Friday, October 16, 2009

The Magic of Wine

Today, we welcome Laura Anne Gilman, whose Retrievers series from Luna utterly captivated Jeanne and me. Laura Anne’s celebrating the release of her first hardcover fantasy, Flesh and Fire, from Pocket Books. Welcome to the Lair, Laura Anne!

Thanks for having me! Hrmmm, that’s a nice sofa. Mind if I take that back to my own burrow? Someone spilled tequila on ours during the last party….

You can try to take it, but the gladiators may object. They're fond of it. You have experience on both sides of the editor’s desk. Can you tell us a little about your background?

Summing up fifteen years in a paragraph or less… I started in publishing right out of college – worked as the assistant to Neil Nyren, publisher/editor-in-chief at Putnam. My love was always with genre, though, and when a friend told me that there was an opening at Berkley, the mass market arm of Putnam Berkley, working for the science fiction imprint… with Neil’s blessing, I jumped at it. Worked my way up to editor, and then about seven years later I was offered the job of executive editor at NAL, heading up the Roc science fiction/fantasy/horror imprint. I did that for another six+ years.

I love editing, and I got to work with some wonderful writers, and had the joy of seeing many of them go on to very successful, long-term (and NYT best-selling!) careers. Eventually, though, trying to balance an increasingly corporate day job with my own writing… I had to choose, and the writing won.

Having been an editor at major NYC houses gave me a very pragmatic, practical view of the industry – I know what is possible, what isn’t possible, and when I should just throw my hands up in the air and say “oy.” My agent, however, will be the first to tell everyone that this makes me no less neurotic than any other writer. *grin*

Flesh and Fire is the first book in a trilogy, The Vineart War, with a magic system based around wine. What inspired you to create this world?

Oh, that’s one of those “you’re not going to believe this” stories. I’m a foodie and a wine nerd. So is my agent, Jennifer Jackson of the Don Maass Agency. We were on the phone one day talking about a food expo we wanted to go to that weekend, but finally decided the ticket price was too high. “It needs to be a work deduction, somehow,” I said – a common plaint among writers, who are used to thinking of everything as somehow business-related, because almost everything is inspiration, one way or another). “So,” Jennifer says, “write me a food or wine based fantasy.” And she meant it as a joke, but when we ended the conversation ad I went back to sit at the computer – working on one of the Retriever books… something clicked. And I grabbed my pad and pen and started jotting notes, and the next day I e-mailed her to say “I know you were kidding, but…”

Winemaking has always fascinated me, from my very first trip to the California wine country region back in the early 90’s. The idea of a winemaker as magician… it was completely natural. And the fact that wine is both an intoxicant and a shared social event [we generally drink it with meals, not sitting alone in the dark] made it an interesting thing to base a civilization on.

It seemed as though everything—my love of epic fantasy, my interest and experiences with wine, the things I wanted to say, story-wise, at that moment… all came together in what I referred to as ‘the project that ate my brain.”

I had the pleasure of hearing you read at Dragon*Con and noticed that you have several point of view characters. Who are they?

The Vineart War trilogy is the story of an entire culture in flux, so I decided to go with a 3rd person limited narrative in order to showcase that change. Mainly, we follow Jerzy (pronounced Yehr-zee), who is the pivotal character around whom the action moves. He’s a student of the Vineart Malech, a former slave being trained to use magic – but he’s also a teenager, trying to figure out his place in a world that’s changing even as he discovers it.

Master Vineart Malech, Jerzy’s owner/teacher, has the counterpoint in this book – age and experience to Jerzy’s raw fascination and turmoil. We’ll also meet Kainam, a young man dealing with terrible losses, Ao and Mahault, Jerzy’s companions along the way, and of course, The Guardian. You’ll have to read the book to find out about the Guardian.

You blog about wine on your LiveJournal page, and it’s clear you know a lot about it. For those interested in branching out beyond chardonnay, white zinfandel, and merlot, what do you recommend?

I used to work at a wine store, and the first thing I’d tell everyone is that the best wine is the wine that you like the best. Too many people are intimidated by all the Big Names and magazines saying what’s good and what’s hot…ratings and reviews should only be a guide, not a command.

There are so many different grapes, and different styles, it could take a lifetime to taste them all. Finding a good local wine store, one with trained staff, is a good short-cut. Tastings are a good way to dip your toe in, but really, in order to learn a wine, you need to sit there with a glass and consider it. Good wine rewards thought.

For someone who prefers white wine, I am a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand, and German Rieslings (I tend toward the dryer “Kabinett” or Trocken, but they have a range from dry to sweet)

On the reds… oh, the choices are so many I’d take up the entire blog with my answers. Pinot Noir, if you want something smooth and sexy and not too heavy. Zinfandel for big mouth-filling spice (Zinfandel is a red grape, yes. ‘white’ Zinfandel is just…wrong!) Tannat or Shiraz, for something that was made to be drunk with red meat…. Okay, there’s a start.

Can we have a peek inside Flesh and Fire?

"For the next two weeks the mustus will wait in these giant vats, stirred twice daily to ensure a flow from top to bottom, forcing the flesh and juice to mingle. That will be your task, to attune yourself to the feel of each vat, to learn its temperament, and what it would be best suited for.” It was a deceptively simple step, for such important results, and a Vineart needed to know every one of them the way he knew his own heartbeat.

Jerzy’s eyes flicked to the vats again, clearly measuring them against his own height, and just as clearly remembering the fate of the slave killed for overturning the vat. Good. It would keep him alert and careful.

“You will use those rakes,” and Malech pointed to the four long instruments racked along the wall behind them. “Twice a day. And yes, there will be more vats added as the rest of the yields are brought in. You’ll wish you were back in the field by the time you’re done.”

The look the boy gave him suggested that he highly doubted that, and Malech almost laughed. He, for one, was thankful to have someone else to pass this chore along to. Not only would it free his time for more advanced work, but his arms would ache considerably less this year. A few weeks of this and Detta’s cooking, and the boy would bulk up to better match his height and stop looking quite so fragile.

“When it is ready, we will transfer it to smaller barrels, and from there the final transformation.” Some of it would be bottled immediately as vin ordinaire, sold to those with coin who desired the intoxication of near-magic, without the risks—or costs—of spellwine. Only
then would the final, most important touches be put on each spellwine, refining and finishing each for specific results.

“But that will not be for at least a month, and there is much you must learn in the meantime.”

“More magic?” Jerzy asked hopefully.

Malech laughed, if a trifle ruefully. “Nothing so simple, I fear. You, boy, must be civilized.”

© Laura Anne Gilman, 2009

Also, you can go to the Pocket website and read a larger excerpt

As you know, Jeanne and I love the Retrievers with their mix of action and romance. Don’t you have a new book coming out this Spring that’s set in that universe?

Ahhh, Bonnie and the PUPs. Yes – when I determined that Wren and Sergei needed to take a bit of a vacation – mainly because I wasn’t sure where they were going to go, next – Bonnie Torres, the paranormal investigator introduced early in the series, piped up and demanded her own story. She’s pushy that way. So I suggested it to my editor, who thought it would be a great idea, and in May we have the first of the Paranormal Scene Investigations books, HARD MAGIC, coming out.

The PUPS are taking modern magic a step further, using it not as an art but a science, in order to investigate crimes that involve the Cosa Nostradamus, the magical/supernatural community. It seems like an idea whose time has come...but not everyone in the Cosa agrees…

Bonnie is very different from Wren – she’s an educated, sassy 20-something with a very strict code – she tells the truth, she doesn’t hurt anyone, and she has a good time, because life’s too short to be miserable. But then she’s recruited to join PUPI (Private, Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations), and she has to grow up in a hurry. But since this is Bonnie, she’s going to do it her way. And God help the criminal who tries to cross these PUPs…

I had a lot of fun working with Bonnie – especially when she finds the one person whom she can’t charm her way around….

Any chance we’ll see Wren and Sergei (the Retrievers, for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of diving into that world; the cover of Book 1, Staying Dead, is pictured at left) again?

I hope so! I have several proposals on my editor’s desk, so we’ll see what happens…

Have you ever been to a vineyard?

Oh yes. My first visit was in the early 1990’s, in California, but since then I’ve been to vineyards along the East Coast, in Italy, in France… I’m hoping to get to Argentina and Australia as well, someday soon. Grapes take on the characteristics of the soil they’re grown in (terroir, in French) and I find it fascinating to compare soil and taste differences. Plus, vineyards? Are amazingly pretty.

When doing research for FLESH AND FIRE, I spent ten days in Burgundy, walking and riding a bike around the countryside, visiting with winemakers and getting my hands dirty in the vineyards, and looking at a lot of the old – 14th century – equipment they still have on-hand. Fascinating stuff! [At left is one of the photos from that trip, which is, naturally, copyright Laura Anne Gilman, 2008]

What’s your favorite world in a science fiction, fantasy, or paranormal romance series, and why?

Oh… that’s almost impossible for me to answer. A lifetime of reading, and almost two decades editing… I’ve read and loved a lot of books! If you want to know my favorite genre novel, though, it’s Peter Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place. Two ghosts, one raven, one old man, and some of the loveliest, most heartbreaking prose ever. It’s proof that people who say that SF/F is somehow less worthy of respect than “literary fiction” don’t have any idea what they’re talking about.

What about you? Have you ever been to a vineyard? What's your favorite paranormal or fantasy series world? Do you have a favorite wine? If you were going to create a magic system based on a food or beverage, what would it be?

Laura Anne is giving one commenter today a chance to appear as a character in one of her books. this is her explanation:

A Tuckerization, named for the man who first started it as a ‘gift’ to family and friends – I will take the name of the winner and work it into Book 2 of THE VINEART WAR. I’ll also use as much physical description or a personal characteristic as possible, so you can show it to your friends and family and prove the name wasn’t just a fluke.

For more about Laura Anne and her work, visit her website.

Upcoming signings:

October 17 - Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA, 2-4 pm
October 25 - Clayton Books, Clayton, CA, 3-5 pm
October 28 - Haight Street Library, San Francisco, CA, 7-9 pm
November 7 - Barnes & Noble, Ledgewood, NJ, 12:00 - 4 pm


Virginia said...

Come play with me oh golden one!

Virginia said...

Hi Laura, I can't say that I have ever been to a vineyard, although there is a winery in a town near where I live. My neighbor goes there all the time because she love wine. Myself I am not much of a wine drinker and not because I don't like it. It just gives me a headache, so I can't drink it. I guess my favorite paranormal series that I read would have to be Twilight series.

Nancy said...

Virginia, congrats on bringing home the rooster! I hope you'll keep him very busy.

You're in good company with Twilight. Lots of readers for that series.

I've never been to a vineyard, either, though there are a couple near here. I don't have a very discriminating palate--can't tell one wine from another. Every once in a while, the dh and I get the tasting sampler at a local Italian restaurant, and that's interesting.

Helen said...

Congrats again Virginia

Great post and very interesting.

I have been to a couple of vineyareds here in Australia we went to South Australia on our honeymoon many years ago and toured The Barossa Valley and what a beautiful place lovely wines and people I have also been to a couple of Vinyards in The Hunter Valley here in NSW. I do hope you get ot visit our vineyards over here soon Laura I am surre you will really like them.

My favourite paranormal series is Nalini Singhs Psy Changling series and I have just started Pamela Palmers Feral Warriors series and am loving it as well.

As for a favourite wine I like a nice sweet white wine.

Have Fun

PinkPeony said...

Hi Laura!
I'm trying to think if I've ever read a romance that involved winemaking or a vineyard as a locale.

I live an hour away from wine country in CA and I make my living shipping wine from Napa and Sonoma to points east so I've been on lots of winery tours and seen the less glamorous side of the business. Although there's a lot of wine in the house because of the work I do, I rarely drink wine, but I do have my favorites: Thomas Fogarty chards, Cakebread Cellars cabs and Chateau d'Yquem sauternes (very yummy!)

A magic system based on a would be something like tiramisu which has all the components/characteristics I like in a, smooth and creamy, chocolate, espresso and Kahlua.

Gillian Layne said...

Sold! Flesh and Fire sounds excellent, and I'll be sure to request our library to buy some copies as well.

My favorite fantasy series is Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster. It's about a grad student who's sucked into another world where animals and insects rule and are at war. I am so glad to be reminded of this! I've loved Jon-Tom, Clothahump the turtle wizard, and Mudge the womanizing otter for over ten years and need a new set of books; mine have disappeared to friends over the years.

Favorite wine-- extra dry champagne.
Food to built a world around? Chocolate.

Great interview, Nancy. :)

Hvitveis said...

I have been to a couple of vineyards in Aragon, a region in spain with lots of smaller brands. They are growing a delicsous Gewürztraminer and they are also cultivating regional grapes such as garnacha (not my favourite it is really strong) and another red that I tried not long ago and cannot remember the name of but very good. They produce mostly reds that are easy but tasty, and with quite a variety for such a small region. And this being Spain, they are affordable. I like wine.

As for Fantasy-land, I am very fond of the Disworld, and also the world of Cecilia Dart-Thornton in "The ill made mute."

Laura Anne said...

Virginia -- yeah, wine gives some people headaches, although usually not for the reasons they think. A dear friend of mine adores wine, but has to be very careful not to have more than a glass or two over the evening.

If you ever get a chance, visit a small vineyard and ask if you can taste the unfermented juice. It will knock your socks off -- wineries would put fruit juice companies out of business if they bottled and sold it!

Laura Anne said...

Nancy -- Oh, don't underestimate your palate! A good wine is like well-played music: you can tell the difference, even if you don't know why, exactly. Trust yourself!

When I was writing Flesh and Fire I was worried that people who didn't like wine wouldn't enjoy the book, so I can the manuscript by my friend fellow/writer C.E. Murphy, who loves fantasy but hates alcohol (she thinks it all tastes like gasoline) and she loved it. I was so relieved.

Laura Anne said...

Helen -- I have a standing invite to visit a friend's father, who is a wine grower for Penfolds, but I'm not sure when I'll get down there.. stupid economy *kicks economy* Hopefully, if there's a surge of Australian/NZ reader demand.... *looks hopeful*

Ahh, the sweet whites. I love love love sauternes (a French desset wine), but have to limit myself to one glass, or I get the headaches we were talking about upstream.

Laura Anne said...

PinkPeony --

Hey, I'll be in your neck of the woods next week! (I'm doing some signings in San Francisco, but will be taking two days off to go looking for my newest favorite NoCal wines) Got any suggestions where I should stop?

And yeah, sauternes... oh dear. You have Very Expensive Tastes, m'dear. I respect that. *grin*

Laura Anne said...

Gillian --

I adored Spellsinger! Also ADF's Flinx series. I used to haunt the bookstores until the newest one came out, when I was a teenager. (oops: sorry, Alan)

And mmm, Champagne and really good chocolate... there is no bad, there.

Laura Anne said...


I admit that I don't know the Spanish regions as well as I should, so don't mind me scribbling notes off your comment.... *makes up a shopping list*

Discworld is one of those things that will be remembered long after the rest of us have faded, I suspect. Sir Terry is a marvel.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Laura Anne - welcome to our Lair! Thanks Nancy for bringing Laura Anne to visit!

What a fascinating interview - especially how you came up with your latest world! You're speaking to a fellow wine-lover, so I'll be sure to pick up your book.

We had a fabulous trip to the Napa Valley after RWA a few years back (the one in Reno). We deliberately chose vineyards with something extra to them as there were so many. We enjoyed Coppolla (I'm a big movie buff) and Hess (they had an art gallery), as well as Frog's Leap (organic farm), Berringer, Cakebread and Chandon (I have a bottle of their DVX waiting to celebrate my first sale - I hope it doesn't go off!)

I'd love to go to some of the Aussie vineyards (and opal fields *g*).

My favourite red wine is Nine Popes by Charles Melton - delish. My fave white wines are Sauvignon Blancs from NZ's Marlborough region or Frog's Leap. Also a chardonny called Wild Boy. My fave rose is Big Frank's Deep Pink *g*, though I've recently discovered some fab NZ rose wines like Wild Rock and The Reach (more like light reds than sweet pinks).

I love Proseco and Cava for that little fizz.

I think a world of magic based around potatoes would be fun - as they're so versatile and you can link into the Irish connection!

Nancy said...

Helen, we get Australian wines in our grocery stores. Ones from New Zealand, too. Your trip sounds lovely.

I tend not to like wines that are labeled as dry, so I think I maybe like sweet ones. I don't know much about it. We went to a party once where the host was seriously into wine, and I liked the Riesling they served but didn't have anything to write the name down with.

Nancy said...

PinkPeony, I've always wanted to see the California wine country. It's supposed to be beautiful.

I love tiramisu. No kidding--for my birthday, we got to a local Italian restaurant that serves tiramisu as big as my face. On our birthdays, we each get to pick where we go out to eat, and I always pick that place because of the tiramisu.

Nancy said...

Gillian, glad you liked the interview. Spellsinger is on my "someday" list. Sounds cool.

I know what you mean about disappearing books. I loaned A is for Alibi to someone--a signed copy--and never got it back. Never again. Never, never again will I lend a signed bookl.

Nancy said...

Hvitveis, I tend more toward white wines, as the reds often taste bitter to me, but there's a Spanish restaurant here in town that serves a red I like a lot--not sweet and not bitter--and I never can remember the name of it.

Cecelia Dart-Thornton gets a lot of buzz for those books, which are also on my "someday" list.

Nancy said...

For those of you who like particular fantasy or paranormal worlds, what about them, about the culture or the setting, draws you?

Nancy said...

Laura Anne--I also happen to like your friend C.E. Murphy's Joanne Walkingstick books. You know, I used to think alcohol was nasty. Beer and wine are acquired tastes, at least for me.

And I've discovered that I prefer sauvignon blanc to chardonnay, but I cant' tell one from the other blind. And most parties serve chardonnay, alas.

Nancy said...

Anna, glad you liked the interview. I'm impressed by the multipurpose touring you and the dh did.

We get some NZ wines here, too. Those labels and the Australian ones started turning up just a few years back, at least in the grocery stores. We didn't have but one or two wine specialty shops here until the last couple of years.

On the magic system, why potatoes?

Nancy said...

If I were coming up with a magic system based on food or wine, I'd be tempted to go with Coca-Cola (not Pepsi *g*) because I like the taste, I like the fizz, I like the jolt, and because of what's in it, it's terrible for you. There'd be a downside to using it too often.

OTOH, it's pretty readily available. Which would make the magic also accessible to a wide population group.

Laura Anne said...

Anna S -- there is always a bottle of Proseco in my wine cellar. it's too good and too inexpensive (comparatively speaking) not to have for an impromptu celebration of the fact that it's Tuesday. *grin*

Nancy -- the red wine you like might be Tempranillo. It's full-bodied but soft, and easy to drink.

Hrm. Potatoes. Hrmmm... *story-thinks*

And I'm off to the airport in a bit, escaping cold and snowy (yes, snowy!) New York for California. I'll check back when I'm on the ground again!

Anna Sugden said...

Nancy, potatoes are an amazing vegetable. You can do so much with them, not just cooking-wise, but in everyday life. Potato printing, starch, paper, ink, fuel, alcohol etc etc. A world where the potato is king and it's magical properties are treasured seems pretty cool to me *g*

Plus the way they grow and are essentially reborn is interesting. Can't you just see a Logan's Run type world tied into all that?

And there is an inisidious side to potatoes. They seem to keep coming back, even when you pull them all out!

Anna Sugden said...

Safe travels, Laura Anne!

I'm with you on the reasons for Proseco!! Its why we always have a bottle on hand LOL. As lovely hubby would say - too easily drunk!

Nancy said...

Laura Anne, the comment about Proseco being comparatively inexpensive reminded me of something a friend who's into wine says, that a $10 bottle is often better in terms of taste than a $20 or $30 bottle. Have you ever heard that?

I'm pretty sure the wine at that restaurant is a three-word name, but I'll look out for Tempranillo. We have friends who strongly prefer red, and I'd like to find one we can all enjoy.

I'm partial to dessert wines--muscadines, maybe? I had one made from NC scuppernong wines once that I liked a lot. Most of our friends find the dessert wines too sweet.

We once tried a dessert wine we didn't especially like--had a bit of a raisin after taste, and the dh whipped a little into cream cheese, put it in midget pastry shells, and topped them with fruit, and it was fabulous.

This sort of thing is why I leave the cooking to him.

Safe travels!

Nancy said...

Anna wrote: And there is an insidious side to potatoes. They seem to keep coming back, even when you pull them all out!

I've never had that experience. But the soil here is too high in clay for root vegetables. The dh tried carrots one summer, and they were a disaster. Stunted and bitter. Radishes work; anything bigger has trouble.

I like the idea of an insidious something as a magic source though. And I had to laugh at the Logan's Run connection. The book is way grimmer than the movie.

cheri said...

Laura Anne! I was one of the fortunate writers to have you as an editor at Berkley. If I'd known you knew so much about wine, I would have had my werewolves drink more than the occasional celebratory Cristal. Oh well, I hae a sequel to my latest book in progress... got any vintage hints for a nice Bordeaux?

Nancy said...

Hi, Cheri--is your sequel in progress werewolves, or is it different?

Sabrina said...

Laura Anne, it's great to see you here! I don't know if you remember, but you and I and a couple of other writers hung out during a writer's conference in Oklahoma YEARS ago. I kidnapped your jacket and held it for ransom. :-)

I had heard that you'd left publishing, but didn't realize that it was to write fulltime. I'll have to check out your books! The new series sounds fabulous.

Nancy said...

Hi, Sabrina--

Thanks for stopping by!

Anna Sugden said...

The book is much darker than the film, Nancy. But, I think beneath all the seventies' glam, the story is pretty grim in the film too. There is an unforgiving edge to the film.

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations, Virginia!

I've never visited a vineyard, it
seems from your posting that it
could be quite interesting. I'm
not so much into wines, but mostly
because they might clash with my
maintenance medications. To keep
from having problems, I've chosen
to abstain.

As to a food-based magic system,
it would have to include chocolate
and ice cream!!

Pat Cochran

~Drew said...

Hi Laura,

Never been to a vineyard, but I would love to go someday. I am all about white wines, hubby is reds. So we always have two bottles on the go.
He loves a Hungarian red called Egri Bikavér (or Bull's Blood) Well, it is certainly robust, goes well with steak or roast beef, LOL!

Was not really into fantasy, but, I will admit, an on-line buddy suggested Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter Series. I should be reading them in order! But, just started a second one of hers, and I am intrigued, what have I been missing by not reading fantasy?
And yours sounds wonderful!! I guess a whole new genre has just been opened up to me!

Pissenlit said...

The Retrievers series has been on my radar for awhile and now to add a few more books to the TBR list. :)

Never been to a vineyard but I'd like to. They look so pretty!

Gah! Uh...for paranormal, it might be the one from Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files or Mark Del Franco's Connor Grey series...for fantasy, well, my latest favourites would be from Sherwood Smith's Inda series and Maria V. Snyder's Study and Glass series.

I love wine, reds more than whites...preferably dry reds. Though there was this one white that I quite enjoyed from Pelee Island Winery with a prickly pear cactus on the label...a Gewürztraminer, I think. However, because the sulphites play havoc with my sinuses, I only have wine on special occasions.

Magic system based on a food? Chocolate is like magic...tasty tasty magic. Or maybe coffee or tea...those definitely have magical properties. :D

Nancy said...

Pat, chocolate and ice cream are, magic! *g*

Nancy said...

Hi, Drew--I love the Darkhunters, too. Part of my geekdom is that I'm compulsive about reading in order.

If you like the Darkhunters, there's probably a lot of paranormal romance and genre fantasy that would appeal to you. The Retrievers are wonderful and very romantic, with lots of that Lair favorite "boom," or action.

C. E. Murphy's Walker papers (Urban Shaman is the first one) aren't as romantic but have lots of action and draw on Celtic and Native American lore, and there are romantic bits in them.

Robin Hobb's Farseer Chronicles, starting with Assassin's Apprentice, and its sequel trilogy, the Tawny Man books, are complex and engaging, with romantic threads though they aren't romances.

That's just off the top of my head. There are many, many more out there.

Nancy said...

Pissenlit, love the chocolate idea! I have one of the Glass books on the teetering TBR pile. I also like the Dresden files; I think a fair number of people here do.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Laura, welcome to the Lair! Your The Vineart War sounds fascinating and I look forward to the first book in the series.

I'm not a drinker, which is a damned shame, because I live close to Napa and would love to explore the possibilities in the wine country.

Nancy said...

Hi, Jo--

I didn't realize you lived close to Napa. I'll have to get suggestions from you the next time the dh and I make it across the country.

Anna Campbell said...

Virgina, one chook coming up! Although if you've had him all day, you're probably lying in a darkened room clutching your smelling salts by now!

Nancy, what an absolutely fantastic interview. I'm utterly hooked.

Anna Campbell said...

Laura, I LOVE wine!!!! Anyone who's been at conference with me will back up that statement. And I really enjoy the American wines which aren't readily available here. They're a style similar to the Aussie ones, I find - very drinkable. I always love to dry different wines when I'm in Europe - very fond of a good Cotes du Rhone. But I must say my heart belongs with the home-grown stuff. I notice you love SB - me too. If you get a chance - and it's really hard in the States as I've sent people hunting and they've never come up with the goods - see if you can try a Western Australian SB. It's a different style to the NZ ones, passionfruit and grassy flavors and perhaps a bit more individual to my tastes, which I like - SB. Or a good SB/Semillon mix. Seriously, I think you'll love them. Try Voyager or Lenten Brae or one of the Cape Mentelles if you can find it. Actually Cape Mentelle is one of my favorite brands EVER. Moet own them as well as Cloudy Bay so you've got an idea of the type of quality we're talking about.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Okay, I'm going to say Congrats to Virginia before I have a MAJOR fan girl moment! Congrats on the chook, V!

Now....SQEEEEEE!!! Laura Anne Gilman's in DA LAIR!!! WOOT!


Anna Campbell said...

OK, more wine! I SOOOO agree with you about zinfandel being RED!!!!! A few times waiters tried to pan the paler version off on me while I was in DC and they were treated with suitable disdain! I love zin, it's so drinkable, isn't it? Not readily available here. Probably our equivalent would be a good Aussie merlot although I personally think a good Aussie shiraz is a world beater. I think you call shiraz syrah over there although people have also told me that they are different varieties. Oh, don't you just love the worldwide spread of wine and what wonderful tasting opportunities they give us? Yum!!!! At the SF conference, I did a really great tour around the Sonoma and Napa valleys. Incredibly interesting and I tried some great drops. Honestly, my liver is thinking of leaving home!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

*Settling down into a more professional mode*

Hi Laura Anne! Welcome to the Lair! Grins.

As Nancy indicated, I'm a major Retrievers fan. I love the characters, the magical system, everything. You have a great voice for that edgy fantasy.

I'm really looking forward to this new series. Nancy was teasing me with tidbits from your reading at DragonCon. *Very Bad Bandita, Nancy!* Now I get the exerpt here. COOL!!!

So glad you could join us today! I'll have to go back and look, but did you say how long this series is going to be? (As in number of books?)

Anna Campbell said...

Laura Anne - sorry, I was so excited to have a wine fan in the lair, I left off your second name, if I give you a nice full glass of vino, will you forgive me? - from your experience as an editor, do you have any advice re book promotion? It's a topic of endless fascination, as I'm sure you know! Oh, and congratulations on the books. They sound absolutely fab!

Christine Wells said...

Laura Anne, welcome to the lair and many thanks to Nancy for bringing you to us with such a great interview.

I love that you were able to put your passion for wine into your books. That's something that really shows in a writer's work, I think.

You will love touring Australian vineyards. It could take a while to cover them all! I hope you get down here some day.

What do you think are the advantages/ disadvantages to having edited fiction in a former life? Do you ever find it difficult to turn off the editor side of yourself?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hmmm, I think I forgot to answer some questions....let's see:

Fav Wine for everyday drinking, parties, dinners etc: La Crema Chardonnay and Coppola's Chardonnay

I don't drink reds because they make me sneeze, but I do love a few sips of agood full bodied Cab. :>

Food to build a world upon...hmmm....Gotta think on that one. There's such alchemy in cooking. :>

Oh, and as far as champagne? La Veuve Cliquot. Marvy stuff.

Christine Wells said...

Anna, if your liver is thinking of leaving home, don't come looking for mine!!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oooh, Logans Run IS dark, Nancy. The book and, as Anna said, the movie too if you can get past Micahel York's blond sauve-ness.

Series that's paranormal and favorites - how much time do you have?

So, besides the Retrievers:

Lackey's Valdemar series, and her series with James Mallory - WONDERFUL! - which has a fascinating, and constant thread about tea!

Both of Edding's series

Any of Andre Norton's series, but esp. Witch World

Patricia Briggs's Dragon Blood/Dragon Bone duo is one of my current, constant re-reads

Diane Duane's Door into Fire series

Susan Cooper's YA Arthurian series starting w/ Over Sea and Under Stone

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Meant to say too that I've got Pam Palmer's series sitting her calling to me, but have to finish the d*mn book due 11/1 first! :>

Christine Wells said...

Jeanne, interesting that reds make you sneeze. Chardonnay and some other whites almost invariably do that to me, except Riesling, which seems fine. A knowledgeable waiter in Tasmania told me that it's not actually the colour of the grape, it's where they're grown (or something) that produces the histamines that make you sneeze. Wish I could remember!

We went through a period in Oz where Chardonnay was the thing and drinking Riesling was looked down on (utterly ridiculous!) and so I just started drinking red with everything. Love a great shiraz (if you can afford it, try Penfold's Grange Hermitage---bliss!) but also a lot of the less pricey Wynns Coonawarra reds are very drinkable. I also love Leeuwin Estate Riesling (the art series one with the froggy on it) Sparkling shiraz is also another favourite of mine. I'd drink that rather than above a non-French sparkling white any day.

Our house renovation plans include a temperature controlled cellar. I foresee us building up quite a collection!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oooh, Christine! I love that you're adding a temp controlled wine spot. THat's great. That's the one thing I couldn't find a spot for when we redid the kitchen. When we do the basement, however...*rubs hands with greedy glee*...we'll make that happen.

I've been duly noting down all these great wines. I love having good wine on hand for spontaneous events, but since I don't actually DRINK the reds, I live in fear that I'll serve something crappy to those who love it. Ha! It's so challenging sometimes because just going by price doesn't really do it. You can get really bad wine that's much more expensive than a nice Coppola Merlot or a Black Opal Burgundy. :>

Nancy said...

Anna, glad you liked it. I'm eager to read this trilogy. The bits Laura Anne read at DragonCon were not the same as we have or the Pocket website has.

Your wine commentary amazes me. I had no idea you were so into it. So you like shiraz over merlot? Am I getting that right?

Nancy said...

That's right, Jeanne, tell everybody I lorded it over you. *sigh*

But I did. I admit it. I was so excited after the reading that I ran outside (so as to get cell phone bars) and called Jeanne, then stood with my hand around the phone to block out the noise of Peachtree Street's evening traffic.

Nancy said...

Christine, glad you liked it. I would add a question to yours and ask Laura Anne what mistakes she most often saw beginning writers make.

Nancy said...

Jeanne, I admit the main reason I went to see Logan's Run more than once was Michael York. But it really is a dark story.

I love the Susan Cooper series you mentioned. The dh introduced me to them in his capacity as a children's lit prof., pointing out that The Grey King was a Newbery winner. We read them all to the boy, who loved them.

The recent film of The Dark is Rising (the first book, for the uninitiated) didn't do much for me, though.

I loved the early Valdemar books; wasn't so keen on the later ones.

Anna Campbell said...

Snort, Miss Wells - don't you think a liver might look fine with all those kidneys of yours I already have? Oh, Penfolds Grange - I'd love to try it one day, sadly, it's completely beyond my budget!

Nancy, I blame an ex-boyfriend for my wine interests. I curse him every time I get a Visa bill. I was toddling along, quite happily drinking cask wine which was cheap and plentiful. But then he had to introduce me to the bottled stuff which while plentiful, is nowhere near as cheap! And the problem is once your palate has tried the good stuff, it objects to going back to the gut-ripping hooch. Palates are so troublesome that way!

Nancy said...

Christine, chardonnay is the ubiquitous white here. Every party, it seems to me, serves chardonnay as the white wine. Which I really don't love all that much. I'll go for white zinfandel (yes, Anna, I know they're different) over chardonnay anytime.

Nancy said...

Anna, I'm not sure what cask wine is. In college, way back at the dawn of time, we drank Boone's Farm, which came in a screw-top bottle, and a brand I forget that actually had a cork. I don't like either of those now, but they had the irresistible, to college students, charms of being cheap and easily obtained.

The drinking age, in case anyone's wondering, was 18 then.

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, cask wine is the stuff in the cardboard boxes with a plastic bladder inside and a tap on the outside for getting out the hooch. NOT classy! Over here, the screw top has become ubiquitous even for quite prestigious drops so we no longer use the screw top as a badge of disgrace!

Nancy said...

Anna, screw tops are becoming more common here, too. But back then, they graced wines favored mostly by the student and, er, wino contingents.

Since my interaction with cork mostly involves getting bits of it in the bottle, then trying not to drink it, I can't say I lament its passing.

I suspected cask wine might be something of the sort.

cheri said...

Nancy: no weres in this one, but one of the characters is Lucifer himself, who's trying to regain a lost lover. I wanted to go with something completely different! It's called THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS, so watch for it in 2010.

Nancy said...

Sounds cool, Cheri. Congrats on your upcoming release.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Welcome back to the Lair Laura and big thanx to Nancy for inviting you!

Matter of fact, the DH was in Napa yesterday visiting his aunt, so yeah, we see vineyards a lot. :-P We were even in the Burgundy region once in the fall. Talk about GORGEOUS!

Your fantasy series sounds intriguing, but if I were to center a fantasy world around a food, of course it would be CHOCOLATE! HA!


Nancy said...

Hi, AC--

Chocolate is very popular in today's answers. I bet you got beautiful photos in Burgundy.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

You know Nancy, I just couldn't resist mentioning it. :> I was so excited, Laura, when Nancy called me to say she'd heard you read the exerpt.

Nancy, I'd heard the Dark is Rising movie was a bust, so I didn't bother. I was telling Q and abbreviated version of the Over Sea Under Stone story which starts the whole thing. For all the Grey King was a Newberry Winner, I liked Silver on the Tree and Dark better. (I think it's my Guineverre phobia. Snork!)

As to Valdemar, the earliest were the best, several of the trilogies were good. The series she's done for Luna is okay, but this latest one with James Mallory? (The first trilogy) Brilliant. Couldn't put it down.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Anna, had to LOL about the "cask wine" being the kind that that comes in the box. We used to call that "Box-O-Vino" and take it to dog show weekends with us. After a bottle of the good stuff at dinner, you don't mind it so much. Hahahah!

I'll have to see if they sell Penfolds Grange over here. :>

jo robertson said...

Ah, Laura, I think I just saw your flight pass over Sacramento on the way to S.F.

I was going to ask about how you balanced the "wine" part of the story with the "magic," not giving too much detail that some readers wouldn't care about. I'd find it very interesting, and might change my drinking status LOL.

Ooops, saw the answer!

jo robertson said...

Pink P., hope you can make it to Laura's signing. What fun!

Nancy, I'm not really close to Napa, but it's about an hour and a half, a beautiful drive. We love to stay in that area on occasion, but it'd be even more fun to go on a wine tour.

Nancy said...

Jeanne, The Dark is Rising is my favorite of that series. Over Sea, Under Stone was good, but we happened to read it last.

What's the series Mercedes Lackey did with James Mallory?

Nancy said...

Jeanne, The Dark is Rising is my favorite of that series. Over Sea, Under Stone was good, but we happened to read it last.

Nancy said...

Jeanne, I've seen box coffee but haven't seen box wine. Will have to keep an eye out for it next time I'm in the store.

jo robertson said...

Oh my goodness, a magic system based on a food would have to revolve around some kind of gooey pastry, lots of flaky crusts and cream fillings.

Nothing too fattening, right? Of course, in my magic world this stuff would all be delicious, but low-fat, low-sugar, low cal!

Nancy said...

Jo, I get fuzzy about geography in other parts of the country. Thanks for the info.

Nancy said...

Jo, in a magic system based on food, with no calories or low calories for pastry--everyone would want to use that power!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

On Jo's Pastry Power? Ohhhh yeah, I'm in!

Nancy said...

Jeanne wrote: Jo's Pastry Power?

Sounds like a dessert at a bandita dinner. We do love our desserts.

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Laura! What a wonderful interview and a fabulous excerpt *g*

I've never been to a vineyard but I need to go seeing as how my WIP revolves around one! I am finding all the research fascinating but a roadtrip to a vineyard would be even better :-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Beth said: but a roadtrip to a vineyard would be even better :-)

Hey Beth, there are a bunch just south of me in Virginia. I could be persuaded to do a ROAD TRIP! if you want....just sayin'

Nancy said...

Hi, Beth--

I'm up for the vineyard trip if you and Jeanne decide to go!

jo robertson said...

No worry, Nancy. I live here and get fuzzy about where everything is. It's always measured in hours, you know, rather than miles LOL.

Pastry Power -- oooh, I'm a-liking that!

Laura Anne said...

After a delay from hell, I'm safely in San Diego and catching up with comments... thanks for being patient!

Nancy -- While it's true that you can find perfectly drinkable wines for $10, it's my experience that the difference between a $10 wine and a $16-$20 wine is significant. The next jump in noticeable quality is @ $30, and after that unless you are really paying attention, it may not be worth spending more money. Spending less than $10... well, you can find things that are quaffable, but personally I'd rather spend the extra $5 and get something nice.

Laura Anne said...

Cheri, Sabrina, hi! Ah, the Internet. Such a large and yet small place.... ;-)

Drew -- I've had Bull's Blood, and yeah, "robust" is a good term for it! And welcome to the fantasy side of the bookshelf! It's a wide-open genre, as you'll soon discover... as well as being the first recorded form of literature (no, really: Beowulf!)

Anna and Christine -- An Australian friend introduced me to Grange. Oh. Dear. Also, wow. [for those of you unfamiliar with the name, it's considered one of the best wines in the world -- with a price tag to match. *wince*] Thanks for the hints on the whites -- I'm very fond of Semillion, so will give them a look-for.

Laura Anne said...

Jeanne -- awwww, and also *blush* The Vineart War is a true trilogy -- the story carries over three books, each with its own mini-arc [book 1 is discovery, and book 2 is...well, not telling yet. ;-) ]

Christine -- The advantage of having been an editor is that I know how the sausages are made, so to speak. I've run the numbers and sat in the meetings, and know what can be 'fixed' and what's often the whim of the Fates. The disadvantage... I'm not sure there is one, really. I like having a pragmatic view, and I've learned to shove the internal editor into a box under the bed while I'm writing...

Laura Anne said...

Nancy -- one of the biggest mistakes new writers make, in my experience, is paying too much attention to what other people say, until they lose track of the story they wanted to tell. Also, not finishing the first book, and then if they finish, not immediately starting the next book.

Oh, and I think everyone hated the "Dark is Rising" movie. Such wonderful books, such a dumb adaption...

Laura Anne said...

Okay, exhausted now. Will pick up in the morning. Y'all have been great!

Hvitveis said...

jumping back to the question of what it is that I like with the fantasy worlds I love..

In the world created by Cecilia Dark Thornton, all the fairytales and folklore myths are real. And real as in frightening-real. Opening your door after dark is a bad idea there. It is beauty and cruelty together in an interesting mix.

As for spanish local wine, the DO's (denominacion de origen) in Aragon are Somontano, Borja, Cariñena as the most famous ones. The gewu..Gewürztraminer is from Viñas de Vero, that also does an excellent Merlot collection and Gran vos is usually great. It is not as famous or expensive as the DO Ribera de Duero, (although thy have a subbrand Blequa that aims for exclusive and expensive) but for someone like me who divide wine into I like/I do not like spending more than 20 euros on a bottle is not worth it.

and that was the end of my monologue on Aragon wines...

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Laura Anne said: is paying too much attention to what other people say, until they lose track of the story they wanted to tell. Also, not finishing the first book, and then if they finish, not immediately starting the next book.

I'm QUOTING you on that, next time I teach my class on Surviving Limbo (Between AYU and Pub)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Also, do you give lessons on how to stuff that internal editor under the bed, or into the box? I REALLY want to learn that one...

Laura Anne said...

Quick burst to (hopefully) answer the last questions:

Jo -- The trick about worldbuilding is what I call the iceberg rule: the people on the ship only need to see the tip, to know it's going to sink their boat, but you, as creator, need to know how large it actually is under the surface, to make sure it can do the proper damage. SO I threw in a lot of detail about the wines and world, and then pared it down to "tip" levels.

Jeanne -- first, you distract her with a scotch, and then sneak up on her with a burlap bag... *looks innocent*

Oh, and here's a present for you fans of the Retriever series: I just sold a story featuring Danny, the half-fatae PI! It will be coming out in an anthology some time next year, but it will hopefully, also go up at Bookview Cafe(to go with the PB-centric story already there).

Thanks again for having me, and for your patience as I logged in from remote computers...!

-- Laura Anne