Category Archives: CEMurphy

Recent Reads/GGK Book Club: A Song for Arbonne

Recent Reads/GGK Book Club: A Song for Arbonne

I just finished A SONG FOR ARBONNE, which was May’s GGK Book Club book. (I’m working on catching up! I bet I’ll be almost caught up by the end of the year! :))

I’ve been kind of interested in re-reading SONG, because I’ve only read it once and it didn’t, er, sing to me, as it were. It’s the one GGK book I’ve never had any particular interest *in* re-reading, which, in the end, caused me to be interested in re-reading it. I was wondering if it was my callow youth that caused it to not click, or if it was the book itself, or, well, what.

It’s the book.

SONG’s real problem for me—and I can remember, however vaguely, that this was its essential problem 20+ years ago as well—is that it is not TIGANA. Now, this is frankly an unfair assessment, because I don’t like to, and try not to, judge books for not being what I want them to be. Especially when the book it’s failing to be is my favourite book, full stop.

The thing is, I feel like SONG wants to be TIGANA. It has so many of the same themes: love of (complicated) family, love of country, love of music, and all the costs therein. It’s not the same story, not even vaguely, but to me, as a reader, it just feels like thematically it’s already been done, and done more powerfully, in TIGANA.

Maybe I’m reading it as the wrong kind of song. Maybe it’s a ballad to TIGANA’s overture, I don’t know, but it just doesn’t work for me the way TIGANA does. I can even see moments in it where I feel like it *should*, but it doesn’t reach the heights (or the depths). I kind of wish I could step back and read SONG first, just to see if, delivered outside of TIGANA’s shadow, it would hit me more powerfully.

There was also—noticeably to me now—the attitude of the main character, Blaise, toward women. It was progressive for his people, but Arbonne’s society is modeled on Eleanor of Aquitaine’s Court of Love, and is ruled by a woman, which Blaise doesn’t start out thinking very highly of. I suspect that my distaste for his distaste may have colored my reading back then; it *certainly* did this time. (He comes around, and does so in a way and a timeline appropriate to both himself and the book, but starting where he does kind of makes me want to smack him around. Again, not a really fair assessment, but there you go.)

Even so, I think I liked it better this time: I wasn’t so much expecting it to be TIGANA, maybe. It was in most ways a total revelation, as I remembered exactly one thing (the big secret revealed at the end) and it turned out I’d entirely forgotten all the particulars (indeed, remembering the big secret caused me to completely incorrectly assign the secret to someone and I was actually surprised when I turned out to be wrong), so it was a pretty satisfying read in most regards.

in other news–

in other news–

–the Fantasy Fudge project is at nearly $3K. If it breaks $3K today I’ll do a random upgrade for one supporter who will get a 2 pound package of fudge instead of 1 pound package. :)

There’s a new farmer’s market opening near here pretty soon. Part of me is actually kind of wildly considering emailing them and finding out what their booth fees are and what the general food-sales-at-farmers-markets laws are and maybe doing a fudge & candy stall for 4 or 6 weeks before Christmas.

You guys are bad for my crazy head. :)

Recent Reads/GGK Book Club: Tigana

Recent Reads/GGK Book Club: Tigana

I have, terribly belatedly, read April’s GGK book club novel, TIGANA. Well, re-read it, because it’s down on my Reading List four times and I’ve read it at least twice that many times, because the reading list didn’t get started until well after the book came out.

TIGANA is, pretty much without a doubt, my favourite book. I’ve never previously tried to do any kind of figuring out why, but as I was reading this time I had the question in the back of my head, and it became clear very early on that one of the reasons it succeeds so hugely for me is because I find it so incredibly well *balanced*.

The heartbreak and the joy of the book are always on a knife’s edge; of the characters, Devin, particularly, often recognizes that within himself. But more than that, even, is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There’s no weft without the weave there, and I could cite dozens of examples but I’d be here all night. One weight and balance that particularly struck me in this reading, though, was what Tomasso gained from Sandre and Sandre gained from Catriana.

Another thing that especially struck me in this reading was that not very long ago, author Alma Alexander, who was born in Yugoslavia, talked about how the ripping away of Tigana’s name struck her viscerally, as someone whose country of birth no longer exists. GGK’s inspiration for the idea of taking away a name apparently came from visiting Ireland, where he was struck by all the English place-names replacing the Irish names, but until I read Alma’s post I didn’t really think about how there are modern countries–many countries–which have disappeared and come unmade that way. It’s my favourite book anyway, but that increased its impact yet again.

And then on a hugely personal career note, the last two or three times I’ve read TIGANA have been post-Inheritors’-Cycle-writing. I knew, of course (and astute readers also observed) that in many ways those books are a direct homage to GGK in general and TIGANA in specific. It had been several years since I’d read TIGANA when I wrote THE QUEEN’S BASTARD and THE PRETENDER’S CROWN, and going back and re-reading it not long after those books came out–honestly, there’s more homage than I intended. There are a couple of things–Belinda’s memory, in particular–that I would have done differently if I had remembered consciously about *Devin*’s memory.

OTOH, I could not have written those books without TIGANA, or I couldn’t have written them the way that I did, and I happen to love them the way that they are. TQB, especially–there’s a moment in it where the whole book up to that point pays off in something like 57 words. To me it’s the knife-twist moment, the moment where the last piece falls into place and damns it all, and for me, it’s perfect. And what I was trying to achieve there was the agonizing inevitablity that TIGANA builds toward: the moment when the mountains lift from Rhun’s mind; the moment when Dianora leaves Scelto; the moment when Sandre breaks the blind and speaks to the sorcerer, and a dozen more like it. Without those guidelines, without the knowledge it *could* be done, I could never have even tried, much less (for myself, at least) succeeded.

So even for the parts where I went (in my retrospective opinion) too far, those books are so much a love story to TIGANA that really all I can do is stand with my hand to my heart and thank GGK for writing it. It’s just…well, it’s my favourite book.

office reclamation

office reclamation

Some months ago we rearranged all the bedrooms so that our son wasn’t in one next to the road. What was his bedroom became the office, which has been…problematic…ever since.

I have, to some degree, reclaimed it now. There’s almost enough room to set up my captain’s chair, anyway, and since I am once more hopelessly, murderously behind on where I want to be with writing, it would be nice to get that set up again. We will not talk about the cost of reclaiming the office to other rooms in the house.

Speaking of writing, I’ve gotten the final revisions for STONE’S THROE, my Spirit of the Century pulp fiction novel that I’ve had so much fun writing. I hope this wee book flies on little pulpy wings right into the hearts of readers, because honestly, I wouldn’t hate the opportunity to write another one. :) I gotta ask if/when I’m allowed to post some teaser chapters for you guys!

phone, jam, life

phone, jam, life

I have a new long-term-temporary phone. If you believe I should or did have your number, please text me your name so I can re-add you to my address book. Sank oo.

Last night? Yes, last night. Last night I made some unusually nice applesauce and jarred up several jars of it (and ate the rest). I’m thinking of doing little homemade jars of stuff for Christmas presents and I’m considering strawberry jam, lemon curd, applesauce and (if I can nerve myself up to trying it) marmalade. That would be a pretty little foursome, right?

Hey, I’m posting about writing the Walker Papers over on Magical Words this month. The first week’s post was about themes and this week’s is about Gary.

On the Fantasy Fudge front, I’d posted saying that probably the dairy-free fudge would be chocolate-only. Someone asked if, if they were willing or able to have dairy in small amounts, they could participate in the Mix And Match that’s the next stretch goal (backers get to try up to 3 kinds in their package!). Say I: sure, no problem, just as long as you recognize I’m not the one volunteering to make you sick. :)

Boy, I just need one more thing for Five Things Make A Post. Um. Nope, I got nothin’. Gonna go cook dinner. :)

DB Jackson returns! Again!

DB Jackson returns! Again!

I’m delighted to once more have my friend and fellow writer DB Jackson on the blog for a series of not-terribly-serious interview questions!

1. Let’s start with the obvious. Give me the ten-cent shake-down on A PLUNDER OF SOULS.

PlunderofSouls_hi_comp150 The Thieftaker Chronicles are historical urban fantasy, and the books tell the story of Ethan Kaille, a conjurer and thieftaker (the eighteenth century equivalent of a private detective) living in pre-Revolutionary Boston. Each book is a stand-alone mystery set against the backdrop of a particular historical event leading to the American Revolution. The historical events are real, as are many of the characters; I’ve inserted fictional murders into the historical narrative, along with a cast of characters who comprise Ethan’s social circle and clientele.

In A PLUNDER OF SOULS, the third book in the series, I bring back a character who is to Ethan something like what Moriarty was to Sherlock Holmes. Nate Ramsey, first appeared in “A Spell of Vengeance,” a short story I published at Tor.Com in June 2012. Ramsey is a fun character, in kind of the way that Hannibal Lecter is a fun character. Like Ethan, he’s a powerful conjurer. He’s also brilliant, cruel, vengeful, and a bit mad. In the original short story, Ethan is hired to protect two merchants who have been threatened by Ramsey. Ethan does his best, but Ramsey gets the better of him, with tragic results, and then escapes Boston.

Now Ramsey is back. It’s the summer of 1769, and Boston is in the midst of an outbreak of smallpox (as it really was that summer). Ethan is hired to investigate a series of grave robberies, and soon discovers that corpses have been mutilated in grotesque ways, and that at least some of what has been done to them seems to be meant as a personal warning to him. What results is a little bit mystery, a little bit ghost story, and a whole lot of epic magical warfare. I won’t reveal more, except to say that Ramsey is an even more formidable foe for Ethan now than he was in 1763, when the short story took place.

2. I personally claim to never ‘cast’ my novels with actors, although there are instances where that is untrue. Do you ‘cast’ people for your characters? Anybody you want to confess to?

I’ll admit that there are times when I do this. I don’t like to because, as you have said to me in the past, it’s sometimes counterproductive to put such a specific image in the minds of our readers. But there have been characters who just lend themselves to this sort of thing. And the truth is, it can also be fun to imagine the movie versions of our books. So, that said, I can definitely see Sephira Pryce, Ethan’s beautiful and deadly rival in thieftaking, being played by Olivia Wilde. Wilde is gorgeous and alluring, but there is also something a bit edgy about her beauty. Hers is not a soft look, and with the right costuming and makeup she could totally make the role of Sephira come to life as I’ve written it.

For Nate Ramsey, I think that Michael Pitt would be a really good choice. He totally looks the part as I envision it, and the kid’s got chops.

Ethan is a much harder call. I would want a slightly older actor — Ethan is supposed to be in his early forties by this point in the series, and he has lived a hard life. Maybe Ewan McGregor or Clive Owen. Or Mark Wahlberg. I need to think about this one a bit more.

3. If you had one shot with a time machine, what one historical event, place, or person would you want to visit?

Wow. I’m not just saying this because of the Thieftaker books. Really. But I would have to choose the period right around the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence. I have a Ph.D. in U.S. History, and while my doctoral dissertation dealt with twentieth century issues, I found the Revolutionary period fascinating. I guess that’s why, when I finally got around to blending my love of fantasy with my passion for history, this was the period in which I set my books.

It’s not just the events themselves that are so fraught with drama and intrigue. It’s also the personalities: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. Brilliant minds; engaging speakers; willful, ego-driven politicians. And they were bandying about ideas from so many sources — Cato, Locke, Hobbes, Pitt, Hume, and others. It was a heady time intellectually as well as politically and militarily. That’s where I’d want to go.

4. I know you like jazz. Who’s one of your favourite artists, or what is a favourite album?

Yeah, I’m a huge jazz fan, and I listen to a lot of instrumental jazz when I work. I know that some authors can’t have any music at all going when they write, but I find that the improvisational quality of the music actually fuels my creativity. In particular, I’m a fan of “cool” jazz from the late 1950s. My favorite artist from this time — no surprise here — is Miles Davis, and my favorite albums of his are KIND OF BLUE, ‘ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT, and MILESTONES.

Among more recent jazz artists, I love the work of Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, and a relatively obscure, but truly excellent group called Sphere. All of them remain true to the spirit of that older jazz sound, placing a premium on melody, virtuosity, and improv. It’s great stuff, and as I say, listening to it actually helps me write.

5. When are you going to finish reading The Walker Papers so we can get started on that collaboration? (WHAT?! Nobody said my questions couldn’t be self-serving!)

[Laughing] Well, if you’d slow down with the writing a bit I could at least catch up with the series!! I’ve read the first two books in the series and am now reading COYOTE DREAMS, and loving it so far. My reading time these days is eaten up by books that I read as a beta reader for friends, or so that I might give a cover blurb. Time for pleasure reading is not always so easy to come by. It also didn’t help that I got totally sucked in to your Negotiator trilogy, which also took up some time. (I know that there are more Negotiator books now, but I have my fingers in my ears and I’m saying “la, la, la, la . . .” really loudly so that they don’t distract me.) In all seriousness, I am totally psyched to read the rest of The Walker Papers and get working on our story. It’s going to be a blast.

And by the way, HIS FATHER’S EYES, the second book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson (forthcoming from Baen Books — book I, SPELL BLIND, comes out in January) is finished and turned in. So I’ll be sending a copy of the manuscript your way so that you can read it!

Ed: 1. Olivia Wilde & Clive Owen totally work for me for those characters. Or Sean Bean 10 years ago, for that matter.
2. I don’t know much jazz–far less than I should, because I love it–but my god, KIND OF BLUE. What an album.
What an album!
3. Technically there are only Old Races short story collections out now, not Negotiator books, but that’s being fussy. :)
4. For the readers: David’s got a new urban fantasy series coming out, I’ve already read book 1, we’re gonna be doing a Walker Papers/Fearsson Files crossover story, it’s gonna ROCK!

DBJacksonPubPhoto800 D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award­winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, has recently been released in hardcover. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

Find DB at:
his website
his blog
facebook
twitter
goodreads
amazon.com

I love you guys.

fudge

I really, really do. You’re crazy-wonderful. Crunderful. No, that doesn’t sound nice. Anyway, I love you.

The Fantasy Fudge project funded in about five hours. I have since received several emails from readers and friends laughing at me for being surprised, but honestly, it was a lark, it IS a lark, I figured I should give myself FORTY-FIVE DAYS to make it work, when, jeez, I don’t know, maybe a week would have been enough. So I love you guys.

At this moment, there are (technically) 7 kinds of fudge funded chocolate(walnut), peanut butter, maple(ginger), dairy-free and diabetic, and there’s one more in the works if the next stretch goal is reached.

I have a funny idea for a high-end stretch goal, one that will go out to everybody no matter what level they pledge at. It involves Joanne. I shall say no more. :)

CE Murphy’s Fantasy Fudge

CE Murphy’s Fantasy Fudge

You guys are a bad influence. :) Enough people said “tryyyyy it” that I went ahead and launched a Fantasy Fudge Project page, which amuses me, at the least. (And, er, it’s actually already gotten more funding than I would have expected, honestly. You’re not only a bad influence but you’re wonderful. And funny. *laughs*)

Ted and I actually sat down and costed everything out last night (there are advantages to being married to a professionally trained chef!) and while the early backer fudge is expensive, it’s actually a pretty practical price, especially given that it includes S&H. :) But don’t worry, in the unlikely event the early backer stuff sells out, there’ll be more expensive options later! :)

It’ll start with regular chocolate fudge. Recipes will include chocolate, chocolate walnut (okay, admittedly that’s a bit of a cheat; you just add chopped walnuts), peanut butter, maple, maple-ginger, and dairy-free fudge, as well as homemade marshmallow creme. In the event we should reach higher stretch goal levels I’ll find and test some diabetic fudge recipes and add that in too. Y’know. Stuff like that. :)

Not to take wind from my own sails, but Medieval PoC, which is the actual reason the Internet exists, nevermind cat gifs and Tom Hiddleston pics, has launched a Patreon campaign, and are frankly much more important than fudge and could use support!

oh, how exciting!

oh, how exciting!

So I sent the edited script to Leah yesterday to have a look over, and she said “Good job, if you can find an artist who can handle the period artwork you’ll be golden” so I sent her the character sketches and she was like OH YOU’LL BE FIIIIIIIIINE, which was wonderful.

I also sent the script to Val, who said, within minutes, “Okay, I read the script. You’ve got me. I loved it. Still lots to explain, but I want to know what happens next!” So that’s terrific and he’s already working on page layouts. *hops delightedly*!

Oh, and he said “so how come only 8 pages?”, the answer to which is I just cannot bear to ask an artist to do 22 pages at once for absolutely no guarantee of payment. In a really ideal world what we’ll do here is post the 8 page story and a paypal button, and maybe make at least a little bit of money to spread around to the team, thereby justifying doing another 8 page story, and then a third, for a 24 page story that will have both 8-page mini-arcs and an overall 24 page arc.

From there, I don’t know. Patreon? Kickstarter? Comixology, Image, Dynamite–somebody or something, but that’s down the road a ways. Right now–well, right now I’ve got to get those Chance pages in place for Jason to recolor. :)

Anyway, I’m pretty happy and excited right now, as I haven’t done anything like this in years and it’s great fun to be involved in this kind of collaborative process. Yay!

script complete!

script complete!

A minor accomplishment: I have finished the little 8-page script for Genesis, the first of my Chance-universe tie-in stories. It has been edited by the illustrious Leah Moore, and has been sent off to artist Noval Hernawan, who did a rather splendid character sketch for our main character, Gemma Fade, in her 1950s war-time nurse’s uniform:

gemma_charsketch

I’m really looking forward to getting this project put together. The character is (in broad terms) a kind of Captain America/Wonder Woman mashup, and I have a clear idea on her story arc and how it ties back into Chance’s story, which reminds me I gotta get the pages for Jason to re-color…

Anyway, I have no idea when this will be coming to a webpage near you, but the ball is slowly rolling and that makes me happy. :)