Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Revisiting ARCADIA

There’s a revival production currently on Broadway of Tom Stoppard’s ARCADIA. It’s a magnificent work of art and the play will always have a special place in my heart. My beloved, in celebrating our anniversary, had the good sense and kindness to surprise me with tickets. He knew it was my very favourite play of all time and I hoped he’d love it as much as I do, and I was not disappointed.

This Broadway revival was like seeing an old beloved friend and being reminded of all the reasons why you’re friends. Filled with joy and stunning performances, this production is NOT to be missed if you like a cast full of Broadway stars, full-tilt intellectual calisthenics along with beautiful love stories, thrilling theories and the moving humor and genius of human nature. Arcadia simultaneously tells the tale of a Regency English estate and the dramas therein alongside (sometimes beautifully side-by-side) a modern set of aristocracy and academics who are plumbing the estate library for various academic purposes. The past and present entwine magically for an unraveling tale of mathematical iterations, sex and literature so brilliantly interwoven you can hardly keep up with brilliant line after brilliant line. It’s full of Stoppard’s brainy delightfulness, and in my opinion it is by far his very best piece of work. Moments where Hannah and Septimus the tutor are at the same table, modern and regency dress, perusing a book and turning pages exactly the same time, while Valentine and Thomasina, two mathematicians, work away, Val at his computer and Thomasina at her notebook, made me cry.

I feel the ghosts of the past always alongside me, every moment of the day, it’s why I’m compelled to write about the 19th century- because I feel them just as close as those characters were onstage. I want to reach out to touch them, to take their hand and tell their stories. Seeing the past and present truly dancing together… it is a perfect metaphor for what keeps me writing books. And ARCADIA was there with me from the very beginning.

I find it hard to describe how important ARCADIA is to me. I understudied the character of Hannah long ago when I was an intern at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company; the play a feature in their 2001-2002 repertoire. That previous year I’d begun the first drafts of what would become The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. Fans of the Strangely Beautiful series might smile when they see the end of ARCADIA, when a gifted tutor teaches his gifted pupil how to waltz, and see how similar moment under different circumstances plays out in Strangely Beautiful… I hope its no less moving. Watching the play countless times as an understudy, the very best of it haunted me and my own manuscript like a very helpful ghost.

If you haven’t seen the show and you’re in New York or planning a visit, please do so. If you haven’t read Arcadia, do so. It’s stunningly beautiful in every way. It searches the curious human soul, souls of all personality types, and finds love, pain and beauty there.

The character of Hannah says: “Comparing what we’re looking for misses the point. It’s wanting to know that makes us matter.”

Lines like that are meant to live forever, just as timeless as the ghosts of the past as they waltz forever through my modern heart.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cover Reveal! DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul

11/11 from Sourcebooks Fire...

DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul -- 11/11 from Sourcebooks Fire

(GOTHIC HISTORICAL YA: 1880 New York City)
From the back cover:

“A lush Gothic tale that begs for reading… I couldn’t put it down.” – New York Times Bestselling Author Sarah Maclean

“The brightest new star in literature.” - True-Blood.Net

“I was obsessed.

It was as if he called to me, demanding I reach out and touch the brushstrokes of color swirled onto the canvas. It was the most exquisite portrait I’d ever seen. Everything about Lord Denbury was unbelievable. So lifelike.

There’s a reason for that. Because despite what everyone says, Denbury never did commit suicide. He’s alive. Trapped.

I’ve crossed over into his world within the painting and I’ve seen what dark dreams haunt him. They haunt me too. He and I are inextricably linked. And whatever demons may be out on the gas-lit cobblestone streets of Manhattan, we have no choice but to face them together…”

Join the Magic Most Foul FB Page

BOOK REVIEWERS AND ENTHUSIASTS! If you're going to Book Expo America:

DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul was listed as a "Big Children's/YA Book of Book Expo America" by Publishers Weekly!

I'll be with the SOURCEBOOKS team handing out ARC copies of DARKER STILL at Book Expo America - Tuesday 2:30pm at the SOURCEBOOKS booth, booth # 4356!


Monday, May 9, 2011

The Gaslight Gathering 2011

After a meal with friends and family post-signing on Thursday, I was off to California in the early AM Friday for The Gaslight Gathering!

I'd never been to California, so when James Hay asked if I would like to be a guest speaker and panelist at The Gaslight Gathering in San Diego, and seeing that it corresponded with my release week, why not? It was quite a gorgeous weekend. The Town & Country was a beautiful space with flora and fauna abounding, tumbling roses and trellises under which beautifully-clad men and women strolled. I was stunned by amazing costumes, warmed by the diversity of age and family status amongst the attending crowd, I learned many things from fellow panelists (I could listen to the utterly delightful Kim Newman, guest of honour, all day long and pick his brain about all manner of things even longer). I had the pleasure of paneling with Samantha Henderson and the chance to procure her Ravenloft novel Heaven's Bones - how can I turn down a fellow Gothic novel? I also made a friend in historian Michelle Hamilton whose knowledge of spiritualism and the Fox sisters, as well as some incredible ghost stories, made her a captivating delight to spend time and panel with.
I had the extreme pleasure of staying with and getting to know Dru Pagliassotti who was writing Steampunk Romance (Clockwork Heart) before anybody. She's an author I'd already long admired. I had such a great time chatting with Dru and hearing about her many interesting projects. She also looked amazing, check out her blog.
The lovely and kind Maria of Free the Princess was there taking notes and beautifully adding to the discussions, so be sure to follow Free the Princess for her rundown of the weekend.
Throughout the weekend I spoke on themes of the supernatural, ghosts and spiritualism in Steampunk and Neo-Victorian work, about culture and norms, about the issues and problems inherent in the era, about science and religion, and I was pleased by how interesting and thought- provoking the discussions became.
The danger of Steampunk/Neo-Victoriana is in romanticising Empire, colonialism, industrialization and ingnoring myriad, overwhelming social ills of the time. However an aspect that draws me to the 19th century is that it birthed some of the major progressive movements that carry us to this day, a counterpoint to vast injustices. The beauty of working within this genre now is offering up more diverse and alernatvie narratives from those who would have been silenced at the time. My dear Miss Percy Parker and my upcoming Natalie Stewart, 'unfortunates' in society whose voices never would have gained a mainstream audience, have a chance to give us a different view of how things could be, from their perspectives. I don't shy away from the constraints and conflicts of the day, my characters must work within them, towards a place of acceptance and solubility. As I said on panels, the romanticism within my stories come from the romances between the characters. I paint my Victorian London and New York as grim as they may be grand. It isn't interesting nor fair otherwise. We are no better than the Victorians, with our modern social ills and blinders. What can we learn from them for the better, what can we learn to avoid? Whose stories have yet to be told? What can we rewrite and how can we be more inclusive, inventive, sensitive, educated, corrected? I'm certainly always still learning. The diverse Steam-community, and places like Beyond Victoriana, a blog I mentioned often out West, provide wonderful ways to do so.
And yes, I flounced around in many black skirts, ever the perky Gothic gal and signed some books! I was thrilled as always to see the fine and friendly folks at Mysterious Galaxy. (They still have a few signed ones left! After selling out of Book 1, they promise to order more in and I left signed bookplates for insertion, so you can still get a signed set.) I came away with a new hat, parasol and fan. (The new hat and parasol are pictures) I'm a sucker for accessories. :)
Come back Wednesday for a Darker Still cover reveal!

Perilous Prophecy and the Hometown Signing

A homecoming is always good.

My Westchester OH Barnes & Noble always treats me well, and my friends and family never disappoint me.

I had a wonderful, warm crowd to read to, and read I did. (The actress in me does so love a chance to read aloud). I chose a ghost-busting selection from the beginning of The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess. In this prequel we meet new characters, expand the horizons onto other lands as well as familiar haunts within London and rejoin the stories of our beloved favourites.

I was particularly delighted to see three young, supremely talented writers, Lizzie, Sammi and Hanna (pictured with me here), along with some of their wonderfully sweet family members, and to have a moment playing one of my favourite roles; that of being a writing cheerleader. I've told them they're not allowed to give up on their dreams or on their writing, otherwise I'll get angry. And I'm not an angry person, so this isn't to be trifled with. :) You'll see that demand in writing in the back of Darker Still , on the acknowledgement page. Hanna is right in her very kind blog post to me, my ghosts will come to haunt them otherwise. :)

I simply can't allow the opportunity I have to go to waste, that of being the voice of an author whose work is out in the world, to be an encouraging one. Yes, being a writer is tough. Yes, the business is hard. Yes, it's frustrating and exhausting to stay disciplined and to hone your craft. But that's the way of everything truly worth doing. So if I have an opportunity to be in any way an example as well as a cheerleader, I take gladly to that role. Sometimes it just takes one person saying 'yes, you can' to motivate turning dreams into a reality.

It also just so happens that Hanna comes up with the greatest shirts for my signings and events. I've been treated to several. This year was a new one, what she's wearing in the picture reads: FRONT: "If I was born in 1853..." BACK: "My last name would be Rychman!" (The last name of my beloved hero).

-- This, of course, caused me no end of glee! Thank you, Hanna, for your creativity, and also for your exceedingly kind post.

Thank you friends and family in Ohio for showing up and making it a wonderful night! In case you missed it, Ohio, stop by the Streets of Westchester Barnes & Noble because they've still got some signed copies of books 1, 2, and of Perilous Prophecy, all now reissued in Trade Paperback format. The manager, Gail, will be happy to help you. We can even arrange for a signed bookplate to be sent to the store!

For a bunch of fun ghost stories from The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess and giveaways, be sure to check out the Haunted London Blog Tour, contests are still open for those who comment on the posts!

Aeternitas 2011

Well, release week celebrations for The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess is nearly done, though I hope your Strangely Beautiful reading pleasure will continue... (The contests for my HAUNTED LONDON BLOG TOUR are still up and running! Check them out!) and my cross-country travels have brought me back home again to NYC. I'm still attempting to process the Week of Awesome. Admittedly, I'm really tired, fighting a cold that I always get after exerting myself as madly as I do on release weeks, but I'm very blessed in having some amazing events to show and tell.

Starting with... Aeternitas 2011.

I was there because The Group That Shall Not Be Named kindly asked, since I am an unabashed Harry Potter nut, if I would be a Keynote Speaker along with friend and author of Knightley Academy, Violet Haberdasher, about the threads linking our love for Harry Potter into our own unique fantasy worlds. The Keynote video can be found on the Aeternitas page. Also, who can say no to a Harry Potter convention benefiting Lung Cancer research and the HP Alliance?!
So. Gather about 300 Harry Potter fantatics into one charming, thoroughly House-decorated hotel on a lake, with a tent, with Ray the Dark Lord of the Bar, the great DJ Swish aiding our parties, a lineup of Wizard Rock and Hogwarts school programming, serious cosplayers and costumers, the beautifully led Keynote discussion with Violet and I about our love for HP and how that translates into our fiction and the awesome questions from the audience, me gladly taking on the reins of a very plausible Narcissa Malfoy (as noted in the MuggleNet article)... OMG the level of Geek-tastic could be split between a thousand Horcruxes and the squee would still need containment. I honestly have NO idea how to recap this weekend. It was one of those 'you had to be there' weekends.
When you really love a genre, any genre, book, series, whatever it is, and you gather with others who share the same love, an automatic bond forms. You have a specific language, code, inside jokes, and a certain freedom that you certainly don't find in the Muggle world at large, because you are around people who, yes, admit that they own a level of geek that is larger than your average bears, but in context this is, in fact, encouraged. And as the con was filled with very talented, accomplished people, we all return to our lives to go on with our own art, our music, our work, etc, all the better for it. As I sit here trying to summarize, it's all a bit of a squee-blur, frankly. -- And we got a write-up (and a fabulous mention) in MuggleNet!!
Here are a few favourite moments among countless:

- Wand-ball (requirements: wands and balloon)

-Catching up with Violet and talking publishing industry shop, and, of course, our Keynote and three book signings!

-Whatever in the world Ray the Dark Lord of the Bar would come up with next. The 'Dead Hufflepuff' was a crowd favourite.

- Unbreakable Vow!

- Impromptu Slytherin graveyard photo shoot. (Thanks to Violet for humoring us and taking photos). All the photos in general made for riotous fun, especially with The Enthusiasts directing much of the ridiculousness.

- The Dark Lord, Bellatrix, The Malfoys (including myself) and a back-up group of Death Eaters rocking out to Thriller on the dance floor.

-Signing at Annies Book Stop and watching my Slytherin contingent walk through the parking lot and proceed to own the store. (You can order signed books through Annie's! Just email them!)

-Cassie's dueling workshop, and Cassie in general, one of the most incredibly versatile actor/costumers around.

-The amazing costumes featured in the Fashion Show.

-The LePages for being beautiful and letting me play.

-The fact that Jonathon, organizer of The Group That Shall Not Be Named couldn't be seen out of the back seat of the car packed with con-gear because he was stuck sitting behind a cauldron.

And now, photos. Here are only a few of my faves. More can be found on my FB page in my Convenions and Events album. The Bellatrix is Cassandra Johnstone, Lucius is Perseus LePage, Draco is Draco LePage and thanks to The Enthusiasts, to Cassandra and to Violet for lending photo magic. Huge thanks to Amanda and HP MA and The Group That Shall Not Be Named for some amazing organizing. Thanks to the fabulous attendees for bringing the awesome. Huh-zzah.

Cheers and if you haven't checked out the latest Strangely Beautiful release, The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess, there are a lot of fun ghost stories and giveaways as a part of my annual Haunted London release week tour, with our final post tomorrow!
ALSO, stay tuned. This week I'll be revealing my GORGEOUS cover for DARKER STILL, a Novel of Magic Most Foul!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Perilous Prophecy Release Day!

We're finally here! My Strangely Beautiful prequel, The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess has arrived! Check out the New Fiction tables in select Barnes & Nobles, get to downloading to your devices, order through your favourite vendor, all your Strangely Beautiful questions will be answered!

And stay tuned for my rundown of Aeternitas 2011 which might have been one of the most entertaining weekends ever. When I have a moment I'll share some highlights. (Pictured here, a rare quiet moment amidst my Keynote presentation with Violet Haberdasher - photo by Cassandra Johnstone):

I'm off on a book tour for the week, so please don't forget to follow along on The Perilous Prophecy Haunted London Blog Tour! Ghost stories and giveaways!

In case you need convincing, the latest raves:

Cheers and thanks for your support!