Annotated Excerpt: THE RANGER OF MARZANNA by Jon Skovron (Orbit)

SkovronJ-RW1-RangerOfMarzannaUSAs someone obsessed with process, I love reading annotated things. Books, comics, movie commentary, what have you. When trying to understand how to do a thing (say, write a book), it can be invaluable to get that peek behind the curtain. But if there is one thing we can say for certain about the process of writing, it’s that no two writers do it exactly the same. So when you read this annotated excerpt, I invite you not to latch on to any one thing too strongly, and view it merely as one more sample in a vast sea of writing processes.

In this world there are writers who simply sit down and start writing the book from the beginning and eventually come to the end. And that’s the book. Done. One of these “people” is a friend of mine, so I will refrain from saying anything else about this “method” except that it is most certainly not mine. My drafting process is messy and chaotic, and subject to change drastically from one revision to the next as I stumble blindly through those early stages.

For example, the excerpt below is the first chapter of The Ranger of Marzanna, but it was not written first, second, or even third. In fact, I’d written the entire first draft before I realized the beginning was completely broken. Among other things, it needed the proper framing for the world, and a proper introduction to Sonya Turgenev Portinari, who I imagined before I ever thought of the story, or the setting, or the theme, or anything else. Perhaps it’s my acting background, but character always comes first for me.

Anyway, the purpose of this chapter was let the reader know just what kind of world they’re dealing with and what kind of person the world perceived Sonya to be. So with those two goals in mind, let us proceed… Continue reading

New Books (November-December)

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One final New Books post for 2019. It’s been quite a year! So many memorable books — new and old — and clearly many more exciting titles on the horizon.

Feel free to leave a comment with your favourites from the year, and/or your most-anticipated for 2020.

Featuring: Kathleen Barber, Michael Booth, M.R. Carey, Nino Cipri, Myke Cole, Eoin Colfer, William Dalrymple, E.J. Dionne, David Downing, Kester Grant, Andy Greene, S.A. Hunt, Howard Andrew Jones, Ezra Klein, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, J.T. Nicholas, Garth Nix, K.J. Parker, Ivy Pochoda, David James Poissant, Robert R. Reich, James Rollins, Jon Skovron, Maggie Stiefvater, Matthew Ward, Marian Womack

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New Books (October)

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Featuring: David Annandale, Asa Avdic, Myke Cole, Jeffrey Cranor, Tom Doyle, Karen Ellis, Spencer Ellsworth, Joseph Fink, James Alan Gardner, Kevin Hearne, Mike Lawson, Paul McAuley, Seanan McGuire, Adam O’Riordan, K.J. Parker (x3), C.L. Polk, Gareth L. Powell, Jane Robins, Paul M. Sammon, John Sandford, Christine Schutt, Jon Skovron, E.J. Swift, K.B. Wagers, Bill Willingham, Christopher J. Yates, Liz Ziemska

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Interview with JON SKOVRON

SkovronJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jon Skovron?

I’m originally from Ohio, where I was sentenced to an all boys Catholic Prep school. Eventually I escaped to Pittsburgh, where I studied acting in the conservatory program at Carnegie Mellon University. By the time I graduated, the one thing I was certain of was that I no longer wanted to be an actor. Instead, I took up the much more practical profession of author. Over the course of the next ten years, I wrote several failed novels, got married, had kids, got divorced, and had a couple of short stories published. My first Young Adult novel, Struts and Frets, was finally published in 2009. I had three more YA novels published before deciding to write my first fantasy novel for grown-ups, which ended up being Hope and Red, book one of the Empire of Storms. Continue reading

New Books (January)

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The year’s flood of interesting new and upcoming releases continues! Most of these are high on my must-read (mental) list. Some of these are also not out for a very long time, so reviews won’t appear for a few months. Nevertheless, worth mentioning to whet others’ appetites for the year ahead’s biblio-offerings…

Featuring: Jami Attenberg, Paul Auster, David Bishop, JoAnn Chaney, Andy Clark, John Connolly, Liv Constantine, Ben Counter, Paul Crilley, Rene Denfeld, Alice Feeney, Neil Gaiman, Max Gladstone, L.J. Goulding, Jean Hanff Korelitz, Anthony Horowitz, Danya Kukafka, Victor LaValle, Mark Lawrence, Norman Ohler, B.A. Paris, Sarah Pinborough, Alastair Reynolds, Michael Rubens, Kieran Shea, Jon Skovron, Brian Staveley, James Swallow, Martha Wells

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Upcoming in 2017… Orbit Books

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Here are some of my most-anticipated novels published by Orbit Books…

Featuring: Jordanna Max Brodsky, M.R. Carey, Nicholas Eames, Charlie Fletcher, Dale Lucas, Brian McClellan, David Mealing, Elizabeth Moon, Claire North, Jon Skovron, Kim Stanley Robinson, Sam Sykes

[Updated on January 16th with five more books; and on February 2nd with a video of interviews with new Orbit authors.]

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Guest Post: “Progressive World-building: Screw Restoring Order to the Kingdom” by Jon Skovron

SkovronJ-AuthorPicNow look, I love Shakespeare. Like, a lot. In fact, I was actually a classically trained actor who did a fair bit of Shakespeare back in the day (mostly the comedies, although I still think I could have killed it as Richard III). And not only did I act in Shakespeare, but my first Young Adult novel was called Struts and Frets. As in:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

My book was mostly about a kid in high school who starts an indie rock band while dealing with his grandfather’s dementia. But throughout the story, he’s reading Macbeth for a school assignment, and passages from it keep coming up relevant to his life. Because for a play mostly about killing people, it’s remarkably thoughtful. Continue reading