The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

It’s here!!

The Perfect Assassin is out in the world!!

You should be able to find it anywhere books are sold. Also libraries!! In fact, people’ve been sending me photos of it in the wild, face-out, at Barnes and Nobles and their local indies, and honestly, that’s been so, so cool.

People have been asking me how this all feels and mostly just: normal? I guess? I’ve been waiting for this day in general for most of my life and in specific for about two and a half years, so it’s all been one long transition. I treated the Day Of like a birthday and went for a run and just generally let myself chill – which was great, A++, best way to celebrate.

And then I went back to work the next day, both dayjob and also writing. A project I’ve been noodling on for almost three years now is slowly coming together and my hope is that once Book 3 is officially, 100% done I can finally focus on the new project. One thing I’ve learned in the last few years is that I am no good at multitasking.

Or at least, I thought I could focus on dayjob and new!WIP, but even though the Day Itself is past, people are only just now sending me photos of my book in the wild and that’s just… that’s been wild. It’s one thing to know your book is out there, it’s another for your high school and college friends to be excitedly sending you photos of them finding it in their local bookstore. I have teared up so many times over the past forty-eight hours.

It’s something that for so long I’d hoped would happen, and even something for some time I’d known would happen, but knowing and hoping are pale things to the reality of it actually happening.

And now I get to see things like this:

Bookshelf with prominent SFF titles face-out

It took me 20+ years to get here. I guess it’s okay to need a few more days to process it.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, The Perfect Assassin (Book 1), The Unconquered City (Book 3)

Less Than a Week

How did we go from two and a half years to less than a week??

Oh right, the passage of time.

Well aside from flailing, I haven’t much to say. But I’ve got a lot of links!

First off, if you want to learn about dunes – or some of my research behind the Perfect Assassin and its world, you should check out my essay over at Tor dot com, How Do You Fight an 80-Foot Sand Dune?.

Second off, the introduction to March got TPA featured on a bunch of lists, which is exciting.

The Nerd Daily’s March Book Releases: Fantasy + Sci-Fi

Barnes and Nobles The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of March 2019

io9 Gizmodo’s 39 Amazing New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books to Check Out in March

And my little book even somehow snuck into Amazon’s best books of the month for March:

Yeah okay, that’s all cool.

But you know what’s even cooler?

I turned in book 3 edits this weekend!

[Sound of kazoos and party poppers]

Gotta wait yet to see if Book 3 is actually, well, done done, but at least, at the moment, I am free of the edit mines. So I’m gonna kick back, relax, maybe take a break and enjoy this whole Book Coming Out OMG thing, yeah?

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Pre-pub, The Impossible Contract (Book 2), The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

January Recap (Madcap?)

It sure has been a month. I don’t even know how to begin, so let’s just run through it, shall we?

I started a new job. Winter finally showed up. I moderated my first panel and gave my first reading at ConFusion in Detroit. I wrote a bit more of my WIP. The cover for book two entered the world. Book one got two excellent trade reviews. Our laundry machine broke. A Polar Vortex shut down our city –

Wait, wait, WAIT – you say. Book two’s cover?? Went live???

Oh yeah. I guess that’s important.

Okay that’s an understatement. It’s pretty important and I’m REALLY EXCITED about it. If you’ve been following my posts for any length of time, you know Book Two was once Book Only and I poured my heart and soul into it. Then I wrote Book One and poured my heart into that too, but Book Two will just always have that place in my heart as the First.

There’s just something about writing a book for just you, never knowing if it’s going to get an agent’s attention let alone reach the light of day – or the hands of readers. I love all of my book children equally, in their own ways, but The Impossible Contract just feels different. For The Perfect Assassin, covers and blurbs and reviews weren’t daydreams – they were expectations. I had a contract, after all. But for TIC, well. They were dreams.

And when I got to see TIC’s cover for the first time in December, it was literally a dream come true.

And now that it’s live elsewhere on the internet, I can finally share that dream with you:

The purple! The gold! That expression! That garrote! It’s THANA. My Thana, who started out as a lone figure on a rooftop almost five years ago and now has a whole family to rely on. She has come so very far and I can’t wait to talk more about her and share her with you in November.

But BEFORE THAT I have a whole ‘nother book coming out.

And The Perfect Assassin has been getting some awesome reviews.

But Kai, you say gently, You just dropped a cover on us. You can tell us about the reviews later.

I mean, yes technically, I could but in reality, this is probably the only blog post I’m going to make for the next month or two, so you’re getting this now.

Here – if it’s any easier, you can take a break and come back in a week or so and pretend this is a whole new blog post. Good?

Good.

Welcome back!

I’ve already flailed and hyperventilated about this elsewhere, but The Perfect Assassin got a starred (!!!) review from Publisher’s Weekly! You can read the whole thing here, but if you want to avoid some very light potential spoilers, here’s the choice quote:

“Doore is a force to be reckoned with, blending a stirring plot, elegant worldbuilding, effortless style, and diverse, empathetic characters.”

!!!!

!!!!!!

I might have shouted “a force to be RECKONED WITH” every chance I had for a week straight. Honestly, I’m still riding that high.

And then there’s also this amazing review from Booklist. It’s behind a paywall, so if you don’t have access, here’s another good quote:

“Doore’s thrilling fantasy debut is a suspenseful murder mystery wrapped around a coming-of-age story […] Ghadid, set on platforms hundreds of feet above shifting sands, is vividly described, with a fascinating history and culture that Doore folds in naturally. This author is one to watch.”

WATCH ME.

IF YOU DON’T, WHO WILL.

AND IF NO ONE DOES, DO I EVEN EXIST?

Anyway: *flings confetti*

I guess this means I can’t pretend I’ve just been bribing/threatening everyone for good reviews. Or maybe it does and these are two flukes that will never happen again! Who knows! I sure don’t! You might find out in just 48 days!

 

Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

The Perfect Assassin Has a Cover

This is a cat meant to soothe you and think happy thoughts and not, in fact, the actual cover

First there were copyedits. Then there were page proofs. Then there was silence.

Now. Now, there is. A cover.

*pauses for the appropriate amount of anticipation*

*pause*

*paaaause*

*drumroll*

Ta daaa!

Thank you to the team at Tor for putting this together, especially my editor Diana Pho for helping find the perfect model, and Larry Rostant for its creation.

And now back to your regularly scheduled excitement. Those fingers! That leapage! The red!

Fun fact: I specifically requested red because of Plot Reasons (not blood, jeez guys) and I am very very pleased with how that turned out.

Also fun fact: One of my original ideas was to have the main character, Amastan, sitting with a bunch of scrolls, which somehow I thought would be very engaging. Ahah. Ahah. Ahaha.

And that, my friends, is why I’m not in Marketing.

What do you think? Eye-grabbing? Face-stabbing?

If you like murder! and sand in your teeth! and archival searches!, you can pre-order The Perfect Assassin – the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who is really tired of this shit – over at the usual suspects. Some early readers have said it’s okay, they guess. And there will be a book two! And a book three! And book three has definitely made some people cry, so you know that means it’s great.

March 2019, guys! That’s like, eight months and change! Less than a pregnancy away!

Barnes & Noble AmazonIndiebound

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Pre-pub, The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

From the Debut Trenches: Galleys/ARCs

ARCs enjoying tea

Galleys/ARCs: WHAT THEY ARE

ARC stands for Advanced Reading Copy, and galleys are a variation on that theme. They’re an early print of the book with the post copy-edits but not-yet-finalized text and marketing verbiage all over because they’re, well, marketing tools. This is why sometimes they have a title and sometimes they don’t. Mine displays the tagline in lieu of the title, but the rest of the imagery is very much the cover.

ARCs go out to reviewers, booksellers, librarians, and anyone else in the publishing industry who might be interested to drum up buzz and pre-orders in the months before the One True Publication Date (TM). The author gets a few to do with as they wish – give to friends, drop off in the lobbies of prominent media establishments, scam into the hands of a beloved celebrity, build a (very) small fortress, bury in the backyard, etc.

Galleys originally weren’t due in for another two weeks, but my editor posted that they’d arrived on Tuesday and then next thing I knew, I had a tracking number for my share. I spent most of Friday on the porch, enjoying the randomly beautiful weather, and definitely not just waiting for the delivery truck.

Then the box did arrive and I promptly… sat five feet away from it, getting up the courage to open it. My wife had to talk me into opening it, using the very reasonable logic that the longer I let it sit, the more scary it would become. And that, reader, is one out of the many many reasons I married her.

So I opened them and kinda poked at them and then continued to sit at least five feet away, screwing up my courage. I’m not even entirely sure where the fear was coming from, except that this was a thing that I had created and now other people were reading it. And Amastan is on the cover and it’s a very strange feeling to see something plucked wholesale from your brain and just… out there. For other people to see. And I’ll always have a little guilt and shame tied up in this whole process, like there’s something innately wrong about wanting to share this thing I created and love with other people.

Then my wife brought out some wine and after a glass or two, I was able to pick one up. Thumb through. Read a bit.

And that’s when I finally realized: this is a book.

I’ve had inklings of that feeling ever since the copy edits stage, but seeing the words on the screen and seeing them in print, in a book, are entirely different things. The ARCs are still aways from the Final Form, but this is the first time I’ve looked at words I’ve read a hundred times, fretted over, smoothed over, deleted, and rewritten, and been able to turn off the editing part of my brain and accept them as Canon.

My characters are real and other people will read them and experience them in ways separate from me, ways I will have no control over and if that isn’t terrifying…

Well.

Now I have to send these babies out into the wider world and I have a few ideas for just how to do that, one of which involves screaming, and the other, more viable idea involves giveaways. So watch this space because that is gonna happen.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Pre-pub, The Perfect Assassin (Book 1), Writing

From the Debut Trenches: Page Proofs

Well what do we have here.

No really. What do we have here? Gorgeously formatted pages with words on them that look vaguely familiar, like maybe… *squints*

OH GOD THEY’RE MY WORDS

Excuse me for a moment while I flail.

*flails*

Ahem.

Those beautifully-formatted words are from page one of the Perfect Assassin‘s page proofs.

Page proofs are all the words in the book laid out as they will be printed, which is why they look all Fancy and Real. Somebody has already gone through, page by page by page and line by line by line, and made sure everything is lined up just right and that there aren’t any pages with a single word/line on them or there aren’t any single lines/words just
hanging out.*

My job is to find any lingering errors, be they missing words, misplaced words, or misspelled words. My job is to make sure any changes made during copy edits made it into this version. My job is NOT to change sentences / paragraphs / entire chapters. If I attempt to anyway, I am 100% certain my editor will personally fly all the way to Michigan, find my house, and swat my hand.

Because at this point, this book has already been through rewrites, revisions, edits, copy edits, and countless eyes – including my own – that have checked and double-checked every word and phrase. One must just be able to let things go at some point, right?

Thankfully, after spending a week with these pages, I’m still not feeling the urge to carve them up wholesale. In fact, I wasn’t even tempted to pluck out entire paragraphs. I allowed myself a few changes for flow, a few changes for clarification, and a few changes for plot reasons, and then there was that final leech that hadn’t been changed to leach.

Seriously, I can’t be the only one who didn’t realize there was a difference.

Yet more than a few times I had introduced the practice of using blood-sucking leeches into a dry, sub-Saharanesque desert instead of simply leaching something away. Welp. Apparently I’m still learning English after all these years.

The changes were/are minimal at this point, so really I just got to take a moment and read the story all the way through. It’d been long enough, and looked different enough, that I could almost pretend to be a reader, almost see it as someone outside my head might.

And if the fact that I’ve read this ad nauseam and still get caught up in the second half is any indicator… maybe this book will do all right out there in the world.

Wow guys. Guys. Less than a year guys. Guys.

It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was still hacking through rewrites, uncertain if I’d ever make it work. And now, a year after I sent this thing to betas with so many apologies for how rough and choppy it still was, it’s in the final polishing stages and is very close to becoming real.

You’d think this would make me feel better about how choppy and rough book 3 is right now.

You’d be wrong.

So I’m going to allow myself a few days in the sun and air with the pretty and complete before diving back into the messy darkness of rewrites.

…preeetttyy

*These are called widows and orphans.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Life, The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

10 Years of The Tucson Festival of Books

#TFOB, my #TFOB, how I love thee so.

When we moved to Tucson, the Festival of Books was still in its toddlerhood. We went during its 3rd year and it was already huge and drawing in ginormous crowds and interesting/well-known/actual authors. I wandered between tables of books and lecture halls of guest speakers under a brilliant blue sky, taking in the scent of citrus blossoms along with the cinnamon almonds, and found home.

I volunteered the next three years and somehow fell in love with TFOB a bit more each time.

It’s an amazing celebration of books. Every year I’d find new authors – I credit TFOB 100% with my Seanan McGuire collection, since that’s where I first paused and picked up Rosemary and Rue. Every year I’d sit in on an interesting panel. And best of all – it was all free. You could wander in and wander out at will (ideally not the panels, at least try to be courteous geez). You could drop in for some fresh donuts and the University tent or you could plan your weekend around panels and talks and signings.

They even have bees.

I mean, Science City, the other half of #TFOB, has bees. To look at. As well as other science-y activities. I’m sure there are wild bees throughout because of all the citrus blossoms, but I digress.

This year was the 10th anniversary of the Festival of Books and I dropped in for a bit because we were in Tucson for the week and I was delighted to see that it was still the same old TFOB. So many books. So many people. So many bees. I mean books. I mean bees. I mean both?

Oh Tucson, how I miss thee.

So all that’s to say that recent progress on Book 3 aka working title The Unconquered City is, uh, nil. Because I was frolicking amongst the cacti and well, it’s hard to type and frolic is what I mean.

But! I did manage to finish Book 1 aka The Perfect Assassin‘s copyedits and turn those in so, yay?

Yay.

Okay going back to dreaming of cacti and books now.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, The Impossible Contract (Book 2), The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

Two out of Three

Between holidays and travel and dayjob and a baby quickly becoming a toddler, I somehow managed to finish the edits on the Impossible Contract aka Book Two. For those keeping score, that means I now have two out of three books done* in this trilogy, and book one isn’t set to be out for, oh, another year.

It’s quickly shaping up that I’ll be finished with Book Three before One’s pub date, as well, which is astounding. I doubt I’ll ever have that sort of luxury again, and I doubt few others have. It’s a strange place to be in; for one, I won’t have to worry about reader reactions messing with plot. But for another, I’ll have completely moved on to a new and entirely different project by then.

Looking back through my blog posts, I realized I never really explained how I got here. Here being: having written the second book first. Here being: still another year to publication, even though I signed the contract over a year ago. Here being: planning on having three books done before the first ever sees the light of day.

I didn’t plan to write the second book first. I set out to write a standalone. And I did. So thoroughly that I’d never intended to write a sequel, let alone several sequels. Which, in retrospect, was a bit silly of me, but I was still reacting to being blindsided by a cliffhanger in a book I’d thought was standalone years back (*tiny fist of rage*). So.

So I intentionally did a Thing in the plot that pretty much negated the possibility of a sequel. And then I got an agent. And then my agent suggested I come up with some sequel ideas.

Cue panic.

Eventually, I did come up with an Idea, but it would only get me through another novel. With some gentle nudging from my agent, I came up with a few prequel ideas as well. Fast-forward to Tor asking for a trilogy and me being severely sleep-deprived from life with a newborn, and I asked – nay, insisted – that I give them a prequel and a sequel.

They thought this was a fine idea. And lo, the Impossible Contract became Book Two and I was on the hook for writing Book One, and yesterday. My potential publication date was pushed from 2018 to 2019, which is reasonable since the book didn’t exist yet.

But despite a bit of teeth gnashing and grumbling impatience on my part, I am so, so glad things fell the way they did. I got to go back and really dig in and understand the world in book one, and doing so only made book two that much stronger. I also got to lay the groundwork for a lot of the things that happen in book two (and eventually book three), which was decidedly satisfying. And it will probably make me look like a wizard, not gonna lie. Plus, future readers will get two** standalone books that nevertheless play off each other and are stronger for it.

Phew.

So if you like book one and Amastan, the historian turned assassin turned detective who is really tired of this shit, you’ll probably like book two and Thana, the overly ambitious assassin who regrets helping the man she’s supposed to kill and is really tired of all these undead camels.

To continue a tradition I started when I turned in Book One the first time, here’re the

Ending Stats for Book Two

Started writing: June 1, 2014
First Query Sent: April, 2015
Heavily-edited “final” manuscript sent: January 15, 2018
Number of rewrites: Two
Number of rounds of revision/edits: Six
Number of edits just to cut words: Three
Original Wordcount: 130,000
Current Wordcount: 104,000
Number of times I’ve hated this book: Twenty-seven
Number of times I’ve loved it: Thirty-six
Number of mug cakes eaten in celebration: 1
Expected pub date: Late autumn 2019

* Technically, book two isn’t done done, but the next round of revisions won’t require a total rewrite nor take three months. Unless I seriously miscalculated somewhere along the line. Which is possible! But doubtful.

** Book Three is technically also a standalone, but boy will it spoil you on the first two. Not even gonna try not to, there.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

What a Difference a Year Makes

November 1st last year, I started writing draft zero for Book One of what we’re now calling the Assassins of Ghadid trilogy. I had a character and a scene and a vague idea of where it was all going.

Several rewrites, revisions, and now an editorial letter later, I think I can safely say Book One is done. Of course, we’ve already touched on what “finished” means, so I suppose we should define “done.”

Done, right now, for this book, is a book that has been cleaned up on both the line level and the plot level, is a book that has been tweaked and finessed and had most of its problems excised or otherwise fixed. It’s still not perfect, but the bits and pieces of doubt that hung on after it was “finished” have largely been shed.

Of course, this is just another step in the process. There may (will) be another round of edits. There will (definitely) be a round of line edits. I hope for and expect as much, because I – and my publisher – want this to be as close to 100% as we can make it, without, you know, having to sacrifice our souls and selves.

So in a way, it’s not done done, but on the very long road that is publishing, I thought it significant that almost exactly a year after starting a book that was little more than a scene and a character at the time, it’s now become this: a rewritten and revised and edited and re-edited and tweaked and thoroughly-loved book, about many characters and with many scenes, that even has a plot.

As for when it will be out – assuming there are no Super Major Oh God No edits on the horizon – the current word on the street is March 2019. So we’ve still got some time yet. And I’ve still got two more books to finish.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, The Perfect Assassin (Book 1), Writing

Ending Stats for Book One

Started writing: November 1, 2016
Manuscript sent: June 27, 2017
Total days: 239
I.E.: 7.9 months
Percentage of days spent writing: 94%
Estimated days spent writing: 224
Average hours/day: 2.4
Average hours of sleep/day: hahahaha
Number of drafts: 4
Word count of draft one (aka draft zero): 56,649
Word count of draft two (aka draft one): 63,686
Word count of draft three (aka beta draft): 84,638
Word count of draft four (aka final draft aka finished MS): 95,069
Number of times I knew I wouldn’t get this done on time: 220
Number of times I knew I would: 4
Number of times it mattered: 0
Number of cupcakes eaten in celebration: 1
Number of days I’m taking off between books: 0