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Posts Tagged ‘itlod’

Soundtracks on Spotify!

Last weekend @hannah_scarbs asked on Twitter whether I had the soundtracks to my novels on Spotify. To which the answer was no — but now it’s yes, because that made me realize that putting them up there is an eminently sensible idea. Of course not everything is available on that service (in particular, all of the Battlestar Galactica scores are absent, and I’ve drawn heavily on those over the years), but the vast majority were there! So if you want to know what my soundtracks sound like, now you can give ’em a listen. And if you want to know what each track maps to, I’ve also linked to that information for each book.

The Complete Memoirs of Lady Trent now available as an ebook omnibus!

If you’d like to own the entire (Hugo-nominated!) Memoirs of Lady Trent series in ebook, now it’s easier than ever to do! Just head on over to Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes, Kobo, or Amazon and pick up The Complete Memoirs of Lady Trent, an ebook omnibus of all five titles.

To head off two questions people are likely to ask: no, this isn’t available in the UK, because it’s something my US publisher decided to do, and at the moment it is ebook only. We may have a print omnibus eventually, but among other things it faces the inconvenient problem of how to group the books: you can’t bind all five of them together very easily, so does Voyage of the Basilisk (which also happens to be the longest book) go in the first half or the second? Ebooks do not pose these problems, so an ebook omnibus it is, at least for now.

Hugo FAQ

People have been asking various questions about the Memoirs and the Hugo Awards, so here’s a quick set of answers to share around (so I don’t have to type them over and over again — which, I just recalled, is Isabella’s in-story reason for writing her memoirs, so this is rather meta):

1) Is the series complete?

Yes! The book I’m writing right now is a related sequel, but it concerns Isabella’s grand-daughter Audrey; the Memoirs of Lady Trent themselves are finished. There are five books: A Natural History of Dragons, The Tropic of Serpents, Voyage of the Basilisk, In the Labyrinth of Drakes, and Within the Sanctuary of Wings. There is also a short story, “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review.”

2) I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to read everything. Where should I start with the Memoirs?

If you need a quick taster, “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review” is probably the easiest way to get that. It’s somewhat different from the Memoirs, being told in the form of letters rather than, y’know, a memoir — but it will give you a decent sense of Isabella’s personality and some of the series’ core concerns, in only 2100 words, and you can read it for free on or get it in ebook. It takes place between the third and fourth book, but neither contains any significant spoilers nor requires you to have read the series to understand it.

Where the novels themselves are concerned, well, the traditional place to start is at the beginning. 🙂 But the challenge of the Best Series Hugo, of course, is that it isn’t the Best First Book of a Series Hugo. A Natural History of Dragons is a fine introduction, but if you’re pressed for time and want to jump in deeper, I recommend either The Tropic of Serpents or Voyage of the Basilisk. (Labyrinth and Sanctuary are distinctly dependent on the preceding books for their full effect.) I think Voyage does the best job of being both comprehensible on its own and a showcase for many of the series’ aesthetic and thematic concerns, but it also does so in the context of a story that’s a little more decentralized, because (as the title suggests) it’s Isabella’s Darwin-esque trip around the world. If you’d rather a more focused milieu, Tropic is the one to look at.

3) How does one go about voting for the Hugos?

The Hugo Awards are bestowed by the membership of the World Science Fiction Convention, so if you want to vote, become a member! A supporting membership gets you the right to vote on the 2018 award, the right to nominate for the 2019 award, and (in all likelihood) access to the Hugo Voter Packet, which assembles ebook copies of as many of the nominated works as publishers are willing to provide — usually quite a lot of them. An attending membership gets you all that and access to the convention itself, which will be August 16th-20th in San Jose, California.

The Memoirs of Lady Trent are up for a Hugo!

Fortunately the Hugo people are kind; they don’t make you sit for very long on the news that you’ve been nominated. 😀

That’s right, ladies and gentlebeings: the Memoirs of Lady Trent have made the Hugo Award ballot for Best Series! (This was announced on Saturday, but I didn’t post about it here because I was incredibly busy that day, and then Sunday was, y’know, April Fool’s. Not a good day to announce real and major news.) And of course here we say the usual modest things about being so pleased and excited, but —

— look, can you keep a secret? Just between us.

I am beside myself over this. Because while I am proud of all the individual books, it is as a series that I think they truly shine. I did everything I hoped to with them and more — because while I planned a lot of things about the character arc and the exploration of the world and the discoveries Isabella would make along the way, the story also sprouted all kinds of thematic depth, above and beyond what I intended to include. I wound up saying things about women, and science, and women in science, motherhood, social class, romance, grief, being an outsider in a foreign land, the price of technological development, and and and. What I originally thought of as just kind of some fun pulpy adventure about studying dragons instead of killing them and taking their stuff — well, it’s still that, but it grew so much richer along the way.

And now it’s nominated for a Hugo.

I owe thanks to everybody who helped make this series what it is: Paul Stevens, the editor for the first three books, and Miriam Weinberg, the editor for the last two (herself nominated for Best Editor – Long Form!); Rachel Vater, who suggested I make Isabella an artist, and Eddie Schneider, who has championed these books the whole way through, and all my foreign agents who have brought them into French and German and Polish and Russian and Romanian; Todd Lockwood, whose art helped inspire the series and has graced its covers and interior pages throughout; Alyc Helms, who helped bail me out of plot tangles on all five of these books and more besides; and all the women, past, present, and future, whose determination and ingenuity and intelligence inspired the character of Lady Trent. Every year when I invite people to send her letters, I get missives from women working in various scientific fields, telling me about their dreams and their discoveries, and every year I have to sniffle back tears because the ink I use for Lady Trent’s replies isn’t waterproof.

It has been an honor and a privilege. And now, as the saying goes: before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. I’ve been nominated for a Hugo; now it’s time to go back to what I was doing before that happened, which is polishing up the tale of Isabella’s granddaughter and carrying it through to the end.

I have run out of clever names for the latest iteration of the Month of Letters

Last year I titled this post “Return of the Revenge of the Bride of the Son of the Month of Letters, Pt. Whatever: Quantum Boogaloo,” which pretty much uses up all the clever sequel references I could make. Maybe call this one: “Month of Letters: Letter Harder”?

Anyway! The point is that I am doing the Month of Letters again!

Years ago, Mary Robinette Kowal declared February to be the Month of Letters: a time to send actual letters through the actual mail, like, with paper and stuff. As part of this, she invited readers to correspond with Jane, the protagonist of her Glamourist Histories — and, inspired by her example, I did the same with Lady Trent.

So this is your annual heads-up that February will be your opportunity to write a letter to Lady Trent and receive a reply, in my very best cursive, written with a dip pen, and closed with a wax dragon seal. I’ve gotten some incredible letters in the past — some of them very funny, some of them deeply moving — along with more casual notes. If you’d like to participate, all you have to do is send some kind of handwritten missive to:

Marie Brennan
P.O. Box 88
San Mateo, CA 94401

Make sure to include your return address! I will reply as quickly as I can, workload and pile of correspondence permitting. I’ll answer anything postmarked within the month of February, though it may take me until March to deal with the last few, depending on how many I get and when they arrive.

Because I’m writing a sequel to the Memoirs, this will probably not be the last year I do this. The book won’t be out until after next February (I’m still writing it), so you’ll get another Month of Letters next year, and then possibly one the year after that, giving you a chance to write to Audrey, Isabella’s granddaughter. So enjoy them while they last!

an authorial self-indulgence

Back in July, I got an email from a reader in Sweden named Gillis Björk, saying they’d loved the Memoirs of Lady Trent so much, they were inspired to make a carved wooden slipcase for the series, and would I like to see pictures/a video of the crafting process.


In fact, having seen the slipcase . . . I sent Gillis an email, asking how much they would charge to make one for me.

Because seriously, the Memoirs are so damn pretty, with Todd Lockwood’s cover art and the three-piece cases and the deckled edges and so forth. Didn’t they deserve a good house to live in? It was a total self-indulgence, but I thought, hey, if Gillis was willing . . .

Behold the result! (Turn up the volume to hear the narration — it’s quite faint.)

It is even prettier than the original. We went for oak instead of beech, and Gillis got a lot more detailed with the carving of the dragons and so forth. At the end of the video you can see the slipcase on my shelf, with the books inside! And if you want to watch the making of the original version, that’s here:

Complete with accidentally-decapitated dragon and guidelines for avoiding spontaneous combustion. 🙂 These videos make for a fascinating watch if you enjoy seeing crafters do their thing; since I know bugger-all about woodworking and carpentry, they were hugely educational to me. And my endless thanks to Gillis for the lovely result!

Broadening My Horizons

If you’re in the Bay Area, don’t forget: I’m reading at Borderlands Books tomorrow, at 3 p.m.! (On Independent Bookstore Day, no less.) And I will have some very special news to announce . . .


I think one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about writing the Memoirs of Lady Trent is the way it gave me a reason to shore up some of the gaps in my knowledge.

Take African history for example. If all you had to go on was my high school education, you’d think that it consisted of human evolution, Egypt, and the slave trade, with nothing in between. (Nothing after, either, but that wasn’t a regional bias; my history classes bogged down on the Civil War and Reconstruction, so that the twentieth century is as the void to me.) I had the vague osmotic sense that there had been a place called Songhay, and that was it.

I could have fixed that at any time. But I’m much more likely to pursue reading about a topic when I have an immediate use for it — something beyond “man, I really ought to know more about X.” It’s pretty well-documented that we learn things better in context, rather than in isolation, and a writing project gives me context. A globe-trotting protagonist was therefore ideal, because she dragged my thoughts in all kinds of new directions, laying the foundation for future exploration. (Solaike in the upcoming Lightning in the Blood draws a lot of its social structure from Dahomey; that probably wouldn’t have happened without The Tropic of Serpents first.)

Islam is another good example. In college I took classes on early Christianity (which also means you wind up learning a decent bit about Judaism) and Hinduism, and some of my Japanese history classes touched on Buddhism and to a lesser extent Shinto, but Islam? Terra incognita for me. Sending my characters to Akhia was the kick in the pants that I needed to read up on it, to make myself conversant with at least the basics. I could have read a Wikipedia article to learn the difference between Sunni and Shiite, but it was easier to retain details when I had a reason to devote dedicated work time to the question. I wouldn’t call myself deeply well-informed on Islam now, but at least I’m not flat ignorant anymore.

Thanks to this series, I know more about Polynesia and how you can locate a flyspeck of land in a thousand miles of empty sea. I know some of the dynamics behind and resulting from Tibetan polyandry. And as I said on the Tor/Forge blog, I’ve learned piles about different kinds of climates and how people live in them.

This is one of my favorite aspects of my job. It’s constantly giving me reasons to learn new things, and I feel richer as a result.

The Accidental Mr. Thomas Wilker

I’ve got a post up at about what it feels like to say goodbye to Isabella, and there’s an interview with me at Goldilox. Continuing on from yesterday’s post (and this time basically sans spoilers), there’s someone else I’d like to talk about . . .


Tom Wilker is the best accidental character I’ve had in a while. Maybe ever.

What do I mean by “accidental”? I mean that I did not, at the outset, plan for him at all. I don’t think he was even in the first thirty thousand words I wrote, before I set the book aside for a few years; I think I added him in when I came back to the story, because I realized Lord Hilford would of course have some kind of assistant or protégé along for the Vystrani expedition. Jacob was too new of an acquaintance to occupy that role; therefore I invented Mr. Thomas Wilker.


Concerning “Lord Trent”

More than six years ago, in January of 2011, I sent my agent the pitch for the Memoirs of Lady Trent. It consisted of thirty thousand words from the first book and a document approximately three thousand words long describing the setting and the plots of the various novels. Because I am crap at outlining, while those latter synopses bear some resemblance to the final story, it’s very obvious in hindsight that I was just waving my hands in an attempt to make it look like I knew where was going . . . and nowhere is that clearer than in the figure of “Lord Trent,” i.e. Isabella’s husband.

Here there be spoilers. (Up through In the Labyrinth of Drakes, though I’d say the only really bad spoiler is for A Natural History of Dragons. If you haven’t yet read Within the Sanctuary of Wings, you’re in the clear.)


One day left! (For two things!)

Tomorrow, y’all. Tomorrow, Within the Sanctuary of Wings will be available from all reputable vendors of books! If you’ve been waiting for the series to be complete before you pick it up, now is your chance to start! If you know someone who has been waiting for the series to be complete before they pick it up, now is your chance to tell them to start!

My upcoming tour schedule is here, with a new item added: a May 11th signing at University Bookstore in Seattle, where I will be joined by the inestimable Todd Lockwood.

Also, don’t forget that the illustrated edition of Lies and Prophecy is currently 30% off at Kobo. Just enter “APR30” as a coupon code at checkout to get the discount. The sale ends today!

Finally, I’ve contributed a number of items to this year’s Con or Bust auction. There are three lots:

Bidding is open now, and will continue until May 7th. It’s a great organization and a great cause, so go forth and bid!

. . . see you all tomorrow!