Tomorrow kicks off my American Grand Tour! After visiting some friends in New England, I’ll be making my way back to Boston for Boskone 54! I’ve never been to Boskone – and I’ve only briefly been in Boston – so I’m very excited! It’ll be a busy weekend, for sure – here is my schedule!
2:00-3:00, Steam’s Rising: A Proliferation of Punks
- Featuring: James Moore, Me (Moderating), Victoria Sandbrook, Melanie Meadors
5:00-6:00, Nonlinear Narratives
- Featuring: Me, Max Gladstone, Charles Stross, Michael Swanwick, Sarah Smith
6:00-7:00, The Fantasy Writer’s Guide to Beer
- Featuring: Me, Myself, and I.
12:00-1:00, The Inconveniences of Victorian Dress
- Featuring: Me and the Audience! (This is an open discussion – like a museum theatre talkback, wherein I have points I want to hit, but it’s a dialogue rather than me monologuing forever.)
(I haven’t 100% made up my mind what I’ll be reading, but I’m leaning towards “The Love it Bears Fair Maidens.” Or maybe “Wendigo.” I shall ponder. )
- Featuring: Me.
10:00-11:00, When is it a Gimmick?
- Featuring: Me (Moderating), LJ Cohen, John Chu, JM McDermott, Brendan DuBois
12:00-1:00, Science Fiction on the Stage
- Featuring: Jeanne Beckwith, James Patrick Kelly, F. Brett Cox, Gillian Daniels, Me.
1:00-2:00, Shelley and Austin
- Featuring: Theodora Goss, Me (Moderating), EJ Stevens, F. Brett Cox
And then I dash to the airport for a twelve-hour turnaround in Toronto before Blythe and I head straight back down to Virginia. Whee!
If you’re around the con, come say hi!
What I’m Listening to This Week
Oh man. I found this “The Road Home” this week. It’s got that gentle lilt I associate with American hymns – especially those from the south. Understated, but surprisingly emotional.
There were a lot of things we could’ve talked about today. Last week, I had multiple friends suffer loss, which got me thinking again about the nature of grief and the transient randomness of life. Last week, my story “Her Hands Like Ice” appeared in Bracken Magazine, and it might have been interesting to trace its development: from a winter’s observation to published story. Last week, more terrifying things happened in the United States, which renewed my will to resist. Last week, I continued wrestling with difficult, painful thinking about Canada’s 150th anniversary—what, precisely, are we celebrating?
Plus, I’m working through one of my biannual freakouts. I get one around October and one around February: like clockwork, every year. (Here is last February’s.) I’m fairly certain it’s linked to a mild seasonal disorder, which is comforting when I’m convinced that I’m a talentless hack with no future – it’s not Real, it’s linked to the light.
So yeah. A lot going on.
In the end, though, I think this is what I’d like to discuss.
Last week, I read Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing: the Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life. It’s part memoir, part hymn to writing and art. It’s a short book; funny and poignant by turns. But in one chapter—no, they’re more vignettes, really—in one vignette, she talks about work as being like meditation. The trick to both is this: you must notice when your mind has scampered off like a caffeinated squirrel, and bring it back to centre.
Nothing more, nothing less. Simply coming back to that point of stillness, again and again and again.
In a funny way, it makes me think of canoeing. Dipping your paddle into the water again and again. Developing a rhythm. And if you stop—distracted by mosquitoes, maybe—or alarmed by storm clouds—you simply breathe. Readjust your grip. Begin again.
You do get to a point of stillness, canoeing. (Actually, I’ve got a lot more experience kayaking, but I think the principle’s the same.) The rhythm itself becomes a lifeline. How to you get across the lake? Stroke by stroke. Nothing more, nothing less.All of which to say: I don’t know what lies upstream. There is a lot going on. But I know that I can put my paddle to the water. Again. And again.
What I’m Listening To This Week
I got onto a musical kick this week, listening to Wicked and Moulin Rouge! for the first time in ages. “Come What May” has been on repeat – Moulin Rouge! is one of my very favourite movies. It’s wonderfully opulent, unabashedly sentimental, and utterly romantic: jewel-toned, like a Pre-Raphaelite painting.
It’s so over the top. It works so well.
Like approximately three million people worldwide, I participated in the Women’s March this past Saturday. The Toronto march began on the steps of the Ontario Legislature: signs in hands, pink pussyhats on heads, and chants ringing out into the January air.“Tell me what diversity looks like?”
“THIS IS WHAT DIVERSITY LOOKS LIKE!”
“Tell me what equality looks like?”
“THIS IS WHAT EQUALITY LOOKS LIKE!”
Thinking about it, though, there’s one more I would have added:
“THIS IS WHAT OUR BRAVERY LOOKS LIKE!”
Speaking up and out is a very brave thing to do. Saying, “No,” is brave. Choosing to love is brave. It made me think, once again, of my favourite book: Not Wanted on the Voyage, by Timothy Findley.
Not Wanted on the Voyage is a magic realist retelling of Noah’s Ark that gives a sharp critique to patriarchy and voices to the voiceless. In one scene, Mrs. Noyes (Noah’s wife) comforts bears during a storm on the ark, despite her terror of/anger towards them. Later, she muses:
“Cruelty was fear in disguise and nothing more…[and wasn’t] fear itself nothing more a failure of the imagination? That was why Mrs. Noyes had been afraid of bears. She had not been able to imagine consoling them.”
-Timothy Findley, Not Wanted on the Voyage.
When I look at Noah in Not Wanted, when I look at Trump, at the people railing against immigrants, the LGBTQIA+ community, minorities, Indigenous populations, women…I see a similar streak of fear. Look at their eyes. Listen to their tone of voice. You see it too, don’t you? These awful, cruel, immoral people—they’re all so scared.
Being scared is fine. Let’s be quite clear about that. But fear comes with a choice. You can act in spite of fear. You can love. Or you can let fear decay into hatred and cruelty. You see, being brave isn’t something you are. Being brave is something you choose: over and over and over.
It’s a hard choice to make, of course. Choosing bravery is exhausting. When you’re brave, you confront that fear: whether yours, or someone else’s. In choosing bravery, you imagine another way.
But that is the choice that three million people made this past weekend. It’s the choice that many millions more make in their own spaces. We’ll have to remake and recommit to it even more in the near future.
And yes, bravery is a choice that I will make in my fiction. If fear is a failure of the imagination—then let there be new stories to challenge it. Rewrite the characters and change the ending. Undermine the dominant narrative.
Bring people to a place where they can imagine consoling bears.
What I’m Listening to This Week
Puccini’s “Crisantemi” (Chrysanthemums) is a devastating little elegy for strings. I love the constant tension between fragile delicacy and driving momentum. It’s a restless, unsettled piece. Apt, since Puccini composed it for the death of the Duke of Savoy (chrysanthemums are a symbol of death in Italy). In places, it almost makes one think of rain – perhaps a brooding, ruminative walk through evening drizzle.
I was reading Eliot recently, as I’m wont to do:
In a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends,
(For indeed I do not love it…you knew? you are not blind! How keen you are!)
“Portrait of a Lady,” T.S. Eliot
Listen to that: “A life composed so much…of odds and ends.” Eliot’s Lady isn’t keen on the idea: modernist life is fragmented, a jumble of meaningless scraps. And yet, and yet…
A longstanding joke in my garret is that the kitchen is outfitted almost entirely by the church rummage sale and my grandmother, who does pottery. I’m typing this paragraph while wearing fingerless gloves knit by author Leah Petersen. The book from which I quoted Eliot comes from Shakespeare and Company, in Paris. The whiteboard behind my monitor was left by the garret’s former tenant.
So much, so much of odds and ends.
On a more philosophical level, I write fantasy: mostly fairy-tale-rooted, dark fantasy. But I also work in museum theatre, teaching history through drama. I have a soft spot for both the Pre-Raphaelites and composers like Byrd and Tallis. I read T.S. Eliot and then I play Pokémon.
Odds and ends have a history, known or not. They have an experience stamped on them already. Plus, the thing with odds and ends is that you have to figure out how to make them work for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all, standard IKEA approach. Only the materials you’ve somehow accumulated along the way, and shaped into something that hangs together: whole and uniquely yours. It’s the life of a bricoleur.
That said…sometimes, especially in the winter, I walk in the evening and peer at all the houses and feverishly covet them. A grown-up house, with matching plates and coordinated colours; an annual salary; a well-behaved cat; a spouse, and 1.7 children. The usual narrative, more or less.
And then I remember—that’s not what I want. Not really.“I’m pretty sure I won’t have a conventional-looking life,” I told my mother.
“Well,” she said, “there’s no better time to have an unconventional one.”
Odds and ends. Sometimes harder, but still whole and uniquely mine.
What I’m Listening to this Week
Ha, my musical tastes are certainly a collection of “Odds and Ends.” This week brings us Franz Schubert’s “Erlköning.” That’s right, it’s the Erl-King: this lieder is based on Goethe’s poem of the same name. For those who haven’t read it: father and son ride through the forest at night; son is being lured by a supernatural being invisible to the father; by the time they reach home, the son is dead.
It’s a cool piece – not only because you can hear the Erl-King’s fingers flexing and the horse galloping – but because it requires a fair bit of acting from the singer. We’ve got the steadfast Father (first at 0:56), the terrified Son (1:00) and the creepy, creepy Erl-King (1:29). Listen also to the last two chords: it’s all so Gothic!
Last week, I had a dream—one of those dreams that makes you wonder if sometimes we really don’t just leave our bodies for a bit and go walking on another plane.
In the dream, I was in a train station. It’s one I’ve visited in dreams before: the station a little way out of town, but still pretty close to the big junction. (My dream-geographies are remarkably consistent.) A writer whom I deeply respect and admire was hanging out too, waiting for the train. After some chit-chat, I said:
“Everyone else taught me how to write. You taught me how to be an artist.”
All the next day, the dream stayed with me, seeping into the sunlight as only certain dreams do.
Everyone else taught me how to write. You taught me how to be an artist.
Every so often, the sleeping brain figures things out. Craft and art: slightly different aspects of the creative self, aren’t they? Here then, is my theory. Just like we all have public, private, and innermost selves, I think that writer types are three selves as well: writer, author, and artist.
To my mind, the writer is the craftsperson. The Writer-Me is the one who managed to get Hapax published—clean, solid, functional prose and a well-crafted story. She’s the one who beat her head against POV for months until it finally clicked. She’s the one whose voice broke—from clean, solid, functional prose to a distinctive sharpness and lyricism.
The Writer-Self dissects other people’s books like kids taking apart radios to see how they work. She delights in seeing exactly how a plot twist or character arc was constructed. She tries to articulate why some stories just don’t do it for her.
She’s writing presently—she preferred writing presently to writing right now, because of the homophone in the line—but she’s sharing the job with someone else.
I draw a distinction between writer and author. If you like, you can picture a parallel between author/writer and public/private.
So the Author-Self handles the social media, and she’s the one who does readings and sits on panels. She’s aware of how she presents: she’s the most outgoing version of myself, and she tries very hard to be gracious and polite, even when she’s exhausted, because that’s just good manners.But more than that—it’s the Author-Self who does the business side. She maintains the submissions spreadsheet: which stories are with which markets, when they were sent, and their current status. She reads contracts and records earnings. She’s the one who learned to podcast, and create e-book files, and edit video, and lead workshops, and customize a blog, because those are all important authorial skills.
But there’s one more…
ArtistThe hardest one to get a handle on. The Artist is the one who makes stories sing. She’s the one that gives warmth and life to the skeleton so carefully wrought by the Writer. She’s the one who has to create, needs to create. She’s very probably the one who had the dream in the train station.
But the Artist isn’t just a self, it’s a way of life. It’s a way of seeing and breathing and being. And so the Artist is the one who wanders galleries and gets drunk on light and colour. Certain pieces of music make her cry, or gasp, or conceive a creepy, creepy play.
It’s the Artist who pays attention to the small things: apple blossoms and held-back tears. It’s the Artist who rises to the big things: love, and injustices, and fear. She looks to the Other and tries to understand.
She believes in fairy tales.
She wants to make her own.
But the thing is…
They’re not wholly separate, these aspects of ourselves that make up a creative self. They’re interdependent; they need each other. So I guess, as with so many things, it comes down to balance: the harmony of many parts moving as one.
Because really, they are one.
Now rock on with your bad selves! 😉
What I’m Listening to This Week
A cheerful little madrigal by John Bennett. Actually, it’s not cheerful at all; it’s about wanting to cry so much you drown in your own tears. As one does, I suppose.
But it is very beautiful; there are some wonderful chords in there, particularly around the “springtides” section. I also love when the upper and lower voices start dialoguing with each other, before returning to a four-way conversation.
Welcome to 2017, everyone. The year’s unfolding like a blank sheet of paper: no creases or smudges yet. As per my own tradition, I’ve written out my creative goals in Sharpie and tacked them above my desk. There, they’ll serve as a north star for the year: something around which to orient myself.
But I don’t really want to talk about my creative resolutions. They’re there: novels and scripts and short stories, oh my! I’ll do them. You’ll see them unfold over the next twelve months.
No, I want to talk about a question posed to me by a friend: “Do you have any personal resolutions?” I hemmed and hawed and eventually said no, not really, but the question stuck with me. I mean, I’m generally quite happy. My friends are awesome. I love living in my little garret. I have a weird-but-charming cat.I’m still working on getting my French back up to snuff. Does that count?
Then I thought vaguely that I might like to attend to my diet better. Whilst I’m in good health, it occurs to me that my family’s track record for stroke and heart disease is not super fantastic, and it might be better to bolster my defences now.
But then I thought, “No, I have a better one.”
I want to be more like Carrie Fisher.
Of all the celebrity deaths in 2016, Carrie Fisher was the one that shook me. Maybe because it was so unexpected. Maybe because she was young. Maybe because it was cardiac arrest. Or maybe because I’ve really only appreciated her in the last few years.
See, I didn’t grow up with Star Wars. Leia was not my first princess, not my childhood heroine. Instead, I got hit with the prequels. They left me terribly unimpressed, and I didn’t find my way to the original trilogy until university.
And then—well, then, of course I fell in love with Princess Leia. How can you not? She’s the one with the caustic humour; she fires the guns; she is strong and brave and good.But all that aside—it’s a mix of General Organa and Fisher herself that impresses me most. Tough. Resilient. Still delivering caustic humour (my God, that wit!). Sure of herself and who she is. It was really only when she did the media rounds for The Force Awakens that I saw that side of her—tough as nails, smart as a whip, and a heart of gold. Of course, of course she was human. I’ll pass on following all her examples. But dammit, she was a good human.
Did you know that she was a talented script doctor? I didn’t until earlier this year. It didn’t surprise me much.
And you know about her mental health advocacy, right?
And the books? Fiction and non-fiction?For so many children, Princess Leia showed that girls can shoot just as well as boys, that you can be tough and tender, and that heroines get shit done. For me, I nurtured a gradually growing admiration for Ms. Fisher: for her honesty, her talent, the way she carried herself. Until suddenly, she was gone. It still doesn’t feel real. There’s always a certain bafflement, isn’t there? How does someone so loved, so vibrant, just go out like a snuffed candle?
Except the lessons and the example and the admiration remain. While I’m cautiously hopeful for 2017, I know that we’re going to need a lot more heroes and heroines. We’re going to need a lot of tough, tender people who get shit done. We all need to be tough as nails, smart as whips, our hearts of gold beating together.
So that’s what I’m thinking about as 2017 opens. I know I can write stuff and produce stuff and keep to goals and timetables. That’s great—but in this brave new world, it’s no longer enough.
May the Force be with you.
What I’m Listening To This Week
For no particular reason, this Mendelssohn piece came floating through my head. It is absurdly catchy—especially the alto line—so once it struck, it stuck.
Listen to the alto and soprano lines twisting around each other like ribbons—they’ll run in counter directions for a bit, join back together, support each other…it’s really quite wonderful.
Just a short piece today. I’m very tired, you see. I’ve been sick—sicker than I’ve been in a while—with infection from nose to chest and a terrifying voice loss. Plus, it’s the end of the museum season. For the next four months, I’m a full-time writer…but for the moment, that last, desperate push to the end has left me spent.
So how are you?
I’ve been thinking: this is a good time to be tired, this suspended period between Christmas and New Year’s. The year is done, but not quite begun. This is a time out of time, grey winter days sliding past, still punctuated with coloured lights and the scent of pine and gingerbread.
Very soon, I’ll pull out some scrap paper and my whiteboards. I’ll sort out exactly how I’m spending the off-season, and then, the shape of the year beyond. But for now…
For now, I am very tired. In a few hours, I’ll fly to Virginia, where I intend to spend some time stuffing myself with BBQ, beer, and love. I’ll bring my play down so I can do some rewriting if the urge strikes, but we’ll see how it goes.
And don’t get me wrong: I’m happy. But 2017 will be a big year, and it’s the holidays: a time to slow down, to be with people you love, and just breathe. However and whatever you celebrate, I hope these days bring you warmth and joy. It’s the year’s waning days: spend them being good to yourself.
See you on the other side!
What I’m Listening to This Week
It was just Christmas yesterday, so it was a week of Christmas music. Since it’s me, half of it was in Latin. I’m also particularly fond of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” My favourite version of this actually hails from a musical adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby, but I can’t find it online. Here’s another excellent recording.
And it’s tidings of comfort and joy…
Welcome back! Last week, we looked at some great fiction from a talented bunch of authors. This week, our year-in-review continues with Things I Did In 2016.
Every year on New Year’s Day, I sit down with a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper and a Sharpie, and I write down my creative goals for the year. I ask myself, “When we get to December 31st, what do I want to have accomplished?”
Here was my list for 2016:
Let’s go through these one by one.
Write first draft of Sing to the Bones
I did that in February. It was insane. In hindsight, I have mixed feelings about writing a novel that quickly, but I’m also not sure that I could do it any other way.
This was a novel that I had to let sit for a while (I also had to go to Ireland to really get it right in my head). I spent October editing it to a second draft, and sent it to readers again. I’m waiting on a few last notes to come back, and I intend to start agent-hunting in the New Year.Finish scripts for Pod-Con
Man, we didn’t even touch this. For those newcomers, this is a podcasted musical that Lauren Harris and I wanted to write. However, I’m moving away from audio fiction, so I’m not sure this is still in the cards. Honestly, I’d mentally removed it from the list.
Produce Folklore somehow
Folklore was an early code-name for Six Stories, Told at Night. Making this list in January, I knew grant decisions wouldn’t go out until March. I figured if I didn’t get the money, I’d throw it up on Audible or something. But as it happened, the Ontario Arts Council did give us the grant, and so this one-woman audio drama rolled out exactly as hoped…although the response was even warmer than I’d dared dream!Write a play: Southern Ontario Gothic
That was November! It was slightly less insane than writing Sing to the Bones. This will get edited around the New Year, and hopefully I can haul some actors in to read it in late January/early February.
Write and submit short stories to pro markets
Really, I wanted to put, “Sell a short story to a pro market,” but I can’t control whether my stories get bought, so I didn’t. But that was the real goal, deep in my heart of hearts.
And I did sell stories to pro markets! “La Corriveau” sold to Strange Horizons and “The Love it Bears Fair Maidens” just came out at Apex. “Wendigo” also won the Toronto Star Short Story Contest, which I will count as publication (hey, most government arts councils do).Outline TEGG novels
I did that! Sort of. Enough that I can knock off the first novel of the trilogy in summer 2017.
So…I achieved my creative goals. But as is my wont, I felt like I could’ve done more, like I could’ve tried harder. Then I realized that I did more than what I’d put on the list. Looking at the year in its entirety, this is What I Did In 2016:Got my Masters’ degree
Wrote the first draft of a novel
Edited three manuscripts for other people
Wrote eight short stories
Wrote the first draft of a full-length play
Wrote two pantomimes for the museum dayjob
Wrote, produced, and released a s***-tonne of videos for the museum dayjob
Got an Ontario Arts Council grant to produce Six Stories, Told at Night
Produced and released Six Stories, Told at Night
Produced and released the Heartstealer audiobook
“Don’t Read This Story” came out at Daily Science Fiction
Sold “La Corriveau” to Strange Horizons
Sold “The Love it Bears Fair Maidens” to Apex
Won the Toronto Star Short Story Contest with “Wendigo”
Wrote/currently producing “On Thin Ice” for the final season of Tales From the Archives
Edited the first draft of a novel into the second draft
Was a guest at Can*Con
Became an Active Member in SFWA
Sold one more story, details to come.
…so do I still feel like I could have done more?Absolutely. Much like Alexander Hamilton, I will never be satisfied. On the one hand, I think that’s a good thing. Hunger goes a long way in this business. On the other hand, that perpetual ache is something I’m going to have to learn to live with.
But while I might not be completely satisfied, I am pleased. Very pleased. See, in 2015 one of my Stonecoast mentors told me that I was on the cusp, to be patient, and to just keep working as hard as I could. Some big breaks came my way in 2016. I don’t think I’ve tipped over the cusp yet, but I feel a lot closer, and I’m excited to see what 2017 brings!
What I’m Listening to this Week
Y’all know I’m honest with this segment. Last week I saw my colleague Devon Hubka’s one-woman show Everything I Need. It was a delightful exploration of her love of theatre and pursuit of acting. This song recurred as a motif throughout:
Not only is it ridiculously catchy, the lyrics speak to me, particularly in light of this week’s post. No room for doubt—just shut up and dance.
We’re getting into the last weeks of 2016, which means it’s time for year-in-review posts! Next week, we’ll get into What I Did in 2016. This week, I want to talk about what Other People Have Done. So, here are some things I Read and Loved in 2016. (I did read and love much more than this, but alas, I cannot fit them all.) Not all were published in 2016, but that’s okay. In no particular order:
The name “Alex White” should be familiar. He wrote the theme music for Six Stories, Told at Night! Alex is a ridiculously talented Renaissance Man, and I was excited to crack into his debut novel.
Ghosts have always been cruel to Loxley Fiddleback, especially the spirit of her only friend, alive only hours before. Loxley isn’t equipped to solve a murder: she lives near the bottom of a cutthroat, strip-mined metropolis known as “The Hole,” suffers from crippling anxiety and doesn’t cotton to strangers. Worse still, she’s haunted.
It’s an evocative world, but for me, the novel’s greatest strength is its protagonist: Loxley. She’s neuro-atypical, difficult, flawed—and oh, so very real. Plus, there is a veritable arsenal of Chekhov’s guns, which pleases me.
At Can*Con this year, I was asked, “Have you read any Elizabeth Hand? I think you’d like her.”
“Oh!” I replied. “I love Liz!”
And I do—as former student and reader. I read the back cover copy of Mortal Love at my graduating residency and had to have it:
In the Victorian Age, a mysterious and irresistible woman becomes entwined in the lives of several artists, both as a muse and as the object of all-consuming obsession.
Liz writes everything from sci-fi to noir thrillers. The books I’ve read are beautifully-wrought, vibrantly-coloured fever dreams. Completely entrancing, even as the colours keep shifting, shifting….
This was a “Sure, I’ll try it!” find from the library:
Nevada, 1869. Golgotha is a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the darkness stirring in the abandoned mine overlooking the town…
1860s setting aside, I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did. It’s not so much a single, linear plot as immersion into a world. Nor is it a single genre: Weird West, epic fantasy, and Lovecraftian horror all come together. Some reviewers aren’t convinced of the execution; I think it worked, but you have to play by the novel’s terms, rather than your own expectations.
Another library book: “I like Peter S. Beagle, so I will probably like this!”
Jennifer Gluckstein moves with her mother to a 300-year-old farm in Dorset, England, to live with her new stepfather and stepbrothers, Julian and Tony. Initially lonely, Jenny befriends Tamsin Willoughby, the ghost of the original farm’s owner’s daughter.
Peter S. Beagle writes beautiful fiction, okay? Beautiful, unassuming fiction that wallops you with emotion. While I loved the way history exerts its inexorable power over the plot, I adored the nuanced relationship between Jenny and Tamsin. But then, I am a sucker for strong friendships and (pseudo-) sibling relationships in my fiction.
I bought this the day it was released. Howard has a discomforting ability to punch my very specific emotional buttons. And we seem to have very similar tastes and interests. And styles. And we were clearly both taught by James Patrick Kelly. And it’s a little uncanny, actually. Anyway—
Imogen and her sister Marin escape their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, whether it be art or love.
Sibling angst? Check. Musing on art and artistic obsession? Check. Faerie? Check.
Goddammit, Kat Howard. There’s a little unevenness here and there, but I loved this, finishing in a tearstained rush on the bus.
Marie’s a pal of mine from my Dragon Moon days – I was stoked to pick this up at Can*Con. It’s a French translation of her novel Destiny’s Blood.
Layela et Yoma Delamores – des jumelles – ont passé la majeure partie de leur vie dans la rue, survivant grâce à de multiples petits larcins. Maintenant dans la vingtaine, Layela a convaincu sa sœur de se ranger : avec l’argent amassé, il est temps d’ouvrir un commerce. Mais quelques jours après l’inauguration de leur boutique de fleuristes, Yoma disparaît…
(Tl;dr: Epic space opera: twins try to open a flower shop after a life of petty crime, but then one disappears…)
My French is okay. I can make myself understood (clumsily), and I mostly understand when I’m listening/reading. About 1/3 of the way through this novel, I felt like I stopped translating in my head and just started reading. As is typical for Marie’s work, this is both surreally funny and bitterly dark. I was shipping two characters pretty hard, but I think my hope arose mostly from my spotty FSL skills.
Bonus Short Story: “Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland,” by Sarah Monette.
Found in a collection of shorts from Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. I’m sensing a theme with what I like: Victorian things, Faerie, and unconventional relationships. This story has all three in spades, and the emotional undercurrent nearly melted even my icy heart.
So that’s my 2016, reading-wise. What about you? What did you read and love?
What I’m Listening to this Week
Christmas music! John Gardner’s arrangement of “Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day” is delightful! It really does need to move quickly: the sprightly organ is perfect. Especially when the descant hits in the last verse: it sounds like we’re about to dance off the rails, but then we don’t.