Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Marie Brennan and the Memoir of Lady Trent series


It would be an exaggeration to say that I can't imagine the Memoirs of Lady Trent without Todd Lockwood's sketches. I can imagine it; I just don't want to. Because the books simply would not be as cool.

When I decided to make Isabella an artist, I was thinking only of the effect it would have on the story, giving her a reason to participate in the Vystrani expedition. Getting Tor to include interior art was a long shot, since it increases the production costs; there's a reason you don't see that kind of thing in every book. But my editor not only agreed, he got behind the idea and ran with it. And the result, as readers can see, is absolutely awesome: it adds a layer of reality to the whole thing, and makes the books into beautiful objects in their own right.

Having the art has ultimately fed back into the story, too. Now when I write, I find myself considering what elements would make for good illustrations. I know I'll have to provide information for the artist, too, so I put much more effort into thinking about visual details than I usually would. How long is a particular kind of dragon? What is the precise layout of this scene? Even if I never specify those things in the text, I need to understand them so I can describe them to Todd. But at the same time, I don't want to dictate every last claw; he needs room to be creative, too. So my descriptions often say "do whatever you like with this aspect" -- and sometimes I end up revising the text to reflect what he's drawn.

I'm not an artist myself. I do a fair bit of amateur photography, but I'm not much good with a pencil or a paintbrush; I was never really taught to draw, and the gap between my ability and my critical eye is large enough that I wind up being very impatient with my failures. Having someone else bring my characters and world to life is a beautiful thing, and I'm more delighted than I can say to have it be such an integral part of this series.

Bio:
Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she spends her time practicing piano, studying karate, and playing a variety of role-playing games.

Bio from Marie's website: http://swantower.com/

The Tropic of Serpents
Series: Memoir of Lady Trent #2
The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan's The Tropic of Serpents... 
Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career. 
Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics. 
The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell... where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.
Some of Todd Lockwood's art from the previous book, A Natural History of Dragons (the first book and my review of that book is HERE) below:


Tor is allowing me to giveaway 3 HB cover books of The Tropic of Serpents... the newest in this series! It's open to anyone with a US/CAN snail mail addy. All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter form below!
Good luck!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

29 comments:

  1. I so want to read this series one day :)

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    1. I hope you get a chance. I'd be curious to what you think!

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  2. Ooh, I feel like I keep bumping this series up my TBR but I should really just go out and get myself a copy. I adore dragons and these illustrations really do seem to enhance the reading experience. Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

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    1. I do think it does enhance the story quite a bit!

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  3. I have this on my shelf and the illustrations make the book come alive! The writing's great, too. Love the creativity behind this whole series.

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  4. This sounds fantastic. I am not sure why but I do have a thing for Dragons. The illustrations epp..Thanks for sharing Melissa :)

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    1. I also love dragons and it drew me to this series!

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  5. I would love to sit down with this one and the dragons one just to look at the illustrations! They look amazing!

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    1. I think I just looked at the drawings all at once before I sat to read it. Enjoyed that and loved how it all was integrated! :)

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  6. How cool!!!! I have limited artistic ability in that I'm good at certain things and not at others, and drawing is one of the things I'm not great at. I'm so envious of people like Todd who are, and I love that this book includes illustrations he's done. It adds such an interesting and dynamic element to the story:)

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  7. Sounds like a series I'd enjoy. Thanks for a great author guest post.

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  8. I am very curious about these books. I'll have to pick one up and look through it at the bookstore to see what I think!

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  9. I love the ideas of the book and it's nice to have something different.

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  10. Wow, those illustrations must be very cool. it's such an original thing to do. I have no artistic talent whatsoever, but I am a visual person, and I certainly know how to appreciate other people's art.

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  11. I remember drooling over the first book when you had it on the blog. The illustrations are phenomenal. I still need to read it and now book two is out. Why can't I ever catch up?

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  12. This definitely looks like a book I would enjoy!

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  13. I really enjoyed the interview and I know I'm going to love this book as much as I love A Natural History of Dragons. :D

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  14. I have been wanting to read the first book in this series for awhile! I'd love to win a copy of this!! The artwork is beautiful. I love dragons!!

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  15. I really hope I win this!! I am almost finished reading book one and I love it so much!

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  16. I love seeing the kinds of personalities that artist characters end up with. Seeing as how I have a good handful of artist friends in real life.

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  17. Oh I need to get the first book as well. These sound so neat and different. :) Thank you!

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  18. Thanks for the giveaway and lovely post!

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  19. I really like Todd Lockwood's work a lot. Like many people those striking images were the things that drew my eye to the first book immediately. I'm so gad to see a second book with more of Lady Trent and more Todd Lockwood artwork. Thanks

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Thanks for commenting! I ❤ comments!