Posts Tagged ‘thieves’ quarry’

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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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So excited about all the new releases this month and recent rereleases!  In no particular order, I’m pleased to crow about:

goldencity_100dpiseatofmagic_100dpi SEAT OF MAGIC by J. Kathleen Cheney, the sequel to her award winning debut fantasy novel THE GOLDEN CITY.

Thieftaker200thieves' quarry THIEFTAKER and THIEVES’ QUARRY by D.B. Jackson, the first two novels in the author’s acclaimed “tricorn punk” fantasy series, now out in mass market. The third, A PLUNDER OF SOULS releases in hardcover (and digital, of course) tomorrow!

some girls bite mmfnbTwice Bitten.finalHard BittenDrink DeepBiting Coldhouse_rulesbiting badWild ThingsBlood_Games

SOME GIRLS BITE and FRIDAY NIGHT BITES by Chloe Neill, the first two novels in the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series are now out in mass market form.  So portable!  Best news – if you love them (and how could you not?), the series is on-going, with the tenth, BLOOD GAMES, coming out on August 5th.  Mark your calendars!

Awesomely exciting day today, because of two new releases (well, paperback reissues of wonderful hardcover originals) and a new vlog from Amy Christine Parker and I, this one on writers’ block.

New releases!

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These are the first two novels in Molly Cochran’s wonderful YA series featuring Katy Ainsworth.  I love the way the author combines contemporary, historical, myth, magic, suspense, mayhem…all of my favorite things whipped up into a witches’ brew.  Check out these great quotes:

Praise for Legacy:

“Will satisfy readers hungry for a little paranormal excitement and romance in a post-Twilight world… a quick, entertaining read.”—Kirkus

“an exciting and well-written tale of contemporary witchcraft and romance…should please the legions of paranormal fans looking for a sophisticated supernatural thriller.” —Publishers Weekly

“The well conceived history and culture of Katy’s magical world make this first title unique … The teasing epilogue promises a sequel, and readers will be ready for it.” —Booklist

“A fast-paced, electrifying read! My heart throbbed for the tender romance trapped in a world of boarding-school backstabbing. With a courageous yet achingly human heroine, Molly Cochran made me believe in magic!”–Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of the SHADE trilogy

“An amazing debut crackling with magic and mystery!”–Shannon Delany, author of 13 to Life

“Wonderful book. Eerie and suspenseful, with a romance you root for all the way through.”–Janice Hardy, author of The Healing Wars

Praise for Poison:

“POISON is a strong story, filled with empathetic characters, in amazing circumstances. This Young Adult novel is a wonderful read not only for teens but adults as well.” —Fresh Fiction

“The introduction of Arthurian legend is intriguing, and the last few chapters are real nail-biters.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Cochran revisits Arthurian legend while continuing the adventures of powerful, young witch Katy Ainsworth. . . . Fans will be poised for the next installment.”—Booklist

“Fans of Arthurian legend will appreciate this alternative view of the infamous Morgan le Fay.”—School Library Journal

Best of all, if you like these, you can get more of Katy and her friends in Molly’s novella Wishes and in the third Katy novel, SEDUCTION, which releases in December of this year!

Let’s quickly talk about some other awesome books that have recently been released in lower priced formats:

goldencity_100dpi THE GOLDEN CITY by J. Kathleen Cheney – award-winning epic fantasy debut! (Sequel, SEAT OF MAGIC, coming July 1st!)

Gated_hires_pback GATED by Amy Christine Parker (with a brand new cover!)- a young adult thriller about a girl who lives in a cult and begins to doubt all she’s learned just as the “end times” come upon them (next book, ASTRAY, is coming August 26th!)

thieves' quarry THIEVES’ QUARRY by D.B. Jackson – second in the author’s wonderful “tri-corn punk” historical fantasy series (after THIEFTAKER and before A PLUNDER OF SOULS, coming July 8th!)

And now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  Amy Christine Parker and I vlog about how to deal with writers’ block.  Warning for the feint of heart – there may be a moment wherein you actually see my navel.  You’ll have to check out the vlog if you want to know more.

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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.

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

There have been so many exciting things going on lately that I haven’t found time to blog about them!  If you’re looking for something pithy-ish, I was over at Magical Words last week with an ode to stream-of-consciousness, my fifth grade teacher and the writing process.  If you’re looking for me to share with the class some of the excitement that’s been keeping me on my toes, stay with me here.

In no particular order, because it’s all so cool:

fallofnight Rachel Caine, partnering with producer/director Blake Calhoun, has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to make her internationally bestselling Morganville Vampires books into a web series, starting Amber Benson as Amelie.  Over $18,000 raised in just two days! Check it out!

wicked earl The first novel in Vicky Dreiling’s awesome new Sinful Scoundrels series came out from Warner Forever.  Who doesn’t want to know WHAT A WICKED EARL WANTS?  Romantic Times gave it a Top Pick! rating and raves, “Dreiling’s first book in the Sinful Scoundrel’s series is wonderful! Rife with the Regancy’s penchant for gossip, scandal and matchmaking, WHAT A WICKED EARL WANTS is a delightful romance featuring a rakish hero, an innocent widow, corrupt villans and a secondray cast of characters who add dimension, wit and tenderness to the plot. Reasers will find this a real pleasure to savor.”  Doesn’t get better than that!

Tor UK announced their pre-empt of a fabulous debut series by one of my clients, Genevieve Cogman.  As they describe it, THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY is like “Doctor Who with Librarian Spies”.  What more could you want?

some girls bite Chloe Neill is doing a giveaway on GoodReads of autographed copies of her first bestselling Chicagoland Vampires novel SOME GIRLS BITE.

In celebration of National Audiobook month, Tantor, which does the audiobooks for both the Morganville and Chicagoland Vampires series, is offering 50% off until June 30th!

SF Signal is doing a cover reveal and giveaway for CRUX, the sequel to Ramez Naam’s blockbuster NEXUS.  You can win the book even before you can buy it!  (Ends Sunday, so don’t wait!)

thieves' quarry Also, check out what you can do to win an advance reading copy of David B. Coe’s THIEVES’ QUARRY, the sequel to his “tricorn punk” THIEFTAKER.

Molly Cochran is all over the blogosphere this week on tour for her amazing YA novels LEGACY and POISON. A few samples with giveaways:

Fantasy’s Ink

Two Chicks on Books

The Best Books Ever