In other news, I sort of fell off my bike and hurt my wrist on Friday. It’s feeling better, but it was stupid. I’m working on building up stamina to do hills on my bike, since I live on hills and that’s the only way to functionally ride my bike is if I can manage to pedal up inclines. I did the sort of fall off upon arriving back in my own driveway, because I’m an idiot.
I will be at Norwescon. Did I mention that? No panels. Just hanging out, so let me know if you want to get together.
I will be taking my son to Seattle to the children’s hospital the week after in the hopes they will be able to actually treat him. We consult first, and then hopefully they can do other things within a day or so.
In the meantime, I’m writing, trying to squeeze reading in, trying to clean the house and organize and etc.
There are bad things going on in this country. I hate that people are passing laws to permit discrimination. It’s so very wrong. Why do people have to be such fucking assholes?
The boy has up days now and down days and I’m battling with the doctor for a referral. Or not so much battling, as getting ignored and pissed off. But I’m going another route, so hoping to have progress tomorrow.
Great progress on the next Diamond City Magic book. Which is to say, I’ve been writing it and it’s coming along well as far as I can tell. I’m at least entertained at this point, which counts. For me anyhow. Remember, Edge of Dreams comes out in less than a month!!!! I’m so excited. I can’t wait to hear what you all think. So long as you think good things. I can really wait on the other.
And since I forgot to post this, The cover!!! (sorry, I don’t have an actual image of my own yet, so the link). I love it. What do you think? Actually, that wasn’t the cover, was it. It’s Do you want to hide a body, which I find terribly amusing, so I’m leaving it.
I’m going to be at Norwescon. I’m going to be incognito–no panels. Just being social. So if anyone is going to be there, let me know. I’ll be up for hanging out.
Also, I did not commit child murder today. This was a good. Teenagers are hard. Sick teenagers are harder. But I was able to channel my irritation into the scene in my book. No death, but a good argument.
As I mentioned last week or so, I read David Coe’s Spell Blind. I really enjoyed it. It’s a murder mystery/police procedural/noir/fantasy novel with great characters and well-developed relationships. I can’t wait to see how they play out. There’s Justis’ old partner, his dad, his enemy from the police force, his informants, and many others. So much richness and a cool magic system. I want to blather on more, but I don’t want to offer spoilers. Suffice it to say, this is a really great book, and one that you should read. Buy it now.
I asked David if he would come by and answer a few questions for me, so without further ado, here’s David:
1. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about SPELL BLIND and the Case Files of Justis Fearsson?
Sure. This is a contemporary urban fantasy set in modern day Phoenix, Arizona. My lead character, Justis “Jay” Fearsson, is a weremyste, which means that he is a conjurer, a wizard, a mage — whatever you want to want to call him. But every month, on the night of the full moon, and the nights immediately before and after, he loses control of his mind and his magic. His hold on reality weakens, but his power strengthens. And over the long run, these phasings, as they’re called, are going to drive him permanently insane, just like they did his father, who is also a weremyste.
Jay used to be a cop, but the phasings cost him his job and so now he’s a private detective. And as the book begins, he is drawn back into the investigation of a serial murder that haunted him during his time on the force.
2. This book is quite different in some ways than previous books you’ve written (though clearly you’ve done mystery with your fabulous Thieftaker books). Talk about how and why you came to write this book.
I first started working on the Justis Fearsson series nearly a decade ago, after finishing the last book in Winds of the Forelands, a five book epic fantasy series that had consumed me for years. (Before that I write the LonTobyn trilogy — also epic fantasy.) As I began the Fearsson book (in a form that bears little resemblance to the finished product) I also started writing Blood of the Southlands, an epic fantasy trilogy. And so I was looking to do just what you say: I wanted to write something that was as different from my older work as it could be.
I wanted to write mystery, I wanted to have modern characters who could speak and act and curse like people do in our modern world. I wanted them to drive cars, because I was sick to death of writing about horses. I wanted them to go to malls and movies and night clubs, because I’d had enough of castles. And, most important, I had an idea for a character whose access to magic was slowly driving him insane, which is the central premise of this new series. Setting it in our world seemed like the natural thing to do, not only because it would be something new to write after all those epic fantasies, but because the power of his descents into madness would be amplified by having him deal with the mundane things that we take for granted in our everyday lives.
As to how, I wrote the book, that’s a more convoluted story. This book has been through so many rewrites it’s not even funny. I have changed the main plot, the magic system, the pacing — everything. Or rather, everything except the characters, who I love. It was my love of them and their interactions that kept me working on this manuscript long after any sane writer would have given up. But I finally got it right, and I really love the finished product.
3. One of the toughest things I find about writing a mystery is keeping the book moving while still maintaining the suspense. You did a really great job of capturing the procedural, developing characters, and pacing the mystery. What sort of difficulties did you run into writing the mystery and how did you solve them?
Well, as I say, I went through many, many rewrites on this book. So I certainly didn’t get it right at first. Thanks, though, for the kind words. I think the toughest thing for me was pacing the action. Early incarnations of the novel really dragged in the first quarter. I wanted to build the action gradually, to ratchet up the tension. I realized though, with the help of beta readers, that I was holding back too much in those early pages. In the end, I found that the best way to overcome the slowness of those early pages, while also not giving away too much too soon, was to introduce my magic system in the opening chapters. And when I say introduce the magic, I don’t mean explain it. Rather, I wanted to show my reader the magic through early conflicts and action scenes, and through my protagonist’s interactions with his magical mentor, who is a really cool character.
Magic lies at the heart not only of the plot, but also of the mystery and the motivations of the big bad. And so using the magic in this way was not at all a distraction. Quite the opposite; it set up the later revelations that are so central to the novel’s ending. And, as I say, I took care of those early pacing issues.
4. You mention in the acknowledgements that you consulted with members of the police and ME departments in Phoenix to get the details right. What did you learn that surprised you?
I’m not sure that I was surprised by anything in particular. Being surprised implies that I had pre-conceived notions of what I would learn, and I was so totally ignorant about police and medical examiner departments that I didn’t have any notion of what to expect. But what I got from those conversations and email exchanges were the tiny details that make the procedural aspects of the novel come to life. Things like:
— Police headquarters in Phoenix is called “620” because it sits at 620 West Washington Street in downtown Phoenix.
— Detectives used to have their own offices, but cutbacks at the department forced them into cubicles. And since their work spaces were no longer secure, many of them had to go out and buy those fireproof safes that they sell at Target so that they would have a place to store sensitive documents.
— And so many other little tidbits about sign-in procedures at the ME’s office and the appearance of the various body storage facilities.
I could have faked this stuff, or not included those details, and most people wouldn’t have noticed. But small details like that are the bread and butter of a writer. They lend a sense of realism, of verisimilitude to what we do. Without them, our books are more bland, and less convincing. With them, our stories come to life. That’s what I got from those conversations with the generous professionals at the Phoenix police and ME departments.
5. Where is the next book going, if you can do that without spoilers. I have to admit, I want to see Justis work with his dad. When will we be able to find it on the shelves?
The second book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson is called HIS FATHER’S EYES, so you’re going to get your wish. Justis’s father, who, as I said before, is also a weremyste, and who has largely lost his mind at this point, is being tormented by dark sorcerers for reasons Jay can’t figure out. And so Jay has to help him, and eventually work with him, in order to solve the mystery. This next volume also features a billionaire financier with ties to dark magic, a ruthless drug kingpin, were-creatures, a terrorist attack, and the murder of a powerful runemyste.
I really love this book and am pleased to say that it will be out on August 4.
Di again: As I said, I loved this book, and I can’t wait for the next. I really wanted more on Justis’ dad, so I’m over the moon.
The writing retreat was wonderful. I wrote about 18,000 words in four days. Actually, most of that was in three days, with about 1500 on the last day before we left. I had a great time. I got to meet new people whom I thoroughly enjoined, and I got to see friends from last year. I really want to go back next year and every year. The weather was incredible. No rain, which is not what one expects from the Rainforest. I wanted to get out and walk some of the trails, but I kept writing. It felt imperative. I finished a draft of my Weird Wild West story, and nearly finished this novella I’ve been working on.
It was good to get away from home responsibilities. Though apparently the doggies missed me terribly, especially Voodoo. Everybody was still alive when I returned, so that’s a positive.
Yesterday I did a whole lot of work, and precious little of it was business. But I got through all my list, including getting the boy started on enrollment into an online school. All is in the school’s hands now, so I have to wait for them to process stuff.
I wrote a bunch more here, but the blog demons ate it. So . . .
I’m about to depart for the Rainforest Writers Village for five days, where I hope to do much writing. I’m running away from family and responsibilities. Trying not be overwhelmingly tense about that. It’s not that the man won’t be here to take care of everything, but lately worry has been my best hobby.
Copy edits for Edge of Dreams landed last night, so I”m going to get on those as soon I get back and try to get them out the door in a matter of a few days. Of course, my daughter is having oral surgery next week to remove three baby teeth–two can come out normally, but the third is fused to the jaw, hence the oral surgery. That’s Weds. I also have to see about getting my son moved over into an online school. I found one that will hopefully be a decently robust learning experience. I believe in the classroom learning environment, but since he can’t do that, this school has both a do it on your own time sort of classroom, combined with a virtual together classroom with the teacher and other students. I’m hoping this will work for him. The pain and nausea have in no way decreased for him.
Planted a bunch of plants in the last two days. Have some more to put in when I get back. Bulbs, too. I need to find some rocks to create a succulent patch.
Been reading House Immortal by Devon Monk. Love it. The sequel came out yesterday. I already know I’ll be snatching it up.
Now to get going. I will have limited wifi on the trip, so may or may not post. I should be able to answer emails, however.
This Monday wasn’t seriously horrible, actually. Boy of size is still suffering a lot of pain. The MM helps for periods, but not for any sort of duration. He’s utterly miserable. The antibiotics don’t seem to be doing much yet, painwise.
I’m going to the Rainforest Writing Retreat on Weds. for five days. I’ve been working on my talk that I’ll be giving there and wondering what the hell I was thinking suggesting this topic. Here’s hoping I get it sorted out. I’ve already written up a bunch of stuff and I’m not at all sure it’s coherent. I suppose I shall make it so.
In the meantime, I’m developing what I can in preparation for a writing blitz and hoping I can find my head and creativity. I’ve got a short story I’m working on for the Weird Wild West anthology I’m a part of. I also have a third Diamond City Magic book to start drafting. A fifth Crosspointe book to think through some more, and a couple of novellas I’ve been toying with. So plenty to do, and maybe too much.
Over the weekend I read David Coe’s Spell Blind. Go read it. Very good. Magic, police procedure, mystery. Well written and I just loved it. Can’t wait for the second. I started reading Devon Monk’s House Immortal today. It’s really good and I can’t wait to read more of it.
We planted some bulbs today, and some pansies. We’ve a bunch more to plant, but I figure progress is good, and it was a bright sunshiny day. I took the dogs for a longish walk, which was also good. The trees on the street are all bursting into bloom, and there are daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, and azaleas everywhere. It’s such a difference from Montana. I feel a little like I’m in wonderland.
Boy is now on a high powered antibiotic, plus tetracycline. He can have no dairy and no alcohol–not even hand sanitizer. The one cost nearly $500. I hope to hell it works. Plus we got more Medical Marijuana. Trying to figure out a mixture that works. The pain has been beyond awful. It’s so hard to see and not be able to help.
I cut my finger with a knife today and it refused to stop bleeding. Now it hurts.
People are extraordinarily kind. Strangers and friends have offered wonderful help and comfort. My heart is terribly bruised with all that’s happening with the boy and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the kindnesses people have granted me.
I found that one of the raspberries we planted last year and that promptly died has chosen to resurrect. Planted peas and broccoli and early carrots yesterday. Need to get in some lettuce. First I need lettuce seeds. Also planted rose cuttings hope they take.
I kind of want to go around taking cuttings of plants to get started in my garden. I’m not sure people would be very happy with me. Some azaleas up the street are blooming. Lovely. Meanwhile we’re cutting ours out. They are up against the house and very sad. They need to come out. I need to amend the soil and then plant smaller things there.
Oddly, the whole life is about composting. Throw in all the leavings and scrapings and bits and leftovers, and let it molder and turn it into good things that grow other things. That’s my writing process, that my life in general.
The medical marijuana seems to be helping the boy get to a level of tolerable pain. I hope he goes to school this week.
The batteries (two) on our truck died. We charged, and they are running, but we have to get new ones because they are ten years old and this isn’t their first death.
Went to Costco today. Bought boy of size his first electric razor. He’s not enthusiastic about using it. He needs it, however. The fuzzy caterpillar under his nose is one thing, but he’s starting to get weird beard hairs that stick out oddly. Also bought bulbs, which I hope to get in the ground this week.
Also went to a local nursery and bought a bunch of soil amender (compost really) for the garden beds. Plan to get that all rototilled in this week so we can plant some peas, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, and so on. Sadly, they did not have a monkey puzzle tree, but I put my name down for them to call when they come in. I have a deep love of them.
Had my second sweater knitting class. Now working on the back of the sweater. I’m a little terrified. But jumping in with both feet.
Also been writing. And copy editing. I just hope the boy makes it to school this week. We dragged him out with us this morning even though he was hurting and didn’t want to go. I gave him some MM and just dragged him. I wanted him to see that he can do things despite how he feels and that once the MM kicks in, he’s a lot better off. Hurts my heart to make him do it though. I feel like I’m torturing him.
It’s already Thursday night and I look around and don’t know what I’ve done. Lots of kid stuff. Go figure. I did do some writing, and I’ve worked some on my writing. Made some good progress, I think, but not enough. The weather has been absolutely lovely. Warmer than normal. That, I’m sure, is galling for those of you in very cold, very icy, very snowy places. Stay warm and stay safe. I’ve lived in the midwest and the Rockies, and yeah, done cold and icy and snowy and I don’t envy you one bit.
Our patio is mostly in. There’s some small things yet to be done, but apparently that’s going to take another week or so to get the people in. In the meantime, though, there’s a cover for the dogs to keep them out of the rain.
One good thing about drones: the awesome pictures that can be taken, like Niagra Falls from right above and out in front.
Just heard about the superbug that’s going around in LA. Scary shit. The picture of it they show in the news looks like fuzzy pink tic tacs. What’s really scary is that the instrument that they didn’t clean well enough is one that could have been used on my son. Freaks me the hell out.
I want to go on a hike. I’m out of shape and don’t know where I’d go and I the boy is sick, but I’d like to go.
It was a gorgeous day today. About 65 and brilliantly sunny. Crocuses and primroses are blooming in the yard. We took the dogs walking out in a big park downtown. 90 acres, lots of trees. It was delightful. I also met with my knitting teacher to figure out how I’d screwed up my knitting, which was worse than I thought, but we mostly fixed everything. Next time we move on to the next steps.
The boy did acupuncture for the first time yesterday. It may be helping. It’s too soon to tell. I am hoping. I got him to exercise twice today, and that’s a big plus.
I’ve been getting some writing done, along with some reading. That’s all good.
Here’s a little snippet with of the WIP:
He held his hand out. She made herself take it, gripping firmly through her gloves. She didn’t like touching mages. She pulled away, shoving her hands into her coat pockets and curling them into fists.
“Hagen tells me you can read the room,” he said.
Cady’s lips tightened. She forced a smile. “Hagen says a lot of things. Some are even true.”
“Can you read the room?” he demanded.
“Cady,” Hagen chided, his hand on her shoulder tightening.
Blaze flicked him an irritated glance, which won him a point in her book. The enemy of my enemy . . . Not that the bald giant was her enemy. He’d done everything in his power to protect her since she’d left fieldwork.
That earned an inward grimace. Left it. Like she’d had a choice. Yet here she was, about to go back out where all the boogeymen waited, including Blaze Watkins. Hopefully he didn’t plan to put a knife in her back. Hagen insisted the she could trust the mage, had shown her all the files on him. Or at least the files Hagen wanted her to see. She had no doubt there were more hidden somewhere.
Blaze Watkins had had a stand-up career with the PCIA, and then had gone private after he’d disobeyed orders he didn’t like. Most of that episode had been redacted, but Hagen claimed the mage had had good reasons. Which, coming from the head of the PCIA, could be viewed as a positive endorsement. But then again, only some of the things Hagen said were true. She usually found out which when she was hipdeep in a shit creek with crocodiles chewing her ass.
“You aren’t sure?” Blaze asked.
“I never am until I am,” she said. She bent down to pick up her pack and slung it over her shoulder, dislodging Hagen’s hand in the process. “We’re burning daylight.”