Reader Questions on THE ORCHID THRONE

Pretty pretty page proofs (with cover flats) of THE FIERY CROWN! I’m doing my final read of this book, then going straight into writing book 3: THE PROMISED QUEEN.

(For those patiently waiting on THE FATE OF THE TALA, it’s still with my copy editor. As soon as I get it back, I’ll turn it around and get it to you!)

Sometimes readers email me questions through the contact form on the website, so I’ve decided to do a periodic Mailbag feature here on the blog, because other people in the class might have the same question. 😉 Today’s questions are about THE ORCHID THRONE.  For those who didn’t see yesterday, a chance reader happened to spot THE ORCHID THRONE at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. They’ve been one of my favorite bookstores for a long time now – and pretty much the top priority to visit when I first went to Portland, years ago. So, seeing my book as a Staff Pick there was a real thrill!! And then the generous David D. Levine (at the behest of fellow SFWA Board Member Curtis Chen) went to Powell’s last night and snapped a pick of the shelf talker (who knew it was called that???) for me, so I could read what it said. *Blissful Sigh*

And now, on to the questions!

I’m in the middle of reading The Orchid Throne and am loving it. I have a question about how Conri was able to acquire is muscled body. As a slave for 14 – 20 years, wouldn’t he have been malnourished and therefore stunted in his growth, both in height and mass? You would have the empire feed the slaves a lot of protein, at the least. But, they wouldn’t bother, since there’s plenty more slaves from the rest of the empire, right? Wouldn’t Conri more closely resemble his father, half-starved and missing all his teeth? I know these a really picky questions, but they keep coming up in my head every time Conri’s body type is mentioned.

This is something I thought about quite a lot – and there IS a really good reason that Con, Sondra, and the others were fed decently. BUT, you find out more about it in the sequel, The Fiery Crown, and it will become important in book 3, The Promised Queen. So, I can’t tell you too much without spoilering things. The short answer is this particular group was fed well and kept in good health ostensibly to mine more vurgsten. That also left them perky enough to escape and stage a rebellion. I don’t think toothless and emaciated people would be fighting off guards and making a bid for freedom. To hint at the long answer… think about who Con is. Sondra, too, and why Ambrose joined up with them.

 

Could you give an island in our universe that corresponds to the size and shape of Calanthe? Is it, say, the size and shape of Ireland?

I can’t because this is an alternate world and, as much as possible, I try to keep away from comparisons to our world. The characters in that world don’t think of themselves in terms of how Calanthe compares to Ireland, so I don’t either. Calanthe isn’t an alternate Ireland, nor an alternate Virgin Gorda for that matter. It’s its own place, so any measurements would be in terms of that world.

 

Second, if Calanthe is the Isle of Paradise, that would suggest a tropical/semi-tropical location. Where did Tertulyn get the ice to help cool Lia

Remember that Calanthe is a island of refined pleasures, too, and part of a vast network of kingdoms even before it was acquired by the empire. There’s extensive trade and shipping, so all sorts of delicacies – including ice – can be brought in. It’s a mistake to view a world on the verge of a technological revolution as this one is as being ignorant or unable to devise solutions to simple problems like insulation. Even in our own ancient world, non-tech civilizations employed clever insulation to bring ice to the tropics.

 

Is there a map of The Orchid Throne world available, even if just a very rough first draft?

No, I don’t, Drawing maps isn’t part of my process typically, as I see the world in my head. When I have drawn maps, it’s because my editor asked for them – and in this case, she hasn’t.

 

How old is Conri?

He’s about 28, a couple years older than Lia.

 

Thanks everyone for reading! It’s really wonderful to see the excitement for this series.

First Cup of Coffee – November 17, 2019

I love these #shelfie pics – ones readers send me of my book spotted in the wild. This one is from a Kroger grocery store in Anchorage, Alaska. Pretty awesome company it’s keeping, huh?

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is Mentoring: my mentors, ways I’ve mentored others, how to do it right, how to do it wrong, and whether it’s possible to lone-wolf this writing journey. Come on over for my answers!

 

My WorldCon 2019 Schedule!

Thursday August 15, 2019

What is SFWA and what can it do for you?

04:30 PM to 05:20 PM (50 minutes)

Join SFWA board members and staff to learn about the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, touching on some of the many programs and services it offers to traditional, hybrid, and indie writers.

Friday August 16, 2019

Autographs: Friday at 13:00

01:00 PM to 01:50 PM (50 minutes)

Introduction to SFF romance

03:00 PM to 03:50 PM (50 minutes)

SFF romance is as varied and creative as the speculative genre as a whole but, along with other romantic subgenres, has often been dismissed and undervalued. From shapeshifting billionaires to far future secret agents, vampire brides to Highland flings, this panel will provide a broad introduction to SFF romance in all its glory as well as providing a range of reading recommendations.

Monday August 19, 2019

Shifts in Irish mythology across the diaspora

01:30 PM to 02:20 PM (50 minutes)

Since 1700, more than 9 million Irish people have emigrated to other parts of the world, taking their stories with them. Do those stories change in the telling the farther they travel? Are the myths shared in Australia or the Americas different to those told in Ireland? The panel will examine Irish mythology across the diaspora and whether distance causes a romanticisation of the source material.

Jeffe at San Diego Comic Con!

Jeffe will be at San Diego Comic Con in July!!

There’s a panel of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) talking about getting published.

*****SFWA Writers Reveal the One Big Secret That Got Them Published, Friday, 7/19/19, 6:00p.m. – 7:00p.m., Room: 2*****

Join members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) as they discuss writing careers, tips and tricks, and the one big secret that got them published. Learn how SFWA supports SF and fantasy writers and how it can help you with your creative career. Panelists include Jeffe Kennedy (The Orchid Throne), Marie Andreas (The Diamond Sphinx). Greg van Eekhout (Voyage of the Dogs). Greg Bear (Take Back the Sky; Comic-Con Special Guest). Jonathan Brazee (Fire Ant) and Kyle Aisteach (Little Dystopias).

In addition, the TOR booth will be giving away 30 Galley proofs of THE ORCHID THRONE on Saturday, 7/20/19 at 10am. I’ll be there to sign and chat, so come on by!

How to Recognize and (Maybe) Avoid Burnout

The amazing and delightful Liz Argall, who draws the comic Things without Arms and without Legs, draws while she listens to panels. She did this wonderful sketch of one panel I was on at SFWA’s Nebula Conference. All the panels I was on ended up being wonderful, but this one was particularly amazing. The topic was “Burnout: How to Recognize It and Maybe How to Avoid It Next Time.

It’s a somewhat clunky title, but really wonderful for the topic. Because something that came out of the discussion – moderated by Laura Anne Gilman and including RR Virdi, Tina Connolly, and Rachel Hartman – was that creative burnout is really difficult to extricate ourselves from and not so easy to avoid.

Laura Anne, who did an amazing job of moderating, asked us all to tell our stories of creative burnout or coming close to it, and the commonalities were striking. This was mine:

For twenty years I balanced a career day job as an environmental consultant with writing. I usually wrote 1-2K words/day before switching to the day job. I slowly built my career, making more money each year, and I kept thinking that eventually I’d make enough to quit the day job. Every writer’s dream! Then my team got cut, and I was laid off with decent severance. My company offered to help me find a new job, but I wanted to see if I could make it as a full-time writer. I figured that, ,without the day job absorbing my attention and energy, I could easily double my daily wordcount.

(At this point, the entire room groaned. It was kind of hysterical that this collection of all writers foresaw the error in this.)

I was writing 4-5K/day, building up a self-published series and working up new stuff for trad – and the money was okay – but by July I was feeling ragged. I was sitting in the sun in San Diego, at the RWA Conference, having wine with Thea Harrison. She asked me how I was doing saying, “I hear you’re a full-time writer now – how exciting for you!” And I started to cry. Because I wasn’t having fun and I didn’t understand why. She told me I was starting to burn out and that I needed to get a grip and fix it, that she’d burned herself out and it took years to recover.

The remarkable thing was, for each and every one of us, someone else recognized the burnout and said something. A friend or family member had to point it out. Also, there was crying mentioned in every case, except for RR Virdi, who manfully laid claim “only” to deep depression.

We discussed ways of recovering and avoiding creative burnout, which mostly involved rediscovering play, and the simple joy of creating. Which meant divorcing it from monetization. Sometimes that meant something creative that was NOT writing, or at least, not writing anything that someone else expected or would evaluate.

At the very end, Laura Anne hit us with a statistic from the Mayo Clinic. The number one cause of burnout? Self-identification with your work.

Writers much?

So the final thing we discussed is keeping the boundaries clear, that we are not our books and stories. That’s one reason I try to be very careful to say “My book is a finalist” or “My book won an award,” rather than me. Small measures add up.

 

Leveling Up – What Does It Mean to You?

This week at the SFF Seven we’re talking about leveling up and what that means to us.

Actually, the topic is phrased as: People always say they want to take their writing to the next level. Well, what are the levels, as you see them?

It’s a really good question. Come on over for my answer.