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Alpennia

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Today I have a reader question from Andrei, who has kindly allowed me to answer in this blog:

I really enjoy your books. Lately I've been reading a history book on pre-Revolutionary France and it noted that the Christian message that was preached to the masses by the post-Reformation Catholic Church was one of a angry God, a God of vengeance and wrath that demanded penitence and misery. This sermon that Yves Michel Marchais delivered to his congregation in Western France in the 1780s is quite illustrative:

The SFF podcast Skiffy and Fanty interviewed me for their "Signal Boost" series and the show is now live. Check it out! I talk about the Alpennia series as well as the Lesbian Historic Motif Project. This is a really fun podcast show and you should consider subscribing to it.

One of Alpennia's biggest fans, Shira Glassman (whose own novels are delightful fluffy stories about Jewish lesbian princesses and such) has commissioned some promo art featuring Barbara & Margerit and Antuniet & Jeanne. Check out the art on her tumblr--it's gorgeous!

Also, I got an email about a short story acceptance today, about which I'll say more when the contract is officially signed.

I've discused previously how the way that Alpennian characters talk to and about each other, and even what terms the use to think about each other, provides a constant commentary on their relationships and attitudes, whether it's of status, intimacy, or affection. But in some ways, I always had an out in that I was writing in the third person. A very tight third person, to be sure, but if Barbara thought something about the princess and called her simply "Annek" in the privacy of her thoughts, that could be chalked up to shorthand.

In writing the first draft of Floodtide, I sometimes feel like I'm back in the same process as for Daughter of Mystery. I have a general idea of what's going to happen (though not always a clear notion of what order all the events will come in) and I'm just laying down text to see what happens. If I stop to think too much about structure, I get this sneaking suspicion that it's all a horrible mess. So I try to avoid thinking about it at this point.

This past weekend I tackled the emotionally draining process of going through all my notes and lists about potential reviewers for Mother of Souls and this morning I sent the initial list to my publisher.

You may have noticed that a lot of my so-called “random” Thursday blogs have been about Alpennia. This is, perhaps, not entirely surprising, given that the clock is ticking down to release day. A couple days ago I turned in the editorial revisions and now I’m turning to compiling lists of reviewers while waiting for the copyedits to come in. So I’ve been thinking a lot about forthcoming Alpennia stories (while not forgetting that I plan to do the Skinsinger collection in 2017).

...but a good novel is more like a symphony. Or an opera.

Musical metaphors for story structure have been somewhat on my mind while writing Mother of Souls. One reason, of course, is the centrality of music as a transformative force within the plot. But more than that, I've been thinking about all the different types of emotional structure that can work effectively in a large-scale composition. One of the reasons it's been on my mind has been the suggestion that Mother of Souls needs to come out of the gate with more drama, more peril, more tension.

It's always hard to find the balance between giving readers the descriptive details they want, and not going overboard. Reader feedback on the Alpennia books has taken contrary positions: some praising me in relief at not being subjected to endless details of ballgowns and parties, some wistfully longing for more details of ballgowns and parties. The tight third-person point of view that I use can make it awkward to describe things that the characters would take for granted or consider unremarkable.

There's a lively conversation online these days about representation of non-default characters, the intersection of identities, and the importance of representation that comes from authors' "own voices" (Twitter hashtag #ownvoices). That is, understanding the distinction between authors who are writing from within their own cultures, their own histories, their own identities, and authors who are writing those things as an outsider but who may have more access to publishing and publicity support, and who thus may become the "face" of those identities in preference to #ownvoices authors.

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