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The Best Thing?

A reader asks, "What's the best thing you've ever written?"

That's one of those impossible questions, as it's always the thing I'm working on now! Each book is the best one while I'm working on it. Each one is the stretch, my best game, the top of my form, the stage I'm on right now. So right this minute Silver Bullet is the best one.

But -- that said -- a more objective look, and less the eyes of love -- I think the best thing I've ever written is the last two chapters of the second Elza book, The Emperor's Companion. In terms of showcasing each of my skills, battle scenes and romance and absolutely soaring mystical/magical sequences, of bringing together plot and pacing and surprises and magical threads long woven and everything feeling exactly right, those two chapters are the best. As one prereader said, "When I put the book down I just want to stand up and cheer!" Yes, that's the section where I feel like a gymnast who just nailed the dismount.

Here's a little piece from that section, though I don't know if it works out of context, from the numinous part...



After all, something whispered within me, nineteen hundred years was such a little time….

And with that I cast myself aloft, flung my winged soul into the sky.

The sea rushed by beneath me, the moon making a path across the water toward Dover. Fast and sure I drove toward it, a white gull made of moonlight and mist, gray water beneath my wings. Power crackled above me and around me, a lone scout, the first line of the advance.

And yet I was not alone. All their strength channeled through me, all their determination. I could feel each of them as though I held separate reins in my hands, a chariot pulled by eleven fine horses, each of them a fillet of silver, a cord slender and shining as steel. Max Duplessis was bright as fire, will and purpose wrought by faith. Michel was solid as the earth beneath my feet, glossy black stone found far underground. Honoré's mind played over mine like light on water, skipping and illuminating. Subervie's stubborn strength, Jean-Baptiste's flashing power, Lannes elusive as mercury, thoughts sliding away from mine, keeping his secrets.

It rose out of the sea a mile off shore, a vast cloud tipped with lightning, winds buffeting at me. Every instinct screamed. I must veer off. I must shear away before it ripped me to pieces. I was only a gull and it was a hurricane. It would catch me up in its power, leave only ragged feathers and a storm-tossed body discarded on the beach.

Not a gull, something whispered inside me. Far away I held it to my chest, felt its power seep into me. Not a gull but a golden eagle, hard as bronze.

Lightning flared around me and did not scar, its power feeding my own. Shadows followed me, dark triremes against the water, ghost ships risen in my wake as my wings beat ceaselessly, driven by the primal power of story, straight into the heart of the storm.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
linneasr
Nov. 21st, 2012 12:11 pm (UTC)
Very nice! Is there any indication of the Emporer's Companion reaching print?
jo_graham
Nov. 21st, 2012 12:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

No, I don't know anything yet. Hopefully I'll have some idea in the next few months.
linneasr
Nov. 21st, 2012 01:09 pm (UTC)
Good luck! I'm hooked on Elza now, and would love to read more.
jo_graham
Nov. 21st, 2012 01:28 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you're hooked!

The next one covers 1804-1805, and I think it's where Elza really comes into her own. In the first book she's often reacting to things, not moving the plot herself. She's responding to things other people do. In the second book Elza's calling the shots herself a lot more.
linneasr
Nov. 21st, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
Brilliant. Her potential is clear, and it will be wonderful to see what she does with it.
jo_graham
Nov. 21st, 2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
She's really young in The General's Mistress, only 24 at the end of the book. She's got a lot ahead of her!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )