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Posts Tagged ‘with fate conspire’

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.

WITH FATE CONSPIRE now out in the UK!

If you’ve ever wished you could have a matched set of all four Onyx Court novels, now you can!


Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, A Star Shall Fall, and With Fate Conspire are all out now in the UK, in a lovely set of matching trade paperbacks. They’ve also had a few errors cleaned up, the dates reformatted to British style, and the spelling Anglicized, so on the whole, I feel comfortable in calling this the author’s preferred edition. 🙂 Get ’em now, while the getting is good!

UK covers of all four Onyx Court novels

Let’s play the Genderswap Game!

Jim Hines has been doing a thing on his blog where he genderswaps character descriptions to look at how women and men get depicted. He did it first with classic SF/F novels, then with more recent titles — including his own.

It’s an interesting enough exercise that I decided to go through my own books and see what happens when I genderswap the descriptions. Results are below. I skipped over the Doppelganger books because quite frankly, describing people has never been a thing I do a lot of, and back then I did basically none of it, so this starts with Midnight Never Come.



speaking of Ree . . . .

Possibly the easiest way for me to encapsulate the character I talked about in a previous post is by linking you to this song.

It’s an amazing remix all on its own. I love the way it builds, wave-like: it keeps climbing and then receding, stepping back to a quieter level when you expect it to bust out in full Linkin Park screamo yelling. 😛 But more than that, it fit beautifully with Ree at the pivotal moment of her story, the brink of her metamorphosis from the broken, lost thing she had been for eons back to her original self. “I’ve felt this way before” . . . she’d been shattered, and had tried to piece herself back together — thought she had succeeded — but then during the course of the game she was shattered again, falling back to square one, so far from her goal it was almost impossible for her to believe that she was actually closer to it than ever. “Against my will I stand beside my own reflection” . . . she sold half her soul to someone else, not realizing that was what she was doing, and she had to reclaim it. “Without a sense of confidence, I’m convinced that there’s just too much pressure to take” . . . the problem with her Seelie side was that it had too much confidence, without the fatalism of her Unseelie half to temper it, which is how she got broken again, and then the symbolism of the diamond and pressure over time pretty much guaranteed I had to use this song. This was Ree at her lowest point, one step away from victory, and the tension that builds throughout this evokes those days perfectly in my mind. There’s more to it than one song, but I can point to the song and say, this. This is why I can’t forget her story.

When I make soundtracks for characters, or for games I run, or for novels, many of the songs are filler. They go in because I want the whole story in music, and so I pick the best matches I can; in the really good soundtracks, even the filler is pretty solid. But this? This is why I go to the effort. For the one or two or five songs that are the story, the ones that become so linked with the narrative that they end up feeding back into it, and it can be eight years later and hearing them still brings the story to life in my head. This is Galen walking into the chamber below the Monument. This is Dead Rick getting his memories back. Here’s the entire second half of Doppelganger, according to my half-dozing brain when I was in the middle of writing the book; I can quite literally map segments of the novel to the various stages in the music, because my subconscious had decided this was the outline it was writing to. (Much like what happened here, though that was on a smaller scale.)

It’s no accident that I also love film scores. Pairing music with story — turning music into story — is one of my favorite things. Since I’m not a composer, I have to settle for the mix-tape approach. Sometimes it works out very, very well.

gritty vs. grimdark

Yeah, I’m still thinking about this topic. Partly because of Cora Buhlert’s recent roundup. The digression onto Deathstalker mostly went over my head, since I haven’t read it, but she brings up a number of good points and also links to several posts I hadn’t seen. (Though I use the term “post” generously. I have to say, when the only response you make to this debate is “meh” followed by links to people who already agree with you, you might as well not bother. All you’re doing is patting yourself on the back in public.)

So I’m thinking about our terminology — “gritty” and “grimdark” and so on. What do we mean by “grit,” anyway? The abrasive parts of life, I guess; the stuff that’s hard and unpleasant. Logistics and consequences and that sort of thing, the little stony details that other books might gloss over. It’s adjacent to, or maybe our new replacement for, “low fantasy” — the stories in which magic is relatively rare, and characters have to do things the hard way, just like us. Hence laying claim to the term “realism”: those kinds of details that can ground a story in reality.

But that isn’t the same thing as “grimdark,” is it? That describes a mood, and you can just as easily tell a story in which everything is horrible and doomed without those little details as with. (As indeed some authors do.) Hence, of course, the counter-arguments that grimdark fantasy is just as selective in its “realism” as lighter fare: if you’re writing about a war and all the women are threatened with sexual violence but none of the men are, then you’re cherry-picking your grit.

What interests me, though, are the books which I might call gritty, but not grimdark. I mentioned this a while ago, when I read Tamora Pierce’s second Beka Cooper book, Bloodhound. The central conflict in that book is counterfeiting, and Pierce is very realistic about what fake coinage can do to a kingdom. She also delves into the nuts and bolts of early police work, including police corruption . . . I’d call that grit. Of course it’s mitigated by the fact that her story is set in Tortall, which began in a decidedly less gritty manner; one of the things I noticed in the Beka Cooper books was how Pierce worked to deconstruct some of her earlier, more romantic notions, like the Court of the Rogue. But still: counterfeiting, a collapse in monetary policy, police corruption of a realistic sort, etc. Those are the kinds of details a lot of books would gloss over.

Or an example closer to home: With Fate Conspire. I was discussing it over e-mail recently, and it occurred to me that I put a lot of unpleasantness into that book. Off the cuff, it includes betrayal, slavery, slavery of children, imprisonment, torture, horrible disease, poverty, racism, terrorism, massive amounts of class privilege and the lack thereof, rape (alluded to), pollution, fecal matter, and an abundance of swearing. All of which is the kind of stuff grimdark fantasy revels in . . . yet I have not seen a single person attach that label to the novel. Nor “gritty,” for that matter, but I would argue that word, at least, should indeed apply. A great deal of that story grinds its way through the hard, unpleasant details of being lower-class in Victorian London. Realistic details, at that.

Of course, the book has a happy ending (albeit one with various price tags attached). Which makes it not grimdark — and also not gritty? Or maybe it’s that I was writing historical fiction, not the secondary-world fantasy that seems to be the locus of the term. Or, y’know, it might be that I’m a woman. One of the posts Buhlert links to is from [personal profile] matociquala, who — unusually for this debate — names some female authors as having produced gritty work, and Buhlert takes that point further. This is a highly gendered debate, not just where the sexual abuse of characters is concerned, and if we don’t acknowledge that, we’re only looking at a fraction of the issue.

I’m sort of wandering at this point, because there’s no tidy conclusion to draw. You can have grit without being grimdark, and you can be grimdark without grit, but doing either while being female is rare? Not very tidy, but something to keep in mind. I think I’d be interested in reading more gritty-but-not-grimdark fantasy, from either gender. Recommendations welcome.

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

last few days for Con or Bust

Just as a reminder, the “Con or Bust” auctions close this Sunday. Bidding on the double-signed copy of A Natural History of Dragons (autographed by both me and Todd Lockwood, with a bonus sketch from him) is up to $48, while A Star Shall Fall is at $15 and With Fate Conspire is at $20. Proceeds go to a good cause, and the books don’t suck either, if I do say so myself. 😉

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

a smattering of reviews, and also some links

I am not, unfortunately, allowed to quote the whole Kirkus review for A Natural History of Dragons yet; they paywall it until two weeks before the book’s pub date. I can, however, share this line: “Told in the style of a Victorian memoir, courageous, intelligent and determined Isabella’s account is colorful, vigorous and absorbing.” And they really liked the whole memoir-style-pov thing. (Which is good, because it’s one of my favorite things about writing this series.)

There’s also a new review of With Fate Conspire, this one by George Straatman: “As has been the case with its three predecessors, With Fate Conspire is masterful in its depiction of life in London during the era depicted…both from a cultural perspective and from a geographic perspective, Marie paints a precise portrait of what it was like to live in the city during this tumultuous era.”

And finally, a review for Lies and Prophecy, over at The Jeep Diva: “Ms. Brennan does a magnificent job of taking fantasy and weaving it throughout a story of typical college students, trying to find themselves not only in their pursuits of education, but in their personal lives as well.”

Since three things only make three-fifths of a post, I will close out the remaining two fifths with something I’ve been forgetting to link to: my latest BVC entries. I diverted briefly from my discussion of folktale-like fantasy to lay out what tale types are (a subject on which I will have more to say later), and then came back to the point to talk about the grammar of a folktale plot. (Or, to put those posts in jargon shorthand: Aarne-Thompson-Uther, and then Propp. Next up: Luthi! Which reminds me, I need to write that post.)

Open Book Thread: With Fate Conspire

While rooting around in my archives looking for something else, I discovered I never put up an open book thread for With Fate Conspire!

So consider this an invitation to make any comments or ask any questions you might have about that book. (Needless to say, this will result in spoilers. Read the thread at your own risk.) I, er, can’t promise I’ll be able to answer everything with perfect clarity; at this point my head is full of Isabella instead of the Onyx Court, so I may be a tad fuzzy on some of the details. But I’ll do my best!

And if you have a question about a previous novel, the other open book threads are still open. Though I don’t have one for the doppelganger series, now that I think about it. Well, if you have a question about one of those, let me know; I can make a new thread if there’s need.

Note: As an experiment, I have closed this thread until the beginning of 2013, in an attempt to convince spammers to stop spamming it. If you have a question, feel free to ask it elsewhere, or come back in January.

ANHOD giveaway, Urban Tarot, and Jim Hines’ fundraiser

My thanks to everyone who sent me a title suggestion for the second book of Isabella’s memoirs! I received comments here, on Twitter, on Goodreads, by e-mail . . . the whole gamut. Give me a little while to sort through them, and then I’ll announce a winner.

Speaking of winners, Jim Hines’ fundraiser for rape crisis centers is less than $200 away from hitting the benchmark that tosses a signed copy of With Fate Conspire and a signed ARC of A Natural History of Dragons into the prize pot. There are new rewards, too, at levels up to $4000, and some of them are very shiny.

And finally, we’re in the last days of the Urban Tarot Project. $375 dollars more there will mean embroidered bags for everyone receiving the deck! And there are still signed copies of With Fate Conspire available there, too, so if you want one of those (along with all the other parts of the reward package), you have 71 hours left in which to get it.


Fundraising for rape crisis center

The ever-awesome Jim Hines running a fundraiser this month for rape crisis centers. For every benchmark hit, he’ll be giving away one of a whole slew of books, which you can see at that link. And if the fundraising gets up to $2500 (which I devoutly hope it will!), then I’ll be tossing in two things to sweeten the pot: a signed copy of With Fate Conspire, and a signed ARC of A Natural History of Dragons.

(This is separate from the title-suggestion giveaway for the first ARC. Two chances to win!)

Head on over to his post for details, including how to donate. It’s an excellent cause, and I hope it raises enough money that he has to find more prizes to give away!