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by Barbara Sheridan
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August 2001

Every Romance Reader's Fantasy!

LISTER'S POLL: We Want More............Fantasy Romance!

Lois McMaster Bujold

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Lois has been a voracious reader all her entire life. She began reading adult science fiction when she was nine, a taste she aquired from her father. He was a professor of Welding Engineering at Ohio State, who used to buy the science fiction magazines and paperback books to read on the plane on consulting trips; which eventually fell to her. Her reading tastes later expanded to include history, mysteries, romance, travel, war, poetry, etc.

Her early writing efforts began in junior high school. By eighth grade she was putting out fragmentary imitations of her favorite writers. She collaborated with her best friend Lillian Stewart on extended story lines throughout high school.

Lois dabbled with English as a major at Ohio State, but quickly fell away from it preferring the creative to the critical. After college she worked as a pharmacy technician at the Ohio State University Hospitals, until she quit to start a family.

Her childhood friend and fellow writing enthustiast, now Lillian Stewart Carl, began writing again, making her first sales. About this time it occurred to Lois that if Lillian could do it, she could do it too! She wrote a novelette for practice, then embarked on her first novel with help and encouragement from Lillian and Patricia C. Wrede, a fantasy writer from Minneapolis, where Lois now resides.

She quickly discovered that writing was far too demanding and draining to justify as a hobby, and that only serious professional recognition would satisfy her. Her first novel, Shards of Honor, was completed in 1983: the second, The Warrior's Apprentice, in 1984; and the third, Ethan of Athos, in 1985. She also wrote a few short stories which she began circulating to the magazine markets. In late 1984 the third of these sold to Twilight Zone Magazine, her first professional sale. In October of 1985, all three completed novels were bought by Baen Books. They were published as original paperbacks in June, August, and December of 1986.

Analog Magazine serialized her fourth novel, Falling Free, in the winter of '87-'88; it went on to win her first Nebula. She was particularly pleased to be featured in Analog, her late father's favorite magazine. The Mountains of Mourning," also appearing in Analog, went on to win both Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novella of 1989, and The Vor Game and Barrayar won Hugos for best novel back to back in 1991 and 1992. Her titles have been translated into fourteen languages (so far).

She broke into hardcover at last with The Spirit Ring in 1992, a historical fantasy, and returned to the universe and times of Miles Vorkosigan with Mirror Dance, which won the Hugo and Locus awards in 1995. Her next novel was a lighter series prequel with the working title of "Miles and Ivan go to the Cetagandan State Funeral"; under the final title of Cetaganda it was serialized in Analog starting with the September '95 issue, then released in hardcover in January '96 by Baen Books. She had her first experience as an editor, along with Roland Green, putting together the anthology Women at War, published by Tor Books in 1995. Miles's sequel to Mirror Dance, titled Memory; had hardcover publication in October 1996, and was a Hugo and a Nebula nominee. Komarr, was published in June 1998, and was the recipient of a Minnesota Book Award in the science fiction and fantasy category. A Civil Campaign, the direct sequel to Komarr, was released in September 1999.


An Interview with Lois McMaster Bujold

PNR: What have been the biggest influences on your writing life? and why did they influence you?

Lois B.: Probably the two biggest direct influences were my father and my best friend. In addition to his reading to me when I was a child, my father was also responsible for my interest in science fiction and fantasy. He was an old Cal Tech grad, and a professor of engineering, and he used to buy the magazines and paperbacks to read on the plane on consulting trips; these fell to me, and so of course I felt the genres came with the highest recommendation. My best friend through junior high and high school was Lillian Stewart, who now writes under the name Lillian Stewart Carl (some of her recent books are romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, by the way). She was very interested in history and archeology; we shared literary passions, picking up lifelong interests from each other. I could go on to list a long litany of writers, but these two people probably did the most to acquaint me with those writers and their books.

PNR: Your new book, THE CURSE OF CHALION, is set in a new universe, one with its own religion, including five gods. Can you tell us how you developed this structure?

Lois B.: Gut feel, and my argument with philosophical dualism. On some level, I think the Platonic view of the universe, and the mind/body and good/evil dualism that has flowed from it, is a profound mistake, particularly when people attempt to apply it to the messy ambiguities of the real world. Much evil has been done in the name of good by persons wedded to a too-simple theory of society, economics, religion, politics, or what have you. When they attempt to apply their theories, and of course discover that real people persist in not fitting properly into their conceptual boxes, too often the response is not to abandon or modify the theory, but rather to start chopping up the people to make them fit. My five gods were, first of all, a pantheon that could not be divided evenly, one that resisted the deceptive simplifications of dualism.

The Father of Winter, the Daughter of Spring, the Mother of Summer, and the Son of Autumn map onto most of the human condition. In addition, the fifth god, a sort of trickster figure called the Bastard, turned out to be terrifically important in Chalionese Quintarian theology. The fifth god gives a box for all the bits and people who don't fit otherwise to go into, to have a legitimate place to stand and a powerful protector. The Bastard provides the adjustable grease between tidy theory and messy reality, so that the interface isn't plagued by so much destructive friction. He is, naturally, the god of balance, of disasters, of all things out of season; in addition, of foundlings and (naturally) bastards, of persons of alternative sexuality, of artists, of spies, no doubt of science fiction writers, and of a lot of other important things.

People being perverse, naturally they went and re-invented dualism in the form of the Quadrene heresy, dominant in the Roknari princedoms, which takes the four primary gods to be "good" and the Bastard to be a demon. So while everyone pretty much agrees on the existence of the same deities, the argument continues over their classification; the two faiths are in effect heresies of each other, with all the plot-driving conflict that implies.

PNR: The hero, Lupe dy Cazaril, begins this adventure about as low as hero can be. Abandoned, bruised and hurting, Cazaril wants to just curl up and fade away. Why did you begin the story at that point?

Lois B.: It's the first picture I saw in my head, of the battered Cazaril approaching a castle seeking refuge and employment. I don't know quite where I was channeling all this stuff from, the year I wrote it, but I hope I can tap into it again. As the book progressed, I learned a great deal of pertinent backstory about Caz, to the point that even I wondered if this ought to be the third book in a trilogy with two more books in the queue ahead of it. But it was not so; as the pattern of events gradually revealed itself to me, that start-point seemed more and more right. Actually, I backed up a little from that first vision, which eventually slotted in to the beginning of Chapter Two. But keep an eye on that coin dropped in the mud on page three. Politics and action ripple over the surface of the tale, and a lot of readers' eyes don't penetrate further; but the real plot of The Curse of Chalion is an adventure in theology.

PNR: For THE CURSE OF CHALION, what period or people in history influenced the Chalion world?

Lois B.: Chalion has two very identifiable sources. First, a few years ago, just for fun, I took a course in Spanish medieval history at the local university; in part because it looked intriguing, and was a subject about which I then knew very little, and secondly, because it was taught one day a week, so I didn't have to sacrifice too much working time. (The book includes a thank-you to the very excellent professor who taught it.) I emerged from the course loaded down with characters and incidents of the highest drama, and no very clear idea what I wanted to do with them.

Meanwhile, my writer-friend Patricia Wrede and I had begun a letter game. A letter game is a sort of epistolary tennis, in which each person makes up a character, and you write back and forth to each other in character. If both are writers, these can turn into books, but in this case, it died after a few iterations, partly because we were both pressed for time, but partly because the character I had started to evolve, a duchess's rather fusty middle-aged secretary, suddenly didn't want to be in that comedy universe. He began growing all sorts of serious backstory that didn't belong with the rest of it, based, I realize in retrospect, on a real historical type one meets over and over -- the secretaries and ministers who did the heavy lifting of government for their various monarchs. Sometimes they ended up rich and rewarded (if exhausted), like Elizabeth I's Walsingham, sometimes betrayed and murdered like Mary Queen of Scot's Italian secretary, David Rizzio.

Then one day a couple of months after finishing the latest in the Miles series, A Civil Campaign, the two elements -- a setting without a focus, and a character without a story -- came together in my head while I was taking a shower. Foomp, instant book. I knew it was going to be the next project before my hair was dry.

PNR: Is there a sequel in the future?

Lois B. I have a contract with Eos/HarperCollins for another fantasy, content undefined; but I expect to return to the world of Chalion for it. I feel I've barely scratched the surface of its possibilities. It will not, however, be a direct sequel. Something more sideways, probably. I've had to devote the past year to another Miles book for Baen, so I won't be starting the new Chalion book till fall 2001. I wouldn't expect publication before late 2003 or even 2004.

By the way, for anyone whose curiosity has been whetted by now, Eos has a number of sample chapters of The Curse of Chalion up at www.eosbooks.com

PNR: It is a pleasure for reader fans of your fabulous Vorkosigan novels to know that you have a new book, however this one is not set in the Vorkosigan universe. Has that been a problem for you?

Lois B.: It was a problem that I expected. There are always people who want whatever you have written to have been some other book. The hope is that they will be outnumbered or at least balanced by readers who do like the new thing. It's… hm… bemusing, I think is the word, to watch readers try to insist on finding parallels between the two worlds and their characters, whether they exist or not, though. Especially bemusing when I was working closely from real historical sources with which they were obviously unacquainted, and knew very well just why they were mistaken. (Although I think it might be legitimately argued that I cherry-picked from my sources according to my tastes -- which I indeed did.) However, no writer can control how they are read, and attempting to do so is the path of madness. Judging from early responses, some people, clearly, were not receiving on the wavelengths I was sending, but enough others clearly were that I don't think there's much I could have done in the way of changing to book to have caught the stragglers. If enough people have something in the general vicinity of the pleasurable reading experience I intended, that's about as much as any writer can ask for. I must say, for the most part The Curse of Chalion has found a very cordial and perceptive reception.

PNR: Can you tell us what is in store for the Vorkosigan universe, are you working on another book or story?

Lois B: Yes. I'm now (mid-August 2001) about two chapters from the end of the new Miles adventure for Baen that I mentioned above. It doesn't have a final title yet, but I hope to have it turned in this fall for publication, probably, next spring. It's a sequel, not a prequel, it's single-viewpoint from Miles's point of view, and the tone is mystery-thriller. Baen will doubtless have sample chapters up on their website later on at www.baen.com when I actually let them have the manuscript. After I'm done wrestling the thing to a conclusion, I'll be more forthcoming with details and teasers.

 

 

 

Featured in this Issue:

Interviews with :
Karen Fox
Holly Fuhrmann

Tanya Huff
Sharon Shinn
Lois McMaster Bujold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lois McMaster Bujold

Website

 Books



Buy it now!

Eos (Trade)
HC - 448 pages
August 2001
ISBN: 0380979012

THE CURSE OF THE CHALION - On the eve of the Daughter's Day -- the grand celebration that will honor the Lady of Spring, one of the five reigning deities -- a man broken in body and spirit makes his way slowly down the road to Valenda. A former courtier and soldier, Cazaril has survived indignity and horrific torture as a slave aboard an enemy galley. Now he seeks nothing more than a menial job in the kitchens of the Dowager Provincara, in the noble household where he served as page in his youth.

But the gods have greater plans for this humbled man. Welcomed warmly, clothed and fed, he is named, to his great surprise, secretary tutor to the Royesse Iselle -- the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is destined to be the next ruler of the land. But the assignment must ultimately carry Cazaril to the one place he fears even more than the sea: to the royal court of Cardegoss, rife with intrigues and lethal treacheries.

In Cardegoss, the powerful enemies who once placed Cazoril in chains and bound him to a Roknori oar now occupy the most lofty positions in the realm, beneath only the Roya himself. Yet something for more sinister than their scheming hangs like a sword over the royal family: a curse of the blood that taints not only those who would rule, but those who stand in their circle. The life and future of both Iselle and her entire blighted House of Chalion lie in dire peril. The only recourse left to her loyal, damaged servant is the employment of the darkest and most forbidden of magics -- a choice that Will indelibly mark Cazaril as a tool of the miraculous ... and trap him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death for as long as he dares walk the five-fold pathway of the gods.


Other Titles


Buy it now!

THE SPIRIT RING
Baen Books
HC - Nov. 1992
ISBN: 0671721887
Paperback Reissue
May 2000
384 pages
ISBN: 0671721887


Buy it now!

DREAMWEAVER'S DILEMMA
Nesfa Press
February 1997
252 pages
ISBN: 0915368536


Cordelia Naismith series

   
   Hard Cover       Paperback

SHARDS OF HONOR
HC - July 1, 2000
Nesfa Press
ISBN: 1886778205
Paperback - October 1991
Baen Books
320 pages
ISBN: 0671720872


Buy it now!

CORDELIA'S HONOR
Baen Books
November, 1996
ISBN: 0671877496
Paperback reissue
Baen Books
September, 1999
608 pages
ISBN: 0671578286


Miles Vorkosigan series


Buy it now!

A CIVIL CAMPAIGN
Baen Books
HC - September 1999
ISBN: 067617578278
paperback reissue
September 2000
534 pages
ISBN: 0671578855


Buy it now!

KOMARR
Baen Books
June 1998
HC - 320 pages
ISBN: 0671878778
Paperback Reissue
Baen Books
May 1999
366 pages
ISBN: 0671578081


Buy it now!

YOUNG MILES
Baen Books;
June 1997
HC - 544 pages
ISBN: 0671877879


Buy it now!

MEMORY
Baen Books
Paperback reissue
October 1997
480 pages
ISBN: 067187845X


Buy it now!

CETAGANDA
Baen Books
HC - January 1996
ISBN: 0671877011

Baen Books
Paperback Reprint
October 1996
352 pages
ISBN: 0671877445


Buy it now!

MIRROR DANCE
Baen Books
March 1995
592 pages
ISBN: 0671876465


Buy it now!

THE VOR GAME
Baen Books
Reissue edition
September 1990
352 pages;
ISBN: 0671720147


Buy it now!

BROTHERS IN ARMS
Baen Books
Reissue edition
May 1994
352 pages
ISBN: 0671697994


Buy it now!

BORDERS OF INFINITY
Baen Books
September, 1999
ISBN: 0671578294
Reissue
May 22. 2001
320 pages
ISBN: 0671720937


Buy it now!

FALLING FREE
Baen Books
Reprint edition
June 1999
320 pages
ISBN: 067157812X


Buy it now!

THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE
Baen Books
Reissue edition
March 1997
320 pages
ISBN: 067172066X


Buy it now!

ETHAN OF ATHOS
Baen Books
Reissue edition
May 1994
256 pages
ISBN: 067165604X

All book synopsises are copyrighted to the authors/publishers.


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