Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve is a strongly Scottish holiday (Hogmanay!), so it is appropriate that I should write to wish you all a very happy new year.

My big goal for January: finish writing the sequel to The Explosionist, The Snow Queen!

I'm not quite sure how the publisher's schedule works, but I would think that if all goes as planned, the book would be published in winter or early spring of 2010 - I'll post more details here as things develop.

Thanks to everyone who has written to me or blogged about liking The Explosionist and wanting to hear what happens next!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008


North Berwick in the travel section of the New York Times. This seaside town is about half-an-hour's train ride outside of Edinburgh, and it's mentioned several times in The Explosionist. My Scottish grandparents lived in North Berwick, and it is strange to me to see a picture of the Bass Rock in the newspaper, it is such a familiar sight to me!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Two pictures from Sunday's reading at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore (I wish that store had been there when I was a kid - it is right next door to the food co-op where we always shopped - it would have been a heavenly thing to my childhood self!):

In the first picture, my lovely sister-in-law; in the second, the bonus book is
Justine Larbalestier's excellent How to Ditch Your Fairy! Justine's reading there this week also - have a nice time in Philadelphia, Justine!

I was just there for twenty-four hours, but the main thing we did was utterly gorge ourselves on delicious food, on Saturday night at the Spring Mill Cafe in Conshohocken and on Sunday morning at Jake's Restaurant in Manayunk. Before getting on the train to Philadelphia, I did a twelve-mile run on Saturday morning in Central Park as part of my marathon training - I needed a lot of fuel, but it is not of course strictly speaking necessary to have home-made pate (three kinds!), filet mignon, tarte tatin and walnut french toast as fuel!

[ED. Postscript: I forgot to say before, but one of the members of the audience was my former third-grade teacher, the one who prompted me to write this essay about reading.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Philadelphia reading

Just a reminder that I'll be reading from The Explosionist at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore this Sunday at 12:30 as part of the Mt. Airy Village Fair.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


At the HarperTeen Myspace page: the one use I might have for Twitter...

(Bonus link: this is slightly along the lines of a story I wrote a couple years ago about what it would be like to be able to get any book you ever wanted, even if it had never been written, from Amazon...)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Books of Wonder reading

1. The store had me sign a ton of books, it was good for my authorly morale...

(2. But contrary to popular belief, I learned the other day that it is a myth that signed copies cannot be returned to the publisher! Here, if you are curious, is a recent story on why 'returns' are bad for authors and publishers...)

(3. I have confidence, though, that the delightful staff members at Books of Wonder will thoroughly and wholeheartedly vend these copies...)

4. This is a nice dress that I am wearing, but it shows too much cleavage! I got it a couple years ago at J. Crew, I hate shopping but I spotted it immediately as something I would wear, and indeed I often get a nice compliment on how it looks on me & the question of whether it is vintage emerges (but in fact I do not have a small enough ribcage to wear real vintage dresses from the 1940s!); however it has a fatal design flaw, as all items from J. Crew do (it always is the sort of thing one only realizes once one has actually brought it home), the front flap situation would really have been better off with some kind of button or fastener - it is possible to use a brooch, for instance, to clip it together very high up next to the throat (this is perhaps the modest but alluring look that one might prefer on a date with a vampire!)...

We were egged on to pose by the camera-holder, but I think I naturally have a fairly exaggerated manner in public...

More au naturel:

The main subject of the photograph below is Linda Gerber, who is very nice indeed and whose own camera batteries had run out! Hmmm, I have been a lifelong anti-photographer, really I would always rather live in the moment, but I can see the utility - I took a few other pics for authors who had forgotten to bring their cameras...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Reading on Wednesday 8/6

I'm doing a group reading and signing, with a number of other young-adult authors, at Books of Wonder on 18th St. in Manhattan: Wednesday 6-7:30. Stop by and say hello!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Richer than the Queen

Not too far into The Explosionist, a murder takes place in a fancy Edinburgh hotel room. When I was writing the scene, I decided to set it at the alternate-universe version of one of Edinburgh's real-world luxury hotels - and some time afterwards, I was very delighted to read the stories about J. K. Rowling checking into a hotel to write the final scenes of the Harry Potter saga, because the hotel she stayed at was the exact same one that made an appearance in my novel!

Now the rooms she stayed in have been renamed the J. K. Rowling Suite, and you can book the suite yourself for £965/night - that's close to $2000 at current exchange rates...

Here's the hotel's website, and here's a longer story at the Telegraph. Many thanks to Wendy for the link!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Danger areas

The big showdown at the end of The Explosionist takes place in a dynamite factory on the Scottish coast.

Though the novel takes place in an alternate version of history that's different from the history of our own world, lots of things are in fact quite similar, and this factory existed (for real!) in our world also. Here is the 1897 magazine story about the Nobel Dynamite Factory at Ardeer that I found most useful for research purposes...

(Hmmm, once upon a time I had a link online to a facsimile of the original article, which gives a better feel for the period - I cannot find it again now - but I am grateful to the administrator of that site for having made the full text accessible!)

This picture appeared in the original article, and if you've read my novel, it will be easy for you to see how it - along with the accompanying description of young female factory workers getting searched for any metal they might have on them before going into the nitroglycerin house, where a single spark could lead to lethal consequences - fed into the scene I envisioned:

My father was in Scotland as I was finishing the novel, and he made an expedition to the site to take some pictures. It was a working factory well into the twentieth century (here's a good article on dynamiteur Alfred Nobel's Scottish enterprises), and for a brief period a few years ago, it seemed as though the site would serve as the location for a permanent exhibition called The Big Idea, on the history of invention in general and Nobel prize-winners more specifically. But the project closed down - here's a description of it in its heyday - and the pictures my father took speak of the devastating but beautiful effects of the passage of time.

(All pictures courtesy of Ian H. Davidson. Thanks, dad!)

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Today I'm blogging at HarperTeen's Myspace page. My topic: an unexpected problem I'm having with the sequel to The Explosionist!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Out in the world

Today is the official publication day for The Explosionist. Welcome!

My plans for this blog have not yet fully materialized--the more pressing job for the summer is to write the sequel to The Explosionist!--but I'm thinking I'll post here a couple of times a week during the first months that the novel's out there in the world.

You're also very welcome to drop me a line at, or to look in and say hello on one of my other blogs.