I don’t normally link to reviews, but then, I don’t normally have a limited edition collection of short stories that I’m all nervous about coming out, so I shall point you at this review of BABA YAGA’S DAUGHTER, which is generally a nice one. The reviewer had a completely legitimate problem with one of the stories–I sort of never imagined people who hadn’t read the Negotiator Trilogy would be reading BYD, and the story the reviewer was uncertain about is the flip side of something that happens in the trilogy. Without the trilogy side of the story I can totally see it not working as well as it should, but I genuinely didn’t think of that until, er, I read this review. :)
Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Subterranean Press has their new website up and running, and it’s beautiful! Wow! Here, admire it while you pre-order BYD! (Actually, I’m pretty sure everybody who reads this blog who is *going* to preorder BYD already has, but, y’know. One must do one’s duty, or something. :))
Speaking of BYD, I’m going to pat my own back about it for a minute here, so let me put this behind a cut tag… :)
Just before I went on holiday I very belatedly finished the proofs for BYD. I had a real and particular goal for the collection, which was that it would tell the stories of several characters who are secondary, tertiary or even non-existent in the Negotiator Trilogy. I wanted them to be linked, but for the collection to be in no way considered a novel. I also wanted the collection to enrich the Old Races universe in a meaningful way, but also for it to be completely unnecessary for readers to pick up the collection for backstory if I should ever write more novels in that world.
And to be frank, I succeeded admirably. The book does exactly what I hoped it would in all of those respects, and I’m very, very pleased about that.
But here’s the thing that surprised me: the first story in the book, “From Russia, With Love,” is one of the best things I’ve ever written. I was a little uncomfortable, in fact, with the idea that it is the first story, because it’s good enough that I didn’t think the others could stand up to it. But in doing proofs, and reading the stories both all out of order and also as a cohesive unit for the first time…they do stand up. Every one of them is really well written, the voices change for the different stories, the characters grow and remain true to themselves, and one of the stories (the above difficult one) puts a completely different spin on some of the events of The Negotiator Trilogy. I was really, really surprised at how much I just flat-out liked the stories, and at how well I thought they did their job.
So not only is the collection, to me, a successful attempts on a physical, it-does-what-I-was-aiming-for level, but it’s also a tremendous artistic triumph. I’m really, really proud of it.
BABA YAGA’S DAUGHTER is my 19th published book. It’s the first one I’ve ever come close to regarding as an artistic triumph: I do not think of my writing in that way. I find that hugely encouraging, when you get right down to it. It kind of suggests I’m continuing to learn and improve, and that’s rather heartening.
(x-posted from the essential kit)