Soon, my pretties!

Just found out that IN THE SERPENT’S WAKE will be out in paperback on Feb. 21st! If you’ve been waiting for the paperback, or waiting for both books of the duology to be out in paperback, the wait is almost over.

Also! I have a short story, called GHOST STORY, coming out on Feb. 17th at The Sunday Morning Transport. What’s TSMT, you ask brightly? Why, a wonderful scheme to get a new SFF story into your inbox every Sunday morning, of course! The editors, Julian Yap and Fran Wilde, have a knack for attracting amazing authors, and for choosing just the right stories to read curled up on the couch with a big cup of coffee.

AND, they have granted me something truly special, which is the ability to bestow upon you (yes, YOU) a free 60-day subscription, thereby enabling you to read not just my story, but the other great stories coming out for the next couple months and (I believe) the pay-walled archives from last year. Here’s the link, and please do go check it out.

Io Saturnalia, 2022

So we’re getting ready for our annual Roman feast, a few days from now. The nice thing about Saturnalia is you can kind of fudge the date, a bit before the solstice or a bit after, your choice. This year, we’ll feast on the 22nd, but I had to get the pork marinating today. We’re making ofellae (pork belly) Ostian style (Apicius 7.4.1), and the marinade has got dill seed, celery seed, cumin seed, peppercorns, bay leaves, and asafoetida, along with a good portion of fish sauce. My hands, even after scrubbing, smell AMAZING — if you like asafoetida and fish sauce, which I do.

Those are the smells of Saturnalia, for me, along with rue and barley bread and the sweetest wine you can find. We used to get passito, but couldn’t find it this year, so we’re going to try cooking with ice wine. Which would probably be considered a waste of good ice wine by some, but to each their own. We’ll have some red Sicilian for drinking.

The tree is up, Sol Invictus at the top. He’s holding up pretty well, considering that I made him 17 or 18 years ago out of papier-mache (with actual gold leaf!), and had only minimal idea what I was doing.

Sol Invictus can’t wait to open his presents, which are, uh, clouds? I dunno. Seems likely.

We’re not actual pagans, particularly (our mantlepiece full of Greek and Roman statuary notwhithstanding). We’re just nerdy could-have-been-Classicists who have a fascination with ancient cooking and don’t feel quite comfortable with Xmas. It’s nice to commemorate the darkest point of the year, however, as well as the long journey back out of it, to gather your people warmly around you, eat some weird food together, and watch the lights twinkle.

The wheel always turns; the darkness isn’t forever. Stay warm, friends.

Did someone say “blogging more often?”

Oh, right, I did! Haha, that sounds just like me, right before I disappear. Still… here I am? How are you?

I do feel like the new Patreon (Fake Folktales!) is off to a better start than a dilettantish ne’er-do-well like myself had any right to expect, so that’s something. Thank you to everyone who’s joined me on this silly adventure so far. Another story is coming in early December. I’m trying even as we speak to whittle it down to a more manageable length, or figure out how to split it in two, or something. Maybe it’s fine and I’m fretting for no reason. I guess I have a little time to figure that out.

In other news: I am actually, in fact, drawing again. I hadn’t wanted to admit it, in case drawing turned out to be utterly unlike riding a bicycle. I’m learning to draw digitally, since my drafting table didn’t survive the last move and I was more prone to elbowing inkbottles than was good for me in any case. So that’s been a learning curve, haha. I spent a recent fever dream trying to work out which layers (in the digital art sense) of Northern Irish history contained the IRA and editing out the colour of fear, which turned out to be a particular shade of brown (learning to make digital art + Derry Girls finale + second shingles vax = weirdness all night, apparently).

That said: my grandma had shingles in her eye! I would get vaxed again! But whoo, yeah, that was a tough night, and not just from an editing standpoint.

Anyway… do I sound a bit jolly? I DO sound a bit jolly, even to my own jaded ear. Well, that’s something. If I create any particularly ridiculous pictures, you shall be the first to know.

Fake Folktales, and other tidbits

Friends! Hello! Yes, it has been a long time since I posted. I’ll tell you what: the pandemic, plus getting my son through the end of high school, plus finishing In the Serpent’s Wake, plus… well, that’s probably plenty, even if it wasn’t everything. ALL OF THAT has been a lot, and I really only finally just now (long line of adverbs means I’m SERIOUS) feel like I’m crawling out from under the rubble and can breathe again.

Breathe and like, take in the spectacularly disorienting view of the rubble all around us. Ye gods, where are we?

It strikes me that “Ye gods, where are we?” is a question people have been asking for a very long time, and attempting to answer with folktales. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I wrote another novel, while I was buried under that pile, a middle grade novel set on the border of Samsam and Goredd a hundred years before the events of Seraphina, about plague and ghosts and regret. It was a joy to write, and easily the best first draft I’d ever written, but alas, it looks like it will not be finding a forever publishing home just now, in its current form (meaning either the novel in its current form, or the publishing industry in ITS current form, take your pick). I had to sulk about this for a while — my superhero name is, after all, The Incredible Sulk — but that, too, is beginning to ebb. I have set that draft aside, for the moment, and I am finding other ways forwarrd.

One way is: I have begun drawing again, and working on a new story. Maybe… mmmmaybe there are more comics in my future?

*ducks flying objects; I assume these are missles of joy and anticipation*

The other way, however, is that I’ve started a Patreon for the many folktales I’ve written over the years, and the ones still to come. These are the sorts of stories that come to me most readily, in fact, due largely to the fact that I had Andrew Lang’s Chromatic Fairy Books checked out of the library almost constantly from about 1978-1983 (my apologies if you were wanting to read them then and they were unavailable). The frame story for the Patreon, of course, is that these are tales from Goredd, Ninys, Samsam, etc. that I, a scholar, have collected. There will be erudite commentaries by guest scholars (monks, dragons, and the like), and the occasional illustration and/or song.

Maybe all this delightful nonsense could be collected into a book someday, but mostly… I just need to rest and frolic and play for a while? In the Serpent’s Wake, and all my novels, really (except my dearest, currently unpublishable one) have been WORK. I loved them, and I suffered mightily in the writing, and I am tired, still, years later. I have a magnificent idea for an Adult Novel, but it looms before me like a terrible craggy mountain. I have been too emotionally exhausted to make it past the tree line. But I’ve been running on fumes, I guess. I need to refill the well (and to mix metaphors, with impunity!). Messing about with folklore and draconic scholarly commentaries sounds SO NICE right now.

You — yes, you! — are cordially invited to come watch me be a sillyperson, help support my work, and have a super-partyriffic-goodtime over at my FAKE FOLKTALES Patreon.

I know funds are tight all over, so I will understand if you can’t make it, or are only there sometimes. But what the heck, I will strive to be right here a bit more often, for free. Before Facebook and Twitter became the One-Stop Super-Shop for seeing all your computer friends at once, we used to blog. We’d go around from site to site and it was like leaning over the neighbours’ fence, shooting the breeze, exchanging cookie recipes.

I’ve missed that. I’ve missed people. I am far too good at this self-isolating thing (like, SERIOUS talent, do they give out Nobel Prizes for battening down the hatches and seeing no one forever). But here: the doors are open. Let’s see if I can keep them that way.

Happy Birthday, and some events

Friends, I am pleased to announce that In the Serpent’s Wake is finally out in the world. It took me four years to write, so it should take you at least that long to read… just kidding! I hope. But I do recommend reviewing Tess of the Road, if you’ve forgotten who’s who and what’s what. Serpent is a sequel, and may require a bit of grounding in the first book.

Cover of Rachel Hartman's new book, IN THE SERPENT'S WAKE, depicting a girl rising from a sea full of serpents, a shadowy tall ship in the background
Ah, that glare! Simon Prades has created another perfect cover, friends.

This being a time of plague, alas, I am not going on tour or making in-person appearances. However, there are a few on-line events coming up that I’d like you to be aware of. I will add to this list if any more come up.

12 February, 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific — Virtual book launch, in conversation with my friend Fran Wilde, hosted by my friends at Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA. Check here for details on how to watch. I believe they broadcast it on their Facebook Page and on YouTube.

17 February, 7:30 Eastern/4:30 Pacific — Penguin Teen Canada Trivia Night! Come as a solo player or a team of up to four, and enjoy a cozy evening of your Canadian YA faves – Sheena Kamal, H. N. Khan, Nathan Page & Drew Shannon, and yours truly – talking about our books and trying to stump you with VERY HARD QUESTIONS. A good time will be had by all! Get free tickets at Eventbrite.

23 February, 8 Eastern/5 Pacific — Come see me in discussion with the good folks at Words & Whimsy Book Club. Words & Whimsy is a private book-lovers’ community on Facebook, and you must join the community to attend the event.

That’s it for now! More to come, I hope!

In the Serpent’s Wake

Titles are hard. Only one title ever came to me before I even started outlining the story to go with it, and that was my third book, Tess in Boots.

That’s the title that sparked the writing, anyway. You observant readers may have noticed it’s not the title the book ended up with. Tess in Boots, alas, was simultaneously too young-sounding — evoking Puss in Boots — and too “adult” sounding, as it were. It’s a rare title that can span that gap. Fortunately, this was not my first novel and I had a back-up title up my sleeve, Tess of the Road. Even more fortunately, the publishers liked it.

Tess of the Sea seemed the natural successor to Tess of the Road, considering that the first book had ended with our Tess boarding a ship. My husband, an incorrigible smarty-pants, suggested that a better title might be Tess in Boats, and I admit that will always be the secret beloved title of my heart. If it makes me laugh, it wins.

However, publishers have their own metrics for what makes for good titles. There were many suggestions, but in the end we managed to agree on In the Serpent’s Wake. It’s arresting enough to keep them happy, and has just enough hint of double-meaning to appeal to me. Wake is a lovely word, and carries weight in the text.

The book comes out February 1st, 2022. Please click here for more information, including pre-order options.

Seraphina in Irish, and other delights

Hello computer-friends. You’re probably wondering where I’ve been. In a hole, is where, working hard on the Tess of the Road sequel. It’s still called Tess of the Sea, and am very close to finished. Just a few more twiddly fixes, and then it’s off to copyediting. As soon as there’s a date, I’ll let you know.

My other exciting news, however, is that my first novel, Seraphina, has been translated into Irish by my extremely smart and talented husband, Scott Oser. It will be out soon from Coiscéim (another date I will let you know as soon as I have it). Below is the cover, featuring some repurposed artwork of mine. Those of you who have been with me a long time will recognize it as a panel from Belondweg Blossoming, plus dragon.

Below, you can read a PDF preview of the prologue (in Irish!). If you can’t read Irish yet, no worries! I’ll leave it up long enough for you to learn.

Come see me in Dublin!

Going to Worldcon? Here’s where I’ll be, and when:

Sharp Storytelling

Format: Panel
16 Aug 2019, Friday 13:00 – 13:50, Wicklow Room-3 (CCD)

Remember the “Greatest swordsfight” from the “The Princess Bride”? Or Darth Vader’s duel with Obi-Wan? How about Aragon versus the Nazgûl? There can be only one! Bob Anderson was an Olympic competitor turned swordmaster/fight choreographer who knew how to tell a story with weapons. Our panelists will analyze how he did it.

Rachel Hartman, Zoë Sumra, Mr Ingvar Mattsson, Thomas Årnfelt (M), Peter Morwood


Kaffeeklatsch: Rachel Hartman

Format: Kaffeeklatsch
16 Aug 2019, Friday 16:00 – 16:50, Level 3 Foyer (KK/LB) (CCD)


Gender and sexuality in YA

Format: Panel
17 Aug 2019, Saturday 10:00 – 10:50, ECOCEM Room (CCD)

Young adulthood is a formative time in many ways, but especially when it comes to gender and sexuality. Both topics have been increasing in interest and importance in YA books. How do our books reflect explorations of identity? Why is it important that they do so? Has this changed over time? And how can we approach these topics respectfully – and with an eye on intersectionality?

Sam Bradbury (M), Diana M. Pho, Victoria “V.E.” Schwab, Rei Rosenquist, Rachel Hartman


Autographs: Saturday at 17:00

Format: Autographing
17 Aug 2019, Saturday 17:00 – 17:50, Level 4 Foyer (CCD)

Joseph Malik, Debra Jess, Daryl Gregory, Gordon Van Gelder, Rachel Hartman, Aimee Ogden


Reading: Rachel Hartman

Format: Reading
18 Aug 2019, Sunday 14:30 – 14:50, Liffey Room-3 (Readings) (CCD)


And last but not least, of course, I’ll be at the Hugo Ceremony itself. Hope to see some of you there!

Celsius 232!

The schedule is set for the Celsius Festival! I’m very excited about finally visiting northern Spain. I’ll try to take lots of good pictures.

Meanwhile, here’s an extremely good girl, who is going to turn ten years old very soon:


Throw the ball, Mom! For the love of dog, throw the ball!

Come see me — and others, who are not me!

Just dropping you a note to let you know I’ve updated the Appearances page, finally. I’m going a few interesting places this year, so if you find yourself in California, Spain, or Ireland at the right time, please do come and see me!

And local friends: I’m making an appearance in Burnaby in May as well, although it’s not about me. I’ll be the other half of the “In Conversation with Jay Kristoff” at Metrotown Indigo, May 13th, 7pm. We’ll be discussing his latest book (co-authored with Amie Kaufman), AURORA RISING. If you liked their ILLUMINAE books, or if you’re a fan of fast, funny SF adventure, you won’t want to miss this.

I should also just mention that local author Nafiza Azad will also be having an “In Conversation” event at Metrotown Indigo on Saturday, May 18th, at 1pm. It’s the launch of her debut novel, THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME, which I blurbed. I was invited to be her conversation partner for this event, but I had already committed to going to the Nebula Conference in California that weekend. Alas! I wish I could be both places at once. However: I hope you’ll go and cheer her on, or at very least check out her book, which is a joy, cover to cover.