I mean that literally—blues and hip hop and jazz and rock differ from town to town—but also figuratively. Cities have different rhythms, different styles of driving, different prides and language patterns. Writing urban fantasy is at its best an exercise in writing the city's music, transcribing its crazycool dreams and sometimes nightmares into monsters, magic, and mayhem.
That's difficult enough for cities that actually exist, places a person can walk around and breathe and come to know. New York's real; you can taste it like wine on your tongue. Boston you shoot more than sample. London rolls smoky in the mouth. Beijing you drink like baijiu: raise it in toast with your friends in thimble-sized cups and slam it down and exhale to avoid as much of the taste as possible, then do it all again, and probably light a cigarette because you're dying already aren't you? The country kills you.
It's possible, I mean, to know a real city.
But I had to go set my books in a world that's not Earth. I did that for good reasons—I wanted to depict a society where magic is woven through life, rather than Something Scary Out There. For my first book, THREE PARTS DEAD, the task was pretty straightforward. I imagined a city, and built it. But I wanted the next book, TWO SERPENTS RISE, to focus on a different city in the same world, so that city had to feel different from the one in the first book. I couldn't just go there to walk around.
Alt Coulumb, where THREE PARTS DEAD took place, had a very Northeastern feel: vertical lines, skyscrapers and tight alleys and central city parks and the like. I drew off New York and Boston and London and Shanghai. So, for the next book, why not go to the opposite extreme? Which meant a horizontal city, a city that sprawled, a city of low roofs and occasional massive buildings, a city of heat and open space. My wife's from Los Angeles, so I'd visited before, and, Tennessee boy as I am at heart, the place bowled me over with difference; Beijing did the same when I lived there. And both cities had trouble with water, which fed into ideas I'd been worrying over about debt and dependency.
So far, so good. I started paying more attention to Los Angeles when I visited, and I dredged up old memories of Beijing, some pleasant. I stole stuff wholesale, reconfigured, warped, revised. Cackled, sometimes, to myself, when I thought no one could hear.
What can I say? I wrote this book in stolen half hours when any reasonable person would have been sleeping. If you can't cackle at your own work at one o'clock in the morning before a long day at the office, when, I ask, are you allowed to so cackle?
And at the end of all that cackling and warping and cutting and rearranging, I found myself with a city that owned its own rhythm, and its own horror. A city in which my characters could live—which Caleb and his friends could love, hate, and want to defend.
Excellent, I thought. Now I have something to destroy.
I read Three Parts Dead recently and really enjoyed it, a good combination of urban fantasy mystery set in a secondary world. One of the aspects I liked most of it was the world building, so glad that Max visited here and touched a bit upon his approach on creating societies and cities for his stories; thanks for stopping by.
Hope to read the sequel soon.
Well, let's get on with the giveaway, one winner for physical copies the two books of the Craft Sequence: Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise.
Participants have to be 18 years of age or older to participate. Void where prohibited by law. Giveaway rules are subject to change.
The giveaway is open for US and Canada shipping addresses only, and it will run from November 4, 2013 until 11:59 pm ET on November 15, 2013.
How to participate:
- To participate simply log-in into to the Rafflecopter and "Enter" through the easy entry.
- One entry per person, or face disqualification.
- Entries accepted until 11:59pm ET on November 15, 2013.
- There'll be ONE winner only for a physical copy of Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise.
- Will have to confirm email to be considered a winner within 48 hours.
- Additional entries may be had by following the steps provided in the Rafflecopter instructions, and only by doing those steps.
- Winners will be chosen by random selection using the Rafflecopter.
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You can buy Two Serpents Rise at: