Magic ex Libris, Book Four

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Mostly for my own reference, today I wrote the opening paragraphs of the as-yet-untitled fourth book in the Magic ex Libris series.

I would share the first few lines, but they won’t make much sense until you’ve read Unbound [B&N | Indiebound | Amazon].

Anyway, yay! Deadpool approves of new books. And also of random violence, which should be starting in this next scene. Poor Isaac…

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Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Magical Words Guest Post: Despair

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My final (for now) guest post at Magical Words went up on Friday. This one was about the down times in the writing career.

We don’t talk much about the despair, at least not publicly. I think there’s this belief that authors should project an air of confidence, because if we ever admit our neuroses we’ll drive away all of our fans and readers and then nobody will buy our books, and suddenly we’re back in the Black Cloud of Despair™, and oh God this blog post is going to be the one that destroys my career, isn’t it? Why oh why didn’t I write about rainbow-farting unicorns? Quick – go look at some cats!

But do you want to know a secret? Get a writer somewhere quiet, and most of us will admit to having had some bad times. Pretty much every long-term I’ve talked to has described at least one time they thought their career was over. Even #1 NYT Bestselling Authors get times of feeling like a fraud or a failure…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Writer’s Ink: Anne Harris/Jessica Freely

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Michigan author Anne HarrisAnne Harris, aka Jessica Freely, has spent more than fifteen years searching for a home for her latest novel, All the Colors of Love [Amazon | B&N]. But before we get into that, let’s hear about that frisky-looking devil tattoo…

My tattoo is a doodle of a little dancing devil I’ve been scribbling since I was in fifth grade. I got it when a good friend learned to tattoo and she desperately wanted to get ink in me. I’d never planned on having a tattoo, and was a bit skeptical, so I made sure to get something that was uniquely mine, and to get it on a part of my body I wouldn’t see all the time. As it turned out, however, I love it. Sometimes I do forget it’s there and it’s always a nice surprise when I glimpse it again. I’ve thought about getting more tattoos but I’ve never followed through on it. I may wind up being one of those rare folks with just one.

Anne/Jessica asked if she could talk a little about All the Colors of Love, which is a YA gay science fiction romance about Harry, the son of a supervillain. Harry veers between suicide attempts and futile plans to kill his abusive father.

Colors is a sequel to her first novel, The Nature of Smoke. It’s also the first gay romance she ever wrote, and changed the course of her career.

In her words:

I wrote the first draft around 2000 or so, when I was still firmly ensconced in traditional NY publishing. My mother had just passed and my dad was dying and I needed something to lift me up, so I gave myself permission to write anything I wanted. That turned out to be Colors and writing it was more fun and freeing than anything I’d ever done before. I was as surprised as anyone else, especially since working with these characters felt like invisible shackles had been taken off my wrists and for the first time I could just write.

I knew I had to pursue it.

Unfortunately, at that time there was no commercial market for gay romance, let alone a gay YA science fiction book written by a woman. My sf editor wanted me to make the characters straight and my agent convinced me to write Libyrinth instead, which I did, but I wrote Colors too, and I started the long search for a market. When one finally did develop, it was for gay erotic romance, not YA. I set Colors aside again and went on to published over 15 short stories, novels, and novellas (many of them sf/f) in that genre. Fortunately, markets change and now some publishers are taking non-erotic gay romance and several have started YA imprints. Finally, fifteen years after I first started this journey, Colors is out in the world. To say I’m pleased to share it with readers is a vast understatement.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

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Go forth and carpe the Friday!

Please note that cats or dogs pressing their heads against the wall can indicate a serious health problem: http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/neurological/c_ct_headpressing

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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I’ve got a guest post up at Magical Words talking about the character of Nicola Pallas.

Nicola has her own story in these books. She has to oversee a bunch of stubborn, overly bright magic-users, including my protagonist, librarian Isaac Vainio. She also has to deal with sparkling vampires attacking Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, werewolves in pickup trucks, and her least favorite thing ever: magical politics.

I had absolutely no interest in trying to show how she does all of this “despite” being autistic. Screw that. Autism, like just about anything else, can certainly present challenges, but Nicola is at a point where she understands and is pretty comfortable with how her brain works. That wasn’t something I wanted to focus on.

Click for more…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has gone rather viral. You’ve probably seen the videos on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or the online social media site of your preference. I’ve also seen some people pointing out problems with the challenge, as well as people who are just flat-out sick of seeing everyone dumping icewater on their heads. (Though how anyone could get tired of that…?)

As I understand it, the original challenge was that if you were called out, you were supposed to either donate to the ALS Association, or else you could dump a bucket of icewater on your head. Alternate rules are that you either donate $100, or do the ice bucket and donate $10.

I want to address some of the points I’ve seen raised.

1. A bunch of people messing around and dumping icewater on themselves doesn’t do anything to raise money or awareness, or to help people with ALS.

It’s certainly true that some of the videos and postings don’t specifically talk about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. I’m sure there are a lot of people who have watched the video or joined in the icewater-dumping without ever having a clue why this all started.

On the other hand, the ALS Association has received $88.5 million in donations as of today, August 26. During the same period last year? They received $2.6 million.

In other words, the ice bucket challenge has raised more than $80 million in funding to for research and assistance to people with ALS. My understanding is that a great many people dumping icewater on their heads are also donating to the ALS Association.

I do wish more videos and posts would focus on the goal of raising money and awareness for ALS. And yes, maybe not everyone is donating, and maybe some people aren’t getting the point … but a lot of people are. I’ve seen a lot of people posting and talking about their own experiences with the disease as a direct result of the ice bucket challenge, and the financial results are about as indisputable as you can get.

Yeah, it’s a goofy fundraiser. (Says the guy who fundraised in 2012 by doing goofy cover poses.) But it’s also damned effective.

2. The peer pressure and shaming element is uncool.

Grumpy Cat - NopeI admit, I have an instinctive response to people tagging and challenging me online, whether it’s the ice bucket or blogging about a particular thing or whatever the fad of the week might be.

I got tagged for this one a while back, saw the icewater-dumping thing with no additional information or context, and said nope. Delete and move on.

I see this as a case-by-case thing. Some people have been very cool about “inviting” instead of “challenging” others — a small difference, but an important one, I think. Others have refused to tag anyone at all, and instead suggest that anyone who’s interested should jump in. And I’ve seen people emailing or checking in behind-the-scenes to ask before challenging someone, which is cool.

Short version on this? Don’t shame people for saying no, or for not answering at all. Some people don’t have a dollar to spare. Others choose to support different causes. Don’t be an asshole about it.

If you’re one of the people bullying and shaming others as a part of the challenge? You’re actually discouraging people from participating. Knock it off.

3. It’s physically dangerous.

I’ve seen several references to an article titled “Ice Bucket Challenge Sees First Fatality?”

18-year-old Cameron Lancaster was found dead at Prestonhill Quarry and had allegedly taken part in the challenge just beforehand … According to reports, the quarry is often used for swimming and plenty of teenagers have jumped in the past. However, they have not completed the challenge beforehand. It took four hours to find the teenager’s body, and it is believed that the shock of the ice water and then jumping into the quarry stopped his body from working properly.

Forbes has a follow-up with more information and discussion. There’s also a false report of a girl who broke her neck doing the challenge.

Is it dangerous? It’s hard to say whether or not Lancaster’s death was caused by the challenge, but it’s possible. The ALS Association notes, “The Ice Bucket Challenge may not be suitable for small children, the elderly, anyone in poor health, or animals of any kind, so please use good judgment.” The trouble is, we human beings aren’t always known for our good judgment. There’s also the temptation to crank it up a notch to make a more dramatic video. Author Patrick Rothfuss went with a tub full of dry ice.

I don’t have an answer on this one. It seems to me that the risk is minimal … but that yes, there may be a potential risk here. My daughter was tagged by her cousin, and if she chooses to do the challenge, I’d let her — but I’d also make sure it was supervised, and that she’s only using H20 ice.

4. It’s clogging up my newsfeed!

Welcome to the internet. Use your Mute and Block buttons. Or go look at some cats instead.

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While not perfect, I see this as a surprisingly effective fundraiser for a good cause, one that’s raised an impressive amount of money as well as some awareness, and also produced some fun, entertaining videos. I’m also reconsidering participating… But if I do, there will be no dry ice! I like my parts without iceburn, thanks.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Three years ago, Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith went public with a post about a post-apocalypic YA novel they had written together. During the submission process, they received a response from an agent who offered to represent the book, “on the condition that we make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation.”

They refused.

Their post led to a great deal of discussion about the need for gay characters in YA literature. The agency in question also posted a rebuttal.

Stranger - CoverSo that’s the backstory. The book eventually sold to Viking Juvenile, with a publication date of November 2014. I’m happy to have gotten my hands on an advance copy :-)

Stranger [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] definitely has a western feel to it, as noted in the publisher’s summary:

Many generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, “the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. “Las Anclas” now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.

Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble.

I liked this one. There’s a lot of imaginative worldbuilding going on, particularly around the different powers people develop and the new forms of wildlife. The crystalline trees are awesome and terrifying. Also: telekinetic squirrels. They don’t get a lot of page-time, but just the fact that there are telekinetic squirrels makes me happy.

Smith and Brown rotate chapters through five (I think) different PoV characters, which was a little tricky to keep track of in the beginning, but I think it worked well. I’m less thrilled about the different font used for each PoV, but since I was reading an ARC, I’m not sure the publisher will keep that quirk in the final version. It might not bother you, but it distracted me.

There’s a lot going on here. You’ve got the eponymous stranger Ross Juarez, a loner with a bit of PTSD who finds a sense of community for the first time in his life … but there are those who don’t want him around, and others who just want to use him. There’s the larger conflict with a power-hungry king who’s been conquering neighboring towns. There are multiple romances. There’s internal political struggles between a family trying to create their own dynasty as leaders of Las Anclas and the changed sheriff who messed up their plans.

There’s also an ongoing story about discrimination and prejudice. You have open hostility and fear, and some of that fear is almost understandable, given the damage changes can do when people can’t — or don’t — control them. Poor Ross gets fear and suspicion from both barrels, as a stranger and someone with a suspected change.

I’m impressed by how well the multiple relationships, stories, and characters all come together. It did feel like there were some loose ends when I finished, and I’m hopeful those will be addressed in future books. But Stranger provides enough closure that I didn’t feel cheated. It’s a good ending, one that makes me want to pick up book two.

Oh, and yes, there are several non-straight couples in the book, and they’re treated with the same respect and variety as the straight couples. Surprisingly enough, I did not burst into flames, nor did my own heterosexual marriage immediately crash and burn. Go figure.

ETA: I’m told there will be a sequel, and it’s called Hostage, and it’s already written!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Writer’s Ink: Saladin Ahmed

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Saladin Ahmed

Saladin Ahmed is the author of the award-winning Throne of the Crescent Moon [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] (reviewed here), in addition to a number of short stories. You can find some of those stories in his free collection Engraved on the Eye.

He also offers editing/critique services.

From Saladin:

My tattoo says “Hurriya” – roughly, “freedom” - in very stylized Arabic. It’s based on calligraphy by Nihad Dukhan.

It’s green because green is significant in Arab and Muslim cultures and in Irish culture (I’m Irish on my Mom’s side). It’s on my left arm for political associations and because I’m a southpaw.

The work was done by the late great Ann Arbor tattoo artist Suzanne Fauser. And it was a gift from my father for graduating college.

 

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

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I have no idea how it’s Friday again already. I’ve spent the past week in the Book-Finishing Time Vortex. Everything was so spinny and colorful…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Detcon1 and Inclusiveness

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I’m still thinking about Detcon1 and some of the things the convention did so well. One thing that stood out for me was the Fan Gallery in the dealer’s room. This was a collection of photos of fans past and present.

Included with the gallery was a note acknowledging that historically, white men have tended to be the dominant group in fandom and the genre, a statement backed up by looking through the faces in the photo collection. The note goes on to encourage people to help change that, to get involved and make fandom a more welcoming and inclusive place.

I really appreciate this approach. Rather than getting defensive about our history and the state of the genre, it acknowledges where we’ve been and where we are, and encourages people to join in the work of getting to a better place.

It’s hard to fix a problem you won’t acknowledge exists in the first place. It’s even harder when people actively mock you for trying to point out problems you’ve seen and experienced first-hand, or when the people you’re trying to reach take any discussion of said problems as a personal attack on them.

That knee-jerk defensiveness is an incredibly frustrating obstacle, often derailing and shutting down conversations before they can even get started. How many times have we seen exchanges that go something like:

“I really wish we had more non-white protagonists in the genre.”
“I’M NOT RACIST! THE PROBLEM IS JERKS LIKE YOU RUNNING AROUND CALLING PEOPLE BIGOTS!”

“Ever notice how few non-straight characters ever get a truly satisfying romantic plotline?”
“I’m not homophobic because I once wrote a gay character!”

“It would be nice to see a wider range of female characters in–”
“THE GAMMA-BUNNY MANGINA-POLICE ARE COMING TO STEAL MY CAPTAIN McMANLY: SPACE MAN OF TESTOSTERIA STORIES!”

So kudos to Detcon1 for not only recognizing that fandom hasn’t been as inclusive as we sometimes like to believe, but also for understanding that acknowledging the historical problems of our genre doesn’t mean you’re a horrible, bigoted, sexist, racist, tribble-kicking jerk. Acknowledgment is the first step toward progress.

In a similar vein, Detcon1 created the FANtastic Detroit Fund to provide memberships for fans who might not otherwise be able to attend.

Here’s Detcon1 conchair Tammy Coxen talking about the program in her own words:

Even though we worked to keep our membership rates as low as possible, conventions are expensive, and Detroit has the highest poverty rate of any large city in the United States. We wanted to provide a mechanism for fans of limited means, from Detroit and beyond, to be able to attend the convention, so we launched a crowdfunded program to provide free membership.

The program was very successful. We received $1555 in cash and 28 donated memberships, which allowed us to provide 66 memberships to adults, youth and children.

I can say without reservations that we would strongly encourage other conventions to adopt a similar program. It was easy to implement and had big impact. We will be offering seed funding to the next WSFS-sanctioned convention to offer such a program (exact amount to be determined based on our final bookkeeping), and are happy to serve as consultants to those desiring to set up a similar program.

Bottom line, I’m very proud of the work my state did here, not only to create what was by almost all accounts an amazing convention, but also setting an example of how to work toward a more inclusive and welcoming fandom.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Writer’s Ink: Christian Klaver

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Christian KlaverChristian Klaver has been selling SF/F short fiction since the early 80s. Some of his recent work includes several Supernatural Case Files of Sherlock Holmes, and the fantasy novel Shadows Over London [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]. He lives in Dearborn, Michigan, with his wife and daughter and a group of animals affectionately known as “The Menagerie.”

Klaver’s tattoo is one of three dragons he wears, and apparently began a bit of a family tradition. In his words:

I got this tattoo on my 30th birthday. (I have a smaller version on my chest.) My daughter liked the dragon so much she ended getting her own version for her eighteenth birthday. She liked *that* one so much she wanted another one for her 21st, and talked both me and my wife into a family tattoo party, which is why I now have a much larger version on my back.

 Am now kicking myself for not asking to see the back tattoo. I mean, just because we were in the middle of a restaurant at the time…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Black and White in the U.S.

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A few data points for anyone who thinks what’s been happening in Ferguson, MO is an isolated incident as opposed to an ongoing, systemic problem.

It’s not just Ferguson.

There’s a lot more data out there, but I hope this will help people who are watching events in Ferguson and throughout the country, and having trouble understanding where all of the anger is coming from.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Cool Stuff Friday

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Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Winner & Saber-Tooth

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I’m in the final stretch of the Secret Novel Project. I finished the editorial revisions last night, and just need to do one more run through the manuscript to fill in the final potholes. About 94% of my brain is currently obsessed with finishing this book, which means no big blog post for today.

Although I did make this…

Also, thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for Codex Born [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]. Congrats to dionysus1999, who will be getting an autographed book for submitting the following blurb:

“More fun than a body in the wood chipper, eh.”
-Marge Gunderson, Police Chief, on Codex Born

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta

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Memory of Water - CoverWhile at Detcon1, I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of the award-winning debut novel Memory of Water [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], by Emmi Itäranta. This came from Crystal Huff, who has been pushing the 2017 Helsinki Worldcon bid. Itäranta is a Finnish author, and as I understand it, she wrote the book in both Finnish and in English, and it’s been published in both languages. Speaking as an author, let me tell you, that’s pretty badass.

Here’s the publisher’s summary:

In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that once provided water for her whole village. When Noria’s father dies, the secret of the spring reaches the new military commander … and the power of the army is vast indeed. But the precious water reserve is not the only forbidden knowledge Noria possesses, and resistance is a fine line.

Threatened with imprisonment, and with her life at stake, Noria must make an excruciating, dangerous choice between knowledge and freedom.

This book was at times powerful and beautiful and tragic and depressing and triumphant. There’s not a great deal of action. The pace is almost leisurely at times, even as the tension ratchets every higher. Day by day Noira goes about her business, watching helplessly as the military imprison and execute others in the village for water crimes. The waiting builds suspense and fear far  more effectively than any series of graphic action or violence would have. There’s also the contrast between the horrors Noira witnesses and the beauty of Itäranta’s writing.

And then there’s the worldbuilding. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic Finland. Rising sea levels and other environmental catastrophes have eliminated most sources of fresh water and a serious, if uneven, regression in technology. We never get the full details about what happened, because Noria — like most people — doesn’t know the truth. She knows only the stories she’s been taught. But over the course of the book, she uncovers bits and pieces…

I’m sure that aspect of the book will come across as preachy to some, and there’s certainly a message here about waste and overconsumption and the environment. But given that we don’t even know the full details of what happened, it felt like a reasonable example of “If this goes on…” to me.

There’s also beauty here. The way Noria contemplates every detail of the tea ceremony, and the ideas and philosophy behind it. I don’t know enough to say whether or not the author’s description is accurate, only that it was beautifully written. There’s love as well. Noria’s relationship with her friend Sanja, who works as a plastic smith (digging up and repairing old plastic for the village) is a powerful source of conflict. While they love one another, the secrets Noria guards and the struggles they both face just to survive would strain any relationship.

You can read a sample at the HarperCollins website. I also recommend checking out this Kirkus interview with Itäranta.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Writer’s Ink: Merrie Haskell

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WI-HaskellMerrie Haskell won the Detcon1 award for middle grade literature last month for her book Handbook for Dragon Slayers [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]. That book also earned her the Schneider Family Book Award for Middle Grades (for “artistic portrayal of the disability experience”).

Her tattoo celebrates her first published book, The Princess Curse [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]. (I’ve enjoyed and reviewed both this one and Handbook for Dragon Slayers, if you’re curious.) Her newest title is The Castle Behind Thorns [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], which I’m told was never intended to be a Sleeping Beauty retelling, but it happened anyway.

I asked Mer to tell us a bit more about her tattoo.

It’s is the Library of Congress call number for my first book, The Princess Curse. We laid it out like it was an old label on a well-used library book by tattooing in the border on the stencil.  I dithered for months on whether to lay it out like a spine label or just a string of text, and I chose that over authentic labeling for…  aesthetics? Personal aesthetics entirely. The font is called Old Typewriter. I had always told myself I’d have to want something for longer than a year to get a tattoo of it; after a year of thinking about this, I realized: My first book will never NOT be meaningful to me, and after working in a library for 20 years and counting, call numbers will also always be meaningful to me.

And here’s a close-up:

WI-Haskell2

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Using Asian Cultures as Props

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I came across a short post earlier this week that said white authors needed to stop using Asian cultures as props for their stories. I was one of several authors called out by name. Though the individual didn’t specify, I’m assuming I was included because of Codex Born, which includes a group called the Students of Bi Sheng, a kind of Chinese parallel to Gutenberg and the Porters.

I’m choosing not to link to the post, for several reasons. First of all, while my name was mentioned, I wasn’t tagged or linked … which to me says this person wasn’t posting to get my attention or invite a response. Linking to them would potentially force a dialogue/conversation they didn’t ask for. Basically, it would feel rude. And second, while I think 99% of my commenters and readers are awesome, wonderful people, it only takes a few to create a “Release the hounds” moment, if you know what I mean.

I haven’t been shy about my belief that stories should reflect the diversity of the world. One of the arguments I’ve seen, generally from white, male authors, is that they avoid writing about “the other” because they’re “not allowed” to write those characters. It’s an argument I have very little respect for, because almost nobody is saying you’re not allowed to write about certain characters … but people will certainly criticize you if you do it badly.

I’ve been criticized for how I’ve written certain characters. I suspect every published author has. But this post was the first time I’d seen someone telling me flat-out to keep my ass away from their culture.

I should point out that this still isn’t the same as telling me I’m not allowed to write about Chinese characters. “I don’t want you do to this thing” =/= “You aren’t allowed to do the thing.” But it’s something I’m trying to understand.

I’m reminded of something Ambelin Kwaymullina said at Continuum. After her GoH speech, someone asked her whether she thought non-indigenous authors should write about indigenous characters. Ambelin made an interesting distinction. I don’t remember the exact wording, and I apologize in advance if I lose nuance with my paraphrase, but I believe she said she thought it would be okay to do so when writing in the third person, but she was uncomfortable with the idea of a non-indigenous author trying to do so in first-person.

I thought about that a lot. On the one hand, I want to write stories that are honest about our world, stories that aren’t stuck in an illogically narrow and exclusive universe. And I want to do so as respectfully and accurately as I can. It’s one thing for me to describe the diversity of the world; but no matter how much reading and listening and research I do, would I ever be able to write from the perspective of an indigenous person, and do so truthfully? Probably not.

It’s a complicated question. Obviously, we use first person for more than just autobiographical work. All authors write about characters who aren’t themselves. I’ve written about goblins and fairy tale princesses and magic librarians and autistic teenagers and handicapped cowboys and more. Why shouldn’t I write about Chinese book-magic, or do a story from a first-person indigenous perspective?

Some of the problem, I believe, is about power and representation. What does it mean if we have white authors successfully writing and publishing and selling books about Chinese characters, but work by Chinese authors is ignored or shoved aside? What happens when we’re only reading about other cultures through the blinders and assumptions of our own?

We end up with an incomplete, distorted, often damaging understanding. There’s an element of colonialism — we’re not interested in truly reading about other cultures; we’re just playing tourist from the safety of our own cultural framework. That’s a problem

As I tried to write the history of my character Bi Wei, describing snippets of her life from 500 years ago, it’s very possible that I messed up. I thought I had done adequate research and written respectfully, but maybe I was wrong. And of course, it’s not a simple yes/no. People disagree on what’s appropriate and respectful and so on. And no matter how well I wrote, I still wrote the book from my own cultural perspective. I’m not capable of doing otherwise.

Legally, all of this is pretty much a null issue. I have the legal right to write about whatever characters and cultures I choose. But I believe a writer has the responsibility to write respectfully, truthfully, and well.

I read a book a while back where the only Japanese character was also a ninja, and I cringed. The book was well-written in many ways, but that part felt neither respectful nor true. The character wasn’t Japanese so much as they were the prepackaged caricature we in the U.S. have seen so many times before. Have I fallen into that same trap? I try not to, but I look back at some of my early stories and see similar mistakes. Maybe in ten years, I’ll look back at what I’m writing now and have a similar reaction.

So when a reader says they don’t want white people writing about their culture, and that they don’t want me specifically to do so, I find myself struggling. And I think it’s good for me to struggle with it. I refuse to write books where I pretend other cultures don’t exist. But I also recognize that there are stories I’m simply not qualified to write well, that no matter how respectful I might try to be, my story wouldn’t be true. (An odd thing to say about fiction, but I hope you understand what I mean.) And I know that sometimes I’m going to screw up.

I don’t have an easy answer. I do know it’s something for me to be aware of as I’m writing, and it’s something I hope people will continue to challenge me on when they feel I’ve botched it. I also know we need to do a better job of reading and publishing and promoting work from outside of our own narrow cultural lens.

I would be very interested in hearing other people’s thoughts on this.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Codex Born Release Day! (And Giveaway!)

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Codex BornToday is the official release date for the U.S. mass market paperback of Codex Born, book two in the Magic ex Libris series. Which is a bit strange to me. The third book is done and turned in, and I’m finishing up another (unrelated) book, so it’s weird thinking of Codex as the “new” book.

But new it is, and as such, I MUST BLOG ABOUT IT AND ADD LOTS OF LINKS AND SUBTLY (AND NOT-SO-SUBTLY) ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO RUN OUT AND BUY ALL THE BOOKS!

Libriomancer

Codex Born

What can I say. After nine books, I’m taking the direct route. Here, have a guilt tripping kitten!

Guilt Kitten

THIS KITTEN IS SAD BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T BOUGHT THE BOOK YET! Either that, or it’s thinking about that one scene from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Okay, seriously, it’s new book day, so if you haven’t guessed, I’m doing the traditional author freak-out. I’m excited to see this one out in paperback, both because I like my books being available in the cheaper mass market format, and because this means the ebook price is dropping as well.

Thanks for putting up with me through another release day. Now let’s give away a book! To enter, just leave a comment with a made-up book blurb by a fictional character. For example:

“I find your lack of Goblin Quest disturbing.”
-Darth Vader

“I am Groot.”
-Groot

I’ll send an autographed copy of one of my mass-market titles (your choice) to a random winner. There are no regional restrictions on who can enter, but only one entry per person, please.

Have fun, and in all seriousness, thank you so much for all of your support and encouragement over the years.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Newsletter, Issue #1

Snoopy

The first Updates from the Goblin Lair newsletter went out this morning. I didn’t have time to get things ready, so I asked one of the goblins to write it for me. I trust Klud did a good job with it, though. Hopefully there weren’t too many death threats or complaints about how I won’t let him eat the neighbor’s dog.

If you’re not subscribed, you should be able to check it out here.

The next one will probably go out around the end of the year. Feedback and suggestions are welcome.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Snoopy
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Jim C. Hines
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