So this morning…

…I was on The Morning Show Toronto to talk about Shadow Scale. Before I went on there was one other guest waiting his turn, a gregarious black man who introduced himself as Chad, asked me about myself and the book, and then took a picture and had one of his assistants post it to Instagram. The whole time I’m thinking, “His voice sounds really familiar! I feel like I should know who he is. He’s not Isaac Hayes, because Isaac Hayes is dead — but who is he?”

I quietly asked one of his assistants, embarrassed for the man himself to know I couldn’t place him, and she was like, “Ever watch The Wire?” No, I’ve never watched The Wire. “How about The Walking Dead?”

I love The Walking Dead. He’d played Tyreese. I felt pretty silly, but in a way it was nice because we’d had an actual conversation without me fangirling all over him.

Anyway, that’s my little brush with fame for today. At least I managed not to be too embarrassing. I’ve had fans of my book worry that they said something silly in front of me — please don’t feel self-conscious about that! We all do it, and I think I was only prevented by not knowing who he was for most of the time. Sometimes it really is better to have a slow reveal.

O Torontonians!

OK, I’ve been kind of bad about announcing my own events, but there’s a big one tomorrow in Toronto, and I just wanted to remind you it was happening.

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They’ll be selling books, and I’ll be signing them. Please do come, if you’re in town! I’d love to see you all!

Soon: Children’s Book World, Haverford, PA

I’m having a lovely time on tour. This is just a reminder that I am going to be at Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA, tomorrow evening at 7pm.

I used to work at this bookstore, so coming back is always a special joy for me. It really is like coming home.

Later this week: Michigan! And then Toronto! See my Appearances page for details.

Farewell to a friend I never met

I want to write about Terry Pratchett, and I don’t even know where to begin. He wrote so many wonderful and consoling things about death (or, y’know, Death) that I feel the tiniest bit guilty for being so very sad he’s gone. I feel like I should be able to face it with some kind of humorous equanimity, something like:


Ahahahaha! And yet. I has all the sad. I’m afraid I’m going to have to play it straight.

I never read any of his books until I moved to Canada, and even then I had several false starts. I tried reading The Colour of Magic and I didn’t get very far. It looked like a pile of undifferentiated jokes to me, and while the jokes were individually hilarious, in a heap they were rather overwhelming. It was like eating nothing but cake, all the time. Another one that I remember disliking was Maskerade, which as far as I could tell was nothing but a send-up of Phantom of the Opera. It was funny enough, for what it was, but I honestly couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.

I’m not sure why I kept trying.

Well, that’s not quite true. I kept trying because I had just moved to a foreign country where I knew no one outside my own household. I kept trying because I missed my friends back in Philly, and I’m pretty sure they were the ones who’d recommended Pratchett to me in the first place. I kept trying because I really, really needed a friend right then, and miraculously, I found one.

Going Postal was the book that finally opened the door for me, the one that made me realize there was a human behind the mountains of jokes, a human who was preoccupied with many of the same things I was. The Tiffany Aching books followed close on its heels, as well as Thud!, and by the time I’d gotten through those I felt like I knew exactly who I was dealing with.

And he was something remarkable, something I’d never quite seen before. He was using the twin fists of humour and fantasy to punch the world in the face. These were, in fact, extremely serious books about difficult and hard-hitting subjects, but he’d disguised it so cleverly that you couldn’t quite tell. I think the mask did slip a bit in his later years, and that was why I found his more recent books more accessible. I find it easier to read the early ones now that I’ve glimpsed the wellsprings beneath them; his preoccupations have been the same all along, and now that I know what to look for I see them everywhere, shining like diamonds.

I wrote a little tribute to him on the Terry Pratchett Appreciation Tumblr a couple years ago, and I don’t think I can sum up his influence on my writing any more perfectly than this:

Nothing was out of bounds, not death, love, politics, or religion. A fantasy writer could say exactly what needed to be said and could run any thought experiment conceivable. It was a revelation, and it set me free.

I cried when I learned that he had died, and I cried again later that day when a middle-school student asked me who my favourite writer was. “Isn’t it amazing,” I said, “how deeply books can move you, and what a strong connection we can feel to someone we never met?”

I used to call him, only half-jokingly, my long-lost time-travelling twin, or my spiritual uncle, because we were preoccupied with so many of the same kinds of questions. We didn’t always come to the same conclusions, but his were always humane, hilarious, and well worth considering.

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.” —Reaper Man

Thank you for everything, old friend. I’m going to miss you.

The NPR review

Many people e-mailed me about this today, but there may still be a few of you who haven’t seen it: In ‘Shadow,’ Change and Growth as a Story Sheds its Scales.

There are bad reviews, and there are good reviews, and there are reviews that leave you feeling like somebody just opened up your chest and pointed at your heart and said, “Look at this, right here.” My slightly awed thanks to Amal El-Mohtar for the anatomy demonstration. It is both gratifying and humbling to be seen.

In other news! Had a delightful time at B&N Lynnwood today. I was able to have some excellent, in-depth conversations with my readers, which is something I enjoy very much. And I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I need to put more pictures of our whippet, Una, on my blog.

Well. Your wish is my command.

An oldie but goodie.

An oldie but goodie.

March 10th

Here it is! Many thanks to all my readers, for their patience and faith in me, and to the good folks at Random House, who have been nothing but encouraging and kind. The book wouldn’t be here without you all.

A little bit of linkage, and then I’d better start my day. I have a guest post up at My Bookish Ways about the fantasy worlds that have inspired me, and another at about my five favourite theological fantasy novels.

Here’s a nice review from Misty at The Book Rat, and another from Jenn’s Bookshelves.

And the book, of course, is out in the world today. Happy birthday, book. It was a difficult labour, much worse than your sister’s, but I love you just the same.

Away with me! I have to pack for my trip and prepare for my launch at Kidsbooks. Thanks again for reading, everybody!

Tomorrow’s the day!

It’s super exciting, although for some reason I still have to do laundry and clean my kitchen. I had hoped that maybe by this point in my career those things would magically happen by themselves, but they don’t seem to.

Be that as it may, here’s an amusement to tide you over: a lovely conversation I had with Christopher Paolini about Shadow Scale, writing, dragons, and music. And probably other stuff, too. It turns out I do babble on. The interview also contains my trademark giggling in copious quantities, so you really don’t want to miss out on that.

(Seriously: I laugh a lot. If you ever meet me, you will notice. If you meet me and I’m not laughing, chances are I’m storing it up for later.)

See you tomorrow, friends. Thank you all for your support, your patience, and your high tolerance for silliness.

I’m not one to waste a world

Just to answer a question I’ve been seeing frequently and to provide some reassurance once I’ve answered it:

YES, Shadow Scale is the conclusion to Seraphina’s story. Everything wraps up, perhaps not entirely tidily, but in satisfactory and life-like fashion.

HOWEVER, let this not be a source of sadness for you. Goredd won’t just disappear. Indeed, those who have been with me since my comic book days, before Seraphina, know that Goredd and I have been together a very long time. It’s an enormous world, I love it, and I am going to set more books there. I am already working on the next one (I’m about 85K words into it, in fact).

The world came first, and the world goes on.

T minus one week

…and Misty at The Book Rat is up to shenanigans. SHENANIGANS, I tells ya! She asked me all kinds of tricky questions, but I was able to face them down with dignity. Always dignity.

Elsewhere, I stumbled across a particularly nice review of Shadow Scale from Tanita at Finding Wonderland. I have not been reading reviews — in fact I’ve been very strict with myself about this — but I saw a tweet about this one that used the word UNEQUIVOCALLY, and that kind of sucked me in. (My husband, when he reads this, will shake his finger scoldingly at me. Yes, dear. Back on the wagon I go.) Still: insightful review, worth a look.

I am wondering, at this point, if I couldn’t just sleep for a week. I’m like a kid on Christmas eve. IS SANTA HERE YET? HOW ABOUT NOW??

And March is come at last

It never ceases to amaze me how the future is so very far away until it’s not. I felt certain this month would never arrive – that it was a myth I’d invented to keep myself going – and now here it is.

A little business: I have updated the Appearances page yet again. I particularly wish to point out to my friends in Michigan that I am doing TWO public events there, in Ann Arbor and Lansing, and I would love to see any or all of you. It’s been a long time.

Shadow Scale just got a starred review in Quill & Quire (Canada’s publishing trade magazine, like PW or Kirkus in the States), which is wonderful news. I have a very annoying cold, which is less wonderful, but I suppose there’s something to be said for getting it out of the way before the book launch.

Edited to add: Here’s my goofy little video that I made for the Seraphina celebration in Madrid! Wish I could have been there in person!