Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

Tea and Jeopardy 23 – A Chat With Aliette de Bodard

By Emma on July 19, 2014

Tea and JeopardyThe twenty-third episode of Tea and Jeopardy is now live and you can find it here.

In this episode, the phenomenally talented author Aliette de Bodard is invited into the secret tea lair. We talk about cooking, must-have features for villainous lairs, applied mathematics and how to pick the best fish sauce.

If you love Tea and Jeopardy and want to join the Order of the Sacred Tea Cup, our Patreon page is here.

Credits for sound effects can be found here.

An index of all previous episodes can be found here.

A scattering of Split Worlds news

By Emma on July 15, 2014

It’s been a while since I wrote about the Split Worlds, but now there are three things I want to mention – oh, four actually – so I thought I’d jot them all down here.

British Fantasy Awards shortlist

Between Two Thorns has been shortlisted in two categories in the British Fantasy Awards: Best Fantasy Novel and Best Newcomer. I’m desperately excited about this. Sorry to report it late, but the shortlist was announced when I was still really quite ill.

The Locus Best of 2013 poll

I’m delighted to report that Between Two Thorns made it into the top 25 fantasy novels of 2013! It was voted in at #23 and considering the majority of the 22 books that came before it were written by very well known authors published by the giant publishing houses, I’m really quite chuffed. Thanks to everyone who voted (and apologies for not letting people know about the vote, again, another thing that passed me by in surgery and recurrent complications land). Also thanks to the ever lovely Gareth L. Powell for letting me know.

Now onto artwork!

The fabulously talented Jennie Gyllblad announced she was doing a special offer on portraits and I leapt at the chance to have one drawn of Cathy (Jennie was kind enough to agree as it’s trickier to paint a portrait without a reference photo). Here’s a snippet of the scene it’s based upon:

He took a step back, looking her up and down as the faerie scowled at her. “Do you know the story of Cinderella?”

She nodded, unable to speak, the dread clogging her throat.

“It must have been one of your favourites?”

“It couldn’t have been,” the faerie said before she could reply. “In Cinderella it was her sisters who were ugly.”
Lord Poppy swatted it away. It flew up into one of the trees and stamped its foot on a branch.

“Doesn’t every girl dream of being Cinderella?”

“I didn’t,” Cathy admitted, truth being the best policy in Exilium.

His face fell. “Really? Another surprise. You seem to be woven out of them. I want to keep you. I don’t care about contracts made in the Nether anyway, only those made in Exilium really count for anything.”

“But… but you said I was needed in Aquae Sulis!”

“Oh, yes, that’s true,” he sighed. “Well, that settles it. You will be my Cinderella–”

“I could just miss the ball,” she offered, not liking where he was going.

“No! I won’t hear of it! It’s the first ball of the season, and I want my new favourite to be there, and be the centre of attention.”


“Enough!” he said and she shut her mouth. “I have never met a mortal with so many words ready to interrupt! Why are you making such a fuss? Any young woman in the Great Families would give many years of their life to have what I’m about to give you.”

She had to accept that whatever he was going to do, it was going to be awful and inevitable.

“But before you go,” he said, lifting her chin, “let me give you some advice, to help with your third wish. Send a servant into Mundanus to purchase canvases and paints. The rest will become clear.”

“I can’t paint!”

“You should try,” he replied. “I want you to fulfil your potential. You wouldn’t want to disappoint me, would you?”

“No, my Lord,” she said, focusing on the grass and poppy flowers instead of his black eyes.

“Excellent. Now…” He stooped to pick one of the poppies at his feet and then blew gently across its petals. “Close your eyes. Good. Now breathe in deeply.”

She felt a petal tickle her chin as she breathed in the scent. In Mundanus the red poppy was scentless, but in Exilium it smelt divine. She felt dizzy, then a tingling on her skin and her shoulders felt bare. Something was tickling her legs and she felt a slight pressure around her waist. With horror she realised the robe had gone, replaced by something much lighter.

“Don’t open your eyes until I tell you,” he whispered in her ear. “Now, as much as I want to stay and play with you, I understand Lady Rose will be at Court today and I wouldn’t want to miss the look on her face when I mention your name.” He sighed like a sated lover. “I will watch your progress with interest, Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver.” She felt his hand on her back, a tingling across her face and chest as something changed in front of her. “Open your eyes!” he said and pushed her forwards.

She felt the gentle brush of the threshold between Exilium and the Nether across her face as she stumbled through. She was at one of the side entrances of the ballroom in the Aquae Sulis Assembly Rooms, usually kept closed during the minuets so that people didn’t stray onto the dance floor and interrupt the dance.

As she just had.

The music stopped and the dancers moved back, startled by the sudden appearance of a young woman staggering into their midst. A dreadful silence filled the room as she stood shivering, every eye upon her.

Cathy by Jennie Gyllblad

Cathy by Jennie Gyllblad

The faces blurred into a tableau of expressions ranging from shock to amusement. She looked down, seeing a gown made of poppy petals floating out from her waist to mimic the shape of a ball gown. The petals were clinging to her upper body like they were held by a static charge but she was decent at least, and wearing shoes so soft they felt like they’d been stitched out of petals too. Her hair felt strange.She couldn’t lift her face as she felt the attention upon her, a thousand memories resurfacing: of saying the wrong thing, tripping over skirts, sneezing at exactly the wrong time and all the agonising moments in between. She was eight again, standing next to the piano, her family, the Irises, the Censor and Master of Ceremonies all watching and waiting for her to sing and nothing but the dying croak of a sick bullfrog emerging. Over the years she’d soaked up the disappointed expressions as people saw her plain features after admiring her beautiful sister, the kindest in Society offering a maddening pity instead, none of them wondering whether there was a sharp mind beneath. And, all the while, the awful urge to laugh in the tight, nervous staccato the fear always brought with it.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

And last but not least, I was sent this astounding piece of art by another absurdly talented artist (and Split Worlds fan) Jess Legon.
Amazing Split Worlds logo by Jess Legon
How amazing is that?!

Right, I’m off to make something out of fabric and then something out of words. Stay frosty.

A year of two halves

By Emma on July 8, 2014

It’s been a horribly long time since I wrote a post that wasn’t just a new Tea and Jeopardy episode. That’s because it’s been a horribly long time since I was in good health. I had major surgery at the beginning of April, suffered a post-operative infection that sent me back into hospital for more than twice the length of the original stay and since then it’s been one setback after another. The most recent has been a kidney infection that almost necessitated a third hospitalisation in as many months. It’s been all I can do to get those episodes out and try and keep a couple of things ticking over in the background.

In short, 2014 has been utter rubbish so far.

However, I am hopeful that the worst is behind me because, hell, if I don’t try and think that I might go crazy. More crazy. Whatever.

So I’m trying to look forwards and focus on the second half of the year which is full of Win on an epic scale. I want to tell you about it and then ask you a question.

So there are four events coming up and I am so excited about them it could be seen as uncouth. Here we go:

Nine Worlds Geekfest 8-10th August, London https://nineworlds.co.uk/

Oooooh yes! I loved the first Nine Worlds last year and this year I am looking forward to relaxing a little more as I won’t be running around like a mad thing running a Split Worlds game. I will be on two panels about podcasting:

Finding Your Voice
Friday 10.00am – 11.15am, Royal A
Whether you want to find out more about podcasting in general, or you’re thinking of starting your own podcast and want to peel back the skin and see what lies beneath, then this panel will be a great place to start. Join both seasoned and new podcasters as they discuss topics such as how to decide what your podcast will be about, who will be your audience, and how do you find, grow and, most importantly, keep that audience?
Speakers: Dave Probert, Emma Newman, Michaela Gray, AL Johnson

The Power of New Media
Sunday 11.45am – 1.00pm
This interactive roundtable panel follows on from Saturday’s talk about new media. Four podcasters will discuss and explore with the audience the growing power of new media and the rise of the everyman journalist.
Speakers: Barry Nugent, Emma Newman, Stephen Aryan, Scott Grandison

Loncon 3, 14th-18th August, London (Worldcon) http://www.loncon3.org/

This is a draft schedule, so it might change.

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue
Thursday 22:00 – 23:00

The antidote to panel-games.
Two teams of fans/authors enjoy a battle of wits, and are given silly things to do by their chairman, Lee Harris.
Games include: One Song to the Tune of Another, Sound Charades and Mornington Crescent.
Lee Harris (M), Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Emma Newman

Social Media and New Authors
Friday 11:00 – 12:00

In an age when publishers increasingly expect authors to market themselves online and at a time when Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook make the interaction between creators and readers much easier and faster, what should new (and old) authors learn about the emerging rules of engagement? How can you market yourself without becoming notorious for the wrong reasons? Is it ever a good idea to respond to a review? What conversations should you never, ever get into?

Wesley Chu (M), Julie Crisp, Max Gladstone, Emma Newman, Danie Ware

Medieval Languages and Distant Vistas: Using The Past in Games
Friday 20:00 – 21:00

Although we might not notice it, history plays a huge part in modern gaming. Not only historical games such as Medieval War, but worlds created using our perspective of ‘historical times’, fantasy landscapes where the people speak with odd, archaic accents or cast spells created in ancient tongues. Why is history so important to games, and how is it used? Should we take more historical care in the way we present these people, places and tongues, and what sort of potential does the recreation of the past have for gaming worlds?

Michael J. Martinez (M), Emma Newman, Ada Palmer, Mel Phillips, Lauren M. Roy, James Swallow

Welcome Party
Friday 21:00 – 23:00

If this is your first convention, or you’re just a bit worried about coming to such a big event, come along to our introductory mixer, where our hosts will find out what you want from Loncon and what your genre favourites are, answer your questions, and introduce you to fellow newbies. Come and start your convention here, and make some new friends.

Paul Cornell (M), Adam Christopher, Emma Newman, Gareth L Powell, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Fear and Writing workshop led by Emma Newman
Saturday 11:00 – 12:00

Are you struggling to write the first draft of your novel? Are you researching endlessly but not actually writing the book? Have you had a book in your head for years but been unable to start it? Do you have a drawer full of unfinished stories and manuscripts?
If so, I might be able to help. I’m running a workshop designed to help you explore the reasons why you’re not getting that book written with practical tasks designed to help you start and finish that manuscript lurking at the back of your mind.

So You Want To Be a Podcaster
Saturday 16:30 – 18:00

Everything you need to know about podcasting in one panel! What sort of microphone do you need? Which editing software is best? How should you plan and structure your show? How do you develop an audience? What are the differences between reading and podcasting fiction and non-fiction? Come, listen, learn — and then create.
Alasdair Stuart Mr (M), Elías Combarro, Gabrielle de Cuir, Emma Newman, Mur Lafferty

Writing Roleplaying Games
Sunday 12:00 – 13:30

Panel version – how to design an engaging TRPG.

Melinda Snodgrass (M), Colin Harvey, Helena Nash, Emma Newman, Marcus Rowland, Lauren M. Roy

At both Nine Worlds and Loncon I am hoping to arrange a Tea and Jeopardy meet up – details once the schedules have been finalised.

Fantasycon, September 5th – 7th 2014, The Royal York Hotel, York http://www.fantasycon2014.org/

No schedule details yet, but we will be performing a live version of the Tea and Jeopardy show. With real tea and cake! And peril!

Bristolcon, 25th October, Doubletree Hotel, Bristol http://www.bristolcon.org/

This is a very special event as it’s my first ever stint as a Guest of Honour! I love Bristolcon; it’s a perfectly formed one day convention that is friendly, interesting and just brilliant really. I am so damn chuffed to be GoH. In terms of my schedule, all I know at the moment is that at some point I will be interviewed by the splendid Gareth L. Powell.

And now for the question

After Worldcon last year, someone (I don’t remember who, sorry) wrote about how they didn’t feel they could approach authors in the bar, as we were all clumped in groups with friends and it was too intimidating to go and say hello.

I felt so sad when I read that, and worried that I had inadvertently put someone off coming over and saying hi. As someone who finds it practically impossible to approach people I’ve never met before and introduce myself, I understood the feeling.

I have also been thinking about how I can best help people – especially fledgling writers – at conventions. I get requests for help I simply cannot give in my normal working week as I don’t have enough time or mental space when I’m writing and sweating paying the bills, but at conventions I do have that time.

So, if you’re attending any of the above events, I wanted to ask if you might like to arrange a tea break with me, in which you, or you and a friend/s can meet up with me and have a nice cup of tea and a chat about whatever you like – be it writing, podcasting, The Split Worlds, living with anxiety, whatever – without any need to summon the courage to come and say hello out of the blue. That way I can give you my undivided attention, and we can both have a restorative cuppa between panels and other shenanigans.

If you would like that, leave a comment below letting me know which convention you are going to be at and when the final schedules come out, I’ll do my level best to arrange a mutually convenient time.

How does that sound?

Tea and Jeopardy 22 – A Chat with Professor Elemental

By Emma on July 2, 2014

Tea and JeopardyThe twenty-second episode of Tea and Jeopardy is now live and you can find it here.

In this episode, I am invited to tea at Professor Elemental‘s manor. You may have come across the Professor’s splendid Fighting Trousers – if not, you should rectify that immediately. We chat about the creative process, village fetes and the ideal butler among other things. I’m just glad I survived to be able to tell you about it…

If you love Tea and Jeopardy and want to join the Order of the Sacred Tea Cup, our Patreon page is here.

Credits for sound effects can be found here.

An index of all previous episodes can be found here.

Tea and Jeopardy 21 – A Chat with Mur Lafferty

By Emma on June 12, 2014

Tea and JeopardyThe twenty-first episode of Tea and Jeopardy is now live and you can find it here.

In this episode, the deeply splendid author and podcaster Mur Lafferty is invited into the secret lair for cake and tea. We talk about her ideal superhero side-kick, coping with award nominations and ceremonies and adventures in New Orleans.

If you love Tea and Jeopardy and want to join the Order of the Sacred Tea Cup, our Patreon page is here.

Credits for sound effects can be found here.

An index of all previous episodes can be found here.