Kowal’s work is most frequently referred to as “Jane Austen with magic” as the new author has skillfully woven magical elements into the era of Regency-era England, where people work glamours or small illusions on a daily basis. The series first follows Jane as she hones her skill and finds her happily-ever-after with the handsome glamour expert, Vincent. The sequel picks up as Jane and Vincent embark on their honeymoon and their relationship faces new challenges. You can learn more about the series in this video interview with the author, or dive into the extended excerpt of chapter two!
During the Month of Letters Challenge, people could write to Jane from Shades of Milk and Honey and she would write back, using an actual quill on a 19th century writing desk. Jane was writing these in “real time” for her, which means that it was the corresponding date in 1815 and takes place during the events of Glamour in Glass. It was a fun challenge to figure out what Jane was doing on a given day. I had plot events on a calendar, so I knew which chapter happened on which day, but there was space in between those. Most of the letters wound up falling on a non-plot day.
One of the correspondents has given permission to post the letters and I thought you’d be interested to see what some looked like.
Ooo! There’s a lovely review of Glamour in Glass in the current issue of Portland Monthly.
FEMALE EMPOWERMENT is a difficult enough subject to tackle in the context of Regency England, but add in the Napoleonic Wars and a level of magical realism, and you have the setting for an epic Jane Austen could hardly have imagined. … Presented in a successful fusion of magical realism, Regency romance, and wartime adventure, the story is rendered with elegant precision by Kowal’s literary artistry.
As Jane is traveling about in Europe, she’s in need of an appropriate dress for walking. I found this one, to serve as a model, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art online catalog. One fo the interesting features, if you enlarge it, are the buttons down the front. To my eye, they look like shell and seem very modern in style.
The museum says, “This dress presents a lively and engaging textile with its overall small prints. This style of print was in high demand in the teens and although it could have been made in New England by this time, it was probably imported from England, which shipped large quantities throughout the period.”
The polka-dots are also much more contemporary in feel than I would have expected, but the ruffled collar and the overall simplicty of the dress would have appealed to Jane.
Dressing herself in her high-collared walking suit, Jane marvelled at what it was to be hungry again. It had been so long since the thought of food had not turned her stomach that she had not at first recognised the pricking in her middle as hunger.
I imagine you might be wondering why food turned her stomach… If I told you that this line comes from Chapter Fifteen? No. I suppose that is not helpful. Well, April 10th isn’t that far away. Really.
I’ll tell you a secret. I tend to give characters that I’m fond of things that I covet. Vincent’s writing desk is one of these items. Here’s how it appears in Glamour in Glass
When in transit, it folded neatly in half to present an unassuming box. Once opened, it contained a comfortable sloped surface, faced in red leather. Cunningly concealed within were compartments to store correspondence and writing supplies. The battered wooden sides attested to the constant travelling Vincent had done in his life as an itinerant glamourist.
For my birthday, my father gave me a writing slope almost identical to this one. The leather, which is called a skiver, is in bad condition, but it turns out that you can order them online. I’ve done that, but have been using this desk almost non-stop during the Month of Letters. As soon as it is over, I’m pulling the battered old leather off and replacing it.
It is nice to have something that I coveted in fiction turn up in real life.
My latest novel, Glamour in Glass, isn’t due out until April of next year, but I stopped by Tor.com this week and signed copies of the ARCs for them. They have five copies to give away. You should enter!
The ARCs have full colour covers and are very, very pretty. I am biased, granted, but this is a lovely thing.
I turned in the line-edits for Glamour in Glass and thought I would share the crazy, crazy thing I did as part of this editing pass.
Glamour in Glass is set in 1815 and I wanted to have the language fairly clean of anachronisms. The challenge came in trying to figure out what words didn’t exist yet. So I decided to create a Jane Austen word list, from the complete works of Jane Austen, and use that as my spellcheck dictionary. It flagged any word that she didn’t use, which allowed me to look it up to see if it existed.
Sometimes the word did exist, but meant something different. “Blink” for instance, at the time meant to look through half-lidded eyes, or to open the eyes as if upon waking. The action we mean by it… “nictate.” Yeah… Not so much with the “She nictated at him.”
Once the word was flagged, I looked it up in the OED to double-check the meaning and the earliest citation. If the word didn’t work, then I used the OED’s historical thesaurus to find a period appropriate synonym.
If that wasn’t yielding good results, I would also, sometimes, search in the complete works of Jane Austen to see how she referred to similar subjects. For instance, if the word was an adjective modifying “temperment” then I’d look up “temperment” to see how she modified it, hoping that I’d find something that would fit.
So, I thought that you might be interested to see the words I am pulling out of Glamour in Glass, because they either didn’t exist in 1815 or that didn’t mean what they mean now.
A star next to a word means that it exists, but the meaning had changed enough that I didn’t feel comfortable using it. Continue reading ›
I have to read Glamour in Glass out loud. You can listen. Or rather, nine of you can. How so? It’s like this…
Last week, I got the line edits for Glamour in Glass, the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey the day after I finished writing The Transfigured Lady. Handy timing, that and I’ve been head down in revisions since then. But… two things have occurred since I turned Glass in back in January of 2010.
Thing A: I’ve forgotten most of the book.
Thing B: I’m a better writer than I was a year an a half ago. (I hope.)
Part of my normal process is to read my fiction, even at novel length, aloud when I’m finished to smooth out the prose. It’s amazing the number of repetitions, weird phrasing, or incomplete sentences one can find when reading aloud. Some of the changes between the hardback of Shades and the trade paperback were a direct result of recording the audio book. So, given Things A and B, it behooves me to read Glass aloud
With Google+ hangouts I can read to people instead of to myself.
What will this entail?
No recording. None. Seriously.
You’ll have to put up with me pausing to correct things.
This will take about nine to eleven hours broken into chunks.
You have to be on Google+
And no recording. At all.
Starting on Tuesday, I will be reading in the mornings from 8am to 10am PDT. The chunks might be longer, but only if everyone in the hangout agrees to keep going.
How do you get to listen?
Be available between 8am and 10am for the next five days.
Have the ability to do a Google+ hangout with camera and mic.*
In the comments below (on my website) tell me why you should be one of the nine people listening to this live-audio-book-revision thingie of Glamour in Glass. The book itself won’t be out until April 10, 2012. So tell me why should you get to know what happens before everyone else?
Respond by 8pm PDT on Monday 8/8.
I’ll pick the nine most compelling cases to be the listeners as I read.
*Edited to add: If you aren’t on Google+ say so and I’ll send you an invitation.
Would you like to see something cool? We’ve got the cover art for Glamour in Glass. It is really early to have this, but since Tor has given the okay, and it is gorgeous, I’ve get to show it to you.
You’ll notice that we’re moving to a photograph rather than historic art. The idea is that this will help catch a wider audience, which I think is likely. In fact, Tor had looked at doing that for the paperback of Shades of Milk and Honey but finding a photo that fit the tone and period was hard.
So for Glamour in Glass, they brought in Larry Rostant, who specializes in photos of historic periods. He created this specifically for my book and I’m delighted by the little details in it. I do recognize the fact that I’m geeking out over her kid gloves, of the correct length, is a sign of spending too much time in the Regency. But still! And that delicate fichu peeking out at the bodice’s neckline. So, lovely.
It will be exciting to see what happens when the designer gets involved and adds the type. I can’t wait. I so love books and the people who make them.
Meanwhile, I will tell you that on June 7th, when the paperback of Shades of Milk and Honey comes out, it will contain Chapter One of Glamour in Glass.
Allow me to experience a brief moment of triumph. I have turned in the manuscript for Glamour in Glass. Though I “finished” it back in September, there was an anachronism that was also a major plot point and it had been driving me crazy trying to fix it. Of course, fixing it introduced another complication because that’s how these things go, but finally! it is turned in.
I also turned in the copyedits for Shades of Milk and Honey this week. It was surprisingly painless. Pretty much everything that my dear copyeditor, Deanna Hoak, caught made me wince and nod my head. I don’t think I reversed any of her changes. Whew.
Hey Mary–I know that this is primarily a blog about whatever happens to be going on in your life, and not about teaching writing, but could you possibly tell a little bit about what you mean by “emotional throughline”? I googled the phrase, both as three words and as two, and found lots of sites where people talk knowingly about emotional throughlines, but not a real good definition or a how-to.
“Throughline” is really an acting term that was coined by Constantin Stanislavski. The idea is that actors should know what their objective is in any scene as well as the line of thought which led from one objective to the next.
In acting you’ll sometimes hear people say that acting is reacting, meaning that no one ever does anything without a reason, this includes emotions. Even chemically induced paranoia comes with a perception of reasons for the paranoia.
If it were possible to chart a character’s emotions through the course of a story the emotional throughline would be the line that connected all the points. Characters go flat when they jump from one emotion to another without any intervening thoughts or reactions.
I’m not saying that you can’t go from happy to angry in a single scene, but something has to happen to cause that shift. That progression is the emotion throughline which propels a character through the story.
Aside from the fact that Rob keeps having to drive to California to deal with winery things, I think we are settling into Portland nicely.
Through the magic of Skype, I spent two days reading the rest of Glamour in Glass to the folks back in the Puppet Kitchen. I’d gotten into the habit of reading stories to them when I was finished and they had been listening to me read the novel as I worked my way through it. This makes me happy that 3000 miles will not keep me from using them as a sounding board for fiction. It makes me feel like I’m still sort of there.
The rest of the week was spent trying to tempt Laurel Amberdine and her husband to move to Portland. Now, other people might regard having houseguests a week after moving in to an apartment as a crazy idea, but having company actually helps me feel more grounded. I think it’s a nesting thing.
That helps significantly since I’ll spend the rest of this week being a wine widow, while Rob is off on another trip to California. Thank heavens I’ve got some short fiction to work on. Might be time to call the Puppet Kitchen again…
We had to stay one more day in Salt Lake City, because the truck broke down. I can’t feel bad about this because I am very fond of Beth and Sean. Getting another day to hang with them does not suck.
Plus, I finished Glamour in Glass moments ago.
Now, by finished, I mean that I’ve got the first draft and that I need to go back and fill in the bracketed sections, tidy up the loose ends, and file off the rough spots. But structurally it is all there and it is completed first draft.
Today around noon, we’re turning off the internet. Gasp. I know.
We have to return the box to the cable company and the only way to do that is either in person or by having a technician turn up and unplug it. I mean…really? There’s not a way to just mail it in? I guess I should be thankful that I have the option of dropping it off.
Anyway, the plan is to drop it off, pick up the truck and come home. We’ll finish packing the kitchen and the bathroom tonight and then on Thursday, well, Thursday we load the truck. By we, I mean Rob and me and a passel of friends. It’s supposed to be cool tomorrow.
Friday morning, we head out on our grand cross-country adventure. I’ll be tweeting and updating the blog from the road thanks to my handy phone.
But my big focus when I’m not driving is to finish the novel. I’m in good shape to have the first draft wrapped by the time we roll into Portland.
So, that’s what I’ll be doing this week. How about you?
(Tor Books – July 14 2020) Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series, following The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, with The Relentless Moon. The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and […]