As of a few days ago, Storm Bride is no longer for sale.

I’m not sure what that link is there for. It’s a 404 page where once there was a book. You can click on it if you want, if only to convince yourself that nothing is there for you to buy.

My publisher, upon hearing that I had moved to Romania, decided that they had to terminate my publishing contract, because they only work with U.S. authors. This was not an outcome that I considered likely when I moved here; but here I am, and here my book is not.

But all is not lost.

I am getting the file with the typeset book from the publisher. I’m getting a new cover. And I’m going to re-release the book in December 2015. So it’ll be back, and it’ll have some new features which I can do easily now that I’m publishing it myself, such as a map and a glossary.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in getting updates on when the book becomes available, you can sign up for my newsletter.

A little while ago I posted on headcasting for Storm Bride based on pictures that I found on the internet. I promised a post about the locations of Storm Bride, which is late, but better late than never.

For a refresher, here’s the map of Storm Bride:

The Land of Storm Bride (Click for bigger image).
The Land of Storm Bride (Click for bigger image).

The story begins at the shore near Prasa, when Saotsa washes up on a sea stack called Six Pine Rock. It looks something like this:

This one would be called Zero Pine Rock.

The city of Prasa like in a wet coastal region, and the extended family called the enna lives in lodges together. Prasa is a pretty big city; it has about 30,000 people in it at the time of the story, which is much bigger than any real-world settlements in the Pacific NW before the arrival of Europeans. But I imagine that it looked something like this, stretching quite a ways back along both shores of the Prasa river, with lodges marching in rows away from the shore:

The Prasa skyline (adapted from a picture of a Haida village)

The greater size of Prasa relative to any real-world settlement is one of the big changes. Unlike the other tribes of the Pacific NW, the Prasei are not just fishers and foragers, but have a variety of domesticated crops which drives a larger population size.

The Yakhat hail from a distant part of Aratasa known as the Bans. This is an amusing story, because I originally conceived of the Bans as a sort of hilly marsh, in which lowland areas perennially flooded, but hilltops served as sites of permanent structures, where the people lived during the flood season. I didn’t know whether any such place actually existed on the earth, until I saw this picture:

The Bans (actually a settlement of Marsh Arabs)

This is exactly what I thought the Bans should look like, and I was excited to see that something very similar to what I had imagined actually existed.

Finally, much of the action of Storm Bride takes place away from the rainy coast, on the high, dry plains which are in the rain shadow of the White Teeth Mountains. Just as I imagined the coast of the Pacific NW as the setting for Prasa, I took the inland parts of Washington state, across the Cascade Mountains, as examples of what this area looks like.

The plains, with the White Teeth mountains in the background

Imagine the tents and cattle of the Yakhat spread across those hills, and it’s just about perfect.

I’m a few days late posting this (because reasons), but I’m very excited to post this interview I recently did with the folks on Conlangery, about the languages of Storm bride, and a bunch of other questions regarding fantasy literature and language creation. You can listen here:

We talk about:

  • How I got into linguistics and conlanging
  • Why there’s only two sentences of actual conlang in Storm Bride
  • Why most fictional languages in SFF suck
  • Ursula K. LeGuin’s Always Coming Home and other SFF works that at least try to get it right
  • How to present strange phonologies without terrifying your readers
  • Cultural appropriation issues when conlanging based on an real languages and cultures
  • Other stuff that I can’t remember.

This was the most fun I’d had in a while! Hope you like listening.

Here’s Keshlik, the primary antagonist of Storm Bride:

Keshlik, except it’s actually Tatsuya Nakadai

I do this a lot: I use pictures of people and places that I find online to set the mood for the things in my books. For people we typically call this “headcasting,” and I’m not sure that there’s really a common term for locations, but let’s call it “location scouting”. In this case, I am extremely excited to pick Toshiro Mifune as my visual stand-in for Keshlik, because Toshiro Mifune is awesome, and both his look and his on-screen personas fit the character of Keshlik. (One could pick nits here, such as the fact that Mifune is Japanese and the Yakhat are not based at all on Japanese culture, but it would be silly to whine at that level.) Update: Actually, the person pictured above is not Toshiro Mifune but Tatsuya Nakadai. I was misled by the fact that the picture is like the 2nd Google image result when searching for “Toshiro Mifune”. Thanks to commenter Jor for pointing this out.

So how about Uya?

A 19th-century Tlingit woman in dancing regalia.
A modern Tlingit woman in traditional dress.

There are a few nitpicks here: the nose ring worn by the woman in the top picture is not something that I imagine for the Praseo culture. The woman on the right looks exactly right, except for the fact that her coat/cape thing isn’t quite as cool.

Both of these women are Tlingit, a Native American people of the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a very cool article and photo essay about Tlingit culture, which shows off more of their traditional clothing and jewelry, as well as explaining some of their current challenges. And here’s the dirty secret about why I use real-world cultures for inspiration about stuff like that: I’m not very good at imagining unique visuals. For whatever reason, my world-building imagination runs very easily to political systems, religions, rituals, family structures, and history, but I have a hard time figuring out what these things look like. So I tend to look for human cultures whose designs and symbols resonate with me and seem to match the rest of the setting that I’m developing. In the case of Storm Bride, the culture, religion, and political structure of the Prasei are not drawn from the Tlingit at all, but the visual style and symbolic elements are.

Finally, there’s Saotse:

A sad woman, probably from Scotland.

This was actually the hardest one to find. In the first place, Saotse should look like an old white woman in clothing similar to what Uya has, but for good reasons this is a hard thing to find pictures of. More importantly, I started by trying to find pictures of “old icelandic woman”, which reveals that the oldest women in Iceland are evidently about 25 years old. Saotse originally comes from a place called Kalignas (though this name never appears in Storm Bride) which is somewhat similar to Iceland in climate and culture, but having given up on that particular search I eventually came across the woman above, who is (I think) actually Scottish. Oh well. She looks sad, which is Saotse’s major personality trait at the opening of the novel, so it works out. I guess.

Next week I’ll try to show you some pictures of the locations in Storm Bride.

I recently wrote a guest post for SFSignal about Storm Bride and the question of “Strong female characters”. Allow me to quote myself:

I think it was because I read one too many cover blurbs for fantasy and urban fantasy novels with female protagonists. There was a depressing regularity: The leading woman will carry a gun, sword, or other weapon on the cover. She will look at the viewer either alluringly or defiantly. Her voice will be snarky. She will be “tough”. If it’s a more traditional fantasy, she’ll declare her disdain for princessy pursuits and traditional femininity. If it’s a contemporary fantasy, that attitude will be written in her torn jeans, tattoos, and the mysterious (but attractive) scar above her eye.

She’ll be, in other words, a Strong Female Character™.

And then I go on for another 700 words.

Head on over here to read it..