October 23, 2014

Shadows is here!

AMA link is live

 

Anyone in England who doesn’t stay up late, or anyone in America who has other plans for the evening, or anyone in [insert other part of the world] who can’t make the official AMA live time for whatever reason good and  significant to you, you can post questions NOW.

Reddit – Robin McKinley AMA

Niall has convinced me I really need to go bell ringing tonight, but as the AMA intro says I’ll be back later to answer questions.  Having a look at the ones already up . . . I may have blog material for the next several years . . . .

THANKS, ALL YOU ASKERS.

PS:  And for those of you unaccustomed to internet society wailing brokenly about the need to create a reddit account to post a question–and I am totally with you on this:  I only joined up because I’d agreed to the gig–the Nice Man says:

There is a link towards the upper-right corner of the page that says “login or register.” All they need to do is pick a username and password, and fill in the text thing to prove they’re not a robot. No personal information is needed; even an email address is optional. 

 

Italics mine. Hey, I did the register thing.  You can too.

 

 

Ask me anything*

 

I’m doing one of reddit fantasy’s Ask Me Anything, AMA, sessions this Thursday, the day after tomorrow [as I write during what is to me still Tuesday night]. The poor suck—the nice man who originally invited me and is attempting to shepherd me through the technical aspects of this gig** says that if you go here:  http://www.reddit.com/r/fantasy

. . . while you’re waiting you can poke around*** and when the AMA session goes ‘live’ at approximately noon (American) Central Time on Thursday the link will go up on that page. The game plan seems to be that I (or rather the Nice Man, which means I have to have written it in advance for him to deal with) post(s) a brief introductory doodah at noon as part of the going-live process, and people post questions then if they feel like it.  Perhaps I drift in during reddit’s idea of afternoon (my idea of evening) and answer any of these there are and maybe I don’t, but I do show up for live-ish keyboard interaction around 6 pm Central time which I think is midnight mine, and respond—I do not say answer—any and all questions then.  I admit midnight is not particularly late by my standards [hey it's past 4 am where I'm sitting] but it is late to be articulate to/with a bunch of strangers.†  If I were living in the same part of the galaxy as the reddit fantasy admin the AMAs usually go live at about 8 pm—as some of you, who’ve been to talk to other authors, already know—but it’s going to be early with me.  If the conversation suddenly heats up at 2 am I’ll stay on, but the alternative, if people are absent-mindedly expecting it to have begun at 8 pm reddit time and show up after I’ve left to give the hellmob its final hurtle††, is to post questions anyway and I’ll come back on the far side of sleep and caffeine and answer them then.

One or two guidelines: I can’t tell you when PEG II or III will be out because I don’t know.  I said pretty much all I have to say on that burdensome topic in the ebook-announcement post: I’m working on the rest of the PEGASUS story, sure, and believe me I’d finish it yesterday if I could. But I can’t.  I am finding the writing experience lately like cleaning the Houses of Parliament with a toothbrush or watering the Sahara with a teacup.  I’d rather prune Souvenir de la Malmaison††† without full body armour and a face mask than face the PEG II file.  I’m getting calluses and tendonitis from clutching my forehead/chair/nearest hellcritter.  So you can ask when PEG II and III will be out, but don’t expect a useful answer.

And, speaking of useful answers, there’s still no sequel to SUNSHINE. And there are at last count approximately three hundred and twelve Third Damar Novels, but I haven’t written any of them.‡

Some authors are more perverse than others. You might want to embroider that on a sampler.  But do come round on Thursday at whatever o’clock and ask me about roses or dogs or bell ringing or life as an American expat in England or knitting (badly) or singing (worse) or even about suddenly and involuntarily converting to Christianity two years ago and coming all over social-welfare volunteering like a bad case of measles.‡‡  I’m still cranky though.

* * *

* . . . answers not guaranteed. But then you blog readers know that already.

** AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.

*** It’s frelling HUGE. I keep getting lost.

† So, you know, please come hang out so it’s not all strangers.

†† And wave at passing patrol cars

††† Which in my tiny garden is presently about twenty feet by twenty feet and putting on a rather amazing autumn show for a rose known for not repeating in this climate. She is also implicated in the disappearance of several annoying small children and neighbourhood cats which insist on crapping in Third House’s flowerbeds, but we don’t know anything about that, except to say that a rose responds well to generous feeding and I’m delighted she has settled in so happily.

‡ Please try to remember that I can only write what I am given to write.   The Damar stories are there—like PEG II and III are there—like the frelling sequel to SUNSHINE is there—but I can’t write them because they haven’t come to me in writable form.  It’s like one of those scenes out of Dickens—or Frances Hodgson Burnett—when the main character is standing on the wrong side of a window watching other people having a good time.  You can see what everybody is wearing and eating, you can see the champagne sparkling in the glasses, you can see who’s flirting with whom, you can maybe even hear a faint echo of the live music.  But you can’t go in because you weren’t invited.  And besides there doesn’t seem to be a door.

‡‡ Which also makes a change occasionally from staring at the frelling blank page . The eleventh commandment:  Do what you can.

Oh, cool/hot/awesome/slang of the moment!

 

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/oct/16/neil-gaiman-russell-brand-modern-fairytale-makeover-princess

This is a really interesting article anyway full of stuff I need to check out but don’t miss the last paragraph.*

And thanks for all the happy chirping noises about last night’s news.**

Lenni

Is it a bad thing that I already own The Blue Sword as an e-book? I would NEVER knowingly get a pirated copy of anyone’s book. That would be BAD! The e-book that I have looks very professionally done. I’m confused! I’ll have to get another copy (a legit? copy) of the e-book when it comes out.

You’ve probably got one of the ones that were briefly and in the publisher’s mind legitimately available a while ago. When said publisher had it politely pointed out to them that in fact what they were doing wasn’t totally pure and square and holy they were very embarrassed.  They were so embarrassed it’s taking a while to winkle them out from under the bed, convince them that All Is Forgiven, and persuade them that we really want to do it again, just the right way this time, okay?

Katinseattle

Well, I’m conflicted. Congratulations for the e-books. But I’ve already bought them in old fashioned, space gobbling, real book style. What excuse do I have to buy an e-reader?

Good heavens. Have you never found yourself standing in an endless queue and wished you’d brought with you that really good book you were reading but it’s large and heavy and you were only going to be gone ten minutes because there are never any queues this time of day?  Or equivalent?  E-editions are pretty much a scam that I’m allowing myself to be gorgleblorged by because of the Library in Your Knapsack thing.  I wouldn’t dream of having keeper books only in e-format.  I just have more editions of stuff I’ll want to read again.

And as Lenni says you don’t have to have a dedicated ereader. I have the Kindle app on my iPad.  If you’re portable-tech-free you have a slightly more epic struggle with your conscience ahead of you but . . . well, I’ve told this story many times before, but I only bought my first computer because the office shop could no longer get parts for my IBM Selectric I typewriter.  I forget why I let myself get gorgleblorged*** by the idea of an iPad† but I use her constantly, however often I want to throw her against the wall for her tantrums about Microsoft.

Cmarschner

I can’t wait to be rescued from a long wait somewhere by pulling up a comforting favorite story on my phone.

Yes, exactly. But I am fascinated by you people who read on your phones. My eyes can do it but, dunno, my brain can’t.  It’s like people with little tiny writing.  My hand can do it BUT MY BRAIN CAN’T.  I have big sprawly handwriting.  I guess I must have big sprawly eyes†† too.  I was actually going to buy the next size down of tablet for portability reasons next time but then I thought about the pleasantness of reading double page spreads like a REAL book on the iPad . . . and then I read about the iPad Air which weighs about two butterflies and a feather and I thought, fine, I wasn’t seriously planning to downsize my knapsack anyway.

* * *

* Thank you, Gomoto^, although why one of my American readers was faster off the mark than any of my English ones . . . is one of those little mysteries of the modern global-internet world.

^ Also Rachel on the forum, but her post went up later, and I also don’t know which side of the pond she’s on. Or even which pond.

** One person out in public on Facebook and a few people more privately on email have said that they aren’t buying anything of mine till I produce the second/third/ninety-seventh/final volume of PEGASUS.  It’s not always easy to tell tone of voice from a stranger in print, but I have the impression that these declarations are typed in some dudgeon, possibly high.  What people choose to do with their disposable income is up to them, of course, including whether or not they buy books and if they do buy books whose books they buy.  But just in case this has slipped anyone’s mind . . . I’m not not producing PEG II, III and LXXXIX out of any disturbingly perverse desire to alienate readers.  Um, why would I?  I need to keep eating.^ Also I’m a storyteller by blood and bone;  I don’t exist in my own mind let alone anyone else’s if I’m not telling stories.  I would love to have PEG II already out and PEG III being wept over by final-stage copyeditors^^ and myself be contemplating writing that story about the bottle of sentient champagne.  But I’m not.^^^ I’m not because PEG II is moving approximately as quickly as it’s going to take all those plate tectonics to bring Africa back to West Quoddy Head.  I’m not happy about this.#  But it’s not up to me—rather like producing my books in e-format isn’t up to me.  You can, of course, nag me, about ebooks## or PEG II or LXXXIX, but it won’t produce any results except making me miserable.###  Control freaks seriously don’t like things to be out of their control.  And storytellers hate not telling stories.

^ And buying other people’s books.

^^ Tears of joy, mind you.  Supposing it ends with III, which is to say it better had or I may become a full-time professional practising homeopath after all, not everybody is going to be spectacularly happy in all ways after the climax but this is still a McKinley story and there will be some kind of a big shiny hurrah somewhere near the end.

^^^ Except at my 3 am equivalent which is about when most people are heading off to work, or the local builders are arriving and turning their frelling radios on to the Maudlin Pop Drivel station.+

+ I keep forgetting to check if U2 are trying to break into my iPhone.

# In fact I am wildly, frantically frustrated and crazy over it.  Just by the way.

## Including, inevitably, what goes wrong, because things will go wrong.

### You can’t make a horse win a race even if you’ve bred, fed and trained her perfectly. You can’t make a rosebush cover herself in huge fabulous flowers+ ditto.  And horses are horribly expensive to keep and rose-free rosebushes are mostly pretty ugly.  It goes like that sometimes.

+ Unless you’re a character out of ROSE DAUGHTER

*** Or ‘sandbagged’ if you prefer

† NO NOT COMPUTER GAMES. COMPUTER GAMES ARE THE DEVIL’S SPAWN.^

^ Yes of course I play several. I might not be so outraged if I played them a little better.

†† And a big sprawly brain. If it were tidier I might be getting on with PEG II quicker.  Sigh.

URGENT NEWS FLASH

 

Barring miracles this week’s KES will go up Sunday, not Saturday.  This week has got away from me* and I’m Street Pastoring tomorrow night—Saturday—to cover for Eleanor, who covered my Friday for me last month when I had Sam training Saturday morning about five hours after I would have signed off Street Pastors.  Meanwhile the Black Tower stuff came zapping in on me more or less from nowhere—I’ve told you the story of how Narknon didn’t turn up till the final freaking draft of SWORD, and what a gonzofest that was trying to stuff her into the story where she belonged, despite the fact that I’d been aware that there were little fuzzy places, as it turned out Narknon-shaped gaps in the story as it stood before her arrival—and tomorrow night’s KES needs more whacking into its Black Tower enhanced shape than I’m liable to be able to give it.  I thought I was going to have some time off tomorrow afternoon, but Nina and Ignatius are coming down to help us get on with this moving house thing and I certainly don’t want to discourage them by any apparent lack of interest.

Oh and I’m singing on Sunday.  Oops.  I didn’t notice I had a late Sam shift on Thursday and Street Pastors on Saturday when I plugged in my usual fortnight on the rota.  So it may be late Sunday.  But not to worry.  KES will appear.

* * *

* I’m a Sam!  I’m a Sam!  I’m a real working Samaritan!  I had FOUR CALLS last night on my second duty shift!!  FOUR!  And since my mentor did not turn pale and saucer-eyed as she listened to my ends of the conversations^ nor, when I spoke to my day leader this morning^^, was she speaking in low carefully soothing tones about how perhaps I was not cut out to be a Samaritan and perhaps I would like to think about exercising my desire to do good in the world by knitting critter coats for the Battersea Dogs and Cats Rescue, which I can do quietly at home without disturbing anyone . . . I think I passed.^^^  Yaaaaaaay.^^^^

^ Conversations!  Yessssssss!  It’s what I’m there for!+

+ As a dedicated life-long phone hater, this is all very amusing.#

# Yes, well, this doesn’t count.  Talking on the phone as a Samaritan is different.~

~ Also, I hear God laughing.  Again.

^^ I was on the late shift last night.  Usually you talk to your day leader at the end of your shift, but not when it would involve getting her+ out of bed, supposing she keeps what most of the world would call normal hours.

+ Or him, as the case may be

^^^ I admit I haven’t checked that I haven’t been disappeared off the Samaritan database.  Me?  Paranoid?  Convinced of my inherent incompetence and worthlessness?  Naaaaaah.

^^^^ And for my next trick I have to learn not to go home and worry about the people I’ve been talking to.  Which is totally an occupational hazard, and is one of the reasons there’s all this support structure.  It’s not a nice idea that you debrief/unload to both your colleague and your day leader, it’s REQUIRED.

Have I really not done a KES-comment post in . . .

 

 

. . . forever?  Bad me.  House move, worrying about husband’s health and well-being, Samaritan training, hellhounds giving up eating etc . . . are NO EXCUSE.  And now it’s been so long I can’t find/remember where I left off.  ARRRGH.  Well, if I miss/repeat anything . . . I’LL BLAME YOU.*  YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID, HEY, YOU HAVEN’T DONE A KES COMMENT ROUND UP IN TOO LONG.

Blondviolinist

Random thoughts: I like Watermelon Shoulders much better than Torpedo Shoulders.

I would guess so do we all.  I do anyway.  I will say that Torpedo Shoulders will prove to be a little more okay than you think.  Like Murac, drat him.  I had no intention of Murac becoming anything like either an important character or almost a hero sort of person.  Or, you know, attractive, other than in a ramshackle sort of way that would appeal to deranged 11-to-15-year-olds.  Arrrrrrgh.  You see here an author hoist by her own petard.  This happens regularly—right, EMoon?—in my case pretty much every frelling story about something or someone**, but it doesn’t usually happen in public.  By the time the story hits print I’m kind of over my crisis about it/him/her/them and can pretend, or at least pretend to pretend or make a good story out of it, that this was the plan all along.***

I’m very glad we had so much time to get to know Kes in the ordinary, everyday world before she got tossed into the Defender role. It’s not that her personality doesn’t come through in the battle & just-before-or-after-battle sequences, but I like knowing that she likes muffins & is fairly good at making friends with good ordinary people. (I’m not sure I’m expressing myself well here.)

Well, you’re expressing well enough for me to agree with you and to say I’m glad that this is how you’re reading what I’m writing.  Yes.  It depends on the story, of course, but in this case Kes needed to be really clearly and emphatically a more or less normal modern woman—okay, a New Yorker and a fantasy writer, not absolutely normal†—for the high fantasy stuff to work the way I wanted it to work.  It’s not like what I’m doing is original—LEST DARKNESS FALL is the book that pops first into my head, and probably a lot of other people’s heads for modern people dropped in ye olde time††, and you could go back another generation or two to THE TIME MACHINE if you wanted to, and there have been gazillions since—and Kes isn’t trying to invent a printing press or alter any courses of history††† or make sweeping political statements in allegorical form‡ she’s just having an adventure.  But for the adventure to go ping whap YIPE in the way I hoped the two worlds have to be vividly incompatible.

At least Flowerhair was still alive. Yes. I was keeping her alive. What—or who—was keeping me alive? Hello?

::giggle:: And suddenly the story gets a bit meta.

This is me having some fun.  There’s a lot in KES, starting with Kes herself as a fantasy writer, that I would NEVER EVER have put in a book that started life as something I was expecting a publisher to pay me for.

. . . SOMEWHERE someone asked me if the colonel of the Falcons might by any chance be Flowerhair.  Have I answered this?  I can’t remember/find answering this.  If I did, this is what I would already have said:  What a great idea.  No.  Rats.  The thing is, Flowerhair has stayed alive partly by keeping a low profile.  I’ve told you, haven’t I, that I’m going to give you the first chapter of the first FLOWERHAIR book, one of these days?  I know what happens‡‡ and I know how she got started on this mercenary thing, and why, and also why she distrusts the formal military.  She’d also hate being in command although privately, as her author’s author, I think she’d be good at it.  She’s put temporary gangs together occasionally to bring off some feat she couldn’t pull alone.  Eh.  Maybe while Kes is resting up after Part One finally comes to an end I’ll mess with Flowerhair a little more.‡‡‡

I’m glad Silverheart seems to be determined to help Kes out both with being Defender & convincing other people that Kes has some small right to inhabit her heroic role.

Well . . . this is also just McKinley’s preoccupation with ordinary people rising to extraordinary occasions.  Kes is a bit more tongue in cheek than, say, Harry, but it’s the same story arc, from  MEEEEEEEP, to . . . Oh, well, if I have to. . . .

Springlight

Eowyn had never been a satisfactory heroine because of that whole seeking-death-because-of-unrequited-love thing to which I had had a strong ‘spare me’ reaction

But Eowyn faced the ring wraith lord when all around her had fallen and for that I loved her. Besides, there was really only her and Galadriel who could possibly be role models for a 10 year old girl reading LOTR, and Galadriel did a lot of standing around looking stately while doing not a lot, which had no appeal at all. Get out there and DO something woman!  

I agree, except for the fact that it’s not enough.  I went through the tortures of the damned as only an introverted book-mad ten, or, in my case, eleven-year-old girl who WANTS HER OWN ADVENTURES can go through if she’s of a Previous Generation and when she was eleven years old LOTR was what there was, full stop.  Robin McKinley, Elizabeth Moon, Patricia McKillip, Tamora Pierce, Diane Duane, Patricia Wrede etc hadn’t been invented yet.  Eowyn does beg to accompany Aragorn into battle because she’s a shield maiden not a wet nurse, and in fact that scene rings very true to me and it interests me that Tolkien—manifestly not a bloke who gets it about women—could write it.  But he then, as if horrified at his own ability to understand a woman’s desire for action, undermines the flapdoodle out of her for that famous scene with the Nazgul captain:  she doesn’t kill him.  Merry does.  Which is probably why, when my eleven-year-old mind had to have a GIRL in there somewhere, decided that Merry was a girl really.

And Galadriel is a wet.  Just by the way.  The most interesting thing about her is that she’s a bigger deal than her husband, which is another of those oopsies from Tolkien the Bloke.  Hey, pack her off to the Grey Havens before she spreads.  And for utter iconic girlie uselessness I give you Galadriel’s granddaughter . . . Arwen.§

 

 

* * *

 

* Readers are great.  I love my readers.^

^ Mostly.  Except the ones who think they and I are twin souls and/or want me to collaborate with them on their great novel.

** NOOO. NOOOOOOOOOO.  —Author.

Oh, do shut up and write.  —Story.

*** ::muffled gurgling noises::

† All my New York friends are going HEY!

†† Anyone wants to suggest there’s no magic in LEST DARKNESS FALL . . . um.  No overt magic.  But one dorky little guy TOTALLY TOTALLY TOTALLY CHANGES HISTORY I MEAN TOTALLY?  Uh huh.  De Camp just decided not to mention the magic wand.

††† And since 1939 when LEST came out they’ve kind of decided the Dark Ages weren’t all that dark after all.

Uggh.  The Story Council sends me one of those and after I set fire to it I’ll start lobbing plastic bags of dog crap through their windows.

‡‡ I think I know what happens.^

^ Murac.  Grrrrrrrrrrr.

‡‡‡ Mainly I have to get on with PEG II a little more briskly.^

^ Although, speaking of messing around, I’d like to know a little more about Aldetruda.  And Kes, in a bit of wish fulfilment, writes a lot faster than I do and has at least one other serial heroine and some one offs lurking, any of which might make an interesting digression or digressions.

§ And no, I cut Peter Jackson no slack for trying to jazz her up a little.

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