Laura Anne Gilman Comes To Visit


Laura Anne Gilman has a new book coming out in a few days (and it’s killing me to wait!) It’s the second in the Devil’s West series, called The Cold Eye, sequel to the marvelous Silver on the Road.
We’re delighted to host her here on the blog today!

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As some of you know, I work part-time at a winery tasting room here in Washington State – it’s a nice change from sitting alone in my office staring at my computer screen, only interacting with the voices in my head and the characters on the page, and the steady(ish) paycheck’s not bad, either. But it does mean that I tend to have a lot of open wine around the house. I mean, more than the average person who isn’t an actual indecisive alcoholic.
So I challenged Misty – one day when we both should have known better – to a game of Ask a Drinking Writer. And she – because she is fearless and easily amused – took up the challenge.

First glass: Des Voignes Cellar’s Untitled, appropriately enough. It’s a Cabernet Franc blend.

1) Do you think moving to the Pacific Northwest has had an effect on your creativity? 
I’m not sure it had a specific impact directly on what I’m creating – although that will likely change, as things settle into my mental storage room and have time to ferment. But it has definitely had an impact on how I’m creating – and how I’m creative. There’s no way not to have your mindset changed, creatively, when you get to say “hello, Mountain” several times a week (yes, we talk to the mountain here in the Seattle area. Which mountain? Well, I’d say hello to Baker if I saw it on a regular basis, because I quite like Baker, but no: when we say Mountain, we generally mean Ranier.
Anyway, I see a massive mountain nearby, and I bike along a river where otter play and buck meander and bald eagles swoop overhead, and then I can go downtown and be around high-rise buildings and a city undergoing massive growth spurts (for good and for ill), but with an energy that’s completely different from the NYC energy I left behind. So yeah – it’s all definitely changing me, but it’s a work in progress.

2) What subject did you never expect to have to research for the Devil’s West?
So many. So, so many. Candy-making in the 18th century. Paleontology. Amazonian river critters. Dental pharmaceuticals pre-1900. Jesuit philosophy and philanthropy. The technical details of human circulation and why our limbs “fall asleep.” The linguistic differences of Arcadian French. Portuguese naval history. And that’s just what I still have research cards out, for.

Second Glass: Rocky Pond’s La Domestique, a Merlot blend.

3) How many books have you planned for the series? Is there a definite end game for Izzy? 
There are three books currently under contract (THE COLD EYE is out in January, the third book is scheduled for 2018), and that will bring the story of Isobel’s mentorship ride to a close. However, that’s hardly the end of the story for her, or The Devil’s West (I know how her story ends, eventually, but Izzy is just one thread in a much larger tapestry).

4) Someone wants to produce a radio show of the Devil’s West! Whose voices would you like to hear as your characters?
Oh, that’s a tough one – I’ve very much a visual story consumer, so audio plays don’t quite scratch the same itch for me.
I do know that I’d still want Rupert Graves for the devil. He was always, from the start, in my head to play him – there’s something about his gaze that gets to the core of the boss, and I think he could handle his voice quite well, too.
For the rest, I can only describe what their voices sound like, to me, in my head, and maybe someone else can give me names to go with it?
Isobel is a mezzo soprano, but a very sturdy speaking voice. I was definitely influenced by growing up hearing Puerto Rican-influenced Spanish spoken around me: she’d need to have that smart but not smooth edge to her, very much a woman’s voice, without losing any of that teenaged anger in her tone. Ideally, someone who grew up multilingual, who could slip between Spanish and English without hesitation.
Gabriel is a tenor, with a lot of pauses in his speech, even when he’s not actually, obviously pausing; he’s learned to think before words escape, and that shows up in his voice patterns. When I think of his voice I think of dark yellow amber, and a small, fierce insect caught in it.

And if anyone ever does a version with Flatfoot’s rumination added in, he needs to be the most Eeyore of equines, ever. Definitely a baritone.

Third Glass: Newton’s Claret (a red wine blend)

5) What would you like people to know about your books?
That every book sold goes entirely to support my in-house support felines, who thank them for their continued patronage? They should know that the Devil’s West books are an ongoing alternate magical history, asking what might have happened if the Louisiana Purchase remained an independent territory, under the guiding hand of a character of unknown/unknowable power. Magic, history, politics, and a lot of grubbily-accurate period details. Plus a mule.
In fact, the entire Devil’s West universe was born out of a writing exercise, with the opening paragraph that would become the short story “Crossroads,” combined with the question “if we’re supposed to write about our culture, and I’m 3rd generation American, what does that mean for my culture, and how do I wrote about it?” mixed with the swivel stick of a BA in US History. It was always plotted to lead to a certain destination, but recent political events put a slightly more poignant twist to what’s reflected – the question of “whose land is it, and why?” that the USA constantly (and should constantly) wrestles with.
Also, that they can get a taste of both SILVER ON THE ROAD and THE COLD EYE at my website:



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