Thursday, October 31, 2013

Two interviews about HILD: video and written

Two interviews about Hild have just gone up.

The first was shot on the floor of BEA on Friday, 30 May 2013, by the crew of Publisher's Weekly.

As you can see, I was a bit tired--but having enormous fun. It was my very first interview about Hild the woman and why she fascinates me.

The second, at The Coffin Factory, was done last month, and it's full of ruminations about what we may or may not have lost when people in Britain converted to Christianity.


This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Monday, October 28, 2013

Some Hild-ish bits and bobs

A lovely review of Hild by Ilana Teitelbaum in Shelf Awareness:

Hild is an immersive experience, its exquisite language serving as a portal to a distant time and place... Griffith brings a remarkable sensuousness to the setting, beautifully evoking the lush physicality of the joys, hardships and sheer work involved in a life so intertwined with the vagaries of the natural world. The language is strung with unexpected gemlike turns of phrase: women ride in a wagon "like coddled eggs," their boots "the colour of owl breasts."
No comparisons to other writers, though, so our competition score still stands at 10...

...Or it would if you didn't count reviews on Goodreads. And today I do. So now we add Marion Zimmer Bradley to Hilary Mantel, Sigrid Undset, T.H. White, George R.R. Martin, Ellis Peters, Rosemary Sutcliff, J.R.R. Tolkien, whoever wrote Beowulf, the person to whom we attribute the Arthur legends, and Seamus Heaney.

That makes the count:

11 total: 2 undeclared, 4 women, 5 men
Also, I won't be going to Miami next month. But I might possibly be in Chicago at Women and Children First, Madison for Room Of One's Own, and Gary to talk to a class of UIN students. There are still plenty of details to work out, so as and when that firms up I'll let you know.
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hild reading group guide

You can now read the Hild reading group guide. I had some input, which I used mainly to try make the questions feel a little less school exam-ish. Take a look. Tell me what you think. And then take a wild guess at which question I added...

Also, I've just found out that the Hugo House event (November 13, 7 pm) is not free. It's a $5 cover--unless you buy a book, in which case it is free. Sorry about that.

This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Elliott Bay Books Wednesday 10/23, 7 pm

At 7 p.m on Wednesday 10/23 I'll be at the Elliott Bay Book Company to talk to John Freeman about his new book, How to Read a Novelist. I can promise you an interesting evening.

Freeman is the former editor-in-chief of Granta and former president of the National Book Critics' Circle. He's been interviewing writers for a long time. This is the man with his finger on the pulse of the 21st-century novelist. Come and ask some questions. The event is free and, more to the point, EBBC has a café that sells beer...
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Monday, October 21, 2013

Hild audiobook

Macmillan Audio (@MacmillanAudio) are producing a Hild audiobook. I am very happy about this.

Lots of readers have suggested that I should narrate Hild. If I had all the time and energy in the world, I'd love to. But. This is a long book--more than 200,000 words--which, I'm guessing, would come to about 22 hours of audio. As a beginner I'd have to spend about three hours in the studio for every hour of finished audio. Close to 70 hours of intense, exhausting work. Given the schedule, I just don't have the time or energy.

So Macmillan have engaged a professional. She went into the studio this morning.

Anne Flosnik (@AnneFlosnik), as well as having lead credits for stage and television, has narrated a lot--more than 150--of audiobooks. That work has won her three AudioFile Earphones Awards, an ALA Award, and four Audie Award nominations. Her narration of Little Bee by Chris Cleave was chosen as one of the Best Audiobooks of the Year 2009 byAudioFile magazine and one of the Top 40 Best Audiobooks of 2009 by Library Journal.

So she's hugely professional, which is great, but the big bonus is that she's from Northumbria. She recognises some of the places in the book. She feels it in her bones.

Anne only got the book on Friday and had to start recording this morning; she's had to get up to speed fast. So we've been collaborating. We've already exchanged email, lots of texts, and two long--90 minutes--phone calls. We've talked about pronunciation of names and places, how class differences often trump ethnic and geographic ones, who changes and in what way, which bits are sly and which bits broad.

The best part of this truly accelerated process is that Anne and I have been able to communicate in Northern Lass shorthand:
"Think of the gesiths as rugby players--union, not league."
"That song on page 211? I learnt that from a rugby team, it's about balls, not ears."
"Oh, the one that goes... [sings tune]?"
"That's it."
"These country thegns, think of them as huntin' shootin' fishin' types."
"A bit all that?"
In the next week or so there'll be hundreds of texts when she hits names or places we haven't managed to cover, dozen of decision to make on some subtlety or other that no one will notice--unless we get it wrong.

This is real collaboration. I wrote the book, but Anne is going to bring it alive for you: seventh-century Britain in all it's multi-ethnic, status-conscious, wild landscape glory.

Wish her luck.
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The best way to buy Hild

From: Ro

I’ve been wandering through your archived blogs and just read your rant from January, 2009, Don’t be fucking cheap. I confess: I meet five of the eleven listed requirements. You’re right; once a month I can afford to buy a new book. As an avid reader, I appreciate having permission to do so. It feels like I’ve just received a gift, something special and luxurious. Something to look forward to each month.

As a writer, I must bow to you again. If my work is sold, I want to be paid for it. When I’m giving too much attention to my job, and in the dumps about not having enough time to write, my friend, Suzanne, asks me the same question every time: "Who is waiting to read your book?" Now, when I hear her mantra, I will also ask myself, "Who is waiting to buy my book."

So, I haven’t bought a new book this month, and I’d like to buy your new one. I have heard that authors receive differing amounts from the sales of their books depending on where and how they are purchased. How should I buy your Hild, then, so that you receive the most of my hard-earned money?
That post might be four years old but I haven't changed my mind: if you can afford to buy a book--anyone's book--please do.

In terms of Hild, I get more money from a hardcover sale than for an ebook. It's a beautiful object (the handsomest trade book I've ever seen). Added bonus: the hardcover has a map, glossary, and pronunciation guide that you can flip to anytime while reading the main text. I find this much more difficult in the digital version, whether on a dedicated reader or an app on a mobile device.

Apart from money, though, there are many other perspectives for you, as a reader and writer, to consider.
  • Do you want the book signed? If you do, then order Hild from a store where I'll be signing around publication. At the moment, that's three: Seattle Mystery Books and Elliott Bay Book Company the day after publication, and Eagle Harbor Book Co. the day after that. I'll be signing for University Book Store and others later on.
  • Do you want the book soon? If you pre-order a Kindle edition from Amazon, you'd get it first thing in the morning of Tuesday, 11.12.13. If you order a signed hardcover from SMB or EBCC or Eagle Harbor, I doubt you'll see it before Friday--maybe later, depending on where you live/how they ship. (Booksellers, please correct me if I'm wrong.)
  • Do you want to support a diverse book ecosystem? Buying from your local independent helps them keep their heads above water; it supports your community. A reader's new book/writer discovery usually happens in physical stores. If book buying is reduced to Amazon, the world will be a less diverse and therefore less robust (and interesting) place for us all. 
  • Do you support libraries? Libraries are good for discovery, too--though in the US I get no extra money per book after the library system's initial purchase of same. There again, borrowing is free: so why not buy a copy *and* order Hild from the library? That way, others who can't afford to buy will have the opportunity to read, too.
However, if you can't afford the hardcover ($20 and up, depending what kind of discount the retailer is offering), a digital copy ($11 or more, depending) will put money in my pocket. Do remember that if you buy an ebook from an independent online bookstore such as Wizard's Tower Books, or Weightless--though I admit that I don't know whether they're stocking Hild--you're supporting the small presses that run them.

In a perfect world, publishers would bundle print and digital offerings: you could buy the hardcover and get the ebook for a negligible additional sum. As a reader I'd buy many books that way. But sadly most publishers are not there yet.

Conclusion: buy as your needs direct. But if you can afford it, buy a hardcover--of Hild or any other book--from one of the independent book stores suggested by readers. It will help booksellers, and so publishers and writers and other readers.
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hild's sexuality

I've been asked this often enough that it's time to be clear: Hild is not straight.

Interviewers and reviewers have already asked me: So why is Hild a lesbian?

I say: First, she's bisexual. Second, why the fuck not?

I am tired of having to have a reason for characters being queer. When my first agent told me that my proposal for Slow River was "not a selling outline," I asked her to explain. She said, "Well, why does Lore [the protagonist] have to have a girlfriend?" I said, "Because she's a dyke." And fired her.

Nearly twenty years later Slow River is still in print. It won awards. It got translated into several languages. In the end, readers don't care who gets naked with whom. They care about the story, the people, the setting. They care about the writing.

We should not have explain why our characters are queer. Or why they're not. People are just people; they are who they are and love who they love. Sometimes that changes. Sexuality can be surprisingly fluid.

I'm not just talking to straight people here, either. I'm also tired of hearing from quiltbag folk that "No one will publish our stuff because it's queer." Bullshit. I've never had a moment's trouble placing my fiction and it's pretty queer.

Wake up, people. In fiction, it doesn't matter if your characters are queer or straight, neither or both. What counts is whether it's any good.

Go write something great. Go read something great. Go review something great. When it comes to fictional sex, never apologize, never explain.

This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Monday, October 14, 2013

Immigration and same-sex couples

From: Isabelle in the EU

The reason I am getting in touch is that I have fallen in love with an American woman while I am French and live in France. Sadly she does not live in a state where same-sex marriages are allowed.

As someone who has been through all this, I was wondering whether you had any advice on how to proceed so I could eventually get a Green Card and live there with her. John Kerry's words on the topic of binational gay couples when he was in Britain last summer are encouraging but I do not know if the treatment of gay couples is now the same as non-gay ones.

I was wondering whether you had written any post on the topic or whether you could suggest an organization I might contact.
First of all: congratulations! Love is an amazing thing.

As for your question, the answer is pretty simple: if you're willing to get married, there's no problem. You can get married in any state where it's legal; it doesn't matter where you live.

According to the US Customs and Immigration Service here's how it works.
  • You get married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. 
  • Go live anywhere in the US. 
  • Apply, using form I-130, to sponsor your spouse for a family-based immigration visa. 
  • You live happily ever after.
It's a bureaucratic hassle--tedious rather than hard if you're legally married.

A couple of things are unclear to me, though. For example, how does engagement rather than marriage work? Would you have to travel to a state where marriage is legal to propose? But a good lawyer could help you through those hurdles. The one I always recommend is Carolyn Soloway, of Frazier, Solowy, Poorak & Kennedy, P.C. in Atlanta. She helped me. Kelley still describes her as a goddess of justice.

I hope that helps. If I'm correct--and I'm not qualified to give legal advice; do, please, talk to a lawyer--if you're willing to get married, there are no obstacles. You and your sweetie can make this work...

...and I am amazed and delighted to type that. I think of all the years, the stress, the money, Kelley and I had to spend and now it's so simple. This is fabulous. Good luck!
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My excellent adventure at the PNBA

I've just got back from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show in Portland where I gave a presentation about Hild. Well, presentation is what the organisers called it. I called it waving my hands about and rabbiting on about Hild the woman (why she's so intriguing, why I spent years living with her and plan to spend years more) while everyone else munched on eggs and ham, or muffins and muesli, or whatever.

I've never given a breakfast speech before. After dinner speeches, yep, when everyone's mellow with wine and rich food. It was rather odd to be faced with a sea of alert, brilliantly lit faces at the ungodly hour of 8:00 a.m.

But it was good to meet so many booksellers--people from Alaska and Montana and Idaho as well as the usual Washington State folks. And the other three authors--Elizabeth George, Cynthia Voigt, and Brandon Sanderson--were interesting. They'd all clearly done this kind of thing before. Everyone's style was pretty different. But the booksellers seemed pleased with our efforts.

I'm glad it went okay because they're a great group of people. After the breakfast, I wandered about the exhibit hall saying hello. If I had any expectations it was probably Book Expo America in miniature, but it was much more like an SF convention. People nodding as you go by, some punters with odd social skills, idiosyncratic wares on display. In the bar people were shouting, and beaming and throwing open their arms: Hey! Haven't seen you since last year! Above all, there was the same sense of community I find at a regional or speciality con: WisCon or Westercon or World Fantasy.

It was fantastic (in all senses of the word). And I got to meet people I'd only talked to through Twitter, like Colleen Mondor of Bookslut (and author of fab books about flying in Alaska). If you're an author, I can recommend it wholeheartedly. If you're a bookseller, why weren't you there?

I also really liked the fact that the mood was buoyant. The doom and gloom of other bookseller meetings was not in evidence. My sense is that independents are beginning to get a handle on the new bookselling landscape. It bodes well.

But perhaps the most amazing thing for me was seeing on Sunday evening the giant wall of Hild I was supposed to sign. (150? 200?) I tell you, seeing one is fabulous, but seeing hundreds was incredible. It is, hands down, the handsomest book I've ever clapped eyes on.

There's always one fighting to be different...
I signed books single-mindedly for a while, going into author-machine mode, signing them all exactly the same. Except, er, two, which I signed N Griffith rather than Nicola Griffith. (I went into business mode rather than Author Mode.) Kelley took a picture for posterity: the very first time I signed a finished copy of Hild.
If you zoom in you can get a peek at the map in the front
And because I can't resist, here's a closeup of the finished book. See how luscious all that debossed gold is!
Shiny shiny shiny!
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hild comparisons now at 10

The wee competition we have going for Hild comps moves up a notch after a writer friend, Dennis Mahoney, sent me this: 

Hild is a marvelous blend of mystic wisdom and human savvy. It feels true. Hild's transformation from reluctant 'chosen one' to world-shifting chooser is potent and convincing. Griffith's prose frequently reminded me of Seamus Heaney. Her language has that clear, punchy strength that comes across as beauty instead of brutishness. It often sounds like what's being described. This is the kind of broad, character-rich book you want to live with a while. It's a saturating experience. I loved it.
So we're now at ten comparisons. In addition to Hilary Mantel, Sigrid Undset, T.H. White, George R.R. Martin, Ellis Peters, Rosemary Sutcliff, J.R.R. Tolkien, whoever wrote Beowulf, and the person to whom we attribute the Arthur legends, we have Seamus Heaney.

That makes the count:
10 total: 2 undeclared, 3 women, 5 men
If you have a guess, append it to the comments on this post so we can keep them all together.

As a reminder, my guess was:
18 total: 3 undeclared, 8 women, 7 men
And the prize is still a signed, personalised copy of the finished Hild, mailed anywhere in the world.

All Hild reviews so far here.
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here: