, convicted of her murder and of killing another woman, and given a mandatory life sentence.
Second: I know someone -- and I have to be very vague here for privacy reasons -- whose son committed a horrific murder. He was arrested right away. We all knew he was guilty. The only question was whether he’d accept a plea bargain of life without parole to avoid the death penalty. After months of telling everyone that he planned to represent himself in court, he took the plea at the last minute, to the immense relief of his mother’s friends. His mother, the one person in the family who maintained contact with him, visited him, and still loved him, had been cut dead by other relatives, shunned for and isolated by her son’s crime. We didn’t want her to have to go through the additional agony of watching the state put him to death.
I suppose these two situations may have become the seeds of MENDING THE MOON: a mother who is murdered, whose survivors must make sense of the world and go on without her, and a mother whose son murders and then dies too, leaving her to grieve both his actions and his death.
The question, in the book, was how to bring these two sides of the story together, and this is where genre comes in at last. I invented a cult comic-book hero called Comrade Cosmos, a nebbishy guy who helps communities reorganize and rebuild after disasters like fires or tornados or floods. His nemesis, the Emperor of Entropy, spreads chaos and wreaks havoc; Cosmos goes in afterwards to help people clean up, and to help them see that everything isn’t hopeless. Not everyone likes him. In particular, there’s a woman named Archipelago Osprey who resents how his actions have complicated her own life, and who embarks with her pet scorpion on a quest to teach him a lesson.
Alternating chapters in the book are about CC. Those chapters were really fun to write, welcome comic relief -- literally -- from the main story, which in certain ways they echo and mirror. But in the main story, Melinda’s son Jeremy and Melinda’s murderer Percy are both CC fans, and after Percy’s death Anna finds herself being drawn into the fandom.
Popular culture and its communities help people make sense of their lives, shaping how they think about the world and drawing them together in difficult times. The stories we love give us a shared narrative, something we have in common even with people we have never met, or might consider enemies.
Too little fiction addresses the real-world psychological aftermaths of murder. But there also isn’t enough fiction that talks about the real-world effects of fandom. I tried to do both of these things in Mending the Moon. I hope it worked.
If you've read our review, you know that third part of Forerunner Saga by Greg Bear is, in our opinion, really good so we are very happy to be able to offer you one paperback copy through our latest giveaway! Giveaway is open in US, UK, EU and Canada until 21th May, 2013.
You can enter by sending an e-mail with the subject line HALO to info @ upcoming4 . me.
Also, a tweet or Facebook post related to giveaway will each give you an additional entry - please send us an e-mail with a link to tweet or Facebook entry.
Winner will be chosen at random and contacted using submitted e-mail.
Thanks to Pan/Tor UK for providing us with the copy!
Great North Road by Peter F Hamilton was, without a doubt, one of the best science fiction novels published in 2012 and since this door stopper has just got released on paperback, we thought that this fact presents a perfect chance to revisit it and once more delve into the jungles of St Libra. First thing that you will notice about Great North Road is that it is simply HUGE. Peter F Hamilton was never one for making short books and his latest one is no exception - it's towering at over 1000 pages. When you are dealing with books this long, in my experience, there are only two possibilities. Either the book is lacking the ruthless editor (like in recent books by Stephen King) or the author has managed to pull out something brilliant and exciting out of the hat. Great North Road luckily fits in the second category.
Set in 2142 AD, in a future Newcastle where portal technology is reality and airport queues are long forgotten, Great North Road opens with a murder. Clone belonging to a wealthy family has been found dead and Newcastle detective Sydney Hurst is leading the investigation. Hurst is good at his job and quickly establishes that the murder of a clone is related to another killing which happened over 20 years ago. To make things even stranger, second murder happened on St Libra - remote tropical planet connected to Newcastle via portal. St Libra is also notable for the fact it's responsible for delivering huge amount of much needed bio-fuel to Earth. However, situation around murder mystery quickly escalates and we are thrown into the multi-plot story revolving around huge number of characters and military expedition to St Libra. Once stranded in the St Libra rain forests, murders start anew...
Great North Road, despite it's length, flows like a TV show and I wouldn't be surprised if, one day, BBC made a series out of it. With perfect pacing, Hamilton has combined multiple genres which successfully converge on last 50 or pages leading to a stunning conclusion. If you are waiting for Peter F Hamilton to do something wrong, if Great North Road is anything to go by, you'll wait for a very very long time. Beautiful and complex story by grandmaster of intelligent science fiction.
It has been 20 years since Vurt by Jeff Noon was originally published and if you are old enough to remember, you'll know that this stunning debut came out of nowhere and with it's fresh and hallucinogenic take on future, took the world of speculative fiction by storm. The result of this was that Vurt won 1994 Arthur C Clarke award and influenced countless authors since, establishing Noon as one of the most innovative writers working today.
However, due to it's uniqueness, Vurt is a very hard novel to describe but if you are a librarian and need to shelve it somewhere, it should stocked as intelligent but of the scale cyberpunk novel, standing somewhere near the works of Philip K Dick, Anthony Burgess and William Gibson. Premise of the novel is rather simple. In the near future there exists a hallucinogenic drug manufactured in shape of feathers that allows it's users to experience something really extraordinary - a proper blurring of the edges between virtual reality and reality, with results depending on the color of feather consumed. Vurt follows the story of Scribble, a member of the gang called "the Stash Riders", in his search for Desdemona and Curious Yellow, legendary feather. The story takes place in bizarre version of Manchester where reality is warped and somehow shaped by drug use. Surreal landscape that Noon paints is probably unlike anything you have ever experienced before. As the events progress, the story gets increasingly fuzzy, ending with mad crescendo of chaos.
Last month, Tor UK published lavish and beautifully looking hardcover 20th anniversary edition of Vurt which includes three new stories and introduction by Lauren Beukes and this is the edition you should get. The extra stories are great and expand the Vurt universe even more while Lauren's introduction is a treat, with third part of the introduction being written using Noon's remixed narrative technique. Brilliant!:)
Vurt is one of those books that you'll either adore with all your heart or hate with passion but whatever camp you're in, it is impossible to ignore it's sheer inventiveness and experimental value. All in all, Vurt deservedly takes place alongside such modern literary classics as Neuromancer and The Clockwork Orange.
Beautiful cover art for the upcoming Deborah Christian book Splintegrate is here as well as interesting synopsis. The book is scheduled to be published in March 2014 by Tor Books.
The long-awaited next book set in the world of critically acclaimed science fiction novel MainlinePromising SF and fantasy writer Deborah Teramis Christian published several successful novels in the late 1990s, then took a hiatus from writing to focus on other pursuits. Now she's back with a rousing stand-alone sequel to fan favorite Mainline.One of the many charms of planet Lyndir is the Between-World, home to the licensed entertainers of the Sa'adani Empire. Perhaps the most famous is Kes, a professional dominatrix who has become a celebrity attraction at a palatial dungeon called Tryst.The infamous interplanetary political operative Janus was the last man standing when his business fell apart on Selmun III, and is now a major cog in Lyndir's political machine. He's also one of Kes's most devoted clients. When a high-powered imperial authority decides she wants him out of the way, the seductive domna Kes is the most logical avenue. She would never betray a client's trust, but the threat to her and her Sa'adani sisters is so great that eventually she is forced to get involved.Imprisoned, altered against her will, and turned into a brutal weapon by the highly experimental Splintegrate cloning technology, Kes is at war with herself as everything she holds dear falls apart around her. It will take an enormous triumph of will and help from some unlikely avenues for Kes to even hope to survive the government's machinations and pursue the independence she has yearned for throughout her life.
If you haven't been living on an isolated island in the Pacific for the last fifteen years, you have probably heard about Halo - super successful franchise that Microsoft built around the series of Xbox games. Today, there are Halo comics, action figurines, movies, cartoons and most importantly for us, books. So far, there have been quite a few Halo books which were written with varying degree of success but The Forerunner Saga was particularly interesting because the writer behind it is none other than the scifi legend Greg Bear.
Tackling the huge and extensive Halo universe seemed like a perfect task for Bear who is known for his meticulous eye for detail and big projects but since Bear is also known for his uneven writing, we were welcoming each new installment of the trilogy with both trepidation and expectation. So first part of the trilogy Cryptum was great, Bear wrestles the Halo universe from fresh angle with great vigor, successfully bringing it into the field of space opera.
Second book was unfortunately not so good - it was very disjointed and confusing so the final part could've gone either way. However, when the coin dropped it was soon clear that Silentium is really good. The release date was perfectly timed to fit Halo 4 so if you know the Halo story, you should know that the whole The Forerunner Saga sits sometime before the Master Chief came into Requiem and that it leads directly into and runs along the events depicted in Halo 4 (disclaimer - I haven't yet played Halo 4 I was talking with mates about it). Silentium finds the Forerunner empire in quite a bit of trouble. The Flood is at it's way and as the blurb says, the chaos rules. We follow Didact struggling to somehow find a way to defeat Flood. We are also introduced to the journey of Librarian and crew traveling to Path Kethona looking for Flood origins. Apart from these troubling events, the best part of the Silentium is that through the story it answers lots of questions raised in previous games and books, bringing to conclusion the whole parts of Halo canon.
To conclude, The Forerunner Saga makes essential reading for any Halo fan. Bear has accomplished something nearly impossible and successfully managed to weave together multiple threads dating back to the original trilogy while, at the same time, leaving space for more books and games. And here lies the biggest thing. We wholeheartedly propose Bear as a resident Halo book writer because from this perspective we think that hardly any other writer would have done such fine job. Well done!
Anticipated Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson now has a synopsis. Scheduled to be published on November 12th, 2013 by Tor Books, the sequel to The Way of Kings looks to be a treat.
Having met the challenge of a posthumous collaboration with the great Robert Jordan to complete his classic, bestselling fantasy series The Wheel of Time® with three #1 New York Times bestsellers in a row, Brandon Sanderson is at last free to return to the decade-spanning task of creating his own multi-volume epic, one that he hopes will make a comparable mark on the field. That epic is The Stormlight Archive and it began in 2010 with Tor’s longest, most elaborately embellished novel ever, The Way of Kings.
In that first volume, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war. Among those caught up in the conflict are Brightlord Dalinar Kholin, who leads the human armies; his sister Jasnah, a renowned scholar; her student Shallan, a brilliant but troubled young woman; and Kaladin, a military slave who, by the book’s end, had become the first magically endowed Knight Radiant in centuries.
In Words of Radiance their intertwined stories will continue and, as Sanderson fans have come to expect, develop in unexpected, wonderfully surprising directions. The war with the Parshendi will move into a new, dangerous phase, as Dalinar leads the human armies deep into the heart of the Shattered Plains in a bold attempt to finally end it. Shallan will come along, hoping to find the legendary, perhaps mythical, city of Urithuru, which Jasnah believes holds a secret vital to mankind’s survival on Roshar. The Parshendi take a dangerous step to strengthen themselves for the human challenge, risking the return of the fearsome Voidbringers of old. To deal with it all, Kaladin must learn to how to fulfill his new role as leader of the restored Knights Radiant, while mastering the powers of a Windrunner.
With this second book, the Stormlight Archive grows even more richly immersive and compelling. Sanderson’s fans, old and new, are likely to lift it at least as high on the bestseller lists as its predecessor.
We are happy to reveal cover art and synopsis for the upcoming book by F.R. Tallis, The Sleep Room. Since we really loved The Forbidden, we are eagerly awaiting this one. The book is scheduled to come out on 4th July, 2013 by Tor UK/ Pan MacMillan.
Where your nightmares begin . . . When promising young psychiatrist, James Richardson, is offered the job opportunity of a lifetime by the charismatic Dr. Hugh Maitland, he is thrilled. Setting off to take up his post at Wyldehope Hall in deepest Suffolk, Richardson doesn’t look back. One of his tasks is to manage Maitland’s most controversial project – a pioneering therapy in which extremely disturbed patients are kept asleep for months. If this radical and potentially dangerous procedure is successful, it could mean professional glory for both doctors. As Richardson settles into his new life, he begins to sense something uncanny about the sleeping patients – six women, forsaken by society. Why is Maitland unwilling to discuss their past lives? Why is the trainee nurse so on edge when she spends nights alone with them? And what can it mean when all the sleepers start dreaming at the same time? In this atmospheric re-invention of the ghost story, Richardson finds himself questioning everything he knows about the human mind, as he attempts to uncover the shocking secrets of The Sleep Room . . .