COURT OF FIVES: 18 August 2015!

My YA debut arrives on 18 August 2015. Do not be fooled by my calm and reserved demeanor: I’m wildly excited about this novel and about working with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

I know, it’s a long way away. I think so too.


There are a lot of things I love about this cover, including the way the light flares and especially the way the design incorporates elements from the book (which become clear after you have read the book).

Here’s a bonus! I found this short post by the design firm M80 DESIGN about making this cover. I love insights into design and illustration, in part because the visuals make a big impact on me and in part because it’s not a skill-set I have.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

I have myself called it “Little Women meets epic fantasy in a setting inspired by Greco-Roman Egypt.”


Pre-orders help new books: They highlight reader enthusiasm and also publishers make decisions about how many copies to print in part based on pre-order numbers (as well as many other factors), so if you are so inclined (and if you are not, that is completely fine too, of course!) here is some USA pre-order information.


Barnes & Noble

No pre-order information is up yet for Indiebound or Powells (that I could find).

You can also pre-order from your local bookstore (I’m a big believer in supporting local bookstores when possible).

Currently Court of Fives is only available in the USA market. I’ll keep you posted when/if availability in other markets comes through.


I’ll have more to say about my first short fiction collection in a post I’ll be writing for The Book Smugglers called “The Courage to Say Yes,” which will be published right around the release day.

For now, feast your eyes upon the phenomenal cover of THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, illustration by (Hugo-award-winning) Julie Dillon and design by Elizabeth Story.

I will never ever get tired of showing off this cover.





A pair of princesses convene in the Queen’s Garden to plot against their scheming father. A mischievous saber-tooth cat from the spirit world uses his shape-shifting magic to right a wrong. The warrior Kereka tries to prove herself as a man, else live in the shadow of the hero to whom she’s betrothed. War-hardened Mai, in self-imposed exile, artfully shields her family from the spies of her jealous former husband, King Anji.

This career retrospective from bestselling author Kate Elliott (Crown of Stars) showcases twenty years of her best work. Collected here are many of Elliott’s previously unavailable tales, as well as a brand new Crossroads story. With her strong heroines, diverse worlds, and riveting storytelling, Elliott continues to inspire readers and push the boundaries of fantasy and science fiction.

A quote from the Publishers Weekly (starred) review:

This collection serves beautifully both as an introduction to Elliott and as a treat for fans who want more of her marvels.

Pre-order from your local bookstore (I’m a big believer in supporting local bookstores) or:

Tachyon Publications


Barnes & Noble


Waterstones (UK)

Book Depository

The Very Best of Kate Elliott is available internationally from Tachyon Publications.

Steerswoman review in Cascadia Subduction Zone

After publishing only a single piece of short fiction in 2014, I have my first piece out already in 2015: A review of Rosemary Kirstein’s The Steerswoman series in the January 2015 issue of Cascadia Subduction Zone.

I do not write reviews. This incident, therefore, was a bit of a fortuitous happening. Nisi Shawl DMd me on Twitter on a Thursday to ask if I could possibly write a review of a “classic” work of SFF by Monday for CSZ’s “Grandmother Magma” series on classic works of SFF by women writers (they had an emergency gap).

As it happens, I had re-read Kirstein’s 4 books (so far) series while traveling last summer so the narrative was fresh in my mind and I had been thinking a lot about what makes her world and characters and plot so appealing.

The review “wrote itself,” as they say.

The January issue opens with an important essay by Shawl on the obstacles inherent in being a PoC trying to break into the sff writing world, and some solutions:

Honesty on the part of working POC speculative fiction authors will give aspiring colleagues a realistic idea of what to expect of their careers.

CSZ’s January issue also includes poems by Rose Lemberg, Mary Alexandra Agner, and Sonya Taaffe, five reviews of current books, and featured artist Tahlia Day.

2014 in Retrospective. 2015 Prospective.

For me 2014 proved to be one of those years more endured than enjoyed, with some memorable exceptions. For those interested in what I wrote over the course of the year, here is a retrospective.


I published a single piece of fiction in 2014, a story (novelette) that I wrote as a valentine for my readers: The Courtship. I call it a coda to the Spiritwalker Trilogy because it takes place a few days after the end of Cold Steel.

No novel in 2014, alas. Which always makes me feel as if I have been unproductive. So here is what I did accomplish:

As I’ve mentioned, I fell behind writing Black Wolves because of my father’s final illness and death in 2013, so although Black Wolves was originally scheduled for November 2014 it was not even finished by the end of 2013.

I completed a first draft of Black Wolves, and subsequently two revisions, for Orbit Books.

I also completed a final line edit and copy edits and page proofs on Court of Fives, my YA debut with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, coming August 2015.

In addition I completed copy edits and page proofs for my forthcoming short fiction collection, The Very Best of Kate Elliott (Tachyon Publications), forthcoming in February 2015.

I started (and have not yet finished) a piece of short fiction called The Beatriceid, in the style of the Aeneid, but told from the perspective of Beatrice (one of the heroines of the Spiritwalker Trilogy). I also have written about half a short story, “When I Grow Up,” told from the point of view of [spoiler]. I plan to finish these ASAP.


Justine Larbalestier and I launched a monthly book club for Bestselling Women’s Fiction (of the 20th century). We read a novel each month, chatted about it in email and compiled that chat into a post, and invited discussion. I thought this was pretty great, and you can read our posts and the discussion. Unfortunately the press of our schedules overcame us in the second half of the year and we had to put the project on hiatus but we hope to start it up again here in 2015.

This RocketTalk podcast hosted by Justin Landon in which N.K. Jemisin and I discuss bias in the science fiction and fantasy field went really well, and frankly I’m proud of how the discussion unfolded on a difficult and controversial topic.

In honor of NaNoWriMo I managed to write a blog post a day about writing for the first 14 days. You can find a list of these posts at the NaNoWriMo tag/category on this blog.

I wrote up a long squee post about Martha Wells’ The Fall of Ile-Rien Trilogy which generated a lot of wonderful discussion both here and on my Live Journal mirror site.

Another squee post: Over at A Dribble of Ink I highlighted the illustrations drawn by Hugo-award-winning artist Julie Dillon for my illustrated short story “The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal” Because I will never get tired of talking about what a great artist she is!

In December I again participated in Smugglivus, the annual festival of posts at the home of the marvelous Book Smugglers. This year I discussed the presence of women relating to women in narratives (with a focus on television).


If you asked me what I accomplished this year, I would say: Not enough.

Funny how harshly we can judge ourselves.


I don’t get out much because it is expensive to fly from Hawaii to anywhere. (Why is no one crying for me?)

BUT I did have an absolutely fabulous trip to England and France in August and September of 2014. I visited dear friends, went to a nurturing writer’s retreat in Brittany, and in general soaked up hanging out with writers and sff community people and cramming in a year’s worth of shop talk in one month.

I attended Loncon (Worldcon) in London, which was huge, wonderful, diverse, exciting, and exhausting (in the right way), the best Worldcon I have attended.

I was honored to be one of the Guests of Honor (with Larry Rostant, Charlaine Harris, & Toby Whithouse) at Fantasycon, ably run by Lee Harris. This small literary convention proved to be a really fabulous weekend in York, England.


I’ll be writing. The aforementioned two short pieces need to be finished (I have other Spiritwalker short fiction that is partially written too; in a perfect world I would finish them all by June and bring them out as a short collection, but I’m skeptical I can manage that with my current novel writing schedule).

My novel writing schedule? A YA novel and an epic fantasy novel. I will also try to find time to eat and sleep and exercise and, if I’m lucky, to read.

The rest of this week I will be posting about my forthcoming projects and when you can expect them and where you can pre-order. It looks to be a busy year. I say that as a good thing.

As always, my thanks to my readers. You make this all possible.