deborahjross: (Default)



The next Darkover book, The Children of Kings, will be released on Tuesday, March 5, from DAW Books. In answer to questions asked by many readers, I'd like to share some background on the book. In the following weeks, I'll also talk about how I met Marion, how we came to work together, and a few thoughts on "playing in her sandbox."



Marion's original concept for Darkover centered on the clash of cultures, so for this next book, I wanted to bring the Terran Federation back into the picture, but not in a nice sedate and friendly way, but in an OMG-terrible-crisis-about-to-descend-upon-us way. I also have long had a secret longing to run away to live with the chieri, and Kierestelli (Regis and Linnea's daughter, from Hastur Lord) kindly offered to take me.



Writing in the Darkover universe is very much like writing historical fiction. Marion explored so much of this world and its history that I can't "make it all up as I go along." One of the frustrating and yet exhilarating aspects of tackling a Darkover story is that Marion never let things like geography interfere with telling a good story. Although a number of fans produced maps of Darkover, she refused to endorse them, saying that she never knew when she might need to move things around. She also appreciated that Darkover had evolved as she herself had matured as a writer. In the Note From The Author for Sharra's Exile, she says,



One result of writing novels as they occurred to me, instead of following strict chronological order, was that I began with an attempt to solve the final problems of the society; each novel then suggested one laid in an earlier time, in an attempt to explain how the society had reached that point. Unfortunately, that meant that relatively mature novels, early in the chronology of Darkover, were followed by books written when I was much younger and relatively less skilled at storytelling.






For this tale set mostly in the Dry Towns, I used as background not only The Shattered Chain but a very early (1961) “proto-Darkover” novel, The Door Through Space. The Door Through Space contained many elements familiar to Darkover readers, from jaco and the Ghost Wind to the names of people and places (Shainsa, Rakhal, Dry-towns). Marion was exploring a world in which Terrans are the visitors, and adventure lurks in the shadows of ancient alien cities. She drew upon and further developed this material in The Shattered Chain (1976).



These books reflected the growth of Marion’s vision, but each of them was also part of the times in which it was written. 1960s science fiction novels were often tightly-plotted, fast-paced, and short by today’s standards. Most, although by no means all, protagonists were male, and female characters were  often viewed from that perspective, what today we call “the male gaze.” By the middle of the next decade, publishers were interested in longer, more complex works. Not only that, the women’s movement and the issues it raised influenced genre as well as mainstream fiction, opening the way for strong female characters who defined themselves in their own terms. If Marion had written The Shattered Chain a decade and a half earlier, I doubt it have found the receptive, enthusiastic audience it did. Her timing (as with The Mists of Avalon or The Heritage of Hastur) brilliantly reflected the emerging sensibilities of the times.



Now we live in a different world. This is not to say that the previous struggles have been resolved, but that much has changed in the social consciousness from 1976 to today. In writing The Children of Kings, I considered how Marion’s ideas about the Dry Towns (and any patriarchal desert culture) might have changed over the last three decades. The Shattered Chain, with its examination of the roles of women and the choice (or lack of choices) facing them, focused on only a few aspects of the Dry Towns culture. What if we went deeper, seeing it as complex, with admirable aspects as well as those we find abhorrent? With customs that we cannot truly comprehend but must respect, as well as those that resonate with our own? With men of compassion and women of power?



As the Dry Towns developed in my mind, I turned also to the theme that had characterized the early Darkover novels—the conflict between a space-faring technological race and the marvelously rich and romantic Domains, with their tradition of the Compact and the laran-Gifted Comyn. And now, I add to that mix the ancient, kihar-based Dry Towns.



I hope you find this book as rich and rewarding to read as it was to write.

deborahjross: (Default)





Warning: the description on Amazon.com contains spoilers. Major spoilers. DAW is working to get that changed, but be warned. Just click on the pre-order button and ignore the text!
deborahjross: (Hastur Lord)
So a bunch of nefarious conspirators got together and cooked up this game called a Blog Hop. The idea is to get a bunch of friendly author-type folks to answer a series of questions about their work and all do the linkies to one another. In typical fashion, I have answered what I felt like because if it's not fun, it's not worth doing.

You can read a bunch of other cool answers here:


Steve Piziks
Jeffrey Carver
Katharine Eliska "Cat" Kimbriel
Patricia Burroughs
Pati Nagle 

Here goes for my "what's next" project...

What is the working title of your book?
Since I just started noodling around with notes for a new project, in between bouts of terror of the page proofs for one project and editorial revision requests for another that are going to descend on my any moment now, I'd rather talk about the book that's coming out in March. It's got a real, official title and you can pre-order it at Amazon. The Children of Kings, AKA The Next Darkover Novel.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
A couple of things. One is that Marion's original concept for Darkover centered on the clash of cultures, so I wanted to bring the Terran Federation back into the picture, but not in a nice sedately friendly way, in a OMG terrible crisis about to descend upon us way. I also wanted to run away to live with the chieri, and Kierestelli (Regis and Linnea's daughter, from Hastur Lord) kindly offered to take me.

For this tale set mostly in the Dry Towns, I used as background not only The Shattered Chain but a very early (1961) “proto-Darkover” novel, The Door Through Space. The Door Through Space contained many elements familiar to Darkover readers, from jaco and the Ghost Wind to the names of people and places (Shainsa, Rakhal, Dry-towns). Marion was exploring a world in which Terrans are the visitors, and adventure lurks in the shadows of ancient alien cities. She drew upon and further developed this material in The Shattered Chain (1976).


These books reflected the growth of Marion’s vision, but each of them was also part of the times in which it was written. 1960s science fiction novels were often tightly-plotted, fast-paced, and short by today’s standards. Most, although by no means all, protagonists were male, and female characters were  often viewed from that perspective, what today we call “the male gaze.” By the middle of the next decade, publishers were interested in longer, more complex works. Not only that, the women’s movement and the issues it raised influenced genre as well as mainstream fiction, opening the way for strong female characters who defined themselves in their own terms. If Marion had written The Shattered Chain a decade and a half earlier, I doubt it have found the receptive, enthusiastic audience it did. Her timing (as with The Mists of Avalon or The Heritage of Hastur) brilliantly reflected the emerging sensibilities of the times.


Now we live in a different world. This is not to say that the previous struggles have been resolved, but that much has changed in the social consciousness from 1976 to today. In writing The Children of Kings, I considered how Marion’s ideas about the Dry Towns (and any patriarchal desert culture) might have changed over the last three decades. The Shattered Chain, with its examination of the roles of women and the choice (or lack of choices) facing them, focused on only a few aspects of the Dry Towns culture. What if we went deeper, seeing it as complex, with admirable aspects as well as those we find abhorrent? With customs that we cannot truly comprehend but must respect, as well as those that resonate with our own? With men of compassion and women of power?


As the Dry Towns developed in my mind, I turned also to the theme that had characterized the early Darkover novels—the conflict between a space-faring technological race and the marvelously rich and romantic Domains, with their tradition of the Compact and the laran-Gifted Comyn. And now, adding to the mix, the ancient kihar-based Dry Towns.


What genre does your book fall under?
Like much of Darkover, it's technically sf, reads like fantasy. This one's a bit more like the earlier novels in that there are space ships and guys from outer space and such. And chieri, native non-humans. Definitely romantic.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?When Terran smugglers arm the Dry Towns warlords with blasters, it's up to the grandson of Regis Hastur to save Darkover.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I write Darkover novels under subcontract to the MZB Literary Works Trust, which owns the copyright. Their agent (who coincidentally happens to be my agent for my own work as well).

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I typically take about a year to a year and half from beginning the outline to handing in the manuscript to my editor. It's hard to say "first draft, second draft..." as the amount of pre-writing and "oops-in-the-middle" varies so much. I also usually leap-frog rough drafting one project and revising another, interspersed with breaks for other deadlines (page proofs, short fiction for invitational anthologies). This one was no exception.

The Children of Kings is a March 2013 release from DAW. (You can pre-order it now.)
deborahjross: (halidragon)
The Children of Kings, has been scheduled for March 2013, from DAW Books. I'll post more details as I learn them.
Meanwhile, here are some earlier posts about the writing process, including two snippets.

Changing Gears: Downshift to Beginner's Mind (May 2011)

Race to the Finish (June 2011) (includes snippet)

RevisionLand; Or, Aliens/Robots/Dry-Towners/Mad-Scientists Ate My Brains (July 2011)

The Children of Kings (is finished) (August 2011)

Progress on The Children of Kings (September 2011) (includes snippet)

You can also read a rough draft of the opening chapter here: Please note that my editor has not made me tear it apart and put it back together again, so it may change. It will change.



deborahjross: (Default)
What's new here:

I've been digging into revisions of The Children of Kings and have passed the half-way mark. This is a first-pass revision before sending it off to the MZB Literary Works Trust for review and approval. I need to tidy up the manuscript and fix any obvious stupidities, but not do a fine polish - that will come after editorial revisions. Although I'm having a bit of delayed re-entry-lag from Launch Pad 2011, I'm feeling quite pleased with this book. I took the story out of the usual locales and sent one character off into the Dry Towns and another into the Yellow Forest (chieri territory). Here's a snippet from Silvana's POV:

"So you have come back to us." The words came in a low voice, the casta archaic but perfectly clear in the way an ancient chant would be understood in spirit as well as syllable.
Between one pulse of her heart and the next, a chieri emerged from between the silvery trunks. The figure was, as all those ancient people, tall and slender, androgynously beautiful. Gray hair fell halfway to narrow hips; the only garment was a sleeveless tunic that looked as if it had been woven from tree bark and moonlight. Colorless eyes met Silvana's without a hint of emotion.
No welcome, no censure, no curiosity. Only the immense gift of recognition. Why had she expected more?
She raised her fingertips to her forehead and said, in the language of the chieri, "Foster-father." The word actually meant, Nurturer-of-children-who-belong-to-the-race.
"The river flows in only one direction," Diravanariel answered, keeping to casta.
"All water is one," she answered. "Did you not teach me that truth yourself?"
A chuckle answered her as a second figure stepped from behind the largest of the trees. "You must concede the point, Dirav. There's no hope when she starts quoting your own words back at you."
"Uncle David!" All dignity fled, she rushed into the Terranan doctor's arms.
As he drew her tight against him, she felt thinness of his flesh, the withering of muscle, the brittleness of bone. Very much like one of these ancient trees, however, he retained surprising strength for a man of his years. She pulled away, looking up into his smiling eyes, saw the lines of laughter bracketing his mouth, the mass of silvered hair, and thought, My father might look like this, had he lived.
deborahjross: (Default)
.... first draft is doneDONEdone!

...falls over...

Now to back it up in two places... then off to dinner with Rose and Marcie!

Onward!

Mar. 21st, 2011 02:27 pm
deborahjross: (Default)
Just finished Chapter 20 of The Children of Kings!

The rest of the book is starting to take shape. I need to insert a chapter cluster, maybe 2 or 3, from a different POV character. Part of that, about one long chapter, is already written. Then finish this section, switch back to the second POV and straight on 'til morning...er, climax. Many small details yet to be resolved, but I'm extremely pleased to have the general direction so clear!
deborahjross: (dolomites)
I appreciate your feedback...and your encouragement. I'm saving your comments for those dark authorial moments when I feel like I can't write my way out of a wet paper bag and what's the use of trying...those moments that come to us all. Now I have ammunition to use against the literary-gloomies!
deborahjross: (Hastur Lord)
For those of you anxiously awaiting The Children of Kings, here's a sneak peek below the cut, Chapter 1 of the rough draft. Much of this may change between now and publication. I'm in that odd state where I can't tell if it's too slow or too inundating or just right. Probably won't know until I've finished the whole book and begin to work with it as a whole. Then I can see the overall shape and get an idea of how much tension/action/character arc to put in the opening. I want this to be accessible to readers new to Darkover without boring longtime fans. Comments welcome!Read more... )

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