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Incorrigible bookslutting, dorky old SF about losing limbs, and lunatic angels?

Today, on my day off from working in one bookstore, I, naturally, found myself in yet another bookstore instead.

Then, when I finally got myself out of that one, I went on to a third. As, you know, you do when you are an incorrigible bookslut, and all.

And, apparently, the third time really is the charm. Because there?

There, I somehow managed to stumble across a used copy of my so-favourite-mine-looked-roughly-fifty-years-old-though-I’d-gotten-it-new childhood book. My favourite childhood book, which I had lost in my little Epic Appalachian Escape out of my childhood home, and was still unapologetically mourning:

lightsabers
(Yeah. This is from way back when the Star Wars Expanded Universe was actually still somewhat sane. And yeah, I really was that much of a nerd. Still would be, probably, if the EU hadn’t exploded all to hell.)

And when I suddenly spotted it just sitting there on the shelf, I may or may not have gasped out loud, immediately bounced up onto the balls of my feet to grab the thing, and then clutched it to my chest like I thought someone was going to abuptly barrel into the used paperback room to try and wrestle it away from me, and I would then have to fight for my book to the death. (Spoiler: No one did, but if they had, I would have won. I take my bookslutting seriously, after all.)

I may or may not have also come a little bit close to tearing up, once I was holding onto it.

A little bit. Maybe.

But if you’re here reading this blog, I fancy you’re a reader in general. And if you’re a reader, I am sure you understand what it means to have a book be yours. Where the physical copy itself means as much as the content, the book you picked up countless times for comfort, the one with the spine broken a multitude of times, the one that falls open right to your favourite page, the yellowing book with that gorgeous old-book smell that you wore into the pages yourself…

Lightsabers was that, for me.

And as such, it was essentially irreplacable. I wanted to replace it (and the rest of the entire series, and also several other series I had lost), and badly, but at the same time was incredibly loathe to do so. Because those replacement copies wouldn’t be mine.

This, though? Stumbling across it unexpectedly this way, rather than buying some random used copy online? This one book in the series, on its own, when this is the one that was my favourite?

That’s as close to mine as I’m going to get, I think. And I was happy as all hell. ♥

And then? A few minutes later, I came across yet another book I had absolutely loved and lost, and was looking to replace!

scar night

I didn’t have the emotional attachment to The Deepgate Codex that I did to the Young Jedi Knights, but damn did I love it. And damn am I excited to start a re-read. :)

(And let’s just ignore the fact that my idea of nostalgia appears to be really dorky old sci-fi YA about losing limbs, and a city in chains terrorised by a lunatic angel called Carnival, shall we?)

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Happy Christmas, horror, and…battle cries?

Happy Christmas to those of you who celebrate it (and happy Wednesday for those of you who don’t)! ♥

In…Jacey-styled festive news, I’ve spent the holiday playing Arkham Horror with my roommate (as that was one of the presents I got her, and this is the sort of thing we do).

And it’s no secret that I’m a complete sucker for fantasy/horror set in the 1920s, as this is.

But…this game got me thinking.

What’s it going to be like, decades from now, when people start writing urban fantasy set in the 1990s instead, or god help us all, now?

He stared at the creature that had materialised in front of him, and swallowed hard. What the hell kind of hashtag could he even use to describe this thing, anyway?

Would he even be able to make a status update about it, or would the damn thing eat his iPhone if he got too close? Sneaking away was no longer an option; the sound when he had snapped the picture of it had already attracted its attention, and it was staring right back at him, its strange body tense and coiled, ready to spring.

He could either turn and attempt to outrun it, or he could make a last stand and try to fight instead.

To hell with it, he thought, and held his headphones up like a garrote.

“YOLO!” he shouted, and charged.

Happy Christmas, indeed.

(And, ps — Post #4 is up over at Fires in the Walls!)

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‘You dress like a Victorian and ARE a supernatural’: My blossoming love affair with gaslamp fantasy!

I’m game for trying pretty much anything once.

That isn’t to say I intend to try pretty much everything once (one would have to live forever to pull that off, and even with all of my glitter I don’t have that kind of sparkle), or that I would even necessarily want to in all situations…but if the situation presents itself and seems right, then why not?

If something’s going to stop me, it’ll have to be more than just a general unwillingness to throw myself wholeheartedly into everything new. :)

And that’s my personal policy, both in life and in writing.

If a plot bunny strikes, I’m not going to stop and ask it what happy little genre-farm it hails from. I’m going to pick it up and give it a proverbial hug, and then play with it until it’s done. That simple.

But at the same time, even if I’m willing to go play in and explore every genre, that doesn’t mean that every genre is home. That every genre is mine (or vice-versa, if you prefer).

There are places where we fit better than others, and I found one of my own a while back.

Realistic fiction, while something I can do, isn’t it for me, isn’t mine. And while I’ve always adored general fantasy and science fiction, and grew up on a steady diet of both, they weren’t quite it either.

Then there was magical realism, and it was like everything in me leapt up and screamed yes.

Magical realism embodies the message I want to leave behind with my writing: That anything and everything can be fantastical, can be magical, if you only know how to look.

Magical realism is it, for me.

But now I’m realising that maybe it might not be alone. That there might be another niche I fit into nearly as well.

It started with a lot of little pieces falling slowly, slowly, into place.

Night before last, I came across an art print that Madame Talbot had done, that’d come with some of my BPAL scents. (If you’re not familiar with Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs, by the way, do feel free to put this post on pause to go peruse their website instead…and then come back here hours later, when you’ve finally escaped its vortex. Because I promise you, you can mire yourself in that website for hours, and it is well worth every moment.)

And it made me think: This is what I want my book covers to look like.

I’d been pondering that for a while, what sort of a general feel I would want at least some of them to have, and I have to say I had absolutely no idea.

At least, not until I saw that art. Then, it clicked.

That, I suppose, was the first step.

Then cue yesterday.

Yesterday, Steve Donoghue gave me a book:

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells.

He had been given a copy by the publisher and thought that I should be the one to have it…because, and I quote, ‘you dress like a Victorian and are a supernatural.’ (Somehow this statement almost sort of made sense, despite the fact I was in a daringly above-the-knees schoolgirl-style skirt at the time. At the very least, people at the day job really do refer to me as some flavour of magical creatue, whether it be an elf, a fairy, or Unicorn Princess. No, I am not making this up, and no, I do not argue. I’m not even sure I could.)

Now, I’ve read, and adored, gaslamp fantasy before. But I always considered the books on their own, and somehow never gave much thought to the genre as a whole.

But now I am.

And again, everything in me is starting to leap up and say yes.

Lit from that period has always made my little bookslut heart flutter. (If I ever used the phrase ‘literary homeboys,’ it would be in reference to Sherlock Holmes and Oscar Wilde — and Simion Satterwhite from Laura Argiri’s The God in Flight — and let’s leave it at that.)

Mix that with magic? And oh, my god, instant bookgasm.

It’s the message of magical realism, with the added atmosphere of the Victorian era, and the mix is beautiful, and I think that I’m in love.

I think that I’m in love, and I want to see where, exactly, this little affair takes me. ♥

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Six Sentence Sunday: The streets were quiet to an almost frightening degree.

And we’re now officially back to The Clockwork Coloratura, with NaNo being over! :)

This week, Peregrine begins his search for Anna amongst the streets…and already, things are not quite as they seem.
 
 

The streets were quiet to an almost frightening degree.

Nothing was ever quiet here, as a rule: There were always footsteps, or scuttlings; the scrapings and squeaking of rats and the howling of the cats that chased them down the streets; the wet breathing and coughing of the people who slept out on the streets themselves. There were the hawkers crying out what was left of their wares and the crowing of children who uncovered scraps; there were wails.

The sounds were largely constant, and seemed unnecessarily amplified in the claustrophobic labyrinth of streets, painfully loud and impossible to tune out entirely even when one was born into them. You could not hear yourself think, and generally he considered this to be for the best.

But as his hunt for her began in earnest, suddenly the hush fell.

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In which I finally find my niche, and love on Lauren Oliver’s Liesl & Po.

A long chat with a rather lovely customer the other day finally confirmed something I’ve been slowly coming to realise over the course of this year.

See, when people ask me, “Oh, what do you read?” my answer is always, invariably, “Everything!” And I am not exaggerating in the least, because I do.

Every kind of fantasy, science fiction both hard and soft, science non-fiction (experimental physics! ♥), oh my god I love all sorts of mysteries (classical and cosy alike), psychology (Jung, anyone?), general fiction, general nonfiction, classics, YA, certain middle-grade (Holly Lisle’s Moon & Sun trilogy springs immediately to mind), reference books, picture books… The only things I can think of that I don’t regularly read are probably political books and fluffball romances.

But out of all of that, out of the more-or-less-everything that I read, I think my most favourite thing in the entire world is magical realism.

I’d wondered, once, if it was just urban fantasy that I loved the best, but no. At the end of the day, it’s magical realism that has the particular flavour that I truly crave. It’s the sort of world that I myself want to create with my own words.

It’s even perfectly illustrated, too, by so many of my absolute all-time favourite books: Good Omens, The Little Prince, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Neverwhere (and almost everything else Neil Gaiman has ever written, really), the Harry Potter series, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower

And so many of my favourite books from this year are in fact gorgeous examples of magical realism as well: Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Lauren Oliver’s Liesl & Po.

Which brings me to my next point.

I love Liesl & Po.

I love it, I love it, I love it.

I’ve talked before about what a wonderful feeling it is to finally see a book you adore in print (probably it’s the next best thing to seeing your own book in print, I would venture to say). Finally seeing Liesl & Po in print took that one step further.

Namely, seeing it for the first time on a cart stacked high with other books, buried roughly in the middle of said stack — and promptly getting so excited that I immediately dropped to my knees and proceeded to play Epic Book Jenga to dig it out, just so I could finally hold and fawn over a finished copy.

Yeah. That is how much I love this book.

And if that does not tempt you to go pick up a copy of your very own (and then every single other book I mention in this post, if you’ve not already!), then you are hopeless I do not know what would. ♥

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Sample Sunday: Genesis.

It’s Sample Sunday again!

For this week, I’ve picked out the tentative prologue to my main project — both because I felt it appropriate with that particular muse finally starting to talk to me again (and hope that the attention will appease him and get him to keep talking!), and because this piece is probably the most indicative of my writing style as a whole.

It’s urban fantasy with a heavy dose of mythology and history on the side; and as for the rest, well…you’ll see. ♥
 

 

There are fireworks in the garden, or else the flashes are the echoes of a flaming sword.

Either way, there is a lick of ozone to the air, a sweetly seductive thing that promises the headiness of choking and drowning as it swells to fill her lungs.

She doesn’t dare breathe in too deep, for fear of displacing the delicate tangle of leaves. It is the only shelter she can find, her body otherwise bared to the winds, her skin shining a pale beacon in these precious hours before dawn.

And she is not alone, she knows; she hears the rustling at her feet, subtle as the storm-scents themselves. It is a softly pervasive sound, seeming to come from everywhere and nowhere all at once, and she fears that if she ran from it, she would only lose her way.

She breathes as best she can, and draws some small comfort from knowledge: It is a serpent, of this she is sure. Nothing else could move so slickly through both grass and branch alike, as if the entirety of the world was suited to become its throne.

She whispers profanities, and orders herself to be unafraid.

But he has her at a disadvantage, here.

He can likely taste the shape of her by simply flicking his tongue through air alone, unearth what manner of creature he has lured to his domain. (For this is his domain; of that, she has no doubt.) Yet she herself is all but blind, and he affords her not even the briefest of glimpses here in the black.

She wonders.

He could be small, the perfect size to curl about an apple and so tempt you to taste. Or he could wrap around the world itself, tail clenched in fangs like a promise of despair to come.

She wonders if they mightn’t be the same, that apple and this world, and if human perspective might not be the most hilarious falsehood of all. (She supposes there really isn’t that much of a difference, between teaching someone the poisons of their own flesh and poisoning their sky.)

Still, she wants to see him, once, with her own eyes. She will haunt his garden if she must, reassign herself to shadows, weave her own amongst the leaves.

She will wait, and she will learn how to be still.

The flashes continue, distant and stark; and yet their afterimages somehow do not sear her eyes.

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Two posts in one day? Yes, because if I post about a project, then I’m too stubborn to not finish it!

On Sunday, I offered up an introduction to Anchor, the first character from my new potential world who introduced himself to me.

And by four yesterday morning, my brain had kindly deposited itself into that same world, to finally give me my own first tour around.

And by that, I mean I suddenly woke up buried in next to my cat, blinking, and still half in the throes of an uncharacteristically-vivid dream, if the sheer levels of confusion it entailed were still sadly characteristic of my brain enough.

It seemed to me more snapshots of a world than a linear sort of story (and never mind the fact that said snapshots were, inexplicably, presented to my brain in comic-book format?); but it took until I was much more awake for me to realise what that world actually was.

Of course, it was his.

A sweeping human love story was set against soaring multi-coloured scarves, or perhaps they were meant as prayer flags, or some cultural fusion of the two intended to warm both the body and the soul. The last likely would have been ideal — as, I learned, a war was on. Battle-elephants and literal-airships (that is to say, boats who had been magicked into the skies) came smearing together in a strangely steampunk-coloured sort of apocalypse that began to overshadow most everything else.

Also there were cat people. I don’t know why there were cat people, but I’ve long since given up arguing with my brain.

And with cats, for that matter.

So I suppose cat people it is. (Probably the girlcat I was asleep beside busied herself wafting fur up into my nose, in the hopes that I would inhale it and so allow her to somehow overtake my brain. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised; she seems the sort. Most cats do.)

I’m still feeling rather blindly at all these edges, trying to scramble them back into some sort of order, but I think I’m beginning to see where all the pieces might go, bit by bit.

And it occurs to me that, though I’ve been writing since before I could get my fingers to physically form the words, I’ve never tried my hand at a proper world-building project.

Maybe it’s finally high time that I did.

Surreal as it all still sounds, even to me, I can sense a pattern here, something that I can suss out and so follow to its roots.

I have a thread. And a single thread is all you need to begin to weave.

So let’s just see where all of this goes. :)