Signed personalised books for the holidays—including my memoir!

White background, blue letters spelling "Phinney Books" with an image of a Big Wheel in gold at lower leftImage description: White background, blue lettering spelling “Phinney Books,” in all caps. And, in gold, an image of a Big Wheel lower left and “Seattle,” again all caps, lower right.

I’m teaming up again with Phinney Books, on Greenwood Avenue, Seattle, to bring you signed, personalised books for the holidays. Why Phinney Books? Well, because it’s my idea of a perfectly-sized bookshop with just the right stock. Also, it’s level-entry with a light front door so very easy for me to get in and out of. And of course before and after pandemic restrictions it’s wonderfully convenient because it’s right next door to the 74th St Alehouse, which sells an excellent pint of Guinness.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Go to Phinney Books’ online ordering page to buy any of my books, no muss no fuss, and get them shipped to any address in US. Everyone else, see the next step.
  2. Email (phone is okay: 206-297-2665) with billing info: all major credit cards accepted. They use Square, so they’ll also need the 3-digit code on the back and your billing postal code.
  3. Tell them what you’d like:
    • Spear (hardcover—audiobook and ebook available)
    • Hild (paperback or hardcover—audiobook and ebook available)
    • So Lucky (paperback—audiobook and ebook available)
    • Ammonite (paperback—audiobook and ebook available)
    • Slow River (paperback—ebook available)
    • With Her Body (paperback only)
    • Or my memoir, And Now We Are Going to Have a Party. SEE NOTE BELOW.*
    • Don’t forget, you can order ebooks and audiobooks via the store (I narrated So Lucky and Spear). Sadly I can’t personalise those, though—unless you buy a card from Tom and I sign that.
  4. Tell them whether you want the books personalised (to you, or to someone else; if so, who; and what short thing you’d like me to add). If you give this order by phone, please spell out even the most common names.
  5. Give them your mailing address and payment info.
  6. Beam, sit back and relax: you’ve done your holiday shopping!

Tom, the owner, tells me he is happy to ship multiple copies, to ship internationally, and to ship express/priority, but then there will be extra charges you will have to work out with him.

Deadlines: The sooner you get orders in the better. I won’t be signing anything after Dec 15. My advice? Order as fast as possible, especially if you want a copy of the memoir. Good luck!

  1. * There is a very limited supply of these. There were only 450 to start with and 15 years ago they were priced at $75. The most recent sales I’ve seen elsewhere (auction sites and the like) have been over $100, sometimes well over. And because they’re sealed in plastic—absolutely pristine—I can’t sign and personalise them. But each one is already signed and numbered inside the box. For this promotion only I’ll be selling a handful at $75 each. After that the price will go up. A lot.
  2. It takes time for Tom to order copies of With Her Body.
  3. The Aud novels are not currently available. I reverted the rights and sold everything I had lying about in an earlier promotion. But, woo-hoo!, they will be back on sale at some point in spiffy matching editions from Picador—and I’ll be doing the audio narration.
  4. Bending the Landscape is not currently available—though if you want to pay $750 you can find them online.
  5. And don’t forget, while you’re buying one of my books—or all of them! hey, it’s the holidays, splurge!—you can buy books by other people. Lots of books. Books make great gifts.

Treasure trove discovered: my memoir in a box!

Demon Jesus—a collage I made when I was five years old. Note the very careful nail holes. I’m not sure why the observer has only one leg; perhaps it fell off.

Kelley and I recently went through the house clearing out the accumulated clutter of 17 years. We found all sorts of interesting stuff1—including a stash of my limited edition, signed and numbered, memoir-in-a-box, And Now We Are Going to Have a Party: Liner notes to a writer’s early life. I’m delighted—I thought they were all truly, finally gone apart from my one working copy. I’m nor sure how many of them there are, maybe a dozen—Kelley opened the box long enough to see what it contained, then left it in the attic—but I’m going to part with a handful. The box is a lovely thing, a collector’s item, and there’s nothing I’d like more than to hoard them, gloat over them like a dragon with her gold, but I wrote it to be read.

This book is unique; there isn’t another like it in the world. And there were only 450 copies made. It is my early life in a box: the story of growing up queer, gender nonconforming, hungry (in all the ways) in a super-Catholic family in the north of England, from 1960 until I left for America in 1989. Stories of batty nuns and queer priests; sex and drugs and music; psychopathy and arson and nascent criminal master-mindery; desire, delinquency, and delight; violence, joy, and coalition-building. But above all it’s a love story: how my love of life led to love of words which led to meeting and falling in love with Kelley. Which changed everything—the story ends with me leaving the UK to come to the US to start our life together as writers.

In terms of original word count, Party is short—no more than 45,000 words—mostly short essays with titles such as “Limb of Satan” to “No-Pants Griffith” to “Whole Psychopath.” These are all true stories; some are funny, some are not. But words are only part of the story. Included in the box are scratch-n-sniff cards; a fold-out poster of one of my first artworks (a collage crucifixion of Jesus with demon-red eyes; I was four); a facsimile of my first book—written and drawn at age four with crayon; a CD of me performing with my band; a signed baby photo; diary excerpts; excerpts from my first handwritten novel; old poetry; a recipe for plastic omelette (I’m lucky no one died); quotes from my very first editorial letters (for that same unpublished handwritten novel), and lots and lots of stories, all true—building my first still (again, I’m lucky no one died); the grief of trying to save a sister who did not want to be saved; tales of loneliness and unexpected alliances; and always—always—being different. It’s the story of, well, the early life that made me me—a writer.

For a taste, here are two short readings from the book, stories of me at age four (No-Pants Griffith) and sixteen (Bird of the Fragile Spirit).2 Then tune in tomorrow for how to get hold of one of these beautiful objects.

No-Pants Griffith
Bird of the Fragile Spirit

1 Seriously. All kinds of stuff. So much cool stuff that I’m thinking of starting a Patreon next year and using some of it for Reward tiers.

2 The recording is not great quality—and weirdly I sound as though I have a lisp; I don’t. Also, the title of this piece if that of a poem I wrote at 17 that I later turned into a song.

Gorgeous Kelley

Kelley has a new photo, taken earlier this month. I love it—it looks exactly like her with the cool hair matching the fabulous opal, and the nifty tats going with the delicious muscles. Not to mention her lovely eyes.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good new photo. This one is by Ed Sozinho, of Sozinho Imagery who lives just around the corner from us. If you live in Seattle and need a corporate or author photo, drop him a line.

Hild, Menewood, and Meanwood

Today is the feast day of Hild of Whitby, aka St Hilda, who died 1408 years ago. It seems like a good time to announce that Menewood, the sequel to Hild, has finally entered copyediting—it’s in the production cycle. It will be published by FSG/MCD in October 2023.

I’ve seen a draft of the cover—it’s fantastic!—and here’s a first stab at the flap copy:

In the much anticipated sequel to Hild, Nicola Griffith’s Menewood transports readers back to seventh-century Britain, a land of rival kings and religions poised for epochal change. Hild is no longer the bright child who made a place in Edwin Overking’s court with her seemingly supernatural insight. She is eighteen, honed and tested, the formidable Lady of Elmet, now building her personal stronghold in the valley of Menewood.

But Edwin recalls his most trusted advisor. Old alliances are fraying. Younger rivals are snapping at his heels. War is brewing—bitter war, winter war. Not knowing who to trust he becomes volatile and unpredictable. Hild begins to understand the true extent of the chaos ahead, and now she must navigate the turbulence and fight to protect both the kingdom and her own people.

She will face the losses and devastation of total war, and then must find a new strength, the implacable determination to forge a radically different path for herself and her people. In the valley, her last redoubt, her community slowly takes root. She trains herself and her unexpected allies in new ways of thinking, and she prepares for one last wager: risking all on a single throw for a better future…

The copy will change, it always does, but I think it gives a sense of the sweep of the book: Menewood is epic. It begins four months after the end of Hild, and covers only four years of Hild’s life, but those years are intense: war and defeat, alliance and betrayal, birth and death, joy and forgiveness, violence and rage, love and lust, war and victory, grief and loss, learning and building, bravery and cowardice, growth and change, war and devastation, power and responsibility, and the making, breaking, and shaping of kings.

Menewood is also full of quieter moments: peace, pleasure, contentment, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, sorrow, laughter, warmth, friendship, and farewells. It is a book about life: how it feels, what it means, how it changes.

Menewood the book is big—30% longer than Hild. I have a lot to say about it—I could post three times a week from now until October and still not run out of things to talk about—but for now I want to touch briefly on Menewood the place.

The Old English pronunciation of Menewood would be something like MEN-eh-wood. But I pronounce it MEEN-wood because I have based it on a real place: Meanwood, in Leeds, Yorkshire. The fictional stream running through Menewood is the real Meanwood Beck; the fictional valley of Menewood is the real Meanwood Valley. You can go there today, walk under the trees alongside the beck in Hild’s footsteps and imagine her running, laughing, weeping, and deciding the fate of kings.

According to Wikipedia, the name derives from Meene wude — a boundary wood. But I can’t find meene in any Old English glossaries, and mene seems to mean necklace, so, well, your guess is as a good as mine.

I grew up in Headingley, a part northwest Leeds that borders Meanwood, and as a child and teenager ran wild in Meanwood Park, which at about 70 acres covers only a tiny part of the valley. For me, as for Hild, Meanwood is the heart of Elmet, the heart of home. I have a deep and abiding affection for the sound and scent of its trees and air and water. When I go back to the UK I always visit the park, and as soon as I’m under the trees the scent of the soil is a stab under my ribs; it’s part of me.

Here’s a photo of Meanwood Beck I took years ago with Crapcam.

In Hild’s time it would have been bigger and burlier. If you look at a map of Meanwood Valley you’ll see the shape the beck (from a Norse word for brook) carved from the hills on its way to the river Aire.

Above all, Menewood is about Hild. She is on every page, the burning heart around which events turn. And just as in the first book, Hild is most at home in nature, so the book is full of water, sky, and high wild places. I can’t wait for you to read it.

Holiday Bookfest—Live! In-person!—Saturday 19 November!

Come meet me and 27 other local authors next Saturday from 2-4 pm at the Phinney Center. We’ll be signing books, talking about books, reading from books and generally hanging out. I’ll be doing a 10-minute reading—I haven’t decided what, yet. Maybe Spear? Maybe Menewood? Maybe something entirely different? Come and find out!

The Phinneywood blog has all the details:

Discover new ways local authors can help you look at life through the world of books available at the  Holiday Bookfest, once again, finally, being held in person at the PNA on Saturday, November 19, 2-4 p.m. (Blue Building, 2nd floor).

Come to meet local authors, buy books, and get them signed.  Come for author readings, held every 15 minutes. Come to support our local bookseller Phinney Books, who is donating part of the proceeds to the tutoring center Bureau of Fearless Ideas and the PNA. And please bring your gently used children’s books for donation to the Pocket Libraries program!

Among the more twenty-eight authors will be bestselling crime novelist Elizabeth George, Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest, first-time young adult novelist Zoe Hana Mikuta, and memoirist Jessica Gigot, a Skagit Valley farmer.

With the holidays at hand, how about a new cookbook? On hand will be four chef authors: Polina Chesnakova, Hsiao-Ching Chou, Jackie Freeman and Andrea Pons.

And in the gift-giving season, new children’s books will delight the kids in your life. Meet authors Rob Albanese, Lynne Brunelle, Ben Clanton, Andy Chou Musser and Walker Ranson, a young man who penned his first book with his mother, veteran novelist Suzanne Selfors.

A smorgasbord of great books awaits from authors Erica Bauermeister, Robert Dugoni, Laurie Frankel, Nicola Griffith, Thor Hanson, Molly Hashimoto, Priscilla Long, Sharon Mentyka, Boyd Morrison, Steve Olson, Putsata Reang, Steven Reddy, Neal Thompson, Tara Austen Weaver, David B. Williams and the students of BFI.

The building is fully accessible. It’s an airy space, the windows will be open, and mask-wearing is encouraged. Also, I know half the writers—we’re a friendly bunch. And, y’know, there’s a pub and a fine bookstore not too far away—just saying. So come on down and buy a bunch of signed books to give away as gifts—or keep for yourself.

See you there!

Aestas horribilis

I haven’t posted here for over a month. I had to cancel our trip to World Fantasy in New Orleans. I’ve been missing on social media. I have not read the books I promised and not written the blurbs I offered. I haven’t been commenting on politics or history or all things viral.1 I’ve been ignoring friends’ invitations and enquiries. Why? Late summer was horrible; I’ve been overwhelmed.

I’ve already mentioned events of July, when Kelley was laid off2, I broke the cuboid bone in my foot, and then had a bruising wheelchair crash. What I haven’t talked about before here is that Kelley’s mother has Alzheimer’s which has been rapidly increasing upon her. And two months ago she fell, broke her hip and arm, and got concussion.

It’s been difficult. Kelley and I are both exhausted and stressed and working hard on taking care of an old and fragile woman with dementia (and forgets she’s just had her hip replaced and is wearing a cast and tries to walk) and her old and confused husband. We have no time, we have no bandwidth, we don’t know how long this will last or what the future holds. Those of you who have had to manage this kind of thing don’t need telling; those of you who haven’t, well, I hope you never do.

One of the things that adds to the stress is having to renege on promises and cancel things. So let me be clear here: if you ask me a favour3 in the next three months you will not even get the courtesy of a no. Until late winter/early spring, my focus will be very close to home.

Not everything that I’ve been busy with the last couple of months has been bad. The good thing, the best thing—the thing that’s kept me sane—is MENEWOOD. I have a lot to say, and I’ll do that in a separate post, but for now here’s the headline: It’s done, it’s entering the publisher’s production cycle, and oh it will be worth the wait!

Also coming soon here news of a couple of events this month and next, plus the usual holiday books-as-gifts notice.

Meanwhile, it’s truly autumn here in Seattle, and amazingly we still have vivid yellow begonias in bloom, fuchsias brightening both decks and the front bed, and even a few salvia of various colours and shapes giving hummingbirds nectar. The cats are in fine fettle, I love my sweetie and she loves me, and I’m already chortling over the writing ideas I have for what comes next.

Here at Chez Nickel there will be a lot to be thankful for over turkey this year. I wish the same for you.

1 There is so very much to say about this. I could write ten fucking posts and still not get it off my chest.

2 Oh, I could write such a screed about this, and perhaps one day I will.

3 A favour, as opposed to paid opportunity, invitation to something seriously fun, or normal professional activities

This year’s flowers

Every summer we plant a bunch of annuals alongside our surviving perennials in containers on our kitchen and back decks, where I can more easily get to them to water, dead-head, fertilise, etc. I sometimes post pictures on Twitter and Instagram, and several people have asked if I’d do a post going into the planting in a bit more depth because they’re thinking about trying something similar next year.

I’m happy to do that—but to be clear, I am not an expert, far from it. Half the time I dn’t even know the names of the stuff I plant—I pick them because I like the colour, and from the care labels I can guess how much sun/shade and water/not they need, and how high (if vines) how wide (if shrubs) and how long If trailing plants) they’ll grow.

Today I’ll just post pretty pictures of different parts of the garden/decks taken at different times of year, with the names of the plants (at lest the ones I remember) bascially the results. Then sometime in the next couple of weeks I’ll do a more detailed, how-I-decided-and-what-I-did-and-why post, that is, the initial choices. Backwards, I know, but right now the plants are blooming, and it’s pointless planning for next year yet, so it makes sense to me.

The Results

This year we changed the colour of our house exterior, so we had to tear out the climbing roses at the front of in order to paint. This broke my heart (well, okay, made me sigh a bit) because I’d spent years training those fucking roses to look perfect. Here’s how it used to be, from the inside of the front picture window and then from the outside:

A garden of flowers and lawn viewed from inside a house and framed by a window
Seeing the roses around the porch trellis from inside the house
The front garden with roses all around the front porch

Sadly, because the timbers on the front bed had rotted, we also had to tear out everything in the front bed. So we made a new flower bed with a couple of trellises, and planted a mix of vines, shrubs and flowers, both perennial and annual.

Midday sun, August

The vines at the front—on either side of the porch—are a mix of evergreen jasmine (glossy green leaves, for colour during the winter, white flowers for a lovely scent all summer) and deciduous trumpet vines, which (once they flower—not this year, sadly) will have gorgeous flame/salmon flowers that hummingbirds love.

You can see from the picture that I went with lots of warm colours to offset the indigo house—mostly petunias at the front (which being annuals never last past the end of September), with some geranium, hyssop, yellow snapdragon, and a ground cover with white flowers that I can never remember the name of, and at the back some hardy fuchsia plus a shrub with wine-coloured foliage that I frankly have no idea what it is but seem to remember thinking, Hey, that’ll work!

We had such a terrible spring and such a slow start to summer that the front bed looks a bit sparse. Hopefully this time next year will be marvellous.

If you look carefully at the front window you can see through to the back deck and a peekaboo view of the flowers there. And here’s a closeup:

Taken in early evening light in late August

From the top, centre: flame-coloured snapdragon (I hope the vines at the front will flower that colour); just below that pink geranium, to the right of that, red geranium, below the geranium little pink million bells below that red petunia, to the left of the petunia orange marigold, moving clockwise and up a bit, more marigold, next to that variable-pink petunia, above that red/purple salvia, above that hyssop, and at the top blue/purple salvia.

And here’s a wider shot taken a month earlier—before those gorgeous snapdragons really got going, and showing some dark red salvia—in early morning light:

Early July morning

The back deck is where Kelley and I sit in the evenings to talk, drink wine, and grill while bees and hummingbirds zuzz at us and the cats completely ignore us. Here’s a wider shot, showing some other flowers and fruits: some bright pink petunias, behind that a small blueberry shrub—we didn’t get many this year, but are hopeful for next—and some strawberries planted around some kind of daisy.

Early evening on a hazy day

The side deck, just off the kitchen, is where I spend time during the day—usually for an hour or so after lunch—with a cup of tea, some chocolate, and a book. This year that deck has been a haven and balm.

Kitchen deck early afternoon

Here, from lower left, we have pale salmon-pink petunia; above that, Flaming Lips, a kind of Salvia—with some vivid red petunia planted at its base; on the ground, fuchsia; next to that the three jasmine vines we’ve had for years now, entwined to make a small tree; behind the jasmine, though you can’t see it, is rosemary with a few marigolds for colour; at the base of the blue pot that hold the jasmine is something I’m really pleased with this year: bright yellow begonia. (We tried begonias last year on the back deck and they did not do well.) You can see things more clearly here—though it was early in the summer before things really got going adn before we decided where things would end up. Those blue and yellow flowers in front of the begonia (er, the name will come to me…) got moved somewhere else, as did the small purple things to the left of the jasmine—to the front garden I think:

Early summer, when things are just getting started

And this is the deck from the opposite angle. You can see we have a variety of herbs in the coir baskets, along with flowers for colour (petunias in various colours are my standby). We also have herbs in pots on the deck itself—some sage and some oregano I think—stuff like chives and basil and thyme and marjoram:

End of September

From a slightly wider angle you can see the hanging basket behind the herbs, again with Flaming Lips salvia—hummingbirds adore salvia, and I love watching them, so we try to plant different varieties in different places.

Those orange things are million bells I think, and on the table there a basket of petunia and marigolds—but I’d just dead-headed a batch in this photo (marigolds, like petunias, are super-sensitive to moisture of lack thereof; miss a day of watering when the sun is shining and, oof, sadness ensues) so they’re not visible—and behind that some lavender (it didn’t do well this year, I’m not sure why) and then behind the table another coir basket full of fuchsia an little blue flowers that have some woman’s name I always forget—lobelia? veronica?

End of September

So the above photo is from September, and this one is what the table and basket behind it looked like in June (and before we add the petunia to the pot with marigolds):

Early days—lavender, marigold, fuchsia in June

To whet you appetite for a future, How To post, here’s another photo, taken the same day in June, this time of the back deck, while we were still figuring out where things would go and whether we’d bought enough. You can see still still in their starter pots—with the strawberries looking particularly delicious.

Wine o’clock in June

Me at 62

When it comes to special occasions, I mostly talk here about Kelley’s birthdays and our various when-we-met, when-we-married, when-I-moved-here anniversaries, and only bring up my own birthday when it’s one of those end-in-zero-or-5 milestones.

Posts usually come with photos but frankly I’m crap at taking selfies—I usually look something between bored and homicidal. Case in point, my most recent selfie, taken one afternoon in late July about an hour after the third bad-thing-in-one-day event.

Okay, technically still 61 here, but close enough

In my defence, they were pretty bad things: Kelley got laid off with no warning, I found out I had a fractured cuboid bone (and it fucking hurt), and then on the way out of the MRI suite (because of cuboid bone) I had my first-ever wheelchair crash, in which I hit a misaligned paving stone at speed, went flying into the road headfirst, and was landed on by my 40kg wheelchair. I was *grumpy*.

So here’s a better one, a screen cap I took a couple of hours ago during a Zoom meeting. I hadn’t been up very long (do you get up early on your birthday?) so I’m a bit blank, but like all Zoom pix it’s flattering—I always use the ‘touch up my appearance’ setting at about 25% strength, and the direct light smoothes out my skin. But, hey, it’s my birthday. I get to cheat a bit if I want.

Early morning Zoom—too early, really, for one’s birthday

The rest of my day will be spent working on Menewood (I finally have editorial notes, yay!) followed by more video chats, business and personal, then a lovely evening of Champagne and caviar on the deck with Kelley. The weather looks absolutely gorgeous for the end of September and we intend to take every advantage of our pretty flowers and ice-cold wine.

May you have an equally lovely day.

Facing the Butcherbird

Hild as Butcherbird

Image description: Oil-painting-like image of a seventh-century warrior staring directly at the observer, blue-green eyes narrowed and looking as though she’ll ride right over you.

Over on Gemæcce, my research blog, I’ve been doing a series of posts on Hild’s bynames. In Hild, she has four. (Actually six, if you count Light of the World and King’s Fist—but they’re more titles than epithets. And then there are the two she adds in Menewood—but I’ll get to those closer to publication next year.) Butcherbird is the name she acquired as a teenager after she impaled bandits on stakes across the Aire Gap to deter further incursions into Elmet from Craven.

Last year I talked about that byname, a reference to the common English name for the grey shrike—which also impales prey, hanging mouse pups, bees, lizards and so on thorns and fences. But I was never happy with the illustration I used, probably because I was trying to making one sketch do two things—represent a grey shrike and a red shrike—and it ended up stiff and weird and not at all representative of the threat of such a predator (bird or woman). So now I’ve had another go, approaching representation from a different perspective.

Hild as Butcherbird

First, I tried with Hild herself. I went to DALL-E, a platform that uses machine learning to generate images, and told it to create an oil painting based on my image.1 “Oil painting of seventh-century Anglo-Saxon warrior with blue-green eyes based on images of Nicola Griffith.” What I got back wasn’t great. My face, like most people’s, is asymmetrical—but what I got back was seriously wonky. And her hair was flowing blonde tresses (it must have found one of those rare images of me with long hair2), and her mouth was not only crooked but bow-shaped (shudder). So then I uploaded one of my author photos, added “looking formidable” to the prompt, and tried again. Still wonky, still blonde, still bow-shaped mouth, but now at least beginning to look like someone who a) might have survived birth and b) you wouldn’t want to cross.

I took it through Photoshop and then worked on it with Procreate (the two programmes have different strengths) and started to get something not too embarrassing. And here it is. It’s extremely rough, and if I were going to use it for anything serious I’d do a lot more work—she not bony enough; I’d rather her hair was at least braided out of the way; she should be dirtier, and bloody—but for the purpose of this post this sketched-in outline of changes is good enough.

Butcherbird shield

Second, I tried to create the shield the Butcherbird’s Hounds carry. At the beginning of Menewood we get to see this usually-hidden shield (briefly), a sight that’s supposed to terrify her opponents with its crude cruelty—chalk-white paint splashed directly onto raw planks and daubed with bloody red—and suggest what might happen to them if they lose.

This one I did the old-fashioned way, no machine-learning involved, going for something you might get if you used a stick wrapped in cloth to smear on the paint. I wanted it to be blunt and brutal—no subtlety involved. It’s a threat and a warning.

Shield of the Butcherbird

Image description: A seventh-century shield with sewn leather rim and bronze boss, painted stark white directly onto the planking, and daubed with a bloody red image of a man impaled on a stake.

So now I’m happy: these images capture what it might feel like to face the Butcherbird when she’s coming for you—probably the last things you would ever see.

1 Why me? Not because I think I look like Hild but because that way I could be sure I was’t ripping off anyone else’s imagery or likeness. (Go read about some of the ethical grey areas surrounding AI/machine-learning image generation. I plan to err on the side of caution.) Also I have blue-green eyes.

2 I’ve no idea how—even I can’t find one online. But, eh, just for you, here’s one and here’s another.

Kelley on the planet

Today is the start of another year on the planet for my favourite person. If I were Empress of the Universe every bell on earth would peal with joy and celebration. She makes the world a better place. I am lucky to share my life with her.

Hægtes: one of Hild’s bynames

Over on my research blog, a long chewy post about how I researched one of Hild’s first bynames, hægtes. And then how I figured out how to depict one.

Zen and Thunderbirds

One of the things about life in general, and life with a neurodegenerative disease like MS in particular, is having to deal with constant change, most of it not for the better. I get tired of change—but I also know that for all living things change is a constant factor.1

Change always—every single time—takes some getting used to. Some is relatively easy, and warrants a shrug and the Zen attitude: “Change Is.” Some merits the furious resistance summed up very nicely2 as “Change is, of course, to be deplored.”

Both of those saying are constant refrains in our household. So you say say I exist between Zen and Thunderbirds: Change is… and Change is, of course, to be deplored. Except, huh, now that, in the course of finding this clip, I’ve watched it for the first time in decades, it turns out Kelley and I got it wrong. What they actually say is, “One does, of course, deplore change.” Which is not nearly as nifty. So I’ll stick with my original.

Or maybe I’ll resort to Deadwood, “Well, fuck the fucking new!”

So how do you regard change? Zen, Thunderbirds, or Deadwood?


1 Inanimate things, too: rock erodes, steel corrodes, the sun implodes

2 In “Vault of Death,” an episode of the old puppet-animation TV show, Thunderbirds.

Spear on sale: 50% off!

Charlie has news…

Image description: Tabby cat yelling at the top of his lungs, “Spear on sale!”

The hardcover of Spear is currently on sale for $9.99 at both Barnes & Noble and So get it while it’s hot! But/and if a few dollars here or there are not of overriding importance, then go buy it from you local indie store—see this enormous list of independent bookstores I put together a while ago. If you’re still not sure, go read all about the book here.

And remember, kittens need treats…

George has hopes

Image description: Tabby cat looking—wistfully, hopefully—down at text reading “More sales mean more treats.”

Indivisible—except by 17

Kelley and Nicola, March 2022 — ICFA, by the pool

Thirty-four years ago today I met Kelley. So far they’ve been the best years of my life. My hope is that they just keep getting better. I certainly hope the photographs of us do! This blurry but happy snapshot was taken with someone’s phone (Jim Kelly’s?) by the pool at the International Conference For The Fantastic In The Arts in Orlando by someone else (maybe Ted Chiang?). I don’t remember—only that we’d been having a great conversation but that, as is the nature of conventions, we were all about to dash off and do something else.

If you want more photos of me and Kelley through the years, see 30 Years Ago: A Love Story In Photos.

Meanwhile, Kelley and I will be getting on with various zesty delights here at home surrounded by cats, trees, flowers, books, Champagne and the life that we’ve built—are still building—together.

May your summer be exactly what you wish it to be.

R/evolution in disability lit is accelerating

Years ago, just before I was first coming out as a cripple, I suggested that Crip Lit was in the place Queer Lit was 70 years ago: no literary awards, no trade publishers, and apart from a handful of small journals no coherent sense of community. (Worse, much of the literature being produced about disability was written by nondisabled people and perpetuating dangerous stereotypes.) But there was a lot going on under the surface, bursts here and there of activism and intercommunication. In 2016 I came up with the #CripLit hashtag, and Alice Wong and I started hosting regular Twitter chats. #CripLit did not iniate change but I believe it was part of what helped accelerate the change already underway.

The first queer literary awards (as far as I’m aware) began just over 50 years ago when in 1971 the Stonewall Awards were created. There are now many awards for queer literature—and many publishers, review journals, websites, and specialist bookstores; a whole ecosystem of Queer Lit. And these days most publishers are aware enough of homophobia to turn away fiction in which queerness signifies evil and/or the queers die tragically at the end. These days, most queer lit is produced by queer writers.

Crip lit is behind the curve. Until recently, vile ableist books like Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You (the crip equivalent of The Well of Loneliness) not only got published and become bestsellers but were also turned into hit movies (appalling and inexcusable in the twenty-first century). Even now, most novels by and about disabled people are reviewed by nondisabled critics. And as far as I’m aware, until a couple of years ago there were no major lit awards for books by disabled writers and/or about disabled characters.1 But things are changing

The first serious award for book-length literature by a disabled writer was awarded in 2021: the Barbellian Prize for a book of fiction or nonfiction by a disabled writer. It was won by Riva Lehrer for her memoir Golem Girl.

And last week the UK’s Society of Authors announced the ACDI Literary Prize for book-length fiction with disabled characters by disabled writers. So now there are two good literary awards for serious Crip lit. Not only that but we also have a smattering of speciality publishers, at least one bookstore that I know of, and a handful of literary journals. The pace of change is accelerating!

I wonder where we’ll be in five years…

1 There were and are other awards, of course, but super-specialised.

  • Disability History Association awards Outstanding Book prize—but it’s so specialised it’s mostly not relevant for most writers.
  • The Oleb Books Personal Essay Award (OBPEA) for writers with disabilities
  • Dolly Gray award which recognises “authors, illustrators, and publishers of high quality fictional and biographical children, intermediate, and young adult books that authentically portray individuals with developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and Down syndrome.” The authors do not have to be disabled.

If you know of others, please drop a comment below or send me email.

Two interviews and a review

I’m back from a lovely week on Orcas island (if ever you get the chance to visit the Orcas Island LitFest you should) to find two new interviews and an absolutely stunning review of Spear.


One is with Locus. It’s my third interview with the magazine and this time I was talking to Gary Wolfe and Liza Trombi while attending ICFA in Orlando. Locus interviews are interesting in that they are very deliberately left as transcriptions of an oral conversation—you get to see the subject’s mind at work. Or, in my case, skipping about. My thoughts were going a mile a minute so I sometimes didn’t finish one before launching into a tangent. This is how i work during written interviews, only in written interviews I get to go back and put things in order, add the things I dropped mid-thought, etc. So in this interview one thing I did drop mid-thought was Clarion, and what I learnt. I talk about having learnt only two things about writing at the workshop—and what those were, and who I learnt them from—and had intended to then go on to say that the main thing I did learn was what it means to be a professional writer—how the business works; how to behave with others in the industry; and ways to deal with obstacles to career success. For the record, I learnt that mostly from Tim Powers, and Kate Wilhelm and Damon Knight. I’m sorry I didn’t get that into the interview.

Some interviewees apparently edit their drafts pretty heavily (and I think if you read a few of these things you can tell who, just from the style) but I just changed a couple of sentences to make them more clear. So, well, it’s about 6,500 words of NG raw and uncut. I’m pretty sure it’s behind a paywall, but if you’re interested in SFF you really should subscribe anyway. Locus is the trade magazine for the genre.

Here’s a chunk to whet your appetite:

“I went to Clarion because I found an old copy of F&SF in 1987 and there was an ad for the workshop in the back. This was when Clarion was in Michigan. At the same time, I was getting very restless in Hull. I was reaching that point of, ‘I don’t want to live this life anymore. I want to be warm in the morning, I want food in the fridge; I’m tired of being followed by police everywhere, and I’m done with this.’ I had been teaching a lot of martial arts, a lot of women’s self-defense, and I thought, ‘I need to go somewhere different, just for a little bit.’ I saw this advert for Clarion and thought, ‘Oh, science fiction.’ I’d been reading science fiction and thinking about it. I thought that might be cool. About a week later I heard about a women’s martial arts camp in the Netherlands and decided to apply to that too. ‘Whoever accepts me first, I’ll go there.’ It never occurred to me that neither of them would accept me — I was young, still operating in the ‘Hey, I’m amazing, someone has to’ mindset. Clarion wrote back and said, ‘Our actual application process isn’t open yet, but we’re going to put you on file and we’ll let you know.’ They let me know right in the beginning of February that year. They wanted me to go, and they gave me a scholarship. Super cool. Then, of course, I was terrified, because I’d never travelled to another continent on my own. I’d been out of the UK to the Netherlands and Greece and places like that, but always with other people. I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to be gone for seven weeks and I have no idea what it’s going to be like.’ I was frightened. But I thought, ‘If I don’t do this I will regret it for the rest of my life.’

“My instructors were Tim Powers, Lisa Goldstein, Chip Delany, Stan Robinson, and finally Kate Wilhelm & Damon Knight. I don’t think I really learned anything about writing at that workshop. Actually, I did: the one thing I learned is what Kelley and I first thought of as ‘Delany-ization,’ which is putting everything in the right order. He took a bad passage from John Brunner and made it even worse (I think — I hope so!), and gave it to us — something about going into a room in a great and silver city. I can’t remember the details. He said, ‘Rewrite this so that it makes sense.’ Basically, you have to say, ‘He got to the door, he opened the door, he went in, the room was like this, then he did this….’ You put it in the right order. Kelley and I started calling it ‘narrative grammar’, because we realized that it’s not just important to get the physical narrative right — you have to get the emotional narrative right, too. You have to get everything in the right order. You’ve got all these layers of fiction and they have to swell together and fall together. So, I learned that.

“Actually, there was one other thing. I was talking to Kate and Damon, and they said, ‘Have some wine,’ and, oof, it was just nasty wine (a gallon jug of Gallo). They showed me all the stories I had written and said, ‘Put them in order of when you actually wrote these.’ I did, and they went right down to the bottom two stories–my submission stories–peeled them off, and said, ‘These two are good. With these others, we don’t know what you’re doing. You’re messing around. You’re not talking about anything that matters. What are you frightened of?’ I’m like, ‘Right now? Not much — maybe the wine?’ They said, ‘Nah, just be brave. You’re a really good writer: be brave. That’s all we have to say. Let’s have some more wine.’ So, that was it. I learned narrative and emotional grammar and I learned to try to be brave — to do the thing that I think can’t be done, or that most people say shouldn’t be done, or that no one will publish.”

Locus, June 2022, Issue 737, Vol. 88, No. 6, p.66

Another interview I did before Spear came out was with Jenn Jordan for the Syosset Pubic Library’s Turn the Page podcast. And, yet again, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed listening, and the high information density of the finished product—which, given that it was’t edited at all—is exactly the same as the original product :)

I don’t generally listen to podcast interviews because I often find them to be tedious, rambling, fake-chirpy, low-information-density messes, so it’s been a delightful surprise to be involved in so many in a row that, well, are not like that at all. I’m prepared to admit that my notion of podcasts might be very wrong or at least outdated—but I’m curious: what’s your opinion of podcasts? Do you like them? Not? Which one/s would you recommend?

For archival purposes, here are my five most recent podcast interviews:


When Hild came out it was reviewed all over the place—lit mags, major newspapers, blogs, pop culture journals, entertainment sites—but that was nine years ago. The publishing landscape has since changed significantly. With the exception of lead titles from major trade presses, most novel reviews today tend to be one-paragraph blurbs from trade mags (PW, Library Journal, Kirkus etc), roundups from book bloggers and YouTubers, pretty but not exactly deep reels on Instagram, the occasional TikTok, squibs on Goodreads, one or two slightly longer pieces in review journals (Los Angeles Review of Books, Chicago Review of Books etc)—with perhaps a single major newspaper. If you’re lucky. And few are likely to be deep, interesting, or revelatory.

Given that Spear is a very awkward length—longer than a novella but not quite long enough to call a novel—and a retelling, at that, my expectations were not high. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. It’s true, I have had only one major newspaper but it was the New York Times and it was positive. All the publishing trade mags were positive, too, with a couple of online bookseller journals (e.g. Shelf Awareness) being absolute raves.

I’ll list a selection of the more substantial reviews below (again for archival purposes) but for now I want to talk about a review essay of Spear on the Ploughshares blog.

The first thing that struck me about the piece was the featured image, a gorgeous painting of mountainous upland—absolutely perfect for Spear. There was no attribution on the Ploughshares site but I liked it so much I did a TinEye reverse image search—and surprisingly came up with nothing. Stylistically the painting looks old enough to be in the public domain (late 19thC British/European maybe, but perhaps early 20thC North American), but I’m reluctant to use it without knowing for sure. So if you recognise the image, or have a better idea how to search for it, please let me know. [ETA: Thanks to Anna’s comment below, I now know it’s “Landscape With Distant Mountains,” by Arthur Severn, 1899.]

The second thing was the length of the essay—about 2,000 words. The reviewer, Holly M. Wendt, really liked the book—which of course is great—but the third and best thing was that they helped me understand more clearly what I had actually written.

Before I go any further, I want to reiterate what I’ve said before about how I wrote Spear. The original conception was as short fiction, perhaps 10,000 words. I’ve explained elsewhere (in one of those podcast interviews above, I think—maybe Intermultiversal?) that when I write short fiction my process is very different from novel-writing. Almost every stage of a novel is at least partially under my conscious control and by the time i’ve rewritten it every single part is wholly so; I understand the connections and nuances and connotations; I know what it does and why and how and what it means. Short fiction, on the other hand, is for me often a wild, intuitive rollercoaster ride through my subconscious, stemming from a nebulous image or feeling and (sometimes, if I’m lucky) a vague notion of the journey’s end, but—with zero sense of the points in between—relying wholly on my subconscious story expertise to get me there. Spear, for all its almost-novel length, functioned for me like a short story. I wrote not knowing nothing what would come out, only that it would be coherent when it was done. And it was. The first draft was essentially what you’ll find in the finished book—only with a few things added that I’d sped past in a frenzy the first time through. I deepened a conversation here, added an emotional resonance there, that kind of thing. By the time it was copyedited and proofed, after I’d written about it extensively, and after talking about it on Zoom, Skype, and via email I thought I knew almost everything there was to know. But there’s always—always!—more to learn.

For example, after talking to several critics about the change of pace in the narrative, and reading several reader comments from those who preferred the dreamlike opening, when the main character is nameless and speaks only to nature or to her unreliable-narrator of a mother, and those who preferred the real-world parts, I knew there was something there still to figure out. Then last week I was in the middle of a dinner conversation with friends when all those remarks came together in my head and I understood what I’d done—and how and why—with tenses and narrative distance and magic, with myth and the real world, and how it all pivoted around a single sentence:

Outside in the clearing her feet faltered but she walked on, through the thicket, and once on the other side she felt in her heart a snapping, like the parting of a sinew.

Spear, by Nicola Griffith (Tordotcom, 2022), p27

It’s at this point that Peretur has her name and is essentially expelled with it from the gauzy and dreamlike world of myth and magic (and present tense—or at least present participles, and narrative distance, and periphrastic prose, and ever-slippery reality) and into the real world, solid under her feet, peopled with living breathing folk. Only now, in the world of people to interact with, that she can begin to truly cohere, to begin to coalesce into her real self. I’d done all that without being consciously aware of what I was doing, but clearly my writing brains, experienced in the way of story, knew what it was about. I felt pretty pleased with myself—smug, even—and at last thoroughly convinced I knew everything there was to know about my own book.

Then I read the Ploughshares essay. Here’s the opening paragraph:

There are few pleasures quite like sinking into a novel that actually merits the adjective “spellbinding,” one in which navigation of known and unknown is so ideally balanced that everything familiar appears from an unexpected angle and everything truly new arrives as deftly as a memory recalled. Nicola Griffith’s Spear, out earlier this year, is just such a book, achieving the particular feat of refreshing the well-trod world of Arthuriana to create a waking dream that echoes most relevantly in our time.

Spear’s Exploration of the Power of Understanding,” by Holly M. Wendt, in Ploughshares blog, posted June 09 2022, accessed June 11 2022 13:30 PDT

I immediately wanted to know: What about that waking dream echoes ‘most relevantly in our time’? And why, as Wendt explains a paragraph or two further down, is it ‘precisely the magical, fantastical elements of Spear that make the novel so seamlessly relevant’ today? I read on, delighted, beginning to understand not only Spear more deeply, but as a result Hild (and therefore Hild and so also Menewood).

For me the money paragraph comes right at the end:

In the midst of so much state oppression in the USA—the proposing and passing of bills that are anti-woman, anti-trans, anti-immigrant, anti-queer, and hostile to people of color, poor people, disabled people, and the environment—the fact that Peretur’s power is rooted in understanding others’ emotional and physical experiences is a striking act of resistance. It is an act of resistance within the sphere of Arthurian mythology itself, a way to remake that space and liberate it for a larger and more inclusive community, and it is an act of resistance that moves beyond the pages of the novel. Oppression gains strength from its refusal to understand others, from its insistent primacy of self-interest. Oppression is incapable of imagining what it might be like to be someone else. Nicola Griffith’s Spear, with its sparking and immersive prose, stands, with Peretur, in defiance of such abuses of power, offering a tale that is a heady and healing draught.

Spear’s Exploration of the Power of Understanding,” by Holly M. Wendt, in Ploughshares blog, posted June 09 2022, accessed June 11 2022 13:41 PDT

But the whole thing is beautifully considered. Do read it.

After that if you want more, here’s a partial list of some other longer (750 – 2,000 words) reviews of and/or articles about Spear I’ve enjoyed:

Meanwhile, I’ll start pulling together YouTube videos of events, and more of those furry, feathered, and fluttery friends of Spear pix. Keep them coming!

Spear in New York Times and Beyond the Trope

When Hild came out I posted often about various news and updates, and pulled together pages of links to some of the best (or most interesting—not always the same thing) reviews, interviews, essays and other miscellanea. I’ve been pretty lax about that with Spear. At some point I’ll pull together some of the more interesting things—video of events, podcasts, reviews—and build a page for it.

For now, though, here are a couple of things from over the holiday weekend.

First, Spear was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review as part of the Summer Reading issue.

Reading it feels like seeing the contours of a landscape rise out of mist: Everything up close is clear, while the surroundings are softened, dimmed, but undeniably present. Peretur’s journey is a pleasure to follow, a lovely flexing of Griffith’s strengths in short form. 

Amal El-Mohtar, New York Times Book Review

And the interview I did for Beyond the Trope podcast is out.

Some podcasts can be weirdly trivial, but—as with X-Ray Vision and Coode Street and Intermultiversal—I really enjoyed this one. It’s fairly short, less than half an hour, and (wonder of wonders!) I’m actually pretty coherent—I even talk in whole paragraphs!—about writing Spear, how and why I sometimes write short, sometimes long, and how it all comes down to the kind of question I’m trying to answer.

And of course at some point I’ll update the blog post about Spear‘s furred, feathered, and fluttery friends and turn that into a page.

History and historicity, historiography and legend

Tapestry by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, overall design and figures
William Morris, overall design and execution
John Henry Dearle, flowers and decorative details
Scanned from Christopher Wood, Burne-Jones, Phoenix, 1997, Public Domain

Image description: Late nineteenth-century Pre-Raphaelite style tapestry of Arthur’s knights in a palette of ivory, cream, gold, peach and burnt umber, showing rich young beautiful, blonde and blue-eyed straight white people in a wood. The men are mounted and wearing medieval armour; the women wear flowing white dresses, and hold swords, spears, and shields ready to hand them adoringly to their heroes who are about to ride out on a quest.

How can you make a realistic novel set in the past feel like magic—and a book stuffed with magic and myth feel realistic? And why is that sometimes a problem for historical fiction writers?

Funny you should ask: I just wrote a whole essay about that for Historia Magazine. Go take a look. Oh, and there’s a clue in the image description…

Want me to blurb your book? Here are the conditions

Close-up of old manual typewriter with a document being typed: Terms of Service

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Image description: Close-up of old manual typewriter with a document being typed: Terms of Service

One of my tenets as a writer (and human being) is generosity. There are times I’m not sure I would have made it—by which I don’t mean Made It, Baby! but survived—without others’ generosity, of time, money, attention, or encouragement. I remember every single person who helped me, or at least I try to. I’m determined to always do my best to reach down and help lift up others.

I get asked for blurbs a lot. I have no doubt some writers get asked more often, and some less; I have no doubt others are saints and superheroes and can read and blurb twelve books a month. I can’t. For me, those asks have become overwhelming. More and more often they are carefully crafted pleas designed to tug heartstrings—specifically my heartstrings (as I say, very carefully thought out). Often, they succeed—by which I don’t mean that I agree to give a blurb but that I feel like a heartless ogre when I say no.

Not long after I signed my contract for Ammonite, I went to a bookstore event for Ursula Le Guin. After the reading, when I took up a book for her to sign, I asked her if she would be willing to blurb my novel. She closed her eyes, sighed, opened them and told me gently she would consider writing a blurb only if a) the book was a first novel b) by a woman and c) requested by an acquiring editor at a trade press. At the time I vaguely understood her need for those conditions (though mainly I was relieved I met them). Now I understand them intimately.

So now it’s time for me to list my own conditions that a writer and their book must fit before Iwill consider giving a blurb:

  • All blurb requests must come from acquiring editors at a trade press
  • And go through my agent, Stephanie Cabot at Susanna Lea Associates.
  • If you send one to me directly via email, this website’s contact form, or a DM, I will ignore it.
  • From time to time, when deep into my own work, or seriously tired, or just want a holiday, I will direct Stephanie to not forward any requests—no matter how amazing, important, or urgent—for a while.
  • You will know that being ignored or refused is not personal, because you will know that I’m not a mind reader and could not anticipate your specific request before I brought down the portcullis.
  • I will not announce when and whether I’m open or closed to blurb requests.
  • When I am open to them, I will look with greater kindness on some books than others. In no particular order, the book must be:
    • written by an early-career writer
    • and/or midlist writer making a career change
    • who is a woman or nonbinary and/or
    • trans
    • queer
    • BIPOC
    • disabled
    • a former student

Of course, even if the book does fulfill all those conditions it will also have to sound like something I might actually enjoy. I like exciting fiction—fiction in which the protagonists *do* things, memoir, nature writing, and densely-argued, well-cited nonfiction. I do not like, for example, books whose protagonists endlessly process their angst or trauma or loll about in a state of ennui. The book will also have to reach me, at least two months before cover deadline, in either .mobi format or paper or (preferably) both.

Finally, even if the book sounds interesting enough for me to want, it also has to be enjoyable and well-written for me to offer a blurb.

So if you think you and your book might fit the bill, feel free to ask.

Competition winners!

When I announced a competition for guessing the most frequently used adjectives in reviews of Spear, I knew it could get complicated. First, there were some words and/or phrased such as Queer, Recommended, and variations on old-bones-new-story and too-short-wanted-more that were essentially ubiquitous and so, to me, not really fair; I discounted from my tally. Second, English is an odd language that allows some parts of speech to behave like others, so I guessed there might be a couple of judgement calls—and in fact there were, but not nearly enough to render the results unclear. And finally, third, I’m a human being with emotions and some words stand out more than others—I dearly wanted some words more than others to win. If it were up to me, for instance, the top adjectives would have been Dazzling or Stunning, or maybe Breathtaking or Brilliant, and there again Gorgeous and Mesmerising have a lot to recommend them…

But in the end it was all easy and clear. So here, in descending order (with frequency), are the top adjectives used in Spear reviews* up to and including May 3, that is, two weeks after publication:

  • Beautiful (24)
  • Lyrical/poetic (22)
  • Magical (15)
  • Delightful (11)
  • Gorgeous (11)
  • Lovely (11)
  • Fresh (10)
  • New (10)
  • Classic/Instant classic/Canon (9)
  • Genderqueer -bent -fluid (9)
  • Brilliant (8)
  • Fantastic (7)
  • Inclusive (7)
  • Original (7)
  • Spectacular (7)
  • Wonderful/Wondrous (7)
  • Breathtaking (6)
  • Compelling (6)
  • Flowing/Fluid (6)
  • Rich (6)
  • Spellbinding/Sorcery/Enchanting (6)
  • Stunning (6)
  • Dazzling (5)
  • Epic (5)
  • Intense (5)
  • Subversive (5)
  • Amazing (4)
  • Captivating (4)
  • Concise (4)
  • Dreamy/Dreamlike (4)
  • Effortless (4)
  • Humane (4)
  • Masterpiece/Masterful (4)
  • Mesmerising/Hypnotic (4)
  • Polyamorous (4)
  • Sensual/Sensuous (4)
  • Vivid (4)

In terms of readers’ guesses, there is one clear winner: nikkiel101, who went with Beautiful x 17. So nikkiel, you will get the signed and personalised hardcover, the pin, and a digital download of the audiobook just as soon as you get me your email and mailing address (please email me via the contact form). But there was a second reader, Roberta Arnold, who came very close, guessing Beautiful x 16 in one guess and Lyrical/Poetic x 22 in another. So, Roberta, if you’ll email me with your mailing address I’ll send you a hardcover and a pin, too.

And to everyone else: Thanks for playing!

*Either in professional journals or from those in the book profession such as fellow authors offering blurbs and librarians and booksellers responding to the publisher. I did not include podcasts or YouTube videos or reader reviews on platforms such as Goodreads or Amazon or personal blogs because there were just too many.

Last chance to enter the Spear adjective competition: Clue #16

Here is Clue #16, the FINAL clue in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from Maria Dahvana Headley. Background illustration taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by Rovina Cai.

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing in the upper left two women by a lake and, larger, in the lower right a menacing figure approaching with a spear. Centred in white text, “A screamingly hot canon-queering epic filled with bloody battles, and world-shaking magic.” And below that, in red-orange, “Maria Dahvana Headley, author of The Mere Wife and Beowulf: A New Translation”

This is your last chance to enter. I’ll close the competition tomorrow—probably around noon Pacific time—and announce the winner/s next week.

The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

For the rules, and to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that this is your last chance to enter the competition.

Make sure you check the list of possible adjectives—there are now 36 that have been used more than 4 times.

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Spear adjective competition: Clue #15

Here is the penultimate clue, Clue #15, in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from “Cold Iron and Piercing Beauty in Spear,” from the Chicago Review of Books, by Jake Casella Brookins. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by Rovina Cai. The final clue will be tomorrow; I’ll close the competition end-of-day Friday, and announce the winner/s next week.

The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

For the rules, and to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

Make sure you check the list of possible adjectives—because it keeps growing. There are now 36 adjectives that have been used more than 4 times.

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Spear adjective competition: Clue #14

Here is Clue #14 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a starred review in Shelf Awareness by Kerry McHugh. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by Rovina Cai Cai.

Make sure you check the list of possible adjectives—because it keeps growing (I added two just yesterday). And check out previous clues.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is shelf-awareness.jpg

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing in the upper left two women by a lake and, larger, in the lower right a menacing figure approaching with a spear. Centred in white text, “An atmospheric and lyrical tale steeped in historical detail. Griffith breathes vibrant and dazzling life into a stunning new take on Arthurian legend.” And below that, in red-orange, “Kerry McHugh, Shelf Awareness”

The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

For the rules, and to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

DO CHECK OUT THE UPDATED LIST OF ADJECTIVES THAT HAVE BEEN USED MORE THAN FOUR TIMES! We have a couple more words that crossed the threshold…

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Friday 4/29, 6:00 PM, Brick & Mortar, Redmond: In-person event!

Image description: Square graphic with grey background, a headshot of a short-haired white woman next to the cover of a novel, Spear by Nicola Griffith, and text: “Brick &Mortar presents Nicola Griffith author of Spear, Friday 29th at 6:00 pm. Find out more at“.

Friday evening I’ll be doing my final event for Spear—live and in-person!—at Brick & Mortar Books in Redmond. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll be doing a version of what I did at the Seattle Central Library on Wednesday or whether I’ll do a version of what I’m planning tonight with Kelley for Mysterious Galaxy.

It’s a mystery! But as always the real point, for me, will be sharing stories about the making of Spear, meeting you in-person, and finding out what reading gives you joy, what you hope for—or don’t like, or want more of—and signing your books. So bring questions! I love—love love love—to talk about my work!

Also, it’s Brick & Mortar’s kickoff for Independent Bookstore Weekend—so I hope you’ll turn out and support this wonderful store.

For more information, see Brick & Mortar’s event page.

See you tomorrow!

April 29, 2022 | 6:00 PM PT 
Brick & Mortar Books
7430 164th Ave NE, Suite B105 
Redmond, WA, 98052

Thursday 4/28, 7:00 PM, Mysterious Galaxy!

Tomorrow evening I’ll be doing my very first event for Mysterious Galaxy! I’ve always wanted to visit in person but have never had the opportunity—one day! Meanwhile, I have something special planned for you.

Tomorrow will be another first for me: a virtual event with my best and favourite person in the whole world, the woman I have dedicated every single one of my novels to: the one, the only, Kelley Eskridge!

Although this our first virtual in-conversation thing, we’ve done this in person many times. Kelley knows my work inside and out—and she knows me even better. So tomorrow you’ll be getting a seriously real, deep, and interesting conversation. Plus the usual reading from the book and audience Q&A. I really hope you can join us.

For more information, see Mysterious Galaxy’s event page. Or just go register directly.

See you tomorrow!

April 28, 2022 | 7:00 PM PT
Mysterious Galaxy
In conversation with Kelley Eskridge