Saturday, November 19, 2011

Welcome to the Palace; please enjoy the Slow

I am convinced, at this moment, that my future success as a writer depends on choosing exactly the right fonts for this blog. Mountains of Christmas and Kranky? Sure, why not. I haven't even begun to think about favicons. The writing life is complicated.

I recently wrote a book, called The Slow Palace. It's set in an empire in which time moves more and more slowly as you progress toward the center, meaning, among other things, that the Emperor has been ruling for twelve hundred years or so. A clockmaker named Scrutiny is propelled by love and promises and guilt toward the center of the Empire, which leads him to war, secrets, murder, monasteries, religious heterodoxy, barbarians, ghosts, saints, and chickens. I'm in the shopping-it-to-agents phase.

I'm just beginning another book, which doesn't have a title yet. I know a few things about it — the fundamental structure, the identities and issues of the protagonist and her foil, the underlying conceit about the way the world works, a couple of set pieces and settings. I know it's about taboos, and draws inspiration from things I heard China MiĆ©ville say at the Brattle Theater and a passage in Gene Wolfe's Urth of the New Sun. I know it will include caterpillar inflation. I know it's set in a world that's much like our own, and a city that's much like Boston, because I want to be able to mine my day-to-day experiences of life in the city. I did a bit of that for The Slow Palace, but its historical setting meant I mostly trawled for inspiration in books and museums and ancient Italian churches. Now, I get to be a magnet moving through the city, collecting whatever needles and pins jump up and stick to me. Soon I will be spined and glittering.

Between novels, I wrote a short story or novelette (~8200 words) called The Mayor's Skin. It's sort of a D&D nostalgia piece, sort of a dark fairy tale, sort of a trip to a museum of natural history — but not really any of those things. It's currently in the mail.

There's my introductory post. Thanks for visiting.


  1. My knee-jerk reaction was to make a Papyrus joke...but that just seems so 2002.