Copies of COLD STEEL arrived on my doorstep this afternoon.

I can’t read them all, plus I already know the story, and meanwhile the book is not officially released until 25 June 2013.

[The ebook will be released into the wild on 25 June but it is possible that the print book will start showing up earlier in bookstores just as the print copies of COLD FIRE did. So if you are buying the print version, keep your eyes open.]

Obviously the only thing to do is to have a giveaway.

I’m giving away four copies of COLD STEEL.

Here are the rules:

1. The giveaway will be open for one week, from today 20 May until 9 p.m. HT (Hawaii Time) on Monday 27 May.

2. Anyone can enter internationally.

3. To enter, ask me a question about the Spiritwalker Trilogy *or* about writing *or* about the science fiction/fantasy field and media *or* about something else. Everyone who asks a question is entered. There are no stupid questions.

4. Three of the copies will be picked randomly from all entries (here, on livejournal, and on tumblr). One copy will be picked at my discretion based on the questions themselves–but only one. There may be a few of you who worry about whether your question is good enough or clever enough or interesting enough: It is. And anyway, as per the above, lest you are still secretly fretting as I would be, three of the winners will be picked without regard to the question asked.

I will mail out the winners’ copies as soon as I get addresses (on May 28 if possible).

5. After you have read the book you can review it IF YOU WISH, or not review it, as you wish. This giveaway is in the nature of thanking my readers.

Just to clarify, any review should be the honest opinion of the reviewer. While I naturally hope all of you love the novel, I am aware that not everyone will, and reviews should be honest. However, IF you decide to review it, I ask (as per Orbit’s request) that you not review it until late June when the books are available.

Do not underestimate the importance of the social media conversation about books. The conversation is a fabulous thing, and it matters.


A brief reminder: Check out my book event dates (San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Seattle, Portland), and come if you can!


One last thing: YOU GUYS. Thank you for being the best readers.


97 thoughts on “COLD STEEL Giveaway

  1. Was it intentional to have an echo of Mary and Martha in Bea and Cat?

    (Fingers crossed to my my name pulled.)

  2. I’d ask you a question or six even without the prospect of winning a book. But I think you know that…

    There are places on the map of the Spiritwalker novels that we don’t reach in the course of the books but influence events all the same (Rome, West Africa and so on). If you had to set a story or book in one of these offstage locations, which one would it be?

  3. Will there be any troll illustrations in The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal? In addition to reading the rest of the story in Cold Steel, I’m dying to see what a troll really looks like.

  4. My question is: where did your initial idea to make the primary focus of the novel about the relationship between Cat and Bea come from? Most people are either ‘plot driven’ or ‘character driven’, but I find that you have a really excellent mix of both, which means that at points the plot is independent of relationships (in particular, Vei and Cat), but still finds ways to bring together the importance of most of all the characters introduced.

  5. How much give and take is there between you and those who edit your book — is the editing done while writing or after first copy is done?

  6. When you attend signings or conventions, are there questions you hope your readers will ask so you can talk about details that don’t make it into the books explicitly?

    That, of course, in the hopes that I can actually attend such an event one day!

  7. Where do you get your ideas?


    Is there a particular type of writing you find easier (e.g. dialogue) or any particular types of scenes you find most difficult (e.g. fight scenes)?

  8. Okay. So I have read the blog comments about Jaran. And I know that there are questions of profitability and burnout. But. I am seriously waiting. From my first introduction to this series I knew there was an amazing story arc already in mind. How much longer do must I wait?Patience is not my virtue. But, this has been close to a couple of decades. Pleeeeeeeeease!

  9. Having lived essentially all over the world, do you feel like you bring a lot of cultural aspects or traditions from the various places?

    Why did you decide to become an author? If you weren’t an author what would you be?

    I know more than one question and a couple I have asked before but I am sure others would like to know like I did.

  10. There are so many ways of life in the books, and all of them are interesting, but I’m especially fascinated by the trolls. How much backstory about their history do you know? And how much will readers find out about in Cold Steel?

  11. Where did you get the idea for Bee’s walking the dreams of dragons? In particular why does she draw? Do you sketch?

  12. Where did you get the name Ivernian confederation to describe Ireland and is tea as popular there as it is here in IRL Ireland ?

  13. I was just wondering if there was any changes you would make to your earlier works based on what you have learned from writing subsequent novels?

  14. Can you please give us the recipe for Aunty’s rice and peas? Every time I read Cold Fire I attempt my own version, but Aunty Djeneba’s own version would be the perfect thing to eat before reading Cold Steel!

  15. Does it ever get confusing having so many different stories (story lines) & people running around in your head?

  16. Hi Kate:,here’s my question:

    What is your favorite view in Hawaii?

  17. If you couldn’t live in Hawaii, where else in the world (real or imagined) would you like to live?

  18. My question for you is: what preconceived gender biased ideas do you find yourself having when writing, and more specifically which preconceived notions about gender did you have to break out off when writing the Spiritwalker series?

  19. you have two primal elements – ice and fire – vying for dominance in your world. i could never say one is a representation of good or evil as both have aspects of both. is there a possibility of them mixing and creating a balance in your world? Can the two elements join and become one? Hmmm a cold mage and a fire mage becoming parents…. what would they create?

  20. Are there any other elemental magics loose in the Spiritwalker world? Cat new about Cold because of where she grew up, but didn’t find out about Fire until she ended up across the ocean, so are there unseen populations using unknown magics? Will we ever meet them?

  21. Hi!
    What is the type of story (genre, style, etc.) that you wish you could write but haven’t yet, or find difficult?

  22. I love how you blend historical accuracy with old oral traditions or mythologies and then add a twist to them.
    How did you come to think of the combination of celtic/european/steampunk that the Spiritwalker world consists of?
    Thanks for being an awesome author!

  23. How did you end up deciding to do one of your appearances at Borderlands? Regardless, I’m happy this is the case, it’s one of my favorite independent bookstores! Looking forward to your event.

  24. Someone else asked about Jaran and I am wishing just as much as they are for more books in that series. Do you already know what you wanted to happen with that series or is it still up in the air since it was never finished?

  25. Has living in Hawaii influenced any of your writing and /or have you thought about setting a fantasy or sci fi story in a setting based on Hawaii or a similar setting? Does that have anything to do with setting the cold magic books in the Caribbean?

  26. If you could visit 1 time period throughout Earth’s history or future, when would you go?

  27. If there was a movie made out of the Spiritwalker Trilogy, who would you cast as Cat and Bea?

  28. Kate,
    The flow of conversation in your books is amazing, how do you keep the coversation relevant without having it distract the intent of the story line?

  29. Did you ever feel like a story you were writing (or parts of it) had already been written before by someone else, but without knowing if it was true or just a feeling (or which book it could come from )? If yes, how did you react?

    Anyway, thank you for making this giveaway international !

  30. When I am immersed in a book it becomes like a movie in my head. I can see the people and places. If the series became a movie who would you want to play the main characters?

  31. How much more backstory do you know about your characters than makes it into your books? Do you write bios of major characters?

  32. New question as someone else asked similar 🙂 .

    how real to you do the characters become, when you complete a book is it like loosing a member of the family?

    And the one everyone asks, if you were having a dinner party, who would you want as guests, real or imagined?

  33. *fingers crossed*

    Having read only the first novel, my question pertains to that. Cold Magic contains a wealth of magical races, each different from the other. What was the inspiration/reasoning behind including so much magical diversity in the novel?

  34. I love both books of the trilogy, so far, and am anxiously awaiting the third. I’ve recommended it to several friends, already. With so much complexity in the book — language, geography, history, politics, myth, romance, adventure, and relationships between people, place, & idea , I am curious how you kept track of the world building elements and what your physical process looked like. Did you use software on a computer, scribble out maps and drawings and ideas? Both? Did you work in an office at home or in a library? And, how do you organize the events and ideas into outlines? How long did it take you to write the books? Did you discover the plot and parts of the world as you wrote or have it all planned out first? Every story is different, of course, but these books were so thorough and well-balanced that I couldn’t help being curious about your process.

  35. Do your characters ever surprise you in the way they develop?
    Will you be coming to visit/tour/talk in Australia anytime soon!? 🙂

  36. What was the very first thread of the story that came to you? Do you remember where you were?

    So excited to read this. I have missed Cat, Bee, Vai, and Rory (for starters), and their world.

    I love the cover!

  37. Will Cold Steel be the last book set in this world, or are you considering more? It seems that there is still a lot of territory un-explored.

  38. Thank you so much for existing and bringing this wonderful story to life, I hadn’t found a book this enticing for a long time and had almost lost my passion for reading (which, as an English student, isn’t the best thing in the world :P).

    With a story as complicated as this, starting from scratch in a completely new world would have given you a clean slate and therefore in many ways made it easier to test out different plot lines, as you would not have to think about the knock on effects of all the changes you’ve made to 19th century Earth.

    My question is this: Why use our world as a starting point? Considering how intricate the back-stories of the characters are, even without the history of the land, it may have been easier to create your own world. Do you feel like the readers connect better with it because it’s so similar? I find it easier to get used to it because of the similarities myself, but the slight changes make it interesting (much like in Phillip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ Trilogy). Knowing that other writers had succeeded in creating similar spin-off worlds to our own, did you feel more confident in approaching the story?

    I’m sorry, I ranted, bad habit of doing that!

  39. Did any of your characters (from the Spiritwalker Trilogy or elsewhere) ever get away from you, so to speak, and do, say, or feel something you weren’t expecting?

  40. Do think there will ever be a time when the majority of science fiction will include multiple characters of real-life ethnicities/races aside from white/Anglo-saxon ones? If not, what do you think needs to happen before it could become a reality/ do you think that there is anything that we as readers could/should do in order to bring more diversity into science fiction now?

  41. Do you gravitate to incorporating more fantasy or science fiction elements in your writing?

  42. What is your decision making process when it comes to which ideas you will turn into books? How do you decide which ideas are gold and worth your time to write out?

  43. I am going to buy the ebook version regardless, just because I find I get more reading done now that I have Kindle on my phone. However, I would find a very special place in my library for a hard copy if I’m fortunate enough to win, especially if you would be kind enough to sign it.

    I see there are others posting here that haven’t read Cold Fire yet, so I’ll try to do this without spoilers.

    I found the evolution of the relationship between Cat and Vai through Magic and Fire to be very captivating. It was of course obvious from the beginning that the books would revolve around this and other relationships, but not the direction the evolution would take. Where they are at the end of Fire was, for me at least, enough of a surprise to be engaging, but not so much of a surprise to be inconsistent or jarring. When plotting out the course of a relationship between characters, to keep significant changes fluid an believable, do you have to sketch it out ahead of time to keep it in sync with the plot, or do you find that the relationship grows ‘organically’ as the characters react to the plot and each other?

    Thank you for many hours of wonderful reading.

  44. So who inspired you to start writing fantasy and why? If it was an author can you share the name of the book and author?

    Fingers crossed I win even tho it appears to be more than one question its actually one! 😉

  45. In the vein of my favorite series on Lifehacker, how do you work? Do you have a dedicated “writing place” or does it happen all the time/anywhere? What does it look like when you are in the midst of a novel? I am continuously interested in peaking at other people’s creative processes.

  46. How much does your feminism consciously affect your writing, and what questions do you ask yourself in the course of constructing a book? I’m thinking particularly about how you find the balance between writing a good story that doesn’t A. fall into any unconscious sexist traps/tropes or B. tip into being preachy.

    Actually, I’m interested in any questions you’ve learned to ask yourself to improve your writing and your grasp of character, and how and when you ask them so they don’t interfere with the creative process and turn on the “editor” too early.

  47. I have another question,

    you’re relaxing with a book, is it hardback, paperback or kindle, and who/what are you reading?

  48. The relationship between Tess and Ilya is based on Elizabeth and Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, I believe, and Cat and Andevai’s on Katherina and Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew. My question is: are there any other relationships (platonic or romantic) in your work that were inspired by others? Are there any that you would like to experiment with in future works? (Any chance of an Anne Elliot/Captain Wentworth romance?)

  49. When you write, do you outline and figure out the big details (particularly the end) or do you just go along with what you have and wait for it to hit you at the right moment?

  50. I have a question concerning character creation. I am working on a fantasy novel that will feature non-white characters and female leads. I myself am male and white. So, while I try to write from a ‘human’ perspective, which I hope helps me create believable people, I am always concerned about how these characters will read. In recent times how different media treats women can be the cause of success or failure, as it should be. What advice can you give for creating believable female roles and avoiding cliches, especially when dealing with issues of sex, love, social standings, and violence? Thank you for your time.

  51. I have read many of your books and have the spirit walker books on my bedside bookshelf. But what authors of fantasy and science fiction made you want to write in those genres and which authors do you think most affected your writing style. I’ve read all your books that I can find and as of now am reading a series that I found while checking to see if there were any books in the library that I hadn’t read yet… I would probably write this anyhow whether there was a book at stakes or not, but can your next series be theoretically about a high functioning society, like from the jaran books in a medieval setting in a messed up map of Europe or something like that. THX for reading and I can’t wait to read the book when I get it whether sooner or later


  52. When you write magic for your fantasy stories, like the Spiritwalker Trilogy, do you come up with a set of rules for the behavior of magic before hand, or do you write the story, then make the rules of magic comply to what the story needs in order to progress forward or neither?

  53. If many elements of fantasy settings, notably magic, derive from our interest in having or interacting with things not present in our world, it makes sense for a fantasy epic (Crossroads) written on Rhui to explore magic in the same way. What, then, do you imagine might be a focal element of a fantasy story told in Cat’s world, where cold mages, fire mages and the Wild Hunt (not to mention dinosaurs (sort of)–there goes another our-Earth sff trope) are still very much present in the world? (“Their absence” is an easy answer, and politicocultural shifts would no doubt be as prominent there as here (e.g., Huxley), but I’m wondering what imaginative authors in Cat’s world might envision.)

    That posed, I think my copy of Traitors’ Gate disqualifies me for the giveaway 😛

    Did you really want this many questions?

  54. Do you draw inspiration for your writing from other forms of media (art, movies, music, etc.)? All, or one in particular? Does that particular one change from book to book?

  55. When you are writing your stories, do you ever find your characters acting ‘independently’ of your story outline or driving the plot in an entirely different direction from what you intended? And if that happens do you let them keep going, or do you try to pull them back into line?

  56. Just realized this right now, while seeing the Cover the second time… You said a little earlier in your blog, maybe even when answering a question of mine, that with the Spiritwalker-Books, you wanted to create a world, where its not obvious, which skin color the characters have. Cat is, if I didn’t make a confusion as with Andevai, as well of African inheritance.
    Why then is the girl on the cover of the three books is clearly Caucasian? None of the female main characters are and it seems strange to me to choose a picture that has so little to do with the book (again, if I was not biased on some point). The girl in the Artwork by Julie Dillon you posted is at least of mixed heritage if not purely color. No expert there, but it is very nice.

  57. I’m looking forward to the next Crossroads installment. Will we meet up with Mai’s children or will there be a completely new cast (aside from the guardians)?

  58. Do you have an ebook reader or are you strictly a paper person? (I ask because if I won this book, it would be my first paper book in a long time… but I still want it because I basically need it to live at this point. It strikes me as funny though that I had no idea the size of the books in this series, due to not buying paperbacks anymore. That looks quite fat!)

  59. Which are the aspects of the Spiritwalker trilogy that you are personally the most satisfied with? Are there parts of the world/secondary characters you would have liked to spend more time with? Will there be more stories set in the same world? And will there be more “cut scenes” appearing here or elsewhere? Did you expect so many questions? 🙂

  60. By accident I started to read the Spiritwalker novels. I’m intrigued what ‘cold steel’ will add to the characters. Like any reader I can’t wait to still my hunger, for more news… and counting the days when I’ll find it in the shops here at the other side of Atlantic ocean. When you started this trilogy, did you already know how you would let it end, or did you have different endings in mind?

  61. Some other questions rattling around in my brain…

    When you start a book do you begin with plot/premise, characters, or world?

    Do you write a book to tackle a certain societal issue/commentary?

    Books have always been my escape, ever since I was in elementary school. Did your love of writing come stem from a similar love for reading? Was SF/Fantasy your first love as well?

    There are always pioneers in certain genres, authors who inspire others to emulate them. Can you name some authors who made you want to write?

  62. Do you force yourself to write even when you’re not feeling it? If yes, does what you write during those times stand up when you look at it later on? Is it usable?

    Sorry that that turned into a battery of questions….

  63. I know that you’ve touched upon this with your Napoleonic references, but if you could bring any historical or fictional character to your writing, who would it be?

  64. Part of what I have most enjoyed about your novels is the (for lack of a better word) “political” subtext around gender and race. I wondered whether, in developing the characters and the worlds, you set out to make a point.

    For example, in creating the Nightrunner series, Lynn Flewelling intentionally explored the idea of gay hero. As she explained, “I think I created Seregil just to see if he’d work — a gay hero, and a gay character who wasn’t tragic, evil, victimized, or a bit player thrown in for color” (

    Cat, to me, was a woman growing into herself and struggling with her desires and thoughts while at the same time staying true to core values that are in sharp contrast with ideas of femininity that have become popular with books like the Twilight series or A Discovery of Witches and in main stream media. She is fiercely independent, she has her first sexual encounter with someone other than the main love interest (diffusing the issue of “giving her virginity to her one true love”), she chooses to be with a man as opposed to seeing it as inevitable, she enjoys food and sex without shame.

    Did you intend that the characters in your novels balance or comment upon ideas of femininity in the fantasy genre or popular culture?

  65. Have you ever changed the name of a significant character partway through writing a novel?

  66. Love this series! Just wondering how do you decide how much “sexual content” to include in this series? It seems like a fine line to try and walk particularly with this story line. Did you decide to remove chapter 31.5? Or was it an editor’s recommondation?

  67. As children, what was the biggest mischief Cat and Bee got up to together?

  68. You’ve said before that your fiction draws heavily on anthropology, history, and archaeology. Most social scientists would presumably agree that race is socially constructed, and that racial identity has little meaning beyond the social one we impart to it. Many would say the same about gender and sexual identity.

    Is it fundamentally a different sort of undertaking, then, for a writer to represent race (and in particular persons of color) in a society that she or he has made up (as is the norm in epic/heroic fantasy), as opposed to, say, in 21st century New York? Are the stakes in the former context lowered by the fact that the racial experience being depicted is a fabricated* one? Or are the pitfalls merely different? What about a writer depicting a queer character’s experience, or the experience of a person of another gender?

    (*even if partially informed by real or ersatz medieval history or ethnography)

  69. “What about a writer depicting a queer character’s experience, or the experience of a person of another gender?”

    Oops, I should probably just have written “depicting a character’s experience of sexuality or gender in an alien society” – I wasn’t trying to get at the issue of depicting a race, gender, or sexuality that isn’t the writer’s own, but that of depicting any of the above (one’s own or otherwise) in a made-up society whose attitudes to race, gender, and sexuality are the author’s invention.

  70. Hi! It is kinda exciting to write something you will see!

    Why would the Master of the Wild Hunt force Tara Bell to carry his child?if this has been explained, I can not recall it. He seemed dead set on it, going through all of that trouble to make her pregnant, and then he saved Cat from the flood. Did he know she would play an essential part in the second war with Camjiata? What does he want her for, except to find victims? Because he doesn’t seem to care about much else. And it is odd to me that Tara had to be the mother. If his only use for her was for the Wild Hunt, why did the parentage matter so much?

    Oh, and another participator made me wonder as well. Was the fiministic touch purposeful (which admittedly is very strong), were you trying to make a good exemple of equality between the sexes, or did it only happen to be that way?

    Thank you for writing such fantastic books!
    With love from a young fan in Sweden.

  71. Oh yeah! I love how your description of your charcters’ ethnical backgrounds only come off as a comment on looks, totally lacking in social meaning! It is a great relief from rasist undertones to be found in some other books

  72. I love the depth and detail of the worlds you write. What was it that first inspired you to build them? Was it a book or series you read as a child, a movie, a piece of music, a series of dreams… why did you first begin to craft your stories and worlds? Did you even mean to do it for a living, or did it start as a need to get the ideas from the inside of your mind to the outside, and then grow (luckily for us!) into a calling?

  73. Given the nature of your characters, settings, and your relationship with them do you ever feel that you were born in the wrong era/universe/world?

  74. Throwing in my two cents, I think Cat’s meant to be of Semitic or Mediterranean origin, not black. (Andevai is black, I think.) To my eyes that girl is definitely not Caucasian, although I can see how she’d look whitewashed if you were thinking of Cat as African.

  75. When you write scenes where characters are meant to aggravate and annoy one another, do you actually ever find yourself irritated by your own characters, and if not, how do you decide that what they are doing is truly something that would aggravate?

  76. How do you ensure a filter between the reality of experiences and observations in your world to stop them being projected into a make-believe storyline of your work?

  77. I’m just rereading The Crown of Stars because Cold Steel isn’t out yet, and this time around I’m so impressed with your characterization of all these dozens of secondary or even tertiary characters. Alain’s niece, Tallia, Ivar, to name a few, are so well drawn in all their personality conflicts and (presumed) personal history. Did you study psychology in college?

  78. Again, no expert on skin colors or origins here:-) Fact remains, that the girl on the artwork and on the cover are somehow very different. And comparing them, thats where the idea came.
    I know, I’m sometimes very biased, when reading a book.

  79. Through your postings I have become aware of the controversy surrounding the inclusion of consensual sex scenes in fantasy. How would you describe the difference between sex scenes that play an important role in plot or character development and sex scenes that are gratuitous or obligatory?

  80. Being as that everyone else (smart cookies that they are) has asked my questions…how about them Tigers (the Clemson Tigers of course- if you have no clue you have my permission to smile and say, “Bless your heart” while shaking your head at me).

  81. I know that you write adult fantasy novels as well. My question is this, when starting out to write a series, what helps you to decide whether or not it’s going to be more of a YA series versus an adult? Did you ever feel restricted on the story due to the audience age that the books are generally geared towards?

    Thank you for this opportunity, and thank you for sharing your stories with the world. I’ve really enjoyed the Spiritwalker series so far, and I also enjoyed your Crown of Stars series as well. Once I finish reading my current series, I’m going to move on to your Crossroads books. 🙂

  82. Where do you get your ideas?


    You often talk about daily word goals, but how many hours a day on average do you think that you spend actively working on your writing? (I mean, not counting the conscious & subconscious thought processes that might be going on while you’re rowing or cooking or at the movies and so on.)

  83. How do you think having a recognizably female name has affected the way people interact with your books? I’m curious about reviewers, fans, browsers in bookstores, everyone. Did you ever consider using a pseudonym or initials?

  84. It’s already Tuesday here in Vienna but Hawaii is far away.
    Do you start scripting/writing your books from beginning to end, or do you start with the more important scenes and fill in the gaps later?

  85. Ohhhhh…. And also can you do another series that’s set after the events in the Jaran…. Or maybe set after Prince of Dogs books…
    Or even maybe a prequel to one of those series…. As I said I love the books.


  86. I am a week late, but in my world time runs a lot slower than in yours.How come? I was reading your Cold Fire and it held me captive….so maybe you have calculated and there might just be one other copy of Cold Steel to send out now….so that is my question:will you please take me captive again soon? I have so enjoyed this world…Inge

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