aliettedb: (utena)

Quick reminder of a few events:

  • I’ll be at Waterstones Piccadily in London on Wednesday 12th April 19:30 (so tomorrow!), in conversation with Zen Cho and Vic James. You can get tickets here (or just show up at the event and get them).
  • And I’ll be attending Eastercon in Birmingham: my schedule is here

I’ve also been around the blogosphere:

  • My Favorite Bit at Mary Robinette Kowal’s Blog: destroying Paris and terrible bilingual puns
  • In Defence of Uncanny Punctuation at Chuck Wendig’s blog: in which I defend the King of Fruit and the King of Punctuation
  • My Favourite Dragons and how I designed mine at The Book Smugglers
  • Unfamiliar rooms: magic and dread in Kari Sperring’s The Grass King’s Concubine, at Tor.com
  • At my blog: why likeable characters are overrated and how to design your very own character we love to hate,
  • The Fallacy of Agency at Uncanny Magazine, with awesome Likhain art (aka Madeleine from The House of Binding Thorns, with silver and gold foil and all the usual Likhain prettiness, which you can see a snippet of above. Seriously. Go check the post out just for the art because it’s stunning. Likhain is a current Hugo finalist for Best Artist and deservedly so!)
  • Author takeover: War of the Houses at Mugglenet (which makes me absurdly happy because Harry Potter was such a big part of my London years)

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

I tweeted about likeable characters vs fascinating characters this morning, and ended up developing into an article: “Likeable Characters, Interesting Characters and the Frankly Terrible Ones”. Aka, “how to write terrible characters you love to hate!”

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

(slightly expanded from my twitter thread this morning. As usual this is not gospel truth, but things that happen to work for me. Do feel free to take what you want from this and throw what doesn’t fit)

This morning’s thoughts: likeable characters. I think they’re overrated.

We can argue and should argue a bit about what makes a character “likeable”. It’s highly subjective, partly dependent on moral values of society, partly dependent on people: I happen not to care much for arrogant characters, so any character that has this flaw has got an uphill climb to be sympathetic to me. On a societal level, because misogyny is still embedded in the way things work,  men in positions of power doing terrible things in service of a good goal are generally seen as ruthless, women as bitches.

However, for me the root issue with “likeable” is that I don’t think characters have to be likeable. For me, they have to be interesting, which isn’t quite the same. This actually ties into a larger thing: the end goal of writing is to hold the reader’s attention. And the thing is, there are many, many ways to do that: which one you use depends on you as a writer, and the audience you target, and the conventions of the genre you’re writing in, etc. (a lot of writing advice is about tools and tips and things you can use to hold attention–they’re not so much unbreakable rules as ideas to keep readers turning pages).

If we’re just talking characters: you can make readers care about what happens to them, which is the “likeable” part of the equation. But you don’t have to. You can also make readers wonder and fear what they’ll do next. You can, conversely, just decide you don’t much care about characters and that the important thing is unfolding the setting around minimal portraits. You can also decide that the twists of the plot take precedence over the characters. Again, valid choice. (you need a minimum obviously. No characters at all usually makes it hard to engage the reader because we’re wired to pay attention to that. We’re also wired to find people or people-equivalent in stories so it tends to happen regarless of whether you plan for it or not)

A few tricks I used for terrible characters (*cough* Asmodeus *cough*): it helps if they’ve got a code, even if it’s a horrible code, because we tend to value highly people who stick by principles. It also helps if their goals are things we approve of, even if the means they then deploy to achieve them are horrendous, again because–as a society–we tend to judge strongly on intent: Magneto wants to protect all mutants from being persecuted, Holland in VE Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic series wants his London (which was unfairly shut off and devasted) to be prosperous again. Asmodeus in my own The House of Binding Thorns wants to protect his own House and his own people in an environment of scarcity.

Sarcasm and honesty also help: again, values vary, but hypocrisy in our societies is particularly hard to swallow. Sarcasm/irony in particular have high correlation to fascination: we pay attention because we want to know what the characters will come up with next, and because it feels like they’re speaking truth and/or seeing things more clearly than the other characters (they may not actually be seeing things more clearly, but that’s another issue!). Think of Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: part of his appeal is that he always seems to puncture holes in the main characters’ earnest plans.

Power dynamics–how terrible characters behave with their inferiors–is an easy but neat trick. The expected is they’ll be terrible, so if you buck it you get a lot of extra mileage (plus, I never really believed the dark lords who kept killing their subordinates would have many subordinates left after a few months–everyone would just leave and find a more reliable employer!) [1]

Another easy one is the reedemable feature, though “redeemable” is again highly dependent on people (one person’s redeemable feature is another’s breaking point): easiest one is their caring about people, especially forgiving them if they do something terrible character doesn’t approve of (you’d be surprised how often, in media, terrible characters turn out to only pretend to care about their loved ones, or to kill their loved ones as soon as they do so much as stray from the path).

Note that the goal of all of this isn’t to actually redeem the character: all of this is way below the hard work, atonement and change of heart required for redemption. The goal is just to make sure the reader gets invested into the character–you lose, as a writer, if they wander off or throw the book across the room because the character is so horribly a turn-off and the plot so uninteresting they’d rather be doing something else. And yes, a lot of this–like “likeable”– is still highly subjective: again, the trick is appealing to your readership (trying to appeal to everyone with “universal” values has, at least for me, always resulted in character design by committee: the results are bland, unlikely to make anyone throw books at all, but also unlikely to make people want to fight for your characters!).

Another word of warning that you probably don’t want to try this trick with every single character in your novel/short story/etc.: terrible characters tend to shine best when they’re mixed with other characters that readers care about. Or at least characters who are decent. You can make every single character in the novel terrible–it’s been done and it’s been done with great success–but it’s going to be a more difficult tightrope to walk because terrible characters will have no one to be contrasted against, and no one they can bounce off, either. A little goes a long way.

So basically, my recipe: give the reader something to cling to, make sure that said thing doesn’t break halfway through the plot (and if it does, replace it with something else before it completely breaks)–and throw in enough unexpected to be surprising. That, and doing the usual prayer of the writer aka “please please let everything not implode in mid-flight”!

(and yes, speaking of mid-flight: I have a book that just came out. It’s set in a ruined and dark, decadent Paris; it has dragons, Fallen angels, alchemists, revolutions and betrayals; a terrible character and decent ones, and I had a lot of anxiety fun writing it–I would love it if you checked it out. Sorry, had to say it. Sales are how I get the chance to write other books °=°)


[1]In The House of Binding Thorns I balanced the power dynamics of a particular scene on a knife’s edge: I had one scene which involved one character in the power of a terrible one, and I deliberately played with the expectation of terrible things happening to create tension–in particular, at one point, consent is asked for, which very much went against the grain of such scenes. It was a deliberate choice.

 

 

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

And today is release date for the UK edition of The House of Binding Thorns! Ruined and decadent turn-of-the-century Paris, dragons, Fallen angels, intrigue, revolutions, betrayals! (and it’s standalone: you can read it without having read the first one and it works just fine).

I hate to say this, but given that this is the way things work–the likelihood of me getting to write more novels in this universe (or indeed, more novels, full stop) is entirely dependent on sales, so if you fancy picking up a copy (whichever format) I’d be very grateful. And if you like it, dropping a good word about it on social media or reviewing at goodreads/amazon (doesn’t have to be long reviews–I’ll take inarticulate squeeing too *grin*) or recommending to a friend would help immensely.

Here are a few blog posts I did for the release:
“Unfamiliar Rooms: Magic and Dread in Kari Sperring’s The Grass King’s Concubine” at Tor.com
Geography of alternate destroyed Paris and terrible bilingual puns at Mary Robinette Kowal’s My Favourite Bit
“In Defence of Uncanny Punctuation” at Chuck Wendig’s blog: a blog post with semicolons and durians, all the best things in life ^-^

And here are a few reviews:

A successful continuation of a truly grand story, brimming with action, heart, representation, and magic.

Martin Cahill, Barnes and Noble blog

A striking example of a story that both stands alone and expands (…) truly beautifully balanced: between new and old, birth and death, beauty and ugliness, inside and outside, beginning and, yes, ending. It walks the line, and walks it fine.

Niall Alexander, Tor.com

Buy now
Read Chapter One Online!

 

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

Yesterday was the US release date for The House of Binding Thorns (well, in the US anyway: the UK edition drops in two days’ time, on Thursday). If you’re in the mood for a dark fantasy set in a ruined and decadent Paris, magic creepy spells, Vietnamese dragons in human shape, and intrigue and backstabbing, I’ve got you covered! (and it’s standalone: you can read it without having read the first one and it works just fine).

I hate to say this, but given that this is the way things work–the likelihood of me getting to write more novels in this universe (or indeed, more novels, full stop) is entirely dependent on sales, so if you fancy picking up a copy (whichever format) I’d be very grateful. And if you like it, dropping a good word about it on social media or reviewing at goodreads/amazon (doesn’t have to be long reviews–I’ll take inarticulate squeeing too *grin*) or recommending to a friend would help immensely.

And here’s a little bit of a cheat: you can still get the exclusive-to-preorders ebook, Children of Thorns, Children of Water, if you buy the book today or tomorrow. Dragons in human shape infiltrating a grand, decaying mansion, magical shenanigans, and éclairs! (ignore the “UK only” in the graphic, this is valid whatever the edition you order–just send your proof of purchase through the form).

And here are a few reviews:

Touches the heart as often as it cuts throats.

Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)

THE HOUSE OF BINDING THORNS takes the gothic atmospheric politics of THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS and ramps them up to a pitch of intensity that I really wasn’t expecting. (…) Wrenchingly tense, suffused with a creeping undercurrent of atmospheric horror, of decline-and-fall, and yet vividly alive. (…) It does so much so right, and so well, that I cannot help but love it wholly and entirely. It really is an utterly magnificent achievement.

Liz Bourke

Buy now
Read Chapter One Online!

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

Just thought I’d share a handful of reviews of The House of Binding Thorns–one week to go…

Liz Bourke:

The House of Binding Thorns takes the gothic atmospheric politics of The House of Shattered Wings and ramps them up to a pitch of intensity that I really wasn’t expecting.

(…) It does so much so right, and so well, that I cannot help but love it wholly and entirely.

It really is an utterly magnificent achievement.

Chris Meadows at Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews:

This is humanity at its worst and best, and it’s mirrored back to the reader in the faces of the supernatural creatures striding the broken streets of Paris. These aren’t saints or monsters, but complicated people, making decisions for their own reasons, worming their terrible way off the page and into your heart.

… a story which rewards close reading, and one which compelled me to keep turning pages; the climax was rewarding and impressive – and left me breathlessly hoping for more.

Stitch’s Media Fix:

…such an experience for me.

(…) I almost felt like I was in the middle of a hurricane being smacked around by all of the feelings and the incredible worldbuilding. It’s a brilliant, beautiful work of fiction and while it can hurt to read it and worry about the characters you’ve come to love over several hundred pages, there’s also hope to be had.

The House of Binding Thorns is an incredible book in a series that I can’t get enough of. If you enjoyed works like Susan Ee’s Penryn and the End of Days series or Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary, this book will be right up your alley. Trust me.

K Hart at longandfullemptywithwords:

The relationships between characters were incredible. (…) I could talk for hours, but this is supposed to be a short review. (…)

Do read.(…) absolutely this book did not disappoint!

The book is also featured on Kirkus’s “list of Science Fiction and Fantasy Everyone will be Talking about in April”

Pre-order now
Read Chapter One Online!

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

If you still need ideas/stuff to read at the last minute I’ve collected my recommendations here.

The short version: please consider Likhain (sample above) for your Best Fan Artist ballot, and Tade Thompson for the Campbell. And because I’ve repeatedly had the question: insofar as I can tell, the Xuya universe series is eligible in the Best Series category (meets the total wordcount and had 3 new volumes released in 2016: take your pick between “A Salvaging of Ghosts” , “A Hundred and Seventy Storms”, and “Pearl” in the excellent anthology The Starlit Wood–you can read the first two free online, or you can check out the Cheat Starter Guide to Xuya)

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

Want to play a fun game?
Leticia Lara has kindly made a Dominion of the Fallen word search puzzle–you can go look for the heads of the major Houses in the books, here. I’m offering three UK mass market paperback edition of The House of Shattered Wings if you can find them all!

(if you want to actually solve the puzzle, the one at Leticia’s blog is a widget where you can highlight text)

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

I’m delighted to be taking part in this year’s Read for Pixels’ fundraiser, which aims to fight violence against women. The fundraiser just went up, and I’m offering a Parisian Bundle, which will let you curl up with The House of Shattered Wings, good food, and a print of gorgeous artwork by Likhain, featuring Françoise and Berith, two characters from The House of Binding Thorns (a Fallen and her mortal lover). You can also get a Skype call with me if you’re so inclined. And there are plenty of goodies from the likes of Laini Taylor, Mary Robinette Kowal, Michelle Sagara…

This weekend only, author Karen Rose is matching all donations up to $4000, so now’s the time for donating if you want to!

To support the fundraiser, I’ll be taking part in Read for Pixels’ Google Hangout on Sunday March 19th, 4pm Paris Time. I’ll be reading from my forthcoming The House of Binding Thorns: ruined and decadent Paris, magical intrigues, dragons in human shape, and kissing and stabbing (not necessarily in that order :p), and taking questions about my writing.

More info here, and access details to the livestream channel here.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

Tor.com has published an excerpt of The House of Binding Thorns (chapter one, to be more specific). In which we return to the House of Hawthorn, its Fallen head Asmodeus, and to alchemist and angel essence addict Madeleine–aka “character in deep trouble” ^-^

Read Chapter One Online!

More book info here (coming your way April 2017 from Roc in the US and Gollancz in the UK/RoW!)

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

Hadn’t gotten around to this yet, but here’s the cover for The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, my Xuya novella that was a finalist for the Locus Awards in 2015.

It will be available March 28th 2017 from all major retailers (and in print through Createspace) thanks to the JABberwocky Books Programme.

Art and cover design by Maurizio Manzieri.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls was a great wonder; a perfect meld between cutting edge technology and esoteric sciences—its inhabitants capable of teleporting themselves anywhere, its weapons small and undetectable and deadly.

Thirty years ago, threatened by an invading fleet from the Dai Viet Empire, the Citadel disappeared and was never seen again.

But now the Dai Viet Empire itself is under siege, on the verge of a war against an enemy that turns their own mindships against them; and the Empress, who once gave the order to raze the Citadel, is in desperate needs of its weapons. Meanwhile, on a small isolated space station, an engineer obsessed with the past works on a machine that will send her thirty years back, to the height of the Citadel’s power.

But the Citadel’s disappearance still extends chains of grief and regrets all the way into the fraught atmosphere of the Imperial Court; and this casual summoning of the past might have world-shattering consequences…

A new book set in the award-winning, critically acclaimed Xuya universe.

More info about the book, including excerpt!

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

First reviews of The House of Binding Thorns are coming in… And Publishers’ Weekly gave it a starred review!

“Meddling gleefully in the affairs of devils and dragons, this affective sequel to 2015’s The House of Shattered Wings touches the heart as often as it cuts throats (…) Having fully crafted her world, de Bodard is now completely in control: she can move swiftly from gentle poetic touches to bloody Grand Guignol gestures, and she sure-handedly holds the reader by exposing the vulnerabilities and needs that drive even the seemingly all-powerful figures of rebel angels and ancient serpents to surrender to a higher collective power.”

Full review here.

More book info here! Coming quite soon now (sayth the author, hiding under the bed).

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

I usually put this up way sooner but this was a bit of an overwhelming year for me, for several reasons, apologies…

I feel like I should start with the usual call to action/disclaimer: if you’re eligible to vote for any of the awards (Nebulas/Hugos/etc.), then please do so, even if you felt you haven’t read enough. It’s a big field and few people can claim to have read everything that came out last year–and generally the people who recuse themselves from voting tend to be marginalised folks, which skews ballots. So please please vote?

With that in mind…

Read the rest of this entry » )

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

Just a quick note that my Xuya short story “The Shipmaker” is now reprinted at Clarkesworld. This was the first of the mindship sequence (AIs incubated in human wombs and becoming part of human families). Bit of nostalgia for this one: it won me my first major award (British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Short Fiction), and was also the first story I wrote that had actual Vietnamese characters (more accurately, Vietnamese immigrants in a Chinese-dominated society. But still).

Also, my longer Xuya novelette, “Pearl”, a retelling of Da Trang and the Pearl, is available as part of The Starlit Wood, Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe’s anthology of retold fairytales. More info here.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

Holidays

Dec. 24th, 2016 08:34 am
aliettedb: (utena)

So… going on a bit of a holiday (hahaha I wish, two young kids at home plus deadlines don’t make for a restful holiday season). Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates, and I hope everyone has a happy holiday season and a happy new year.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

Quite happy to announce that my Xuya BCS story “A Salvaging of Ghosts” is going to be reprinted in Jonathan Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (complete TOC here), and in Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy (complete TOC here courtesy of Lavie Tidhar).

It was originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies for their science fantasy issue: you can read it online here.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

I will be attending the worldcon in Helsinki, Finland. More details as I have them.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

And as promised, here’s the giveaway for one ARC of The House of Binding Thorns: ruined and decadent Paris, Fallen angels, alchemists, a dragon kingdom under invasion, and backstabbing aplenty! Open anywhere in the world–I’d of course much appreciate it if you could review the book on goodreads, for instance, (it does help the author *sheepish grin*).

I’ll close it next Thursday, and probably post some highlights of the food question as well.

Here are the promo cards:

(the HOUSE OF BINDING THORNS ones have got a random quote from the book at the back, the HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS ones come with both US and UK covers and have a pull quote)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The multi-award winning author of The House of Shattered Wings continues her Dominion of the Fallen saga as Paris endures the aftermath of a devastating arcane war…

As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, The Great Houses of Paris, ruled by fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.

House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Phillippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal—to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic may be more than he can bear.

In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater Dragon Kingdom—and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear…

As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength—or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.

For more information go here.

Pre-order now

And if you need more idea of what you’re in for, here’s the Pinterest board for the book:

Follow Aliette’s board House of Binding Thorns on Pinterest.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

The dragon has decided, being Chinese, that it wants to hoard knowledge rather than gold.
Ok, ok, not much knowledge there unless you count a dark fantasy Gothic thriller as knowledge (I’m sure you’ll learn lots of things about Paris :p).

I’ll be setting up a giveaway but that’ll have to wait until next week as the house is currently in the throes of plague (aka norovirus plus laryngitis, a combo I heartily don’t endorse).

For more info about the book, go here.

And if you’d like to pre-order:

Pre-order now
(like last time, pre-order and/or buy in the first week after release and you’ll get something–I can’t give details yet but there will definitely be a reward to make it worth your while. Pre orders help me, the author, too, because they tell the publisher that readers are enthusiastic for the book and obviously I want to keep my publisher happy!)

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

aliettedb: (utena)

Aka “arg I hadn’t realised it was so close!”. Next week I’ll be Guest of Honour at the Eurocon in Barcelona.

Here is my schedule.

For reference: I go to these cons to meet people, so unless I’m on my way to somewhere else I’m quite happy to be chatted to (and I don’t bite, promise!). Also quite happy to sign books, etc. if you have them, even if it’s not my “official” signing (which, for the record, is at Gigamesh on Saturday 18:30). Also: my Spanish is darn rusty but I’ll try my best 🙂 If you’re curious, I’ll be at Chronos on Saturday at 17:00, where we’ll be doing an interactive interview in Spanish with Silvia Schettin–“interactive” because I foresee I’ll be spending a lot of time asking vocabulary questions from the audience…

I will also have the shiny business cards above on me: The House of Binding Thorns ones have got a random quote from the book, so if you want a peek at the book, do get one (The House of Shattered Wings ones have got a choice of covers plus glowing review quotes :)).

(do bear in mind I’ll be with the librarian though, so if I look like I’m running somewhere that’ll be it. Experience has shown that I spend my cons running from one place to another, and con + baby is a killer combo in that regard…)

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

Profile

aliettedb: (Default)
aliettedb

April 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
234 5 678
9 10 1112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 23rd, 2017 01:43 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios