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If you thought the strafing hawks in Leviathan seemed unbelievable, behold the 1912 French air force experiments with eagles:
Note that these weren’t engineered creatures like in my books, nor were they equipped with special razor talons. They were just regular eagles using their own claws.
Of course, in 1912 airplanes were barely reaching tops speeds of 160KPH (100MPH), and the world altitude record was about 4000 meters (13,000 ft) for heavier-than-air craft. Depending on the species, eagles can get close to that speed while diving, and have been spotted at higher altitudes.
I’m not sure what top airship altitude is in 1912, but it was probably higher than 4000 meters. But there’s no way an airship could go faster than an eagle back then. So the whole thing probably seemed feasible, except for the tricking business of training eagles to attack something much bigger, and to tell friend from foe.
I have no idea how long this program lasted, but it probably didn’t bear much fruit. (Lucky for the eagles, who got to stay out of the Great War. Though the pigeons wound up fighting.) By 1914, planes were flying at up to 200KPH and at altitudes of 6000 meters, beyond the capacity of any bird to hunt.
But as I often say, you can’t always tell what technologies are feasible before they’re invented. From way back then, walking machines and fighting eagles looked like a real possibility.
Okay, I’m still matching any contributions you guys make to the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, the wing of Nano that assists teen novelists. The YWP is revamping their website, refreshing their already excellent (and free!) curriculum guides for schools who participate in Nano, and expanding their outreach to correctional facilities, halfway houses, and juvenile detention facilities.
Donate in the next month through this website, Justine and I will match the first ten grand of your donations.
As a little kid, I understood by doing. I rarely listened to music without picking up an instrument, or watched TV without twitching along with the scenes, like those old guys whose shoulders dip and fists clench whenever a boxing match is on. More important to the ultimate course of my life, I couldn’t read without writing.
The word “fanfic” had barely been invented in those pre-internet days, but I spent thousands of pages cloning Tolkien, wrote many proto-novels channeling Joanna Russ, and still commit the occasional Raymond Chandler-esque simile.
Writing has always been a part of my reading. I think it’s a part of any writer’s reading. We understand books by making them.
But I’m here today to raise money. This year, the NaNoWriMo Associate Board is focusing on the Young Writers Program, the wing of Nano that assists teen novelists. The YWP is revamping their website, refreshing their already excellent (and free!) curriculum guides for schools who participate in Nano, and expanding their outreach to correctional facilities, halfway houses, and juvenile detention facilities.
This is all great stuff. If you love novels and writers, you should help out. And as a bonus, if you donate in the next month through this website, I’ll match the first ten grand of your donations.
Seriously. We all want to see the novel flourish in the future, right? We want young people to understand the form, to embrace its history and its future, and to continue the mad practice of creating these absurdly long, imperfect strings of text.
As you know, I’ve already revealed the cover of Afterworlds, three posts ago. But I also wanted to show you the cover of the special advanced readers’ copies (ARCs) sent to bookstore owners and the like, because it’s seriously my favorite promotional object of my entire career:
Now, I know that looks like the back cover, but it’s the FRONT, because the blurbs were so funny that Sales was like, “Put them on the front!” (And yes, they are real blurbs. Thanks to John, Maureen, and Shannon!)
Alas, only 200 copies of this were printed, and they are hard to acquire. I only own three, and you can’t have them!
For those of you in the trade, there will be many more ARCs with the real cover, at places like Book Expo America. (I’m signing there!) But I love that these silly ones are in short supply.
Also, I knew this thing was long, but now that it’s here in physical form and 599 pages, I realize how THICK that is:
As you can see it’s 5cm (2 inches) thick, almost twice as fat as Justine‘s next book, Razorhurst. Which is her longest book yet.
Of course, I’m cheating because it’s really two books (Darcy’s book and the book about Darcy). But still, I win.
Here’s a longer video from The Creator’s Project (a Vice and Intel collaboration), about the Future of Storytelling work that the USC School of Cinematic Arts World Building Media Lab has been doing with my Leviathan series.
What interests me about this project is that it’s a form of extreme rpg/fan fiction. They’re taking the raw materials of the world of Leviathan and building it into a digital environment that’s both interactive and useful for telling extended stories, often with different characters, altered timelines, and crazy new beasties. For me, it fires the same brain cells as when you guys write fan fic, that sense that my and Keith’s world keeps echoing out there somewhere in other people’s brains, where those characters (and new ones) get to have more adventures.
So thanks to the students at USC and their sponsors, and to all you guys who write fan fic and generally let your imaginations roam.
For the next week, I’ll answer any non-spoilery questions about my next novel left comment thread of this post.
Let me answer a few obvious questions, just to get them out of the way: Afterworlds comes out September 23, 2014.
It will be published by S&S in the US and UK, Penguin in Australia, Pocket Jeunesse in France, and Eksmo in Russia.
More countries/languages to come!
I will be going on tour (no firm schedule till late summer).
No movie or TV deals on Afterworlds yet.
Over to you guys now. Ask away!
(Note: Questions about other books will be mocked or ignored!)
I’ve already seen the cover, of course, and it’s quite awesome! The best thing is, it gets better once you’ve read the book. Like, there are meanings in this cover, which are subtle and cool.
The cover will appear on this blog shortly thereafter. Actually, it might be a couple of hours, because it’ll be super early here in New Zealand. (I saw a kiwi bird today. They are hilarious.)
Also tomorrow, but at 5PM EST, I’m doing an “Ask Me Anything” at Reddit, the front page of the internet. It’s most of the authors represented in Humble Bundle 3 (which you can still go buy right now by clicking here! Eleven books for $13!) So that’s me, Holly Black, Dia Reeves, Justine Larbalestier, and many more.
It’s a set of e-books (or video games) that are sold together to raise money for charity and for the creators of the books.
Here’s why it’s cool:
1) It’s super cheap. In fact, you pay whatever price you want. The only limit is, if you pay less than the average of all previous purchases, you only get four of the books. But if you pay the current average or more, you get the two “locked” books as well (one of which is Uglies). The average payment currently stands at US $10.87. Not too bad for six books! And if you pay $15 or more, you also get an audio version Cory Doctorow’s Homeland.
But wait! There’s more! A set of mystery books will appear soon, and you’ll get those books too if you pay the average or more. So many books for a bit over ten bucks.
A slightly helpful infographic:
2) Humble Bundles support charity. In fact, you can choose how much of your payment goes to charity and how much to the creators (and you also can tip Humble Bundle for providing the infrastructure). The charities for this bundle are WorldReader, a global literacy charity, and the SFWA emergency fund, which helps science fiction writers who find themselves bankrupted by medical bills.
3) All the e-books are DRM-free. You can use them on any device and make as many copies for personal use as you desire. (We are trusting you not to be pirates. Please do not be pirates.)
4) The books are good: The Best Days of Our Lives by Wil Wheaton Tithe by Holly Black Jumper by Stephen Gould Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier Mogworld by Yahtzee Crowshaw Uglies by me Homeland (exclusive audio version) by Cory Doctorow
Plus bonus mystery books by mystery authors! (I am fancy and already know what they are and they are great! Note: Not actually mysteries in the genre sense. More like YA.)
In other words, a combination of classic and new YA, and some nonfiction to boot. Plus secret bonus books, which is fun.
As I write this, 12,950 bundles have sold, raising $136,889.60!
Anyway, to buy the bundle simply go to humblebundle.com and cough up some bucks. Do this within 12 days!
So why am I participating in this process?
1) I will get some money out of it. That’s cool.
2) Money will be raised for two fine charities. Global literacy means more readers in the world, which is good for me and for civilization, and emergency medical funds for sf writers are often needed. (I live in the socialist hellscape of Australia, so my medical bills are guaranteed for life. But I have lots of friends who might need this one day.)
3) People will read Uglies for this almost free price and then go buy other books by me for real money. (An old trick.)
4) People who come to buy Uglies will get exposed to the other books on the list, which will be good for those lovely authors! (The reverse is also true, but covered under 1 and 3.)
5) It seemed like the cool kids were doing this. And it’s fun to watch the counter go up and more money appear.
Still not sold? Because, like, all you guys already have Uglies? Surely this video will change your mind:
More Uglies TV show news here soon! (But not instantly, because Hollywood.)
The piece has lots of interesting details about the book, and some bonus news about the super secret Uglies deal I’ve been working on for the last few months. (More on that in the next few weeks, right here!) Also news about my “How to Write YA” book, which also comes out this year, and which will be serialized on this very blog.
And just to round things out, here’s the lovely cover from the Hungarian edition of Goliath, painted by Richárd Vass:
There will be lots more in this blog about Afterworlds as the year goes on!
Last July, Justine and I taught at the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers, a science fiction, fantasy, and horror writing camp for people 14-19. It was tons of fun (pic here) and we learned a lot. So when Alpha asked me if I would lend space for their fund-raising and young-writer-recruiting blog tour, I said yes.
So here’s a post by Sarah Brand, an Alpha alum, talking about how workshops and the communities they form help us all to become better writers.
In the summer of 2006, I attended the Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers for the first time. As I boarded the plane to Pittsburgh, easily the farthest I had ever traveled on my own at that point, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being a somewhat anxious, awkward girl, I didn’t know whether I would make friends. But maybe I would learn more about writing, or how to get published. Maybe Tamora Pierce, who teaches at Alpha every year, would look at my novel. (I had brought a printout of all 300 pages just in case.)
I was right about some things, and wrong about others. I did learn a lot about the craft and business of writing, enough to recognize that my novel still needed a lot of work. (Tammy didn’t look at it, which was definitely for the best.) And though I was anxious and awkward, and though minor disasters kept happening to me—getting stung by mysterious bugs, making my parents worry by forgetting to call home, and the like—I felt completely at home with the workshop’s staff and the other students. Something magical was happening.
After ten days, the workshop ended, and I went home. But something was different, something that had never happened to me after any summer camp before: I kept in touch with my fellow Alphans, regularly, via LiveJournal and email. We commiserated about school and traded drafts of stories for critique. Even months after the workshop, I felt as close to some Alphans as I did to other friends I had known all my life. Maybe geography had cruelly scattered us from California to New Zealand and everywhere in between, but we were united by our love of making stories happen, and bringing strange new worlds to life.
In 2009, after I had returned to Alpha twice more—once as a second-year student and once as a staff member—fellow Alpha graduates Rachel Sobel and Rebecca McNulty founded the alpha-crits community, which soon became the way many Alphans stayed in touch. In addition to trading critiques, we celebrate each other’s writing accomplishments and publishing successes. For four particularly memorable months, the moderators ran the “700 words a day or shame!” thread, which resulted in Alphans collectively writing 875,799 words in that time. Also, every year as the deadline for the Dell Magazines Award approaches, eligible Alphans frantically write and revise stories for the contest, and everyone pitches in to give critiques with an extra fast turnaround time. (A couple of months later, we all join in the nail-biting until the finalists are announced.)
Importantly, the members of alpha-crits encourage each other to write things and send them out, continuing the time-honored Alphan tradition of treating rejections from agents and editors as a badge of honor. (Rejections, we have all learned, mean that you are writing things and sending them out, and that is always a step forward, even if it doesn’t feel like it.)
Even if I had never attended Alpha, I think I would still be writing. The entire course of the last eight years of my life would be different, sure, but in the end, telling stories is part of who I am. But being part of a community of such fabulous writers—not only brilliant and talented, but also uniformly encouraging and kind—has made the journey much easier, and a lot more fun.
And lest you might think I’m the only one who feels this way, I reached out to other Alphans to get their thoughts. Alpha graduate Marina Goggin had this to say: “One thing I hear a lot that I would never expect out of a two-week workshop is that Alpha changes lives. This is absolutely true… Being part of Alpha makes you a part of the writing world—even if you haven’t been published yet, someone you critiqued probably has been. Someone you know just got an agent, or a job at a publishing company. While I’m working to improve my writing, I’m encouraged by the fact that other Alphans have already been through the same process and are there to help me through it in turn.”
“I have a whole community of writer friends who I can go to for advice or encouragement should I ever need it,” added Alphan Mallory Trevino.
If you are between the ages of 14 and 19 and love writing science fiction, fantasy, or horror, you should apply to Alpha! This year’s workshop will be held July 25-August 3 in Pittsburgh, PA, and applications are due March 2. Everyone else: if you like the sound of Alpha and want to help the workshop, please consider donating to our scholarship fund, which helps students who couldn’t afford to attend Alpha otherwise. All donors receive a flash fiction anthology, written and illustrated by Alpha graduates, as a thank-you gift.
Sarah Brand attended Alpha in 2006 and 2007. She writes young adult science fiction and fantasy, and her fiction is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.
Just wrote a post for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the organization that compels tens of thousands of people to write tens of thousands of words every November.
For those non-November months, NaNo has a series about rewriting your first draft, called “What Now?” And given that my next novel is about a young writer who is rewriting her novel, it seemed sensible for me to contribute.
This might be useful for those of you who are rewriting, and for the rest of you, I briefly discuss the themes of my new novel, Afterworlds.
For the last couple of years, the USC School of Cinematic Arts World Building Media Lab has been working on a project based on my Leviathan series, in partnership with Intel. I visited the lab last July, and took lots of cool pictures, but have been waiting for them to reveal their work publicly before jumping in. They have, and I am.
What the lab is doing is a combination of high technology and storytelling, or what some of them call “extreme Leviathan fan fiction.” They’ve created a 3-d virtual model of the airship, both inside and out, backstories for all the crew members, and a host of ancillary material, like diaries and historical timelines (more detailed than any in the novels).
This expanded world can be experienced in a lot of ways. As print:
Or by walking around in the 3-D models of the airship using VR helmets and interact with the characters, which is what I’m doing here:
Or in a large group of people, interacting in 3-D with the story-stuff using tablet tech, like here at CES:
Obviously, this is pretty cool. (Note: The whale in that footage can only be seen through a phone or tablet, so many of the people there couldn’t see it. But a lot could, as you can hear from the cheers.) And it’s pretty overwhelming to walk into the labs at SCA and see all these smart people working in my world. It’s not unlike encountering fan-fiction archives based on my work, except this one has a multi-million-dollar budget for multimedia. In terms of material detail, this kind of world expansion takes Leviathan well past where Keith and I did.
And really, this is “future of entertainment” that people blather about. Not any specific technology, like tablet-3D or VR helmets, but this cooperative, expansive world-building. Whether it’s created by corporations who command massive resources and a stage at CES or a few thousand fan-ficcers typing quietly in the night, the thing that’s cool is the same: Someone gets inspired by my text (and Keith’s illustrations, of course) and deciding that this world MUST GET BIGGER, and, by jove, they’re the person to do it.
Of course, this is also the past of entertainment, when nobody “owned” stories, and everyone added to whatever was being told around the campfire. But new technologies do expand the ways we can make stories bigger, both in the objects we can create (3-D models!) and the ways we share them (Deviant Art!). So yeah, it’s not just the campfire anymore. It’s more like a campfire that’s linked to all the other campfire, and we can control the flames.
By the way, I love SCA’s redesign for the Leviathan itself, even though it’s not the bowhead whale of Keith’s (still canonical!) illustrations:
Anyway, I have more of this stuff to share with you (Click here for more from their press kit), but I have the rewrites for Afterworlds due on Monday, so I really should stop procrastiblogging and end here.
Hope you’re having a lovely new year.
(Bonus Info: That Uglies news that I’ve been promising you almost fell through, but then it didn’t. And it will be released for public consumption sooner or later.)
Just received the new Japanese cover for Leviathan, the paperback version!
(Actually, the previous edition was also a paperback, but a larger format. For my future bibliographers: the old one was 184mm x 106mm, and this new one is 148mm x 105mm.)
In any case, here’s the new Japanese cover!
I like how this cover is a bit darker, and steampunkier, than the old one. Alek looks a bit less young, and his goggles are better too. Also, it has a blurb from Hideaki Sena, novelist, microbiologist, and president of the SF&F Writers of Japan. Thanks for that!
For comparison, here’s the old one:
Can’t wait to see the rest of the series come out with this new look.
Click here to see my collected covers, for editions foreign and domestic.
And for Uglies on Kobo, click here. (Leviathan isn’t on sale on Kobo. Sorry!)
If the internets somehow brought you here with no knowledge of what these books are about, you can check them out here and here.
What the hell. I’m just going to throw in some laudatory quotes:
“Full of nonstop action, this steampunk adventure is sure to become a classic.”
—School Library Journal
“When a book pursues you into your dreams, you can’t ignore it.”
“Wouldn’t it be cool if the First World War had been fought with genetically engineered mutant animals, against steam-powered walking machines? And the answer is, Yes, it would.”
—The New York Times
“A superb piece of popular art.”
—New York Times
“This book, the first in a trilogy, asks engaging questions about the meaning of beauty, individuality, and betrayal. Highly recommended for SF fans or anyone who likes a good, thoughtful adventure.” Kliatt (starred)
“With a beginning and ending that pack hefty punches, this introduction to a dystopic future promises an exciting series.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Please enjoy the Russian cover of Goliath. The book comes out in December in Russia!
And here are the others, for your referencing pleasure:
The lovely Leviathan:
And the possibly even more awesome Behemoth:
Things I like about this series of covers:
Book 1 has Deryn, Book 2 has Alek, and Book 3 has them both. Like the US paperbacks, but with Deryn first.
The clothes are great (especially Alek’s leather trousers). Painter can paint.
Love the Leviathan itself. True to the book, but it glows in a way that only this color medium can produce.
The person in front with the Big Object in the background is kind of a theme of the books. That is, the struggles of the characters are foregrounded, but the scale of background events (and creatures and machines) is always huge and within view. Keith was very careful that the illustrations always alternated between close-ups to pulled-out images, from faces to Big Stuff. It’s nice to see both scales represented here on all three covers.
Well done, Eksmo.
ALSO: If you’ve never read this book I wrote called Uglies before, you can do so now for free on PulseIt, but you have to join up to do so.
First of all, thanks to everyone who came to the Mortal Instruments viewing last night here in Sydney. It was a gas, and the screams were many. So. Many. Screams. Also, I got to sign someone’s Chicken McNuggets box, because global capitalism is global.
I have some cool Leviathan VR pictures to show you, but first here’s a post about my next two weeks. I’ll be at the Melbourne and Brisbane Writers Festivals, and hope that some of you will be too.
Tuesday, 27 August
12:30 PM – 1:15 PM
ACMI Cinema 2
Corner Flinders and Swanston Streets Science/Fiction
Participants: Scott Westerfeld
Chairperson: Rob James Scott Westerfeld grew up surrounded by science and technology. It’s no wonder that his books – including Uglies, Leviathan, Midnighters and Peeps – are shaped by science. Find out what makes his stories tick, and how science can be a novelist’s best friend.
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
10:00 AM – 10:45 AM
Deakin Edge, Fed Square Federation Square
Corner Flinders and Swanston Streets The Steampunk World of Leviathan
Participants: Scott Westerfeld, Naomi O’Brien-D’Ambra The Leviathan trilogy is set in a steampunk World War I. The books even look like they were published in 1914, when almost all books were illustrated, even books for adults. Tour this extraordinarily rich world with the perfect guide, author Scott Westerfeld.
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
12:30 PM – 1:15 PM
ACMI Cinema 2
Corner Flinders and Swanston Streets Science Fiction, Science Fact
Participants: Scott Westerfeld, Michael Pryor
Chairperson: Andrew McDonald Scott Westerfeld and Michael Pryor talk about the inventions and ideas first put forward in fiction, later proved to be fact – or wildly off the mark. Who is the better guide: scientist or novelist? Or does the future rely on both?
I’m also teaching a YA Writing masterclass, but that is sold out.
Friday Sept 6th
Maiwar Green, State Library of Queensland
‘Juvenilia’ Featuring Kevin Kwan, Clementine Ford, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Kimberley Freeman (Kim Wilkins), Stuart MacBride and Benjamin Law reading work they scribbled in their youth. A special ‘Juvenilia’ mixed tape set by Simon Reynolds will wrap up the night.
No ticket required.
Saturday Sept 7th
State Library of Queensland
‘Dystopias’ Scott Westerfeld and Max Barry talk with Marianne de Pierres about dystopias, being a teenager in a world that wants to kill you and our fascination with broken futures.
Justine and I are teaching a YA class here too. Also sold out.
And I’m also doing two sessions in the kids section, but I think those are limited to schools. If I’m wrong about that, go here and check them out.
I’ll be blogging more about my trip soon, but first a note about the opening of the City of Bones movie next week. Justine and I will be hosting a first-night screening here in Sydney, which is put together by Kinokuniya Bookstore. There will also be a special greeting from Cassie herself, using some sort of magic. (Or possibly recording devices.)
So if you live in Sydney, and enjoy seeing movies on the first night with a screaming, rambunctious, has-read-the-book-several-times crowd, I suggest coming along.
Justine and I have spent the last six weeks traveling in the US, which is why there have been zero postings here. Apologies! I realize that this hasn’t been a very bloggy year for me, but it has been a writey year, and which would you rather have, really?
Let me take you on a slideshow of various things I did while in the States:
Shortly after I first arrived, I was greeted by the sight of my latest publication on bookstore shelves. It’s an essay in a collection called Breakfast on Mars, edited by Rebecca Stern and Brad Wolfe. Basically, it’s a bunch of YA writers taking on the dreaded essay, many teen’s least favorite form of writing.
My essay, for reasons you might guess, is all about illustrations in books.
If you’re a teacher or librarian, or anyone interested in non-fiction writing, you should check it out. If you ask me, Stern (a former fifth-grade English teacher) and Wolfe have helped fill a huge gap in the world of YA and middle-grade letters.
The next cool thing to happen on my trip was Manhattan Henge, a twice yearly astronomical event in which sundown lines up with the crosstown streets of Manhattan. It looks like this:
What were the ancient peoples who built Manhattan trying to tell us about May 28 and July 12? We may never know.
The third thing I did was have an amazing dinner with respected private citizen Maureen Johnson and her English offsider, Oscar Gingersnort. This was at 11 Madison, and included crazy-ass dishes like this one:
The courses were many and wondrous, and gave us the opportunity to plot the destruction of all other YA authors what to do at Leaky Con next year.
Nextly, I had a meeting with my excellent publishers about how to market my next book, Afterworlds. The ideas were many and wondrous, and will be revealed in due time. I can’t wait to see what you guys think of this book, which has been three years in the writing. (Because it’s really two books in one.)
Afterworlds will come out late next year, probably on October 28. (This date is a clue to the book’s subject matter! Spin on that one, fannish brains!)
One of my other projects for this trip was to start gathering my “papers,” all the editorial, artistic, and business flotsam that I’ve collected over the last two decades. I’ll be donating them to an as-yet-undetermined institute of higher learning as a huge tax dodge boon to future scholars.
The first step was to collect exactly one first printing of each of my foreign editions, a project which, even in its opening stages, ate my living room floor:
I also found my very first (incomplete) novel, the least embarrassing page of which looks like this:
And that’s all you will ever see of that novel, unless you travel to the as-yet-undetermined institute of higher learning personally. (It’ll be in the box with the big padlock encrusted with contact poison.)
I just realized that this piece of juvenilia is called Keeps, only one letter away from a somewhat more recent (and less appalling) novel of mine. I wonder what the ancient peoples who made me become a writer were trying to tell us about the letters “-eeps.”
In mid-July, Justine and I also had the great pleasure of teaching at Alpha, a residential sf, fantasy, and horror writing workshop for teenagers (basically, a week-and-a-half-long genre writing camp). The young writers and the staff there were smart, committed, and tremendously stylish, as you can see here:
We had a great time. The awesomeness of the students makes me think we’ll do more teaching of this kind in the future. Watch this space for details.
Also, there was a waffle tower. I haz proof:
From there, I traveled onward to San Diego Comic Con, the premier geekfest of our time. There I had many and wondrous business meetings, which you will see the fruits of soon right here. Also many costumes were witnessed. The best of which was Sharknado Hat:
I also enjoyed this shirtless steampunk dinosaur hunter (based on a Greg Broadmoor comic, I think):
Also witnessed were a cavalcade of capitalism aimed directly at the geek dollar, like these bathrobes:
And these leggings:
So let me get this straight. These are Dr Who-themed leggings in the style of van Gogh. In the words of Tally Youngblood, isn’t that one thing too many? (Nah. It’s probably one thing too few. And, yes, I know the reference from the show.)
After SDCC, Justine and I spent a week in LA, where various meetings were had. Some of these shall be the subject of my next blog post. But no, there is no fresh movie news of consequence. The usual movie options are afoot, but the feet in question are slow moving. Sorry to disappoint you. The wheel of Hollywood turns slowly, but it grinds exceedingly fine. (Not really. It usually grinds pretty crappily. But it does grind onward in the case of Uglies and Leviathan. We shall see.)
Okay, more about the trip in a week or so. I’ll be blogging here more often, because I’m almost done with Afterworlds. Thanks to all of you who’ve stuck around and enlivened the comments section while I’ve been writing.
I have three appearances at MWF this August. If you’re in Melbourne, now might be a good time to book them. (The first appears to be sold out already.)
NOTE: The MWF brochure says that adults can only come to school events if they are accompanying a child. On the website, however, you can just buy an “Extra Adult” ticket alone. Or, you can just rent a kid. I’m not sure anyone will actually kick you out either way.
Tuesday 27 Aug 2013 at 12.30 pm
Scott Westerfeld grew up surrounded by science and technology. It’s no wonder that his books – including Uglies, Leviathan, Midnighters and Peeps – are shaped by science. Find out what makes his stories tick, and how science can be a novelist’s best friend.
Wednesday 28 Aug 2013 at 10.00 am
THE STEAMPUNK WORLD OF LEVIATHAN
The Leviathan trilogy is set in a steampunk World War I. The books even look like they were published in 1914, when almost all books were illustrated, even books for adults. Tour this extraordinarily rich world with the perfect guide, author Scott Westerfeld.
Venue: Deakin Edge
Code: 1701; Age: Year 5-8
Wednesday 28 Aug 2013 at 12.30 pm
SCIENCE FICTION SCIENCE FACT
Scott Westerfeld and Michael Pryor talk about the inventions and ideas first put forward in fiction, later proved to be fact – or wildly off the mark. Who is the better guide: scientist or novelist? Or does the future rely on both?
I AM BACK. Yes, it’s been a while. But I’ve been writing, and a week ago I finished the first draft of my NEXT NOVEL. It is 135,000 words long, almost as long as Uglies and Pretties put together!
At the moment, this draft is with my agent and editor, and various novelist friends of mine. They’ll all have a gander and get back to me with comments and suggestions, and then there will be rewrites, copyedits, page proofs, sales meetings, cover designs, advanced reader copies, etc. Getting through all these stages means that Afterworlds will come out on October 28, 2014.
Yep. A year from now.
As always when I finish a book, I made a word cloud of Afterworlds. Word clouds take the most commonly occurring words in the text (omitting obvious ones like “the” and “was”) and size them by how often they appear.
I make these clouds partly to amuse and titillate you guys, and partly to make sure that there aren’t any overused words stinking up the joint. Check it out:
Okay, so what do we have here?
Darcy is the main character, so she’s the biggest word, naturally. Imogen is also key, as are Yamaraj and Lizzie. (Lizzie looks small to me, but her sections are in first person, so her name doesn’t appear as much!) Mindy, Kiralee, and Nisha are the other characters to appear, and they all seem about the right size. And yes, there is an important character that shows up as “mother”/”mom”.
Of the Dreaded Overused Words I look for, most aren’t there. No “eyebrows” or “frowned,” thank heavens. No “smiled” or “laughed.” But I will probably take a look at “looked” and “stared” when I do the rewrites. Looking ain’t a verb you need too much of.
What I mostly notice from this is how plain the words are. There’s very little sign of the genre of book I’ve written. To see what I mean, check out the word cloud of my last novel, Goliath:
Along with all the character names, his cloud has lots of words from the Leviathan milieu: “airship,” “Clanker,” “captain,” “cargo,” and “engines.” But you don’t have any of those in my new cloud. This is partly because Afterworlds is contemporary, and half of the book has no fantastic elements at all.
Indeed, this is a story told in relatively simple words. Notice “bad” and “little” in there, which make perfect sense. (Gotta read it to see why.) This makes sense, now that I see it revealed in the cloud. Must contemplate what it means, though. Certainly there’s a bit less world-building in Afterworlds than there was in the Leviathan series, but that makes sense for a stand-alone novel.
For more on the story of the book, check out this podcast with Sarah Wendell of SBTB. It’s her interviewing me and Justine in Brisbane, and we discuss both our next-year books. Click here, then go to the bottom of that page and click the player controls to listen. Lots of me talking about the plot, which some might find a bit spoilery!
The Blue Mountains have been on fire the last couple of days, which is definitely not a good thing for Sydney. Bushfires are a natural part of the cycle of nature in Australia, but it doesn’t usually start up before the first day of summer. (It’s the middle of spring down here.)
This bodes ill for the next few months (and for the next few centuries of climatic uncertainty).
Here’s what Sydney looked like from my terrace yesterday at four in the afternoon. Note that the sun was high:
Click that image for the bigger, scarier version.
Justine and I are safe in the concrete jungle, of course, many kilometers away from the fire. But we’re still breathing it, and we’ve got friends whose homes are at risk.
On a lighter note, here’s an interview I did with Amy Stevenson of 4ZZZ Radio here in Australia. I talk about the Leviathan series a lot, but also about my next novel, Afterworlds.