This page is only for information that cannot be gotten by reading books/stories that are already available.

So for instance, right now anything in the Her Instruments trilogy is a spoiler, since none of those books is available.

A lot of this stuff will end up distributed to their proper pages once the stories become widely available, as data or as author commentary.

Black Blossom Back-Story (Author's Commentary)Edit

Long, long, long ago... and I do mean long ago, in the "over a decade" sense, I wrote a short story that would become the basis of the Her Instruments trilogy, a short space adventure romp that I promptly sent on the rounds of the science fiction magazines. It received the expected form letter rejections, with one exception. An editor sent it back with a letter frankly disbelieving that my assortment of aliens could work together so easily--"Do they even speak the same language?" he wrote, as if certain I hadn't even thought of it.

He was speaking, of course, of the Paradox universe, which had been in existence for over 10+ years by then, and the aliens and languages by then were quite well-developed, and yes, it was entirely plausible that they might work together.

Nevertheless, the rejection stung my sense of pride, and in a fit of pique I sat down and hammered out a very short story about a translator forced into an unpleasant situation by the need of her superior officer to negotiate a personal relationship with an alien that became rather more intimate than either of them planned... that's intimate in the uh... yes, way that you're thinking. That short story was the first formal appearance of the Ai-Naidar, who until then had existed as notes and ideas. Their culture was barely formed at that point, and though I sent that story out I was glad no one bought it for that reason.

Nevertheless, years later I toyed with the idea of a novel set in Kherishdar. I thought of the characters from that short story and wondered if I could make them work. There's some limited art of them: Lenore Serapis the translator, her brother (adopted) and their superior officer. (Offsite links because I'm lazy: Sizes; Lenore and her brother). But it never went anywhere because writing Kherishdar from an external perspective almost invariably demonizes it. It takes someone speaking from within the culture to really convey why the society works, and that's far more powerful (I think) than giving people what they expect (the evil, unjust caste society).

So I set that idea aside. A few years later I toyed with another novel idea for Kherishdar, which would have been the Exception novel...some of you will remember that story too (once again, lazy off-site link: the Exception, from 2004). But once again, I shelved it because it approached Kherishdar from an outsider's perspective... indeed, from an even more prejudiced one; no one can hate a society like an exile from within it. It wasn't until I met the Calligrapher and started writing the fil ekain that I found Kherishdar's voice, and that the Ai-Naidar finally began revealing what about their society works, saving me from the puzzle of looking at it from the outside and thinking 'there's no way that it could.'

So, several years and 50+ short stories later, I have both the Aphorisms and the Admonishments, and I am 150+ pages into Black Blossom, writing with curiosity about these outsiders the lord of Qenain has become so fascinated with... is, in fact, in bed with, if the Decoration is correct. And then I realize...

...oh wait...'s the humans from that short story. It's the situation from that short story...! This is Lenore's story, her brother's, her superior's... but from the Ai-Naidari point of view. And the short story that seemed so poorly nuanced and so ill-informed about the culture is actually exactly right... from their perspective, lacking the information about the culture that we understand from within it.


Long ago, I gave my subconscious the reins and said, "We have worked together well for a long time; I'm not going to supervise you anymore. I am going to trust you to do your job, and I will do mine." And since that time, for the most part, I no longer get writer's block. I granted my subsconscious broad powers and left it to its own devices.

Apparently, doing this leads to it gathering together threads that are over a decade old and making sense of them. It's no wonder I run into walls and forget why I walk into the kitchen anymore, if this is the kind of mental overhead I am supporting...!

So there you are. Not quite a spoiler, but an explanation of things you probably won't see until the end.