Works in Progress
(a novel for young adults)
In the world of Sorrow’s Knot, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry and nearly invisible, something deadly. The dead can only be repelled or destroyed with magically knotted cords and yarns. The women who tie these knots are called binders.
Otter is the daughter of Willow, a binder of great power. She’s a proud and privileged girl who takes it for granted that she will be a binder some day herself. But when Willow’s power begins to turn inward and tear her apart, Otter finds herself trapped with a responsibility she’s not ready for, and a power she no longer wants.
This one is inches from done, and will be out from Arthur A. Levine Books at Scholastic, probably in Fall 2013.
The painting to the right is “The Weaver,” by Hue Walker, used with the artist’s kind permission
The Children of Peace
(a novel for young adults)
A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace - sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals - are raised together in small, isolated schools called Prefectures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.
Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Prefecture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace — even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.
Enter Elián Palnik, the Prefecture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Prefecture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.
What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?
This is the novel I’m writing now! Gee, I hope they all don’t die.
UPDATE! They didn’t all die! They want to be in a trilogy! The second book is called The Swan Riders.
The Teleportation of Gilbert Perez
This much is in the history books: On October 24, 1593, a Filipino soldier named Gil Perez was found wandering the Plaza Mayor of Mexico City. He claimed he had just been on duty in the governor’s palace in Manila, and brought news that the governor had just been murdered. He had no idea how he came to be in Mexico. He was promptly arrested for desertion and on suspicion of witchcraft.
When the Internet cast this story up at my feet, I knew I had to write it. I resisted for a while — the research required is overwhelming. But in the end I gave in.
I couldn’t help it. I’m in love with poor Gilbert, bouncing backward through the 16th century, falling in love and losing his mind. History has given me the battles in rainswept darkness, the hidden ships and flower-lined causeways — but what interests me is Gilbert’s struggle to grow up as the world grows younger, his struggle not to fall in love with a sorrowful future.
Is a tragedy a triumph if you tell it backwards? Does a love story become a tragedy? Is Gilbert ever going to get a decent pair of boots? I can’t wait to find out.
This is the novel I’m researching. And researching. And researching.
Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight
One Christmas my dear husband bought me a copy of W.S. Merwin’s translation of the middle-English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I was knocked over by the weird and wonderful story, the great-hearted failure of the young hero Gawaine.
I would have loved this story when I was, say, ten. So I wrote a new version for my child self:
In Camelot before the sorrows, Shut up snug before the snow, Legendary knights were feasting In bright midwinter, long ago.
It goes on for 400 quatrains. It starts with a beheading and turns on an illicit kiss. Yeah, it’s possibly unpublishable. But a marvel, a marvel. I wrote it under a spell that lasted for months.
This Howard Pyle illustration (and doesn’t he have Gilbert’s exact expression?) is in the public domain.
(poetry for adults)
The great poet Basho kept a journal of his Narrow Road to the Interior, his thousand-mile walk to the remote and dangerous north, punctuating his traveller’s tales with haiku — a form called haibun.
This book is my narrow road — a road through grief and illness and through strangeness and joy. The death of my sister, the birth of my daughter. The narrowing of my life by degenerative illness, the slow blossoming of a long marriage.
yellow bird is a series of haibun sequences. It’s my first autobiographical book of poems, and it scares me to death. But I think it might be my best work.