Journal

Why I’m spending today swapping out the dialect in my novel

My project today is replacing all the dialogue spoken by Antiguan characters in Of Noble Family with dialogue rewritten by Antiguan and Barbudan author Joanne Hillhouse.

Let me explain why I’m doing this.

I grew up in the American South — specifically the Piedmont of North Carolina and East Tennessee. The reason I’m being specific about this is that I grew up in a part of the US that has very clear regional differences. People talk about “the Southern accent” as if it’s a homogeneous thing, but it’s really, really not. Accent goes far beyond how the words are pronounced, or the cadences used, and very much into the word choices and sentence structures. Language reflects the culture of the people using it, precisely because we use it to express ourselves.

There are also very distinct class differences in the way English is spoken — this is true everywhere, but the American South is one of the places where it’s really clear. A Southerner will often try to scrub the “country” out of their voice to arrive at the “genteel” Southern accent so that people won’t think they’re uneducated. And then moving away, where that distinction isn’t recognized, requires scrubbing all trace of the South out in order to not be perceived as a “hick.”

Yet– when I go home, I’ll slide back into one when I’m in a store so I don’t seem like an outsider. It’s code-switching at it’s most basic.

So, when I decided to set a book with a lot of action in Antigua, I knew that I wanted to represent the Antiguan Creole English. I also knew, from having watched people mangle the Southern American English, that understanding the nuances was going to be really, really important and really, really hard.

Harder than making my books sound like Jane Austen?

Yes.

Why? Because Jane Austen has been researched, and studied, and analyzed so there’s no shortage of material available. It’s taught in school in the US. I could grab a representative text and use that as my base. Even there, when I had characters who were speaking with an East London dialect, I asked a friend to “translate” it for me. But the primary text? No shortage of material and it’s material that I had been exposed to since a very young age.

Trying to find a representative text of Antiguan Creole English written by a native speaker in 1818? Welcome to colonialism.

The next best choice was to read a lot of work written by contemporary writers. (I recommend the works of Jamaica Kincaid, Joanne Hillhouse, and Marie-Elena John.) It was very clear to me that I could come up with something that a reader unfamiliar with the Caribbean would accept. And it was also clear that I would completely screw up the nuances.

So — I hired Joanne Hillhouse to translate the dialogue.

I’m swapping the dialogue out right now, and there are places that I’m also rewriting sections of the scenes because she’s also made suggestions about places where the communication would be through non-verbal dialog. Language is complex and not simply what is said, but also what is unsaid.

Dialect, likewise, isn’t just people talking funny. It’s a reflection of culture.

 

That military SF audio play I was working on? You can pre-order it now…

So I’ve been tweeting some things about how I was working on a military SF.

And how I was working on an audioplay.

And how I realized that Alan Tudyk would be voicing one of the characters…

But I haven’t been able to tell you what it was, until today.

There’s a game — a really good game — called Defense Grid. For the second edition of it, Defense Grid 2, I’ve written a “A Matter of Endurance” a new original audio story. It’s part of the pre-purchase awards. Basically, the more people pre-purchase the game, the more rewards unlock. My story? Tier 3.
DG2-Steam-tier-3

It’s so good that I lost six hours the day that I play-tested it. Just saying…

And you can pre-order Defense Grid 2 here.

My Favorite Bit: Max Gladstone talks about FULL FATHOM FIVE

My Favorite Bit iconMax Gladstone is joining us today with his novel Full Fathom Five. Here’s the publisher’s description.

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World.

When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.

Full Fathom Five is the third novel set in Max Gladstone’s addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead
What’s Max’s favorite bit?

FFF-text

MAX GLADSTONE

The Eternal Lightness of Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt has overrun my home.

I have no objection to the stuff in abstract. I welcome our new tart overlords. A good FroYopurveyor equipped with egregious topping options (Little mochi balls! Diced kiwi! Walnuts! Marshmallow fluff!) will more surely slake my summer thirst than your average ice cream parlor.

But you can have too much of a good thing, and I think my neighborhood passed “too much” a year ago.

Used to be we had our local ice cream shop, which makes a great frozen yogurt in addition to their Oreo cake batter swirl. But storefronts change handsas rents jut skyward. The little photo shop on the corner has gone the way of all little photo shops; it’s a salon now. Even the local McDonalds shuttered.

And every second store that swooped in to occupy vacant real estate has specialized in FroYo.

My wife and I welcomed the second store’s opening, but we were perplexed when the third set out its shingle one block away. The fourth opened across the street from the third. And there they crouch, like tigers growling over the carcass of a deer. Morricone music plays. Specifically, this Morricone music.

One of the bestparts of writing my kind of fantasy—secondary world fantasy with a post-industrial setting rather than the High Medieval milieu—is that I get to engage more directly with the world in which I live. All my Craft books, from Three Parts Dead through to my latest, Full Fathom Five, examine modern life through the lens of magic: necromancers in pinstriped suits, gods with board meetings, young wizards struggling with student loans, etcetera.

So, in Full Fathom Five, I wrote about offshore banking, false gods, a society dealing with the aftershocks of radical global change—golem punching, financial wizardry, spies, and not-for-profit madness—refugee communities, opera, slam poetry and outsider religion—clashing gender and sexuality norms in a small nation fighting cultural assimilation—the political hazards of serving as a tourism and financial services hub—

And all that stuff was big and complicated and took me a long time to get close to right. I’m proud of the work I put in. But there’s a difference between the elements of which a writer’s proudest in a work—the products of sweat, the scenes that came together on the tenth draft in the eleventh hour—and the bits which sit fondest on the writer’s heart. My favorites are tiny beats and jokes: the Evangelion reference I’ve slid into every novel so far, the Shrike trying to get a tan, the arguments about fantasy novels inside a fantasy novel, the squid-priests…

And, well. The frozen yogurt shop.

It’s a tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene halfway through the book. Kai, our lead, is walking to a Creepy Police Station to report a divine theft (sort of). Scanning the street, she notices that since she last passed this way a little corner store that sold antique maps has failed, relinquishing its place to aFroYo shop.

Kai never bought anything from the map store.She does, though, stop for frozen yogurt.

We all deserve our little indulgences, especially when they’re delicious.

LINKS:

www.maxgladstone.com

www.twitter.com/maxgladstone

Amazon / Powell’s / Barnes & Noble / Signed Preorders

First Five Chapters

BIO:

Max Gladstone has sung in Carnegie Hall, been thrown from a horse in Mongolia and nominated for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award. Tor Books published his most recent novel, FULL FATHOM FIVE, in July 2014. The first two books in the Craft sequence are THREE PARTS DEAD and TWO SERPENTS RISE.

Also, my father definitely does not own a DeLorean.

dad and me

I’m mean, sure, his mother’s maiden name was Walker which just happens to be the maiden name of Jane Austen’s mother. And yes, my parents live at Robin’s Roost, which is the old Walker farm that just happens to have been in our family since the mid-1800s, but that’s total coincidence.

Clearly, my family has a long history.

I mean, look at this picture of my Mom! It was taken in the mid-1950s, so clearly there’s no time-travelling happening. That would just be silly.

Mom and Grandma in the mid-fifties.

To answer your questions– I am not a Time Lord.

So, the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, has unveiled a forensic recreation of Jane Austen.

Mary Robinette Kowal

Allow me to tell you a story, that is purely fiction.

Jane Austen was very ill in 1817 and her family called for the Doctor. Though this good gentlemen did his best, there was nothing that could be done for her in that time. In another, later time, it could be imagined that much might be done to aid her.

If such a thing occurred, gentle reader, and the authoress were taken into a box of cobalt blue, thence to find herself in another era, how would she thank the man who saved her life? Perhaps, if you choose to entertain such thoughts, by writing him into a story– into every story, in the hopes that he would see and understand how deeply grateful she was.

It is is a pretty fiction, is it not?

Sale! Audio of three novels to Audible

I’m delighted that Audible will continue to produce the audiobooks for my novels. They have been very good about working with me to make the audiobooks what I want them to be. I get my choice of engineer, and they adjust the recording schedule around my crazy travel. Good people at Audible.

  • So! You can expect to here Of Noble Family, to be released at the same time as the print version.
  • Next will be Stagecraft — In answer to a question I know you’ll ask… No. I will not be narrating this one. It has two POV characters, a young black woman and a young white man. I would be the wrong narrator for both.
  • After that, comes Ghost Talkers, which is set in 1916 during the First World War. That hasn’t been written yet, so I have no idea what sort of narration it will want.

I’m tremendously pleased and excited.

My Favorite Bit: D.B. Jackson talks about A PLUNDER OF SOULS

My Favorite Bit iconD.B. Jackson is joining us today with his novel A Plunder of Souls. Here’s the publisher’s description.

Boston, 1769: Ethan Kaille, a Boston thieftaker who uses his conjuring to catch criminals, has snared villains and defeated magic that would have daunted a lesser man. What starts out as a mysterious phenomenon that has local ministers confused becomes something far more serious.

A ruthless, extremely powerful conjurer seeks to wake the souls of the dead to wreak a terrible revenge on all who oppose him. Kaille’s minister friends have been helpless to stop crimes against their church. Graves have been desecrated in a bizarre, ritualistic way. Equally disturbing are reports of recently deceased citizens of Boston reappearing as grotesquely disfigured shades, seemingly having been disturbed from their eternal rest, and now frightening those who had been nearest to them in life. But most personally troubling to Kaille is a terrible waning of his ability to conjure. He knows all these are related…but how?

When Ethan discovers the source of this trouble, he realizes that his conjure powers and those of his friends will not be enough to stop a madman from becoming all-powerful. But somehow, using his wits, his powers, and every other resource he can muster, Ethan must thwart the monster’s terrible plan and restore the restless souls of the dead to the peace of the grave. Let the battle for souls begin in Plunder of Souls, the third, stand-alone novel in Jackson’s acclaimed Thieftaker series.

What’s D.B.’s favorite bit?

PlunderofSouls_hi_comp150

D.B. JACKSON

Today is release day for A Plunder of Souls, the third novel in my Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. It also marks the third release day in as many years that I have appeared here as a guest of Mary’s on “My Favorite Bit.” I’m deeply grateful to her for hosting me again.

As with previous Thieftaker books, I am most fond of the character relationships I have set up in A Plunder of Souls. In other ways, though, this novel differed in significant ways from its prequels and presented me with both special challenges and special opportunities. The book has its roots in a short story I published at Tor.com two years ago, just before the release of the first book in the series, Thieftaker. The story is called “A Spell of Vengeance,” and in it I introduce a character named Nate Ramsey.

I originally wrote the story intending merely to explore an episode from my hero’s past, one to which I refer briefly in that first book. But long after I finished “A Spell of Vengeance,” I continued to think about Ramsey and his interactions with Ethan Kaille, my conjuring, thieftaking protagonist. Eventually I realized that I wanted to bring Ramsey back, to make him a more integral part of the series, a sort of Moriarty character who would task Ethan in ways even Sephira Pryce, Ethan’s nemesis and rival in thieftaking, could not.

Like Ethan, Nate Ramsey is a powerful conjurer. He is also the captain of a merchant ship, as was his father before him. When first we meet him in the short story, he has been making threats against two wealthy merchants in Boston who hire Ethan to protect them. During their initial encounter, Ramsey informs Ethan that the two men swindled and hounded his father until the elder Ramsey took his own life. Naturally, Ethan regrets taking the job, but he feels honor-bound by the commitment he has made to the merchants. He attempts to convince Ramsey that he should leave the city without exacting his revenge. Eventually however, Ethan and Ramsey engage in a battle of spells that ends in a stalemate. Ramsey manages to kill the two merchants and then flees Boston.

Now, in A Plunder of Souls, Ramsey is back, and he seeks to avenge himself on Ethan. Some of my readers will have read “A Spell of Vengeance,” and they will know all of this history. But for the rest I need to reintroduce Ramsey in a way that conveys the sum of his past encounter with Ethan and establishes in no uncertain terms the threat he represents and the essence of who he is: a brilliant, twisted, broken man with staggering magical powers.

I do this in a scene aboard Ramsey’s ship, the Muirenn. At first, the captain greets Ethan as if they’re old friends, embracing him and insisting that they share a flask of Madeira wine. Ethan, of course, is perplexed by this and goes so far as to remind Ramsey of the circumstances of their last encounter. Until at last the captain says, “Leave it, Kaille. Friends, enemies. There aren’t that many people in this world who inspire passion in me one way or another. So stop arguin’ and drink with me.”

Their confrontation goes downhill from there, the tension between them building, their words as barbed as fish hooks. The scene was tremendous fun to write and is a highlight of the book. But more to the point, the encounter ends on what may be the best snippet of conversation I’ve ever written. In one line, Ramsey reveals all about himself: his madness, his cruelty, his unnerving sense of humor, and his brazen determination to destroy Ethan utterly and for all time.

I’ll not give away the line here; I think you’ll know it when you see it. I will simply say that this single moment establishes his character as fully as if I had reprinted the entire short story in the novel. And that is why it is My Favorite Bit.

LINKS:

http://www.dbjackson-author.com

http://www.dbjackson-author.com/blog

http://www.facebook.com/dbjacksonAuthor

http://twitter.com/dbjacksonauthor

http://www.goodreads.com/dbjackson

http://amazon.com/author/dbjackson

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 just 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.

A metaphor of cultural appropriation for SFF writers.

You know when a mainstream book goes really big, and it’s something that uses SF tropes. Like, for instance, if someone writes a books with vampires and then acts as though urban fantasy doesn’t exist. Her fans read it. They say, “OMG! These vampires that she’s invented are the best thing ever!”

And then they run across Dracula and are all, “Hey– this Stoker guy is totally ripping off vampires. And they don’t even sparkle.”

Or, say that there’s someone writing dystopian SF, who then says, “I don’t write science fiction” or disparages it as “”talking squids in outer space.” Then goes on to get all the interviews and the awards and completely eclipses the people in the SFF community who are writing dystopian SF.

And your head explodes with fury and outrage?

That’s your culture.

Now extend the metaphor and imagine that your culture has been systematically oppressed for centuries. That gives you the general idea what cultural appropriation is.

 

MRK’s Sunday Westercon schedule

So yesterday, Mark Osier, the Music Guest of Honor at Westercon did a Writing Excuses themed concert. It was wonderful. All four of us were sitting there grinning like idiots during the show. We recorded it, so hopefully we can play the truly awesome song he wrote about the podcast for you. Real soon now. You can watch to the video I took on my phone, although it’s missing the very beginning.

Where can you find me today?

10:00am – Researching your Costume: Historical, SF, Fantasy or Steampunk, Salon D&E
What’s the difference between Victorian & Edwardian clothing? A Tolkien wizard or one from J. K. Rowling? Star Trek: TOS & Star Trek: Voyager?

11:30am – Puppetry and Science Fiction, Deer Valley I & II
Much like science fiction and fantasy, puppetry is often seen as a childhood interest. Mary Robinette Kowal, professional puppeteer and Hugo award-winning author, talks about what speculative fiction writers can learn from the world of puppetry.

3:00pm – Closing Ceremonies, Salon D&E

MRK’s Saturday schedule + Regency dancing!

Westercon has been a blast so far. One of the highlights yesterday was listening to Bradley Voytek’s Guest of Honor presentation. He’s the science guest of honor and is a professor of neuroscience/cognitive science at USCD. Also, he’s written a book on the science of zombies. Awesome.

Today looks like it is shaping up to be good as well.

Here’s where to find me.

10:00 AM Salon D&E Jay Lake Memorial

1:00pm – Writing Excuses at FantasyCon SPCC Room 250
“Writing Excuses” is a local award-winning, nationally loved writing (FREE) podcast concerning writing. Join live tapings of this lively, instructive and just plain fun podcast.

4:00pm – Regency Dancing, Salon A – I am bringing all of my Regency dresses to this and will loan them to anyone who wants to wear one.

7:00pm – Tag Team Joepary & The Avenue of Awesomeness, Salon B&C&D&E
Author book signing and rotating jeopardy panels for your enjoyment – see how the authors let their fun out (This starts at 6:00 but I’m not on until 7:00.)

Where to find me on the 4th of July… at Westercon

I’m having a great time at Westercon in Salt Lake City, and here’s my schedule du jour.

10:00am – Guest of Honor: Mary Robinette Kowal, Salon D&E

1:00pm – Writing Excuses: w/Cory Doctorow, Salon D&E
“Writing Excuses” is a local award-winning, nationally loved writing (FREE) podcast concerning writing. Join live tapings of this lively, instructive and just plain fun podcast.

4:00pm – Singing Workshop for Folks Who Don’t Sing, Salon A
Do, re, mi, what? What does a casual singer need to know to sound fine?

Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology

On Writing Excuses, we get a lot of questions that are related to how an idea becomes a story. So, we decided to demonstrate by doing podcasts that started with the raw idea going through the development process and then writing the fiction. We’ve put together a collection of four stories written by the members of Writing Excuses podcast.

Shadows Beneath

“I.E.Demon,” by Dan Wells. US soldiers in Afghanistan are tasked with testing new technology built to protect them from bombs. Unfortunately, the technology has a few bugs in it. Also, demons.

Howard Tayler’s “An Honest Death” is near-future science fiction. When an intruder appears and then vanishes from a biotech CEO’s office, the CEO’s chief of security must face a threat that looks less like corporate espionage and more like a mythological evil.

“A Fire in the Heavens,” by Mary Robinette Kowal. An epic fantasy novelette involving a tidally locked planet, an expedition to a new continent, and what it’s like to see the moon for the first time.

“Sixth of the Dusk,” by Brandon Sanderson. In a land where people use birds to grant them magical talents, a solitary island trapper discovers a plot to destroy his way of life—and maybe his entire culture.

In addition to the stories themselves, Shadows Beneath includes transcripts of our brainstorming sessions, our rough drafts, a view into the critique process, and some essays on writing the stories, and illustrations. Oh… there are some pretty, pretty pictures in there.

So for those of you wondering what happened to that story I was working on about a tidally locked moon? It’s published now.

You can buy it here, or in electronic form at your favorite ebook retailer.

New Cat has a name… Welcome Sadie.

We command you to nap.I know, I know… It wasn’t on the list of names we were considering, but allow me to explain why it fits her so well.

  1. Sadie is short for Sarah, which means “princess” or “lady.” You can see that she has already made her position clear in the household.
  2. Sadie Peterson Delaney was the head librarian for the  Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama from 1924-1958. She pioneered “bibliotherapy” which she defined as, “the treatment of patients through selected reading.” Not only does our Sadie like sitting on books, she has a tiny meow suitable for the library. Also, librarians rock.
  3. Sadie Farrell aka Sadie the Goat was a gang leader in 1868 in New York. She was known for mugging lone men by head-butting them. Later she lead a gang in taking over a sloop and went on raiding parties up and down the Hudson. This was a woman who knew how to survive on the streets, much like our girl who was rescued from the streets.
  4. Sadie Bonnell was an ambulance driver in the First World War and was awarded the military medal for her courage under fire. Our Sadie raised her own kittens and took in a foundling as well.
  5. My mom asked Dad to marry her on Sadie Hawkins day. Okay… this doesn’t actually tie in to our Sadie’s personality, I just like the family story.
  6. She came when I called her “Sadie.” For the past couple of days, we’ve been trying out names randomly as we get to know her. Sometimes, she’ll ignore it, or yawn, or shake her head. I said “Sadie,” and she jumped up and ran over to me, chattering. Granted, later she totally ignored me, but she’s a cat so that’s her prerogative.

The one thing you can’t tell from these photos is how incredibly tiny she is.

Finally, if you are in the Chicago area and are looking for a new cat, allow me to highly recommend Critical Animal Relief Foundation. They take excellent care of fosters and spend a lot of time making sure that that the forever homes are a good match. The photo album of adoptable kitties is soooo sweet.

I am the Toastmaster for World Fantasy in D.C. this year

Finlay_Golden_Atlantis_header

Last week, I got a phone call from Peggy Rae Sapienza, who is one of the co-chairs of World Fantasy. She had a favor to ask. I like it when she asks me for favors. The one before this was, “Would you mind running the Whiskey tasting with Guy Gavriel Kay on the Wednesday before WFC starts?”

Now, you should also understand that when I was working with SFWA, Peggy Rae had stepped in to help with the Nebulas when we had a sudden behind-the-scenes problem. She’s the reason no one in the front of house knew that there was a fire backstage. (I honestly don’t remember what it was, so don’t dwell on that part) After that, she was formally involved in making the event run smoothly, so I’ve had first hand experience in knowing exactly how good she is as a con-runner.

In fact, when people asked if I was going to WFC this year, I always said “Yes! Because Peggy Rae is running it and it will be awesome.”

So, when she asked me for a favor, I said “yes.” Then she told me what the favour was and I started laughing and said “yes” all over again. Would I be willing to be the Toastmaster for WFC? Heck, yes.

This is going to be a very, very fun convention. I hope to see you there.

(They are currently sold out, but the waiting list will open in a couple of weeks)

 

Meet our new cat, name to be determined

After Harriet’s passing, Rob and I knew that we wanted to adopt another rescue cat. Everyone at our veterinary clinic, Village West, was wonderful with Harriet and very understanding of what we were going through. They also run a rescue program, Critical Animal Relief Foundation.

So, we decided that when we were ready, we’d adopt from them.

Left to our own devices, I think we would have waited longer, but Marlowe was clearly lonely without a companion. He’s always lived in a two-cat household and when we’re gone during the day… he’s very vocal and needy when we get home. So– So it was time.

I talked to Alexis at CARF about what we were looking for personality-wise and she narrowed the choices down to three and arranged a meet and greet for us. At two o’clock today, we met this charmer and brought her home. She had a code name, which is one of the ones under consideration, but we want to get to know her a little better before we settle.

 

She had been dropped off at the pound with newborn kittens. CARF pulled her out and placed her in foster care. They focus on animals in critical need and pulled our lady and her kittens because one was dead in the cage with her. She was apparently a very affectionate mother, and raised her five kittens plus an orphan in foster care. Anyway, the kittens are weened and she was ready to be placed.

So far, I can tell you that she’s very affectionate, has tiny little vocalizations, and looooooooves being brushed.  As in, she will lie down and air-knead while you are working on her. Her fur is a little scraggly because she’s had a rough go, but I think she’ll bounce back quickly.

She and Marlowe have seen each other, but not been allowed in the same room together yet. They both are curious, but we want to give her time to feel more comfortable with the space before tossing a giant at her.

Names in the running so far:

  • Nellie
  • Phebe
  • Verity
  • Olive

And then there’s Scalzi’s suggestion of Squidley McBarfersen.

Note: You don’t get a vote about the name of the new cat, but we’ll take nominations that the Kowal board will consider for review.