I should start by saying that I hope readers are staying as safe and healthy as they can throughout this harrowing year. The promising vaccine news of the past month means there is now an end in sight.
This is the time of year for best-of lists, and I haven’t been paying attention, because in general such lists take no notice of last books in trilogies. So I was floored, and deeply honored, to discover that The Poet King has been selected as one of the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2020 by none other than Kirkus! And as you’ll see, the book is in jaw-droppingly excellent company.
March 2021 will see the publication of the trade paperback of The Poet King, and I’ll have a reading around that time. Watch this space. And be careful out there.
“Fully drawn characters negotiate complicated choices in a world that intriguingly intermingles Middle Eastern and Celtic folklore as well as a fantasy equivalent of the Jewish Diaspora. Myer delicately threads a steady path through a complex, ever shifting plot while maintaining a consistent throughline of theme that condemns the heedless and selfish choices of the powerful and pointedly underscores the folly of ignoring the quiet, seemingly insignificant people whose unexplored depths and considerable strengths might be poised to strike against those very same people at the top.
A fitting end to a gorgeous experiment in art, worldbuilding, and character, growing in strength from book to book.“
Back in 2004 I had an idea for a fantasy novel that would combine the lore of Celtic poets with the troubadours, and explore my own complex feelings about the drive to create. I was in my twenties, in college, and had always known I wanted to write.
But the thing about writing fiction is that life doesn’t bend to accommodate it. There is rent to pay, and that can mean eight hours a day of filing, Excel spreadsheets, commuting by subway. Later on, it can mean stringing together an income in freelance writing, and while that is far more interesting than the Excel spreadsheets, the pay is worse to nonexistent. So it might be late in the evening after work, or on a weekend, that you can try to focus your mind and find the words to bring your art into the world.
In the course of seven years, Last Song Before Night was completed. My first book. This was followed by Fire Dance, which came out this year. And this week I submitted the third and last book in the trilogy, The Poet King, to my editor at Tor.
And I keep thinking how this began, in 2004: the first chapter scrawled on a yellow legal pad during a lunch break in the Starbucks next to the Empire State Building. Before I went back to the Excel spreadsheets, answering phones, and a basement apartment at night.
You just never know. That’s the reason to hang in there.
Some have asked whether there will be a sequel to Fire Dance, since even though the core arc of the novel is resolved in this book, there are plot threads left open. I did that on purpose, seeing two books as an opportunity to think big, and create a long arc that the trilogy as a whole would resolve.
Some have expressed worry about the wait for the next book. I can understand that, since some authors take ten years between books. Barring an act of God, I am not one of them. I am hard at work on the sequel to Fire Dance and have made quite a lot of progress.
I envision each book of this trilogy as a standalone novel that is also connected to the whole, like paintings in a triptych. Each book tells a complete story. Each is enriched by the presence of the other two. And I think the third book will hold surprises for readers who have been there from the beginning.
Tomorrow is the publication day of Fire Dance. I’m so excited to share this book with the world.
There’s been some positive buzz even prior to publication! Here are some of the highlights:
Kirkus gave Fire Dance a starred review, something which carries weight in the industry. It would be an understatement to say that I’m thrilled. Their verdict: “Worth waiting for.”
The Washington Post selected Fire Dance as one of the three Best SF/Fantasy Books of the month, saying, “The writing is gorgeous. Fans of fantasy intrigue will like this one.”
It was selected by both Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a best SF/Fantasy book of the month.
In a review titled “Fire Dance Expands the Borders of a Wondrous Fantasy World,” Nicole Hill of the B&N Sci-Fi/Fantasy Blog writes:”Twin mysteries unfold deliberately and delicately, their axes spinning ever closer through alternating viewpoints and tightly constructed plotting… The term “escapism” is often used to diminish fantasy as genre, to limit its power. Myer has given us escapist fantasy to be sure; I, for one, would gladly slip out of this world and into the Way of Booksellers, or enjoy the wine fountains of the Festival of Nitzan. But more often, fantasy becomes used as a playground in which all our real-world ailments and anxieties can run free, everyday problems intensified or resolved by enchantment. And Fire Dance does that too, to dazzling degree.”
Tomorrow, you’ll be able to start reading, and decide for yourselves.
Publishers Weekly has rolled out the first review of Fire Dance: “Forbidden enchantments and hidden machinations fill this well-plotted dark fantasy…Subtle cultural elements are reminiscent of the medieval Arab world. Fans of epic fantasy and court intrigue will enjoy following the characters as they discover pieces of the truth.”
A first review is always significant, but feels especially so in the case of a book that took years to write. This book was my secret for so long, and now, at last, it’s out there.
Why so long? I wrestled Fire Dance through many phases and drafts. It did not end up as it began. The characters were not born fully formed–they had to take shape and evolve. The plot is twisty and twisted and that, too, takes time. What began in 2013 in a Paris cafe was completed in the summer of 2016. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done and the most meaningful. That’s the real privilege of being a writer, to my mind–the meaning the work brings to my life.
As with Last Song Before Night, Fire Dance can be read as a standalone. It does not require the reader to know the events of Last Song, and has an ending of its own. At the same time, Fire Dance leaves an opening for the third and final book in the trilogy, which I’m working on now. And yes, I am going as fast as I can! But as noted above, some processes can take time, and quality must come first. My poets would say music comes first, and they are right about that too.
I’ll be immensely grateful if you pre-order Fire Dance, as that sends a message to the publisher and retailers that can help the book in the long run. Soon I’ll be posting updates about appearances and events this year. A book birthday is something to celebrate.
I am delighted beyond words to share the cover of Fire Dance, once again a creation of the incredible artist, Stephan Martiniere.
With Fire Dance, the world introduced in Last Song Before Night is enriched and expanded upon. In addition to the influences of Celtic myth and the troubadours, I drew on inspirations from Andalusian history and poetry, Middle Eastern myth, and more. Those inspirations are reflected to what I think is magnificent effect in this image of the Tower of Glass, a magical observatory.
More details about the book can be found here, courtesy of the good folks at B&N.
I have a couple of appearances in San Francisco in early April–both in wonderful venues.
On April 6th, I will be signing at Borderlands Books from 6pm-7pm. This is exciting not only for a chance to meet readers, but also because Borderlands is one of my top three favorite bookstores in the world. (Yes, I have a list!)
On April 8th, I will be reading at Charlie Jane Anders’s Writers With Drinks, which is by all accounts an amazing time…and which has a truly jaw-dropping line-up that includes Peter Beagle and Hari Kunzru. Check it out! RSVP!
Fire Dance, the sequel to Last Song Before Night, will be a spring baby. That is, it is coming out in April 2018, as confirmed by my editor.
It is purely coincidence that the book is set at that time of the year. But a fun one.
I’m now hard at work on the as-yet-untitled third book. Fire Dance has an ending that I hope will tide readers over until the third book, with its major emotional arcs resolved. But I’m doing my best to get the final book of the series done.