updates

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

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.

ARCHIVIST WASP sequel to be published by Mythic Delirium Books in summer 2018!

November 13th, 2017

For a bit over a year now, I’ve been working on a sequel to ARCHIVIST WASP, titled LATCHKEY. I parted ways with Small Beer Press and went looking for new publishers, and I’m delighted to announce that LATCHKEY will be coming out in Summer 2018 from Mythic Delirium Books.

I had a ton of fun writing this one. It’s a bigger book than AW (almost 111,000 words vs. just under 84,000) and has more characters, more adventurin’, more general shenanigans.

From Mythic Delirium’s press release:

Mythic Delirium Books proudly announces the acquisition of Nicole Kornher-Stace‘s fantasy novel Latchkey. We’ve set a goal of a mid-July 2018 release for this thought-provoking, genre-blending, action-packed tale set in the ruins of a high-tech civilization, where gods govern the sky and ghosts thirst for blood.

Latchkey continues the story begun in Kornher-Stace’s widely acclaimed Archivist Wasp (an Andre Norton Award finalist selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Teen Books of 2015.)

In Latchkey, Isabel, once known as Wasp, has become leader of the fearsome upstarts, the teen girl acolytes who are adjusting to a new way of life after the overthrow of the sadistic Catchkeep-priest. They live in an uneasy alliance with the town of Sweetwater — an alliance that will be tested to its limits by the dual threats of ruthless raiders from the Waste and a deadly force from the Before-time that awaits in long-hidden tunnels.

Years ago Isabel befriended a nameless ghost, a supersoldier from the Before-time with incredible powers even after death, and their adventure together in the underworld gave her the strength and knowledge to change the brutal existence of the Catchkeep acolytes for the better. To save Sweetwater, Isabel will have to unlock the secrets of the twisted experimental program from centuries gone by that created the supersoldier and killed his friends: the Latchkey Project.

In addition to Archivist Wasp and Latchkey, Kornher-Stace is the author of the novel Desideria, novelette The Winter Triptych, poetry collection Demon Lovers and Other Difficulties, and numerous short stories. “Last Chance,” set in the world of Archivist Wasp, appeared in the July 2017 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine.

In a way, our publication of Latchkey serves as a homecoming. Kornher-Stace’s story “On the Leitmotif of the Trickster Constellation in Northern Hemispheric Star Charts, Post-Apocalypse,” the seed from which Archivist Wasp grew, appeared in 2013 in our anthology Clockwork Phoenix 4.

Recent publications from Mythic Delirium Books include the World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories by C.S.E. Cooney and the World Fantasy Award-nominated anthology Clockwork Phoenix 5. Latchkey will be the first novel published through our imprint. We look forward to the adventure.

shiny review roundup of shininess

February 3rd, 2016

So much love for Wasp out there on the internets. Reviewers, book bloggers, handsellers, those of you shoving the book at your friends on Twitter/Facebook/real life/etc — thank you all so much! This is the book of my heart, so when it finds and clicks with its readers, it’s personal.

Some people who liked it!

Kirkus Best Books of 2015

Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: Best Books of 2015

BuzzFeed’s 32 Best Fantasy Books of 2015

The Book Smugglers’ Top 10 Books of 2015

Book Riot Best of 2015

YALSA 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults

ABC Best Books for Young Readers Catalog

2015 Locus Recommended Reading List

Flavorwire: The 10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels of 2015 So Far

LA Times Summer Reading

Locus Recommended Reading

io9 Essential Books

LA Times Summer Reading

Locus recommended reading

io9 Most Essential SF/F Books in April

Kirkus says: “A ravishing, profane, and bittersweet post-apocalyptic bildungsroman transcends genre into myth … Difficult, provocative, and unforgettable—the most dangerous kind of fiction.” (Starred review)

NPR says: “A jarring yet satisfying reveal, one that fully justifies the obscuring of truth and arrangement of clues that leads up to it. It’s also modestly, quietly profound. “We bring our own monsters with us” is a refrain in the book, and as pat as that statement sounds, it’s not used glibly. With understated skill, Archivist Wasp twists myth, fantasy and science fiction into a resonant tale of erasure and absence — and an aching reminder that regaining what has been lost isn’t always the answer.”

Locus says: “Bloodied and battered, Wasp is a Joan of Arc for the 21st-century teen; someone to believe in with all their hearts and souls.”

The Book Smugglers say: “I don’t even know where to begin telling you how much this book rocks. I loved many, MANY books this year but this one is maybe the one I wish to hand-sell the most … a story about agency, freedom and revolution. All of sudden, this book Mad-Max-Fury-Roaded me, like a boss. SO! Incredible characters – fleshed-out, human, complicated: check. Beautiful writing: check. Plot that develops like it was written for me: check. A cool mixture of Fantasy and Science Fiction, because ghosts but also super-soldiers: check and check. Reminiscent of everything I love but completely its own thing, a SF YA like I haven’t read in a while, Archivist Wasp is a book I will treasure.”

SO! Incredible characters – fleshed-out, human, complicated: check. Beautiful writing: check. Plot that develops like it was written for me: check. A cool mixture of Fantasy and Science Fiction, because ghosts but also super-soldiers: check and check.

Reminiscent of everything I love but completely its own thing, a SF YA like I haven’t read in a while, Archivist Wasp is a book I will treasure.”

Tor.com says: “In the past few years, there’ve been a handful of books I count it a privilege to have read … Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp has added itself to that list. … Archivist Wasp has great strength of voice … It has really compelling characters: Wasp, prickly and desperate, fierce and bitter but still with a core of compassion; the ghost; Foster (oh, heavens, Foster). The other girls, some of whom are never named. (The ending. Oh, the ending.) And it brings what should be disparate parts together into a startling unity, an imaginative whole that rips a small place open inside me and fills it up with feelings. In short: ARCHIVIST WASP. YES. READ IT. YES.”

School Library Journal says: “Young adults will be able to relate to Wasp’s inner turmoil and her battle to understand a world full of inexplicable hatred and violence. The fast pace and graphic action will draw in reluctant readers. VERDICT: A must-have for dystopian fans who prefer to avoid love stories and pat endings.”

The SLJ Printz Award blog says: “What blew me away: World-building, thematic scope, kick-butt female characters, and the fact that there was no romance and yet this is the deepest love story I’ve ever read.”

Lightspeed says: “More than anything else, this book is sharp. You could cut yourself on the prose — Wasp’s world is one of thorns, knives, edges of thick, broken glass, a constant background-hum of pain that sometimes swells into a shout. Wasp’s perspective absolutely thrums with tension and violence, but also aches with a fierce, hollow loneliness to break the heart. The longing and gratitude for the smallest beginnings of true friendship make the betrayals more vicious, and the stakes just keep rising. I burned through this book in about three hours, desperately rooting for her. It’s also a brilliantly constructed narrative and world. The gods are cruel and absent. The underworld is a maze in layers, a twisting, turning palimpsest, one that allows Wasp to descend almost archaeologically through time by literally experiencing her ghost-partner’s memories. The pre- and post-apocalyptic worlds reflect each other in shards and fragments, all the more powerful for being subtle, for their resistance to being spelled out. It was also keenly refreshing — especially in something that’s ostensibly YA, where the Love Triangle of Doom is so annoyingly pervasive — to find a book in which all of the strongest, primary relationships are friendships; where friendship has the narrative, motive force usually reserved for sexualized romance. I very much wanted to see the A in QUILTBAG represented in this column, and this is a fine example: while the connection between the ghost and his (female) partner is intense and loving, it is never represented as sexual, and sex is in fact completely irrelevant.”

Geekly Inc says: “Her action sequences are flawless: the language and imagery is precise, nothing distracting from the narrative. But when she needs to pull out the stops, her wordsmithing is remarkable to behold. She doesn’t over-explain, but you do get an immediate and thorough sense of the world(s) she’s created. It reminds of nothing so much as Gene Wolfe, the way she drops you into a world of magic and dilapidated technology and gives you just enough to stay afloat and to feed your sense of wonder. I savored her metaphors, and the scenes of emotional revelation were gut punches in the best possible way. This book had more creative juice and emotional depth than books twice its length.”

Locus Online says: “Kornher-Stace exhibits immense fluidity and grace of prose. She is able to evoke the creepy, barren, stifled post-collapse world; the other-dimensional byways down which the ghost brings Wasp; and the pre-collapse Project Latchkey environment where Foster works, all in differing but equally vivid styles. The reader will feel the cold and damp, the scalpels and clamps, the fairytale ambiance of a ghostly “waystation,” with exactitude and weight. Likewise, Kornher-Stace exhibits fine skills with characterization: Wasp and the ghost both emerge fully rounded. And her action scenes are cinematic.”

YA Books Central says: “Some of my favorite scenes are between the ghost and Wasp. While they both come into this journey with their own lies, they commit themselves to the journey that lies ahead. Something incredible happens, a ghost and a ghost hunter find a kind of bond (it isn’t quite friendship) after being alone for so long. The scenes of the ghost and Wasp in the underworld are dreamlike, imaginative, and luxe. The worlds are created with a touch of whimsy and horror, and just enough realism to make the idea of death palatable. All of this works its way into the greater journey of Wasp discovering who is is and who she can be by breaking from her expected role, and finding that freedom that she longed for in the beginning … This isn’t your typical YA novel. With myth, mystery, and heart, it is a post-apocalyptic world unlike anything you’ve ever read.”

LitStack says: “A very interesting, very involving, very demanding – yet incredibly rewarding – read, indeed. Archivist Wasp is a novel to pick up if you want to be challenged and yet intrigued, without undue moralizing or caution. It won’t be the easiest book to read, but it will be one that will draw you in, regardless of where you might end up landing.”

Kid Literati says: “Kirkus called this YA novel “ravishing, profane, and bittersweet,” but what they left out was breath-taking, immersive, spectacular, and mind-blowing. If you are a fantasy fan, if you loved the recent film Mad Max: Fury Road, if you long to lose yourself in a world that’s wholly unrecognizable and yet simmering with truth–this book is for you.”

Vol. 1 Brooklyn says: “Call this novel YA, call it science fiction or science fantasy, call it a new mythology. But by all means, call it compelling.”

Readercon schedule

June 28th, 2015

Friday July 11

11:00 AM G Drift-Compatibile Fictional Characters. Amal El-Mohtar, Victoria Janssen, Nicole Kornher-Stace (leader), A. J. Odasso, Navah Wolfe. The film Pacific Rim created the idea of two people who are “drift-compatible,” able to live inside each other’s minds and memories without sustaining massive psychic damage. Let’s use this as a metaphor to explore our favorite speculative fiction duos—whether they’re friends, traveling companions, siblings, or spouses—and talk about what makes those deeply intimate pairings work.

3:00 PM ENL How We Wrote Get in Trouble and Archivist Wasp. Nicole Kornher-Stace, Kelly Link. Kelly Link and Nicole Kornher-Stace converse about how they created their recent works: Link’s collection Get in Trouble and Kornher-Stace’s first YA novel, Archivist Wasp. Link’s book of stories for adults continues her explorations of myth and human relationships, while Kornher-Stace’s novel (published by Link’s Big Mouth House) explores what happens when the underpinnings of myths are discovered in a society where those myths still matter very, very much. The two will discuss their work and their strategies for writing.

Saturday July 12

12:00 PM ENV Reading: Nicole Kornher-Stace. Nicole Kornher-Stace.
Nicole Kornher-Stace reads from the sequel-in-progress to her post-apocalyptic descent-into-the-underworld novel ARCHIVIST WASP (Small Beer, May 2015).

Sunday July 13

10:00 AM E Autographs. Toni Kelner, Nicole Kornher-Stace.

More ARCHIVIST WASP stuff!

April 15th, 2015

Couple things:

Tor.com has put up chapter 1 as a free excerpt for your reading pleasure. (There’s a prologue that would have given it a little more context, but you get the basic idea!

The book launches on May 12, but Amazon released the Kindle version this week, so if that’s your poison…

If free books are more your speed, there’s a LibraryThing giveaway running through April 27. Scroll down!

Less than a month to go!

ARCHIVIST WASP giveaway!

March 30th, 2015

Enter to win a free copy of ARCHIVIST WASP on Goodreads! March 28 through April 7, US/CA.