Monthly Archives: November 2010

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Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy is hosted by io9, and this episode features an interview with Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead

Robert Kirkman, author of The Walking Dead, joins us this week on io9’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast to talk about zombies, comics, and AMC’s The Walking Dead television series.

Episode #25 — Robert Kirkman

Some of my favourite snippets from the show notes:

4:26 Don’t use The Walking Dead as a manual for survival for medical school or during a real-life zombie apocalypse

7:34 The origins and development process of The Walking Dead television series

11:20 Jumping the shark and Ryan Ottley’s color story issue of The Walking Dead

24:37 Kirkman’s other (non-The Walking Dead) projects: Invincible, The Astounding Wolf-Man and Haunt

30:14 How would Kirkman fare during a zombie apocalypse?

39:26 When does Luke Skywalker gets a chance to use the loo?

47:07 Does The Walking Dead rip off 28 Days Later? Or stay true to the roots on the sub-genre? Dave talks about The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

56:31 Sex during the zombie apocalypse? Really?

So head on over and listen to Episode #25 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy.

From the Orbit Books blog:

The Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley

Mixing real history and historical figures with magics and conspiracies, this novel imagines the Edinburgh of 1827, populated by mad alchemists who treat Frankenstein as textbook rather than novel, and by a criminal underclass prepared to treat with the darkest of powers.

The plot follows the progress of an officer of the recently formed Edinburgh City Police as he follows a trail of undead hounds, emptied graves, brutal murders and mob violence into the deepest and darkest corners of Edinburgh’s underworld – both literal and magical – and back again to the highest reaches of elegant, intellectual Edinburgh society.

It’s nice to see Orbit Books sticking to a style reminiscent of Ruckley’s Godless World trilogy. Good branding strategy, you know? The real-life photographed dude works a lot better for a period piece like this, rather than a Secondary World Fantasy. That quote is way too cheesy, though.

So many similar novels set themselves in London, so it’ll be nice to see Ruckley step outside that city and into one of the Scottish cities he’s familiar with (granted, Edinburgh in 1827 likely wasn’t too different from London in 1827, but still….) I think Ruckley’s style will likely transfer well to a gritty Urban Fantasy and should (hopefully) allow him to tell a story with a quicker pace than his sometimes-glacial Fantasy novels. Definitely looking forward to it.

SPELLBOUND by Blake Charlton

Francesca DeVega is a successful healer in the city of Avel, wielding magical text to close wounds and disspell curses, but her life is thrown into chaos when a dead patient suddenly sits up and tells her to run. Now Francesca is in the middle of a game she doesn’t understand, one that ties her to the notorious rogue wizard, Nicodemus Weal, and brings her face to face with demons, demigods, and a man she thought she’d never see again.

It has been ten years since Nicodemus Weal escaped the Starhaven Academy, where he was considered disabled and useless, where he battled the demon who stole his birthright and killed his friends. Unable to use the magical languages of his own people, Nico has honed his skills in the dark language of the kobolds, readying himself for his next encounter with the demon. But there are complications: his mentor suffers from an incurable curse, his half-sister’s agents are hunting him, and he’s still not sure what part Francesca DeVega will play. He certainly doesn’t know what to make of Francesca herself….

Introducing new twists to the unique magical system of Spellwright and uncovering more sinister dangers, Spellbound is sure to please Blake Charlton’s fans and earn him new ones.

Blake Charlton‘s a good friend (and reader!) of the blog, so I’m always excited to hear more about Spellbound. Spellwright was a strong debut novel, but wasn’t without its kinks. Blake assures me that he’s taken a lot of the feedback to heart and that Spellbound will refine and expand on many of Spellwright‘s strongest features. I can’t wait to get my grubby little hands on it!

Thanks to Wert for digging this out:

Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe.

Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts – who cannot lie.

Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes.

Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts.

And that is impossible.

Sounds lovely. I’ve only read The City & The City by Mieville, but this sounds just wonderful. Mieville’s known for writing dense, weird stories, and big Space Opera seems like a great opportunity for him to really let loose. It’s easy to see some similarities to Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness in the blurb. It should be interesting to see how he handles some of the genre’s more prominent tropes. I’m prepared for my mind to melt as it tries to comprehend Mieville + spaceships.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette KowalFrom Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog:

I recently overheard some professional writers talking about NaNoWriMo and a number of them thought it was a waste of time and that the folks who did it were wannabes.


Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m one of those guys who thinks NaNoWriMo is a waste of time. For myself and writers exactly like me. See, I don’t begrudge people getting excited about writing, or taking part in NaNoWriMo, but I encourage quality over quantity in my personal creative endeavours and NaNoWriMo discourages such thinking. In my opinion, it’s better to write a really good 6,000 word short story over the span of a month than a shitty 50,000 word novel.

Of course, that’s assuming that the 50,000 word novel is shitty. Kowal, on the other hand, has a very different opinion: her debut novel, released to much critical acclaim, started life as a NaNoWriMo project.

I’ve “won” NaNoWriMo three times and gave myself that structure for a fourth novel because I like writing to a deadline.

Here’s how I approached NaNoWriMo when I wrote Shades of Milk and Honey.

  • I spend the months leading up to November making plans.
  • I cranked out the first 50,000 in November, adjusting the plan as necessary.
  • I stopped. Reread what I’d written and evaluated the overall structure.
  • I wrote the remaining part of the novel over a three-month period, which involved throwing out six chapters equaling 20,000 words.
  • Edited.

The point of NaNoWriMo isn’t to have a finished, ready-to-submit novel on December 1. It’s to get that first draft down on the page and stop talking about writing it someday.

Similarly, John Scalzi has some stern words for those who shake their head at NaNoWriMo contributors:

One of the kvetches I’ve seen from the pro set about NaNoWriMo is that writing a novel only in one month, once a year, is not the way pros do it, and it sets a bad example for up and coming writers. And my own response to that is, well, maybe that’s not how you do it. But you know what, in 2009 I wrote one novel, and I wrote in about five weeks very much on a NaNoWriMo plan of writing a certain volume of words per day, and then for the rest of the year I did and wrote other things. I have to say it worked out pretty well for me. And I’m fairly sure I qualify as a pro. I mean, I’ll have to check. But for now let’s assume I am.


Is it going to work for everyone? No. Is it going to be useful for everyone? No. But it’s going to be useful for some, and that’s fine – the ones it’s not useful for will find some other way to climb that mountain. Meanwhile the skills that those it works for learn — write every day, keep writing, get that story done – are skills that are transferable outside of the NaNoWriMo context and will be a benefit when that new writer, having completed the task of writing 50,000 words in one month, decides to try to write 100,000. In April. Or whenever. Yes, there may be some people who fetishize NaNoWriMo or take less than useful lessons from it (“Novels must be 50,000 words! They must only be written in November!”), but let’s entertain the notion that this will be more about those particular people than it is about NaNoWriMo.

And that’s where I was always getting caught up. Writing’s such an insular experience, especially for aspiring authors–most of whom don’t have the opportunity to rub elbows with dozens of other writers at conferences or in the online space–that it’s so easy to forget how diverse we all are in our motivations, techniques and goals. NaNoWriMo won’t ever be right for me as a writer. But, if it encourages and enables someone like Kowal (an established and lauded short fiction writer) to begin and eventually complete a debut novel like Shades of Milk and Honey, it’s hard not to find value in the process. Maybe the end result of most NaNoWriMo experiments are unmitigated disasters, but the confidence potentially derived from those failures could be worth years of rejected short stories.

So, what are your experiences with NaNoWriMo? Have you written a story? Given up after a few days? Found fame and fortune as a result? I’d love to hear stories.