Sex, politics, murder and betrayal arrive with this re-release of THE QUEEN’S BASTARD!

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Belinda Primrose deals in secrets.

Since childhood, Belinda has known she was the unacknowledged daughter of Lorraine, the unwed queen of Aulun, an island nation on the edge of the vast Echonian continent. Belinda is a spy, an assassin…and a danger to her mother, should she ever be discovered. She can be anyone, and will do anything, to cement Lorraine’s position of power within the treacherous Echonian courts.

But as she infiltrates the glamorous royal palaces where her mother’s rivals scheme, a new power awakens in Belinda. The witchlight she commands is a dangerous aphrodisiac—one that could bring down everything she’s worked for when she finds a teacher in the sensual prince of Gallin. Javier harbors secret witchbreed magic of his own…and a claim to the Aulunian throne that ranks him highly among Lorraine’s enemies.

Belinda has never wavered in her mission, but love and loyalty will collide as her secrets are revealed…

This is a re-release with new cover art (and a few spelling errors fixed) of a book I published through Del Rey in 2008 and which I got the rights back to last year. It’s the first of a duology that tell the story of Belinda Primrose, the Queen’s bastard. Between the two books, a complete story is told, although it’s clear to any reader that there’s more in the world to tell.

It is not like my other books. It is full of sex, murder, politics and betrayal, in more or less that order. Its voice is completely different. There is at least one scene of Extremely Questionable Consent.

I do not tell you this to scare you away. I tell you this because this book sold like hotcakes upon its original release, and sales on its sequel, THE PRETENDER’S CROWN (re-release out next month!), collapsed so hard they almost took my career with them. My wonderful, loyal urban fantasy readers all went out and bought THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, and two-thirds of them apparently went “oh my GOD what have I gotten myself INTO” and did not buy the second.

I have felt somewhat guilty about this for ten years. :) In retrospect (and frustratingly, we discussed it at the time and decided against it), it would have been wisest to publish THE QUEEN’S BASTARD under a related pseudonym, because it’s so different from the urban fantasy stuff. But, well, hindsight is 20/20.

The good thing is that the people who bought TQB for what it was really loved it. There is a small, passionate group of people who have been hoping for ten years that I might someday finish the story I was building for this world.

Now that I have the rights back, that’s a possibility. It’s not going to be for a long time. I have a lot of things I need to get written first. But I also have notes and titles for the rest of the books set in the Inheritors’ Cycle world, and I’ve always wanted the chance to tell the whole story.

(I feel like I must again emphasize that I absolutely do consider TQB & TPC to be a complete story unto themselves. They end where they were always intended to, and the next book was always intended to be someone else’s story.)

I tell you what, though. Putting this e-book together was almost a revelation. I knew TQB was well-written. It was—it is—a book I somewhat self-deprecatingly called a real book: it’s not set in the modern world; its has a cast of, if not thousands, at least several; it does not rely on quick patter and one-liners and blinding fast pacing in the way the Walker Papers, especially, do. It was meant to be something new, something that showed what else I could do. And it succeeded. I knew it did all of those things.

But it had been years since I’d looked at the book, and when I opened up the file to make the e-book, I read the first sentences and I thought, “Holy crap, this is really good!”

That was, I confess, a pretty great feeling. :)

So…well. There you go. THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, backstory and all!

THE QUEEN’S BASTARD is available now!
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Clearly by the Monday of Worldcon I was too tired to even be writing about it a week later. :)

I’d actually been doing very well up until the Monday morning, really. I hadn’t been getting enough sleep, but apparently going home to sleep in my own bed made a real difference, because I didn’t get properly incoherent until Monday, and usually Saturday afternoon is when that sets in with these long cons.

I forgot that on Sunday (I think) I was sitting around chatting and our illustrious guest of honor, Diane Duane, swept by, causing me to bellow, “DIANE!” and leap up to hug her and give her fudge. That 20 seconds was the only time I spent with her over the weekend, which is fair, since I can actually, like, go out to pizza with her if we organize ourselves enough, whereas about 5800 other people at the convention have no such possibility. :)

Anyway, Monday morning I had a kaffeeclatsch at 10am, which I just kind of assumed either no one would be at, or that it would be filled with my friends who were taking pity on me for a meet-up at that hour on the last day of the convention. But it was not so! There were many people, most of whom I didn’t know or only knew online! That was great! Thank you, ridiculous people who showed up at 10am to talk to me! ♥ :)

I went and got something to eat after that, then took myself to the on-site bar, sat down, told Twitter where I was and that I had fudge, and let people come to me. It worked very well and I had a great couple of hours chatting with people, including the WONDERFUL HIGHLIGHT of meeting Genevieve Cogman, who is one of the went-on-to-get-published crew of us who were online gamers playing MUSHes in the early 1990s. (There are a lot of us from that group whose names you might know: Jim Butcher. Fred Hicks & Rob Donoghue of Evil Hat Productions. Cam Banks. Chrysoula Tzavelas. Nick Mamatas was adjacent to me, a load of the people knew him but I didn’t. A bunch of others I’m totally forgetting right now, but basically, this gaming group was like the 1990s version of the Inklings or the…dang it, I can’t remember what the Emma Bull/Steven Brust/Pamela Dean/etc crew called themselves, but like them too.) ANYWAY, the POINT IS, after like TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, I FINALLY MET GENEVIEVE IN REAL LIFE and it was VERY EXCITING and I’m still SO THRILLED!!!!! *happy flails*!!!!

After a while the fudge was nearly gone and my friend Ruth’s late-teens son arrived for a piece and mentioned he’d gotten to meet/talk to Sarah Rees Brennan & Holly Black, which had been great. I lamented the fact that I’d barely seen Sarah, and he knew where she was, so he took me–and this was great, it was like going somewhere with MY kid when he’s determined to not let me be distracted–he took me up to Holly’s book signing by way of moving me along every time I stopped to talk to someone. I’d have never made it up there without him, so I totally appreciated it. :)

I almost managed a full greeting to Holly, and gave Sarah the box of remaining pieces of fudge, and was chatting when Ellen Kushner, who had also been doing a signing, noticed Holly and came down to talk, too. We’d met a couple of times in real life before, but I reintroduced myself (it’s much more impressive for me to meet ELLEN KUSHNER than it is for her to meet me :)) and we talked and (thanks to Irish Kate) there was a brief rendition of “If I Were A Rich Man” and at some point it came out that on Livejournal I’d been mizkit, and Ellen cried, “*You’re* mizkit? I *do* know you! We’re *friends*!”, which was quite delightful. :)

*laughs* And Sarah broke out the fudge, and then somehow–oh, it was because I’d made cookies for her the other day–she mentioned I was a good baker as well as candy-maker, and Ellen sidled over and said, “Do you make…*pie*?” So now I’ve promised her a pie or several, and look forward to the opportunity to make those for her. :)

I finally had to leave that gathering, which was too bad because it was such fun, but I really *did* have to leave, because I had to go down to the dealer’s room and get the copies of my books that hadn’t sold over the weekend. To my great delight, I’d sold nearly everything and had hardly anything to carry home! Yay! :)

I was pretty determined, at that point, to head home early, but then I ran into ANOTHER friend whom I’d promised a chat with, and said “We’ll take 15 minutes!” and 65 minutes later had delayed them very very much… :) But we had a lot of fun talking, and I was very glad to have actually gotten a chance to catch up and answer some questions for them.

It took another hour and a half to slip out of the con after that, what with saying goodbye and everything, so my ‘early home’ turned out to be ‘7:30pm’ which wasn’t exactly early, but overall it was well, well worth it. What a wonderful week I had. ♥

I actually still have the event app on my phone so I can even REMEMBER what I was doing on these days.

Sunday I had an interesting panel, “Fantasies of Irish emigration,” about why so much fantasy–especially urban fantasy–seems to get written ABOUT Ireland without much of it being set IN Ireland. I called out RF Long as somebody who’s written UF both in and about Ireland, and I think there were a couple others I could think of, but it was a really fun panel (and my friend Deirdre was on it with me!) and I thought we did pretty well for the Sunday of a 5 day con. :)

I spent a lot of the day chasing Ursula Vernon around so she could sign a couple of books for, and become Pokefriends with, Young Indiana, and he was COMPLETELY THRILLED by that. (I love Ursula and Kevin so much. They’re honestly terrific people.) I also had a meeting with Laura Anne, in which we talked about some Very Interesting Business Ideas which would have been Very Interesting ANYWAY, but were especially so because the quite specific and exact topic that she wanted to broach with me had also come up in *another* conversation over the weekend, suggesting that it’s a thing ripening for the happening.

AT SOME POINT during the weekend–it might have been Friday? IDK anymore? I came out of a panel and my friend Kris called, “OMG, it’s CE Murphy, famous author!” and then we went to lunch together, which was really honestly wonderful. I know Kris kind of through a mutual friend of ours (who, sadly, got sick on like day 2 of the con and mostly wasn’t there :( ) and sitting down for lunch was really kind of the first time I’ve ever *really* gotten to talk to her in real life for more than a minute or two, and I enjoyed that so very immensely. Also *laughs*

So the first time I met her in real life–and six other people–was when I went to San Diego Comic Con in like 2008. I was staying with them, and I got into the hotel at midnight, and they said “here, you’re sleeping in this bed,” and so I got into bed with a strange man I’d never met and went to sleep. And this came up at lunch, and Kris said that had been her arranging sleeping, er, arrangements, and that about two years after the fact she thought “oh god that might have been a really awful traumatizing thing to do to somebody and I may have made a HUGE MISTAKE with that,” and that periodically the thought arises and kind of sends her into a cold sweat, whereas I’ve spent the last decade thinking it was really funny. Like, I can totally see where for some people that might have been VERY UNCOMFORTABLE, but I really truly just figured this was a safe space among friends and it didn’t bother me at all, and it’s a very funny way to tell a story. So I reassured her on that topic and relieved her of a worry that’s been occasionally haunting her for many years now, and that was altogether funny and great too. :) Anyway, I’m really sad I didn’t get to see more of our mutual friend, but it was *so* lovely to hang out with Kris.

(And then after that I was heading back to the convention centre and that was when I first saw Kevin and Ursula; I was walking past the tram and a deep male American voice bellowed, “Catie!” and so I got to hang out with them for a few minutes before we all parted ways. The whole con was like that. :))

ANYWAY back to the Sunday

I was on the Tribute to Anne McCaffrey panel, which was…I mean, of all the panels I was on at the convention, that was the one we really could have used a 4 hour window for. But we had people in tears (including some of the panelists), so clearly we did our job (tbf, people came in primed for tears). One of the questions was about experiencing fandom in relation to Anne’s works, and I said, “Well, I grew up in Alaska, so fandom just wasn’t a thing. It’s too big, too far apart, and too sparsely populated. But when I was about 12, she came to Fairbanks, Alaska, which was about 500 miles north of where *I* lived, and it was this agonizing period of time where I knew ANNE MCCAFFREY was AS CLOSE TO ME AS SHE WAS EVER GOING TO BE, and I COULDN’T GET THERE!” and everyone obligingly went “awww!”

But I did eventually meet her, so it all turned out okay and had a happy ending. :)

(Another question was ‘How were you introduced to Anne’s works?’ and my answer was “I stole a copy of DRAGONSONG from my cousin _and never gave it back_,” which also got a lot of appreciation. ♥ :))

Sunday night I stole my friend Juliet away from the con entirely and we went to one of Ted’s and my favourite restaurants in Dublin, The Cedar Tree, which is a Lebanese place with SO MUCH food and all of it is SO GOOD, and we just talked business and personal stuff and everything for about two hours straight. Except for the bit where the 3 people at the table next to us leaned over and said “Do you mind if we ask what you ordered, because it looks SO GOOD!” and we told them and also assured them that what we had ordered, although it claims to be for 2, would certainly be enough for all three of them. We were right, too. :) Like, I hadn’t eaten since about 11:30 that morning and we went to dinner at half six and I was perishing of the hunger and still unable to make a significant dent in the actual entree, after the SIXTEEN TAPAS PLATES OF APPETIZERS. (Honestly, Cedar Tree is brilliant.) Anyway, it was really nice to get away from the con a little bit to have a long chat with Juliet, and I think it was probably good for both of us emotionally to be able to let down our hair a little.

And then, once more, I came home and failed to go to bed at a sensible hour, but still, I slept. :)

I am forgetting SO MUCH STUFF it isn’t even funny.

Like moments where I saw a friend Thursday evening, gave her, in fact, a Word Warriors ribbon, and then saw her again at the Friday morning Word Warriors meetup, then saw her AGAIN on Saturday and was like “OMG I haven’t even seen you AT ALL this weekend! …oh, except the meetup…” and she was like “…and Thursday night…when you gave me THIS…?”

It reminds me of when Dublin actually got the Worldcon bid, and I saw Ian McDonald (whom I’ve met several times, if am not close personal friends with), and he heard my American accent and roared, “COME TO DUBLIN!” cheerily, and all of our mutual friends stared at him in bemusement and said, “She *lives* in Dublin,” and he paused, and paused a bit more, and then, merrily, roared, “COME TO DUBLIN!” again. *laughs* My week was a little like that, and the longer it went on the more likely I was to make a mistake like that. :) There were people–vendors–from Octocon whom I’ve spoken with annually for years whom I was just like “Uh, we’ve met, right?” and was mortified to be told, “Several times,” in very dry tones. :) Usually I’m better about that kind of thing, but…well…#worldcon. :)

Saturday morning’s panel was the only one of the convention where the moderator & I seemed to have a Quite Different Idea of what the panel was about–it was “Comic Art: A Buyer’s Market”, and the description for it was about being a writer trying to find artists to work with, since…we always need artists… :) …and the moderator was really into *collecting* original comic art, so that was…very different. But it actually turned out fine, and we talked about both things, and it was a nice panel. And I met Tara Ferguson, who does comics marketing and stuff, so that was really great. Also she has amaaaaaaaazing eyebrows, like wow.

Then I *went* to my only two panels of the con: one about artists and writers collaborating on comics, and that was a lot of fun, and then I managed to get to Diane’s GOH interview, which was very, very funny and managed to embarrass her unembarrassable husband, which was quite an accomplishment. I was *so* pleased to be able to get to at least one of those interviews.

I went up to the food court after that, announced I had fudge, and let people come to me. This was followed by the Great Pokemon Debacle of Worldcon 77, wherein I was chatting and everybody behind me started a raid and then suddenly they were like “Catie! CATIE! We need help! Help!” but you can’t come into a raid late so they all died and then I went into the gym for the next round but they were all like NOOOOOOOOO WE NEED TO HEAAAAAAAAAAAALLL so I went out again and then they were like NOW NOW NOW and then I GOT BOOTED OUT BECAUSE THE RAID FILLED UP so they all got their Suicune and I DID NOT so I posted on Twitter like WAH I NEED RAIDERS and people actually just came FLOODING IN but we still didn’t have enough and one of the people who’d come in bellowed WE NEED POKEMON PLAYERS FOR A RAID and suddenly a bunch of people leapt up and I finally got my Suicune but also I had apparently the world’s most epic sulk while the original crew were raiding and it was evidently very very funny. :)

But I met SO MANY people I knew from Twitter because of that, and I was really overjoyed to get to really put faces to names, and it was utterly lovely.

Oh, also, in Stories I’ve Forgotten, so: ribbons are a thing at Worldcon. You collect them and put them on your badge, and people can end up with hundreds if they work at it, and basically nobody ever says no you can’t have a ribbon. But we had Word Warrior ribbons (as referenced above) and they were actually for an exclusive group. But a friend’s (18 year old) son saw me handing one out on Thursday evening and stepped up eagerly to get one and I said, “No, you can’t have one!”

Complete bafflement. He lifted his badge again, all puppy dog eyes, and I was like, “No, you can’t *have* one.”

Total bewilderment. More puppy dog eyes. More eager lifting of the badge. Me: “No, you *can’t* have one, seriously! There are like 20 people at this con who get one, and you’re not one of them!”

“Ooooooh,” said he, understanding finally dawning, “you mean I can’t have one!”

(I’m full of teasing for that, but he’s a brilliant young man and also I owe him bigtime for his pleasant pushiness later in the weekend, so yeah, that was kinda great. :))

Saturday night I had dinner scheduled with Faith and David, whose spouses I also got to meet and who were all completely splendid people. I’d say we needed another 3 hours to chat, but honestly, I don’t think there’s a single person I couldn’t have talked with for hours longer all weekend. And there were so very many people I barely got to talk to at all, and some I didn’t even know were there until they’d gone home again. When I went to Loncon I’d scheduled almost every waking moment to meet up with people, and while it made for a quite rigid weekend in some ways…it might have been the smarter thing to do for this week, too, because it’s so easy to miss people at these things…

I remember what I did on Thursday for lunch! I had lunch with an editor!

A couple years ago, at Worldcon 75, I got to go to the Hugo Loser’s Party, and I was going around taking pictures of the winners in their silly hats. A Tor editor who was following the party on Twitter asked if I could get a picture of her colleague who’d won, so I went and found the winner, asked if I could take and post her picture, and within about 10 minutes of the request, had done so. Beth said “It’s almost as good as being there!”, and we’ve been friends on FB & Twitter the past couple years. So I felt like getting to have lunch with her at Dublin 2019 was the whole thing coming full circle, which genuinely delighted me. We had a wonderful chat, and I’m so happy to have met her.

Friday morning we had the Word War Meetup, which was an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING THING FOR ME! Ten years ago I started this war room to get a book done, and I hoped it would last 6 months, and we had our TENTH ANNIVERSARY PARTY at Worldcon!!! Like whaaaaaat! So that was pretty amazing, and we had a dozen warriors there at the peak, and…yeah. That was great. :)

My Friday morning panel was “Which comic was your manual?”, on which I saw Paul Cornell for the first time in YEARS, which was wonderful. It was being moderated by an Irish friend, Paul Carroll, and the other person on it was (*wheezes*) Sana Takeda, the Hugo-award-winning artist for Marjorie Liu’s MONSTRESS, which is a lovely dark monster story with the most gorgeous art possible. And Sana turns out to be THE. MOST. LOVELY. PERSON. EVER., so I was quite star-struck, honestly. :) We had a great time on the panel (the short answer for me, for the main question, is “Elfquest”, if you’re interested), and I was really happy to be there.

I think I was perishing after that and snuck off–yes, I did. Snuck off for lunch on my own, and saw Aliette and Michelle at lunch but didn’t join them, as they were near the end of the meal as I was sitting down. I have some regrets about that, ’cause I basically never saw either of them again! I snuck back to hand out some fudge, and–oh, Friday was when I met David Coe, in an exchange that went like this:

Me, recognizing him at a bellow: DAVID COE!!!
David: Catie Murphy!!!
[We embrace]
Me: I have to go!
David: I get that a lot.

I *did* have to leave–it was my turn to bring Indy home from his morning at the con–but I’ve known David for, IDK, 10? 15? years, and we’d never met in real life before, so that was very funny and fun and terrific even if I heartlessly abandoned him ten seconds after meeting him the first time. :)

Early Friday evening was my book signing, and honestly, I went up there and there was a line and I thought “Oh, I wonder who that’s for!”

It was for me. O.O

(Ted, who had come up the other way, saw the line, and thought, “Oh, I wonder who that’s for! OMG! It’s for Catie!” #laughs)

It was great fun! There were quite a few people, and I chatted with most of them briefly, and some of them, upon learning there were books down in the dealer’s room, went away and came back again with more or new things for me to sign, BUT THE FUNNIEST BIT!!!

I’d signed for two or three people, and then I looked up and FAITH HUNTER was standing there! She had been HIDING from me (and she’s pretty small, so she could!). As with David, I’ve known Faith for a very long time but never actually met her, and apparently she’d been actually hiding behind people so I couldn’t possibly see her as I approached the table and sat down, and then she’d STAYED hiding behind them as the line moved forward, and I had genuinely never even gotten a glimpse of her until suddenly THERE SHE WAS!!!! So we shrieked and hugged and laughed and it was WONDERFUL!!! I love my friends! They’re so silly and splendid!!!

So the signing went really well, and we had a great time, and post-signing I had dinner plans with Ted and my friend Kate Larking and Glynn Stewart and Jack who is married to Glynn but may have a different surname, IDR, and also ‘my’ Kate, Irish Kate, so between the 3 of us (I’m largely called Cate in Ireland), there weren’t many names to remember but it wasn’t necessarily easy to tell who you were talking to. :) It was a *very* interesting dinner in business terms and just a straight-up lot of fun in general. I was really pleased to meet Glynn and Jack, both of whom I’ve talked with online, and feel like I’ve made some new friends there. ♥

And then, in what became a weekend theme, I just, like, y’know. Went home and after a while went to sleep. :)