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New Worlds on the Horizon, or, The Beginning of the End

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Hello darlings, has it been a week already? Apparently so.

I’ve mentioned before that I adore first novels. You can generally get a good hint at what an authors loves and hates and style will be from the first book they write. They may venture far from their roots in their career, but the seeds are almost always there early on. Indeed, some writers never again achieve the insight and brilliance of their first publications (Orson Scott Card comes to mind, he’s spent a career diluting the power of ‘Ender’s Game‘, with the sole exception of ‘Speaker for the Dead‘).

Every year the editors in New York find us an amazing new crop of delicious new authors, and here is a list of just a few from the first half of the year that you should check out. Being a first time novelist is tough, because most don’t have a built in fan-base (barring the exception like Charlie Jane Anders from last year) so it’s hard for them to get attention and traction. Having read one and a half of the books on the list below I can assure you that there’s some real brilliance coming out this year.

Katherine Arden • The Bear and the Nightingale • 01/10

(I’m currently reading this book, which was sold to me as being like 2015s stunning ‘Uprooted‘ by Naomi Novik. And while it’s not exactly the same, it clearly springs from the same soil. It’s lovely and I’m really enjoying it so far.)

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Elly Blake • Frostblood • 01/10

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating–yet irresistible–Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her–and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Vivid and compelling, Frostblood is the first in an exhilarating series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies…but together create a power that could change everything.

Ruthanna Emrys • Winter Tide • 04/04

(This book is amazing. If you’ve ever wondered what the world looked like from the other point of view of the Lovecraft Mythos this book is for you. And if you’re not familiar with Lovecraft, then this is a remarkable story on it’s own. Just read it. I adored it.)

After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra’s life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.

Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.

Antonia Honeywell • The Ship 04/25

Lalla has grown up sheltered from the chaos amid the ruins of civilization. But things are getting more dangerous outside. People are killing each other for husks of bread, and the police are detaining anyone without an identification card. On her sixteenth birthday, Lalla’s father decides it’s time to use their escape route–a ship he’s built that is only big enough to save five hundred people.

But the utopia her father has created isn’t everything it appears. There’s more food than anyone can eat, but nothing grows; more clothes than anyone can wear, but no way to mend them; and no-one can tell her where they are going.

Chelsea Mueller • Borrowed Souls • 05/02

Callie Delgado always puts family first, and unfortunately her brother knows it. She’s emptied her savings, lost work, and spilled countless tears trying to keep him out of trouble, but now he’s in deeper than ever, and his debt is on Callie’s head. She’s given a choice: do some dirty work for the mob, or have her brother returned to her in tiny pieces.

Renting souls is big business for the religious population of Gem City. Those looking to take part in immoral—or even illegal—activity can borrow someone else’s soul, for a price, and sin without consequence.

To save her brother, Callie needs a borrowed soul, but she doesn’t have anywhere near the money to pay for it. The slimy Soul Charmer is willing to barter, but accepting his offer will force Callie into a dangerous world of magic she isn’t ready for.

With the help of the guarded but undeniably attractive Derek—whose allegiance to the Charmer wavers as his connection to Callie grows—she’ll have to walk a tight line, avoid pissing off the bad guys, all while struggling to determine what her loyalty to her family’s really worth.

Losing her brother isn’t an option. Losing her soul? Maybe.

Sarah Gailey • River of Teeth • 05/23

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

Sarah Tolcser • Song of the Current • 06/06

Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. Her father is a wherryman, as was her grandmother. All Caro needs is for the river god to whisper her name, and her fate is sealed. But at seventeen, Caro may be too late.

So when pirates burn ships and her father is arrested, Caro volunteers to transport mysterious cargo in exchange for his release. Secretly, Caro hopes that by piloting her own wherry, the river god will finally speak her name.

But when the cargo becomes more than Caro expected, she finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies. With much more than her father’s life at stake, Caro must choose between the future she knows, and the one she could have never imagined.

David Mealing • The Soul of the World • 06/27

It is a time of revolution. in the cities, food shortages stir citizens to riots against the crown. In the wilds, new magic threatens the dominance of the tribes. and on the battlefields, even the most brilliant commanders struggle in the shadow of total war. Three lines of magic must be mastered in order to usher in a new age, and three heroes must emerge.

Sarine is an artist on the streets of New Sarresant whose secret familiar helps her uncover bloodlust and madness where she expected only revolutionary fervor.

Arak’Jur wields the power of beasts to keep his people safe, but his strength cannot protect them from war amongst themselves.

Erris is a brilliant cavalry officer trying to defend New Sarresant from an enemy general armed with magic she barely understands.

Each must learn the secrets of their power in time to guide their people through ruin. But a greater evil may be trying to stop them.

 

Callie Bates • The Waking Land • 06/27

 

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

Now I’m off to read some more of the lovely ‘The Bear and the Nightengale’ and catch up with the rest of ‘A series of Unfortunate Events’ on Netflix which I’m enjoying. I’ll see you all next week!

 

How DARE you tell J.K. Rowling what not to write

How DARE you tell J.K. Rowling what not to write published on 1 Comment on How DARE you tell J.K. Rowling what not to write

The final novel in the Harry Potter series came out almost a decade ago, but because of the extreme success of the series, Rowling can’t write anything down on a napkin in a bar without people wondering what it’s about. The fandom is still active churning out fanfictions. The movie studios are about to launch a trilogy based on the tumultuous life of an author of one of Harry’s textbooks. A play just opened that explores the relationship between Harry and his second son. A new series of short ebooks (which include background information on established characters, as opposed to being short stories with a standard narrative) will come out in September. All in all, it’s glorious to be the kind of Potter fan that likes this kind of transparency in world-building. And yet, there are others who quite vocally don’t want anything else Potter-related to come out at all, and I can see several reasons for this.

Any new information might run counter to internalized prejudices.

One of the main themes of the books is the need to fight against prejudice — in this case, Voldemort valued pure blooded witches and wizards as opposed to those with Muggle ancestry. They were seen as lesser. As the books unfolded, Rowling made it clear that this sort of self-righteousness in the Wizarding World wasn’t limited to Mudbloods, but extended to werewolves, house elves, centaurs, merfolk, etc. To a discerning reader, these lessons do have real life corollaries. And yet, when she was asked about Dumbledore’s past relationships or if he’d ever been married, and she then revealed he was gay, there were fans who erupted in rage and confusion. How could such a great wizard be gay? Instead of recognizing that they shared some of the same kind of prejudices rife in the Wizarding World, and against which Harry Potter fought, some fans grew outraged that they would either 1) have to respect a gay man based on his own merits, or 2) lose all respect for the wizard. Still others were furious that she hadn’t done enough to further the cause by revealing in text that Dumbledore was gay from the outset. Ridiculous, because in many ways, the stories were a love letter to the disenfranchised, the prejudged, and those who are seen as “lesser” by the people in power. The biases Rowling created were fictional — there are no laws restricting where a werewolf may work, but there ARE laws in OUR world that restrict who is allowed to marry. The allegory is clear. There are those who wish to avoid Rowling scraping against their prejudices, and are therefore vocal about silencing her. But they aren’t the only ones.

Any scenes that show happy, canon pairings (i.e. Harry and Ginny, or Ron and Hermione) make it harder to ship anyone else.

This is a VERY real issue. The shipping wars may have taken place online, and were therefore bloodless, but there was a time when those who shipped Harry/Ginny could barely be civil to, or be friends with those who shipped Harry/Hermione. Pretty much every pairing under the sun has been explored (yes, including Voldemort/Lily Luna), but the fact that the epilogue and beyond clearly show couples with strong marriages has caused anguish to those who’d rather the canon ships go down in flames. These people are so deeply in love with the pairing of their choice that they would rather see nothing more of Harry Potter for the rest of their lives than read anything that breaks their rebellious little hearts. But still, the list is not limited here: there are others who feel an even more personal sting than the passionate love for unauthorized pairings.

A few less successful authors are jealous of her success.

Envy is an ugly thing. A few authors on Facebook and Twitter have taken to all but blatantly calling Rowling a has-been. It’s true the the ebooks launching in September will probably sell millions, and authors who can only command a few thousand readers (if that) almost violently offer their own books as alternatives: “If you like Harry Potter, you will LOVE this book full of cliches and cardboard characters!” These authors wish Rowling would stop writing because every time she publishes, that bar of unbelievable success rises even higher. I pity them. To envy is to be human. For every success story, there is backlash, and these authors are part of it. Our society provides the rest.

In this culture where misogyny is just barely kept at bay, the very public success JKR enjoys is considered crass.

It’s no secret that JK Rowling writes under her initials because her publishers advised her she’d reach more of an audience if people could just assume she were male. I’m certain no one saw the success of the Harry Potter books become so immense and so global that keeping that kind of secret was impossible. People bought her books despite knowing she was female because she’d addicted them to finding out what happened next. But after the seventh book ended, the door slammed. Even The Tales of Beedle the Bard (which was published after the pleas of many, many fans) was scornfully called a “cash cow”. People are in awe at the fortune JKR made as a woman, but many believe she should have retired after Deathly Hallows. They see her success as a trick of some sort, and if she continues to be successful, to make money off her words, she is simply milking the cash cow rather than doing what she loves: writing.

Whatever the reason is, it is 100% arrogant to tell a creative person to “Stop. Just stop.” How many of you would dream of telling any other author to just stop writing? I don’t care if you’re prejudiced, if you can’t stand Ron and Hermione’s marriage, if you’re jealous that your books aren’t selling, or if you think she has hit a point that her financial success has become too much. You aren’t her audience. You don’t get to tell her what to do.

All my love,

deadwoodpecker

Easter*Con Interview

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The beginning of the author chat delves into his origin story as a writer: how he grew interested in writing in the first place, how he was mentored in graduate school, and how the Dresden Files came out of trying to prove his instructor wrong by doing everything she told him to do. He discusses how he never set out to write urban fantasy, he didn’t want to write urban fantasy.

EASTERCON: “I’m seeing new subseries in the Dresden Files develop over the years. You’ve got the continuing subplot with the Black Council, the White Court and Black Court – though the Red Court has been thoroughly resolved – and you have the Denarians, and then you’ve got Mab’s scheming. And – it’s really coming into view the cross-cultural, cross-mythological, and then there’s sort of Cthulhu lurking in the shadows. Was this deliberate, did you set out to design it this way, all these interlocking playgrounds as it were, or is this sort of an emerging property of the thing?”

JIM BUTCHER: “Oh, pretty much the emerging property, except one thing I had planned, I knew that every fifth book I wanted to have the Denarians show up. So they were scheduled for books 5, 10, 15, and 20. Yeah, it’s really that simple.”

EASTERCON: “Do you often have major new factions appearing?”

JB: “Well, yeah, to a degree. Kind of – the most popular bad guys of the series are only just now starting to show up. The Fomor, we’ve been seeing bits and pieces of those in the last few novels, and even more closely followed in the short stories that have been out lately. You get the closest glimpse of them in John Marcone’s story, which is called Even Hand, which is one of my favorite short stories because God, that is a scary guy. A lot of what I’ve been doing, a lot of the writing I did in the early series, I was very good about trying to set up for the end of the series. I remember wondering to myself – am I ever going to be able to write the end of the series? I’m having fun. I love getting to pay off things that I’ve been laying out for a long time. The one I’m working on now, this one is Peace Talks. Basically all the member nations of the Unseelie Accords are gathering together. I’m sure everything will go smoothly, then afterwards they’ll all go down to the bar together and sing some songs.”

They spoke a lot of the Codex Alera, and how it sprung out of a bet Butcher made with someone who was wrong on the internet. An interesting thing to not: If he returns to Alera, it would be to cover the adventures of the first Cursor class after Tavi becomes First Lord.

EASTERCON: “You talk about the twenty book arc for the world – what about the character arc? Do you have an outline of what those characters are learning through that journey?”

JB: “The character arcs that I had in mind are – were – for very objective stuff. This character is going to have to grow this much in order to face this amount of danger or risk. That was mostly centered around Harry. But how they got to that point was not scripted very closely. Personality wise, I didn’t script it very well at all because at that point I wasn’t capable of keeping track of that as a writer. That’s something I’ve been learning as I’m going on. One other thing I specifically did not do, was I did not script Harry’s love life. I wanted that to be something that was organic and part of the books. As it turns out, the people you love can have some minor effects on the rest of your life. I don’t know if Harry will get a happy ending in that sense. That’s something I’m telling myself.”

EASTERCON: “After you complete Dresden Files, do you see yourself writing more stories within that sort of setting, some of the other characters, slightly spinning off and expanding?”

JB: “I’ve got one spin-off series in mind at the moment. It stars a character we’ve already met. I’m not gonna tell you who. Then I’ve got a young adult series my sister and I are sketching out now, it’s gonna be Maggie going to St. Mark’s Academy for the Gifted and Talented with Mouse. It showed up in one of the Bigfoot series. It’s a school where a bunch of supernatural beings send their kids to school together.”

Skokie Interview

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The FAQs right off the top. The next book of the Dresden Files is I’m working on it.and I was supposed to turn it in this Christmas and if that happens on time, then I’ll reckon you’ll see sometime early next spring. So there, now you know that. Cuz everybody always asks me that like first thing. I just thought I was gonna beat you to the punch to that tonight.

Q: Are you still planning on doing a kids book with Maggie and Mouse?

A: Am I still planning on doing the young adult book with Maggie and Mouse when Maggie goes off to school? Yeah.

Q: Is there an HBO show still in the works?

A: No there is a possible show in the works. It doesn’t necessarily belong to HBO or anybody else. In my dream world, it goes to Netflix but we’ll see what happens or if it happens.

Q: When are we going to get some mermaids? And how is Nemesis spread from person to person?

A: Probably not until the big trilogy at the end because wizards don’t like to go in the ocean and they don’t do unless they’re desperate. How is Nemesis spread from person to person? ::sing song voice: I’m not going to tell you. That would make it way too easy But I will tell you that it go to Lea through the dagger.

Q: Any Cider Spires short stories?

A: No, I still have too way much world build before I can start spinning off little stories about the place. And much more to do on this book, which I’m very much looking forward to. I’m almost like Hey Dresden, c’mon get out of the way, I want to go to this new place that I haven’t seen before. And you know, Dresden is over here going “But we still have to do awesome”. yeah you’re right – we do have to do awesome. I’m so sorry about the city, but you know Just stay out of town on Midsummer and you’ll be fine.

Q: Do you work on multiple projects at once or one thing at a time?

A: I work on one thing at a time. I’m writing the short story which is Butters’ first mission as a knight. It’s kind of awesome; he’s out training with Michael and they’re doing cardio training and he pulls up and stops. Michael’s like “what’s wrong?” Butter’s’ is like “that guy”. Michael says “what guy?” Butters’ is like “the bum asleep on the bench. There’s a giant yellow exclamation point floating over his head. What? You don’t see that?”It kind of starts from there. Butters- Knight of WoW. I’ve gotta finish that up and send outlines for a couple graphic novels to Dynamite. One of those will be Harry Dresden vs the Joker, pretty much. Although in this case, he’s called Puck. Cuz Puck is an awful person – he really is, in the Dresden Files. He doesn’t run around being cool; he’s terrible. And fun. And there’s another one where we’re gonna go catch up with the all folks who went off to form their Feng Shui out in California after Blood Rites. There’s a problem and so Lara is hiring Harry to resolve her problem for her so she doesn’t lose her grip on the White Court and that’s the other graphic novel. After I get those two projects knocked off, then the rest of the year, it’s back to Peace Talks. It’s Peace Talks, Peace Talks, Peace Talks. Which is really winding up looking like a royal rumble of who would win this fight.

Q: Is Harry going to allow Bob any role in raising the new spirit baby?

A: No, Harry is going have that “Dad with shotgun” talk with Bob. Is what it amounts to. You’ll see more of that with the book. We start off early with Bonnie.

Q: In Proven Guilty, Harry is run off the road by a car and it never goes back to who ran him off the road Are you ever going to tell what happened?

A: Yeah, that’s weird right? Yeah.

Q: I heard once that you had a conspiracy theory about the show. I can’t find it anywhere. Mind telling us about it?

A: You gotta understand that I have no proof behind this. Because if you have proof, it’s not a conspiracy theory. And in fact, it makes it a worse conspiracy theory if there’s proof. What you need for a conspiracy theory is pictures and yarn and thumbtacks. That’s what you need for a conspiracy theory!

So this is my conspiracy theory. Set the wayback machine for 2007. Bonnie Hammer is the president of the Science Fiction channel Bonnie Hammer, who does not like science fiction. They put her in charge of it. I can only assume that it was corporate Siberia. I assume she made enemies and that was the result. So she’s in charge of the Science Fiction channel and she’s giving them GhostHunters and Extreme Wrestling. Which don’t get me wrong – I like wrestling. I watch it for the writing. But maybe not on the Science Fiction channel?

Meanwhile, her vice president comes along, a guy named David Howe, and he was the one who was behind bringing the SciFi channel’s Battlestar Galactica to immediate and popular acclaim. So when you’re the president of a company who works for somebody else and your subordinate comes up and does something awesome, that does not necessarily reflect well on you. And certainly not in Hollywood, where the motto is “it’s not good enough to succeed; you also have to make sure your friends fail.”

He gets behind the next project and his next project is the Dresden Files It was coming together pretty well. Just about two weeks before the show started shooting, all of a sudden all these changes got made to the internal structure of the show. I suspect it was Bonnie Hammer that was behind it, but I don’t know. That’s why it’s a conspiracy theory.

Originally the show was going to be a serial. It was going to cover the events of Storm Front and Fool Moon in the first season, and kind of interweave the plots. And the big showdown would have been extremely crazy because it would have been wizard-Loup Garou- Shadowman all at once. It would have been insane. But, two weeks before, they said we’re going to get this producer from Charmed on and he’s gonna be in charge now. And the guy from Charmed came on and said, “we’re not going to do a serial. We’re going to do episodes – nobody likes a serial.” And everybody was like, “Wait? Are you using the same word? Are you talking about breakfast cereal maybe? Because people dig serials.” We told him that we didn’t have time to re-write all these episodes. They were built to be one right after the other, which was where they get their punch from. And the Charmed guy is lke, “oh it’s not a big deal. We’ll just change the names of characters and disconnect all the episodes and do them out of order and it’ll be fine.” (At this point, Jim gives us all the eyebrow.) And that’s what happened. Plus he was the boss from Los Angeles, when they were filming in Toronto. You imagine how well that worked out.

Lots of little things would happen that would sandbag the show. For example, by the time the guy in California would write changes to a script, he’d turn them in by 9. But 9 in California is midnight in Toronto. So by the time changes came, and scripts got printed out and taken around by exhausted production assistants, it would be two in the morning.

Q: With Harry being a nerd who loves movies and sci-fi, how has he managed to go this far without making some sort of Zuul or Vinz Clortho reference to Rashid the Gatekeeper?

A: Uh, partly it’s the Gatekeeper and the Gatekeeper is really scary. Also, I haven’t gotten there yet. It hasn’t been right. I gotta feel it. I gotta feel the nerd come on or it doesn’t work. You must feel the nerd come around you…

Q: Are we going to revisit the inmates in Demonreach and see who some on those people are?

A: Those people are there to be locked up there forever and ever. The only way you would ever see who any of them were is if something horrible went wrong. So no, cuz that would be awfu!

Q: Would you write any more short stories for anthologies or with other people?

A: I actually edited a book this year. I wanted to try something new. so I tried on my editor hat and I edited a series called Shadowed Souls. Which actually has the short story of Molly on her first mission as the Winter Lady and so you get to see what her job is and what her position is within Winter Court and why it’s so important that she does what she does And it’s also her team up with Ramirez, so those shippers.. Toot Toot!

Writing with other people, not so much. I agreed to write a short story for Correia, in his Monster Hunter International universe, because I think the janitor at MHI would have a really interesting job. So I want to write that story. And there are also several of us who are putting together a story about a bad guy that goes through multiple realities, so everyone’s characters are interacting with him for a bit. Basically, each of the author’s get like ten thousand words of the story that we’re supposed to handle. So Harry Dresden will be involved with part of it and then wash his hands of it and walk away shaking his head.

Q: What is the difference between wizards and muggles in the Dresden Files?

A: First of all, you have to be born with a certain amount of talent to be able to touch magic at all. Sometimes that talent is greater and sometimes it’s lesser. But you’ve got to have one particular gene that flips the switch and says, “Yes. Weird.” Once you’ve got that, then you’ve got to be in a position where you can develop that talent and be in a position where you have the intelligence and the drive and the focus to make something of it. It’s just like any other talent, actually. Some people are born with a really great genetic setup to play basketball. That doesn’t necessarily make them Michael Jordan, because not only do they have to have the gift, but they also have to be in the situation to express it. If you were born with the awesome basketball gene spread and you were also born Inuit, probably you aren’t going to get a chance to express that. I always built magic in the Dresden Files as something was a talent like any other. You’re born with it, but that doesn’t make you a wizard without a lot of hard work as well.

Conversely, you could be born without a really awesome spread of talent and yet if you work hard enough, you can really make something of yourself. Most people can probably use a little magic. Most people could probably be dangerous in the Dresden Files world if they had enough training and worked on it for years and year and years. But there’s only a few who are really born ready to go to the NBA draft. And of those people, that’s who you see on the White Council. Those people who are born with that and who then developed it as well.

Q: How do thorn manacles work?

A: Do I explain that to you? Yeah, it won’t hurt anything. Why not? Essentially, what it does is when a wizard is drawing magic in, the thorn manacles divert it to somewhere else. Wizards have to give a little bit of energy from inside themselves, but mostly they have to pull it in from the outside. Mostly, the thorn manacles take the magic and shunt it out into the NeverNever and you don’t get to use it. The pain is the result of the energy that’s going by and going elsewhere. It’s inefficiency of transfer, if you want to put it in engineering terms. That’s really nerdy, so I won’t do that.

Q: Why did you base the Dresden Files in Chicago?

A: Because my writing teacher would not allow me to set them in Kansas City. They started off as a school project and were originally set in Kansas City. She read them and said, “You’ll sell this. I don’t know if this will be the first thing you’ll sell, but this is of professional quality and you’ll eventually sell it. But one thing: You can’t set it in Kansas City.” I asked why not. She said, “You’re already walking close enough to Laurell Hamilton’s toes that you don’t need to set this book in Missouri. So set it somewhere else.” There’s a globe in her office. On the globe, in America, there are four cities. One of them is New York City, which I don’t want to use because superheroes have that place all sewn up. And my editors lives there and would catch every city mistake I made. And sneer at me. D.C. was one of the other cities. And I didn’t want to write D.C. because then you have to write politics and you’re gonna piss off somebody. That’s how it works. LA was there and I didn’t want to use LA because it’s Los Angeles. And that left Chicago.

Q: Mac’s Ale. I’m a homebrewer and I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of beer this is. And I really need to know what you based this on.

A: Mac’s Ale is based off of my imagination and my brain. I’m not actually a beer drinker. I don’t like beer a whole lot. I”m more of a cider guy. It mostly came from my imagination and my beer drinking friends and from their descriptions.

Q: Are we going to see Mac actually do something other than what he’s done so far? Like actually pull some things off?

A: Maaaaaaaaaaybe. You’ll get to find out more about him, at any rate, Whether you’ll actually get to see him doing stuff is still a really serious question. I don’t know. I’ll figure that out as we go.

Q: How do I come up my names for people, places, things?

A: Mostly I look at the meaning of the name. I’ve got a giant book of names and their meanings and I generally try and find something that is either appropriate to the character for the name or completely inappropriate to the character for the name. One of the two.

Q: How did Harry get anywhere in Chicago in 20 minutes during Dead Beat?

A: Hey, when you’re on a T-rex, you don’t have to wait for lights!! As we all know, we clocked the T-rex at 35 miles per hour.

Q: When are we going to see dragons again?

A: Dude, I can’t possibly do a dragon thing unless it’s a whole book. So that would be book 20 or 21. Something like that. Probably 21. I think 21. That seems about right.

Q: Speaking of Molly and Ramirez, at least going into the short story you reference earlier about Molly’s first job as Winter Lady, what’s the status of their technical or non-technical virginities?

A: That’s awfully personal, don’t you think? Molly’s is still technically intact. Ramirez, we don’t really know. And I don’t think it becomes clear during the course of the story. Well, it kind of does, but you’ll have to read it.

Q: Will we ever find out who keeps letting the coins loose?

A: Kind of, yeah. But at the same time, it’s sort of necessary for them to be out in the world. They’re not designed to be kept in a vault somewhere and locked up. So it’s very very difficult for anyone to guard them, for example. Because the coins just do the One Ring thing to them until they get loose But yeah, they’ve been spread out in in all kinds of different place. And the best you can do is to pick a guy who you hope is as close to incorruptible as humanly possible and then leave him in charge.

Q: How much of Hannah Ascher’s precision magic was hers and how much was Lasciel’s?

A: Much of it was Lasciel. Hannah was basically just providing the muscle and Lasciel was providing the direction. So she was way better than she would have been otherwise without Lasciel there advising her.

Q: How much will Bonnie know?

A: You’ll have to see. The problem with Bonnie is not that she knows a lot; it’s that she doesn’t know how to apply anything. LIke she can tell you all about green and how many nanometers the wave of lenght of light that the color green is and so on, but she doesn’t understand that grass is green yet. Because she hasn’t seen it. When we first join Peace Talks, Harry comes home and Maggie and Bonnie are in the kitchen making pancakes. Bonnie has informed Maggie that she knows 317 recipes for pancakes and the ingredients that they have make 17 of them possible. And so they’re trying to make pancakes. But they don’t know how to tell when it’s time to fip the pancake over. Well, you wait until it’s golden brown. Well, what’s golden brown? It’s on the pan. It looks white from here. Harry gets to walk in and Bonnie turns to him and says, “Pancakes are inanimate!” excitedly because she just figured out that they’re inanimate objects. Bonnie has a long way to go before she’ll be anything. But she’s where Bob started.

Q: When are we going to see more of Ivy and Kincaid? Does Ivy know that Kincaid is the one who technically shot Harry?

A: We’ll see more of them next book and I won’t tell you that.

Q: Why do Justine and Murphy both smell like strawberries?

A: They use the same shampoo. They use that green Suave. And that’s why. It’s really good shampoo if you want to grow your hair long. It’s got no silicates in, so it doesn’t abrade the hair. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Q: One of the things I love about the series is when I recognize Chicago landmarks. How are you able to be so accurate with that?

A: These days I can actually afford to come to Chicago and look. So I do that to a degree. Originally, I had a couple guidebooks of Chicago and that was all I had to go on. After a couple of the books came out, I had some readers who lived here. So I could ask them. And now I have Google Maps. And more importantly, Google Street View. That’s useful to the point that I actually had a member of CPD SWAT approach me and say, “Listen, this scene that you set up in the short story ‘The Warrior,’ where you have the guy on the roof and you said specifically which lights were out in order to have the approach and so on. So that the sniper would have the best point of view. I checked that out and you were right. And I need to know who you consulted about that kind of information. Because we sort of like to keep track of people with that kind of knowledge.” And I said, “I just played Call of Duty and looked at Google Maps. And Google Street View. I’m sorry.” And the CPD SWAT guy is like, “Oh God.”

Q: Any more info on the young adult series with Maggie and Mouse?

A: No. I’ve got to have enough time to write it. I’m still trying to get caught up this year. It’ll be hopefully not before too much longer because that’ll be fun. Plus I’ve been planning on writing that one with my sister, so I would only have to do half of it. Maggie is a great character because she’s been through alot and she has a lot of social anxiety issues. She genuinely needs Mouse as a service dog next to her to help her stay cool and deal with people. So she has trouble in close spaces, in open spaces. She’s got a lot on her mind. Except when everything is totally going to hell and is on fire. At which point, she is completely normal. Because she’s Harry Dresden’s daughter

Q: Are we ever going to find out which of the Fallen said those seven words to Harry?

A: You’ve probably gotten all the answers you’re gonna get as far as that goes, as far as which Fallen said that. I mean, I’m not saying that Lasciel lied about everything but she could’ve. Or it could have been one of the others. But Lasciel was the one with the axe to grind.

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A big thanks to Jennifer McNaughton who filmed the event, and then transcribed it!

Three Very Good Reasons to Read Ship of Fools

Three Very Good Reasons to Read Ship of Fools published on No Comments on Three Very Good Reasons to Read Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools is creepy as hell. Read it with the lights on, no matter how shiny your kindle is.

The take on religion is both honest and poignant. There are two religious main characters in Unto Leviathan: the bishop—grasping for power—and Father Veronica. The latter’s faith is true and deep. She believes firmly, and often retreats to the manufactured wilderness on the ship to pray and seek succor from God. The bishop, however, who has spent his life preaching and leading others, is revealed to have no faith. He uses religion like a boxing glove and a manipulative tool. Russo is a good enough writer that it’s easy to ignore the fact that the Church would not resemble itself after how many millennia from earth as we know it the ship is removed.

In the end, the story isn’t about individuals, or even about an institution as old and settled as the church. There are a lot of questions raised in the first part of the book. Who are the main character’s parents? Is the kid the son of the captain? How is it the dwarf hid from justice all those months? At first, it seems like finding out these answers will be part of reading the book. Part of me is irritated that these mysteries went unanswered—why set the mysteries up, if they won’t be explored? But the entire book skews when the danger of the alien ship is revealed. The author made a point to reveal these minor character threads as largely unimportant and petty against the menace and totality of the ship they found. It’s well done, but I still want the mysteries to be explained. That is simply how my head works.

Home to generations of humans, the starship Argonos has wandered aimlessly throughout the galaxy for hundreds of years, desperately searching for other signs of life. Now an unidentified transmission lures them toward a nearby planet-and into the dark heart of an alien mystery.

The Butcher Block Begins

The Butcher Block Begins published on 12 Comments on The Butcher Block Begins

Stormfrontcomic

I have been buzzing about this feature of the site almost since the moment I became a part of it. Tomorrow, the great re-read and analysis of The Dresden Files begins. A lot of people aren’t entirely certain what this means — I haven’t widely shared the writing I’ve been doing all this fall. But now that it’s FINALLY happening, here are some of the things you can look forward to:

1) Giveaways! Five people will win paperback copies of Dead Beat; one person will win a signed copy of Skin Game; the winner of the trivia game will win a signed copy of the Dresden File of their choice; and one lucky contributor will win signed copies of the first three books with their original covers*.

2) Essays about the books. Is there a compelling argument that Murphy will ultimately betray Harry? Could Linda Randall have been a White Court vamp? What’s going on in the shadows in Proven Guilty?

3) Guest articles from Duck. Miss Duck has gained fame over in the forums for her keen insight. She’s graciously allowing me to turn her theories into a weekly guest post.

4) Guest articles that push our knowledge of Dresden further. Who were the Cahokians, and what’s their possible connection to the series? What’s the correlation between Odin and Santa Claus? Did Jim Butcher make up all this stuff about mantles and masks? All this and more will be explored in the coming weeks and months.

5) Transcripts of recent events. We all know how important Word of Jim is!

I am so happy this is finally beginning, and I hope you join me in the comments.

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