First, some housekeeping: I recently did an interview over on Slava Heretz’s blog, which you can find here. I talk a little bit about Desert Stars, as well as how traveling has influenced my writing and how I overcome writer’s block.
In other news, I got smacked upside the head with the flu yesterday and slept in today until 1pm. I feel marginally better, but I’ll probably do the same tonight. Productivity: shot in the face.
However, I did manage to run through the copy edits for Desert Stars and format it for publication. Finished the author’s note today, so as soon as I get the cover art, it’s good to go.
For the cover art, I’ve commissioned Hideyoshi again, the same artist who did the cover for Genesis Earth. He sent me the initial sketch the other day, and it looks good! It comes from a scene toward the beginning, when Jalil and Mira share an intimate moment while overlooking the planetary domes on the edge of the desert:
That night, Mira couldn’t sleep. The wind roared past the window in her room, making an eerie whistling noise as it shook the windowpanes. That wasn’t all, though. Perhaps it was the woody, foreign smell of the room, or the perfect straightness of the walls, or the uncomfortable softness of the bed. Whatever it was, she tossed and turned for what felt like hours, trying to find some firmness that would let her sleep. Eventually, she gave up and lay on her back, staring at the ceiling.
The stars, she thought to herself. If only I could see them, maybe I could forget how far I am from home.
She quietly rose from the bed and threw her cloak over her shift. The sound of the wind made her shiver, and she stepped carefully in the darkness, groping her way through the room until she came to the door. Once out, the stairwell was only a short distance down the hall. The night air was cold, the breeze stiff. The familiar stars and satellites stared down at her from the sky, though with all the light from the streetlamps, they were noticeably muted.
Wrapping her arms around herself for warmth, she made her way to the edge and stared out across the valley at the glass mountain—the world in a bottle. White and yellow lights shone through the glass, too fuzzy to make out with any clarity. It was a strange sight, and Mira stared at it for some time.
“You couldn’t sleep either?”
The sound of Jalil’s voice gave her a start. She turned quickly and saw him sitting on an old, weathered couch facing the valley. The upholstery was torn, and stuffing was falling out in places.
“Oh,” she said softly. “I—I didn’t see you.”
“That’s all right; I could use some company. Here, have a seat.”
He scooted over and made some room for her. When she sat down, the couch gave way underneath her until she was practically sitting on the ground. The wind picked up, and Mira shivered.
“Are you all right?” Jalil asked. “You look cold—here, take this blanket.”
He leaned forward and pulled off the blanket that he’d brought up from his bed.
“That’s okay,” she said. “You don’t have to—”
“No, here,” he said. “You need it more than I do.”
Mira tried to protest, but Jalil draped the blanket over her shoulders without another word. She had to admit, the added warmth felt surprisingly good against the chill night air.
Man, I’m so looking forward to getting this book out! It’s been a long time in coming. I started the first draft back in 2008, but some elements of it have been bouncing around my head since 2005. More on that in the author’s note.
In any case, we’re definitely on schedule to get Desert Stars out before the end of the year, probably before Christmas. So keep an eye out for it!