Yet another year gone? Oh my!
I will keep the reading side of this brief, since the majority of my best reads for the year are going to appear on a guest post for The Book Smugglers. I did end up reading two major books after writing that particular list: the fantastically weird Lanark and Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. The second is gentle and dreamlike for the most part, making the flashbacks to Manchukuo in the 1930s all the more harrowing. I have more Murakami in the wings since my local used bookstore suddenly had, as far as I can tell, all his novels except IQ84, and I immediately snatched them up for my bookshelf. I’m looking forward to working through the rest.
My admittedly brief Canadian literature kick went all sorts of places: one of them was Tom Wharton’s Salamander, a romp across the eighteenth century that focuses specifically on printing and was stuffed to the gills with coolness. This was in contrast to a Canadian “classic” that is, quite literally, the worst.
I also finally bought an e-reader in October (a Kobo touch), which indirectly led to my reading Dracula after watching the terrible, terrible film Dracula Untold. It’s no surprise that I like Bram Stoker’s novel (who doesn’t?). I am, however, amused that one text on the Booker shortlist this year was praised for its “innovative” storytelling style of conveying the narrative through letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings…while Dracula and a significant number of other 18th and 19th century novels used the exact same device. It works particularly well in Dracula, I must say, hinting at an even darker story underneath that we’ll never quite know, at least until a slew of filmmakers decided to fill in the gaps to various degrees of success.
I’d also collected a bunch of free eBooks beforehand that I could finally get around to reading. C.L. Hilbert’s The Trickster Edda and Dead on Arrival were both quick and engaging reads, though I only became aware of them in the wake of a minor disaster: the closing of Eggplant Literary Production, which I’ll touch on shortly (both novellas were originally published by Eggplant).
Oh, and related to that, I started reading web serials, including the (yet, but probably permanently) unfinished planetary romance Queen of the Iron Sands by Scott Lynch and the staggeringly long superhero saga Worm by Wildbow.
Writing-wise, two of my short stories came out this year: “Iron Roses”, a story I wrote in 2008 and didn’t sell until 2013, and “Mrs. Yaga”, which sold to the first market I sent it to. The positive reaction to the latter was overwhelming, and I’m glad it touched so many people and made them laugh.
There were pitfalls this year as well: namely, I had a novella collection accepted for publication by Eggplant Literary production a month before it shut down, which hit me pretty hard. The sequence is currently under consideration at another small press, but I have yet to hear back from them.
I made a concerted effort this year to get my novel The Sword’s Dominion published, but after countless query letters I still don’t have an agent. I do count myself lucky that I got as many full and partial requests as I did: even this is apparently rare, the norm being no requests at all. My novel didn’t make the Angry Robot open call, but an editor there did write back I was at a publishable level and she’d be interested in seeing any of my future novels directly…only for the Strange Chemistry imprint of Angry Robot to go poof in a puff of smoke and that editor to leave Angry Robot with it. Next year I will probably start contacting small presses. We’ll see.
In the meanwhile, I wrote another (unplanned) novel that started as a NaNoWriMo project and which ended after a month and a half later, probably the most words I’ve written in such a short time span. I’m not sure it’s salvageable; frankly, I’m afraid to even look at it right now. There are shape-shifting gods and goblins with sperm-blood and even Tiamat the Babylonian chaos worm shows up while the protagonist bounces around Edmonton, Alberta, trying to stop herself from ripping out people’s hearts and eating them. It’s extraordinarily messy. Instead of editing that manuscript I’ve been distracting myself by working on my medieval necromancy novel again, a project that’s moved in fits and starts and been abandoned so many times I’ve lost count.
So, that’s been my year. I wish you all an excellent new one.