More exciting news today, especially for my American friends — I’m thrilled to announce that my debut book, OUR HIDEOUS PROGENY, has been acquired in the US by Wendy Wong at Harper Collins! 🥳
I’m so thankful to my US co-agent, Tamara Kawar, for negotiating this deal, and so excited to work with Wendy on editing OHP! We’ve already been working together for a few weeks now, along with my UK editor Kirsty, and I feel so fortunate to have such an enthusiastic and talented team helping me bring OHP into the world.
Speaking of, I’d better get back to the edits grindstone; US friends, mark your calendars for spring 2023!
PHEW! Happy New Year, all! This past year, I’m proud to announce, I set myself a goal of reading 100 books — and on Dec 30, I hit that goal!
I was initially inspired to set this goal a few years ago, when I read an interview with V. E. Schwab (the link to which I have sadly long since list) in which she said that she reads at least 100 books a year, and has done since 2016. (In fact, according to Goodreads, she read 159 books in 2021 — good God!!) She said that the improvement she noticed in her writing skills was simply too great to ignore, and she’s made a yearly habit ever since.
When I initially read this interview, I was — like most people, I would bet — utterly flabbergasted. Plus, a little bit insecure; I didn’t even read a dozen books this year, how the hell did she manage ten times that! etc. At the time, I was still at college, and such a goal would have been a pure impossibility. This year, however, was my first settled year as an (almost) full-time writer, and thus I finally had the time to set and achieve this same goal myself. I’m also lucky enough to have access to a fantastic library with a wide selection of audiobooks, which probably comprised about 75% of the books I read (i.e. listened to at 1.25x speed) this year. If not for this, and my ADHD Need to listen to audio content At All Times (literally. Even in the bath), then I would never have hit my goal.
I can’t speak yet as to whether this endeavour has improved my writing skills as it did for Schwab, as I’ve largely been in the editing trenches this past year, but I can say that the number and breadth of books I’ve read this year has definitely filled me with motivation and inspiration! I’ve always found reading a good way to get myself out of a writing slump — it’s as if my brain simply ‘runs out of words,’ until I fill it up again with someone else’s and shake it all about like a snow globe until my own sentences come tumbling out. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience this year, and I plan to set the same goal for myself next year.
So, after several years spent watching ‘awards eligibility posts’ pop up every year on social media and wondering ‘What’s that about? Ah well, doesn’t concern me anyway,’ I was finally forced to put on my Big Writer Hat and learn — because I had a short story published this year!
TtBTtBTBLB (as I lovingly call it) is a story of gods and sacrifices, mountains and mental illness — and what happens when the person picked as sacrifice is unfortunately all-too-willing to go. (Content warning below if you need them.) It’s weird, queer, and dear to my heart, and if you have a moment and/or you’re currently considering nominations for awards, I’d be thrilled if you gave it a read.
This is also my first year of eligibility for the Astounding Award! In case you’re not familiar, this is an award for new writers whose first professional work of science fiction or fantasy was published in the last two years. Again, if you’re reading for the Astounding I’d be over the moon if you consider giving my story a look!
P. S.: Content warnings for “Things to Bring, Things to Burn, Things Best Left Behind”: a (non-graphic) near-suicide-attempt on the first page, suicidal ideation throughout, and several brief, implied mentions of transphobia and an emotionally abusive parent.
Absolutely fantastic news today: my debut novel, the Frankenstein-inspired paleontological gothic OUR HIDEOUS PROGENY, has been acquired by Kirsty Dunseath at Doubleday!
It’s been such an exciting week, and I’m thrilled I get to announce this at last! Innumerable thanks to my agent, Sue, for all her hard work (and for managing to negotiate this deal while BOTH she and Kirsty were on trains, no less!). When Sue first sent OHP out to editors, I settled myself in for what I’d heard could be a long and trying process, only to be absolutely blown away by the speed and enthusiasm of the responses — Kirsty’s first among them! I’m so grateful to Sue for her Agenty Expertise, and can’t wait to bear witness to Kirsty’s Editory Expertise as we work more on OHP over the next year. It’s always wonderful to meet someone who feels like they truly love and understand your work, and Kirsty Dunseath is just such a someone. OHP couldn’t be in better hands 🙂
Oh, and did I mention it’s a double book deal?! Speaking of, I’d better get to work writing; more news on OHP and my as-of-yet-secret Book 2 to come!
You can read the full press release on The Bookseller here!
Hunger, Red—to sate a hunger or to stoke it, to feel hunger as a furnace, to trace its edges like teeth—is this a thing you, singly, know? Have you ever had a hunger that whetted itself on what you fed it, sharpened so keen and bright that it might split you open, break a new thing out? Sometimes I think that’s what I have instead of friends.
Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, This is How you lose the time war
Last year I posted a review of This Is How You Lose the Time War to the tune of “This is one of those books that are so good you can’t wait to read them again in a year when all the best bits will seem new again” — and what do you know, I just finished doing exactly that! I listened to the audiobook version this time rather than reading my physical copy, and it was an all new and thoroughly delightful experience. The narrators were brilliant, and El-Mohtar and Gladstone are stunning writers; the prose flows like honey, the characters are sharp and witty and complex, and their central romance — spanning countless millennia, across timelines both real and imagined — feels somehow epic and intimate at the same time. I can’t wait to gush over this one with my book club tonight (and in all likelihood, reread it again next year!)
Long time no post! I’m trying to get back into the habit of posting about the books I’m reading, so I thought I’d start off with The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune. This is the first of T. J. Klune’s books I’ve read, dare I say the first of MANY, because this book was just so damn good. I originally picked it up because I saw that V. E. Schwab had described it as “like being wrapped up in a big gay blanket,” and by golly folks, she’s right; if you’re looking for something to soothe your nerves in these trying times then this is it!
The House in the Cerulean Sea follows Linus Baker, a reserved and sensible man who works as a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. Linus leads a dreary life in the city, in which his only joy in life seems to be the beach-themed mousepad on his office desk; this all changes, however, when he’s given a secret assignment by Extremely Upper Management and send to inspect an orphanage on scenic Marsyas Island. As he gets to know the orphanage’s mysterious caretaker Arthur Parnassus, as well as his six charges (children classified by the department as ‘extremely dangerous’), Linus is forced to reconsider everything he knows about the system he works for. (And, of course, fall in luurv!)(That isn’t a spoiler. If you can’t tell from the jacket blurb that romance is on the table here then clearly you don’t understand the meaning of “big gay blanket.”)
I’m always a sucker for found family, so you can probably imagine that this book grabbed me squarely in the feelings and did not let go. As well as being charming and funny throughout (at the beginning especially, the surreal satire of office drudgery gave me Douglas Adams/Terry Pratchett vibes), it also addresses the othering of minorities and the cruelty of government bureaucracy towards disadvantaged populations — even those groups they supposedly claim to protect. All in all a lovely reading experience, and I highly recommend!
Last night I finally got a chance to sit down and binge the rest of THE INVERTS by Crystal Jeans (coming April 2021)! My lovely agent gave me a proof of this one way back in October, but for several reasons (i.e. moving into a new house, painting & fixing up said new house, editing my book, and Having Seasonal Depression) it took me a ridiculous amount of time to finish this one. In the meantime, it’s been sitting upon my windowsill prettying up my view each day, because honestly, have you seen this cover?? The instant I saw it, it made me yearn both for a packet of rainbow Nerds and a bespoke purple suit to wear to lavish gay dinner parties. (Although unfortunately, given the state of 2020, the only one of these which I foresee in my future is a whole lot of Nerds.)
As one might be able to guess from the excellent cover, The Inverts is about two best friends, Bart and Bettina, who decide to get married — to disguise the fact that they’re both gay. The book follows their lives through the glitz of the 20s, the glam of the 30s, and the grim days of the 40s, as their friendship is tested to its limits by the strain of war and parenthood. I will admit I was quite surprised by how serious the book got at times, given that it seemed quite light-hearted at first; but I am glad that serious side is there, and that Crystal Jeans provided a realistic glimpse here into many of the struggles faced by real queer individuals in the first half of the 20th century.
I absolutely loved Bart and Bettina, and thoroughly enjoyed following their riotous, queer, champagne-soaked adventures. Keep an eye out for this one hitting shelves on April 1st 2021! 📚
* After checking out the following content warnings, of course:
Content warnings for the Author Spotlight: non-graphic discussion of depression, suicide, and suicidal ideation
Content warnings for “Things to Bring, Things to Burn, Things Best Left Behind:”a (non-graphic) near-suicide-attempt on the first page, suicidal ideation throughout, and several brief, implied mentions of transphobia and an emotionally abusive parent.
Hi all! I’m thrilled to announce that my new story, “Things to Bring, Things to Burn, Things Best Left Behind”just came out in Fantasy Magazine!
TtBTtBTBLB (as I affectionately call it) is a sort of speculative parable about gods and sacrifices, mountains and mental illness—and what happens when the unfortunate soul picked as a sacrifice is all too-willing to go. It’s here, it’s queer, it’s dear to my heart, and it comes with a HEFTY series of content warnings (see below, if you don’t mind the spoilers).
Stay tuned for more yelling later this week when my author spotlight comes out, too—aaaaaaah!!
[Trigger/content warnings for “Things to Bring, Things to Burn, Things Best Left Behind:”a (non-graphic) near-suicide-attempt on the first page, suicidal ideation throughout, and several brief, implied mentions of transphobia and an emotionally abusive parent.]
A few days ago, I finished reading The Way Back by Gavriel Savit (a Jewish historical fantasy about two children’s charming and macabre adventures through a land of demons called the Far Country), which marks my 60th book read in 2020, and the completion of my Goodreads Reading Challenge for this year! (Phew, squeezed that in JUST under the wire.)
I will admit, I did not start out with a goal of reading 60 books this year. In fact, if I recall correctly, I started at 35 (a modest improvement on my previous year’s total of 30) and hiked it up several times along the way, as I challenged myself further. This was the first calendar year since I started college that I’ve had as much time to read as I’ve always longed for, and I wanted to see just what ridiculous number I could push myself to! (Though in fairness, it must be noted that almost a third of the books I read were middle grade, novellas, or graphic novels, and thus pretty short — so with that in mind I suppose 60 isn’t too ridiculous.)
Here’s to all the wonderful books released this year that helped make 2020 less terrible, and here’s to (hopefully) a safer and saner world in 2021!