A School for Unusual Girls is the first captivating installment in the Stranje House series for young adults by award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin. #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure “completely original and totally engrossing.”
It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.
After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts….
A School for Unusual Girls is a great next read for fans of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series and Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin series.
Do you have any idea how many epic fantasy books are going to be published this year? No, neither do I, but I’m guessing it’s a lot. It’s hard as a new author to stand out from the crowd. People don’t like to think of writers competing with one another, but in some sense they do. No-one can possibly read every fantasy book, so how do you ensure yours is the one that makes it onto someone’s to-be-read list? I mean, there’s a book coming out later this year that features knights and dinosaurs. Knights and dinosaurs! Hey wait, where are you going? Come back!
You see the problem.
A while ago I came up with the idea of making a video trailer for my book. I’d just seen a teaser trailer for Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart that I thought was very effective. It features a woman walking up to the White House and summoning a ball of magical energy in her hand before throwing it at the building. That’s all. Nothing about the characters, nothing about the plot. But it certainly made me want to find out more.
The simplicity highlighted for me what I saw as a drawback in a lot of the video trailers for books that I’d seen previously: they tried to convey too much information about the story. That’s understandable, perhaps, but it’s difficult to summarise the plot of many fantasy books without making them sound silly. Try it with The Lord of the Rings. “So, there are these little people with hairy feet, and one of them has to throw a magic ring into a volcano to kill a Dark Lord . . .” Knowing nothing more, is that a book you’d rush out to buy? Of course, I’m not doing the book justice (who could?), but I’d argue it’s impossible to do it justice in the space you have available in a trailer.
The second problem with trying to convey too much story is that unless you’re using a voice actor you end up with lots of words on screen. But this is supposed to be a video, right? If someone wanted to read what the book is about, they’d look at the blurb. A trailer has to do something different. The best ones I’ve seen use images and music to create a mood, and tell you just enough about the book to spark your interest.
Unfortunately, finding the right images and music can be a challenge, particularly on a budget – and particularly for a fantasy book. My debut, When the Heavens Fall, tells the story of a man who steals an artefact that gives him power over the dead, then uses it to resurrect an ancient civilisation in order to challenge the Lord of the Dead for control of the underworld. That’s not the sort of subject matter most people are looking for when they go to a stock photo website. Put “undead army” into the website’s search box, and you won’t be inundated with options. No really, it’s true.
What about finding an image for your characters, though? That should be simple enough. Except you can never quite find a photograph that corresponds exactly to how you see the characters or (more importantly) to the detail in the book. Or the person in the picture is wearing the wrong sort of clothes, or standing in front of something that might just appear out of place in a medieval fantasy setting. Like a helicopter. Having looked through hundreds of images for my “main” character, Luker, I was forced to fall back on a photo of a man in a hood. But, hey, this is epic fantasy. It wouldn’t feel the same without a hooded man in there somewhere.
So, having robbed the process of all of its mystery, it’s time to invite you to sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the video trailer for When the Heavens Fall.
It’s best viewed with the lights turned down and the music turned up . . .
Marc Turner was born in Canada, but grew up in England. His first novel, When the Heavens Fall, is published in May this year from Tor in the US and Titan in the UK. A short story set in the world of the novel is coming soon at Tor.com. The story will also be available as a free audio file. Marc can be found on Twitter at @MarcJTurner and at www.marcturner.net.
The Doll Collection is exactly what it sounds like: a treasured toy box of all-original dark stories about dolls of all types, including everything from puppets and poppets to mannequins and baby dolls. Featuring everything from life-sized clockwork dolls to all-too-human Betsy Wetsy-type baby dolls, these stories play into the true creepiness of the doll trope, but avoid the clichés that often show up in stories of this type.
Master anthologist Ellen Datlow has assembled a list of beautiful and terrifying stories from bestselling and critically acclaimed authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, Pat Cadigan, Tim Lebbon, Richard Kadrey, Genevieve Valentine, and Jeffrey Ford. The collection is illustrated with photographs of dolls taken by Datlow and other devoted doll collectors from the science fiction and fantasy field. The result is a star-studded collection exploring one of the most primal fears of readers of dark fiction everywhere, and one that every reader will want to add to their own collection.
In Los Angeles, everybody knows somebody who makes movies or television. Ben Tripp worked in the movie business for a long time, and his wife Corinne Marrinan Tripp makes documentary films and television. So he knows people. Talented, versatile people who make the magic happen. You might imagine that when Tor Teen approached him about making a book trailer for The Accidental Highwayman, Ben’s first instinct would be to turn to this tremendous pool of talent.
You would imagine wrong, of course. Instead, Ben set about making the trailer single-handedly. Then he got carried away and made three more. Along the way the scale of the task got completely out of hand, and the great Buz Carter was enlisted to assist in the shooting. Then it was back to the desk to begin compositing, titles, and building the sound. Here are a few interesting aspects of these miniature productions.
All live action shots were performed in front of a green screen, at different times of day so that the lighting would match the backgrounds. In Los Angeles everyone has a green screen in their garage somewhere. This one was pinned to the ceiling or tacked to the back of Ben’s house. Here we see an interior shot of the ukulero performing.
The backgrounds were composed in Photoshop; this study is what Ben wishes his office looked like. In fact he does not own a hippo skull or a bust of Voltaire and there is no stolen Vermeer over his mantelpiece. His real office doesn’t even have a mantelpiece in it. But the black-and-white portrait of his wife (next to the window) does in fact hang near his desk.
Below is a screen capture of what a home movie studio looks like these days: a whole lot of layers on a computer screen.
Not everything could be achieved digitally, of course. Stock footage of sheep and a large papier-mâché giant’s head were involved, too. Ben’s love of all crafts shows here in sculpture; he also sewed the rest of the giant costume.
Originally his French Bulldog Roscoe, who is the model for Demon in the book, was to appear in the videos. But he had recently had back surgery, was underweight and partially shaved, and looked like an uncooked Thanksgiving turkey. So he did not appear in the videos.
Read more about The Accidental Highwayman and Ben Tripp at his website, kitbristol.com.
Margaret Weis and co-author Robert Krammes bring the enthralling Dragon Brigade trilogy to a thrilling conclusion in The Seventh Sigil, a sweeping novel of worldwide war and personal redemption.
Five hundred years ago, a clan of rebels was banished to the bottom of the enchanted world of Aeronne; ever since, these Bottom Dwellers have sought revenge, and now they are waging all-out war on the rest of humanity. Their deadly “contramagic” beams destroy buildings and attack naval airships, and their demonic drumming brings terrible storms and disrupts the magic of the people and dragons Above. The attack of their full contramagic power will create a magical armageddon.
In an effort to prevent further death, Captain Stephano de Guichen leads the Dragon Brigade, taking the fight to the Bottom. But strength of arms alone will not be enough to conquer their foe.
As the Bottom Dwellers’ blood magic eats away at the world, those Above realize their only possible defense lies in the heretical secrets of contramagic. Loyal priests must decide whether to protect the Church, or risk its destruction in pursuit of the truth.
Only the Dragon Brigade can prevent an endless dark age. Their epic battle will test the mettle of those thrown into the breach, and determine the fate of this magical world.
The Seventh Sigil , by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes, publishes on September 23.
If you’ve been on social media at all lately, chances are you’ve seen the videos. Someone announces that they’ve accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and promptly gets a bucket full of ice water dumped over their heads. The resulting expressions of surprise and frantic jumping around are great entertainment for those of us watching.
Three Tor authors have accepted the challenge, helping to promote awareness of ALS. We wanted to gather all three of those videos for you in one handy place, so you can enjoy watching Brandon Sanderson, Alex Bledsoe, and David Brin get a dousing!
Now, the point of this challenge is that you either donate $100 to the ALS Association, or you do the ice bucket thing and donate $10. As I did the ice bucket thing, we’re choosing to donate $10 to ALS, and instead give the $100 to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund in the name of Sir Terry Pratchett. I figured it would be worthwhile to spread the love from this charity drive around.
Click through to read the rest, including who Brandon nominated for the challenge!
Next up, we have Alex Bledsoe, the author of both the Eddie LaCrosse series, and the Tufa novels. For the ALS challenge, Alex got a little help from his boys—who don’t exactly have perfect aim. Close enough, though!
About People of the Morning Star: Bestselling authors and archaeologists Michael and Kathleen Gear begin the stunning saga of the North American equivalent of ancient Rome in People of the Morning Star.
The city of Cahokia, at its height, covered more than six square miles around what is now St. Louis and included structures more than ten stories high. Cahokian warriors and traders roamed from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. What force on earth would motivate hundreds of thousands of people to pick up, move hundreds of miles, and once plopped down amidst a polyglot of strangers, build an incredible city?
A religious miracle: the Cahokians believed that the divine hero Morning Star had been resurrected in the flesh. But not all is fine and stable in glorious Cahokia. To the astonishment of the ruling clan, an attempt is made on the living god’s life. Now it is up to Morning Star’s aunt, Matron Blue Heron, to keep it quiet until she can uncover the plot and bring the culprits to justice. If she fails, Cahokia will be torn asunder in warfare, rage, and blood as civil war consumes them all.
Unwept is the beginning of a spellbinding new trilogy by Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman, bestselling co-creators of Dragonlance and Ravenloft.
Gamin, Maine, is a remote seaside town where everyone seems to know Ellis Harkington better than she knows herself—but she doesn’t remember any of them.
Unknown events have robbed Ellis of her memory. Concerned individuals, who claim to be friends and loved ones, insist that she simply needs to recuperate, and that her memories may return in time. But, for her own sake—so they claim—they refuse to divulge what has brought her to this state.
Ellis finds herself adrift in a town of ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers. The Nightbirds, a clique of fashionable young men and women, claim her as one of their own, but who can she truly trust? And what of the phantom suitor who visits her in her dreams? Is he a memory, a figment of her imagination, or a living nightmare beyond rational explanation?
Only her lost past holds the answers she seeks—if she can uncover its secrets before she falls prey to an unearthly killer.
Unwept, by Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman, will publish on July 1st.
In All Those Vanished Engines, Paul Park returns to science fiction after a decade spent on the impressive four-volume A Princess of Roumania fantasy, with an extraordinary, intense, compressed SF novel in three parts, each set in its own alternate-history universe. The sections are all rooted in Virginia and the Battle of the Crater, and are also grounded in the real history of the Park family, from differing points of view. They are all gorgeously imaginative and carefully constructed, and reverberate richly with one another.
The first section is set in the aftermath of the Civil War, in a world in which the Queen of the North has negotiated a two-nation settlement. The second, taking place in northwestern Massachusetts, investigates a secret project during World War II, in a time somewhat like the present. The third is set in the near-future United States, with aliens from history.
The cumulative effect is awesome. There hasn’t been a three part novel this ambitious in science fiction since Gene Wolfe’s classic The Fifth Head of Cerberus.
All Those Vanished Engines, by Paul Park, will publish on July 1st.
The story of The First Formic War continues in Earth Awakens.
Nearly 100 years before the events of Orson Scott Card’s bestselling novel Ender’s Game, humans were just beginning to step off Earth and out into the Solar System. A thin web of ships in both asteroid belts; a few stations; a corporate settlement on Luna. No one had seen any sign of other space-faring races; everyone expected that First Contact, if it came, would happen in the future, in the empty reaches between the stars. Then a young navigator on a distant mining ship saw something moving too fast, heading directly for our sun.
When the alien ship screamed through the solar system, it disrupted communications between the far-flung human mining ships and supply stations, and between them and Earth. So Earth and Luna were unaware that they had been invaded until the ship pulled into Earth orbit, and began landing terra-forming crews in China. Politics and pride slowed the response on Earth, and on Luna, corporate power struggles seemed more urgent than distant deaths. But there are a few men and women who see that if Earth doesn’t wake up and pull together, the planet could be lost.
Earth Awakens, by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston, published on June 10th.