Before Katniss and Hermione, there was the Alanna the Lioness. Published in 1983, Tamora Pierce‘s Alanna: The First Adventure introduced young readers to an unforgettable warrior experienced in magic, swordfighting, and occasional kingdom-saving. More than three decades and many beloved stories later, Pierce is back with Tempests and Slaughter, the first in a brand-new series. As she prepares to go on a month-long US tour to promote the book, we asked the prolific writer and reader to share the titles she’s packing for the trip.
I put more planning into the books I take on tour than I do into my clothing (though this tour got more wardrobe prep than usual because I’ve lost some weight)! I am a fast reader. I have always been a fast reader. If the books are the size of regular mass market paperbacks, I can read two on my flight between my home in Syracuse and Atlanta; five between San Francisco and New York City.
I get the shakes if I run out of books I want to read. If I run out of books because I picked a couple of duds, I get the shakes and the sweats. That’s why I used to carry seven books on a plane before the miracle of the iPad, and that’s why my list is so long!
I was going to take Kristin Cashore‘s Jane, Unlimited, Philip Pullman‘s La Belle Sauvage, and Libba Bray‘s Before the Devil Breaks You. Instead, I am leaving them at home…because I got impatient and read them already. They’re all great writers, and the books show readers, once again, why they attract so much attention.
Unfortunately, from where I sit, the better the book and the more I love it, the faster I read it. So I had to find other books to take their places on the road.
For the paper books that go with me, I have R.S. Belcher‘s The Shotgun Arcana, sequel to The Six-Gun Tarot. They’re examples of what I have begun to call “cowboy fantasy,” historical books with magic set in a version of the Wild West or the West Coast around the same time (e.g., Jaime Lee Moyer‘s Against the Brightening Sky, Lila Bowen‘s Wake of Vultures, Rae Dawn Carson‘s Walk on Earth a Stranger, and Erin Bowman‘s Vengeance Road and Retribution Rails). I have gotten very fond of this subgenre, and if you know any other titles I’ve missed, please tell me!
I also have Lindsay Faye‘s Seven for a Secret, set in New York City in 1846 at a fledgling police department (they just invented detectives!). I love historical fiction, and Timothy, the book’s observer, is a sharp-minded, sharp-eyed narrator. Then comes Kate Milford‘s newest historical fantasy. The three I’ve read have been set in the late 1800s-early 1900s East Coast; this one takes place during the Napoleonic War at sea; though the main characters are Americans.
The last paper book (so far) is Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger, a writer previously unknown to me. It’s a more straightforward fantasy, promising telepaths and secrets. I’m a sucker for both.
My main store of reads is on my iPad, which tells me I have over 400 books ready to go: new books, old ones, and favorites. First up is a contemporary teen novel written by (HURRAY!!!!) my first assistant, Sarah Jade Alan, titled A Messy, Beautiful Life. Main character Ellie is a smart, ambitious teenager with a divorced mother, a serious comedy improv habit, a company of friends to perform with, and the ambition to get into college. Then disaster in the form of a deadly illness strikes. I won’t say more, but the characters are lively, funny, and REAL. I can’t wait to see what Sarah does next!
There are a number of Regency romances, including some by my favorite, Georgette Heyer. There’s no sex in a real Regency because the stories are set among the upper class during the early 19th century. Instead, there’s intrigue, interesting people, the remains of the Napoleonic Wars, horses, and dogs. Heyer is the queen, but I keep looking for other writers as good as she is. She also wrote Georgian romances, set in the time of George III, with sword fights, intrigue, romance, spying between France and England, disguises, and very bad bad guys. Also, gorgeous outfits for the men as well as for the women.
I also have quite a few thrillers on my iPad—they keep me from thinking about how much longer I have on a flight. I have at least four Robert McCammon thrillers I haven’t read. He’s written sci-fi horror like Stinger and Swan Song, mysteries set in Colonial America, and now he’s returned to modern thrillers. I’m also bringing two of my favorite Stephen King books, It and The Green Mile.
The biggest part of my book supply is fantasy and science fiction. I have absolute favorite books by absolute favorite writers: Barbara Hambly, Robin McKinley, Elizabeth Moon, Daniel Jose Older, N.K. Jemisin, Rachel Neumeier, and Nalo Hopkinson. I also have three unread books by my favorite science fiction writer, Ian McDonald.
And there’s always what I pick up en route! I’ll be at Escape Pod Comics before I get to New York City, and that means I’ll get my hands on comics from all over the world, comics that aren’t just superhero comics. (Though I will never say no to any work from Gail Simone, G. Willow Wilson, or Faith Erin Hicks.) I have been a comics fan since I was in sixth grade (not counting the newspaper funnies, of course), and I love seeing the explosion of women’s work that’s available now.
As you can see, I read a lot—on the road, in hotels, at home! After all, if I don’t read, where will I get new ideas?
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posted by Hayley
on February, 06