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marthawells

Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus


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marthawells

Taking Writing Questions

Not feeling so good today. I hope this is allergy-related, and I'm not getting sick.

For example, it took me way too long to spell "allergy" up there.


I had a long post in my mind about modern noir movies, and why Mulholland Falls is sucky and why Devil in a Blue Dress is very good, but typing and thinking simultaneously is kind of an issue. Anyway, that was pretty much the gist of the post.

So instead, you could ask me questions, about writing in general, about publishing in general, about The Cloud Roads, about whatever, and I'll try to make some coherent answers, either here or in a later post.


Links:

You could read the story about how some jerk in MN called Neil Gaiman a "pencil-neck weasel" and then how Gaiman laughed and verbally kicked the guy in the face: here


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So, pursuant to a comment I made in my review of the Cloud Roads on SF Signal...do you have a map, in your mind or on paper, for the Three Worlds?

I've got one in my mind, but not on paper. I'd love to see a good mapmaker do one just from what was described in the text, because I love looking at fantasy maps, but I didn't want one in the book.

I think there must be poison in the air; I feel horrid as well, and I'm pretty sure it's allergies, even though I don't usually succumb. blergh.

So, sympathies!

Yeah, I think it's these weird fronts, that keep moving through fast but not bringing any rain.

The worlds of my imaginings have always been populated by just plain old boring humans, so I was really fascinated by the biology of the Cloud Roads universe (and I saw someone in a review posit that it was unclear whether CR was fantasy or SF, which I thought an interesting point-- that line can be blurry).
I have to admit that my questions are probably boring, and I can't sort out how to ask them coherently, but I can't get over wondering about how Raksura are born. Not from eggs, but five in a clutch, and then in a couple of places there were references to "older" members of clutches, which made it seem like they wouldn't all be born at once. (Stone makes the first reference, asking Moon if his four siblings were younger than he-- it's possible he was trying to gauge Moon's ignorance with a sort of trick question, but I thought I saw another reference to older/younger clutchmates elsewhere and of course can't find the reference so I might have just imagined it.) Or was it just a reference to birth order like with human twins, where the older sibling is usually just a matter of minutes older, and the size difference is just like animals with litters, where some are just smaller?

I don't know why I'm so preoccupied with it but for some reason, maybe because I think a baby Raksura would probably be the cutest thing in the entire every universe ever, I just keep thinking about them.

Oh man. A baby Raksura would be the cutest thing ever. And five of them would... Hang on, I think my mind just blew, BRB.

And I assumed there must be something kind of complicated and deliberate about Cordan reproduction, since Moon was obviously missing a very important point Ilane was trying to make-- evidently if she was to have a baby, they'd have to be doing something they weren't already, which Moon didn't know about. Do you have the Cordans' biology all worked out too, or did you only develop it as much as you needed to for the story to work? It was a really great touch, and illuminated a whole lot about how hard it was for Moon to navigate in the world as such an outsider, especially when Jade inadvertently pretty much repeated the same request.

Do you think of this stuff all beforehand, or does it sort of organically suggest itself as the characters flesh out? It's so fascinating.

I'm sorry, I always ask really dumb rambly questions, but I can't ever think how better to word them.

And I hope you feel better; a spring cold is its own particular kind of awfulness.

What I had in mind is that some members of a clutch are born more developed than others. Also, sometimes they use the word clutch for all children born of the same mother. When Stone asks that question, he's just basically trying to figure out who/what the others were.

The misunderstanding about the baby wasn't a biological issue, it was a cultural one. Ilane was very much concerned with her status, in the tent and in the settlement, and Moon, as an outsider, wasn't a particularly high-status partner for her. But he was the only option she had at the moment, so she had to hang on to him. (I was assuming that the Cordans would have some forms of birth control, something Moon didn't pay attention to since he knew that he was a different species.)

Sometimes I work things out first, other times it sort of comes out of the plot or what's going on with the characters. It's more fun that way. :)

I hope all that makes sense and answers your questions; I am kind of fuzzy-brained right now.

Ohhhh that makes sense-- I had wondered how old Jade was, since her clutch-mate, Balm, struck Moon as being very young. But if they were born in different actual clutches, but from the same mother, their ages could in fact be quite different. (Though Pearl refers to Jade as a 'child', so she could also be quite young despite her apparent self-possession and strength. Which, besides the gender role reversal (fantastically well done by the way) is just another interesting thing about her.)

Well, about the Cordans, that's sort of what I was implying-- not that there was a different act, or whatever, that they'd have to do, but that they'd have to be doing something slightly differently than they were, which he didn't have any idea about whatsoever. (Even if it required no additional action on his part, still it was something different; they weren't simply not having a baby because they were different species, but because of some other factor of which he was utterly unaware.)

It all makes at least as much sense as the question did in the first place. :)

Do you have any thoughts on fan service in media tie-ins?

Having recently read the new Star Trek reboot YA novels, and having read other Trek novels for years, I've been really struck by how the new stuff (at least those two books, but I think you can also see it with the post-series novels for TNG, DS9, etc, which I have largely not read but have read about) where they really focus on characterization and romance in addition to the standard "plotty" plots.

I haven't read any SG or SGA novels, but I have read all of the Highlander books and they seemed to shy away from doing characterization things, similar to original series books. (Long, rambley question is long.)

I don't know if I'd call it fan service, but I always liked the media tie-ins that did give a lot of time to characterization and resolving character issues, as well as the action plot. (That's what I tried to do in my SGA novels.) I always felt the whole point of the books was to do things there was no time to do in the shows, like spending time on character issues that were implied in the show but never discussed, showing what the characters do in their off time, and all that kind of thing. And also, doing plots that would be hard to do in the time allowed on the show, like more complicated mysteries, bringing in more of the ensemble cast, and scenes that would require prohibitively huge special effects. The books that just felt like a transcription of an unfilmed episode always bored me, compared to the ones where the writer took advantage of the format to really expand on the characters and world in the show.

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