Here it is, my news, my new book, at last! A few weeks ago when I was mysteriously happy (aw, I'm always happy), it was because my current novel was at auction and I was overflowing with glee. But I couldn't say anything, so I hinted and twiddled my fingers, and then the auction was won by the amazing Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, but I still couldn't say anything, because the official announcement had to wait until we could come up with a title.
It is now tentatively titled Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and here is the announcement as it appears in Publisher's Weekly this morning:
LBBYR Lands NBA Finalist
Little Brown Books for Young Readers senior editor Alvina Ling won world rights (excluding U.K. and Commonwealth) at auction to Laini Taylor's tentatively titled new YA novel, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Ling beat four other houses for the work, which was put on the block by Jane Putch at Eyebait Licensing & Management. Daughter, which is scheduled for fall 2011, is about a pair of star-crossed lovers kept apart by the fact that one's an angel and the other's a demon; also woven into the tale is the story of the devil's adopted daughter, a blue-haired art student in Prague. LBBYR is promising a significant marketing push for the title, which it believes will have crossover appeal to adults. Taylor's NBA finalist, 2009's Lips Touch, was published by Scholastic.
And there you have it! It has been a "devilishly" difficult book to summarize, as well as title, and the above description may have become a tad misleading in abridgment from the full announcement, but that's okay. There is indeed a strong "Romeo & Juliet with angels and devils" element to the story, but . . . what exactly do I mean by "angels and devils"? The way the supernatural elements in Lips Touch were not "textbook", neither is this, and my angels and devils are not your usual angels and devils.
For fun, here's a little background on this project:
After I finished Silksinger and it became clear that the publisher (Penguin) was not hungering for another Dreamdark book at that moment in history*, I set about writing a sci-fi book that was burning in my brain. I spent a few months on it, and . . . it was not going well. I just couldn't get a feel for it. I wasn't having FUN. Not at all. To the point, many of you will know what of I speak, that cranking up the computer in the morning (yes, I have a hand-crank computer. No, not really.) was filled with a fair amount of dread and reluctance. There's a brilliant quote:
"There are some books which refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn't because the book is not there and worth being written -- it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself."
- Mark Twain
For myself, I find this to be so so true, and the sci-fi book, I am convinced, had not found its right form. So I was mired in the un-fun of it, the un-progress of it, and looking back in my blog to those days, I see the record of how Daughter of Smoke and Bone got itself to exist. One day:
"sitting down with a big cup of coffee and a really fun idea that has got my fingers twitching to start writing something unexpected. Just for fun, just for today. (Maybe. Then again. . .) There are wishes in it, and strings of teeth, and a scar from a bullet wound, and blue hair in pigtails, and mean widows who would probably taste like wild boar sausage if you were to eat them. Which of course you wouldn't. Gross."
(And all of that IS in this book, except the widows who taste like wild boar sausage. So far, anyway!)
And then the next entry was THIS ONE. Ah, I remember that day so well, and I'm so glad I have the blog post to commemorate it. I felt lighter than air. I still have the exact text of that first day of writing. The book has veered and grown and grown and grown, but in that first day's work there is still the spirit of it, and all the fun and promise.
The next blog entry, incidentally:
"The writing of the weird new thing progresses newly and weirdly. Still fabulous fun. Strange things are happening involving marionettes, chinese swords, rosary beads, and a beautiful boy who is half-Maasai. In Venice."
Ha ha. None of those things are still in the book! Well, maybe the Chinese swords . . . sort of.
So, did I go back to that poor, tortuous sci-fi book, or abandon it right then and there? Well . . . actually, I followed my own rule of not being seduced by "the slutty new idea" and I kept slogging at the sci-fi book! I behaved. Well, I am here to tell you that behaving is not always for the best! I finished a draft of that sci-fi, and I never even read it. I tacked that "the end" on with the sound of a door slamming, and I have NEVER read that manuscript! It was misery to write, and I'm sure it would be misery to read! Did I learn a lesson? I don't know. But getting back to the blue-haired girl book was like . . . getting out of jail? Maybe a little. The timing was perfect: I had a beach weekend writing retreat set up with a couple of friends (this was early in my pregnancy with Clementine), and on the first day of the retreat I wrote the first chapter of "Daughter." (That is now Chapter 13, by the way), and I haven't looked back. I have only taken long, long pauses. Ha ha. I found pregnancy delightful and distracting, and then there were those newborn months. They may also, er, ahem, have been another book written in the interim. (What? What are you looking at? )
So that's the history of this book so far, and I'm am SO THRILLED about where it stands now, in the amazing, creative hands of the team at Little, Brown, who have knocked my socks off from the first moment of the auction. This is my writer's life fairy tale, with the caveat that in the fairy tale, the writing part is easier! And this book is STILL deeply, deeply fun, but of course it is work too. I have many notebook pages of roads not taken with this idea, which at every moment is sending off shoots in tantalizing directions, so that I have to be a ruthless gardener and prune and snip and cull. (Me and my mixed writing metaphors!)
There's something I talked about in my plotting talk at SCBWI WW recently, and it really should be its own blog post, so perhaps I'll expand upon it in my next post, but it's: the willingness to write scenes in the spirit of discovery, even knowing they might not make it into the book. I have so many discarded scenes, but they all contribute a richness to the plot and characterization, even if it only sneaks in in hints and hues on account of me having made the world of the story real to myself in discarded chapters. More on that later!
So, to sum up: WHOOOOOP! Hurray! Thank you thank you THANK YOU, Little, Brown, and Alvina Ling (my new editor!), as well as my FABULOUS agent, Jane Putch, for some of the most exciting weeks of my professional life! I look to the future with such excitement as the life of this new book unrolls ahead of me.
That said, back to writing!
*re: more Dreamdark books: some day I will finish the series! I am deeply committed to Magpie and crew and feel sick about leaving them in limbo. I will see their story through. It is just not in the cards for the next few years.