Last Day of 2007

The year two thousand and seven was another good year for me personally. My third novel, Magic’s Child, was published in March which completed the Magic or Madness trilogy. The trilogy also finally earned out! That’s right. When the royalty statements come now there’s money attached. Woo hoo! The trilogy also sold in Japan.1 Surely the manga version can’t be too far off?!

I went from never having won a literary award to winning three. The Norton Award for Magic or Madness and the Atheling and Susan Koppelman for Daughters of Earth. So I’m legitimately an award-winning author! Now I just need the best-selling to go with it. :-)

I sold my fifth and sixth books—the fairy novel and an as yet untitled (and largely unwritten) book—to a brand new publisher, Bloomsbury USA.

I love my new house. Everyone I’ve met there—the editors, publishers, sales & marketing, publicity, just everyone—is fabulous. Their excitement about my fairy book makes me very very happy. I am very proud to be a Bloomsbury girl. And hopefully early next year—just a few weeks away—I’ll be able to share all sorts of cool news about the fairy book. Its new title! Cover! Exact date of publication! It’ll be all fairy news all the time!

And to speak of someone else’s success for a second: I’m thrilled to see how well Libba Bray’s The Sweet Far Thing is doing. I saw exactly how much work she put it to that book. Seriously, for a while there I thought she might not survive the experience. But she did and now the book (by far the best of the trilogy) is selling out of control. Yay! Congrats, Libba, you totally deserve it.

Non-professionally, I reckon the best thing that happened all year was the change of government back home. Did that happen only last month? I’ll be coasting on the joy of that for some time to come. Right now it seems that every time I read an article about home something new and fabulous has happened. To which I can only say, “YAY!”

This time last year I said my goal was to finish two novels, which was my goal the year before also. So, um, how’d that go?

Not so much. Time to pick a new goal, methinks.

I rewrote the fairy book many times—so many times that it felt like writing more than one book—but I did not finish any other novel. Le sigh.

I did, however, write two short stories both of which come out in 2008. The first, “Pashin’, Or the Worst Kiss Ever” is in First Kiss (Then Tell) edited by Cylin Busby for Bloomsbury and due for publication in January: i.e. tomorrow. It’s very gross and (I think) funny. The other stories in the anthology are awesome but what would you expect with the likes of Cecil Castellucci, Shannon Hale, David Levithan, Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Robin Wasserman and Scott Westerfeld contributing?

The second story is considerably longer and much more romantic. It’s called “Lammas Day” and will be in Love is Hell edited by Farrin Jacobs for Harper Collins and due out around September. The other stories are by Melissa Marr, Laurie Faria Stolarz, Scott Westerfeld and Gabrielle Zevin.2

I also wrote an article for an Australian pearl magazine3, the beginning of several novels, a proposal, an appreciation of John Scalzi, many many emails, comments and blog posts. If I added them all up I reckon it would be as long as a whole other novel . . .

For 2008 I have a novel due in August. I honestly can’t see myself writing another one after that but maybe if I don’t make it a goal to write two novels next year I’ll do it accidentally?

In addition to the August novel—which may or may not be any of these—I have three sekrit projects on the go. All collaborations with sekrit writers. One of these already has a proposal written so I’m very confident it will happen. The other two consist of enthusiasm and late night conversations. I am full of optimism but I wouldn’t lay odds on their completion just yet.

My 2008 publications:

    January: the short story I mentioned above, “Pashin’, Or the Worst Kiss Ever”.

    February: the paperback version of Magic’s Child hits the shelves! Which means the entire trilogy will be available for cheap! Plus there’s a mini-essay on writing the book at the back. Bonus! I am VERY excited about this!

    September (or thereabouts): the fairy novel for Bloomsbury! My first new novel in 18 months! Woo hoo! Dance and sing and party!

    And also the other short story mentioned above, “Lammas Day”.

You should also get hold of Cassandra Clare’s City of Ashes when it comes out. It’s the sequel to City of Bones and is even better. I loved it! Seriously, I read it in one sitting. When can I read the third one, Cassie? I need closure!

Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett will be out in May. One of her best. In fact, if it had vampires or demons or zombies in it, I would say it was her very best. But for now I love it second only to Devilish.

E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is total genius. Remember how much I raved about Dramarama? This one’s even better. The only way she could surpass herself would be to throw in some zombies or demons or vampires. I’m just saying, E.

You’ll all be stunned to hear that my favourite book of 2007 was Kathleen Duey’s Skin Hunger. If you haven’t read it already, why not? Run to your nearest library or bookshop and get it NOW!

And make sure you all go see the Spiderwick movie. I can’t wait! Yay, Holly Black!

I think 2008 is going to be fabulous. But then even when I have really crap years I’m always full of optimism for the next one.

Happy new year, everyone!

  1. Bringing the number of countries the trilogy’s been published in up to nine. []
  2. I’ve only read Scott’s—on account of I don’t think there are ARCs yet—but it’s brilliant and worth the price of the anthology alone. []
  3. don’t ask []

Giving thanks

So today is a big ole USian holiday where at some point you’re all supposed to give thanks for all the stuff that’s making you thankful. It’s called—wait for it—Thanksgiving. We have no equivalent in Australia. Though we do have, Australia Day, where we commemorate the successful invasion of Australia by white people. As you can imagine the indigenous population consider it to be a day of mourning.1 The USian Thanksgiving has an equally complicated history.

But all that aside, I love the idea of a day given over to thankfulness. Here’s what I’m thankful for:2

  • That paper cuts heal quickly.
  • My iphone. I kisses it!
  • That the cold of this evil Northern hemisphere winter won’t actually kill me if I stick to my cunning plan of staying indoors.
  • That cricket exists and is being played right now even if I don’t get to see it.
  • The fingerless mittens with hoods that Cassie gave me. Another tiny defense in the face of this rampaging malign Winter. Yay!
  • The talking Elvis pen that Libba gave me because, hey, it’s ELVIS! and also because it’s so much cooler than Maureen’s lame High School Musical toothbrush. I win!
  • That there are two Australians in the house (yay, Lili and Sarah!) to lessen my homesickness and so we can all follow the election back home together.

What silly little things are you all grateful for?

  1. I’m one of those weird people who thinks there are things to mourn and celebrate about that day. As in, yes, Australia was invaded and taken over from the people who were already living there. And, yes, the early settlers of Australia were also brave and resilient making new lives for themselves a billion miles from home in a very inhospitable place. And, yes, the indigenous population were astoundingly brave resisting them against such overwhelming odds. My country bares the scars to this day. []
  2. Settle!—I’m not going to get too wet about this. []

Best post of all time

Scalzi finally went to the Creation Museum. His report is now my favourite thing in the whole world.1 Read it and weep. Or just look at the pictures.

  1. Other than daylight saving, mangosteens, sleeping in, peanut butter gelato, lentils, Jasper Hill wines, the books of Dorothy Dunnett and Angela Carter and Raymond Chandler and Margaret Mahey and a million other geniuses, and, really if I keep this up this will be the longest footnote of all time. In short: I have many favourite things. []

Just quickly

To all of those who wrote asking for my insomnia cure: I promise I’ll write about it as soon as I have time. Last week was insane. And next week looks like more of the same with all the Aussie events and deadlines and blah blah blah1. Don’t forget to come see me and Margo Lanagan and Garth Nix and Scott and Jonathan Strahan at Books of Wonder.

Yesterday I did an appearance with Scott out at the Bronx Library Centre. It was fabulous! The ninth graders are part of the Gear Up program and if they’re an example—that program totally works. They were one of the smartest, funniest, and most engaged group I’ve had the good luck to hang out with.

I’ve been trying for some time to figure out a way to write about how incredibly moving some of these events we do with teenagers can be but I just don’t seem to be able to express how I feel about them without coming across all saccharine and cloying. When someone tells you that they feel like they are one of your characters or that before they read your book they’d hated reading . . . well, words really do fail.

Let’s just say yesterday was incredible. I wish I had remembered to let them know that Jay-Tee (the character a few of them identified with so strongly) is from the Bronx! I am such a der brain.

Thanks so much, Jack and Carole, for inviting us.

And thanks, too, for all the fascinating responses about sleep and dreams. You make me want to go back to bed perchance to dream of the best novel or manga idea of all time.

Okay, now back to work!

  1. The blah blah blah is the worst part! []

A drop in the ocean

Several people have been bewildered by my enjoyment of this article about the Frankfurt Book Fair. Don’t you get depressed by how it’s not about the authors? they ask. How it’s about books as product? How there are so many, many, many books?

Nope.

Books are products.

That’s not all they are, but it’s a pretty bloody important aspect, especially for those of us who are trying to make a living writing (or editing or selling) them.

Publishing is an industry. Part of what it’s about—and has always been about—is making money. For most of its history most of that money has been made by people other than writers.1 That’s still the case. Sure, some writers do just fine. As it happens—at this moment in time—I’m one of them. I don’t make a tonne of money, but I’m finally making more than I did as a research fellow.2

But the fact that my career’s toddling along okay (right now) is not why I read articles about “books as product” without blanching. That’s not why it doesn’t bother me to walk into a hall big enough for a city of dinosaurs that’s entirely full of books. I love books! I’m thrilled there are so many of them. And that there are so many people busily bringing them into existence.

Long before I sold so much as a haiku I was fascinated by the industry. By how it operates from the booksellers to the sales reps to the publicists to the editors and agents and writers right through to the execs at the top of the multi-media conglomerates that own most of the big publishing companies in the world. I’m fascinated by the economics of small presses and medium-sized presses too. I want to know everything there is to know. One of the coolest parts of going with Scott on his book tour was meeting so many sales reps and booksellers and media escorts and gossiping about the industry and learning new stuff I hadn’t known.3

I subscribe to Publishers Weekly and Publishers Lunch. I read a tonne of different publishing and bookish blogs by agents and editors and booksellers and librarians. Most of the conversations I have with fellow writers and with agents and editors and sales reps and other publishing types quickly turns into gossip about the industry. Who’s making the big deals? Which house is going after what kinds of books and why? Are the Twilight books the new Harry Potter?

I’m not saying I think publishing today is all roses. It’s not. But it never was. I spent more than a year of my life reading through the letters of Judith Merril and other science fiction writers of the 40s and 50s. Their struggles to make a living are very familiar.

Like Carole Cadwalladr I’m depressed by how few foreign-language titles are translated into English. By the books I think are hideously bad that do incredibly well4. But I remind myself that it was ever thus. The Pilgrim’s Progress is possibly the most boring book ever written. Twas a bestseller in its day. Crappy books have done well in the past; they’ll do well in the future. But there are always wonderful books flying off the shelves too.

There are more books being published than ever before. There are more readers than ever before. I think that’s fabulous.

I’d be depressed if we could no longer fill the halls of the Frankfurt Book Fair. If people weren’t excited about the latest books or by Doris Lessing winning the Nobel or by the latest crazy book deal.

I guess I’m a publishing geek.

  1. Most editors and publicists and sales reps and booksellers don’t make much either. Seriously if you go into any aspect of the publishing industry trying to make your fortune you’re delusional. []
  2. Barely. And only as of this year. It could change. []
  3. For instance I had no idea media escorts even existed. []
  4. that dreadful YA I mentioned recently better flop! []

My hero

Scott just hit his tenth anniversary as a freelance writer. Congratulations, Mr Hardest-Working-Writer-I-Know.

He shares some cool statistics. Here’s two:

  • in that time he’s published well over one million words (gulp!),
  • and it took him eight years—that’s right—eight years (!) before he was earning enough from writing under his own name to support himself.

Eight years is a loooong time and yet most writers don’t ever earn enough to (comfortably) quit their day job. Scott has done very good indeed. I’m so proud.