At the Art Institute of Chicago, November 2013.
At the Art Institute of Chicago, November 2013.
This afternoon, and for no good reason other than my mind was wandering, I was curious about how many winners of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer then went on to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel (and, more generally, any of the short fiction Hugos). Here’s what I discovered.
Since the first awarding of the Campbell (in 1973, to Jerry Pournelle), four Campbell winners have also won the Best Novel Hugo: C.J. Cherryh (Campbell 1977; Hugo 1982); Orson Scott Card (Campbell 1978; Hugo 1986); Jo Walton (Campbell 2002; Hugo 2012) and me (Campbell 2006; Hugo 2013).
Other Campbell winners nominated for the Best Novel Hugo: Jerry Pournelle (won Campbell in 1973); R.A. MacAvoy (1984); Mary Doria Russell (1998); Nalo Hopkinson (1999); Cory Doctorow (2000); Naomi Novik (2007) and Seanan McGuire (2010, nominated for Best Novel as Mira Grant).
Campbell Winners who have won short fiction Hugos (if they have not otherwise won Best Novel): Spider Robinson (1974); Barry Longyear (1980 — currently the only Campbell winner to win their Hugo in the same year); Lucius Shepard (1985); Kristine Kathryn Rusch (1990); Ted Chiang (1992 — won a Nebula in 1991); Elizabeth Bear (2005) and Mary Robinette Kowal (2008).
Additionally, at least two Campbell winners have won Hugos in non-fiction categories, without to date winning in fiction categories: Alexis Gilliland (Campbell 1982, Fan Artist Hugo winner) and Seanan McGuire (Campbell 2010, Fancast Hugo winner).
Campbell Winners who have won Nebulas (if they have not otherwise won a fiction Hugo): Lisa Tuttle (Campbell winner 1974; won but declined her Nebula); Tom Reamy (1976) and Karen Joy Fowler (1987). Campbell winners who have won World Fantasy Awards (if they have not otherwise won a Hugo or Nebula) include Stephen R. Donaldson (1979) Nalo Hopkinson (1999). Campbell winners who have won Clarke Awards (if they have not otherwise won a Hugo or Nebula) include Jeff Noon (1995, won the Clarke in 1994) and Mary Doria Russell (1998).
So, for 42 Campbell winners to date, four have won the Best Novel Hugo, eleven have won fiction Hugos, thirteen(at least) have won Hugos of any sort and twenty (at least) have won Hugos, Nebulas, World Fantasy or Clarke Awards. And obviously this doesn’t consider the Campbell winners who were otherwise nominated for these various awards, which is roughly two thirds of them to date. All in all, that’s a pretty decent conversion rate for the Campbell Award.
(Not that the people who were nominated for the Campbell but didn’t win it should despair. Just ask Joan D. Vinge, David Brin or Lois McMaster Bujold, who went on to win Best novel Hugos, or consider George RR Martin, George Alec Effinger, John Varley, Bruce Sterling, Charles Sheffield, Michael Swanwick, Geoff Landis, Ian McDonald, Robert Reed, Allen Steele, David Levine, Tim Pratt or Brandon Sanderson (and probably others I have missed), who have Hugos in other fiction categories.)
Aaaaand now back to work on my novel.
Lake Michigan, November 2013. Photo by Athena Scalzi.
I would be remiss if I did not note that my story “The Tale of the Wicked” is in the new anthology 21st Century Science Fiction, edited by David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, which came out this week and is in available in North American bookstores (and maybe other places in the world; honestly I get confused about all that at this point).
Who else is in the book? Here’s the table of contents:
Yeah, that’s a line-up that does not suck. The collection has also gotten some stellar reviews, literally in the case of this starred review from Kirkus. It’s a fine survey of the current state of science fiction, and it’s nice to be part of showcase like this. Need I note it will be a fine gift for the holidays? I thought not.
I’ve been lying low recently, writing up Lock In, but I am making two appearances this month: one in my hometown and one just over the border in Kentucky. These are going to be my last two public appearances for 2013, so if you want to see me do my thing this calendar year, this would be the time. Here are the dates, with links to details.
Saturday, November 16, 10am, Bradford Public Library, Bradford, OH: If you’re in the general Dayton area and feel like getting up early on a Saturday, come on over to my hometown of Bradford for this event. I will be talking and doing a reading, including (probably) an excerpt from Lock In. There will also be books for sale, which I will be happy to sign, or you can bring your own from home and I’ll sign those too. And, because this event is two miles from my house, I’ll be bringing along the Best Novel Hugo for people to get a look at. Plus: Refreshments will be served. Come for the Hugo! Stay for the cookies!
Wednesday, November 20, 12pm, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY: If you are in northern Kentucky or southern Ohio, and want to do something fun with your lunch break, I will be speaking as part of NKU’s “Viva Humanities” program. I will be doing a talk called “Lasers! Aliens! Humanities!” in which I will discuss how a humanities education has served me well, both as a science fiction novelist and as a writer in general. The talk will be not dry, I promise. Then I will do a reading (again, probably from Lock In) and a Q&A session. The talk/reading/Q&A will be in the University Center Otto Budig Theatre.
See you there!
Resident of the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, November 2013.
I’m a fan of Sean Williams, and his new novel Twinmaker (known as Jump in Australia, and the first in a series) is a whole bunch of science fictional fun. But I gotta tell you, I’m hesitant about stepping into a matter transmitter. Maybe in this Big Idea he can convince you otherwise.
Forty-nine years ago, a marvellous device that allowed characters to move from place to place without physically traversing the distance between first appeared in a famous sci-fi TV serial. I’m not talking about the transporters of Star Trek, although “Beam me up, Scotty” is what everyone remembers. Doctor Who got there first, with the travel dials of “The Keys of Marinus”–and in fact Flash Gordon beat them both, way back in 1955.
Matter transmitters have a longer history than most people realize. They’re also a lot more interesting. Although they seem on the surface to be entirely about conveniently moving people around, except for when they break down, there’s a lot more to them than that.
“The Fly” vividly captured the dangers of disintegration-reintegration for a mainstream audience not long after Flash Gordon, but the trope had been mucking around with people’s bodies for almost eighty years before that. The first sfnal use of a matter transmitter in print was in 1877, in a short story by Edward Page Mitchell called “The Man Without a Body”. The trope immediately took off, with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle employing it not just once, but twice, and a plethora of writers exploring the consequences of this new technology to highly imaginative effect.
It became immediately apparent that people could be mutated in a variety of strange ways–made hairless and boneless, in two early examples. War and commerce could similarly be transformed, for the act of scanning something leads to the possibility of copying anything ad infinitum, including soldiers. On an even grander scale, our understanding of space and time is unavoidably altered by removing the space between here and there, as are social mores dependent on maintaining that space. No aspect of society would go untouched.
When it comes to transformation, then, the matter transmitter is the ultimate science fiction trope–far more useful, once could argue, than the time machine, which was also first written about by Edward Page Mitchell, ten years before H. G. Wells.
I say all this as someone who has been obsessed with the trope from a very early age. On seeing the Doctor’s companion Sarah Jane Smith transmat from one part of a space station to another (in “The Ark in Space”) and arrive wearing different clothes, the device has been a source of endless fascination. My first, unpublished short story employed the trope to haunt the inventor with a plethora of his own ghosts. My second novel, The Resurrected Man, wondered what happens when a serial killer takes copies of his victims, leaving the originals alive. The number of short stories I’ve had sold exploring the transformative power of the trope is in the double figures. (The latest, “Death & the Hobbyist”, is freely available at Lightspeed as of November 5.) I’ve just finished a PhD on the subject, hence my willingness to bang on about it for hours, if encouraged even mildly.
And then there’s my new novel, Twinmaker, which takes its title from a line written by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett. (In their 1982 book The Mind’s I, they refer to a matter transmitter as a “murdering twinmaker” simply for working in the manner it’s supposed to.) Twinmaker is a science fiction novel set in a world where the matter transmitter, which I call d-mat, is the dominant means of transport. It’s also brought the world back from environmental catastrophe by sucking out all the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and created a post-scarcity society thanks to “fabbers”, which can build anything except people . . . because that would be creepy, right?
It sure would be, but there are degrees of creepiness explored in the book. I’m struck by the number of people who swear black and blue that they would never use d-mat for fear of arriving as something other than themselves. These are the same people who willingly strap their loved ones into metal contraptions containing huge amounts of liquid explosive and hurtle around crowded cities full of other such contraptions in the happy expectation that they will survive the experience. People are wonderfully expedient when it comes to things like this. As long as d-mat was mostly safe and people arrived feeling the same as they were, I reckon just about everyone would get over their qualms. Particularly anyone who has to travel for a living.
But not everyone. (I call the people who opt out of using d-mat, and therefore out of this future society, “Abstainers”.) You’d still need assurances, and laws to back up those assurances, and people being people, there’ll always be someone to ruin the party for everyone else.
If someone said that you could game the system and become taller, faster, stronger, smarter, whatever–you’d be tempted, surely? Particularly if you’re a teenager. They all want to be taller, faster, stronger, smarter, whatever. Again, maybe not all. But that’s the premise of Twinmaker in a nutshell. It’s an urban myth writ large. Meme spreads, promising Improvement. Almost certainly fake, but there’s no harm in trying, just in case. Or is there?
It may sound like I’m looking backwards for inspiration, but I sincerely believe that the opposite is the case. With my work in this area, and Twinmaker in particular, I’m attempting to couch thought-provoking philosophical questions in compelling narratives that introduce the trope of the matter transmitter to a younger audience, many of whom know it best from computer games rather than the shows I grew up with. I’m also hoping to revive interest in older readers and writers too, for in our post-cyberpunk world of telepresence robots and drones the trope has never been more relevant. Maybe that’s why it featured in an unusually long aside in an episode of this year’s most anticipated season of television, Breaking Bad.
Will we ever have a working matter transmitter? I don’t know. You can see technologies converging via 3-D printers and quantum teleportation, but the engineering hurdles are immense. Even at the speed we can send data these days, it would take many hundreds of thousands of times longer than the current age of the universe to send a single human brain anywhere. But science fiction isn’t about describing the possible. It’s about imagining the plausible.
Imagining a working matter transmitter is easy. What we do with it . . . that’s a whole other story.
“Only Makes Me Laugh,” from Danny Elfman’s only solo album, So-Lo (which was in point of fact recorded with all the members of Oingo Boingo, so, really, it’s off-label Oingo Boingo). Great song from a now woefully obscure album.
Update: Oh, I forgot I can tell a story here. I bought the So-Lo CD in the 80s and in 1990, when I was an intern at the San Diego Tribune newspaper, I was assigned to do interviews for the Darkman movie, and drove up to LA to do them. I took the Danny Elfman solo CD with me to listen to in the car. And as it happened, the composer for the Darkman movie was Elfman. I had entirely unintentionally brought the exactly right CD to have signed. And I did. And I still have that CD.
Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago, November 2013.
Hey, look! It’s the cover to my next novel!
I really like this cover, which I think captures the feel of the book, a near-future thriller involving a disease that causes people to be “locked in” inside their own bodies (I could tell you more, but… no). The art design is once again by Peter Lutjen, who made the cover of Redshirts so memorable.
For those curious, the current scheduled release date for the novel is August 26, 2014. And yes, it’s the one I’m currently writing and which I hope to have done by the end of the month. One of the nice things about having a cover for it already is that I feel like the book actually exists, and now all it’s doing is waiting around for me to add in my bit. I’m on it, guys.
Update: Over at Tor.com, Tor art director Irene Gallo offers some behind-the-scenes pictures of the production of the cover. Whoa.
It’s crunch time on the novel, and from yesterday until it’s done (please God soon), I’ve decided to pretty much avoid all news from the outside world whenever possible. Two reasons: One, it’s distracting in a basic “oh look something I can read to avoid working” sense, and two, everyone is still screaming at everyone else at high volume and it doesn’t look like that’s going to stop at any point in the next month, so screw all y’all, I don’t need that when I’ve got a deadline to hit.
This doesn’t mean I’m going into a hermetically sealed glass box and will resent anyone who dares to inform me of what goes on beyond the frontier of my front yard. Some of it will undoubtedly leak in. I’m just not making any plans to seek out the news for myself. Hopefully it will work like I want. If it doesn’t, I do have a glass box. And I am not afraid to hermetically seal it.
Taken at the Art Institute of Chicago, November 2013.
So, apparently The Human Division has been selected for the first round of the Goodreads Choice Awards, in the science fiction category. Which is very cool; I’m chuffed the folks at Goodreads are saying the novel is one of the best SF books of the year. Thank you.
That said, you know what? At the moment I’m not feeling a huge need to try to convince you all that you need to run over and vote for me now now now right now. 2013 was a fine year for me, awards-wise. I’m okay with spreading the love around for the rest of year. I’ll catch up with it all in 2014.
Also, to be blunt, the Goodreads Choice Awards has three rounds of voting in the space of a month, and wants all of us nominees to spend a lot of time and energy exhorting everyone we know to vote at each round of the contest. That’s a lot of pestering over not a lot of time. I don’t mind reminding people about nominating and voting for Nebulas and Hugos, which are spread out so the advertisements for one’s self are not overwhelming. A month-long constant drumbeat of vote pleading, on the other hand, doesn’t seem like a whole lot of fun to me right now.
So: Here’s a link to the science fiction opening round for the Goodreads Choice Awards. There are some fine nominees there, written by lots of people I know and like both as humans and as authors. Vote for one of them instead. I especially encourage you to tip your hat to the newer nominees in the genre, because that tip of the hat can be both meaningful and useful to them. I’m a fan of making people aware of the next generation of the genre and the excellent writers in it.
Science fiction is only one category out of twenty. Here’s the landing page for all the categories. Vote for as many as you like and/or have opinions about. Enjoy yourself.
Congratulations to all the others whose works are nominated this year, in all the categories but especially in science fiction. I hope one of you who is not me wins.
What is best in life? To have a successful book and to have the publishers and fans clamoring for a sequel. But what’s best in life comes with its own set of (admittedly high-end) problems. This Ryk E. Spoor discovered in the creation of Spheres of Influence, the follow-up to his science fiction hit, Grand Central Arena. How did he solve his problem? Let’s find out.
RYK E. SPOOR:
Back in 2007, I had completed my draft of Threshold, the sequel to Boundary, and had – at the time – no contracts other than that for Portal, and that I couldn’t work on until Eric Flint did his work on Threshold, and submitted the final draft. With encouragement from Eric, I began to work up a new proposal for Baen (as they hadn’t shown interest in other work I had ready at the time).
That proposal became Grand Central Arena, my salute to the Golden Age and all my science-fiction inspirations with a special focus on the work of E. E. “Doc” Smith, as most clearly shown by the inclusion of a character named (for very good in-universe reasons) Marc C. DuQuesne.
The development of The Arena, and the reason behind that development – the attempt to re-create the Golden Age “sensawunda” as I had experienced it – I detailed in a prior Big Idea post when Grand Central Arena was released. But at the time Grand Central Arena (henceforth just GCA) was released, I had no idea if it would sell or not. Much of the “fan appeal” could be pretty obscure. I thought the surface story and adventures were good enough, but I couldn’t know if anyone else would think so.
As it turned out, GCA did quite well, and so Baen was happy to accept a proposal to write a sequel.
And for the very first time in my life, as I started working on a book, I felt a touch of fear.
It was really quite alien, and for a while I couldn’t figure out why. I’d said before – and I still believed – that I could write in the Arenaverse for twenty years and not get bored, that there was limitless possibility in The Arena. I had a decent, though far from clear at that time, idea of what I wanted to do both in short and long-term – certainly no vaguer an idea than I’d had when I first started writing GCA. I knew I was, if anything, a better writer than I’d been two, three years ago.
So why in the world was I suddenly half-frozen trying to write it, to even write an outline?
I sat down and started re-reading GCA again, enjoying the flow of the novel but really trying to figure out which loose ends I needed to address first, where the plot needed to go, and so on. And as I began to focus on the real question, what I as a reader would want from the sequel, my tension and fear came screaming into focus:
I didn’t know if I could measure up to myself.
Does that sound silly, or maybe even arrogant? I don’t know. But what I was afraid of was not being able to keep the sense of wonder. The first book in any series has a huge advantage there. For all the infodumping and talk-talk-talk that I had to do in GCA, it was the book where we first saw the Arena, the infinite skies filled with storms and possibility, first met clever, scheming Orphan and wise, considered Nyanthus, dueled the Molothos for the sake of our Sphere and faced the Shadeweavers and their impossible powers. GCA had the whole new universe to hit you with, and that was its purpose – to make the reader sit back, periodically, to go “wow!”.
Now that I’d done the Big Reveal, now that Marc C. DuQuesne of Hyperion had unleashed his true self, now that Arian Austin had faced and defeated Amas-Garao with a brilliant last-ditch throw of the dice… how in the world was I going to … not even equal that, but just follow up on it with something that wouldn’t leave the reader – a reader perhaps like I had been, a couple decades ago – feeling vaguely, or perhaps not so vaguely, let down?
I had experienced it before with many books, and movies, whose sequels were pale imitations of the original. Even series that held up reasonably well – the Chronicles of Amber, for instance, or Weber’s Honor Harrington – didn’t quite have the same oomph in the second and subsequent volumes as that first introduction, and I really didn’t (and don’t) feel that I’m at the level of those or other major talents in SF.
That was what was scaring me. It was a novel sensation, because in general, I’m not writing for an audience. I’m writing for me, to read stories I know no one else will, or can, write. In a sense, of course, I still was writing for me… but the part of me that was the reader was warning me that there was this big ol’ pitfall right in front of me.
I didn’t have that problem with Threshold; while that was somewhat similar in that I had invented the universe only a few years prior, I had Eric Flint as a backstop, someone who’d be able to tell me what I might do wrong, how to fix it, and it was a much more limited, defined universe. Hard SF is a pain in the ass to write in some ways, but the fact that the universe draws many of the lines for you is comforting at the same time.
I haven’t experienced it starting the sequel for Phoenix Rising either – but that’s because I’ve spent thirty-five years building the universe, and more than twenty thinking about Phoenix’ basic story. I can actually play with that one, and I am, without worrying; I know the beginning, middle, and end, and no uncertainty about how the world works, or whether I’m forgetting a key detail.
But with Spheres of Influence I had no one backing me up, and instead of three and a half decades of worldbuilding I had three or four partial years. There were a lot of ways to screw up, and no one to keep me from doing so except maybe my beta-readers.
I was tense for another, related reason, I realized. There were a lot of things I wanted to do with this series – a lot! – but there were certain specific things that had to be dealt with before I could get to a lot of them. Would I have to write a boring intermediary book in order to set things up – and kill the point of setting them up?
I finally forced myself to move forward, and to do that I made myself list out the purposes of the book – from the point of view of how it would serve the characters. Simon Sandrisson had to deal with becoming a more active force, and with what had happened to him during the ritual that sealed away Ariane’s newfound powers. DuQuesne had to face his Hyperion past. And Ariane had to really come to grips with being the “Leader of the Faction of Humanity” – even though a lot of people would not at first believe that she had that position, and afterward not feel she was suited for it.
I needed something more, though. I needed something exciting, and not just grim or scary. I needed something cool, and fun, and with more potential for later books. I needed to put Ariane in a position that forced her to, put bluntly, grow up – because Humanity, in 2375, is en masse almost childish.
I didn’t know – exactly – how I would do that, although an idea started to niggle at the back of my brain, touching on some other unanswered questions. But suddenly I did know what I needed for the first problem.
I needed Son Wu Kung, the Monkey King of Hyperion. I needed the laughing trickster, the eternal hero, the Great Sage Equal of Heaven. He was part of DuQuesne’s backstory, mentioned in passing as one of the things that most hurt DuQuesne to lose, one of his great regrets, and one of those that had been safegarded back in GCA during a cryptic meeting by DuQuesne with a “Doctor Davison”.
I needed to tie up some of DuQuesne’s other loose ends, too – his mysterious “K”, the woman it was implied he had loved before he met Ariane, and the other mysterious force, the one DuQuesne was clearly afraid of. I’d known who “K” was all along, although how I wanted to present her wasn’t clear, but the mysterious enemy I only had a vague idea of at first.
And then in a single flash of inspiration I did know who and what she was, why she was designed, for what purpose, how she became one of the worst imaginable enemies, all of it… and I stopped dead. I wasn’t sure I dared do what I knew I ought to do. I didn’t know if I had the skill, or maybe just the king-sized cojones, to try what I’d thought of.
When I described the idea, though, my wife Kathleen immediately said “Yes. Yes, do that. Do exactly that.”
So did my beta group.
So I did; if you read Spheres of Influence, you’ll understand exactly what I was so hesitant about. Yet it fit. It fit the glorious yet utterly self-involved, blinkered, hideous brilliance of Hyperion perfectly, and answered all the questions about who DuQuesne’s enemy was and why, at the same time, he did not, and couldn’t, kill her (for it did have to be a her).
Understanding DuQuesne’s “arc”, so to speak, in the book gave me a foundation. I felt the tension recede – a bit – and that was enough. I was able to see Simon and Ariane’s directions as well, and recognize the part that Son Wu Kung would play in this, and later, adventures. I could sit down, and write.
And I did.
Spheres of Influence is, I think, a better written novel than Grand Central Arena. It may not be – quite – as shiny as GCA, since GCA got to keep a lot of the shiny for itself. But I think – and hope – it is shiny enough, and that it offers more for a reader – more knowledge of the people of the Arena, of the ways the Arena works, and even more about the dark triumph of Hyperion and the world of our solar system in 2375, as well as the adventure of watching Captain Ariane Austin come fully into her own as the Leader of Humanity.
I still have some of that tension, but now it is – mostly – worry about whether the book will do well enough to let me tell the rest of their story, for there are still so many questions to confront – so many answers to discover. Answers that I know, right up to the ultimate ending of the series.
But now… I’m not afraid that I will fail if I get the chance to write those books.
At least, not much.
Thanks for reading, and please come with me and enter the Arena… again.
Today is a day of voting in many states and localities. Remember to vote if you can. I just did — I voted for township trustees, school board members and on tax levies for parks and emergency services. Nothing sexy but all actually important stuff. But then, voting isn’t about the sexy. It’s about having a voice. So, you know, go do that voting thing.
(Today may also be a voting day in other places that are not the US. If so, please vote there also. Thank you for your engagement in participatory democracy.)
Student sketching at the Art Institute of Chicago, November 2013.
Having characters with complicated pasts is, well, complicated, and writing about them in a successful manner can be even more so. In Allegiance, the newest from Beth Bernobich, the past weighs heavily on every character, and offered a unique set of challenges for the author as well.
Endings, the poet Tanja Duhr once wrote, were deceptive things. No story truly came to a final stop, no poem described the last of the last—they could not, not until the world and the gods and time had ceased to exist. An ending was a literary device. In truth, the end of one story, or one life, carried the seeds for the next.
This is how Allegiance, the third book in my River of Souls trilogy, starts off. But after I wrote that paragraph, I had second thoughts. It was slow, it was old-fashioned, it was… To be honest, my doubts were me being uncertain about the real theme and backbone of my book. So I set this version aside and tried out at least five other openings.
(Unlike the letter Miles Vorkosigan writes in A Civil Campaign, none of my drafts were in rhyme. Nor were they all that abject, either.)
None of the openings were bad. All of them are present in the final version of the book, though in later chapters. But in the end, I went back to the first version because it really did sum up for me what this book and this trilogy are about: second chances. And for me, for these books, second chances meant multiple lives.
You see, in the world of my River of Souls trilogy, reincarnation is a reality. You live, you die, and your soul is reborn. There’s nothing certain about this new self, by the way. Sex, gender, nationality—all of these can change from life to life. You might have been the queen of Morennioù, then a prince of Károví, then a mercenary and thief. Your enemy can become your ally, possibly your lover.
At the same time, rebirth doesn’t mean you start off as a blank, with no connection to your past. You remember those previous lives through vivid dreams, which can be brief and chaotic fragments—a few words from an important conversation, a confrontation, the image of someone turning away—or they might be long coherent narratives from your past. As you approach death, these dreams become more frequent and more insistent, a reminder of any unfinished business that has pursued you from life to life. And yeah, there is always unfinished business.
When I first started writing this trilogy, I had limited the idea of multiple lives to only two characters. My goal was to show two people entangled by fate throughout history, and how their conflict affected both their kingdoms and their family.
The result was…not a success.
The biggest problem was that these two people weren’t the main characters. (And even the person I thought was the main character, wasn’t. But that’s another issue.) When my attempts to fix the problem didn’t pan out, I started to wonder, why should the main characters clean up someone else’s mess? Why shouldn’t they have their own messes to clean up?
Which meant everyone could have multiple lives, multiple messes, and multiple chances to clean things up. (Or not.)
Eventually I sorted out who the main characters really were. In the process, one of the original pair vanished from the main story. His daughter inherited his backstory, which then overturned my previous preconceptions about the rules for reincarnation.
Anyone could be anyone. Man or woman, ruler or servant, scholar or merchant or poet. Or one young woman determined to create her own life, on her own terms.
Which brings me back to Allegiance and its opening. In this trilogy, Ilse Zhalina, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, flees from a proposed marriage with an abusive man. She ends up in the household of Raul Kosenmark, a former councilor in the Royal Court, where she discovers this is not her first encounter with this man, or with magic, or with international politics.
And here, in Allegiance, she sets off on a journey that is an echo of a journey she undertook years and lives ago.
Second chances, indeed.
There’s a torrent for my novel Lock In on Pirate Bay, and it hasn’t even been written yet.
Seahorses at the Shedd Aquarium, November 2013.
Outside the Art Institute of Chicago, November 2013.