Posts Tagged ‘historical’

 wookiee

Happy New Year, all! I hope your holidays were amazing and renewing. We had a lovely staycation here, which included visits with family, an abundance of amazing food, much of it made by my husband (no one wants to eat my cooking…unless it’s pasta, and then all bets are off), a trip to Disney, hugging a Wookiee, a trip to Busch Gardens, and binge-watching Dexter. Yup, nothing says the holidays like blood and bodies. You heard it here first.

I’m still playing catch-up at the office, though, which is why I’m late shouting from the rafters about the US release of Genevieve Cogman’s latest Invisible Library novel, THE LOST PLOT, details below! To make up for it, I’m giving away one copy of the audio edition from Audible. Comment here for a chance to win. Winner will be chosen at Random on Monday, the 22nd!

 

lost plot us THE LOST PLOT by Genevieve Cogman, Book #4 in the Invisible Library series, Piatkus (UK), Ace (US)

Praise for the Invisible Library Novels

“Clever dialogue, time hopping through fun locales, plenty of action, and hints of fresh plotting will have readers looking forward to further Library missions.”—Library Journal

“Clever, creepy, elaborate world building and snarky, sexy-smart characters!”—N. K. Jemisin, author of The Fifth Season

“Ms. Cogman has opened a new pathway into our vast heritage of imagined wonderlands. And yet, as her story reminds us, we yearn for still more.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Funny, exciting, and oh-so-inspiring, this is the kind of fantasy novel that will have female readers everywhere gearing up for their own adventure.”—Bustle

After being commissioned to find a rare book, Librarian Irene and her assistant, Kai, head to Prohibition-era New York and are thrust into the middle of a political fight with dragons, mobsters, and Fae.

In a 1920s-esque New York, Prohibition is in force; fedoras, flapper dresses, and tommy guns are in fashion: and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon political contest. It seems a young Librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can’t extricate him, there could be serious repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war.

Irene and Kai are locked in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They’ll face gangsters, blackmail, and the Library’s own Internal Affairs department. And if it doesn’t end well, it could have dire consequences on Irene’s job. And, incidentally, on her life…

In other news, the RT Book Award finalists have been announced, and I’m excited to see so much talent recognized! From The Knight Agency alone, we have the following nominees!

Historical/First Historical Romance – Amy Jarecki – THE HIGHLAND DUKE, Grand Central

Historical/Inide Digital Historical Romance – Cat Sebastian – THE RUIN OF A RAKE, Avon

Sci Fi & Fantasy/Epic Fantasy Novel

R.S. Belcher – QUEEN OF SWORDS, Tor

N.K. Jemisin – THE STONE SKY, Orbit

Paranormal & Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Worldbuilding

Nalini Singh SILVER SILENCE, Berkley

Ann Aguirre – THE DEMON PRINCE (pre-TKA)

Paranormal & Urban Fantasy/Urban Fantasy Novel – James Alan Gardner – ALL THOSE EXPLOSIONS WERE SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT, Tor

Paranormal & Urban Fantasy/Urban Fantasy World Building – Chloe Neil – BLADE BOUND, Berkley

Congratulations to all!

wicked earlWhat a Reckless Rogue NeedsWhataDevilishDukeDesires_MM1

Let’s hear it for Vicky Dreiling’s Sinful Scoundrels!!!  The third book in this wonderful series, WHAT A DEVILISH DUKE DESIRES, is out today from Warner Forever.  You can get it right now (no waiting at Amazon, B&N, Books-a-Million, etc.!) or check out any of the numerous celebratory giveaways going on right now, like this one at Bookhounds or this one at Harlequin Junkie or over here at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance

Cover copy:

WILL A FEW FLIRTATIOUS STEPS

Harry Norcliffe never wanted to inherit his beloved uncle’s title. The rigidity of the ton, the incessant reminders from his marriage-minded mama that he must settle down with a highborn lady and produce an heir and a spare: it’s all such a dreadful bore. So when his mother asks him to take part in a dancing competition, he patently refuses. The last thing he needs is another chore . . . until a beautiful, brilliant, delightfully tempting maid makes him rethink his position.

LEAD TO A SCANDALOUS SEDUCTION?

Most women would be over the moon to be pursued by a wickedly handsome-not to mention wealthy-duke like Norcliffe. But Lucy will not be any man’s trophy. She could use a friend, though, and what begins innocently soon ignites into desire. As Lucy tries to resist Harry’s scorching kisses, he makes an utterly irresistible offer. Enter the dance contest with him, and win a prize that could change her life forever . . . if falling in love doesn’t change it first.

Vicky’s Bio:

Triple RITA finalist Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the UK allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places. She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her “Trouble.” Vicky is a native Texan and holds degrees in English literature and marketing.

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To celebrate yesterday’s release of the third novel in D.B. Jackson‘s wonderful Thieftaker series from Tor Books, I’ve asked him to come talk about the division between character and writer.  A PLUNDER OF SOULS, the latest novel, is also my favorite in the series so far…and just wait until you get to book #4, DEAD MAN’S REACH!  The series just keeps getting better and better.  But more about that later.  For now, I present to you:

DBJacksonPubPhoto “Where Does the Author End and the Character Begin?” By D.B. Jackson

 

How many times have you read a story or book and assumed that the protagonist was, on some level, speaking for the author, or that the experiences of the author’s point of view character were in some way autobiographical? It’s hard not to make such assumptions. Perversely, the better the writing, the more convincing the character development, the more this becomes a problem. The narrating character becomes so real and so convincing that it’s hard to imagine how he or she could be entirely imagined. I’ve been writing for the better part of two decades, and still sometimes, when reading a great book, I forget that the author and the hero do not necessarily have a lot in common.

Ethan Kaille, the thieftaking, conjuring hero of my Thieftaker Chronicles (Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, and, most recently, A Plunder of Souls), a historical urban fantasy series set in pre-Revolutionary Boston, is very much a man of the eighteenth century. He has lived a hard life, he’s a loner, and he makes his living in the violent streets of a lawless city. Aside from his fine physique and devastating good looks, he and I have very little in common.

[Tapping foot and glaring] As soon as Lucienne stops laughing I’ll continue . . .

Kidding aside, Ethan and I are very different people, not only because we live in different times, not only because he has access to magic and I don’t, but because I have worked hard to make him his own man, with a life history and personality that have nothing to do with me. He is braver than I am, and more willing to rely on his physical strength in moments of crisis. He is self-reliant to the point of being standoffish, a product, no doubt, of having survived years as a prisoner, laboring under brutal conditions on a sugar plantation in Barbados. Time and again, he has proved himself far stronger than I ever could have been.

Do we have some attributes in common? Sure. We’re both rash and quick-tempered at times. We’re both utterly devoted to the people we love. And we both pride ourselves on our integrity.

The fact is, though, being similar to or different from our characters comes down to much more than just a catalog of qualities. We are all collections of attributes, positive and negative, and invariably we are going to share some of those qualities with our protagonists, and be their polar opposites with respect to others. What still surprises me about characters in general — and what has surprised me about Ethan from the beginning of the series — is the choices he makes.

Let’s start with the fact that Ethan is a Loyalist, also known as a Tory: put another way, he is a supporter of the Crown and Parliament in their dispute with the American colonists over taxation and representation. Without in any way wanting to start a political argument, I know myself and my leftward political leanings well enough to understand that there is no way I would have been on that side of the argument. But despite my own Whig leanings, Ethan made it clear to me from the outset that, because of his service in the British Navy as a younger man, and in part as well because of his conservative temperament, he has no tolerance for rabble-rousers like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. This changes somewhat after the British occupation of Boston begins in the second Thieftaker book, Thieves’ Quarry, but still, his political tendencies are nothing like mine.

And then there is this moment, also from Thieves’ Quarry, when Ethan truly shocked me. Late in the story, he explains to someone all that has been done with “magick” over the course of events described in the novel. The man to whom he is speaking is horrified and nearly orders Ethan from his house. “If this power you wield can give and take life with such ease,” the man asks, “how can such a thing not be evil?”

“I carry a knife on my belt,” Ethan answers. “I can take a life with it. Does that make the knife evil? Or does the question of good or evil fall to the man holding the blade?”

The argument should sound familiar. It is basically the same as “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

As I said before, I am not trying to start a political discussion about gun rights or, for that matter, any other issue. But I’m a political progressive, and it would never occur to me to make an argument like this in favor of gun ownership. And to be clear, I didn’t make the argument. Those were my character’s words, not mine; I didn’t know he would speak them until I typed the line. I realized immediately, though, that it was absolutely the right thing for him to say.

For those who don’t understand how an author can create a character without knowing him or her fully and without making intentional choices about that person’s politics, or tastes, or personality, I can only say that it happens. Yes, I have an idea of what my characters will be like. I try to give them certain traits, I fill in their backstory, I guide them through my narratives. But still, my characters surprise me all the time, doing and saying things that I neither planned nor expected. To be honest, it’s one of the greatest rewards of writing. When my characters surprise me in some way, be it with an unexpected comment or some plot-changing action, it tells me that the character has taken on a life of his or her own, and has become as close to sentient as a fictional being can be. It’s kind of cool, actually.

Ethan and I are not the same person. We have some common traits. I like him, admire him, respect him. At times I find him exasperating. I would like to think that if he could know me, he’d like and respect me, too. But I’m not at all sure he would. I do know that if I were to try to control him more forcefully — if I were to try to make him more like me in his actions, thoughts, and emotional responses — he would lose something vital and would be less convincing and compelling as a narrator for the Thieftaker books. So, I’m glad to give him his independence, and I expect he’s glad to have it. I’m sure, though, that he’d rather you didn’t share that bit of insight with Samuel Adams.

 

*****

A Sampling of Praise for the Series:

A PLUNDER OF SOULS

“This engaging third entry in Jackson’s Thieftaker series (following 2013’s Thieves’ Quarry) ably mashes up the historical with the fantastic… Jackson is an increasingly reliable tour guide to America’s colonial past.” —Publishers Weekly

“A Plunder of Souls is a terrific addition to the Thieftaker Chronicles. D.B. Jackson shows once again that he knows how to pull all the right strings to create one creative story. As I have said if you thought that Thieves Quarry was great wait till you get your hands on A Plunder of Souls, it’s even better, D.B. Jackson has really outdone himself.” —The Book Plank

THIEVES’ QUARRY

“With solidly developed characters, the vivid depiction of 18th-century Boston, and a seamless blending of realism and fantasy, this sequel to Thieftaker should interest fans of historical fantasy, alternate history and period mysteries.” —Library Journal

“I literally read this book in one sitting. Its fast pace, shocking crime, vivid historical setting, and the twists and turns of intrigue and suspicion totally absorbed me.” —Kate Elliott, author of King’s Dragon

“D.B. Jackson’s writing is amazing and Thieves’ Quarry is even better than the first book. Absolutely enthralling and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a wonderful read!” —Kat Richardson, author of Greywalker

“The Thieftaker series is a tour de force. There is no way to get enough of it– and I LOVE Thieves’ Quarry. This is definitely the best new series of the decade!” —Faith Hunter, author of the Jane Yellowrock books

THIEFTAKER

Named one of the Best Fantasy Books of 2012 by SciFiChick.com

Named “Best First Book in a Series” for 2012 (one of two books so honored) by the Word Nerds.

“The author does an impressive job of weaving fantasy into historical fiction, and even introduces a few familiar names from . . . the Stamp Act from American history . . . With plenty of adventure, mystery, magic, drama, and thrills – genre fans won’t want to miss this one. Thieftaker is a fantastic series debut that I can’t wait to see continue.” —SciFiChick.com

“Thieftaker is a bit like the Dresden Files meets Johnny Tremain, combining magical crime-solving with the Revolutionary War. At first, it sounds like a strange combination, but it works and I’m already looking forward to the sequel . . . A fun read.” —The Word Nerds Book Banter

“Jackson has an enviable gift for detail, the ability to put his reader smack-dab in a location (Boston, 1765) with such intensity that you can hear the burr in voices, smell the smoke and tea in the air, and wince when the hero gets punched in the face . . . Thieftaker is a delicious murder mystery sundae, with a sprinkle of supernatural bravado and a few famous historical figures for cherries on top.” —Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show

*****

Author Bio:

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, has recently been released in hardcover. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

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Since I’ll be away in L.A. (look, Ma, I’m rhyming!) when Vicky Dreiling’s most excellent Regency historical romance WHAT A RECKLESS ROGUE NEEDS comes out on Tuesday, I wanted to wish Vicky an early Happy Book Birthday!  For those of you who haven’t yet been introduced to Vicky’s work, she’s a multiple-RITA-Award nominee and a wonderful, witty writer.  Her book description is below!

What a Reckless Rogue Needs WHAT A RECKLESS ROGUE NEEDS by Vicky Dreiling

“4 1/2 stars! TOP PICK! In the second of the Sinful Scoundrels series, Dreiling brings the Regency to life in a wonderfully evocative fashion. With believable, intelligent characters–including an honorable rake and a strong-willed lady–this moving tale, fraught with sexual tension, hits just the right notes.” —RT Book Reviews on WHAT A RECKLESS ROGUE NEEDS

WILL THE ROGUE’S PERFECT PLAN . . .

Colin Brockhurst, Earl of Ravenshire, has no desire to wed, this season or any other. So when his father demands he give up his wild ways and take a wife, Colin refuses. But his father raises the stakes and threatens to sell the ancestral home if Colin doesn’t comply. Now Colin has no choice but to find a wife. Unfortunately, the only woman he wants is the one whose heart he broke years ago.

LEAD TO THE PERFECT SEDUCTION?

Regardless of the ton‘s whispers, Lady Angeline Brenham won’t settle for anything less than true love. After rejecting more than her share of suitable suitors, spinsterhood looms before her-until the devilishly handsome Colin reappears in her life with a proposition. Angeline vows to keep her feet on the ground and her heart in check. That is, until one searing kiss melts her resolve and reignites a burning desire for more . . .

thieftakerthieves' quarry

Anyone who’s taken my Writers Digest webinar on writing science fiction, fantasy and the paranormal or who’s taken one of my worldbuilding workshops will have heard me quote David B. Coe, who is a wonderful writer, blogger and teacher of all things writing.  He’s a regular contributor to Magical Words, which has a lot of amazing advice for writers and, as you’ll see from the post below, the author of the “tricorn punk” Thieftaker series, beginning with THIEFTAKER and moving on to THIEVES’ QUARRY under the name D.B. Jackson.  THIEVES’ QUARRY is just out today, so let’s wish him a happy book birthday!

History and POV by D.B. Jackson

Out on Boston Harbor, in the distance and to the south of where Ethan walked, lights bobbed on the gentle swells: lanterns burning on a dozen or more British naval ships. Several of the vessels had been anchored within sight of the city for a week or more; eight others had sailed into view earlier this day. They were arrayed in a loose, broad arc, their reflections dancing and swirling like fireflies. They might have been beautiful had it not been for what they signified: more strife and fear for a city already beleaguered by its conflicts with the Crown. — THIEVES’ QUARRY, Book II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, by D. B. Jackson

I have been writing historical urban fantasy for several years now, after beginning my career as an author of alternate world fantasies (under the name David B. Coe). As I have settled in to this new phase in my career, I have found, to my surprise, that establishing a historical setting for my Thieftaker books is not very different at all from worldbuilding for my older series. In both cases, I need to establish for my readers a sense of place and time, so that they feel the setting has substance and meaning; I have to write to all of their senses, using my descriptive passages to make the setting come alive; and I need to weave the backdrop into my storytelling, so that the world in and of itself becomes a player in my narrative.

The key to meeting these challenges lies in my use of point of view. A brief primer on point of view: Point of view is the unique perspective through which a story is told. In today’s literary marketplace, point of view is tied inextricably to character. Novels and stories are expected to have, at any given time, but a single point of view character. So, for instance, in the Harry Potter books, Harry is almost always the point of view character. We experience the story line, the other characters, and the world J.K. Rowling has created through Harry’s eyes. His emotions, sensations, and intellect color everything that we read.

Once upon a time — not that long ago, really — many writers wrote in what was known as omniscient voice, meaning that there was a detached narrator who told the story, giving us insights into the thoughts and emotions of every character in a scene. We would hop from one perspective to another, never really settling on a single perspective. That was considered the norm. Not anymore. Today, that approach is known as “head-hopping,” and it is frowned upon. An author can use more than one point of view character, as George R.R. Martin does in his Song of Ice and Fire series, but the transitions to new point of view characters need to be clearly delineated.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled post . . .

In my Thieftaker series, Ethan Kaille is my point of view character throughout every story and novel. My readers rely on Ethan’s descriptions, emotional reactions, and thoughts for clues as to how they should respond to all that happens. In my epic fantasies, I had many point of view characters. But what’s important is that in all these cases, my point of view narrators are the ones I depend upon to make my readers feel they are a part of the world I have established for the stories. I want to make my narrating characters tour guides in a sense. Which is not to say that they need to spend all their time walking backwards and telling my readers about the history of every building, monument, and alleyway. Rather, I want my characters to be immersed fully in their society and culture, so that when they interact with something that is unique to their time and place, my readers will not need to have that interaction explained to them. Its significance and its implications for my story should be clear from the context and from my point of view character’s responses.

This post begins with a passage from Thieves’ Quarry, the second installment in my Thieftaker Chronicles, which is to be released by Tor Books on July 2. It is a short passage — exactly one hundred words long, as it happens — and it actually offers very little by way of historical information. That’s all right. It comes in the first few pages of the novel, at a time when I am not yet ready to burden my readers with too much data. But it does establish the mood that hung over the city of Boston at the time this story takes place. Those ships out on the harbor carry an occupying force of over a thousand British soldiers. For the first time in its history, after a summer of conflict and rioting, Boston is about to become a garrisoned town.

Ethan’s thoughts don’t go into that level of detail, of course. They don’t have to. For the purposes of beginning to establish the tone and mood for my book, the small bit of information I give is sufficient. My readers can picture the ships, with their lanterns reflected on the harbor waters. And because of Ethan’s reaction to what he sees, they can guess that all is not well between the Colonists and the Crown.

Aspiring writers are often told, “Show, don’t tell,” although just as often the exact meaning of this advice is left obscure. When we “tell,” we inject ourselves into our books, bypassing our point of view characters and instructing our readers in how they should respond to our writing. “Showing,” as opposed to telling, means allowing our point of view characters to respond to and interpret the places, other characters, and events that our readers encounter in the course of our narratives. It means describing sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures as our characters experience them.

We can do tons of worldbuilding or research, but if we don’t convey to readers why all that knowledge matters to our point of view characters, our settings will remain flat. On the other hand, when we show readers our worlds from the perspective of our characters, we make these settings — be they real world or imagined — something more than just a backdrop to our stories. They become our character’s home, or the alien land into which our heroine has just fallen, or the hellscape from which our hero is trying to win his freedom. Point of view gives dimension to our worlds by infusing our descriptions with emotion. It gives them context, weight, importance. And ultimately it makes them places to which our readers want to return again and again.

*****

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first book as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasy, Thieftaker, volume I of the Thieftaker Chronicles, came out in 2012 and is now available in paperback. The second volume, Thieves’ Quarry, has just been released by Tor Books. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

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