Happy Thanksgiving

This year, I am thankful for opportunity and knowledge, for art and life, as every year.  I am thankful for the public school system, for teachers and medical professionals, for flannel toddler jammies and organic free range turkey.

I am thankful for wine, and family, and butter.  I am thankful that I live in a country that allows me the freedom to both enjoy the trappings of a holiday while intellectually disagreeing with the moral rectitude of its history.  I am thankful for the teaching justice of diversity, and for the enduring power of friendship.

I am thankful for books, and the smell of leaves on the grass, and for the music of the seasons.  I am thankful for Roomba vaccum robots, which entertain cats and children alike.  I am thankful for the Internet, font of dubious curiosities that it is.

I am thankful for New England and its rolling, new-ancient realms, for the scent of brine on the seashore and conifer in the mountains.

I am thankful for brotherhood, and equality, and artisan jams.

I am thankful for the Cheese Shop of Salem and autumnal adventure, and for the quiet tenacity of the 99 percent.  I am thankful for steampunk serials and glitchy code, for Ikea furniture and bar carts, for self-watering planters and Cook’s Illustrated and shallow field camera lenses.

But mostly I am thankful for him, and for her, and for us.  Always.

The Story Is Always About the Characters

I’ve been known to defend certain aspects of the Star Wars prequels.  Not because I think that they’re good films overall, but because there are certain parts of them, mostly involving setting, action, or small character quirks, that struck me as belonging in the Star Wars canon.  That is to say, certain aspects of the films, such as parts of Ewan MacGregor’s performance as Obi Wan, jibe with my own internal vision of the backstory of that character.  They seem to fit.  They seem like glimpses into what the prequels might have been had they been written and directed by someone who actually cared about Star Wars.

io9’s recent look back at Attack of the Clones pretty much sums up my feelings on that movie, in a way I’ve never really been able to express very well myself.  In short, they describe Clones as being, for the most part, just as bad as we all remember, a storytelling failure not redeemed by the one or two good moments of fan service we see on screen.

The message I really take from their review, however, is one I’ve been struggling to elucidate for some time: that the failure of Episode II and, by extension, the Star Wars prequels as a whole, is a failure of character.  The prequels prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that no amount of intriguing world-building, beautiful production design, or stunning action sequences can save a story that fails to bring its characters to life.

So wait, Jim.  Step back a minute.  What you’re saying here, really, is that character is important to storytelling?  Big reveal, dude.  You’re really jumping the shark, here.

Yes, what I’m saying is that character is important–vital–to storytelling.  But you already knew that.  What I think is interesting is finding such a great example of a story that should have worked, that had everything going for it, every reason to work, but completely screwed the pooch when it came time to deliver.

Sure, George Lucas had the burden of decades of fan expectations to deal with.  Yes, that’s a lot of pressure.  But what people often forget is that Lucas made the movies he wanted to make.  He’s never responded well to criticism of the prequels, and generally speaks dismissively of Star Wars fans.  He’s the kind of filmmaker who’s more concerned with how things look than how things feel.  To him, the saga is a soap opera, and he filmed it like one: a story purportedly about passion and heartbreak and betrayal that nonetheless fails almost completely to deliver the pathos of any of those emotions.

What Lucas wanted is what we got: a throwback to the sci-fi adventure serials of his youth, peppered with just enough superficial emotional motivation to propel the plot of the adventure forward.  It’s something that’s appealing to children, but not to adults, who crave real character arcs.

Had he endeavored to see it from the perspective of the people who enjoyed the original movies, he would have (or should have) realized that the films he was making couldn’t possibly have worked.

-Anakin-and-Padme-anakin-and-padme-31435845-813-1500
These are our passion faces.

Take io9’s example of the romantic relationship between Padme and Anakin:

As forced and muddled as the courtship between Anakin and Padme is, it’s obviously an essential piece of the overall puzzle of Star Wars. It’s a nice thing to see, but it’s just handled so terribly. “You are in my very soul tormenting me?” Really? It just sounds like robots talking. And why are you guys eating pears with forks and knives?

It i handled terribly.  The romantic scenes between Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman should be used in film school as an example of a lack of chemistry.  The actors are woodenly delivering lines, having been sapped by the bad writing and the directing of any emotional motivation to make the scene work.

Padme Amidala is supposed to be the entire reason Anakin Skywalker falls to the dark side.  At the very least, she is the proximate cause: his desire to save her from the death he envisions is the turning point for his character.  In order for that to make sense, for it to play for the audience, we have to believe it.  We have to buy that he loves her so much that he can’t imagine a world without her in it.  That unlike the average person dealing with the idea of loss, Skywalker sees the power to prevent it, and falls into the trap.  He falls to the dark side with the best intentions, but in this case, those intentions never really make any sense, because from the standpoint of the character as he’s portrayed on screen, the audience has absolutely no reason to believe that he actually believes any of it.  The viewer can’t buy what you can’t sell.

Plot and character may be unavoidably intertwined with most stories, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have the plot serve the characters rather than the other way around.

Writing character is a question of empathy: can you, as the writer, put yourself in the shoes of the character you’re writing, so that the character’s emotional responses to the stimuli around them come off as fully realized.  There’s no substitute for running a character through the filter of real human emotion.

There may be some writers out there who can create authentic seeming characters completely dispassionately, but if there are I don’t know of them.  If you can’t see the world through your character’s eyes, at least imaginatively, and feel at least a small flicker of what they must be feeling in the situation you’ve placed them in, then you’re not doing your job as a writer.

And that’s where Lucas failed as a writer with the prequels: he couldn’t sell the defining relationship.  As io9 puts it:

Then it happens. The biggest leap in the history of Star Wars. On the brink of death, Padme confesses her love for Anakin. It’s so out of left field, even in the movie the character of Anakin is surprised to hear it. “I truly, deeply, love you,” she says. Too bad we barely get that sense before that. I couldn’t help but laugh that Lucas made the decision to have Anakin act so shocked. It almost feels like an admission he wasn’t sure how to get the characters to this point, but had to, and here it is.

You might be able to get away with the equivalent of “And then something happens” when it comes to plot, but you’ll never get away with it with character.  The beauty of fiction is that you can get the reader, or the viewer, to believe and accept almost anything if you can sell the characters’ responses to those stories.  If the characters clearly believe it, if they act and think and feel in a way that reflects humanity and emotional logic, then your reader won’t have any trouble suspending their disbelief when it comes to interstellar spaceships or unlikely plot developments.  The reverse is not true.

The story is always about the characters.

Interview with Gabrielle de Cuir

36439d9Last week, the audiobook edition of Exile: The Book of Ever (#1) came out, narrated by the wonderful Gabrielle de Cuir and produced by Skyboat Media, the production company behind the Hugo Award-winning Lightspeed magazine podcast and many other wonderful books in the genre and out of it.

Gabrielle was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few interview questions about herself and the recording process.  She also sent along a great clip of her recording a piece of Exile, which you can watch below!

Tell us a little about yourself and your background. 

I’m a native Californian, but grew up in Rome and have travelled extensively because my father was an Oscar-winning film designer and he always took the family with him on his cinematic adventures. I currently live and thrive in Los Angeles. I attended UCLA and received my degree there in Theatre Arts.

How did you get started narrating audiobooks?

I started in this business as an abridger; when I started doing this a decade ago, most books had to be cut down to fit onto four cassettes. Editing Anna Karenina down to four cassettes was quite a challenge! It also was an invaluable learning process as to what is essential in a story and what is fluff. Then, the company I worked for went out of business, and I hung out a shingle as a narrator. I couldn’t afford to pay anyone else! (The truth is I have a tremendously strong acting and performing background in theatre.) 

How do you choose your projects?

I need to connect at some emotional or intellectual level with the material. And my tastes are varied. I look for books with poetic flow, sharp humor or a variety of accents and characters. Some books have all of these; some just have one quality or another. Exile attracted me because of Ever’s personality and point of view. Stories with a strong point of view are acting gold.

Does your own interest in the subject matter of the book in question matter?

Not really. My job as an effective narrator is to channel author intent; to “midwife” the book, supporting it where I can and being a catalyst between the author and the listener, without getting in the way. 

Tell us a little bit about the recording process itself.  Where do you start? What’s your studio like?  Do you record all the way through and worry about errors in postproduction, or do you do a lot of stopping and starting?

I start by doing a thorough scan of the book. I know that sounds contradictory, but there are not enough hours of the day for me to read and rehearse every word of the book. I look for the story arc; whether the book is going to need a lot of pronunciation research. I determine who the main characters are; whether there are particular accents indicated. When recording begins, we at Skyboat Studios work with a director, for accuracy and also to allow the narrator to fully “perform” the audiobook. Industry demands have forced many actors to work alone in their studios, doing both the narration and the editing as they go. This can be fine for some books, but not, in my opinion for novels with many characters. If a book is estimated at ten hours finished, for example, it will usually take twice that long to record in the studio (i.e., twenty hours).

Audiobook narrators generally don’t record more than four or five hours a day, because the vocal chords can only stand so much stress. So, a ten-hour book might take up to a week to record. So, I start reading. The director stops me when he/she hears an error.

I take tea breaks every hour or so to keep hydrated. The director marks the script for my editor. When we have finished recording the book, we send the director’s pages and the audiofiles to the editor. He does his magic by editing out all the flubs and noises.

Were there any memorable moments recording Exile?  What was it like living with the book in so much detail for so long?

I loved all the instances where Ever’s power made itself apparent; I would try to actually feel the tingling she felt as I narrated it. (I know that sounds a bit New Agey, but, hey, I’m all alone in the booth; I’m allowed!) I found the dialogue scenes between Jared and Ever to flow very easily; I truly felt they made a great pair in the adventures.

Creating Thayne was the most challenging with his “inner voice” and his transformations. It’s heaven living in a whole world., so different from our own. James has created a complete universe, and it was a joy spending time there every day of the recordings!

Thanks so much to Gabrielle and the crew at Skyboat Media!

The audiobook of Exile: The Book of Ever (#1) is available now at Audible.com.

‘Exile: The Book of Ever (#1)’ Now Available in Audiobook!

Exile Audio Cover

I’m thrilled to announce that my first novel, Exile: The Book of Ever (Part 1) is now available in audiobook format, narrated by the wonderful Gabrielle de Cuir and produced by Skyboat Media.

You can download Exile from Audible.com, Amazon, or iTunes.

Thanks to Ms. de Cuir and Skyboat Media for doing a fantastic job; they really make the characters come to life.  I’ll be posting an interview with Gabrielle sometime next week, getting into the process of creating an audiobook and how she found working on Exile.

If you’re an audiobook reviewer and would like an audio review copy of Exile, please contact me at jamesdcormier@gmail.com.

Thoughts on ‘The Force Awakens’ Trailer

When September passed by and we hadn’t gotten a proper trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I knew that Lucasfilm had chosen to treat this movie differently.  The teasers we had seen up to that point were extremely minimal, providing no real glimpse into the actual story of the film.  The latest and, purportedly, the last trailer before the premiere, which aired this week during Monday Night Football, was an internet sensation (as we all knew it would be), but it followed in the footsteps of the teasers by keeping its cards very close to its vest.

The “trailer” isn’t really a trailer: it gives us no real insight into what the actual plot of the movie will be.  Which makes a certain amount of sense.  This is Star Wars, after all; they could have never released a trailer and gotten away with it.  J.J. Abrams & Co. clearly want audiences to go into the film with as few preconceived notions as possible.

Here are some of my thoughts, in bullet point form:

  • The big news is: still no Luke.  Or so we think.  It’s obvious that they’re saving Mark Hamill for the premiere.  Two things are important to note, however.  First, we may indeed have seen more of Luke than we think.  The same shot of a hooded figure placing a robotic hand affectionately on R2-D2’s dome was used in the teasers and used again here: it seems clear to me that this is Luke Skywalker, thirty years later, his artificial hand having been replaced or upgraded, touching his old companion in friendship.  R2 was Luke’s droid, after all; he rarely left his side during the original trilogy.  It would make perfect sense that he would accompany Luke into the exile that production rumors have hinted was his destination after Return of the Jedi.

    Secondly, those same production rumors have strongly suggested that Mark Hamill’s participation in Episode VII is minimal–that, in fact, the central thrust of the plot features the new characters (Rey and Finn) seeking out the now-legendary Luke Skywalker in (apparently) self-imposed exile.  Several reports have stated that Luke Skywalker only appears near the end of the movie, and not for very long.  If this is true, and Luke’s character features into The Force Awakens only at its conclusion, then it follows that they wouldn’t include him prominently in the initial marketing (the poster and the trailers), particularly if they also wanted to keep his character’s involvement a surprise.
  • The shots of Rey hunting amidst the ruined Star Destroyer on Jakku were gorgeous.  The entire film looks gorgeous.  I can’t wait to see it for this reason alone.
  • Rey and Han Solo’s interchange in the trailer (“There were stories…” “It’s true.  The Dark Side, the Jedi.  They’re real.”) indicates that the events of the original trilogy have faded into legend, which is both more interesting from a storytelling perspective than the alternative, as well as consistent with the original films.  Despite the fact that they’d been wiped out only twenty years before, Luke Skywalker barely knew what a Jedi Knight was when he met Ben Kenobi.  It appears that has once again become the status quo, meaning that Luke apparently did not bring the Jedi back to the prominence they had before the rise of the Empire.
  • As much as we all want to see what happened to the original cast, I think we’re going to be pleasantly surprised by the new story that’s obviously being told here: this is a new generation of heroes, guided by an older one.  There are a lot of parallels to be made here to the generational change in the real world, I think.  George Lucas has compared the recent history of the Star Wars universe as being similar to ours in some respects: the Clone Wars were like World War II, while the Rebellion was like Vietnam, at least in the consciousness of the people living through these eras.  In that since, you could call Luke, Han, and Leia’s generation the Baby Boomers, just as you could call their children (literally and figuratively) the Millennials.  It’s been said that Baby Boomers had the chance to change the world but failed to do so: wouldn’t be fascinating to find that, like in the our world, Luke Skywalker’s generation similarly failed?  The new canon that has been established since the Disney takeover has begun to make clear (primarily through the novel Aftermath) that the Rebels’ victory on Endor was only the beginning of a larger war.  Whether or not the Rebellion was able to successfully establish a New Republic in the long term, the idea that there is no true end to war and suffering (except, arguably, through the Force) would certainly make for a powerful new chapter in the larger story.
  • The emergence of a new superweapon of some kind, as evident from the poster and the trailer, indicates that the First Order truly is picking up where the Empire left off.  Whether the First Order is already a major power in the galaxy or merely a re-emergent threat (which is distinct possibility, given hints seeded into Aftermath), clearly they’ve come to conquer.
  • We really have gone back to the settings and feel of the original three films, here: every shot takes place either aboard a spaceship or on some backwater planet.  Not a city-planet to be found.  Which begs the question: what happened to Coruscant?  Is it simply not relevant to this story?
  • Since I started writing this (a couple of days ago), the Internet has blown up with rumors that Luke is, in fact, Kylo Ren, the black-cloaked, helmeted villain from the trailers.  The problems with this theory are legion and obvious, the biggest being that Ren is played by Adam Driver, who has been shown as the character in photos and the teasers.  The idea that Luke Skywalker might have turned to the Dark Side, however, is not a new one, and the most compelling argument I’ve heard for why Abrams might try this can be found right here.  Of course, any theory saying Luke goes evil has to take into account the leaked photo that’s been floating around the Internet, with Mark Hamill dressed in what is clearly Jedi (i.e., good guy) attire.
  • The music is fantastic.  You can here a new take on one of the classic themes in the trailer, when the Millennium Falcon is flying through the Star Destroyer wreckage, and it’s very moving.
  • Overall I’m impressed by what I’ve seen so far, and even more impressed by the restraint they’ve shown with the trailers and marketing.  They clearly want us to be surprised and impressed by whatever they’ve cooked up, and let the film speak for itself.
  • The footage we’ve seen has undeniably felt like Star Wars, to me, in a way the prequels never did.

7 Out of 10 #SPFBO Bloggers Have a Positive Opinion of Self-Publishing

Fantasy Faction asked the other nine book bloggers participating in Mark Lawrence’s Great Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off whether the competition had changed their opinion on self-publishing, and the answers were somewhat surprising.

Seven out of the nine websites to whom Fantasy Faction’s G.R. Matthews (himself a competitor in the contest with his novel The Stone Road) posed the question said that their opinion had either changed for the positive or not changed at all, because they always appreciated self-published fiction.  The tenth participating website is Fantasy Faction itself, managed and edited by Marc Aplin, who has historically been skeptical of self-publishing.  In a blog post October 2, Aplin wrote that while self-published fiction did appear to have gotten better in the five years since he first read any, the field still seemed dominated by amateurish, unpolished work.  He left open the question of whether there was any self-published fantasy out there that could hold its own with the titans of the genre, one presumably to be answered by the final phase of the contest.

Of the other two bloggers whose conclusions about self-publishing were negative, one, Ria from Bibliotropic, took a stance similar to Fantasy Faction’s.  Ria explained that while she did find some decent work, the glut of poor work outweighed it, and she did not intend on seeking out more self-published work in the near future.

The other negative response came from Steve from Elitist Book Reviews, who said that his initial impression of self-published books–that they were “made up in large part by garbage”–was only confirmed by the SPFBO.

I found two things surprisingly encouraging about these responses.  First and foremost: more than two-thirds of the participating reviewers either already appreciated or came to appreciate the place of self-published fiction in the book market because of the SPFBO.  That’s a big number.  In Congress, that’s called a supermajority.  That’s most of the people involved.

Second, of the three websites that were negative (overall) on self-publishing, only one (Elitist Book Reviews) was outright dismissive of it.  Both Bibliotropic and Fantasy Faction felt that while self-published fiction was mostly bad, there were decent books to be found and that the ratio of good to bad may be changing.

It’s also important to note that all three of the bloggers whose reaction was negative on the whole said that they expected to find some good work out there, which is an encouraging thought.

Thanks to G.R. Matthews for putting this poll together, and to all the hard-working bloggers for their time and participation.

Correction: An earlier version of this article identified Fantasy Faction founder Marc Aplin as the author of the article in question, “Has the SPFBO Changed Your Opinion of Self-Pubbed Books.”  The article was in fact written by G.R. Matthews, author of The Stone Road and contributor at Fantasy Faction.

A Lesson in Propaganda

You might have read an article in the New York Times recently, reporting both a decline in ebook sales and a resurgence of consumer interest in print books.  The article, written by Alexandra Alter, bases its conclusions primarily on data presented by the American Association of Publishers:

Now, there are signs that some e-book adopters are returning to print, or becoming hybrid readers, who juggle devices and paper. E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers. Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago.

E-books’ declining popularity may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television.

Alter then goes on to note that “e-book subscription services [like Kindle Unlimited]…have struggled to convert book lovers into digital binge readers,” and that “sales of dedicated e-reading devices have plunged as consumers migrated to tablets and smartphones.”

Without citing sources for these statements, she then uses them to support the argument that “the surprising resilience of print has provided a lift to many [traditional] booksellers,” and goes on to discuss the ways in which major publishing corporations such as Hachette and Penguin Random House have invested in expanding their print operations.

The founding assumptions of this article seem so specious that they call into question whether it ought to have been printed at all.

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Sneak Preview of ‘Karthanas the Lesser’

Here’s a free preview of Karthanas the Lesser, the swordpunk novel I’m working on right now.  Comments and criticisms more than welcome!


The morning they took ship across the channel to Mesende Yor, Louvhena came to him in his rooms at the capital.  House Kinnd kept a residence in Lansium, a small palace on the mouth of the Renna, where it led out into Lansium Bay.  He had slept surprisingly well the night before and was enjoying his breakfast with a savor that he should have known was too good to last.

He hadn’t spoken to her since that night in her chambers: not the following morning, not over the next three days, not during the ensuing two weeks of travel between Vinerran and Lansium.  Louvhena had ridden closed up in a carriage.  Karth had been happy to ride with the house guard.  He ignored her during the welcome feast at the forum, and she cut him dead when Kantel made his address to the Provost and the gathered Senat.  It was an impressive game, on both their parts, he thought, though Louvhena would never have admitted she was involved in anything so petty.

The look on her face was mild, almost contrite—or so one less familiar with her might have believed.  Karth suddenly lost interest in his eggs and sausage and poured himself a glass of wine.  He did not add water.

“Karthanas,” she said.  He swallowed some wine and wondered, for what felt like the thousandth time, just what the hell he was doing here.

“Still here,” he said, the wine around in his glass.  He didn’t invite her to sit down.

“You leave today,” she said.

“I’d remembered, thanks.”

She made a harsh, cutting sound with her mouth and the mask fell away.  Louvhena was known for many things.  Patience was not one of them.

“That was short-lived,” said Karth.

“What was?” asked Louvhena.

“For a moment, I thought you might have come here to wish me well.”

“I did,” she said.  “Your insolence brings out the worst in me, Karth.”  She so rarely used his nickname that the statement took him by surprise.  Was it unintentionally honest?  Insolence was a trait he cultivated like grapes: he thought making wine with them was enough, but he never thought of the hangover.

“I’ve come to expect no better of you.  The worst in me seems to be your favorite side, though I’ve offered you the best.  Many times.”

Her words shattered his line of thought.  Whatever inclination he’d had to reconsider his own part in their relationship, such as it was, withered on the vine.  He looked at her, stern and cold, and clenched his teeth.  She’d worn a gown that managed to be both imperious and alluring, a soft creamy material draped over her breasts and hips and strapped with ribbon to cling in all the right places.

Anger, Karth found, was a destroyer of obstacles.  Under the cool influence of reason he felt only disgust for his mother and the response she expected from him.  The fact that she sometimes successfully inspired that response, the heavy-breathing lust that drove his mind into his cock and made him want to own her perfect body, normally kindled a shame so deep that he wanted to scourge himself with thorns.

But Louvhena inspired rage, also.  And under its spell, at times like these, that stifled, shameful desire broke free of its enclosure and flared to life.  Fueled, maybe, by the heat behind his eyes, he saw an image of himself tearing her dress to shreds and bending her over the balustrade on the balcony outside his window.  He felt could feel the soft white flesh of her breasts in his rough hands, felt himself twisting them cruelly, looking down as he parted her buttocks with—

Karthanas stood up quickly, shading his eyes with a shaking hand.  His boot caught the edge of his chair and almost toppled it, but the back of it hit the wall and sent its gilt wooden legs slamming back down onto the tiled floor.

“I hate what you do to me,” he said, swallowing.  His eyes never left the remains of his breakfast.  “I hate it.”

“I love you, Karth.  I’ve only ever wanted love in return.”

“No.  You want worship.”  Louvhena shook her head and turned slightly to look out the window.

“Love is worship, Karthanas,” she said at last.  “Hate is worship, too.  If I cannot have your love, I will accept your hate.  It will bring us closer, whether you want it or not.”  Karth gritted his teeth, but stopped himself from responding.

She looked at him for a long moment, then clapped her hands slightly.  The door to his chamber opened, and Karth narrowed his eyes in sudden concern, but only Sevensin entered, carrying a long parcel wrapped in black cloth.  Closing the door behind him, he nodded once to Karth and then presented the parcel to Louvhena, bowing over it.

She unfolded the black fabric delicately, as if some long, fragile infant lay inside.  Karth couldn’t see what it was, at first, but then she lifted it free and Sevensin stepped away.

Kindavyr gleamed in the soft morning light, its blade the polished silver of a mountain lake beneath a winter sunrise.

The sword was unsheathed, and Karth was tempted to make a crack about his mother bringing a naked blade into his room, but kept his mouth shut.  The blade had that effect.  Not for nothing was it the sword of their house, of House Kinnd, the peerage his mother held.  There were a lot of things caught up in that weapon that Karth would have preferred to let alone.  When Kullarno died he was happy to see it returned to its box in the family vault; a tangible relief almost overwhelmed him when he realized Louvhena wasn’t going to immediately offer it to him.

But there was disappointment, as well, which had undoubtedly been her intention all along.  Desire.  Just as the desire for her body was supposed to overwhelm his sense, his desire for the glory of a sword and the power of title that came with it was supposed to make him kneel before her and accept her blessing, accepting with it the burden of loving Louvhena el’Kinnd and being party to continuing her line into the wider world.

He wanted it.  He’d always wanted it.  Since he’d first seen it as a child, since Kullarno and he had first snuck into the vault to gaze at it as teens, and especially since their mother presented it to his brother, the gift of her trust, her belief, the gift she had never even deigned to give their father.  He wanted it and hated himself for wanting it.  And now she was offering it to him.

You are a demon witch, mother.  The lord of the underworld himself could learn a thing or two from Louvhena, daughter of Kinnd.

She walked toward him, across the open space of his chamber to where he stood by the window, and presented it to him hilt first.  She held the blade in her hands in such a way that if he wanted to he could take it and slash through her fingers and breast in one mighty swipe, slashing all of the confusing tangle of emotions she inspired in one stroke.  The message was clear, but she spoke anyway, to remove any shadow of doubt.

“Accept it, or kill me,” said Louvhena.  “The choice is yours.  But it is a choice that you will have to make, my son.  I grow tired of this game of ours.  I suspect you are tired as well.  Take it.  There is nothing easier than to take it.”  She tilted it slightly, and the pommel caught the light.

His hand found it and he took it from her, careful not to cut the delicate skin of her palms.  He held it up before him, the impressive length of it gleaming and perfect.  The grip felt like it was made to fill his hand, the curling quillons elegant in their utility.  Then he saw his face in its mirrored blade, the fuller marking a shadowed line that split the vision in two.  His breath caught, and time seemed to stop.

Then reality returned to him and he threw the sword to the floor with a loud clatter.  Sevensin gasped dramatically, and Karth had the passing satisfaction of seeing genuine surprise on his mother’s beautiful, deadly face before he stepped over Kindavyr and walked out.

GOP Whiskey Screed

Wherein I live-tweet the Republican debate last night on CNN.  (Displayed reverse chronologically.)

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‘The Doktor’s Spyglass’ Now Updated on Wednesday and Friday

For a variety of reasons, I’m rescheduling new updates to The Doktor’s Spyglass, my ongoing serial novel, to every Wednesday and Thursday.

You can read The Doktor’s Spyglass as it’s updated, section by section, on Wattpad (all you need to do is create a login), or you can wait until each chapter is completed and read them right here on jamesdcormier.com.  Chapters 1-8 are available in their entirety right now.

Whether you read it here or on Wattpad, The Doktor’s Spyglass is free, so click through and give me some feedback!