updates

Archivist Wasp 3/Patreon/etc

October 24th, 2020

As you probably know by now if you follow me on Twitter, I’ve started writing the third and final Archivist Wasp book. The publication history of the first two books was a little weird — I wrote Archivist Wasp as a standalone, with no plans to continue that story, but then two things happened.

First, I got a much larger positive reader reaction from that weird little book than my impostor syndrome and I had ever expected. For whatever reason, people were resonating with this antisocial ghosthunter and this screwup of a ghost and their awkward enemies-to-friends quest into the underworld. I’m very much a write-the-book-you-want-to-read author, so the fact that anyone, let alone so many of you, clicked with this story is still, five years and change after the fact, remarkable to me.

Second, I tried to write other things. I swear. I managed to put together a pretty long short story, but even that was within the same world. I have a whole folder of ideas I came up with for nonrelated ideas while Wasp was going through edits and the long wait between sold book and actual book, but I couldn’t get any of them to stick. Instead, what started happening before Wasp was even released was that the second book started assembling itself in my head. A second book I had zero intention of writing. But a second book that was insistently, persistently, aggressively there, and very badly wanted out.

So I started writing it.

It wasn’t the bizarrely smooth process that drafting Wasp was. I wrote it and tore it apart and rewrote it several times, trying to figure out what the bones of a second book should look like. I hate, with the passion of a thousand burning suns, the second-book thing where you have to spend a whole chapter catching up on what went down in book 1 before you get let in to the story. It always feels awkward and clunky and forced to me for some reason. So I had to spend a lot of time figuring out how to do that in book two–by now with a working title of Latchkey, which stuck–in a way that felt organic and right to the characters and the progression of the story in a way that was, if not seamless, at least something I could live with. So what ended up happening was I chopped out the first three chapters of my draft and started the book in the middle of what had been chapter 4. Meanwhile, the rest of the book got two line-by-line rewrites in which I printed out the draft, sat down with it in front of me, and retyped it line by line, which sometimes is the exact thing you need to figure out where something is broken or not quite smooth or a scene is told out of order or a line just plain sucks and you can (hopefully) do better. During this same time I parted ways with the publisher of the first book and was trying to shop the second book around to a new home, which is extremely hard, but was eventually, against all odds, successful. But at a cost: many readers of the first book are still totally unaware of book 2, released in summer 2018. But it exists! Which is what my brain needed, in order to let go of it and write other books. (And hey! A short story! Totally unrelated to the Wasp stuff!)

(What’s hilarious and kind of sad to me is that periodically I get accusations from readers saying I essentially sold out, that I wrote Latchkey “for the money,” which is a thing I never should have done because “it was so good as a standalone” and I essentially ruined the story by continuing it.

Couple things to unpack here.

One: even if I did write it “for the money,” so what. This idea that writers (and visual artists for that matter) shouldn’t try to get paid for their art in anything but exposure bucks is absurd. I have seen people straightfacedly say that pirating movies is Wrong but pirating books is okay because “it’s no different than borrowing it from the library.” Which is really, emphatically, outrageously incorrect, but an assumption I’ve heard more times than I can count.

Two: the idea that a person wrote the sequel to a book that very few people have heard of “for the money” is objectively hilarious. These books, as all my books, are labors of love, full stop. If I wanted to write something “for the money,” it wouldn’t look even a little bit like Latchkey, or like Wasp for that matter.)

Which brings us to the present. Again I find myself with a folder full of ideas for books I haven’t written yet, and again all my extremely helpful brain wants to do is finish off Wasp’s story. But I know I have pretty much zero chance of traditionally publishing it, and that like always it’s going to be a labor of love, maybe even more this time than usual. Eventually I’ll probably put it on this site for free with a tip jar (unless by some miracle I can find a home for it elsewhere, which would be nice as I am notoriously bad at self-promotion and marketing and as such would be an absolute disaster of a self-publisher) but for now I’m putting it up bit by bit on my Patreon as I blunder through it in realtime. It occurs to me I may not have mentioned on here that I even have a Patreon? (Like I said! NOTORIOUSLY BAD.) Anyway, I do, and it’s got a couple years’ worth of stuff on it by now, including loads of Wasp extras like deleted scenes and Patreon exclusives–for instance, I had a number of requests to write up some of the myths that get mentioned in Wasp in their entirety (the stories about Catchkeep, Ember Girl, Carrion Boy, etc.) so a number of those are on there and will probably never see the light of day elsewhere. Lately it’s been the bits of Wasp 3, working title Catchkeep, and I’ll probably keep putting those up there until there’s a (very messy) draft. After that, who knows! But right now, with two books forthcoming and eating my whole entire brain, this is about the level of productivity I can handle. So Wasp 3 it is. We’re doing this thing.

Anyway, I made my Patreon really simple to subscribe to–it’s pay-what-you-want for all access to everything, no paywalling anybody out of specific content. The account got flagged as 18+ but that’s only because of some draft chapters with curse words in, no actual adult content of any kind. They don’t let people do giveaways on there for some reason, but I’ve been periodically mailing surprise extras to randomly chosen supporters (most recently I gave away 5 advance copies of my new book Firebreak, due out from Simon & Schuster/Gallery/Saga in May 2021, and I’ll be doing that all over again with review copies of my middle-grade debut Jillian vs. Parasite Planet and author copies of both as they become available).

Anyway, this has run on a lot longer and with way more tangents than anticipated, so that’s it for now. As always, thanks zillions to you for your support–it means I get to keep on writing the exact books I want to write, no matter how weird and unmarketable they are. 🙂

ANOTHER cover reveal?

October 19th, 2020

After not having a new book out since summer 2018, here I am revealing two covers inside a week. Taken in isolation, you’d think I’m way more prolific than I am. This one is Firebreak, due out from Simon & Schuster/Gallery/Saga Press on May 4, 2021. It’s about the radicalization of a VR gamer into anticorporate activism in the year 2134. (To clear up some confusion I’ve been hearing, it is not the third Archivist Wasp book–I’ve just started writing that and posting draft chapters on my Patreon. This is a standalone.)

Image

Preorder links are going up currently and it looks like for the moment it’s available on Amazon, with more options to come.

I’m very excited about this one. I spent three years telling myself I wasn’t good enough to do it justice and then basically panic-drafted it in six weeks. I really hope you like it. 🙂

Jillian vs. Parasite Planet

October 15th, 2020

Finally I can show you this amazing cover!!

They absolutely nailed the feel of the book and the color palette is gorgeous and it just generally is exactly what I was hoping for when I wrote this and I’m really really pleased.

It also looks to be preorderable on Tachyon’s site and also on Amazon, in case you needed more space survival stories in your life, especially with mind-control parasites and snarky cartoon-addicted intelligent nanobot swarms. 🙂

new book sale! my first middle grade!

January 31st, 2020

I’ve been sitting on this news for a while, but! I sold my first attempt at middle grade!

This book is about:

–a protag with anxiety

–mind-control parasites

–portal-based space travel

–a snarky, cartoon-addicted, shapeshifting nanobot cloud

–an Unlikely Alliance because hello of course

–PERIL

I wrote it with my son in mind (he has severe anxiety and I got tired of the standard fictional representation of anxiety = shy. It’s so not true.) but I wanted the protagonist to be a girl because we could use more girl protagonists in SF, possibly especially for kids! So I asked him if I could write him as a girl, and he, being amazing, was ALL IN.

So that (along with Firebreak, due out from Saga in Summer 2021) means I’LL HAVE TWO BOOKS OUT NEXT YEAR. If they’re half as much to read as they were to write, I’ll count that as a total win.

FIREBREAK news!

December 6th, 2019

Unfortunately, due to some tetrising around of book titles, FIREBREAK is now scheduled for Summer 2021 (not Summer/Fall 2020 as previously stated). Which gives you more time to (hopefully) look forward to it and gives me more time to lose my whole-ass composure, but somebody’s already made it a Goodreads page (idk how this even happens?) so do feel free to add it in the meantime if it sounds like a thing of interest to you!

Patreon!

August 13th, 2018

So I finally got around to setting up a Patreon account. It’s single-tier, pay-what-you-want, and it’s where I’m going to be posting drafts of stories and chapters I’m working on, as well as essays, giveaways, deleted scenes, process posts, Q&As, recipes, mysteries. Above all, if you want to see all the Archivist Wasp-related stuff I’m making as I make it, this is the place for you! There is A LOT MORE I want to do with those characters and those worlds, and since my publication history has been so unorthodox, this is honestly the only way to guarantee you get to see it.

I wanted there to be some content in place for early subscribers, so I launched the campaign with a draft of a brand-new 8200-word story featuring Foster and the ghost, way back in the day when they were still alive and about 15 years old. Since it’s single-tier, anything from $1 (Patreon’s minimum) and up will unlock that story, as well as any and all future content. It was a lot of fun to write. I hope it’s at least half as fun to read.

I know a lot of writers/artists/creators (myself included) who’ve had trouble in the past couple of years with reconciling the escapist nature of their fiction and art with the general awfulness of global current events. I feel that art and fiction and escapism are especially important when things look dire. Not instead of working for change, but in addition to it. Having a breathing space is necessary. This story, at its core, is about that need.

Thank you SO MUCH in advance if you’re able to toss a couple bucks in the jar — you’re helping me get away with writing exactly what I want to write, and for that I’m endlessly grateful. <3

Latchkey review roundup!

July 9th, 2018

First, a huge THANK YOU to all the book bloggers, Amazon/Goodreads reviewers, indie handsellers, social media word-of-mouthers, etc. who are helping get this book off the ground!

It’s early days yet, but here are some nice things people are saying so far:

KIRKUS Best Books of 2018

Tor.com Best YA SF/F of 2018

2018 Locus Recommended Reading List

Den of Geek Best Fiction Books of 2018

Kirkus (starred review) says: Less mythic in tone and more conventional in structure than the first, this title nonetheless delivers gripping action while deepening mysteries in restrained prose studded with flashes of vulgar brutality and startling poetry … Excruciating, cathartic, and triumphant.

School Library Journal (starred review) says: Archivist Wasp fans, prepare to be delighted. … Kornher-Stace’s masterly writing skillfully explains this wildly inventive world throughout. There is no clumsy recap of the previous volume, but references to the first installment blend seamlessly into the narrative. Genre fiction fans who prefer their speculative tales without romance will appreciate this action-packed work. An open ending leaves room for another series entry, but this also works as a standalone. VERDICT Teens who enjoy reading extended fight scenes and want immersion in an extraordinary world will enjoy Kornher-Stace’s second act. A strong choice for speculative fiction shelves. 

Locus says: Kornher-Stace has a deft touch with voice and character. Isabel is immensely compelling: a young woman raised in a brutal environment with little affection, who expected to die in ritual combat, and who nonetheless manages to develop personal integrity, ethics, compassion, and the ability to care about other people. She’s grown into a role as a reluctant leader, albeit one scarred by her experiences, and her friendship with Sairy, her second, is a touching and complicated thing – as is her relationship with the nameless soldier. Latchkey‘s prose is elegantly self-effacing: smooth, easy to read, and full of adroit turns of phrase. Kornher-Stace has a gift for creat­ing atmosphere, from the familial closeness of Isabel’s small community of former upstarts in the Catchkeep-temple, to the ominous claustro­phobia of the tunnels beneath Sweetwater, and into the hectic chaos and turmoil of battle. And underwriting every moment is a core of kindness, of compassion – of choosing a path away from cruelty, even when it’s hard: a core that makes this book, for all its darkness, somehow funda­mentally uplifting. If I had to choose one word to describe this novel, it would be compelling: in its pacing, its characterisation, and even in its genre-blending approach to worldbuilding, it compels attention. I really enjoyed Latchkey. I can’t rec­ommend it, and Archivist Wasp, highly enough.

Tor says: The combination of two future timelines—one of a ruined earth, and one of the militaristic one that preceded it—continues to tantalize in terms of how one led into the other, and whether some of the strange properties of Isabel’s world have their roots in the earlier period. And the multiple conflicts on display—humans against humans, humans against ghosts, ghosts against ghosts—offer a fascinating and constantly shifting backdrop for Isabel’s discovery of the secret history of her world.

Den of Geek says: Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace, the follow up to 2015’s highly-praised YA crossover Archivist Wasp, blends loss—of one’s childhood, of an entire society, of friends—with a genre-defying post-apocalyptic world with raw clarity and bloody poise. With strong, insightful characterization and a keen sense for tension, it’s a nigh-unstoppable candidate for one of my favorite books this year.

Kidliterati says: We were lucky to secure a preview of the sequel, and are happy to report that it’s just as intense, fascinating, and strange as the first installment from Nicole Kornher-Stace.

Geekly Inc. says: Archivist Wasp was one of my favorite books of 2015 and up there for one of my favorite new fantasy titles, period. It was such a rough, raw book, the literary equivalent of a rebel yell, and not just because it was a debut. Furious and dreamlike and achingly emotional, it was everything I never knew I needed in a fantasy. Or maybe “phantasmagoria” is better, a rare word for a rare book–and one about ghosts, no less. I continually had the impression that Nicole Kornher-Stace had served up her heart on a platter, no apologies and no attempts to make it into anything other than what it was. Just the bloody reality of it. Latchkey, the continuation of Isabel’s story, retains that sense of desperate reality in a slightly more conventional presentation … If this had a movie analog—which it really doesn’t, it’s so much its own book that it’s incomparable–it would be Mad Max: Fury Road.

The Little Red Reviewer says: If you like gorgeous prose, a slow burn, angry ghosts, snarky dialog and gut punches, and the intersection of post-apocalyptic and mythology, Latchkey is the book for you.

The Illustrated Page says: One of my biggest fears was that Nicole Kornher-Stace would introduce a romantic relationship for Isabel in Latchkey. The lack of romance was one of my favorite things about Archivist Wasp, and I’ve been burned so many times by series that have gloriously non-romantic first books before introducing it in the second. This does not happen. As with Archivist Wasp, the important relationships in Latchkey are entirely platonic, and they are no means any less deep or committed for it. Man, I’m getting emotional thinking about how much I love the friendships in these books. It’s just… in the vast majority of stories, friendship is second-tier to romance. Our entire culture tells us that friendships are not as important or significant as romantic relationships, and these books defy that whole notion. This is so incredibly meaningful and important to me, I can’t even express how much. I legit feel myself tearing up thinking about this.

LATCHKEY free on NetGalley through the end of April!

April 9th, 2018

Review copies of Latchkey are available for free on NetGalley through the end of April! Reviews of small press books are so so so important (word-of-mouth is what got Archivist Wasp off the ground, no question) so if you read it and have a few seconds to leave a quick review on Amazon or Goodreads, please do!

LATCHKEY sample chapters!

March 19th, 2018

First two sample chapters of LATCHKEY are now live! (Because people have been asking me — all preorder links are now also live here EXCEPT the one for Amazon, which is coming VERY SOON.)

I hope you enjoy — I had a ton of fun coming back to this world and working with these characters again. 🙂

LATCHKEY! (Archivist Wasp #2)

March 12th, 2018

So here’s a thing I’ve been working on for a while now.

There’s a long story behind this one — it’s kind of a long story in and of itself, at least compared to Archivist Wasp — but the short version is that I wrote AW originally as a standalone but realized pretty much immediately that I needed to work more with those characters. So I did. Latchkey was drafted (messily!) before AW was released, but it took a lot more work before it was ready. More work than I’ve ever put into a single book. Turns out that sequels are really, really hard.

It’s a bigger book than Archivist Wasp. There are more characters, more action scenes, more depth, more stuff. It took about a year to draft, and then three more years on and off to really get it to a place where I was pleased with it. I had a ton of fun expanding Wasp’s world, and I hope it shows.

Doesn’t that cover kick ass? Art by the incomparable Jacquelin de Leon. Go check out her stuff, it’s amaaaazing. Here’s her website, instagram, twitter, and store.

Here’s some people who liked the book.

“Fierce, blazing, brilliant. The mythic and brutal world of Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Latchkey is so richly realized, you don’t step into it, you fall.”
—Jacqueline West, New York Times–bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere

Latchkey is the opposite of escapist: it is, instead, horror for people with the courage to benefit from beholding actual horrors. Building on the deeply-realized Archivist Wasp, in Latchkey we are given a world even more fallen and brutal, for now even the old order of the archivists is broken. Here, when heroes are hurt, they stay hurt; here, the survivors must endure trauma without the words to describe it; here, knowledge itself is both deeply suspect and humanity’s only hope. History itself, embodied by blood-hungry ghosts, by turns cannibalizes the living and provides the only way forward. And yet, for all the loss and bodily pain, Latchkey shows us the power of community and the worth, greater than diamonds, of courage. Cathartic, feminist, explosively imaginative and masterfully played out, Kornher-Stace gives us a second-world fantasy that transports our minds while, time and again, it emotionally arrives.”
—Carlos Hernandez, author of Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

“What a great read! This surreal dreamscape of a book delves deeper into the unique world of the Andre Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp, continuing a resilient heroine’s unusual friendship with a super-soldier ghost amid a far-future dystopia they both struggle to survive and understand.”
—Beth Cato, author of The Clockwork Dagger and Breath of Earth

“Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Latchkey is a little like retracing a war veteran’s scars with a scalpel and asking, ‘So. Does this hurt more than the original?’ It does, of course. Hurts good, hurts deep, this almost-familiar world that bleeds right into ours, where the only thing fiercer than ferocity is tenderness—though both talk equally as tough. After reading Latchkey, one starts seeing ruins superimposed over currently thriving structures. Every struggling patch of city lawn becomes a garden of ghost grass; every breezy puff of leftover winter holds the possibility of frostbite and vertigo and seeing the face of a long-lost friend once more. Has there ever been such longing, fueled by such darkness and adrenaline? Has there ever been such satisfaction, and at such a cost?”
—C. S. E. Cooney, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Bone Swans

“Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Latchkey is a completely unique and enthralling story. A blend of fantasy, paranormal and more that defies categorization, I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended!”
—Jennifer Brody, award-winning author of The 13th Continuum

More blurbs and stuff as I have them! Meanwhile, preorder info here.