Sunday, 25 February 2018

A Court of Myths and Legends

Good evening, voyants. 

Sorry I haven't updated this blog in such a long time. I've been hard at work on The Priory of the Orange Tree since I last updated, as well as doing a tonne of reading. I've been focusing on my Instagram and my newsletter, The Penny Post, as my main avenue of communication with my readers, but I've put so much of my heart into this blog for the last seven years (!) and I'm determined to keep updating it, even if those updates are sporadic.

Priory is so close to being done now. I'm getting my final edits back tomorrow, and after that I'll be on to copy-edits. For the last few weeks, I've been deep in conversation with Bloomsbury about the cover and maps for the book, and I think it's going to be beyond stunning. Emily Faccini, who designed the maps in the Bone Season books, is returning to illustrate it, and I couldn't be happier to be working with her again – she's a genius, and a lovely person to boot. Bloomsbury has also hired the most fantastic artist to design the jacket. I won't say who it is just yet, but his work is incredible. I feel so fortunate that my publisher believes in this book to the extent they do, and is doing so much to make it a thing of beauty. 

I'm sure many of you are wondering what's going on with the Bone Season series while I'm busy with a separate project. Don't worry – I'm working on it! My hope was that Priory would be out this year, but as usual, I underestimated how long everything takes in adult publishing. Priory is scheduled for early 2019, so I suspect, since Bloomsbury has never published me twice in the same year, that TBS4 will be out in early 2020. While I know this is much later than you might have expected, I've successfully pitched a Bone Season novella, in the vein of The Pale Dreamer, that I hope will be out in mid-2019 and will help to break up the wait. After that, I'm going to work myself to the bone so I can to get at least some of the remaining Bone Season books out on a yearly basis. (No promises, as I suspect the last three instalments will be longer than the others and will therefore take a touch longer to write, but I'll do my best.) I'm so excited to be returning to TBS4 in April – I suspect this is going to be my favourite book in the series so far – and I'm hoping to have a complete draft by July.

I have a Bone Season-related post for you tonight. For a long time, I've wanted to talk about how I came up with the names of the Unnatural Assembly. I did a Twitter thread on it recently and thought I'd post it here as well. 

Fantasy and folklore are banned in Scion, considered dangerous and likely to spark unnatural thinking. Many of the mime-lords and mime-queens of Scion London, in defiance of this, have named themselves after figures of legend. 



THE UNNATURAL ASSEMBLY



1) Haymarket Hector, according to the Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang, was 17th – 19th century slang for a ‘whore’s bully’ – a pimp. Hector on its own, according to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, means ‘bully, a swaggering coward’, which suits our Underlord. Hector is seen as a pimp-like figure because he takes excessive cuts of money from his subjects while intimidating them and doing no work.

2) The Abbess. Late 18th – 19th century slang for the female keeper of a brothel; a procuress. The Abbess owns a ‘night parlour’ – a voyant brothel. The Monk, her mollisher, is an extension of this. In Scion, all religion is banned. To be an abbess or a monk is treason.

3) Mary Bourne. This one comes from the origin of the name Marylebone, the London district controlled by this mime-queen. The name of the area comes from St Marylebone Parish Church, which was once known as St Mary of the Bournebourne being a small river.

4) The White Binder. Binder, of course, comes from Jaxon's gift. But why white? It refers to the Biblical seven seals, which feature in the Book of Revelation and secure a scroll only the Lamb (i.e. Jesus) can open. Opening the first four seals releases the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first horsemen, who represents Conquest, rides a white horse. Paige's syndicate name, the Pale Dreamer, is also a combination of a gift and a Biblical reference. The pale horse, ridden by the fourth horseman, represents Death.

5) Ognena Maria. Meaning Fiery Mary, the name refers to a Slavic fire goddess who was assistant to the thunder god, Perun. Maria is a pyromancer, connecting to the æther through fire.

6) Spring-heel'd Jack. A sinister figure of English urban legend, stories of this demon-like menace begin in London in 1837. Named for his ability to leap to incredible heights, Jack supposedly caused problems for a number of people in England over several decades. Some said he could breathe fire. Others said he had metal claws. His attacks, like those of the London Monster, were largely on women. Though an arrest was made, the bizarre matter of Spring-heel'd Jack was never resolved – so I thought I'd reincarnate him in Scion London. The mime-lord doesn't attack people unprovoked, but he does giggle demonically.  He's based on this 1904 imagining of Spring-heel'd Jack.



7) Jimmy O'Goblin. This one is Cockney rhyming slang for a sovereign, a kind of coin. Jimmy uses it to literally mean sovereign, as in king.

8) The Glass Duchess. From slang ‘a woman of an imposing presence’ (from around 1690). Glass for her gift – captromancy, or mirror-reading.

9) Ark Ruffian. 18th century slang. A rogue who robbed people on the water. (Like an aspiring pirate.) Ark is a hydromancer.

10) The Rag and Bone Man. First things first – no, he is not named after the rapper styling himself Rag'n'Bone Man. From the 19th century, rag-and-bone men would walk the streets with their carts, collecting unwanted scraps – including rags and bones. They would then sell these scraps on. Although the profession had its heyday in the Victorian era, people do still work as rag-and-bone men. If you've read The Mime Order, you might have figured out why the mime-lord calls himself this – but I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't.

11) Bloody Knuckles. From a game where players punch each other's fists for as long as they can bear it. This mime-lord likes a fist fight.

12) The Wicked Lady. The nickname of Katherine Ferrers, a 17th-century English heiress who was said to moonlight as a highway-woman.


13) The Bully-Rook. Used in the 16th century to refer to a boon companion or ‘jolly comrade’, but later came to mean ‘a boisterous, hectoring fellow’.

14) The Mudlark Prince. Mudlark is an 18 - 19th century term for those who scavenged in the river for items of value – a practice still enjoyed today.

15) Madam Speaker. Refers to the position of Speaker in the House of Commons, which has not existed for over a century in the world of Scion.

16) The Fifth Sister. This one refers to the district of Seven Sisters in London. The mime-queen is a fifth-order clairvoyant.

17) Tom the Rhymer. Named after Thomas de Ercildoun, also known as Thomas the Rhymer, a 13th-century Scottish laird who was said to have been unable to lie, a gift bestowed upon him by the Queen of Elfland.

8) The Glym Lord. From glym-jack, another name for a link-boy. Link-boys would be employed in olden times to light pedestrians' way through the dangerous streets with a torch. Glym means lantern. In Scion, glym-jacks are employed to protect denizens from unnaturals, and carry a distinctive green lantern. Glym took this name because he has a green aura, making him a kind of unnatural glym-jack.

19) Redcap. This mime-queen names herself after the bloodthirsty goblins that are said to dwell on the border between England and Scotland. Redcaps wear hats dyed with blood. Should the blood ever dry out, the recap will die. The mime-queen, too, wears a red hat. Is it dyed with blood? The syndicate suspects so.

20) The Buried King. Named after the London district of Kingsbury. His mollisher, the Buried Queen, is named after – you guessed it – Queensbury.

21) The Pearl Queen. This one is partly a reference to the Pearly Kings and Queens, or pearlies – a working-class tradition that supports charitable causes. Pearlies are famous for their ornate suits, decorated with mother-of-pearl buttons. The mime-queen names herself after her rare gift – margaritomancy, or voyance with pearls. Her mollisher is her spouse, the Pearl King.

22) Faceless. A reference to the mask this mime-queen wears, which has no features – modelled on the Japanese faceless ghost, the Noppera-bō. The mime-queen ‘sees’ with her sixth sense.


23) The Lord Costermonger. Costermonger is a dated term for a merchant, especially one who sells from a cart. Used since the 16th century. This mime-lord was previously a costermonger.

24) The Heathen Philosopher. Archaic slang for ‘a sorry poor tattered Fellow, whose Breech may be seen through his Pocket-holes.’ (No clever story behind this one. Just thought it was too absurd not to include.)

25) The Wretched Sylph. This one I pinched from The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope.

26) The Faithful Raven. Refers to the legend that the day the six resident ravens leave the Tower of London, both the monarchy and Britain itself will fall. The monarchy has already fallen in The Bone Season, and the ravens long since flown, but this mime-queen considers herself the last true royalist.

27) Charley Truthteller. This mime-queen's name used to work as a charlatan, giving false palm readings, before she figured out she was a soothsayer.

28) The Guy. Named after the effigy of Guy Fawkes traditionally burned on Bonfire Night. It used to be common to make a guy and collect money by saying "Penny for the guy?"

29) Captain Card-Sharp. A mix of the slang Captain Sharp, referring to a cheating, bullying sort of character, and card sharp – one who uses deception to win games. This mime-lord specifically enjoys cheating at tarocchi, a tarot card game.

30) The Ferryman. Named after Charon, who ferries the souls of the dead across the River Styx in Greek mythology.

31) Seer Green. Named for the gift of the mime-lord, who is a seer, and for the eponymous village from which he hails.

32) The Hare. A reference to the March Hare. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was one of the last fantasy books to be published before Scion cracked down on fantastical literature.

33) The Lady of the Manor. This mime-queen is named after Ruislip Manor, where I grew up.

34) Slyboots. From 18th-century English slang for a cunning or crafty person.

35) Jenny Greenteeth. A green-skinned river hag of English folklore who drags children and the elderly to their deaths in the water.

36) The Winter Queen. This mime-queen is a cryomancer – her numen is ice. Also a reference to Elizabeth Stuart, known by this sobriquet for her brief reign as queen.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Goodreads Choice Awards 2017


Just popping my head out of the editing cave to say, with delight, that The Song Rising has been nominated in the Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction category of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2017. As you'll know if you've been following me for a while, this book was difficult for me to write, and seeing it nominated for the best of the year means more to me than I can explain. Thank you to anyone who added it to their shelves, gave it a rating, took the time to review it, or did all three of those things. Thank you for continuing to support this deeply weird series.

I'm not expecting to get past the first round, given the amount of brilliant books in this category, but if you do want to vote for The Song Rising, Paige and I would appreciate it. You can vote here.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Tour recap

Hi, dreamers.

It's been a while since I updated the blog, and so much has happened since then that I thought it was past time I popped in . . .

The Song Rising is published at last, and I'm so thrilled with the response to it. Thank you. This book always felt like a risk, as it's so dissimilar to The Mime Order and you all had to wait two years for it, but I'm glad so many of you have enjoyed it. I feel like this is the last rosy glow of goodwill you'll have towards me before I smash all your hearts underfoot in Book 4. (On the subject of Book 4: It has a working title I love. Fingers crossed Bloomsbury will agree to it.)  

After publication day I did a whirlwind tour of the UK and USA. It kicked off with an event in Glasgow, then I was off to Edinburgh for the official launch party, organised by the fabulous Philippa and Janet from Bloomsbury. During The Song Rising, Paige visits the South Bridge Vaults in Edinburgh, and it turns out you can actually hire part of them for events. Wine by candlelight, having my makeup done by Lauren Gollan, and a giant Join the Revolution banner – I had the time of my life. Thank you to everyone who joined me to celebrate my long-awaited publication day, especially those of you who made your way up to Scotland from other parts of the UK.

Photo (c) Philippa Cotton

Afterwards, I did events in Manchester and London before crossing the pond for the US leg of my tour. In sweltering Arizona, after a ten-hour flight, I spoke with a host of great authors at the Tucson Festival at Books, including V. E. Schwab, Erika Lewis and Marie Brennan, and took a stroll in the Sonoran Desert. In Colorado, I visited Tattered Cover in Denver and got interviewed by Heather, who I first met after my car accident in Kansas City a few years ago. In North Carolina, I was charmed by a Southern hotel with an old-fashioned bath, where the rooms smelled of magnolia, and even more charmed by the team at Flyleaf Books – Banshion, Travis and Colin – who were kind enough to make me proper tea in a pot (!) and source a tray of British biscuits and chocolate. (This is a big deal. Tea is scarce on tour.) In Miami, I tried Cuban food for the first time. In Georgia, I got my teeth into real Southern food – chicken, fried okra and corn muffins – and visited the Margaret Mitchell House on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. And finally, in snowy Toronto, I had one of the most enthusiastic audiences I've had in ages. Questions galore. Then it was back to the UK to do events in York, Sheffield – where I did my first ever Bone Season event in 2013 – and Birmingham, and finally in Oxford, where I spoke with Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Melinda Salisbury for the Oxford Writers' Circle. 

So . . . that was a busy month. And if that wasn't enough travel to be going on with, I've just got back from my trip to Warsaw and Poznań to celebrate the launch of Pieśń Jutra, the Polish translation of The Song Rising



Polish readers have been incredibly supportive of the Bone Season series, so I was thrilled to be invited by my publisher in Poland, Wydawnictwo SQN. During the tour, I did signings in Warsaw and Poznań, got to meet some wonderful YouTubers – Anita, Laura, Maja, Paweł and Zuzanna – and attended Pyrkon, a huge fantasy and sci-fi convention, where I did several panels and made a speech on Strong Female Characters.

I've never seen a convention quite as vast as this one. Some of the panels had hundreds of people in the audience. Attendees can sleep in the complex overnight, so the fun goes on 24/7. Because of that, many of the events started quite late – I had one at 9pm. I wonder if we should try doing something like that at YALC or LFCC . . .

I'm going to post the transcript of my Strong Female Characters speech on here soon, so keep an eye out if you're interested in that sort of thing. 

So that's what I've been up to for the last couple of months. And here's what I have coming up next.



What I'm working on 

I'm delighted to report that I just got my edits for The Priory of the Orange Tree. By some miracle, there isn't a colossal amount of structural work to do on it, so perhaps those 1000+ pages weren't all waffle after all. I'm editing Priory alongside writing the first draft of TBS4, which has passed 60K words. Fingers crossed, if I can manage switching between them, both will be finished by the end of July.




On my bookshelf 


Hild by Nicola Griffin, a semi-fictional imagining of the early life of Saint Hilda of Whitby, was a strange experience for me. Usually I tear through books and finish them in one or two days, but Hild took me weeks – not because I wasn't enjoying it, but because the world was so dense and intricate that I really had to slow down and savour it to keep abreast of what was going on. I have an interest in British history of this period, and I'll admit that I found it difficult to keep up with some of the background conflicts and names, but the focus on the role of women in early Anglo-Saxon society was fascinating. Griffin has a sublime writing style, and I mean that in the Romantic sense of the word. She paints the natural world vividly and intertwines Hild's story with the importance of textile production during this period, focusing on the ‘warp and weft’ of a country divided by fault lines of loyalty and religion. And God, that twist at the end. I'll be first in line for the second book.

Other books I've enjoyed recently are A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson, a high fantasy about Aqib bgm Sadiqi, royal cousin and Master of Beasts in Olorum, and the searing love he finds with a Daluçan soldier (thank you, Banshion, for the recommendation); Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence, a heart-pounding thriller about family, music, gang culture and drugs in East London; The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano, an exquisite retelling of the tale of King Midas – only this time, a princess can turn living things to gemstone; and Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova, which is about brujas in New York. 'Nuff said. 

You must also get to the bookshop and pick up The Seafarer's Kiss by Julia Ember, a Viking-inspired take on The Little Mermaid. It's body-positive, dark, and sexy, and the mermaid society Ember has built is rich with detail.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The music machine


With only nine days to go until The Song Rising, I think it's high time I released my soundtrack for the book. As always with a Bone Season installment, some real songs and pieces of music are mentioned on the page. While The Song Rising isn't anywhere near as musical as the first two books in the series, given that Paige is on the move so much and has no conveniently-placed gramophone to hand, the featured songs are some of my favourites, and one in particular has a large role to play.



In the book

Death and the Maiden – Franz Schubert – Jaxon's Theme
Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes – Rita Streich
The Lost Chord – Adelaide Anne Procter & Arthur Seymour Sullivan


Author's playlist

Ambition – Doves
And I Will Kiss – Underworld feat. Dame Evelyn Glennie – The Jubilee
Ashes – Madi Diaz
Backseat – Carina Round – Nick and Paige's Theme
Cherry Bomb – The Runaways – Maria's Theme
Covenant  – Ilya Beshevli – Warden's Theme
Dance of the Druids
Bear McCreary – A Memory of She'ol

Don't Shy From the Light – Neulore
Dream – Imagine Dragons
Eventide – Brand X Music
Fire – Bipolar Sunshine
Ghosts – BANNERS
Hymn
Fleurie

I Had No One – David Arnold & Michael Price – Victoria Tower / Colchicum
In Nowheres – The Twilight Sad – The Road to Edinburgh
Kings and Queens and Vagabonds – Ellem
Lord of Light – Ramin Djawadi – Nashira's Theme
Lovechild – Rebecca Clements 
Jaxon and Paige's Theme

Murmur – FirstCom Cinematic Orchestra
No Time for Caution – Hans Zimmer – Vance's Theme
Redbeard – David Arnold & Michael Price – "I am Paige Mahoney"
Running Through Woodland – Message to Bears – Nick's Memory
Salvator Mundi – Thomas Tallis
The Scorch – Shelby Merry – Paige's Theme
Shot in the Dark – Within Temptation
Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight – Low Roar
War – She is We
The Whisperer – David Guetta feat. Sia – Warden and Paige's Theme
You Know Where to Find Me – Imogen Heap


Listen on Spotify 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A Series of Wildly Different Events

It's almost here

There are now less than two weeks to go until The Song Rising officially hits bookshelves. I've gone all shaky.

Signed Collector's Editions, all ready to go.

By the time The Song Rising is published, it will have been over two years since The Mime Order went into readers' hands in January 2015. Back then, I was certain that the third book would be out within one year, as I knew The Song Rising would likely be the shortest of the seven. As I've discussed in another post, that was not to be.

Sometimes it's felt like the longest wait in the world. Now it's here, however, it feels like no time since I was waiting for The Mime Order to finally make its way into readers' hands, and had that fizzing cocktail of anticipation and terror and excitement sloshing around inside me. Now we're on the home run, I thought I'd talk a little about what you should expect from The Song Rising and the remaining four books in the Bone Season septology.

There are various ways of approaching a long series. One of those ways is to adhere to a pattern. In Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling followed the same rough structure for the first six books. We would begin with Harry at Privet Drive; he would then go to Hogwarts, discover a Voldemort-related threat to the peace, deal with that threat, and return to Privet Drive at the end of the school year. It worked so well because readers always knew what they were getting. If they liked the first Harry Potter book, they would probably like the rest of them. Fans knew what to expect, and we looked forward to that familiarity, knowing there would always be a great twist to keep us engaged. We knew Harry was going to get into some sort of fix with Ron and Hermione, but we didn't know what it would be, or how he would get out of it, and we were addicted to that mystery. We waited to see what would disrupt the ordinary life Harry was trying to lead. Many books, especially in Middle Grade, follow this sort of pattern; The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy and The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton come to mind. It works especially well when the story takes place in a school or workplace (e.g. orphanage, hospital, office), where every day is meant to follow a similar structure. People respond well to familiarity and routine, but look forward to the disruption of the established order. That's what makes that kind of book so enjoyable.

With The Bone Season, I went for a different approach. Because Paige leads a life outside of institutions – she's a thorn in the side of the system, working beyond the rules of society – there was no reason for me to keep to a structure. She had routine to some extent when she worked for Jaxon, and if I were ever to write a series about the adventures of the Seven Seals, it would keep to that disruption-of-routine pattern: Paige would be at Seven Dials, hanging out with Nick and the others, until something came to disturb the peace. The gang would resolve the mystery and be back at Chat's for coffee by dawn. You can get a glimpse of the kind of pattern I would have followed if you read The Pale Dreamer.

As it stands, the series as a whole is not about the Seven Seals hunting down poltergeists in London for the rest of their lives. In The Bone Season, Paige is dragged away from the comfort of routine. When she finally has the chance to return to it, she is no longer able to live that life in good conscience. Without the option of routine for my protagonist, I decided on the opposite approach. Each book would be so different to the last that readers would be unable to guess what would happen in each installment. Unless you're clairvoyant, I'm fairly confident that none of you will have the foggiest idea where the plot of Book 4 will take you, or how it will end. In short, I want the series to feel as if it could bend in any direction at any time.

This approach has its upsides and its downsides. I don't necessarily expect readers to enjoy every Bone Season book equally, for example, because each book is designed to be a slightly different ‘genre’ to the last. The Bone Season was a prison break; The Mime Order was a murder mystery; The Song Rising is, at its heart, a heist, while Book 4 is a touch more political, laced with subterfuge. Books 5-7 are going to be so different tonally, with such a different focus, that I've mentally classified them as a second ‘arc’ to the series, even though they follow the same core cast of characters. I wanted it to be this way so the reader never knows what to expect when they pick up a Bone Season book, and finds it nigh-on impossible to guess the outcome of the series as a whole. All they know for sure – and only because I've confirmed it outside the books – is that Paige will be the narrator all the way through. The risk of that is that if someone loved something about one of the books in particular, they may not always rediscover that one thing in the other installments. The upside is that they might discover something new to love. I truly hope you will.


I can't promise that every Bone Season book will be anything like the first one. What I can promise is that you'll be with Paige for the whole journey, and that she'll take you with her to many unexpected places.  



What I'm working on 


Right now I'm preparing for my Song Rising tour in the US and UK. Dates are above, and more details can be found on my upcoming events page.

I'm also hard at work on the fourth Bone Season book and drafting a summary of a Priory-related project. I went for a meeting with Bloomsbury the other day, and to my relief, my editors love the first draft of The Priory of the Orange TreeMy first round of editorial notes are due in mid-April. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to sharing this book with you - I've worked hard on it over the past few months, and I can't wait to introduce you to the characters and the world. I don't have a release date for you just yet, but hopefully we'll be able to settle on that over the next few months. In the meantime, you can add it on Goodreads here, and here's your very first quote:




On my bookshelf


I've challenged myself to read 35 books for the 2017 Goodreads Challenge. My favourite book so far has been Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo, author of The Spider King's Daughter. It follows five people, led by army deserter Chike, as they escape to the bustling Nigerian city of Lagos to seek a better life. When their worlds collide with those of a disgraced education minister and an up-and-coming journalist, they must make a series of impossible choices.

Another book you must pre-order is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, an unflinching look at the Black Lives Matter movement. The story follows sixteen-year-old Starr, who witnesses the shooting of her unarmed best friend at the hands of a police officer. As well as tackling an important and harrowing subject, Angie Thomas has created one of the best fictional families of all time. Starr's relationship with her father, Maverick, is a real pleasure to read.

Finally, two terrific sequels for you: The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury and Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton. The Scarecrow Queen was a stunning end to the Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy, while Traitor to the Throne has left me desperate for the final book in Amani's story.

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Countdown Begins

We're just over a month away from The Song Rising. I can't quite believe, after all this time, that we're suddenly so close – I've never been more excited to share a book with the world. Scion looks forward to welcoming you all back. 

I'm just popping my head in today to give you a roundup of things you should know before release day.



– The signed Collector's Edition of The Song Rising is still available from Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million in the US, as well as Amazon UK and other retailers. If you'd like one, it's a good idea to get your order in as soon as possible, as these editions are limited. Links are hereRemember, this edition is the only way to get a hardback with a cover in the original styles.

– If you pre-order any edition of The Song Rising, you're entitled to some amazing free tattoos and buttons. See here for details.


    – The Standard Edition of The Song Rising, the white hardback, will have sprayed orange pages. They look beautiful.

    – I've just put up a few of my tour dates for the UK and US here. More to come.

    – For a chance to join me at my book launch in Edinburgh, you can enter Bloomsbury's competition here

     – If you fancy rereading The Bone Season and The Mime Order before the third book comes out, there are several readalongs happening on social media at the moment. Bloomsbury is running one on Goodreads here; several wonderful Instagrammers have banded together to #ReadTBS on Instagram or Twitter (details here), and if Tumblr is your thing, the lovely Books and Cookies is running one here. It's not too late to join in with any of these.

    – If you don't have time to re-read the first two books before March, here's a little toolkit to help you jump straight back into Scion: [x

    – The Spotify playlist for The Song Rising is officially complete! Listen here.

    Tuesday, 27 September 2016

    A City for the Dreamers

    A trip to remember 

    Photo (c) Helena Hrstková

    So I just got back to London after a long weekend in Prague. I've wanted to go Prague ever since reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – my favourite YA fantasy – and when my Czech publisher, HOST, invited me, I couldn't believe my luck. I was there to do some interviews, a book signing, and two appearances at the fantasy and sci-fi convention CONiáš to promote the Czech versions of my books, Kostičas and Vidořád, translated by the fabulous Lenka Kapsová.

    Prague is like no city I've ever laid eyes on before. There's a quote I love from Daughter of Smoke and Bone that gave me very high expectations:


    The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century – or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies.

    As soon as I was settled into my apartment, I went out to see if this city really was as mystical as all that. Immediately I was in a state of wonder. In my first hour of walking, I saw things I don't think I'll ever see anywhere else. A dancing marionette on a bridge of Baroque saints. A tiny gingerbread shop hidden beneath an archway. Absinthiana behind dusty windows. Antiques and well-thumbed books. Love locks clinging to wrought-iron balustrades, their keys long since given into the keeping of the Vltava. A wall claimed by the dreamers, their words a rainbow of hope and defiance. An astronomical clock that reminds you, every hour, that death is waiting, and that greed and vanity are temporal concerns.

    The City of a Thousand Spires won my heart in a single morning.


    Photo (c) Helena Hrstková

    My first public event was the signing at the Neoluxor Palace of Books in Wenceslas Square – the largest bookshop in the Czech Republic. It's always a bit of a gamble on tour as to how many people will turn up, but I was blown away by the number of readers who came to see me – the event was so full that a lot of people were standing, and I ended up signing books for about two hours. It's been quite a while since I've been on tour anywhere, as it's been so long since I last released a new book (see this post), and I could feel myself welling up as soon as I saw the crowd. I'm so grateful to everyone who came to the signing, and to my two appearances at CONiáš, where I had some fun, thoughtful, and challenging questions from both the audience and the moderator. Everyone who spoke to me was so warm, kind and welcoming, and I even got some beautiful gifts from a few people. Thank you.

    A few people also gave me letters at the book signing. It's so kind you to take the time to write to me – however, I'm unfortunately (a) not able to answer at the moment, due to my workload, and (b) not able to answer at all by email, as I don't have a public email address. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can send me a home address via Tumblr message (with a description of the envelope you sent it in, if possible), and I can make a note of it. I can't guarantee a reply, as I have to prioritise my writing at the moment, but I'll try my best to get round to it when I can.

    By the end of this trip, I was also filled, once again, with appreciation for translators, the often-unsung heroes of the publishing world. Without Lenka, my words would never have reached so many people in the Czech Republic. The Bone Season is not a particularly easy book to translate, by all accounts, but from what I heard from readers, the slang and spirit of the story have been carefully preserved in Czech.

    Thank you very much to HOST and the Municipal Library for having me in Prague. I'm thrilled to announce that we just sold The Song Rising in Czech, so you'll definitely be seeing the translation within the next year or two.


    You can see a couple more photos from my trip on my shiny new Instagram. I had a different account a while back and ended up deleting it, but now I've figured out how to use it in a way I like: to celebrate books and words, and to be part of the passionate world of Bookstagram.



    What I'm working on

    Now I'm back in London, I'm also back to work on The Priory of the Orange Tree and the fourth Bone Season book. 

    However, you have not one, not two, but four chances to see me speaking alongside some of my very talented peers in London this month. Check my upcoming events page for details.



    On my bookshelf 


    I haven't been doing a huge amount of reading lately due to my workload, but I must take a moment to sing the praises of Barefoot on the Wind by Zoë Marriott, which I finished on the plane to Prague. It's a stunning retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in the same Japan-inspired fantasy world as Shadows on the Moon. I'm a sucker for Beauty and the Beast, so this was right up my alley. Barefoot on the Wind has a sympathetic and daring protagonist, a morally complex love interest who I immediately adored (and who forms a solid, respectful friendship with the protagonist before romantic feelings blossom), and a haunting setting that I'm still thinking about. I'm looking forward to chairing a conversation with Zoë and Alwyn Hamilton at YA Shot 2016 this month so I can ask her some burning questions about it.

    I'd like to encourage everyone, but Brits in particular, to go out and get The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla – a collection of twenty-one powerful essays about what it means to be black, Asian and minority ethnic in modern Britain. It's an important read, especially in the post-Brexit climate, and it's rightfully flying off the shelves. I learned a lot about the immigrant experience in this country from reading it.

    Finally, I just got my hands on And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne, which I'll probably start this evening. If you haven't read the hilarious, feminism-themed Spinster Club trilogy yet, you're really missing out. Grab yourself a copy of Am I Normal Yet? to start your emotional rollercoaster ride with Evie, Amber and Lottie.