Presenting My New Cover

Today I’m pleased to share the cover for my upcoming There Is a Door in This Darkness, which comes out in June 2024. For more info and a brief excerpt, please visit the Penguin Teen Blog. This lovely cover was designed by Jessica Jenkins and Theresa Evangelista.

I’ll have more details to share about this book as the time nears. It’s about magic, doughnuts, amusing prophecies, friendships, elephants, snow geese, owls, and grief (among other things), and it takes place in my own home of Watertown, Massachusetts. I’m quite proud of it, actually. More info to come when I’m less dizzy! Before I go, though, I’ll mention a difference of opinion that’s arisen. Some people see a gold background, shining through a maze that’s cut into a painted blue foreground. Some people see a blue background, with a golden maze drawn on top of it. It’s like The Dress. Remember The Dress? Take a look. Look closely! What do you see?

(One more thing: I’ve largely moved my social media presence to Instagram, so feel free to follow me there at @kristincashore.)


A book cover for There Is a Door in This Darkness by Kristin Cashore, showing a golden maze, door-shaped, shining through a blue-sky-like foreground.

In Which the Author Learns Something Surprising about Her Cerebellum (and Has a Very Weird Summer)

One day in late June, I woke up to a strong sensation of dizziness. Not “the room is spinning” dizziness; more a kind of “I am trapped on a terrible boat” dizziness. I was in Vermont by myself. I talked to my husband on the phone. “I hope this goes away by tomorrow,” I said, “because I’m not sure I should drive home while I’m feeling like this.”

When I woke up the next day, it was gone. Relieved, I drove home. Then, the day after that, the dizziness returned. When it didn’t let up, I went to my excellent doctor’s office, where they did a thousand kinds of lab work, then a thousand kinds of follow-up lab work, and determined that I was a really healthy person. There was nothing wrong with my heart, my blood sugar, my gut. I passed all the neurological tests. I was told it was likely an infection and would pass. Then, a day or two later, the dizziness went away again. Good, I thought, it was an infection! Onward, forward.

Then, a couple days later, the dizziness came back again, and from that point onward — two months ago today, in fact — it has never once gone away. I am always dizzy, every moment. Sometimes, like now, it’s mild, and I’m able to read, watch a screen, take a bus. At other times, reading, screens, and any movement whatsoever causes too much visual input and worsens the dizziness, and all I can do is listen to an audiobook while staring at the wall. Rarely, it’s so bad that I’ll be trapped for 18 hours (my record so far) in a sensation of severe dizziness that does not let up and does not let me sleep, eat, or do anything other than wait for it to end.

For the past week or so, it’s been kind to me. I’m living almost a normal life; it’s just that I’m always dizzy. I’m able to write this because my dizziness is being kind. I even handed a new book in to my agent a couple days ago!

But back to the mystery.

A few weeks into my unending dizziness, I contacted my doctor again. Concerned that I was still feeling dizzy, she brought me back in. Once again, I passed all the neurological tests. I could touch my fingers to my nose and keep my arms extended and walk up and down the corridors like a champ. Yes, my head was telling me that I was trapped on a terrible boat, but I was really quite unconfused while walking — which, in retrospect, is weird. That’s not how dizziness usually functions.

“I’m stumped,” she said. Then she set me up with an ENT appointment. This made a lot of sense to me, because not only was I dizzy, but my ears were popping all the time, sometimes they were ringing, and most of all, my noise sensitivity was off the charts. I’ve always been sensitive to noise. But lately, I could be in my office with the door closed and my husband could be three rooms away in the kitchen, opening the microwave and closing the refrigerator door, and I would need to put in earplugs, because his behavior was too loud. Which, in retrospect… is weird.

The soonest ENT appointment I could get was a month away. The dizziness was causing enough anxiety and disruption at this point that the wait was upsetting to me, but what could I do? Then, over the course of the next few days, my dizziness worsened, significantly. My doctor, who incidentally was messaging with me regularly, including on weekends, and is the most exceptional medical professional I’ve ever encountered, asked me to come in again. Once again, I marched up and down the corridors like a champ. I touched my nose, et cetera. My doctor told me that she was having a dilemma, because I kept passing all the neurological tests with flying colors, which meant that she could not justify a brain MRI to my health insurance company. But while I was there, she put a thousand more lab tests in motion.

By the next morning, all the lab tests results had come in, indicating that I was extremely healthy in even more ways than I’d previously thought. That morning, I drove myself somewhere to complete an errand. (This whole time, I’d been driving and it had been just fine. Again, the sensation in my head was telling me I was trapped on a boat, but my body was moving through the world just fine.) When I reached my destination and got out of the car, I was overwhelmed by the most severe dizziness I’d experienced so far. For an hour or so, I sat on a bench, crying and trying to get my shit together, determined to be independent and get myself home if it killed me. The thing is, it was such an awful sensation, like my head was full of horrible heavy cars spinning out of control. Finally, I called my husband and asked him to come collect me. He immediately ran out the door and jumped onto his bike, like the loving hero he’s been throughout this entire debacle. While I was waiting for him to reach me, it occurred to me that I was sitting on a bench very close to my doctor’s office. I called the office again. I said, “Want to try those neurological tests again? I bet I might be able to fail one of them right now.”

A few hours later, I was lying in an MRI machine. The next day, my husband and I met virtually with my doctor, who opened the radiologist’s report and told me that I had a brain condition called Chiari Malformation Type I, wherein my cerebellum, which is the lower back part of the brain, was being pulled down into my spinal column.

(Um, what?)

It was a non-dangerous condition I was probably born with, she told me. Most people with this condition go their whole lives never knowing; only a small fraction of people are symptomatic. I was one of the symptomatic people; I was dizzy because the cerebellum is the part of the brain that orients us in space, and my cerebellum was being squeezed. She told me that it’s a condition that can be corrected by a “procedure,” which even in my overwhelmed state I recognized as code for brain surgery. She also told me that she was thrilled by this diagnosis, which is when I understood how much my doctor had been worried about other, worse possibilities.

Well. That was a lot to adjust to.

What’s followed has been many medical appointments. More MRIs, which I’m grateful to find rather relaxing. The noises the machine makes are interesting to me. They almost always sound like the opening beat to some track a DJ is laying down at a nightclub, but then the song never starts. And, oh my goodness, the people at Mount Auburn Hospital MRI are so kind. The people at my doctor’s office are so kind, and dedicated, and skilled at getting my insurance to approve things. The neurologist sussed how anxious I was, and spent as much time comforting my anxiety as helping me with my cerebellum. The ENT I finally saw was extremely sympathetic about my situation and was also the first man who’s ever looked at my Nancy Drew sweatshirt and immediately understood what it meant. “I was a Hardy Boys reader myself,” he said. Um. Who told you the way to my heart? The neurosurgeon I met a couple weeks ago walked into the room and asked me if I was the author of the Graceling Realm books, then patiently answered about 25 detailed questions my sisters and husband had helped me to compile. He also told me that the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand pain I’ve been grappling with for decades was probably misdiagnosed. Those symptoms are classic Chiari, he said, which has been a lot to absorb. It’s been making me sad for my younger self, who did a lot of extreme stretching and massage that may actually have been making things worse. It’s also been making me sad for my poor squished cerebellum. I’m sorry, cerebellum!! You’ve been trying to tell me you’re not okay for decades!! I didn’t mean to ignore you!!

I’ve also had a few funny moments of revelation, or at any rate, I’ve decided to find them funny. For example, every doctor I’ve seen has asked me the same series of symptom questions, and there are a few symptoms to which I’ve always responded in the negative. “Do you have any light sensitivity?” “Nope,” I answer cheerfully. Then, about a week ago, as I went for a walk on an overcast day while wearing sunglasses and carrying an umbrella to protect myself from the terrible glaring clouds, it finally occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I do have a little bit of light sensitivity. Maybe my decades-long certainty that the sun is trying to kill me could be reframed, and called “light sensitivity?” Here’s another one: “Do you consider yourself unsteady on your feet?” “Nope,” I answer cheerfully. Then, also about a week ago, I found myself thinking about that one a little. I went to my husband. “You know that question about whether I’m unsteady on my feet?” I asked him. “Yep,” he said. “Do you remember,” I said to him, “every time we’ve ever walked through any kind of woods together?” “Oh,” he said, in a voice of dawning revelation. “I see what you mean.” Because the truth is that on an uneven path or a steep path or a slippery path, I fall apart. I’m certain I’m going to fall; I often need help; I’m astonished by how steady everyone else is. I’ve always assumed I’m surrounded by a disproportionate sample of superior walkers. Not that I’m unsteady on my feet.

We haven’t scheduled the surgery yet. We have a bunch of scheduling complications in the coming weeks, plus, I’ve been advised to wait for a second opinion on the principle that if someone’s going to cut into your head, it never hurts to get a second opinion. But I do think this surgery is in my future. There’s a hole at the base of our skulls through which the spinal chord passes. The surgeon will widen that hole, so that my cerebellum has room to spread out. (I always imagine this making a happy “bloop” noise.) There’s a very good chance that this will alleviate my symptoms, but it’s not certain, so there are ways in which I’m grateful for this waiting time. Because I’m learning how to live with this, and proving to myself that I can. Activities like eating, working, resting, and getting around are more complicated than they used to be, but I’m figuring them out.

I’m learning a lot of things, actually. Even before this happened, I was wanting to slow down a bit, and this has forced me to slow down. Also, my whole life, symptoms like anxiety and nausea have been very tied up together in confusing ways, and at the beginning of the dizziness, this was a real problem, because, naturally, the dizziness was causing me anxiety, and sometimes it was also causing me nausea. And then the anxiety was causing me nausea. And then the nausea was causing me anxiety. And then the nausea and the anxiety were causing more dizziness. Etc., etc. – if you have anxiety, you know how the symptom escalation goes. But since my diagnosis, I’ve been forced to do that thing the meditation experts are always trying to teach us to do: Sit with my sensations and tease apart what is causing what. For example, I’ve had to learn the difference between the sensation of dizziness and the sensation of nausea, because (have I mentioned that this dizziness is weird?) often my dizziness will lie to me, and tell me that I’m nauseated when I’m not. The sensation inside my head will say to me, “We are trapped on a terrible boat, and we cannot possibly eat.” But in the meantime, my stomach is shouting, “Hellooooo! Everything is fine down here! Where’s my dinner?” I’ve had to learn that the best course of action in these moments is to eat my dinner, because I’m not actually nauseated — but I will be, if I don’t eat. Of course, the anxiety is more difficult to figure out and manage than any of the other symptoms. Anxiety is such a hard one. But I’m certainly getting some opportunities to work on it. Sometimes, when things get extra challenging, the learning accelerates. (I’ll merely add that my present ability to look at it in a positive light is a sign that I’m not currently anxious.)

Some housekeeping: If you’ve noticed that I’m not signing books at Harvard Book Store at the moment, this is why. If you’re among the group of people who ordered signed books and received bookplates instead of signatures in the actual book, I hope you weren’t too disappointed, and this is why. I could not get myself into the store to sign, due to my squished cerebellum. Please know that I signed those bookplates at my dining room table with even more gratitude and care than usual. If you’ve asked me a question on Twitter and I haven’t responded, this is why. I have limited reading capacity, and I can’t do much social media at the moment (plus, things have deteriorated so much on Twitter, and I haven’t had the wherewithal to figure out what to do about it yet).

Some gratitude: My husband. My doctors. My sisters and sister-in-law. My friends. There are no words. I promise I’m going to be fine. I’m also grateful to live in the Boston area. There are no doctors in the world to whom I would rather entrust my cerebellum. And of course, I’m grateful to have a diagnosable condition that doctors understand, is non-dangerous, and is correctable.

I’m going to be fine, and in fact, for the moment at least, I am fine. I will try to come back here with updates.

Now please excuse me while I go for a walk on a flat surface, while wearing sunglasses and protecting myself from the bright clouds with an umbrella.

Me wearing a blue sweatshirt with a detective shown in silhouette and the words "The Secret of the Old Clock, Carolyn Keene"

Blather, Announcing My Next Book, and an Involuntary Experiment

Greetings, fellow Earthlings (and anyone else who might be reading ^_^). You know, it’s occurred to me recently that one of the reasons my blogging has dropped off is because of my general ambivalence about social media in recent years. I’m meant to be a blogger, not a Tweeter or an Instagrammer, not a TikTokker, etc. It’s just how I’m built. I like to write thoughtful paragraphs. It comes naturally and doesn’t stress me out. But I’m told blogs are dead. This raises so many questions. If something isn’t popular and doesn’t create as much frenzy as something else, does that mean it’s a waste of my time? If ignoring my Twitter notifications for a few weeks brings with it sense of peace and well-being, might that possibly mean Twitter isn’t good for me? If Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are having a cage match, is there any way we can arrange for both of them to lose? Etc., etc.

Anyway, in today’s changing social media landscape, I intend to sort out my approach, and I’m going to do it fairly soon, because: I have a new book coming out next May! I’m really proud of it. It’s a YA full of magic, and also doughnuts, owls and albatrosses, friendships, mysteries, and even a little romance, plus it happens to take place during election week 2020, during the Covid pandemic, in my own home of Watertown, Massachusetts. It’s called There Is a Door in This Darkness. At some point, I’ll be excited to share the cover and more details! But I wanted to let my faithful blog readers know that it’s on the way.

Also, I wanted to report on a recent involuntary experiment. Like many writers, I am prone to fall subject to the assumption that if a writing day is easy, that means my writing is probably pretty good that day; or maybe more to the point, if a writing day is terribly hard, that means my writing is probably crap that day. But I’ve also noticed, across the years, that this seems objectively not to be true. And it just so happens that I’m coming off of an extremely difficult week (everyone and everything is fine, please don’t be alarmed, but it was a week of intense distress and anxiety). For whatever reason, maybe denial, I decided not to allow myself any time off from writing during that awful week. I wrote every day. It was horrible. Every sentence was agony. I was extremely distracted and anxious, every page was a giant fight. And every day, I was convinced that I was writing crap.

But then the terrible week ended, and I looked back over what I’d written. And it was neither better nor worse than what I’d written during the happy weeks prior. It was pretty good, actually; it was just fine; it was just like all my writing.

Conclusion: I think that when it comes to the quality of your work, it doesn’t necessarily matter how you feel, or how you feel about it. What matters is that you’re doing it. You’re pushing through, or, on the good days, something is pulling you through. Either way, the point isn’t how you feel. It’s that you’re sitting in the chair, doing the work.

However, I also think that in life, it does absolutely matter how you feel. I could’ve given myself the week off, or at least not pushed myself so hard, and maybe that would’ve facilitated recovery from all the other stuff. Which means that I also support the opposite conclusion: Sometimes it’s OK to not do the work.

I hope I remember to be easier on myself next time. And I hope you’re all being easy on yourselves! Be well, everyone. More soon, when I have news or fun blather.


Greetings from the Land of Tech Headaches

Hi everybody.

I am once again writing a blog post mainly for the purpose of testing whether my new email distribution system is working (signs point to no), so I apologize to anyone who continues to be subjected to these content-empty blog posts!! I’m not the absolute worst at tech stuff, and I even live with a tech guy, but nonetheless, there’s so much in the world of computer technology that’s so difficult for anyone who isn’t an expert. I wish it were not so. I feel a little bit like a seahorse who is trying to build a web, or a spider who is trying to survive underwater, or any number of metaphors about not belonging where you are :).

La la la. Ho hum! Now we have gotten to the point in the post where I insert a random picture, so that if the email that is supposed to send does indeed, via some miracle, send (signs point to no), I will be able to see how it handles pictures. Let’s see, what do I want to share this time? Let’s go with this little guy whom I collaged into being.



Well then, there we have it. Another thrilling blog post from the desk of a beloved author. 🙂 If I can’t get this to work this time, I will probably have to resort to professional help, so be comforted that at least this should be the last post like this one. Be well, everyone.

Hi All

Hi everyone, today’s blog post is mostly a test for my new emailing system, so feel free to ignore it. I’m going to test whether I receive an email of it in a format that’s to my liking, then delete it. But I plan to be back soon with some actual content! I have a lot of thoughts and ambivalence lately about social media, but I don’t want it to keep me from blogging… I miss the days of thoughtful blogging.

In the meantime, here’s an excellent bird I saw recently in Harvard’s Museum of Natural History. 🙂

Be well, everyone!

Get Your Holiday Orders In! And My Ghostly Writing Companion

Hi all. Just a quick note that if you want to buy personalized copies of any of my books in time for the holidays, get your orders in at Harvard Book Store by Friday, December 2 at the latest! That’s a week from today. This will provide time for processing, signing/personalization, mailing, etc. Here’s the link for ordering.

Thanks so much to everyone who came out for one of my Seasparrow launch events! Once the launch was over, I snuck away to Vermont for some snowy writing time. Here’s one of the sunrises I woke up to…

A sky of yellows, oranges, and purples, above mountain ranges and a snowy meadow.

And here’s the little guy who kept me company on my desk.

A short pillar candle made of white beeswax with two black eyes and a nose, sitting on a table before a dark window.

Happy reading and writing, everyone! Stay cozy.

A Halloween Superhero Story (oh, and it’s SEASPARROW’S birthday!)

Today is Seasparrow‘s birthday in North America, and I’m so very pleased. I hope I’ll see some of you at one or more of my Events. Also, this week only, I’m happy to announce a steep sale on e-books for the Graceling Realm backlist. US-based readers only (sorry, other readers!), any retailer, $2.99, through Saturday, November 5.


And now, on to our story. (Yes! On to our story!)

Depending on how long you’ve followed my blog, you may or may not know that Halloween is very important to me. For the last three years, I’ve had nothing to dress up for. But this year, Halloween came back.

So I collected my supplies.


I discovered that a surprising number of fuzzy things are available on Poshmark.


I constructed a red, flowy thing with golden ties.


I constructed a yellow felt lightning bolt with a capital G in the middle.

A yellow felt lightning bolt with a light blue capital G in the middle.


Then I got to work on the tricky bit, which I built out of EVA foam, then painted silver.

A helmet-like shape built out of EVA foam.


Faster than lightning! Stronger than steel! Smarter than a speeding bullet! It’s… Oh dear. It’s Super Grover.

Me dressed up as Super Grover, wearing the helmet, a cape, the lightning bolt, a fuzzy blue sweater and skirt, and fuzzy blue legwarmers.


Happy Halloween, everyone. And happy birthday, dear Hava and Seasparrow! I hope that Hava will find her way into your hearts, dear readers. Happy reading.

A New GRACELING Audiobook, an Excerpt from SEASPARROW, and a Moment That Inspired Me

Hi all!

I’ll start with a reminder that I’m now doing events for Seasparrow, which releases on Tuesday, November 1. I’ll be at An Unlikely Story on Tuesday 11/1, I have an online event with Once Upon A Time on Wednesday 11/2, and I’ll be at Harvard Book Store on November 15. Please see my Events page for details.

Next, you can now read a short excerpt from Seasparrow! Thanks to for making this possible. Read the excerpt here.

Another Seasparrow announcement: Fairyloot and Gollancz are doing a special signed Seasparrow edition, to match their signed editions of the earlier books. An exclusive cover, solid sprayed edges, patterned endpapers. Supplies are limited! Learn about the Fairyloot edition here.

A poster for the Seasparrow Fairyloot special edition, showing the Gollancz UK cover (a reddish-golden bird flying above an anchor, with ice at all four corners, on a black background) and golden edges.

Next, I’m pleased to announce that Graceling is being newly released in audio, read by Xanthe Elbrick, who narrates all the other Graceling Realm audiobooks in the US. I love the work Xanthe does bringing my worlds to life, so this is lovely news. The audiobook releases on January 10, 2023, and you can preorder it on your favorite digital audio retailer now!

Audiobook cover for Graceling, with art by Kuri Huang. Read by Xanthe Elbrick. A stylized woman holds a knife in a forest, in colors of green, blue, brown, and white.

Finally, I’ve been sharing some photos over on twitter from my artist residency with The Arctic Circle, an experience which directly influenced much of the setting of Seasparrow. For just over two weeks, we sailed on the tall ship Antigua through the Arctic Ocean around Svalbard. (Search my blog with the term “Arctic Circle” if you’d like to see lots of pictures.) In Seasparrow, Hava learns how to climb the mast, and finds it a frightening but also liberating experience. Here are a couple of photos of the research I did. John Hirsch took the first one (with the phone I shoved at him!), and Barbara Liles the second.

On the left, I stand on ropes in the rigging of a tall ship, wearing winter gear, while on the right, Captain Mario Czok climbs with me and gives me tips. An icy sea is behind us.

On the right, Captain Mario Czok gives me tips as I begin my first climb.

Here I am climbing on my own. My harness had two hooks, so I was always hooked in. Nonetheless, it was scary! The ship was moving, and it fell very high and cold.

That’s it for today. I suppose I’ll have to come back soon to share my Halloween costume :), but in the meantime, happy reading, and I hope I’ll see some of you at an event in the coming weeks!

SEASPARROW Events, a Preorder Gift, and a Peek at My Writing Notebooks

Hi all!

A note that if you’re not interested in tour events for Seasparrow or the preorder campaign but you are ARE interested in my writing process, scroll down past the two big, informative squares :). I share photos below of some of the tools I used to sustain my emotional mood while writing Seasparrow.

First, events. The release of Seasparrow is just around the corner — November 1 — and I have gatherings to share! I’m doing three local, in-person events and one virtual event. Everything’s listed below and you can get all the details at my Events page. (Please note that I’ll be signing books BEFORE my panel at the Boston Book Festival on October 29, NOT AFTER. I’ll add those details to my Events page as soon as I have them.) Please come join me and Hava!

Tour Schedule – SEASPARROW Boston Book Festival Saturday, October 29 3:15-4:15pm Power to Make You, Power to Break You (YA Fantasy) Kristin Cashore and Elizabeth Lim Moderator: Rory Power Event listing: Tuesday, November 1 7pm EST An Unlikely Story 111 South St Plainville, MA 02762 Event listing: Wednesday, November 2 8pm ET / 5pm PT Once Upon a Time – virtual event Event listing: Tuesday, November 15th 7pm EST Harvard Book Store 1256 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, MA 02138


Also, my US publisher, Penguin Random House, is running a preorder promotion for US readers. Readers in the US, preorder Seasparrow in any format, from any vendor, and register/upload your receipt here. Please hit @PenguinTeen at Twitter or Instagram with questions!

Announcement for a preorder gift for SEASPARROW: an enamel pin, with red text on a gold background, that says, "Love is hope for other people." Go to to enter.


Finally, I have some photos to share from my writing notebooks for Seasparrow. Before Seasparrow, I always wrote in large, college ruled, spiral-bound, hard-covered notebooks — always, for every book. But a couple things changed as I transitioned from writing Winterkeep to writing Seasparrow. One change is that my physical pain increased and I started to have more hand and finger problems. I started to need more forgiving pens. I taught myself to write with my nondominant hand and began using both hands alternately to write my books.

Another, unrelated change is that for whatever reason, the voice or mood of Seasparrow felt different to me from anything I’d done before. I knew the book was going to be told from Hava’s first person perspective, and for some reason, I found myself searching for notebooks that felt Hava-ish to me. She doesn’t keep a diary, but if she did, maybe she would like the notebooks I chose?


The picture below shows a sampling.

An array of notebooks, one showing three white rabbits carrying nets and collecting stars; another showing a woman surrounded by foxes; a third a fantastical scene of a woman whose hair looks like waves, with a ship and the tentacles of some creature on her head; another showing a butterfly, another showing flowers; another showing waves; another showing a bear holding an umbrella, flying a magic carpet.


The beautiful art shown in the two pictures below was created by Elise Hurst. You should definitely check out her website.


On October 23, 2018, I began the first serious first draft of Seasparrow on the page below.


Sometimes these notebooks gave me an opportunity to decide how Hava herself would fill in the boxes. 🙂

And inside page of a notebook with boxes for the writer to write their information. It says: NAME: Hava. DATE: winter. CONTACT INFO: The Monsea, Brumal Sea. FAVORITE BEACH: The Winterkeep coastline, as seen from an airship.


I also added stickers to my writing pages, as I’ve talked about before. The fox sticker below is the work of Kate at BearandFoxCo.

On a notebook page, a large sticker showing a painting of a red fox whose bottom half is composed of pine trees. My own scrawled writing is visible around the fox sticker.


On the page below, I lined up a series of stickers to look like a skyline.

At the bottom of a notebook page, a series of stickers showing the city skyline composed of many castles, with mice crawled writing above it.


And Katie Harmon at PinkPolish Design created the very Hava-ish sticker below.

At the bottom of a notebook page, on the left, a sticker showing a tall ship. On the right, a sticker showing a fantastical image of a woman who seems to have birds in her hair. Around these stickers, my scrawled writing is visible.


There’s a beauty and ease to filling your workday with images that feel like the writing you’re doing. Before I go, though, I’ll mention that there’s a hazard that goes along with it — namely, that when you read your own writing to assess whether it has the emotional impact you mean it to have, your judgment is clouded by the emotional impact created by the art around you! It’s the same with listening to music while you write, which is something many writers do effectively. It’s great if it works for you, but you need to make sure that when you read your own writing, you’re assessing its impact and its impact alone — not merely being swayed by the music you’re listening to. Use the tools that help you get through the hard work of creation, but don’t forget that the reader will be reading your words, and your words only. Your words must carry the book.

And that’s my news for today. I hope to see some of you out in the world for the release of Seasparrow! Happy reading, everyone.

Welcome to My New Website

Hi everyone. Today, I’m so very pleased to introduce my new website. It was made by Jenny Medford at Websy Daisy, whom I recommend enthusiastically. On my end, everything was straightforward and easy; Jenny was patient, responsive, and imaginative; the parts of website-building that were beyond my abilities were magically lifted from my plate; I was delighted with her design instincts. And here it is! I hope you enjoy looking around! (If you’re receiving this as an email, please do click through and have a look.)

The paper collage art was created by me. Though it wasn’t my goal to represent characters or objects from my own books exactly, it was my goal to invoke my book worlds generally, so, if you’re familiar with my books, you may see objects or characters that ring a bell. If you see objects that don’t ring a bell, it might be because I wasn’t just working with my published books here. I was keeping my future books in mind. So some of these collages are teasers for books that will come out in time.

In terms of blogging, you may have noticed that I’ve dropped off recently. This is partly because during the pandemic, I’ve needed to simplify my life and my responsibilities a bit, for survival (I’m guessing you understand). It’s also partly because given the challenges we’re facing these days with the state of our democracy and basic human rights, I often find I don’t have anything useful to say in blog form. I feel like my most useful contributions to the conversation will be my books. So I’ve been focusing intensely on my books.

Despite breaks from blogging, I do intend to continue my series on the craft of writing, make announcements, and blog on random topics sometimes! I’ll close with a few photos from the process of making one of my collages.

I had the idea to make a picture of raptor monsters flying out of my book Fire. (You can see it on my Books page.) So, first, I opened up my Fire hardcover, and took a couple of photos. This one below for the left side of the page,

A photo of my book Fire in hardcover, held in my hand, open to pages 68-69.

And the one below for the right.

A photo of my book Fire in hardcover, held in my hand, open to pages 354-355.

I printed them, cut them out and shaped them, glued them together, cut a box out of the right side, and added page-looking edges from a picture in a magazine I found somewhere. Note (below) that on the left edge I had to scrabble together some pieces, because I didn’t have a piece big enough to cover that whole edge. I knew at this point that one of the raptor monsters flying out of the book would have to cover that patched spot on the left.

A photo of the beginnings of a collage held in my hand, showing pieces cut out of the previous two photos and glued. It looks like an open book, with a page of Fire on the left (page 68), and a page with a big empty box cut out of it on the right.

I added a few more things and then sent the following photo to my sisters, who told me they couldn’t believe it was flat.

Held in my hand, a flat paper object that looks very much like a three-dimensional open book. The left side is page 68 of Fire, the right side shows an illustration of a mountain peak, winter trees, and a blue and lavender sky. The book has a red cover showing at the edges.

So I sent them the following photo next.

A photo of the 3D-looking book described in the previous image, shown sitting flat on a desk.

At this point, I started making little birds and playing with where they should go and how they should look. I cut out, glued, and ended up rejecting a lot of birds!

Lying on my desk, my 3D-looking book collage, now with three different collaged birds of various yellows, golds, and pinks, positioned randomly. Behind it on the desk, my own pencil sketches.

But in time, I got to the look I wanted. The finished collage is below.

The finished collage. An open book with writing on the left side, and, on the right side, an illustration of a mountain scene. Three colorful birds are flying out of the mountain scene and out of the book. On the right, the birds are purple and fuchsia. The bird on the left is shades of yellow, green, and red.

When I was done, I had a little moment of serendipity. I hadn’t been paying much attention to the page of Fire I was working with, beyond knowing it involved mountains and raptor monsters. I hadn’t bothered to check how many raptor monsters, or what color they were. Imagine my delight when I read the actual page and saw the words, “Three raptors, two shades of fuchsia and violet and one apple-green.” Will you believe me when I say that this was an accident? I was looking for the numbers and colors that worked best with my background, nothing more. These types of serendipitous accidents happen in writing sometimes too. It’s one of the small delights of the process.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my explanation of how one of my collages was made — and I hope you’ll enjoy my new website! Welcome.