Tag Archives: Win an ARC!

Greenglass House Cover Day Continues With a Visit From Jaime Zollars!

In honor of what I’m just going to go ahead and call Greenglass House Cover Day, I’m delighted to have a guest post from cover artist Jaime Zollars, without whom today would be really not very exciting at all. Thanks for stopping by, Jaime! 

Good day to all of you! My name is Jaime Zollars and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be a little part of Kate’s amazing story, Greenglass House.

42ssMany of you reading are no doubt writers, or avid readers, or simply fans of Kate’s lovely writing. While there may be some illustrators out there as well, I wanted to explain something to those who don’t make pictures. Illustrators get to be surprised all the time with the jobs that come our way. We may be going about our day, drawing, surfing the internet for “research”, sipping coffee and tweeting about said coffee, when an e-mail pops up in our inbox. It is a job! And we hope it is a fun job. But if we choose to illustrate the content of others in lieu of writing our own, the details of such assignments are always a surprise.

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Now, surprises are sometimes good, but they can also catch you off guard.  It is relatively common for me to get an e-mail from a client that says something to the effect of: “We love the work you do, but we’d like for you to do something entirely different.” (not in these exact words.) So while thankful for every opportunity that comes my way, I proceed in drawing a client’s pet shop of adorable kittens while dreaming of the day I will be called to draw something with shady characters, snowy mountains, and an air of magical mystery.

So when I was contacted about illustrating a cover and interiors for Greenglass House, it was probably the best surprise I’d ever uncovered in my inbox. I was sent samples of my own work that Clarion felt made me a good match (shown here), and seeing a few of my more obscure personal favorites there was thrilling! Then getting to read the book before most anyone else made it all even more exciting. This was one of those jobs that I immediately understood why the publisher was calling ME. This project felt like a natural fit. And for an illustrator, that is always the best kind.

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Of course, once one gets “the perfect job”, the next thought that pops into one’s head is “I sure hope I don’t mess this up.”  While it was difficult to pack in the depth and wonderful mystery of Greenglass House in a single image, hopefully it does its job of making you want to know more.

See Jaime’s beautiful cover, read an excerpt from the first chapter, and enter to win an ARC over at Book Smugglers! 

Greenglass House Cover Day! Greenglass House Cover Day!

I said Tuesday but evidently I can’t read a calendar! TODAY IS GREENGLASS HOUSE COVER DAY!

Go immediately to visit the Book Smugglers. There you will find my beautiful cover and an excerpt from the book, as well as instructions for entering a giveaway for a Greenglass House arc. Later I’ll be joined here at the Clockwork Foundry by Jaime Zollars, the cover artist herself. For all the Greenglass House-related fun you can handle, visit the Nagspeake Board of Tourism and Culture to learn more about the Sovereign City of Nagspeake, where Greenglass House takes place.

The excitement, it is nearly more than I can take…

 

Five Days ’til the Greenglass House Final Cover Reveal!

It’s happening this coming Tuesday, September 23rd over at The Book Smugglers! Mark your calendars, friends, because (and I can say this with humility because Lord knows I am not responsible for it) the Greenglass House cover is beautiful. Really fabulously wonderful. I am completely and wildly in love with it. It’s the work of Jaime Zollars, and rather than listening to me talk about how awesome she is, I encourage you to visit her here and see for yourself.

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Super-helpful (not) drawing I made to help explain how Greenglass House could have elements of architecture from Malta, Riga, China, (and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn), all at once. Jaime did it better.

Now, a few of you out there might have gotten a bit of a sneak peek, you lucky ducks. Shh. Don’t tell. But on Tuesday we’ll be revealing the final cover in its full wraparound glory, which I promise you don’t want to miss. And if you can’t stand the idea of waiting until next August to read Greenglass House, you’ll definitely want to stop by, as we’ll be giving away an ARC.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting like a madwoman here to help get you ready. Like every day. Like maybe even more than that, Griffin-permitting.

So MARK YOUR CALENDARS, I SAY! Tuesday the 23rd! Book Smugglers! Be there or you’ll be sorry!

Novellablog: Halfway there on the Most Amazing Kickstarter Project Ever*–and it Still Needs You!

It’s May 12, a month after the Kickstarter campaign to fund The Kairos Mechanism started. With 29 days to go and the help of 110 backers and many others who’ve given time, blog space, and moral support, as of noon today, the campaign stands at 88%. (This excludes cash/check contributions made at Wednesday’s Happy Hour, which will be used in June to begin mailing out rewards, since Amazon holds backer contributions for two weeks after the close of the campaign.) Wow, guys. Thank you. Really, really, thank you. Now, time to get this project funded, so we can move on to the next phase.

As a quick reminder, the minimum amount that must be raised for The Kairos Mechanism to be funded is $6500. But what happens after that?

We keep going.

  • The next milestone will be the $7500 mark, at which point the thirteen reader artists’ compensation for their illustrations will be bumped up.
  • At $9500, I’ll be able to commit to a second volume of the Arcana series, and (unless someone backs the campaign at the $1000 level, at which point they earn the right to choose the next volume themselves) within the next few days I should be able to tell you what that book will be so that you can start getting excited about it.
  • At the unthinkable sum of $13000, I will be able to pay another group of reader-artists, and will be able to commit to an illustrated edition of Arcana #2.

With nearly a month left to go, I feel really good about our chances to accomplish all of these things. In order to shake things up at the midpoint, I’ve added new rewards to the Kickstarter menu, including:

  • Signed prints by Andrea Offermann
  • Original artwork by several of The Kairos Mechanism‘s reader artists
  • Advance copies of The Broken Lands
  • Kairos Mechanism-inspired jewelry made by the jewelry club at my high school, South River High in Edgewater, Maryland, from bits and bobs collected from my writing room. You can’t see it well, but the necklace I’m wearing in the Kickstarter video is one of their pieces. Not only do they make really lovely stuff, but part of your contribution at this level has gone (in advance) to the high school.
I also have a habit of making random additional reward offers on Twitter, so you should follow me there (I’m @katemilford). So far they’ve included cookies and poems, but goodness knows what oddball things I’ll come up with as we get closer to the point where I can commit to Arcana #2. Follow me and stay tuned.
You can also help the campaign in a couple other ways, if you’re so inclined.
  • You can grab The Kairos Mechanism’s Kickstarter widget for your own blog or website (if you do, be sure to let me know so I can send you a thank you). The embed code can be found on the project page, right under the video widget.
  • You can also invite me to your blog for an interview or a guest post. Just remember, the campaign ends June 9th, so time is of the essence.
  • You can also now find The Kairos Mechanism on Goodreads.
And…let’s see…oh, how was the Halfway Happy Hour? Well, as far as I’m concerned, the best moment by far was when second-youngest guest, four year-old Cate Cagnazzi, took the clock key I gave her as a party favor and immediately decided–with no prompting from me–that it meant her dad was a giant toy she had to test (repeatedly) by winding him up at the kidney. Sorry, everyone else who attended: Cate won. She gets me. None of the rest of you found the clock keys in the party favor bowl and tried to wind up a fellow guest.
That’s all I’ve got for you right now, except that, as always, I can’t thank you enough. I’ll keep trying, though.
Happy Friday!

*Sensationalist title chosen specifically with Natalie Chan in mind. She knows why.

Shoot, I forgot a title…CONTEST WINNERS!!

Well, the weekend is nearly at an end, and I’m shaking off my post-vacation jet-lag to say a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who participated in this week’s contests in celebration of the beautiful new cover for The Broken Lands, and the nice things that several generous readers have said about it. So without further ado, may I announce your winners:

The winners of the art contest are…

Okay, I’m sorry, but I warned you that I might do this. Four pieces of art were entered, and I am invoking the contest moderator’s right to give awards to all four artists, because every one was fantastic, and every one was so completely different. Two focused on setting the scene, and two focused on the villain introduced in the excerpt. So instead of one four-way tie, I’m going to say we have two two-way ties.

First and foremost, may I present the two most recent entrants, which arrived during my flight back to NYC from Israel, who will share the Award for Best Evocation of Historical Period, also known as the Award for Knowing Kate Well Enough to Know You Get Extra Points For Including Trains. Here they are:

A study in pencil by Edie P.

A study in color by Luci P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And if you’ve been by this spot in the past week, you will probably remember the first two entries, but just in case, here they are, as well.

B&W Magic from the Rabbit-Hearted Girl

He Brushed the Dust from His Sleeve

 

 

Shannon and Candi, I hope you’ll forgive me for not being able to choose between the two of you for the Award for Best Illustration of my Beloved Villainous Gambler, a.k.a. the Creepy Hands Go a Long Way Toward Making Kate Happy Award. So I’m calling this one a tie, too. Candi got some extra points for the fact that her High Walker makes me think of Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop, and Shannon got some extra points for giving us a look at the process of bringing High Walker to life in this speedpaint. But in the end, I love them both too much to pick.

So we have four art winners! Congratulations! Prizes for everybody!

And now for the amplifying-the-chatter portion of the contest. Mentions were culled from Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and the comments of this site. The names were scrawled on haphazardly-torn-up pieces of paper and one was drawn at random. And the randomly-drawn winner is…@kindleaholic!

So, instead of two winners, we have five. Winners, I will need for you to let me know your preference for hardcover or advance copies of The Broken Lands, and I will also be sending you Sonya Hartnett’s The Midnight Zoo (illustrated by Andrea Offermann). Kindle-aholic, you get the same choice, but you also get to choose your second prize from among the following books by the authors who said such nice things about my beloved second book:

  • A Tale Dark and Grimm (Adam Gidwitz)
  • The Inquisitor’s Apprentice (Chris Moriarty)
  • The Book of Blood and Shadow (Robin Wasserman; advance copy)

So congratulations and my most heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated. Send me your preferences and your addresses by email if you wouldn’t mind (check the “Contact Kate” page here at Clockwork Foundry for the address).

And with that, friends, I sign off for the moment, but only for a short while so that I can put together a second post, which I’ll post tonight before I die of jet-lag-induced exhaustion. And just in case the cover isn’t enough excitement for you, I’ll have another excerpt for you to go along with it. Thank you so much for playing this game with me all week!

Cover coming up next…

 

THE BROKEN LANDS Contest Update: there’s still time…

A day and a half remain to play! Two entries have been made to the artistic portion of the contest, and they are magical, my friends. If you’d like to visit the artists’ pages, Shannon’s is here and Candi’s is here. Check out the phenomenally creepy hands on both of those! It didn’t occur to me until I saw them that I really do have some kind of thing about frightening hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I mentioned, you can still enter either contest for about another day and a half. We’ll call the contest closed sometime overnight between Saturday and Sunday. I know I said it would be over tonight, but then I realized I’m going to be on Israel time until Sunday morning anyway, so why not just give things an extra day? And for those of you who wish to enter the non-drawing portion of the contest, all you have to do is re-tweet, re-blog, comment, or generally pass the word along. Just make sure I can find your contribution, and you’ll be entered in the drawings. By the way, comments on the artists’ pages count toward this part of the contest, too. Because these kinds of efforts need some major applause.

The Broken Lands, a First Look: Introducing High Walker

Have fun, kids. Draw me something cool.

From The Broken Lands, Chapter One: CHARACTER, CHANCE, AND CHEATING

Coney Island, August, 1877

The arrival of the four o’clock train at the terminus of the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad line announced itself with a squeal of brakes battling the forward momentum of two hundred tons of iron. The freckled man in the white linen suit scowled as a fine dust fell onto his cuffs. He looked up at the luggage rack, malevolence in his red-rimmed black eyes, and stared at the carpetbag that had fallen over onto its side.

He brushed the dust from his sleeve with fingers tipped with nails that had been filed to points. It had been about a week since the man had last used those nails to mark a hand of cards, though, so the points were dulling a bit.

With the handle of the bag in one fist and his slim wooden gambler’s case under his other arm, he joined the stream of holidaymakers spilling onto the platform and surveyed his surroundings. To the west, he knew, were the streets of Norton’s Point, all full of thieves and gamblers and criminals in hiding from the law. A few miles to the east, wealthy guests lounged in grand hotels where piers stretched like manicured fingers into the water. The expanse in between, the bright festal wilderness of West Brighton, was given over to bathers, garish painted banners, grifters, mugs of lager that were two-thirds froth, questionable intentions, and carousels.

Taken all together, this jumble of folks, rich and poor and working and thieving, was Coney Island, the notorious seaside town just south of Gravesend, Long Island.

The black-eyed man leaned on the rail watching, listening, and acclimating while he inhaled the brew of sea air and coal smoke. There was something else in the air, too; a deep note, buried far below the scents and sounds that stirred on the summer breeze. It would’ve been nearly impossible for anyone else to detect. Humans were notoriously blind to the simmer of violence—which always amused him, considering how like a drug it was to them.

The freckled and black-eyed man, not being human, could smell it as sharply as cologne. It was everywhere here, just like it was everywhere he’d been in this country in the last twenty years, at least. Maybe more. It was easy to lose track of the passing years. He was far older than the flashy young fellow he appeared to be.

This year, though . . . this year it was strong. It had been building through the long years of Reconstruction; it had kept on building during the years of depression; and this summer it was as if it had been incorporated into the very molecules of the air. In the rebuilding South, in the growing West, even here in the North where folks claimed to be so very civilized. Silty, flinty, stony, metallic, the scent was edged with the smell of human sweat . . . and yet sweet, like the perfume of overripe fruit just before it turned and began to rot.

He stood there until the platform cleared, and then he remained a few minutes longer. At last he sighed, picked up the carpetbag and the wooden case, and started in the direction of the beach.

There was still plenty of daylight left, but long shadows were stretching across the sand as he trudged toward the relative dark below the ferry pier, rolling his eyes at the squeals of girls in their woolen bathing costumes and little boys chasing each other through the surf.

In the gloom beside the pilings, the man dropped the carpetbag. He peeled off his suit jacket, draped it carefully over the bag, sat and leaned back against it as if it was a pillow.  He removed glittering cuff links and rolled up his sleeves, folded freckled arms across his chest, and closed his eyes.

Then he winced and swore as a blow caught him between the shoulder blades. He sat up straight and punched the bag with his elbow. “Patience, you moldy old bastard,” he hissed. Then he sat back against the bag again, harder this time.

Nothing to be done until sunset.

Countdown to THE BROKEN LANDS: the Cover, and a Contest or Two

About a week ago I got to see the final cover of my next book at last. Yes, The Broken Lands jacket art has been finalized, and all I can say is that it’s truly beautiful. Not that I expected anything less for a moment. Andrea Offermann, the amazing artist behind the cover and illustrations of The Boneshaker, returned for this book, and I’m just in love with what she’s done this time. In fact, I’m so in love I want to celebrate a little.

Here is Andrea. Wonder what she's working on...

I’ve also been receiving some fabulous comments about the book from some fabulous writers, educators, and librarians. I want to celebrate that, too. I’m just feeling generally celebratory. So here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking: how about I show you the jacket art next weekend, and how about before do, let’s have a CONTEST? In fact, let’s have TWO OF THEM!

Contest #1: Draw some stuff.

I’ll post an excerpt from The Broken Lands later this afternoon, to introduce you to the setting and one of the characters. I invite you to bring either or both of them to life any way you like. Post a link to your art in the comments of the posted excerpt any time this week.

Contest #2 (for those of you who, like me, lack any drawing capability whatsoever): Help get the word out about this contest and the cover reveal next weekend.

Post a thoughtful comment or question here, tweet or re-tweet links about the contest, mention it on Facebook, do what you can to keep the chatter going. Those cool comments about the book I mentioned? I’ll be dealing some of those out on Tumblr this week, and you can re-blog one or two of those if you’re so inclined. I’ll do a random drawing from all chatter-amplifying commentary I can find, and select a few winners. It’s probably best, so that your efforts don’t slip my notice, that you also make it easy for me to find them. Use my Twitter name, @katemilford, or my Facebook name, @katechellmilford, or comment here on the blog as to how you’ve passed the word along. Thoughtful comments or questions will earn you an extra entry. What constitutes a thoughtful comment or question? I don’t know, but I know one when I see it.

WHEN DOES THIS AWESOMENESS CONCLUDE?

The deadline to enter is Friday the 10th. I’ll post the cover Saturday the 11th, and announce the winners Sunday the 12th.

HOW WILL YOU CHOOSE THE WINNERS?

The winner of the chatter portion will be drawn at random, but multiple contributions will earn you multiple entries. The winner of the art portion–well, it depends on how many entries there are. If you’re the only person who steps up and gives it a shot, YOU WIN. If you’re one of only two or three, you probably all win. My blog traffic isn’t that high, so honestly, your chances are pretty good. I’d give it a go.

ARE THERE PRIZES, OTHER THAN A VIRTUAL A PAT-ON-THE-BACK?

My endless gratitude. Oh, and yes, books. The winner of the art portion will receive the ANDREA OFFERMANN CELEBRATION PRIZE: a copy each of The Broken Lands (your choice, advance copy in about a month, or real-live bound book in September) and Sonya Hartnett’s The Midnight Zoo, which Andrea also illustrated.

The winner of the chatter portion will receive the SAYING NICE THINGS ABOUT MY BOOK CELEBRATION PRIZE: The Broken Lands (same choice, arc very soon or hardcover this fall) and your choice of a book by one of the wonderful writers who so generously gave their time to read The Broken Lands. I’ll let you know the specific choices at the end of the week, but there are clues here as to whose books will be up for grabs if you look closely enough.

I should also warn you that I’m overseas this week, six hours ahead of you. It’s 8pm here, and I have somewhat limited internet. So please don’t panic if I don’t reply right away–or, you know, for six hours. Or if something gets stuck needing me to moderate it. Just think of it as part of the fun. And while you’re waiting, here’s an interview with Andrea from just a couple of days ago to keep you busy.

So, without further ado…let’s start…NOW!

Three Happy Things: Postcards, Posters, and a Friend’s ARC. Oh, and Free Stuff!

First, the free stuff, because I know that’s what people really want to know about. The Enchanted Inkpot turns one year old this April, and in honor of this very important anniversary, the Inkpot has put together two very, very cool giveaways this month. The first ends April 14–THAT’S TODAY, PEOPLE!–with a winner announced on the 16th, along with the prizes for the second contest.The best part is this: all you need to do is comment on this post right here and tell the Inkpot about a middle-grade or young adult book you read that you’d recommend. A winner will be chosen at random, and here’s what that winner will get:

  • Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus by R.L. LaFevers (signed hardcover)
  • Shadow by Jenny Moss (signed hardcover)
  • The Boneshaker by Kate Milford (signed ARC – hardcover comes out May 24, 2010!)
  • Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken (ARC)
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (signed hardcover)
  • The Runaway Dragon by Kate Coombs (signed hardcover)
  • Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter by R.J. Anderson (signed hardcover)
  • The Unnameables by Ellen Booraem (signed hardcover)
  • Possessions by Nancy Holder (signed paperback)

Further info to be found at the Enchanted Inkpot. Comment and win! How easy is that? And, in a convenient segue to Happy Thing Number One, I will include one of these sweet posters with the ARC I’m contributing:

Don’t go crazy looking for info at that link yet. The posters got here so fast the page isn’t live yet…but it’s coming. This, by the way, is text from The Boneshaker: it’s the handbill announcing Jake Limberleg’s Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show to the town of Arcane. In a further by the way, the company that did these is called Contact, and you can find them here and reach them at ideas@gomakecontact.com. They are unbelievably nice, can work within even a meager budget like mine, they arranged printing and delivery, and the turnaround was super-fast. Speaking of which, if you know a bookstore or coffee shop or other random location that might be willing to post one, shoot me an email or comment and I’ll send some to you. I’ll take all the help I can get in getting the word out.

Other happy news! A couple of weeks ago I did my first school visit at Yonkers Montessori Academy. I spoke with Mrs. Audevard’s 6th grade class, and Ms. Governali’s 7th/8th grade class. It was an absolutely wonderful first experience: the kids, the teachers, and the school were unbelievably welcoming and enthusiastic. And a couple of days ago, I went to my new PO box for the first time and discovered they’d sent me mail!

We’d talked about the idea of crossroads, and the kids each wrote me about a crossroads they’d experienced in their lives. Lots of them asked if I’d ever had to face a difficult crossroads like the ones they had. Needless to say, the answer is of course. And it’s often true, as several of my new correspondents suggested, that sometimes choices that seem like no big deal turn out to be far more important than they seemed at the time. The reverse is also true: sometimes a choice that seems like it ought to be no big deal can be just as hard to make as one you know will have lasting consequences. Because every choice means taking a chance or  giving something up, and those are never easy things to do.

Lastly but most excitingly, a very cool thing happened to me a little bit ago. A friend of mine who happens to be in the book buying business emailed me that she’d gotten an arc that she thought was right up my alley. The next time I stopped by her store to visit, she handed me an advance review copy of Matthew Kirby’s gorgeous debut, The Clockwork Three. This was cool for several reasons: firstly, it is right up my alley; secondly, it is a flipping beautiful ARC; and thirdly, I’VE READ THIS BOOK AND IT’S ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. I met Matt Kirby via the SCBWI message boards, and we’ve exchanged a couple stories and a couple manuscripts over the last year or so. Matt’s absolutely a lovely human being and a tremendous writer, and you should really mark your calendars for the release of this, his first novel, in October. (More detailed review to come a little closer to the release date.)

So those are my happy thoughts for this week! Stay tuned for the next installment of my commentaries on the Nebula finalists–voting is over, but the adventure continues. Until then…

The Boneshaker: A List of Seriously Cool Stuff that’s in This Book

Velocipedes, patent medicines, phrenology, Winton motorcars, blues, psychotic harlequins, snake oil salesmen, electroshock, automata, an Edgar Allan Poe-quoting fortune-teller, and a contest of skill played at the crossroads against the Devil.

You’re wondering now, what is this list of weird, cool stuff?

It’s a list–a very partial list, mind you; it isn’t even a complete list–of weird, cool stuff in The Boneshaker.

At long last, things are happening. The book comes out in four months, and I’m starting to get emails and phone calls from contacts who have received advance copies. After one week of play, the Feburary Facebook Boneshaker ARCmania Game (today’s randomly-chosen exciting name) is in full, highly-competitive swing; at last count (and I am counting obsessively) 81 new members have joined The Boneshaker’s FB group for this contest (and I hope you all win). A whole bunch of people have showed up here at The Clockwork Foundry. I hope you’ll all visit often. All things considered, it seemed like a good time to tell you a little bit about the book and why you are going to love it when it shows up on your doorstep on May 24.

For a basic summary of the book, I will direct you to Powell’s (where, conveniently enough, you can pre-order it if you haven’t already). For this post, I have decided to list all the Cool Stuff that went into the story. If you like these things, you are probably going to like this book just on principle.

Cool Stuff that was percolating in my head in 2003 (or whenever it was that I wrote the first draft):

  • Item: New Yorker article about the Jamaica Ginger epidemic of the 1930’s, referenced by various blues musicians as jake leg, the gingerfoot, and the old jake limberleg blues. In order to bypass Prohibition regulations that were intended to make the patent medicine called Jamaica Ginger Bitters (or jake) less drinkable, a pair of bootlegger chemists added a plasticizer to it that turned out to be a neurotoxin. (For clarification: patent medicines=cool and interesting. Net results of neurotoxins being added to them=not so cool.)
  • Item: Horatio’s Drive, the Ken Burns documentary about Horatio Nelson Jackson’s 1903 cross-country drive in a Winton motorcar, accompanied by a professional bicycle racer-turned-mechanic.
  • Item:  Les Automates (French-language photo-essay book about automata purchased at the Strand Bookstore).
  • Item: A selection of old books of American folklore, including 3 on the subject of Jack Tales.
  • Item: Ray Rupelli’s apartment, with Cool Stuff including but not limited to an antique dentist’s chair found on the street; a coffee table decorated with guitar picks; a piece of iron grate; and a Robert Johnson record, found (I believe) in a box of records cleaned out of some apartment and left by somebody, like so many treasures are, on the sidewalk for pickup on trash day.

So, percolating in my head that year: patent medicines, blues, the Devil at the Crossroads, bicycles and motorcars. Then I started commuting from Brooklyn to New Jersey, and listening to audio books. Which brings us to:

  • Item: Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes (purchased as an audio book to keep me from falling asleep at the wheel while commuting from Brookyn to New Jersey).  I fell in love with Bradbury’s language and the dark wonder of Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, as well as the small-town setting of Green Town. (Although I can’t cite it as a Cool Thing That Influenced This Book because I only read it last month, Arthur Slade’s Dust is another wonderful story about a menacing traveling show that wins over a town, and the single kid to whom it falls to rescue everyone and everything he loves.)
  • Item: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (also bought on audio to keep me from passing out while commuting). Lots of people feel really strongly about the His Dark Materials trilogy or about Pullman himself; some are fans, some aren’t. I’m not getting into any of that. I loved the books, but what I loved most was Lyra Silvertongue, Pullman’s fierce heroine.

So now, to the percolating Cool Stuff you can add: a diabolical traveling showman and a fierce young girl, the only person who can save everyone and everything she loves from Impending Doom:

The Diabolical Traveling Showman: Dr. Jake Epiphemius Limberleg, proprietor of and head of research for Dr. Jake Limberleg’s Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show. Also in Limberleg’s corner are Willoughby Acquetus, Paracelsus Vorticelt, Thaddeus Argonault, and Alpheus Nervine: the Paragons of Science, four specialists in the arts of Hydrotherapy, Phrenology, Magnetism, and Amber Therapy.

The Fierce Girl: Natalie Minks, daughter of the town’s bicycle mechanic and the woman who knows all the weird stories about their crossroads hometown of Arcane. Natalie loves all things mechanical, the Wright Brothers, and the antique Chesterlane Eidolon velocipede her father fixed up for her, even though it’s a meanspirited, hateful, impossible-to-ride boneshaker of a bicycle.

Then there’s Jack, the green-eyed drifter with a carpetbag and a tin lantern, and nobody knows what he’s up to. Except for maybe Simon Coffrett, the man who lives in Arcane’s only mansion…but nobody’s real sure about that Rilke-quoting recluse, either.