Friday, October 28, 2011

Things That Were and Now Are Not

I'm editing DELUSION now -- a romantic fantasy (or adventure fantasy, or historical fantasy) about two stage illusionist sisters in WWII London who flee the Blitz and discover a secret all-male college of real magicians in the countryside. I thought I'd occasionally post about some of my pet words or paragraphs that wind up on the cutting-room floor. (For some of the more risque examples, see this post.)

Today I cut the word CROCODILE. "She barreled past a crocodile of little boys who looked at her in thrilled amazement." Not the toothy reptile, but the line of small school children. Generally children in a crocodile walk two-by-two, with an adult fore and aft. Think Madeline and the twelve little girls in two straight lines.

My editor claimed -- no doubt correctly, because she has impeccable editorial judgement -- that hardly anyone alive today knows what a crocodile is, and I happily agreed to take it out and substitute the word "line." (Well, not entirely happily. To be perfectly frank there is still a small part of me that wants all my manuscripts to be 300,000 words, and filled with as much arcana as possible. But still, pretty happy, in the grand scheme of things.)

But I'd love to know... did you know the term? Would you balk mid-narrative if you read it?


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Neighbors the Unicorns

I'm not particularly worried about truth.

An odd thing for a person who revels in the pursuit of knowledge, I suppose. But my early training taught me to question everything, and while in most people I think this usually leads to a quest for pure facts, in me it produced a rather blasé attitude toward the truth. If everything could be wrong, why commit to one thing and call it a fact? The idea that absence of proof is not proof of absence allows us to consider the possibility of almost anything.

I also don't particularly worry about belief. I don't believe in much, but I do love to think things, which is almost like believing. Take, for example, this photograph of a herd of unicorns on the hill across from my house:

Of course, I know they're probably horses, and I could always hike over there and prove that they are horses. But I really enjoy thinking that they are unicorns. If you pinned me down (I'd give you a good fight, but I'm out of practice so you might try it) I'd probably admit that I don't actually believe in unicorns. But should silly little things like truth and belief get in the way of my enjoyment?

That's one of the things I love most about writing fiction – and reading it, for that matter. I can wholeheartedly believe in something I know isn't true.

What do you believe in, or pretend to believe in, or wish you could believe in, even though you know (or assume) it isn't true?


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

GUARDIAN OF THE GREEN HILL is released today!

Should I pretend I'm all jaded and blasé that my second book is releasing today, or should I admit that I've spent the whole morning communicating exclusively in squeals and giggles, with a big silly grin on my face? Actually, I get like that every time I realize I've actually been published, that you can find my books in bookstores, that kids have curled up under the covers with their flashlights, refusing to go to bed because they have to read one more chapter of Under the Green Hill.

Now, O glorious day, the sequel, Guardian of the Green Hill, is out! Authors are never supposed to ask you to buy their books (so gauche!) but between you and me, I'd really love it if you bought a copy of Guardian. Or checked it out of the library. You'll like it, because it has:

  • Fairies (of course!)
  • Danger, deception, murder, grief
  • Puppy love (to make all that bad stuff better)
  • Brave and noble, terrified and confused Meg Morgan
  • The deliciously nasty (but ultimately lovable) Finn Fachan
  • A talking goat
  • The return of the learned Wyrm
  • A lovely two-tailed demon cat
  • An insane artist
  • A pig-snouted giant
  • The terrible, shocking, unexpected death of a favorite character (and I'm not telling!)

You don't have to read the first book to enjoy Guardian of the Green Hill. All you need to know is that the Morgan children and a couple of their friends went to England and got caught in a fairy war. Now that Meg has emerged victorious, she is faced with the terrible responsibility of taking over for her great-great-aunt Phyllida, the Guardian who mediates between the worlds of humans and fairies. But a wicked relative wants to steal the Guardian's power, and targets Meg.

You can buy it here:

Or you can ask your favorite bookseller to order it for you (if it isn't already on the shelves) which is my personal favorite method!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Ani DiFranco Fantasy

Lee's writing is very good and thoughtful, full of rich stories, details and characterizations. If you are looking for something different, not your typical romance and like the meandery feel of storytelling, then you would probably like this book. I found while reading this that I wanted to listen to Ani DiFranco music.”

Ani DiFranco! Thank you, Coreena, for giving me a new fantasy. I've always dreamed of having Brightwing made into a movie (it is the most cinematic thing I've written) and imagined who might play the lead roles. Now I know exactly who I'd want to do the soundtrack. You're so right, Coreena – Ani DiFranco would be absolutely perfect.

Ani DiFranco's music provided the soundtrack for my college years, the hymns of my age of discovery, the anthem for a love affair that haunts me still. Oh, if she could ever write songs for Lucy and Edgar and Mallory's twisted triangle of devotion and violence and solace...

I interviewed Ani DiFranco for my first official writing assignment, for the Cornell Daily Sun. She was at the time the most exciting person I'd ever met, indie before anyone knew what indie was, exuberantly, lyrically left, with words that clutched me and a voice that rent me. Yeah, I probably had a little crush on her. I became a fan of her early music – Imperfectly is my favorite album. But I tend to get stuck in musical eras and never advance. Funny, if I have a favorite author I always rush to get their new book, but with a musician, I stick to whatever songs I first discover. So I know none of Ani DiFranco's post-2000 work. Are any of you fans? I'm going to pick up a couple of CDs at her Righteous Babe Records web site, and I'd love to hear which albums are your favorites.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Hermit Creeps Out of Her Cave

I think I would make a pretty good hermit. I go through periods (happy periods, mind you, not withdrawn or depressive episodes) where I feel almost no need to have any contact with people. Historically, this used to be fairly easy, and even a smart career path. You move to a mountaintop, grow a beard (well, in my case I'd have to make do with not shaving my pits) and suddenly you're mysterious and wise, and people hike up to ask your advice. Which does sort of defeat the purpose of being a hermit, I suppose, but it must be gratifying.

These days, it is much harder to get away. Avoiding actual, physical people for a few days is easy enough. But there are so many virtual (real but intangible) people in my life – followers and facebook friends and fellow-forumites – that it takes more than a trek up a hill to escape, even for a while. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower not to check Twitter or stop by Verla Kay's Blue Boards. (Which might mean that I'm not truly in hermit-mode.) Facebook made it easy now that it has stopped sending me email alerts about everything, but the compulsion to be connected is still occasionally at war with my need for solitude.

Which is a roundabout way of saying I'm sorry I haven't posted for a while, or kept up with any of my other social media. I've been working on a few new projects, enjoying the weather, worrying about a chicken, contemplating life, the universe and everything, and so I had to step away for a couple of weeks.

It got me to thinking, though, how one goes about being a truly reclusive writer. I mean, you have to be famous before anyone cares whether you're accessible, right? Are you a recluse if no one is seeking you out? And these days, is it possible to be famous in the first place without being accessible?

Sometimes I fantasize about dropping off the face of the e-earth, deleting all accounts, and having my name appear nowhere except the covers of my books. Do you? Would you? Could you?


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Under the Green Hill is Out in Paperback

I can hardly believe it has been almost a year since my first book, Under the Green Hill, was released. Now, just a few days ago, they've released a stunning new paperback edition.

Macmillan/Square Fish has done an amazing job of revitalizing the series, with a brand-new cover by Jon Foster. He also did the cover for the sequel, Guardian of the Green Hill, which will be out in about three more weeks. The interior line art in both books is by David Wyatt.

For the paperback edition, Square Fish has included a long and intimate interview with yours truly, and a sneak peek at the first chapter of the sequel.

I'm so very happy that people are still discovering Under the Green Hill. I had this lovely review not long ago. I hope this new paperback edition will entice a lot more readers into the treacherous and exciting fairy world that lies Under the Green Hill!