Tag Archives: power and majesty

The Creature Court Pre-orders and Prizes

February is Creature Court month!

After my successful Kickstarter and nearly a year of distributing rewards, this award-winning fantasy trilogy is finally coming back into print on February 14, 2019, featuring revised text and gorgeous new cover art by the amazing Kathleen Jennings.

“Blistering fire raining from the sky, explosions and devils and stabbing shards of ice. A city of people sheltering underground, rebuilding their lives despite the horrors that screamed down from above. It was the stuff of legends, ancient history, stories that had grown bigger in the telling. But the truth, Velody, is that the skywar never stopped. It’s hidden from the daylight folk, but we of the nox are still fighting that war. It’s our job to protect the city that can’t protect itself.”

You can pre-order ebooks of Power and Majesty, The Shattered City and Reign of Beasts right now on Amazon Kindle (more ebook vendors to follow).

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Creature Court at Rome

Hello, the Creature Court Kickstarter is at 89% and I am crazy excited at how close we are to funding! Here’s another blog post based on some thoughts I had on Twitter this week. This is the story of my love affair and lifelong obsession with Ancient Rome, and how that fed into this, still one of the most ambitious writing projects of my life to date.

I’ve been talking about the Creature Court non-stop for weeks now, because #kickstarter is a shameless beast. But I haven’t talked enough about the importance of Ancient Rome to these books. My university didn’t teach genre writing, so I decided to study History & English to fuel my future fictional endeavours. I got diverted into Classics because those subjects were just more INTERESTING. And that’s how my life got eaten by the Ancient World.

So here’s a thing: when you study women of the ancient world, you can’t rely on literature because so few of their words survive: you have to look at the spaces between the history of men: at art and archaeology and numismatics as well as words.


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Creature Court: Sample Chapter

My Kickstarter campaign to bring back the Creature Court is racing along! Things went a little quieter over the weekend which is always the case with crowdfunding but we still got over the line to $6000 which is 40% of the goal! Thanks to everyone who has pledged so far. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to pledge early with a Kickstarter, as many supporters don’t come in until they are confident it’s going to succeed.

For those of you who still don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, or why my original readers keep talking about naked men falling from the sky, here’s Chapter 1 of Power and Majesty, the very beginning of the trilogy and an introduction to one of my many protagonists. I don’t have favourites… but obviously Velody is my favourite.

(Apart from Ashiol and Poet and Livilla and Delphine and Garnet I have a lot of favourites, okay??)


  • Power and Majesty
    Chapter One

    Velody couldn’t sleep in this city. The ancient, gothic weight of it pressed around her, through the walls of the rented room.

    No one else had this problem. The other demmes were asleep on their makeshift cots, while the chaperones (including Velody’s Aunt Agnet) snored lightly from the larger beds. Every room in Aufleur was packed like this, so their landlady claimed. The apprentice fair drew in crowds from every town and village from coast to country, the dust from the railways still clinging to their clothes.

    Velody missed home. She missed the warmth of her room above her papa’s bakery, and the familiar sleepy sounds of her sisters and brothers. Every street and canalway in Cheapside and the market district of Tierce was known and safe and hers. Aufleur was so much huger and darker and more foreign.

    I can’t live here, she thought desperately. Not for seven years. This city will eat me alive.

    A mouse ran over her pillow.

    Velody sat up in a rush, pushing off the thin blankets and scrambling out of her cot. One of the other demoiselles — Rhian, she thought her name was — muttered and sighed at the noise, but quickly fell back to sleep.

    There was no sign of the mouse, but Velody would now rather die than return to the cot. It was warm despite the darkness — Cerialis was the last month of summer. Wearing nothing but her cambric noxgown, Velody slipped to the window and let herself out onto the balcony.

    The city was no less oppressive out here, but at least she could see the looming domes and towers instead of merely feeling them in her bones. Velody breathed in the calm air. Four hours until dawn? Six, at most. It wouldn’t do to have shadows under her eyes in the morning — what kind of mistress would take an apprentice who looked ill and shaky? Perhaps if she calmed herself out here a little longer, she would be able to sleep.

    There was a soft sound beside her, and Velody turned to see a little brown mouse creep across the balcony. She was prepared for it this time and managed not to behave like a damsel in a musette melodrama.

    A second mouse emerged from the shadows, and then a third. Velody was beginning to feel outnumbered. Her eyes were so fixed to the rodents that she almost missed the sight of a naked young man falling out of the sky.

    He crashed, shoulders first, into the roof of the house across the street, shattering slate tiles. He rolled and dropped onto the cobbles below, bare limbs splayed in all directions. Incredibly, he was laughing, his head thrown back in hysterical giggles. He was long and lean and muscled. He was also completely off his face.

    The sky came alive with colour — iridescent green with the occasional splash of pink and gold. Velody had heard of such strange light effects, but never over a city. Colours rolled off the skin of the naked, laughing man. He was beautiful, if utterly shameless.

    Velody pressed herself against the window of the boarding house, hoping he would not see her. Then again, she doubted he could see his hand in front of his face, the state he was in.

    The sky flashed brighter than before, in colours that Velody couldn’t even name. Was this normal?

    A second naked young man stepped out of the sky, and Velody lost her breath. Normal, it seemed, had been flung out with the scraps.

    This man was dark where the laughing youth was fair, and he walked down from the sky as if there were stairs beneath his feet instead of empty air. He wore his nakedness like armour, and his skin had a lantern glow about it. And really, the fact that he could walk on air was far more important than the fact that he didn’t have a stitch of clothing on, but Velody couldn’t help blushing. When her mother had lectured her on the dangers a fourteen-year-old maiden might face in the big city, this wasn’t quite what she’d had in mind.

    ‘Garnet,’ said the dark-haired man, his bare feet brushing the cobbles as he stood over the other. ‘Are you hurt?’

    The fair one, still sprawled in the street, whooped as if this were the funniest thing anyone had ever said to him.

    ‘Are you drunk?’ demanded his friend, crouching down to his level. ‘Are you high?’

    ‘I might — might, I say — have had a tiny pinch of surrender in my flame-and-gin,’ said Garnet, enunciating carefully.

    His friend smacked him. ‘You went into the sky with that shit in your blood? What were you thinking?’

    ‘Can’t all be perfect little saints and soldiers, Ash-my-love.’

    ‘Tasha’s going to kill you,’ Ash growled. ‘She’ll cut your frigging balls off.’

    ‘A fine nox’s work then.’ Garnet tipped his head back and stared up at the blazing sky. ‘Think the gin might be wearing off.’ He shivered.

    Ash glared at him. ‘Where are your clothes?’

    ‘One of the roofs around here.’ Garnet waved an arm aimlessly, and stared at it as if it were fascinating. ‘I was sort of looking for them when I got sideswiped by that … that … was it a lightweb or a cluster?’

    ‘The things I do for you,’ said his friend and — this was the bit that had Velody pressing a fist to her mouth to stifle her gasp — his body exploded into a cloud of black shapes.

    Not shapes. Cats. The cats separated and swarmed up the walls on both sides of the street. One came up to Velody’s balcony, and blinked with interest at the small horde of brown mice that had gathered there. She pressed herself further back against the wall, hoping not to be seen.

    The cats returned to Garnet, several of them dragging items of clothing with them.

    Garnet snatched the garments from them and pulled on a pair of trews. ‘Claw marks. Lovely.’

    The cats came together and glowed briefly before reshaping into the tall, muscled and still very much naked figure of Ash. ‘Grateful as ever. Shoes?’

    ‘Didn’t bring any.’

    ‘Fine. Just stay out of the sky for the rest of the nox. Crawl home if you can — sleep in the gutter if you can’t, and I’ll come drag you home after.’

    ‘My motherfucking hero.’ Garnet shrugged into the shirt, but didn’t button it, staring instead at his hand. ‘How many arms did I start with?’

    Ash groaned. ‘You’re too smashed to make it down to the undercity without killing yourself.’

    ‘’S a warm nox, I’ll manage.’ Garnet slumped back against the nearest house, almost comfortable.

    ‘Arse,’ said Ash. ‘Why do you do this to yourself?’

    ‘Know you’ll catch me when I fall,’ said Garnet with a yawn and a smirk.

    ‘Aye, and someday I won’t.’ Ash spun apart again into his swarm of cats, and took off into the sky in a blur of paws and tails and raw power.

    Velody breathed out and closed her eyes for a moment. Someone should have warned her that the city of Aufleur was rife with flying naked men who transformed into cats.

    When she opened her eyes, the street was empty and Garnet was gone.

    Velody pushed herself up onto her feet, wanting to escape back to the safe confines of the dormitory. Something grabbed her wrist, dragging her back against the railings of the balcony.

    ‘Little mouse,’ hissed a voice in her ear. ‘Did you enjoy the show?’

    Fingers dug into her wrist. Garnet’s fingers. She gazed up into the strange, beautiful face of the youth who now stood on the outside of the balcony railings, his eyes blazing at her. What did he do — fly up here? Oh, saints, he probably did.

    ‘I have to go inside,’ she said in a small voice.

    ‘Not yet, little mouse. I want to talk to you.’

    He slid a slender leg over the railings, jumping properly onto the balcony. It occurred to Velody that she should be grateful he had put his clothes on first. He grasped her other arm as well, holding her fast.

    ‘If I scream,’ she said, ‘the whole boarding house will come awake.’

    ‘Good luck with that,’ he drawled. ‘Daylighters sleep deeply in this city.’ He squeezed her wrists cruelly.

    ‘What are you doing?’

    ‘Mostly? I’m wondering what a little mouse like you is doing out on a fine nox like this.’

    Garnet’s eyes were a little crazy and Velody wondered what sort of potion “surrender” was. It sounded like the kind of thing Sage, her eldest brother, had been into that first year after the dock accident.

    ‘You see me, yes?’ Garnet asked.

    ‘Of course I see you.’ She pulled, but he wouldn’t release her wrists.

    ‘And you see the sky?’

    ‘Hard to miss.’

    ‘What colour is it?’

    She looked blankly at him. ‘What?’

    ‘What colour is the sky, little mouse?’

    Velody looked up, just as veins of rose and lilac threaded across the clouds. ‘Pink … purple,’ she said. There were three flashes in quick succession, as bright emerald as the spun silk she had admired in a shop several days before she left Tierce. ‘Green.’

    ‘And my friend,’ Garnet said in a whisper, ‘what is his animal?’

    ‘Cat,’ she said.

    He wetted his lips a little. ‘Poor mouse. Didn’t see this one coming, did you? You’re one of us. And it’s going to eat you alive.’

    Velody was angry now. Close up, this boy wasn’t even as big as her brother. Who did he think he was, trying to terrorise her like this? ‘And what are you?’ she flung at him. ‘Am I supposed to be afraid of you?’

    Garnet laughed, and was lit up from behind by a sweep of bright white light in the sky. His hair was red-gold, not blond, and he had tiny freckles on his throat. ‘Small town demme,’ he said. ‘I know your type. Here for the apprentice fair, I suppose. You want to spend your days as a threadsmith, or a ribboner, or —’

    ‘A dressmaker,’ Velody said.

    ‘A dressmaker.’ His hands loosened their grip on her wrists, still encircling them lightly. ‘You can kiss that goodbye, my sweetling. You belong to the nox now. No apprenticeship for you, no shilleins to send home to your family, no warm husband and children in your future.’

    To her horror, Velody saw her hands darken as soft brown fur tufted out from her fingers. Her ribs squeezed her, as if she was about to burst apart. ‘Stop it!’

    ‘That’s not me, little mouse,’ said Garnet. ‘It’s all you.’

    She concentrated on her hands and the fur diminished until the skin was clear and moon-pale again. ‘Am I going to turn into … cats?’ she asked.

    ‘Not cats,’ as if she was stupid for suggesting it. His eyes brightened. ‘I can take it away. Take the curse from you right this minute. Leave you to your little daylight life, just as you want. You’ll never see me or my kind again. Never see the sky light up with colours.’

    Somewhere along the way, Garnet had let go of Velody’s wrists. She rubbed them now. ‘What’s in it for you?’

    ‘Sharp. I’ll admit, it will do me no harm to hold your power under my skin.’ He stared seriously at her. ‘You don’t want this, mouseling. You don’t want the nox in your blood and your life. I’ve seen too many children burned by it.’

    ‘I’m not a child.’

    ‘Are you not?’ He seemed amused. ‘Don’t think I was ever as young as you.’

    Velody’s mind raced. She was scared of this strange youth and the things she had seen. She didn’t want any part of it. A dressmaking apprenticeship, shilleins to send home … that was what she wanted.

    ‘You’ll have to give it willingly,’ said Garnet. ‘There’s only one way I can take it by force, and I’m really not that much of a bastard.’ He eyed her body up and down, far too appreciatively.

    ‘What is it you will take from me?’ Velody asked.

    ‘Animor,’ he said, and his mouth curved around the word like a lover’s lick. ‘You won’t feel its loss.’

    She closed her eyes. ‘Take it then.’

    Something warm brushed against her mouth and she realised too late that he was kissing her. She had never been kissed like this before. His mouth swamped her and his tongue flicked deep against hers.

    For a moment, her chest felt itchy and strange, as if a creature was inside, scrabbling to get out. Every vein in her body hummed. Something left her, and at the time it didn’t feel particularly important.

    It was the best kiss of her life, and within an hour of returning to her little cot in the dormitory, Velody had entirely forgotten it.

  • Creature Court Available in UK & US

    The Creature Court trilogy is now available in the UK & US (& Canada too!) on the Kindle. This is hugely exciting for me, because it’s very hard for people outside Australia to access books that are only published here – bless the handful of you who utilised carrier pigeons, magic carpets and bricks-and-mortar to get hold of hard copies.

    Hopefully HarperCollins will make the books available in other e-formats as well, later in the year. In the meantime, if Kindle is your e-reader of choice, go forth and explore the Creature Court!

    I’d also appreciate any signal boosting my existing readers feel comfortable with – trying to promote the wider availability of books that have been out for some time is a tricky thing. I’m planning some fun promotional stuff over the next few weeks but in the mean time – if you have read the Creature Court and you liked it a lot, now would be a great time to tell others about it!

    Book One – Power and Majesty
    Book Two – The Shattered City
    Book Three – Reign of Beasts

    Creature Court Fashion Challenge: First Wave!

    Glad to see some entrants right off the bat, especially as I forgot to put up an end date for the Creature Court Fashion Challenge (it’s 15th December, for those of you working on more long-term entries).  Remember, the earlier you enter, the more valuable your sneak peek of Reign of Beasts is.  Which, by the way, went to TYPESETTING today, hoorah!

    Oh and for those of you outside Australia wanting to enter, yes, I will send postcards anywhere.  And I meant it when I said everyone’s a winner.   Get entering!

     

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    Creature Court: the Contest

    This one is for those of you who are hanging out for the release of Reign of Beasts, the third and final Creature Court novel. I wanted to do something personal to thank my readers who have been so supportive since the releases of Power and Majesty and The Shattered City, and to hopefully make up (a little bit) for the fact that the publishing date shifted, and you’re not holding the book in your hands RIGHT NOW.

    THE CREATURE COURT
    FASHION CHALLENGE CONTEST.

    All you have to do to enter is comment at the bottom of this post, or email me at creaturecourt (at) gmail.com with your entry. It can be in any medium: a sentence, a paragraph, a sketch, a craft project, whatever fits the challenge, which is:

    Design or describe an outfit for one of the characters of the Creature Court novels to wear.

    EVERYONE’S A WINNER:

    Everyone who enters the contest & provides me with a postal address (to creaturecourt (at) gmail.com – please don’t post addresses in comments) will receive a Creature Court postcard with a juicy snippet from Book 3 hand-written by me.

    I printed the postcards specially for this contest – the images vary, and are based on photographs of the Creature Court themed crazy quilt I have been working on this year.

    You can take the challenge as seriously or as flippantly as you choose! I look forward to seeing your entries. Unless you request otherwise, I will post your entries on my blog, either at tansyrr.com or creaturecourt.com. If you wish me to remove them from public display at any time, just ask.

     

    UPDATE: Competition is open until 15th December or until I run out of postcards, whichever comes first!

    Reading at the Reading Room!

    I am taking part in an event at 2pm on Sunday afternoon at the Reading Room, a fabulous exhibit at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

    A bunch of local writers will each be reading very short (a couple of minute) excerpts from their books.

    I’ve been wanting to attend this exhibit since I first heard about it, and this is pretty much my last chance as it is ending on the 16th October.

    Oh, and I’ll be reading the bit from Power & Majesty where the naked men fall out of the sky.

    THE READING ROOM is an immersive, interactive environment about the magic world of books and reading. The gallery walls are painted red and are lined with thousands and thousands of books. There are comfy chairs and couches so you can sit back and listen to over 60 people from all walks of life in Tasmania reading a passage from one of their favourite books, or you can pick up a book and start reading yourself! There is also an ancient, Hermetic phrase on the walls of the gallery, hovering above the books. It is spelled out with convex mirrors and says ‘AS IT IS BELOW, SO IT IS ABOVE’.

    Legendary Cover

    The trouble with podcasting with Galactic Suburbia once a fortnight is that I tend to wipe my brain clear after every episode, which might explain (somewhat) why I totally failed to congratulate Olof Erla Einarsdottir here on the blog for winning the David Gemmell Ravenheart Award for the cover of Power and Majesty. Hooray! It’s very exciting to have a book only available in Australia and New Zealand take out an international fan-voted award, and lovely that so many people agree with me that it’s a rather gorgeous cover.

    I only met David Gemmell once, at PhanCon where it was announced that my first novel Splashdance Silver had won the George Turner Prize. He was a marvellous, funny and warm public speaker, and had the privilege of sitting close enough at dinner to hear he and Terry Pratchett arguing amiably with each other over whether there was any reason to divide a book into chapters, and whether chocolate or fruit based desserts were preferable.

    I’ve been really pleased with Olof Erla’s work on all three covers for The Creature Court trilogy – can’t wait to share the third with you all. Anyone want to guess who is featured on the cover of ‘Reign of Beasts’ and what colour frock they might be wearing?

    UPDATE: Voyager have posted some pics of Olof Erla at the ceremony! Wheee!

    DOUBLE UPDATE: Sean the Blogonaut pointed me to Olof Erla’s website.

    Night of Necklaces, Day of Ferries

    I felt like such a jet-setter, getting on a plane yesterday morning for a single night in Sydney for the Aurealis Awards. I arrived in the early afternoon and met up with Tehani, Helen and baby Max at the airport so we could taxi in to the hotel together. It felt so decadent to hang out and chat with friends I normally don’t get to see more than once every few years – twice within a month!

    We went down to the hotel restaurant for a (very) early dinner, correctly guessing it would be our last chance to eat for the night. Some familiar faces were already down there, with the same idea, and we added a table on the end of theirs – and as more and more people arrived, kept doing so, until we had at least 20 people there, and the table had turned into a long L-shape!

    Then of course we all had to disappear to frock up, as the new arrivals were looking increasingly glamorous.

    The Aurealis Awards were held at the Independent Theatre, a lovely venue only a few minute’s stagger (a bit longer in high heels, but I was wearing flats, hehehe) from the hotel. We met and mingled at the cocktail party (sponsored by HarperCollins), many of us marvelling at how utterly weird it was to be together again so soon after Swancon – when we’re used to an 18 month separation! Of course there were people there who hadn’t been at Swancon, too, so it was a general crowd of happy reunions, gossip and hugging. With champagne. I had lots of lovely conversations with lots of adorable people, though the highlight for me was getting to meet IN PERSON the amazing Nicola, who has edited all three of the Creature Court books with me, one way or another. To get to talk to her in person about the choices we made and how much we love each other’s work was very, very cool.

    And oh, the fashions! We are a gorgeously dressed bunch. Tehani referred to it as the ‘night of necklaces,’ and there was certainly some spectacular jewellery on display. Kirstyn wins the prize, of course, for her bird skull necklace that made people go ooh, and then, erkhhhh when they looked more closely…

    The theatre itself was the perfect size for an event like this – grand but cozy at the same time, if that makes sense? Tehani and I decided to start a trend by sitting in the front row, since we knew I had to go on stage at some point to present (and we knew Helen would be going up too, but more on that later!). Spec Faction deserve a huge amount of kudos for the event – it ran smoothly, with any dramas rendered pretty much invisible to the rest of us. Cat had put together a hilarious and touching montage of Aurealis Awards photographs (the overall theme was people we knew looking overheated, a bit drunk and terribly happy) which broke the ice marvellously, and there was a really good vibe in the theatre, all that community spirit stuff.

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    Indulge Me?

    There have been some lovely reviews (and sort of not reviews) of my work around this week. I am grateful for all of them! Having books which are talked about is an utterly joyful thing. Feel free to skip if any mention of my books is making you roll your eyes at this point. I promise plenty of Xena, Agatha Christie and gender politics blogging to come!

    Over at Salon Futura, Cheryl Morgan says some excellent things about Power and Majesty. I was astonished to hear she was reading and reviewing it at all, since it’s not a book generally available outside Australia and New Zealand. (an email this week made me crazy happy, from a US reader who heard about me from a guest blog I wrote last year, asked his parents who were travelling through NZ to pick up a copy of P&M for me, and they did so after visiting 3 different shops to find it – how awesome is that? Luckily he liked the book, otherwise that would have been embarrassing) Cheryl calls me brave in my writing choices, and has some beautiful explanation of what my books actually do. She also provides some very grabbable quotes:

    “Fans of Storm Constantine might find a lot to interest them in this collection of fashionable, sexy, dangerous misfits.”

    “As fans of the Galactic Suburbia podcast might expect, it is also a feminist book. “

    Publishers are always complaining that they can’t find anything new, fresh and interesting to offer their audiences, and yet this book is not available in the UK or USA. I cannot for the life of me understand why.

    I always feel guilty when people overseas want to get hold of my work and can’t, at least not easily. Here’s hoping Creature Court is snapped up by one of those lovely US or UK publishers who agree with Cheryl that it should be more widely available!

    A little closer to home, Random Alex has reviewed (or rather, not-reviewed) Love and Romanpunk – I’m glad she did write up her thoughts about this book, given that I dedicated it to her and all, but completely understand her hesitation to claim it as a real review. Still, at least she declares her biases! I think my favourite bit in the post is her response to what I did with Caligula in “Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary,” which I will quote here because the other review of this book I’m going to quote from didn’t like that story at all (YES, BEN, LOOKING AT YOU):

    “The first story in this collection is “Julia Agrippina’s Secret Bestiary.” It gives a potted history of the Caesar family… with added monsters. I really enjoyed Tansy’s characterisation of the various members of this crazy family. She captures an essence, I think, of the various emperors and their wives/sisters/mothers that actually rings quite true. I particularly liked that although Gaius – Caligula – is shown to be a bit nuts eventually, he’s handled much more sensitively than most other fictional representations bother. Of course. And the monsters made a bizarre sort of sense; they fit in delightfully well with the overall vibe of the story.”

    Then there’s Ben Payne’s review – and all teasing aside, Ben is one of those people whom I absolutely rely on to be honest about what he likes and doesn’t like about my work. He’s also been reading me & paying attention to my short fiction for a lot longer than most people – having edited my work before he even knew me, back in the old Andromeda Spaceways days!

    Which is why this bit, in particular, bowled me over:

    “I have been thinking for a while about how to best sum up Love and Romanpunk. In some ways it delivered what I expected, but in others it surprised me. I expected this book to be smart, to know its history, to have a sense of fun, and some laughs, and some steamy romance. Those things are almost Tansy trademarks. And it does have all those things, but in the end, all of those things felt almost peripheral to the things I liked most about the collection.

    What’s not often talked about, with Tansy’s writing, is the fact that there is a real emotional courage to her best works, a sense that she is ready to get into her gumboots and rubber gloves and muck about in the messiest, ugliest, most confusing of human emotions and relationships, and to try to find a path through them. It’s that depth of emotion, sometimes sweet, but just as often brutal and painful, that drives the best of these stories into being something a cut above the majority of works out there. The fact that they are also smart, and fun, is just the icing on the cake.”

    With comments like that, I can totally forgive him for not liking my Agrippina story!

    There haven’t been many reviews for The Shattered City yet, though it is interesting to note how many people are reading and reviewing P&M now that the second book is out. I have been eyeing the responses on Goodreads, though. Would it be far too self-indulgent to put up a post where people who have read Book #2 could comment about the surprisey bits without worrying about spoiling anyone?