Discussion Spoiler Thread: Cold Steel & Spiritwalker Trilogy

Books are in people’s hands already so time to open up a thread for discussion of Cold Steel and the trilogy as a whole.

If you want to make a comment, ask a question, discuss where I can hear and join in or where you know you’ll be able to talk to other people who have read the books: This is the place.

If you prefer to talk where I can’t listen in, this is not the place (and there are plenty of great places to do that, too!)(I also totally get the desire/need to talk about a book where the author can’t hear).

There will be spoilers for the entire trilogy.


A quick reminder of appearances, listed in full in this post:

University Bookstore Seattle WA 7 pm Monday July 8

Powells-Cedar Hills Crossing Portland OR 7 pm Tuesday July 9.


I won’t be online much for the next few weeks but I will check this blog every day–and you may find me on Twitter (KateElliottSFF) and occasionally FB (Kate Elliott).

My Launch Day Book Siblings! (Spiritwalker Monday 0)

Here are some of the other books launching on Tuesday June 25:

Tessa Gratton THE LOST SUN: The United States of Asgard.

“Gratton sets up an alternate universe where Norse gods are juxtaposed with typical American life in this first novel in a new series. While Astrid dreams of apples and Soren battles the berserker rage inside, they forge new alliances and a bond of friendship that puts them squarely in the path of a cat-and-mouse game played by gods.” —Booklist


Kelly McCullough Blade Reforged (A Fallen Blades Novel)

“Filled with multifaceted characters, layered plots, and the type of quixotic scenarios that only the imagination of Kelly McCullough could possibly create. The author, once again, crosses genres…Stories by Kelly McCullough are one of a kind—just like him. I found Aral’s world to be compelling and highly addictive. Brilliant!”—Huntress Book Reviews


Judith Tarr The Lady of Han-Gilen (Volume II of Avaryan Rising)

Here’s the announcement for Volume I, which came out last month.

The king’s heir of Ianon is long lost, vanished into the south. Her father refuses to name his son heir in her place, though that son is a mighty warrior. Then one day a young wanderer arrives with news that both breaks and heals the king’s heart: his heir is dead, but before she died, she gave birth to a son. That child, now grown, has come to take her place. But the king’s son will not surrender his hope of kingship to a boy without a father, though he claims to be the son of a god.


Sarah Zettel Golden Girl (The American Fairy Trilogy Book 2)

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2013:“In this sparkling sequel to Dust Girl (2012), showcasing Callie’s cleverness versus the mystical glitterati, neither Callie’s persistence nor the trilogy’s pace flags.”


Kevin Hearne Hunted (The Iron Druid Chronicles #6)

“It may be possible that Hearne and Atticus are the logical heir to Butcher and Dresden.”―SFFWorld


Pamela Munoz Ryan School Rules (Tony Baloney)

*”Ryan’s exuberant story takes a fresh look at sibling dynamics . . . . Fotheringham’s hyperbolic digital illustrations counterbalance the slyly understated narrative, portraying Tony’s (and Dandelion’s) antics with humor.”-PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review


Madeline Ashby iD (The Second Machine Dynasty)

Javier is a self-replicating humanoid on a journey of redemption.


SF Civility

My thoughts in a stream of tweets. Storifyied by the glorious Charles Tan


Tonight I am too lazy to pull that all together into a single post. Also, I like the tweet stream. Fits the way it came together.

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Thank you to my readers (Spiritwalker Monday 1)

The official publication date of COLD STEEL is June 25 for both e-book and print editions in English, worldwide (as far as I know; there may be some regions where it comes out later and if so, please let me know).

I’m always anxious when a new book comes out. That anxiety is amplified when the book in question is the final book of a trilogy because naturally, being the writer, I want people to like it and to feel satisfied with the ending. As always, some will love it, some like it, some will be disappointed, and a few will be puzzled, but mostly most readers will have no idea the book is out because they haven’t heard of it. That’s the nature of the business (especially when you aren’t a bestseller, as I’m not).

So I want to take a moment this week to say:

THANK YOU to my readers

Some of you love all my books. Some like one series more than the others. Some have only read one series or even just one book. One or two have thrown a book I wrote across the room in disgust. Some are trying out my novels for the first time. Some of you write to me or show up at my book events. Some I will never know are out there reading. Some are my friends; most are strangers. And you guys live all over the world.

It’s not that my writing doesn’t exist without readers. It does, and writing exists and lives and breathes even if what is written is only ever seen by the person who wrote it.

To me what happens between a written work and a reader is a creative act all on its own, an interaction that usually takes place in privacy and in silence while being no less vivid and powerful for that. In these days of social media the discussion can range farther afield and reach more people than ever, which is both really cool and kind of daunting and scary. But it always comes back to what I put on the page and what you, the reader, take away from the page.

Thank you for meeting me halfway.

Also, you all are the best.

Kate Elliott Readings/Signings in late June/early July

To support the release of the third and final volume of the Spiritwalker Trilogy I will be at the following bookstores/events:

Borderlands Books, San Francisco, CA: Thursday June 27 at 7 pm
866 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

with Katharine Kerr who will also have a new book out. Exciting!


Mysterious Galaxy San Diego, Saturday June 29 at 2 pm

7051 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Suite 302
San Diego, CA 92111

with Nebula-Award-winning author Andy Duncan and Clarion students (should be fun AND educational).


New York CIty: NYRSF reading Tuesday July 2 at 7 p.m. (doors open 6:30 p.m.)
The Soho Gallery for Digital Art
138 Sullivan Street
New York, NY 10012

with E. C. Ambrose who has a debut novel!


University Bookstore, Seattle, WA: Monday July 8 at 7 pm

4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105



Powells Beaverton, Portland OR: Tuesday July 9 at 7 pm

3415 SW Cedar Hills Boulevard
Beaverton, OR 97005

With Lilith Saintcrow! Trust me, you won’t want to miss this.


All events will include reading from Cold Steel, from my forthcoming YA fantasy, and maybe even from the epic fantasy trilogy I’m currently working on, or possibly I will read a short story.

PLUS Q&A (you have to bring the Qs).

If I do not yet have print copies of The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal available (art by the awesome Julie Dillon!!!!) I will have fliers with order information and a place to sign up with your email/address to get notification when the print and e-book versions are ready for purchase.

Please know that I would love to see you. Yes, you! Especially YOU!

(And your friends, family, or indeed any passers-by you can snag off the street.)

A note on bookstore events: I’m signing at four well-regarded and valued independent bookstores. You may bring personal books from home for me to sign. It is not required to buy (for example) Cold Steel or any book from the bookstore but it is always a strong show of support for independent bookstores if you can and do buy a copy of my newest book or, indeed, any book while you’re there (whether or not it is one of mine).

If you’re not able to make the event, I do always sign stock at each bookstore so you can order a signed copy afterward. If you contact any of the bookstores IN ADVANCE you can reserve a book and get it signed to you at the event (by me! not some random book signing gnome).

How Much Sex Is Too Much Sex In Your SFF?

Many of you read the Extras chapter for COLD FIRE, which was not in the book because it is not written from Cat’s first person point of view but rather Andevai’s third person point of view. Some wished the chapter had been included in the book; some were happy that it was available but not in the book; some did not read it at all because they do not like to read the explicit sexytimes.

I mention this because I’m about 83,000 words into a a new epic fantasy novel (projected to become another trilogy). I am writing this one in third person multiple points of view.

Writing in first person for me means I have to adhere to the sensibilities of my narrator. If s/he would talk explicitly about sex, then I can; if s/he would not, then I can’t even if it is germane to the plot.

Writing in multiple third allows more leeway along several axes.

Even if I’m writing in tight third (where the text only sees, mentions, and notices that which the pov sees, mentions, and notices), the narrative still sits one step outside the pov, and that space gives me room to make decisions about what to describe that I don’t have in first person where the narrator would either mention something or would not.

Furthermore, writing with multiple povs means different characters will necessarily be written with different sensibilities. In fact one of the great things about multiple third is its ability to supply diverse views of related events and characters.

In The Spiritwalker Trilogy I was constrained in writing about sex by what the narrator, Cat, would say. [By the way, there is a reason the Spiritwalker books are narrated in first person; it’s not an arbitrary choice or a “flavor”. But you have to read the whole thing to understand what I mean by saying that.]

In the new book I’m not limited (in that particular sense) by first person. I’m writing in several different points of view, and a number of the characters have sex, like people do sometimes (or even often). I have leeway. I can be vague and allusive, or I can be absolutely as explicit as I want to be.

Hence my question:

How much sex do you like in your sff?

I need to specify an important clarification: I am speaking of consensual sex. This question is not intended to devolve into a discussion of representations of rape in epic fantasy because I have previously talked about that here and here and because I’m more interested in how consensual sex is depicted.

And it is a curious thing, is it not, that many readers seem more comfortable reading about non consensual sex than consensual sex as if non consensual sex is properly dramatic and consensual sex is not?

But again there was a great discussion of that specific issue in this post earlier this year.

So, how much sex DO you like in your SFF?

Should epic fantasy should be pristinely free of sexual feelings or reference? Are vague foreplay and kissing all right as long as the curtain is drawn early and often? Is explicit sexual description acceptable as long as it is only described when it absolutely matters to the plot? Or are sexytimes always welcome, regardless? Or something else entirely which you will note in the comments?

Tell me what you think, people. After all, presumably you may end up reading these scenes and lamenting that they have too much or too little sex in them. Speak!

But wait! There’s more! Epic fantasy on the way

Hard on the heels of announcing my new YA deal, I want to announce that:

I am also working on a new epic fantasy trilogy for Orbit Books.

Details and publication dates to come.

All I can say right now is that of last night I had 83,000 words written on book one. I’m hoping that’s about halfway but we’ll see. Don’t laugh. 150,000 words is a crisp, efficient length for an epic fantasy. RIGHT?

More later this week as I want to ask everyone a question about sex.


Announcing a YA fantasy sale! (Spiritwalker Monday 2.5)

I’ve mentioned in passing here and there online that I have been working on a YA fantasy but now that I have received an editorial letter that runs 11 single-spaced pages I think I can safely announce:

via my agent Russell Galen of the Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency I have sold an all new all original (new world) YA fantasy to Andrea Spooner at Little Brown Young Reader, the children’s/YA division of Hachette Book Group.

The book’s working title is MASK (subject to change).

The industry announcement of the sale describes it thusly:

A girl’s skill at a forbidden sport shakes the foundations of a rigid aristocracy.

That’s a decent assessment of the plot although it barely scrapes the surface of what the book is actually about.

My pitch line goes like this:

Little Women meets the Count of Monte Cristo in a fantasy setting inspired by Greco-Roman Egypt.

So that’s the GREAT news. I’m super excited to be working with LBYR and with editor Andrea Spooner and her assistant Deirdre Jones and the whole fabulous crew there.

The bad news? Well, I can’t say there is really any bad news in this wonderful project. However, the lead time for YA publishing is a lot longer than it is for adult fiction. The first draft is done (and in fact my agent and I agreed that to try to enter the YA field I needed to submit a manuscript rather than a proposal so I wrote the book on spec and sold it based on a complete manuscript). But given the time frame, what with space built in for revisions and LBYR’s timeline in which they want to be able to produce clean ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) 6 – 9 months before publication, MASK (or whatever title it picks up) will be published in the Spring/Summer 2015 season.

So, yeah, that’s a long time. But I’m still super excited that this is going to be a really great project.

Tomorrow I’ll have more news to announce. It’s gotten busy around here.

Writing a woman who eats what she wants without being shamed (Spiritwalker Monday 2)

The fourth giveaway winner is bee-ww-oh-bee. She asked:

Why did you choose to elaborate on Cat’s love of food? I thought it was interesting that we have a heroine who actually appreciates food. Was this in response to societies view on female bodies or did you just write it as part of her character?


Have a story: Continue reading

A Reconciliation Within SFF (A Speech by N.K. Jemisin)

I RTd this on Twitter but I want to post a link here as well because I think this speech by N K Jemisin (which many of you will already have read) is an important statement for our field.

It is time that we all recognized the real history of this genre, and acknowledged the breadth and diversity of its contributors. It’s time we acknowledged the debt we owe to those who got us here — all of them. It’s time we made note of what ground we’ve trodden upon, and the wrongs we’ve done to those who trod it first. And it’s time we took steps — some symbolic, some substantive — to try and correct those errors. I do not mean a simple removal of the barriers that currently exist within the genre and its fandom, though doing that’s certainly the first step. I mean we must now make an active, conscious effort to establish a literature of the imagination which truly belongs to everyone.


Read the whole thing!

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