Elspeth Cooper

Purveyor of fine fantasy adventures

Tag: The Dragon House

Sneak peek – The Dragon House

Blue gift box

Image courtesy David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

Today I have some exciting news!

As a thank you for all your patience, I have released an exclusive extract from the upcoming conclusion to The Wild Hunt Quartet, THE DRAGON HOUSE, and you can read it here (opens as pdf).

Hope this whets your appetite for the rest of the book!

And who knows, if I need a break from writing there might be another wee extract coming your way soon . . .

 

 

 

I aten’t dead

Picture of alarm clockSo. I’m still here.

In case any of you had been wondering, like. I’ve just been a bit busy. And ill. And busying being ill – or being busy whilst ill, or ill whilst busy, or . . . You get the picture.

Chronic illness sucks. Who knew?

Anyway, it’s been a hard road so far, but I have ground out some words on THE DRAGON HOUSE and most of them I think I will actually keep. It’s not finished yet, but at 145k (give or take) I think I can see the end up ahead. Sort of. If I squint a bit.

I’m sorry it’s taking so long to get there. I’m not here to make excuses, but I genuinely am going as fast as I can. I want this book to be a fitting finale to the series, one that takes everything that has gone before and wraps it up into a conclusion that is satisfying for both me as the writer and you as the reader. I hope you’ll bear with me until we get there.

In order to make it worth your while, I have a little treat for you later this week: a sneak peek at what I’ve been working on. The usual disclaimers apply: raw as steak tartare, prod it and it’ll moo etc. I hope you’ll like it. Stay tuned!

 

Image courtesy of Graeme Weatherston at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Incentivisation, I haz it

New books receivedToday brought me a modest haul of new books, these being the only ones I could remember from my missing-presumed-lost/recycled/eaten by dust-bunnies “Books to Buy” list. I have made myself a promise that I will not so much as crack the covers until THE DRAGON HOUSE is packed off to my editor.

Since I like reading about as much as I like breathing, I’d better crack on, eh?

I tweeted a picture of this lot as soon as I unpacked them, but for reasons known only to themselves HTC have seen fit to pair their phone’s pre-loaded Twitter client with bloody Yfrog, which has an unspeakably ill-formed splash page and does horrible things to image sizes, hence this post.

I really need to get my arse in gear and sign up with Tumblr or summat for those social-media-on-the-go moments. I am *such* a technophobe. Also too busy Actually Doing Stuff That Keeps The Lights On Around Here, which is likewise responsible for my lack of:

  • blogging regularly
  • self-promotion
  • updating the website
  • learning Scrivener
  • redrawing the map for the Wild Hunt Universe
  • getting a haircut

I don’t know how my fellow writers manage to do all this and hold down a day job.

 

 

The trouble with comparisons

No, really, it's just like it.

No, really, it’s just like it.

There’s something that keeps cropping up in commentary about my books, specifically the first one, Songs of the Earth, which frustrates me no end, because I just don’t get it. At all. And that’s the recurring comparisons to Harry Potter*.

The latest of these occurred over at Fantasy Faction, which is an awesome site and the team that run it are long-term friends and supporters of my work. They just published their list of Top Anticipated Fantasy Novels of 2014, and were kind enough to include my forthcoming book The Dragon House at No. 20:

 

Why we are excited: Elspeth Cooper has some of the best prose we’ve ever come across. We were a little unsure about Gair and this series at first, but Elspeth has really taken this series from something a little too Harry Potter-esque to a series that walks its own path and that is increasingly epic and high-stake for its characters.

 

This is lovely stuff to hear, of course, and I’m deeply flattered to be included on a list with the likes of Daniel Abraham and Jim Butcher, Carol Berg and Elizabeth Bear. But there’s that reference to Harry Potter again. I’ve also had reviews that mention it. One reviewer on Amazon even went so far as to accuse me of totally ripping off Rowling’s books.

To which I have to say: Wuh?

Songs of the Earth is a coming-of-age story, like Harry Potter. This is hardly unique in the fantasy canon. Bildungsroman is one of the key themes of genre storytelling: finding out who you are, where you stand, and what you will not stand for. Songs also takes place in part in a school for magic, like Harry Potter. It’s far from alone in that too**.

But apart from that, there’s very little similarity between the two books. They’re set in different milieus (a magical-realism version of our world vs a secondary universe), aimed at a different audience, and feature very different protagonists (adult bastard nobody-special vs Chosen One boy wizard***).

Bloomsbury cover of Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone

A bit too Songs-of-the-Earth-esque?

Even the magic itself is not the same (elemental forces vs cod-Latin spells learned by rote). Maybe you could argue that there’s a minor thematic similarity between the renegade Guardian Savin and He Who Shall Not Be Named, in the sense that they’re both powerful mages gone rogue, but is that really enough to call a book “Harry Potter-esque”?

As for the ‘school for magic’, the two are similar only in concept. Hogwarts is recognisably an English boarding-school environment with Houses and common rooms and intramural sporting challenges. It is Tom Brown’s Schooldays with wands and brooms.

In Songs, I tried to play down the actual learning part because it’d been done before, not least by Rowling, so not one of Gair’s lectures or practical lessons is described on the page in real time. Book magic or learning by rote do not feature. This was because the studying bit was less important to me than exploring Gair’s relationships with others, be they friend, lover or mentor.

Yet the comparisons persist, and I just don’t understand why. My theory is that Harry Potter has had such an enormous impact on popular culture that it’s simply the first thing anyone thinks of at the merest hint of a school for magic – even though that element is probably the least significant part of my book.

Or maybe it’s the imagery of the Masters defending Chapterhouse at the end of Songs that makes them think of Professor McGonagall and Co defending Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I can’t help that: I wrote that scene before the first Harry Potter was even published (Honest. The oldest version of the manuscript I have accessible on this PC is datestamped 6 October 1996. Don’t make me dig out the original files on floppy disk).

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. There are far worse books than Harry Potter to be compared to, after all, but at the same time I worry that these comparisons send the wrong message to potential readers (or worse yet, the parents of potential readers). That if you enjoyed Harry Potter, this book Songs of the Earth is quite like it, when it’s not. Not even a little bit.

So why do people who’ve read it, keep maintaining that it is?

***

* Disclaimer: I haven’t read the HP books, but I have seen the films. Any errors or omissions I make should be considered in this context.

** Just off the top of my head there’s Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician trilogy, in which Sonea learns to harness her abilities and rise through the ranks at the Magician’s Guild, and Pat Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind in which the University is basically a school for magic on steroids.

*** Seriously. He’s got a distinguishing mark, his parents were killed in mysterious circumstances, and he was raised in obscurity to keep him safe. If he’d grown up on a farm he’d be Belgarion from the David Eddings books – or Luke Skywalker, the most massive example of the farm-boy-comes-of-age-and-saves-the-world trope in the history of ever.

 

Panic? What panic?

Post it note says "Don't panic"So that’s The Raven’s Shadow a.k.a Book 3 of The Wild Hunt Quartet packed off to my editor for scrutiny, so I can start to think about Book 4 in more detail than I have up to now.

It’s going to take quite a bit of planning (a novel experience for me) as there is a helluva lot of plot to wrap up in a neat and timely fashion.

As of today, the hit-list for The Dragon House looks a bit like this:

 – invasion, and consequences thereof (including socio-political and economic ramifications)

 – bloody revolution, consequences thereof (ditto)

 – women in combat

 – tentative explorations of new relationships for damaged people

 – conflict between a personal debt of honour and the Greater Good

 – disintegration and rebirth of a moribund institution

 – past mistakes to be faced, pipers to be paid

 – family skeletons hauled out of closets

 – assorted deaths, some new characters and the return of old friends

 – when good magic goes bad, with the corollary: fire and destruction, and lots of it

and that’s just the stuff I’ve thought of in the ten minutes it’s taken me to type this post. Eeep.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers:

Newsletter Powered By : XYZScripts.com