Tag: servant of the underworld

Yes, more drooling over covers…


If you fancy neat wallpapers, my French publisher has put up the one for the French edition of Servant of the Underworld:

Wallpaper Obsidienne
Available in 1024 x 768, 1280 x 768 and 1920 x 1200 here (scroll down, it’s under “Fantasy”, at the very bottom of the category)

And you can check out the wallpapers for their other neat covers, too!

(yes, yes, I will stop displaying the awesome cover at some point… Trust me. If only because my publisher is going to run out of ideas on how to display it in new forms…)

Further cover admiration


Because, you know, I can’t get enough of it, and also because my French editor was kind enough to send me further pictures, which included the entire book jacket…

Wraparound to French edition

Click for further zoom (it’s a bit of a big image, sorry). As you can see, the awesome Priest of the Dead in the front has extra pyramids on the back. The leftmost item is a detachable bookmark, which is a feature of all their books: once you remove it, the inside flaps just have my bio and a longer summary than the bullet-point one at the back of the book. And you are the proud possessor of an Acatl bookmark, of course 🙂

I’m told there will be a feature on the publisher’s blog which details the process of making the cover–further info when I have it.

I feel spoiled.
(and yes, I promise I’ll stop drooling at some point, but it’s hard. Not only is it beautiful, it’s also my native language edition. Which my entire family can read, and which is going to be sold in bookshops near me. It’s a very weird thought)

Linky linky


-Reviews of Harbinger of the Storm by Antony at SFbook.com and by Josh Vogt at Examiner.com. And one of Servant of the Underworld by Hannah Mariska at Fantasy Faction
-Also, if you feel like voting for Servant of the Underworld in the BSC Book Tournament, by all means go ahead 🙂 (it’s set against Ian McDonald’s superlative The Dervish House, though…)

The Shiny


Look at what I have!
The manuscript!
And my notes

Yes, it’s the French version of Servant of the Underworld, which I have two weeks to reread and annotate. So far, it reads wonderfully if a little weirdly (in the “did I write this?” vein). Had a lovely chat with the editorly folks yesterday; and the artist is apparently starting work on a series of three new covers for the French version–which will be Aztec portraits. Shiny!

“It’s a crime” on Salon Futura


Check out the new Salon Futura, in which Cheryl Morgan, Mike Carey, Jon Courtenay Grimwood and I talk about crossovers between crime and speculative fiction. On my end, I found the discussion and breadth of knowledge fascinating–thanks to Cheryl for thinking of me, and to Mike and Jon for being such awesome people.
(there were some technical glitches which resulted in much swearing at BT, but nothing that should spoil your enjoyment of the show).

The rest of the issue is equally intriguing, with looks at new crime/spec fic merges, interviews with Ian McDonald and C.E Murphy, and lots of other appetising features.

Meanwhile, I shall go back to my stir-fried beef with onions (lots of onions leftover after a rather disastrous buy, had to do something with them…)

A quest, there’s a quest–wait a minute…


I’ve read somewhere that all good epic fantasy should have maps of the known world–well, I’m not exactly writing epic fantasy, but I’ve just added a special map page for Obsidian and Blood onto the website.
Of course, we all know I suck at drawing, so they’re just rough schematics, but if you’ve always wondered where exactly Acatl’s temple was in relation to the Great Temple or the Serpent Wall–this is the place to go.
(there might be minor inconsistencies with those in SoU and HoS, because I wasn’t smart enough to draw the maps beforehand)

Saturday morning medley


Bourgeois Nerd reviews Servant of the Underworld:

(…)we rarely get fantasy based in a non-Western setting and grounded in a different culture, and hardly ever does anything set in Mesoamerica get written. Servant of the Underworld changes that, introducing us to a world of jade and obsidian, where gods walk the world, mortals walk the divine realms, and blood powers the universe.
The next book in the series, Harbinger of the Storm, comes out in January, and I for one can’t wait to return to the shadows of Tenochtitlan.

-Made a trailer for Harbinger of the Storm, which is still in the editing stage. Hopefully it can be shared soon. What amazed me was how much faster it went, compared to the previous Servant of the Underworld trailer. I could feel I’d learnt a lot in the time in between, even though I didn’t touch anything remotely trailer-related in a year (aside from watching friends’ trailers, which I guess gave me a lot of cool ideas I could borrow). I’ll do a specific post a bit later about how I went about it and what I learnt.

-Finally, watch this space on Monday for author’s notes about “The Shipmaker” (now in out in issue 231 of Interzone)

Also, this:

Bowl of pho

Yup, made phở from scratch this week. Yum yum. Recipe forthcoming when I have a moment.
(ignore the poor lighting. The house’s electricity installation doesn’t quite satisfy late at night)



Apparently there’s some kind of weird backlash about Nanowrimo, as Mary Robinette Kowal and John Scalzi point out.

Since I’m currently nanoing at the moment, I can hardly tell you it’s not beneficial–but I thought it was an opportune moment to share in my experiences of NaNoWriMo. This is the fourth year I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo. My first was in 2007, when I wrote the draft of what was to become Servant of the Underworld.

I didn’t come to NaNoWriMo a novice: I’d completed two novels beforehand, but Servant of the Underworld was my first attempt at something that I could see professionally published. I came to NaNoWriMo having mainly written short stories for professional publications, and worrying I wouldn’t be able to take my newfound fiction abilities to the next level of writing: the whole scary novel with a decent wordcount (100,000 words instead of the 200,000-word monsters I’d produced beforehand). For me, NaNoWriMo wasn’t so much about completing the draft or churning out the words (both things I knew I could do), but about getting something I could confidently revise (and by “revise” I didn’t mean “tear everything down” so much as proper polishing) and present to an editor or an agent as ready for publication.

I also didn’t come to NaNoWriMo without a plan. My previous two novels had been freeform, and had ended as structural disasters, with new directions popping up, and the plot getting lost in the marshes (coincidentally at the same time as the characters. I think my subconscious was trying to tell me something). I came with a synopsis, a detailed scene-by-scene map of what I was going to do, chapter by chapter. After all, if I was going to write 1,667 words a day and hold a dayjob, I felt I should not waste time wondering about possible plot directions.

I used my lunchbreak. I wrote on buses with a Neo (one of the best writing helps ever). I did catchup sessions on Friday evenings. For those of you who’ve read the book, an entire section in the first third was written in a single sitting: from the point when Acatl and Teomitl go to the Floating Gardens to the point where the WInd of Knives disappears and Acatl gets home to find Mihmatini playing patolli with a slave–basically chapters 8 to 11. It was of course edited afterwards, but still, it’s a solid chunk of more than 12,000 words. It hurt.

And I made it. I won NaNoWriMo that year. I subsequently completed that draft (I actually went on writing at the same rhythm for the month of December, which is probably where I should have stopped. I was wrung dry by the time January showed up). I revised it, submitted it for critique to my first read, revised it again, submitted it to my writers’ group, revised again. You get the idea. There was a long cycle of fixes before I submitted that manuscript to agents and editors.

So yeah, the manuscript wasn’t perfect after Nano, but as a first draft (or rather, half a first draft), it was definitely good to go. And I sold that book, once I’d completed and revised the draft.

I haven’t won NaNoWriMo since, though I’ve done it in 2008 and 2009. I suspect I won’t win it this year, either. 1667 words a day is slightly above my comfort zone when I’m at the dayjob. But I still do it. Like Mary says, some of us need deadlines to keep the fire going, and one of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it allows you to feel a little less alone as a writer slaving to complete a draft. I need this, because when I write a novel, motivation is paramount–it’s a little bit like running a marathon. I daren’t stop, or I’ll lose my momentum, and I’ll never start again. Knowing that there are other writers doing this at the same time is great for that; and having a wordcount I need to have put down on the page is also great.

But, in the end, NaNoWriMo is only a pretext for me to commit words to the page. It’s not a goal in itself; and if I see I have a problem or need a break, I’ll take time to stop and fix it, rather than go for wordcount about everything else. If I can’t make the 1667 words a day, I’ll take what I have, and continue writing through December and January. I’ve heard the stuff about silencing your inner editor, and some of it is valid (you don’t need the little voice nattering away in your head spoiling everything that you’re writing), but you know what? Sometimes, the inner editor is right, and you’d better listen before you screw up the draft.

Like John says: NaNoWriMo is a tool. What matters is whether it works for you, and what you do with it. And, for me, it’s worked pretty well so far.

Also, a discount on Scrivener for Windows is pretty good motivation to win Nano, I’d say 🙂

If you’re wondering about 2008 and 2009: 2008, I wrote Foreign Ghosts, the Xuya novel. Got about 1/3 of the way through before I stopped because of real life stuff, and never could get the momentum up again. I subsequently completed the novel outside of Nano.

2009, I wrote Harbinger of the Storm. I can’t find out exactly my progress for November, but I was far from completing the 50,000 words at the end of the month–except I’d learnt from the previous year, and merely cut down my writing rhythm instead of stopping altogether. I finished Harbinger mid-February 2010, and shipped it off to my writing group around then (having a publisher deadline meant I had less time for crits, so I sent it off to my crit group and to my first reader at roughly the same time, and did one last, very thorough revision pass afterwards).