Your next novel, Cloudbound, is the follow-up to Updraft and due out in September 2016. What can fans of the first novel expect from the new book?
Where Updraft was in some ways about voice — and who speaks, who is heard, and who is not, Cloudbound shifts to a new focus, and a new narrator: Nat.
After the events in Updraft, Nat’s learning how to be a leader, and the benefits and costs of doing so. Politics in the city of living bone are more complex than ever, as are relationships — Nat’s and Kirit’s friendship is tested beyond the breaking point, as is Nat’s understanding of how the city works.
Where Updraft was a story above the clouds, Cloudbound — well, the title tells you a lot about where we’re headed. And yup, more monsters. Big ones.
And, just in case people didn’t catch the first novel, how would you pitch the series to a new reader?
Updraft: A city of living bone rises high above the clouds. The past is lost to legend. The skies are filled with invisible predators. Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, secrets and betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness.
Are there more novels in the series planned to follow Cloudbound?
I’m working on the third novel right now!
You’ve also written a novella for Tor.com, The Jewel and Her Lapidary – what’s this all about? Is it part of a new series, too?
The Jewel and Her Lapidary is a novella set in the gem universe, where “The Topaz Marquis” (available free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies) is also set. The novella is a lost history, wrapped in a travel-guide to one of the far corners of the gem universe. It is an origin story and an epic adventure all packed into novella-length.
What inspired the novella?
I’ve been writing about the gems of the Jeweled Valley, and the control they exert over their bearers, for some time… this was a chance to unpack where they came from, and the impact they’d had on the Valley itself and its neighbors. The story is about power and transformation, but it’s also about loyalty and love.
Any specific, noteworthy challenges and differences in writing novel-length fiction and shorter work?
I really enjoyed the opportunity to play with a different structure — there are two stories at work in this novella, and both use repetition and restrictive boundaries to define what we do and don’t understand. That’s a lot of fun to play with. I think that a similar amount of research and work goes into a story at any length. The most fun is that you can have a whole world in a shorter-length story, and that makes for a faster read, and hopefully more stories in this world before long.
If you had to pick one novel (or novella) that you think had the most influence on you as a writer, or that made you want to be a writer, which would it be? And why?
Oh gosh, that’s a really hard question. Books influence me all the time, and different ones keep me going at different points. I think the most recent books that are making me want to sit down and write immediately (while also hiding and tearing my hair because the voices in the one are so darn great and the tech and ideas and language are amazing in the other), are Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye and Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. Authors who’ve pulled me into writing at various times include China Mieville (short and long), Borges, Genevieve Valentine, Elizabeth Bear, Michael Swanwick, Tim Powers, Neal Stephenson, and Connie Willis.
What’re you working on next?
I’m working on the third book in the Updraft/Bone Universe cycle, as well as a couple short stories — one set in the gem universe.
Any recent reads you’d recommend to readers? And any books you’re looking forward to in 2016?
I’m really looking forward to then next book in N.K. Jemisin’s latest Broken Earth series – which includes The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate, and I’m excited for Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning, which is coming in June. I’m also reading Adrift on the Sea of Rains (Appollo Quartet 1) by Ian Sales and enjoying it immensely. I can’t wait for the sequel to Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings, too [Wall of Storms]. OH! And Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, which comes out in August! Have you seen the cover for that?? It’s gorgeous. (I could keep going for a long time…)
The Jewel and Her Lapidary is published today by Tor.com. Cloudbound is due to be published by Tor Books on September 27th, 2016. Updraft will be published in trade paperback by Tor Books on September 13th, 2016.