Aliette de Bodard is a Paris-based speculative fiction writer. Her list of accolades is impressive: she’s won a Locus award, three awards from the British Science Fiction Association, and the Writers of the Future contest. Oh, and two Nebula Awards. She kindly agreed to chat with me about her novel, The House of Shattered Wings, being released in paperback this week. It is stunning: fantasy set in a power-magical-war Paris, populated with Fallen Angels, Immortals, and Alchemists vying for power amongst the Great Houses. It’s a dazzling mash-up of mythology, mystery, and intrigue. The interview is below.
This past week I’ve really been getting into gear on my Iron Stars novella. Science fiction, giant robots. It’s my first new project of length in over a year. I actually began it because I’d been reading so many craft articles, I wanted to try some of the techniques I’d been reading about and didn’t want to outline an entire novel. It became small enough to plan relatively quickly (a couple of weeks), but it’s large enough you have to make some of the same structural decisions with a novel. And it is growing – right now we’re about 39k words, but we’re at least more than halfway there
I’ve been working on getting my momentum back on the writing, and I am starting to get back into a groove. It’s been very nice, not going to lie. I’ve missed it. Incidentally, I’ve also made a discovery: my novella Iron Stars keeps growing. Right now it’s coming in at about 26k words and it’s a little under halfway. I anticipate that it will end up about 55k words. That puts it in a weird limbo where it is a really big for a novella but far too short for a novel.
Dear internet: I have a confession to make. I have found myself for the past months stuck in an annoying place. I have been trapped in the Circle of Shame. You know the cycle. You promise that you are going to do something (go to the gym, write every day, blog every week). You start out strong, things are rolling great, and then you have a stumble. You miss one week. Things get a little bit busier. And then you feel self-conscious and feel bad so you duck your head to avoid it and don’t think about it because when you do you feel really bad because now it has been months and oh man oh man. Yeah. That’s the cycle I’ve been in.
It’s finally done. Draft 2 of the current WIP is finally finished as of 3:20pm on 4/10/16. Honestly I’m kind of in shock and still processing because it never seemed like I would reach this point.
Deep. Breath. WHEW.
So if you haven’t been able to tell by my various postings on social media, or the relative quiet on my blog front (Seriously, I missed a pi-day post? My grad school thesis was on pi and transcendental numbers in general), HOLY CRAP THIS MONTH IS BUSY. See, I set a goal for myself: Finish draft 2 of Deveroux and Fitch by the end of this month.
I felt like sharing a tool I picked up from the day-job that’s I’ve actually found super useful in the steady trek toward my goals. I’ve got a lot on my plate:
- Finish draft 2 of Deveroux and Fitch by the end of March
- Study for an Actuary Exam. I have to finish reviewing all the material by the second week of April, then take lots of practice tests.
- I’m trying to read 75 books this year. That’s a fair amount of reading.
That’s a lot. Especially for larger goals, it is imperative that you can keep track of exactly where you are at in the process, so you can determine if you are ahead or behind. This tool can help with that, and it is called a burndown chart.
So it’s been a really exciting week. I’ve been keeping my elaborate spreadsheet, plugging away at my novel, and today I did a percentage-complete. The updated status: 62%.
Probably one of my favorite courses to teach was undergraduate statistics. I loved teaching it because you can rave about the big ideas and because it is everywhere. Moreover, I got to stress the importance of good data. People’s memory is deceptive; anecdotal reports tend to exaggerate or distort. But hard data? Well. That’s something I can get behind. That’s why I keep a log of my writing, so it is an indisputable fact. But this year, I decided to take it to 11.
I’d submitted a short story, The Untimely Death of Theodore Baldin in October. I won’t say I’ve been checking the “status” page of the website every few days ever-since, but I won’t lie either. So last Friday an e-mail appears in my inbox from the publisher, and I got to open it and was all excited before lunch and I opened it oh my god here’s the answer and it is