. . . or those who didn’t hear me announce it there:
I have a new book deal.
Three books for certain; the series may run as long as five; title of either the first book or the entire series — haven’t decided yet which one — is A Natural History of Dragons. They are the memoirs of Isabella Trent, Scirland’s foremost lady adventurer and dragon naturalist, and cover her illustrious career traveling the world to study dragons (and getting into large amounts of trouble along the way).
As you might guess from the “Scirland” bit, this is a secondary-world fantasy, albeit one based on the real-world nineteenth century. Hallelujah, I get to make stuff up. There will still be research, of course — there is always research — but it will be of a more compost-y sort; I’ll read stuff, get the flavor in my head, and then make up something in an appropriate vein. You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to that part.
I came up with the idea for this series just before the first round of Novel in 90, several years ago, and it should tell you something that I wrote about thirty thousand words of it in a rather short space of time, before stalling out on account of not having figured out my metaplot. In the interim, I’ve made progress on that problem, and am very eager to get back to the story. The narrative voice is just a delight to play with. In celebration of the deal, here’s an excerpt, from the foreword to the first volume of Isabella’s memoirs:
Not a day goes by that the post does not bring me at least one letter from a young person (or sometimes one not so young) who wishes to follow in my footsteps and become a dragon naturalist. Nowadays, of course, the field is quite respectable, with university courses and intellectual societies putting out fat volumes titled Proceedings of some meeting or other. Those interested in respectable things, however, attend my lectures. The ones who write to me invariably want to hear about my adventures: my escape from captivity in the swamps of Mouleen, or my role in the great Battle of Keonga, or (most frequently) my flight to the inhospitable heights of the Mrtyahaima peaks, the only place on earth where the secrets of the ancient world could be unlocked.
Even the most dedicated of letter-writers could not hope to answer all these queries personally. I have therefore accepted the offer from Messrs. Carrigdon & Rudge to publish a series of memoirs, chronicling the more interesting portions of my life. By and large these shall focus on those expeditions which led to the discovery for which I have become so famous, but there shall also be occasional digressions into matters more entertaining, personal, or even (yes) salacious. One benefit of being an old woman now, and moreover one who has been called a “national treasure,” is that there are very few who can tell me what I may and may not write.
Beyond this point, therefore, lie foetid swamps, society gossip, disfiguring diseases, familial conflicts, hostile foreigners, and a plenitude of mud. You, dear reader, continue on at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart — no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments — even at the risk of one’s life — is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. If my humble words convey even a fraction of that wonder, I will rest content.
Expect much babbling over the next few months about Darwin and Stanley and Isabella Bird, who actually wasn’t the source of my protagonist’s name, but it’s a nice coincidence nonetheless.