The world captured in “A Moment of Gravity, Circumscribed” is a complex hierarchy, evocatively built on a city of living bone high above the clouds; what an image! There’s a lot of family secrets and deceptions, what drove you to tell us about such young protagonists with such gothic themes? You’ve written several novels set in this amazing setting, but is there a chance you’d revisit these particular characters again?
There many more stories and characters in the Bone Universe than can fit in the novels. I love writing some of those as short stories—especially this one—and exploring the connections, seen and unseen, between the eras and characters. For instance, Djonn’s brothers from “A Moment of Gravity” appear in another Bone Universe short story, “Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud,” set a few years earlier, and other characters from Updraft appear in “Bent the Wing” as well. And Djonn appears, much older, in Cloudbound. “A Moment of Gravity” was the first story to appear outside of the novels. In it, I was exploring a character’s history when I already knew he’d be important, and much changed, later.
As for the gothic themes—I think awareness of surroundings, truths, and deceptions are part of a young person’s survival kit—even if it’s subconscious. Djonn’s just becoming aware that there are multiple layers of truths, and that’s a really interesting moment to explore.
I think I’ll probably come back to some of these characters, as well as exploring others. Not quite sure how, yet, but I’ll keep everyone posted.
Where can we find other stories set in the Bone Universe?
“Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud,” is available at Beneath Ceaseless Skies (bit.ly/2cyOcAB), as well as in the Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies Year Seven Anthology.
Is there anything new or forthcoming?
Cloudbound came out September 27 at all the bookstores and online! I’m struggling to keep away from the capslock, but it’s REALLY hard! I’m finishing the next book in the Bone Universe, tentatively titled “Horizon” right now.
I read you’ve gone indoor skydiving; how much difference was there between how you pictured flying versus experiencing it?
I did go indoor skydiving at SkyVenture New Hampshire while I was working on Updraft. I’m an experienced sailor, and I wanted to make sure I wrote my wings and flying physics as best I could. So I talked with a lot of engineers, hang-gliders, and became a little obsessed with base jumpers and wing suit flyers like Jeb Corliss and Ellen Brennan. I also did a lot of research into man-made wings throughout history, which I wrote about at iO9 (bit.ly/2cyOCXH) and spoke about at the Library of Congress (that was a blast).
What I noticed most when I got into the wind tunnel to try it out myself was how much impact event the smallest movement had on motion. And how fast things changed. That was really cool, and also very dizzying!
You’ve written in a variety of media; do you have a preference for a style? How far along in the creative process do you discern the project’s length?
I love both short and long lengths, and style tends to emerge as the story does. I like to play with formats too, so it’s always a discovery process. Sometimes, though, the story drops fully formed, and that’s even better.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on several very different projects, including Horizon. In October, I’ll also be busy launching Cloudbound for a little bit, and I’m guest writing an episode of the Serial Box series The Witch Who Came In From The Cold. I’m also continuing my interview series, Cooking the Books (bit.ly/2bWfm61), with a new co-host, Aliette de Bodard. Probably there will also some new short stories that may or may not turn into novels, because sometimes they do that . . .
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